Mike Broihier
Mike Broihier | Photo via campaign

Lincoln County farmer and retired Marine Lt. Col. Mike Broihier announced Thursday morning that he is running for U.S. Senate next year, the second Democratic candidate to formally announce a challenge to six-term incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In the news release announcing his intent to take on McConnell, Broihier said his campaign will be about “economic and social justice for every Kentuckian, every community; it’s about uplifting our state and her people. That’s why I am running and that is what I will fight for in the Senate – every Kentuckian and every community – no one and no place gets left behind.”

A biography provided by his campaign indicates that Broihier served in the Marines for over two decades until his retirement in 2005 when he and his wife bought their farm in Lincoln County. In addition to farming livestock and asparagus on this farm, Broihier served as a reporter and editor for a small local newspaper and has been a substitute teacher.

In a three-minute campaign video introducing himself and announcing his run, Broihier accuses McConnell of using slurs and labels to divide people over the course of his career, urging people to shed those labels.

In a phone interview with Insider Louisville earlier in the week, Broihier said that he was running against McConnell “because Kentuckians deserve a senator with the courage and conviction to lead us toward economic justice. We’ve been left behind in a lot of areas and Sen. McConnell’s accumulated a lot of political power and personal wealth, but it’s not really been reflected to the people here in Kentucky.”

Asked how a relative unknown can win this race against not just McConnell, but a well-funded Democratic primary opponent in Amy McGrath — also a retired lieutenant colonel from the Marines — Broihier cited having more day-to-day contact with and understanding of the challenges and difficulties faced by average Kentuckians.

“I realize it’s an uphill battle in both cases,” said Broihier. “Amy has a pile of money, as does Sen. McConnell, but as far as connection and understanding of the needs and desires and dreams of your average Kentuckian, I’m way closer than those two.”

Broihier was reluctant to speak about specific policy differences with both McConnell and Trump but felt that he would be able to convince people in “Trump country” to split their votes next year, voting for both the president and himself.

“The choice for the president is the choice for the president, but if they’re concerned about what’s happening to Kentucky, particularly the areas that have been left to languish by Washington, D.C., in both parties, then I think they’re going to see me as a clear choice,” said Broihier.

Mike Broihier's campaign logo, which features the artist Banksy's "Flower Thrower"
Broihier’s campaign logo, borrowing Banksy’s “Love Is In The Air”

Broihier’s campaign website that rolled out Thursday morning did lay out a number of clear policy positions that are left-of-center — in addition to a Banksy-inspired campaign logo.

In addition to supporting Roe v. Wade, strengthened background checks for gun purchases and “a commission to address the economic disparity that exists between white Americans and black Americans who are descendants from trafficked and enslaved persons,” Broihier calls for increasing the federal minimum wage, raising taxes on the wealthiest, addressing climate change and legalizing marijuana.

McGrath is the only other Democratic candidate to formally announce their candidacy, but other major potential candidates are still contemplating a run, such as state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones and Louisville state Rep. Charles Booker.

This story has been updated.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]