May 17th, 2010
09:44 AM ET
4 years ago

Kentucky GOP candidates campaign as Tea Party impact is weighed

Rand Paul campaigns in Kentucky one day before the Senate primary there.
Rand Paul campaigns in Kentucky one day before the Senate primary there.

Corbin, Kentucky (CNN) – The two top Republicans vying for the Senate GOP nomination will be barnstorming the state Monday looking for a last minute boost of support and jostling over everything from farm subsidies and the future of coal to whether the state should continue to receive congressional earmarks.

But one of the key questions for those in the state, as well as the national observers looking at this primary, is what impact will the anti-tax, anti-Washington Tea Party movement have on this race?

Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist and first-time political candidate, has drawn a large amount of support from Tea Party activists in the state that has helped propel him into the lead, according to recent Louisville Courier-Journal/WHAS Bluegrass Polls.

“If we win, it will be a huge election for the Tea Party movement around the country,” Paul said in an interview with CNN at a drive-in diner in Lexington. “Everywhere I have gone around Kentucky, the largest events I have been, have been Tea Party movements. I think it is not just about the heart and soul of the Republican Party, but really what direction the country takes.”

Although there is no incumbent running in this race, Paul is still trying to use the frustration and anger with the establishment against his opponent, current Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

"What you will find is that people don't trust the career politicians anymore,” he said. “They don't trust the people who are part of the establishment to fix it anymore because we have trusted them before, and we have elected them and we get the same old politics.”

For his part, Grayson tries to tap into that voter anger by touting his experience and saying he has cut his office's budget and is a problem solver.

"I think one of the things we have been trying to argue, when you have all of those feelings, when you feeling like Washington is broken, you are mad at people who have been there saying one thing and doing something else that the kind of guy who actually has kept promises, done a good job, that is the kind of person you actually want," Grayson told CNN in an interview after appearing at a fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in the southwest part of the state.

Grayson has been working that region hard in the past few days, because it has a large amount of Republican primary voters.

Regarding the Tea Party activists, Grayson said he believes their impact may not be the largest factor in the election.

"The Tea Party movement, there is a lot of folks who identify with the Tea Party, but there are a fair number of those folks though who have been long term Republican Party activists. The Tea Party is not a monolith. Every group is a little bit different. I have my fair share of Tea Party support. To me the biggest factor in Dr. Paul's success is his ability to raise money out of state from his dad's contacts. Otherwise he wouldn't be in this race. That is the biggest factor- not the Tea Party, not the national environment."

Grayson is referring to Rand Paul’s father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Meanwhile, several Democrats are battling for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat with Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway in a very tight race. The Democratic race has not drawn nearly the amount of attention as their GOP counterparts, a television network from Denmark will be one of those on hand at Tuesday's Rand Paul election night event.


Filed under: Rand Paul • Trey Grayson
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Less spending – Less taxes – Less government
    Core values of the fiscal conservative and the heart of the conservative base. Throw in secure the border and strong defense.

    The Tea Party is rallying the bas of the conservatives and the Republicans are brnging in candidates with those values.

    Meanwhile the Liberlas are tearing apart the Democrats, trying to push them further left while the country and the moderates and the independants fight it.

    3 years ago one would have thought the republicnas were in trouble, not it looks like the Democrats splitting. All the signs are there.

    Basically Obama and Pelosi has pushed too far to the left. The Democrat Party is NOT the same party it was when they had JFK as President... he'd probably be a moderate republican in todays world.

    May 17, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. GI Joe

    Hmmmm – lowest taxes since the '50s, 2 wars eating up at least 11 billion a month, tax cuts for the wealthiest, --

    What do these paranoid hate-mongers want? We've already tried blood for oil, and that ain't doin' too good, is it?

    Hate, fear, lies - hate, fear, lies – paranoia run rampant – more lies.

    shame shame shame

    May 17, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Based on previous inept senators Kentucky has sent to Washington (Bunning and McConnell), there is little hope that the once great commonwealth would elect someone who would put America first, party second.

    May 17, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. Bill from GA

    Since the title of this article has 'Tea party' in it, i thought I'd slip in a S. Palin msg: Don't shoot the message just because you hate the messenger.

    Sarah is right about securing our borders. It should be done now; it should have been done when they were opened 12 or so years ago to let in cheap labor for farmers and other businessmen.

    The issue is not unique to President Obama, and he is doing more than our previous president, but the borders need to be sealed. Also, fine and jail those who hire illegal immigrants.

    May 17, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. BillE

    The tea party is great for the GOP. they're throwing a wrench in the works big time. Now they will pay for all the hate they started.

    May 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Willy Brown

    The voter who's the real BOSS is handing out pink slips tomorrow.

    May 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. mike

    the tea party has this great idea no government intervention but
    lets get real lets look at the past and see were this got us bad
    produce,meats, dog food, toys,dry wall for home building corrupt
    banking,home loans,wall street ,coal industries,oil industries,
    healthcare did I leave anything out you see when if there is no rules
    or people to over see anything its just like watching baseball,football, basketball no one will come to the games so why should they play
    by the rules and companies not

    May 17, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. j

    Bless their hearts !!!! Dick Armey and his super-rich cannot garner any sympathy what-so-ever, therefore, they "front" this group of fringe, well-meaning people. Rather, they need to focus on protesting the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning unlimited political corp. contributions to politicians. --– THERE is the problem.

    May 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. katiec

    To any thinking, intelligent, concerned voter, those who support tea party followers are as phony as they are. I would never vote for a candidate that courts their votes as this is proof of their incompetence as a leader.
    They most certainly would not be of any importance if the media did not glorify, headline their existance. Course, the media, CNN runing a close second to Fox, will continue to push their bias down our throats.

    May 17, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |