In a dramatic campaign ad, Charles Booker — the Progressive Democratic nominee challenging Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — put a noose around his neck in an effort to highlight the nation’s painful history of lynching.
The ad was also a jab at Paul’s initial opposition to a 2020 bill to make lynching a federal hate crime.
Booker served in the Kentucky House of Representatives 43rd district in 2020 as its youngest Black state lawmaker.
“The pain of our past persists to this day,” Booker said in the ad. “In Kentucky, like many states throughout the South, lynching was a tool of terror. It was used to kill hopes for freedom.
“It was used to kill my ancestors,” he continued. “Now, in a historic victory for our commonwealth, I have become the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.”
“My opponent?” Booker said, as images of Paul appeared on the screen, is “the person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being federal law.”
The ad does not mention the fact that Paul supported an updated bill known as the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. The bill passed in the Senate in March and is now law. Paul was the sole holdout to the legislation in 2020, complaining that the law, prior to being re-written, was too broad, The Washington Post reported.
The bill is named after Emmett Till, a Black teenager who was brutally murdered by whites in Mississippi in 1955. The 14-year-old was abducted, beaten, and lynched by two white men.
Jake Cox, Paul’s deputy campaign manager, said in a press statement that Booker’s ad was “a desperate misrepresentation of the facts.”
“Dr. Paul worked diligently with Senators Booker and Scott to strengthen the language of this legislation and is a cosponsor of the bill that now ensures that federal law will define lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is,” Cox said.
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Booker is the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
In the ad, Booker continued to slam Paul.
“My opponent?” he said. “The very person who compared expanded health care to slavery. The person who said he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act. The person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being federal law.”
“With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies,” Paul said at the time. “I am a physician, that means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery.”
Photo: Democrat Charles Booker speaks to supporters after winning the Kentucky primary in Louisville, Ky., May 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley) / Background image: A noose hangs on a tree at the state capitol in Jackson, Miss. Nov. 26, 2018. (WLBT-TV via AP)