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Young Kentuckians Headed to Polls See Hope in Booker

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Rep. Charles Booker speaks to residents of Corbin, Ky., on Saturday. (Travis Kitchens)
Rep. Charles Booker speaks to residents of Corbin, Ky., on Saturday. (Travis Kitchens)
June 23, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Many young Kentuckians headed to the polls today say they plan to vote for state Rep. Charles Booker as the Democratic challenger to Mitch McConnell's U.S. Senate seat.

The 35-year-old Louisville native has sparked a movement among folks in their 20s and 30s, much like the popular campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders for president and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. Both are among the dozens of recent endorsements Booker has received.

Thirty-two-year-old Whitney Kuklinski lives in Bowling Green and said she thinks Booker's momentum signals a generational shift in Kentucky's political landscape.

"For me, the endorsements were a huge deal," Kuklinski said. "It meant that maybe outsiders were actually looking and listening at Kentuckians and what a majority of us want."

Commonwealth residents who want to vote in-person today can visit the Kentucky Secretary of State's website to find their county's designated polling location. In Fayette County, voters will cast their ballots at the University of Kentucky's football field; and in Jefferson County, at the Kentucky Expo Center.

Kuklinski said across the state, young voters are increasingly turning their attention to local elected officials.

"The average voter here in Warren County is 33 years old," she said. "I would say young voters are extremely interested - so much so that we're looking and researching city commissioners that represent our city, at every level."

And she said she believes many Kentuckians agree with the ideas at the heart of Booker's campaign, including healthcare for all, livable wages, and clean energy legislation aimed at creating new jobs.

"People think 'progressives' only look a certain way and talk a certain way, and I think that's really naive to think that," Kuklinski said. "A lot of Kentuckians, they have a lot of progressive ideas."

One poll released last week found Booker ahead of primary candidate Amy McGrath, 44% to 36%.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY