“The labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the AFL-CIO convention in 1961.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is more proof, as if it were needed, that King’s words still ring true. Ferociously anti-union, Paul has voted the union position on legislation just 12 percent of the time he’s been in Washington, according to the AFL-CIO. Earlier this year, he reintroduced a national “right to work” law.
Kentucky Democrats — at least the ones I’ve talked with — aren’t surprised that Sen. Rand Paul lost no time in race-baiting against Charles Booker, so far the top Democratic contender for his job.
“He’s opened up the drawer and dusted off the dog whistle,” said Democratic consultant Daniel Hurt of Grand Rivers.
Paul is White; Booker is African American. The general election is a year from November.
Hurt, who has managed several campaigns for the state legislature, had predicted that if Booker decided to run, Paul, a two-term Bowling Green Republican, would portray him “as a scary or angry Black man…that stereotypical Black man that whites are afraid of.”
The day before Booker, a former Louisville state representative, tossed his hat in the ring, Kentucky’s junior senator played the race card. “I don’t think most Kentuckians think that somehow infrastructure is reparations for slavery, or somehow Kentuckians think they need to pay reparations for slavery, I just don’t think that’s going to be very popular,” WFPL’s Ryland Barton quoted Paul.
Booker held his fire and declined comment.
Said Hurt: “There has been discussion in general about reparations, and Paul realizes than in a state like Kentucky that’s overwhelmingly [more than 87 percent] white and largely conservative, he sees reparations as an issue people will eat up because it fits the anti-Democratic narrative.”
Hurt, who was just reelected to the Kentucky Democratic Party’s State Central Executive Committee, said Paul could have challenged Booker on the candidate’s well-known liberal positions on issues. “But instead he’s reinforcing a narrative that a lot of white Republicans and conservatives already believe — that Booker’s just another angry Black man who wants to take from them.”
Recently, Paul — he and McConnell made an “F” on the current NAACP Civil Rights Federal Legislative Report Card — turned up the racist wick. In an email to his fans, he slammed Booker as his “racial left opponent.”
That time, Booker replied in an email to his followers, which included a copy of the Paul email. “Rand Paul is saying the quiet part out loud about how he feels seeing an opponent like me enter the race,” Booker said.
Added Booker: “It’s clear that their plan is to weaponize hate. They want to hurt our chances of winning by smearing our campaign’s vision as radical.”
Paul, like McConnell, is among the most conservative lawmakers in Washington. He’s pandering to prejudice because he “doesn’t want us to know why he’s not investing in our communities,” Booker said in his email. “He wants to distract us from the challenges we’re facing. Rand doesn’t want to talk about defunding the police, our climate crisis, or how many families are struggling to make ends meet, because he doesn’t want us to know that the government has been ignoring us.”
Booker is on his second Senate quest. In the 2020 Democratic primary, he came up a tad short against former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath of Georgetown, who lost to Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Louisville Republican.
Meanwhile, Ruth Gao of Louisville has announced her candidacy for next May’s Democratic Senate primary. Booker and the heretofore largely unknow Gao may end up with company; the filing deadline isn’t until next January.
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