Booker, 35, is locked in a tight Democratic primary with Amy McGrath.
A young Kentucky legislator with hopes of unseating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is voicing his concerns over the racial injustice in his community and across the country.
“A lot of people are facing a lot of trauma, a lot of pain and they are dealing with a lot of situations that are very similar to the struggle I’ve grown up in,” state Rep. Charles Booker said Friday during an interview on ABC News Live.
The 35-year-old Booker, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is the youngest black legislator in the state and is running on a platform of economic, social and racial justice in hopes of attracting a progressive following.
“The injustice is happening not only in Kentucky, but across the country. I think it’s opening the eyes of more people to see how interconnected we need to stand together,” Booker told ABC News Live. “We have been ignored for a long time, and especially, for my entire life.
“Mitch McConnell was elected two weeks after I was born. No one cares about our concerns, no one asks what we want, they tell us what we want,” Booker added.
As civil unrest and demonstrations have swelled across the nation, Booker explained that the police killings leading to them have hit close to home. Months after the death of Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was shot and killed by police inside her Louisville, Kentucky, home, there have been renewed cries nationally for justice for the 26-year-old.
“It started with protests like here in Kentucky, and in Louisville, with Breonna Taylor,” he said. “Cries for justice have evolved into conversations about structural change and people are rising up all over the country, and so I’m going to Washington with a big coalition that will not accept the status quo so we’re going to get a lot of work done in short order there.”
In a letter to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in May, Booker called for an independent investigation into Taylor’s death.
“As a Black man and a legislator representing a community that has suffered from this type of trauma for years, I am personally committed to making sure that justice is done for Ms. Taylor and her family,” Booker wrote. “Every family in Louisville and Kentucky should feel safe and protected by law enforcement, not threatened by them. History shows us that police killings like this one are disproportionately carried out against people who look like Ms. Taylor, like me, and like you.”
Booker has also called for a “transparent investigation” into the death of David McAtee, a restaurant owner who was shot and killed by a National Guardsman in a Louisville neighborhood in the early hours of June 1, following a night of protests.
Booker has been endorsed by progressive leaders Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and two of Kentucky’s most widely circulated newspapers, The Lexington Herald Leader and Courier-Journal. However, his Democratic opponent for the primary, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, not only has the backing of the Democratic establishment, but has also raised more money than both Booker and McConnell.
The Democratic primary will be held on June 23.
With eyes on a Senate seat, Booker did not shy away from his differences with the incumbent. Booker suggested that McConnell, 78, has only won five consecutive elections because Kentuckians played into the political game. He added that most Louisville residents are more worried about things such as poverty and racial injustice than what is happening with Washington insiders.
“Kentucky has been one of the most disenfranchised states in the country. Turnout is typically low,” he said. “People are dealing with a lot of poverty and so they’re too busy trying to survive and [not] worrying about corrupt politicians and he’s been in office for so long.”
Booker said that he is confident in his campaign’s momentum, saying, “We’re absolutely going to beat him. We do not like Mitch McConnell, he has been screwing us for a long time.”
He continued, “People are rising up all over the country and so I’m going to Washington with a big coalition that will not accept the status quo, so we’re going to get a lot of work done in short order there.”
ABC News’ Victoria Moll-Ramirez contributed to this report.