LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul holds a commanding fundraising advantage over Democratic challenger Charles Booker heading into the final months of their top-of-the-ticket race in Kentucky.
Paul raised more than $3.1 million in the three-month period through June, while Booker collected more than $1.3 million, each campaign said. Paul bolstered his campaign cash reserves, with $9.2 million still in the bank. Booker had about $900,000 in his campaign account.
Paul — a former presidential candidate seeking a third Senate term in November — is “better positioned than ever” to win reelection, said Jake Cox, his deputy campaign manager.
“Rand Paul’s pro-liberty message continues to resonate with Kentuckians who depend on him to defend their freedoms in the Senate,” Cox said in a news release.
Booker, a former state lawmaker, has acknowledged that Paul can “throw all his big money” into the campaign but has insisted he can overcome the disparity. Booker pointed to his campaign's “surging numbers” among small-dollar donors. He acknowledged that “more financial contributions are critical” while stressing that his campaign is “winnable and worth the investment."
In a statement, Booker said he's “proud to be a campaign that is funded by the people. The people of Kentucky deserve a U.S. senator who sees them and will fight for them.”
Kentucky hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in three decades. The Senate race has at times seemed to be overshadowed by the state's emerging 2023 governor's race. Several Republican hopefuls are jockeying for advantage in what's shaping up as an intensely competitive GOP gubernatorial primary next spring. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is seeking a second term.
The campaign between Paul and Booker is a battle between starkly different philosophies.
Booker is a progressive who promotes such social programs as Medicare for All and a basic universal income, saying the initiatives would uplift people from poor urban neighborhoods to struggling rural communities. He also supports a clean-energy agenda and criminal justice changes.
Paul is a libertarian-leaning conservative first elected to the Senate in the tea party-driven wave of 2010. Paul rails against socialism and big-government programs he says encroach on individual liberties and drive up the nation’s debt. The senator also denounces what he views as government overreach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Booker is the first Black Kentuckian in state history to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.