With the primary election coming up on Tuesday, LEX18's State of the Commonwealth is focusing on the Democratic campaign for the U.S. Senate seat, currently held by longtime Senator and Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell.
There will be ten total candidates to choose from on the ballot this Tuesday. They are as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Jimmy Ausbrooks
- Charles Booker
- Mike Broihier
- Maggie Hilliard
- Andrew Maynard
- Amy McGrath
- Eeric Rothmuller
- John Sharpensteen
- Bennie Smith
- Mary Tobin
The three leading Democratic candidates are state representative Charles Booker, retired lieutenant colonel Mike Broihier, and retired lieutenant colonel Amy McGrath.
In recent days Charles Booker's campaign has taken him across the state from Frankfort to Whitesburg, Prestonsburg, Irvine, Bowling Green, and Elizabethtown.
"What you're seeing across the Commonwealth, with folks standing that have never stood before, people speaking out because they know if they stay silent that things will get worse - it's inspiring us to come together now," Booker said.
The deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Booker's hometown of Louisville have inspired Black Lives Matter protests across the Commonwealth.
"I'm standing with my family," Booker said. "Kentuckians - those are my family, and when you see family hurting and crying out, you stand with them. And we were grieving in the streets. We still are demanding justice and accountability."
"When I talk about structural racism, I'm making it clear that it affects all Kentuckians," Booker continued. "That affects folks in Appalachia. It affects folks in the Purchase. And if we don't understand the root causes, if we don't deal with the fact that people are being left out and locked out, we're going to continue to harm people even if our intentions are good."
Booker's visibility has increased due to the national conversation on racial inequality, something he discussed as a lawmaker in Frankfort, and his poll numbers are looking up. He said he wants to deliver a Green New Deal, Medicare for all, end generational poverty, expand voting rights, and push for criminal reform.
Mike Broihier is a retired Marine officer, former educator, worked as a newspaper editor, and now lives and works on a farm in Lincoln County.
He has a simple belief that's driving his campaign: "This country should be about social and economic justice for all," Broihier said.
Broihier believes in a universal basic income, affordable college and child care options, Medicare for all, lower prescription drug prices, criminal justice reform, and equality for all.
He strongly supports the Black Lives Matter protests and said when he has attended he sees unity on the issue throughout the state.
"When you see it happening in Whitesburg, in Danville, in Stanford, and small communities across Kentucky, it is really really heartwarming that people are seeing the importance and justice in this message and getting on board," Broihier said.
Retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, Amy McGrath, first introduced herself to central Kentucky when she ran for Congressman Andy Barr's seat in 2018.
She captured the Democratic nomination but fell short against the Republican incumbent.
Now that she's running for another high office, McGrath is asking all Kentuckians what they want from Washington.
"It's healthcare," McGrath said. "It is prescription drug prices. It is broadband, and education and a lot of people worried about their kids. What are we going to do with kids that aren't connected right now with regards to education moving forward?"
As she attends Black Lives Matter protests, she's advocating for racial equality and increased access to affordable healthcare.
"I'm talking about injustice in education, racial injustice in healthcare," McGrath said. "African-Americans are dying from at twice the rate from COVID-19 as white Americans. These are all problems that we have commonsense solutions and we have to get it done now."
Opponents and critics have accused McGrath of being a pro-Trump Democrat, a label that McGrath disagrees with. She said she's willing to do the right thing for Kentucky if elected.
"I will always have the guts to stand up to any president, whether that president wears a red jersey or a blue jersey, to do what's right for Kentucky," McGrath said. "Or when it comes to the Constitution of the United States of America, which I swore to defend six times in my life, as a United States Marine."
Whoever wins the upcoming primary will face a Republican opponent in the fall.
Longtime Senator Mitch McConnell is expected to be that opponent.
The Senate Majority Leader is seeking his seventh term in office, but there are six opponents looking to unseat him.
They are as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Nicholas Alsager
- Paul Frangedakis
- Louis Grider
- Naren James
- Kenneth Lowndes
- C. Wesley Morgan