Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kentucky Son

Did you know that Ron Paul has an opthamologist son who is running for Senate in Kentucky? Now, you do: In Kentucky, A Senate Candidate With A Pedigree For Agitation

Dr. Rand Paul — an ophthalmologist and a son of the congressman, a Texas Republican and former presidential candidate — has become a serious challenger in the race to succeed Senator Jim Bunning.

Capitalizing on a hearty distrust of government and an anti-Republican-establishment fervor among conservatives, he has used the Internet to raise more than $1.3 million since he began his campaign in August.

“This primary is really about the future of our party,” said Dr. Paul, 46, who has lived in Kentucky since 1993 and has never run for public office before.

“The Republican platform specifically says we don’t believe in bailing out private business, and yet we did,” Dr. Paul said in a break between cataract operations. “The Republican platform also specifically says we don’t believe in government ownership of private businesses, and yet a lot of Republicans voted for that.”

Dr. Paul has seen a surge in popularity and fund-raising in the last several months, setting the stage for what pundits here say could be one of the most expensive and competitive primary contests in state history.

The predictable line of attack is that Rand (great name!) is "outside the Kentucky mainstream," a phenomenon whose boundaries I am too lazy to explore. Here's where Paul stands:

A fervent opponent of big government, Dr. Paul believes that federal authorities should stay out of drug enforcement, and that same-sex marriage, which he opposes, should be a decision left to the states. He supports gun rights and thinks abortions should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the pregnant woman is at stake. Unlike his father, Dr. Paul opposes all legislative earmarks, even those that might benefit his constituents.

“I consider myself a constitutional conservative and a part of the insurgency that’s going on out there,” he said.

And here's what his primary opponent, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, says about Paul's stands:
“Mr. Paul believes we should close Guantánamo and return those terrorists to Afghanistan; Kentucky voters would not agree,” he said. “Mr. Paul believes federal authorities should not have a role in drug enforcement, but Kentucky voters know we have a drug problem here in the state, and they certainly would disagree with that, too.”
Grayson is pouting that he is conservative enough to pass any litmus test, so any insurgency from his right is an undeserved hassle better employed against the likes of Olympia Snowe. He may have a point, but someone like Paul isn't running so he can promote himself to a higher office. He's running because he's passionate about his ideas and beliefs, and thinks that his is a voice that needs to be heard. Grayson would do well to remember that.

On a separate note: kudos to the GOP, which made this race possible by pushing the current seat holder, 78 year-old Jim Bunning, into retirement. Bunning had no special ability or political beliefs that I am aware of (I've never heard of him). Yet, he could have easily tried to stay in office, carried along by the iron laws of incumbency and inertia. The Senate's got enough members like this, and they are often responsible for some of the Senate's worst moments. Better to push Bunning into retirement, rather than risk losing the seat or worse, let it be occupied by an aging lion.

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