Rand Paul Rival Has Most Controversial Ad of 2022

Charles Booker wears a noose to criticize Kentucky Senate incumbent
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2022 9:40 AM CDT

It's a political ad that begins with a content warning. And the reason soon becomes clear in the controversial spot unveiled this week by Rand Paul challenger Charles Booker in Kentucky. Booker, who is Black, wears a noose and describes Paul as "the person who singlehandedly blocked an antilynching act from being federal law," reports the Louisville Courier Journal. The Democrat asks whether voters want to "let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart." Coverage:

  • Context: Paul did oppose a 2020 law on lynching in the Senate, but he says he did so because he thought it lumped too many lesser crimes under the label of "lynching" and thus weakened the intent, per Insider. (You can read his op-ed on the subject here.) This year, he co-sponsored new anti-lynching legislation that became law, and the ad makes no mention of that, notes the Washington Post.
  • Paul's response: "Dr. Paul worked diligently 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," says a statement from his campaign. "Any attempt to state otherwise is a desperate misrepresentation of the facts."

  • Booker's camp: Booker campaign manager Bianca Keaton tells the Courier Journal it was a "difficult choice" to depict the candidate in a noose, but the campaign felt it was justified. "Republicans will talk about race using dog whistles," she says. "We're going to do it on a bullhorn."
  • The polls: Booker is a huge longshot in the race, with the most recent polls showing him down by 16 points, per Real Clear Politics.
  • A critique: The ad is "bananas" and actually a "gift to the GOP," writes Allahpundit at Hot Air. It's designed to bring in a flood of cash from Democratic small donors, and it might well do that. The problem is Booker has no chance of winning, meaning all that money that could have gone to other Democrats will be wasted. "The more money Booker makes from the Democratic donor base, the better off Republicans will be in tight races nationally."
(More Rand Paul stories.)

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