Rand Paul calls Kentucky win ‘a message from the tea party'

Political novice Rand Paul rode support from tea party activists to a rout in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary Tuesday, jolting the GOP establishment and providing fresh evidence of voter discontent in a turbulent midterm election season. (May 18)
Washington Post staff writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rand Paul won a landslide victory Tuesday in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary, all but ensuring that the fall election for the open seat will center on the "tea party" movement and its principles.

In the campaign to replace retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R), Paul became a leading voice for the group of antiestablishment activists now waging an ideological battle inside the GOP. He would require Congress to balance the budget and limit senators to 12 years in office. If Paul had his way, every law passed would include an explanation of what part of the Constitution empowers Congress to act on the issue.

Touting those ideas, Paul -- son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) -- rose from a political unknown to defeat Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who was backed by the GOP's leaders in Kentucky and nationally, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"I have a message from the tea party," Paul said in a victory speech. "A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We've come to take our government back."

During the campaign, Grayson said Paul's positions would be a political problem for him in November. If he survived the primary, Grayson was expected to be a heavy favorite in the general election -- a traditional Republican running in a conservative state.

"Democrats are salivating to run against a guy who can be portrayed as anti-farmer, anti-teacher and anti-Kentucky," Grayson said.

State Attorney General Jack Conway, who won the Democratic Senate primary Tuesday night, said as much before the results were known. "Campaigning against Rand Paul would be something I would relish," he said. "There would be a lot of Republicans who can't go along with Rand Paul."

Paul said he could woo independent and Democratic voters. "I think the tea party represents a very mainstream message," he said.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

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