The rise of the Liberty Movement has had a strong impact on American politics. The 2010 mid-terms and primary races in the current cycle have showed that the grassroots base is not going to stand silently by while the Republican establishment chooses politics over principle.
Some have explained that the Liberty Movement is in the midst of a “hostile takeover” of the GOP. And while we have seen overwhelming success — far more than pundits predicted, there are constant reminders that the establishment is trying to leave its mark on our movement.
Perhaps the best example came yesterday with news of Jesse Benton, who served as chairman of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, signing on to run Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election in 2014.
“Jesse is literally the best in the business at building and organizing conservative grassroots movements, and I’m thrilled he’s chosen to return to Kentucky to lead my campaign,” Senator Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post.
As I noted last night, C-Span broadcast the final debate between the Republican candidates for Senate in Kentucky, and it was quite a thing to watch:
Looking for an opening a week before the Kentucky Senate Republican primary, Trey Grayson used the final debate Monday night to hammer Rand Paul as weak on national security and unreliable on cultural issues
Grayson, who is trailing in the polls, was on the offensive for much of the hour-long session, saying Paul didn’t believe a nuclear-armed Iran was a threat to America, once backed closing the detention center for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was insufficiently opposed to abortion.
Paul shot back by accusing Grayson of distorting his views and running a dishonest, failing campaign.
But the more fundamental disagreement on display throughout the forum, which aired statewide on Kentucky public television, was an extension of the central dispute that has defined the closely watched contest and is dividing establishment and insurgent Republicans nationally: should the party hew to a purist line on fiscal issues, slashing spending and reducing the role of Washington, even if that means taking political risks that may be unpopular with the general electorate?
The contrasts between the two candidates, and between the two strains of the Republican Party, couldn’t be more extreme:
Paul called for eliminating the Department of Education.
“If you send less money to Washington, you’ll have more in your state for education,” he said.
But Grayson said there was a role for Washington in education, citing both the capital needs of the state’s public universities and the students who need tuition assistance.
Rand Paul is the next Senator of Kentucky. The election is all but wrapped up.
Most people will immediately respond that it is way too early to make such a statement; how can we possibly know what will happen over the next nine to ten months? I will concede the point that we can never be sure how an election will turn out ten months before the vote, but all evidence points towards a Rand Paul win come November.
Rand has seen meteoric rise in the polls over the past five months. He went from losing 26-37 in August to establishment pick Trey Grayson, to leading Grayson 44-25 in December. Also, while he was picking up this lead there was an increasing number of undecided voters from 17% in August to 32% in December. The momentum is clearly on Rand Paul’s side.
From the beginning Rand has arguably run a stronger campaign. Despite never being elected to office in Kentucky, Paul had the advantage of being Congressman Ron Paul’s son. This allowed him to make his announcement on national television that he would be running for Senate. While Trey Grayson attacked this as an example of how Paul was an “outsider” to Kentucky, the famous comeback by Paul swung this war of words in his favor, “I’ve been a Kentuckian longer than Grayson’s been a Republican!”
On the heels of a poll showing Rand Paul with a 19 point lead over Trey Grayson for the GOP nomination for United States Senate in Kentucky comes another survey showing both Republicans with modest leads over their potential Democratic opponents, Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo.
Rand Paul v. Jack Conway
- Paul: 42%
- Conway: 36%
- Not sure: 22%
Rand Paul v. Dan Mongiardo
- Paul: 42%
- Mongiardo: 36%
- Not sure: 22%
Trey Grayson v. Jack Conway
- Grayson: 40%
- Conway: 33%
- Not sure: 27%
Trey Grayson v. Dan Mongiardo
- Grayson: 44%
- Mongiardo: 35%
- Not sure: 21%
According to a press release that came across last night, Rand Paul will also make his entrance into the race official by filing his paperwork with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.
According a new SurveyUSA/WHAS poll, Rand Paul is leading Republican establishment candidate Trey Grayson.
- 32% Grayson
- 35% Paul
- 2% Johnson
- 1% Oerther
- 3% Thoney
- 10% Other
- 18% Undecided
Cross tabs are available here.
As we mentioned a few days ago, the Republican establishment in Washington is getting behind Trey Grayson over Rand Paul in the primary for United States Senate in Kentucky.
On September 23rd, more than half the Republican caucus in the Senate will host a $500 per plate dinner on behalf of Grayson.
KentuckyFight.com (see the ad on the right) is looking to gather 5,000 liberty-minded folks to give $100 each on the same day to send a message to the elites in Washington, DC.
In efforts to stem the growing trend of childhood obesity, California lawmakers passed legislation in 2005 that restricted the sugar and fat content levels in food sold on public school campuses. The law went into effect in 2007, but outcry from parents and students against the regulations is bringing the nutritional restrictions to the notice of the national public. While the focus is currently on California, over 600 school districts across the country have similar strictures, with Kentucky campuses being subject to the strictest regulations.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) escaped a very public challenge to his U.S. Senate seat last month when actress Ashley Judd ended speculation that she would run for the office, but he may have a new challenger in environmental lawyer and activist, Tom FitizGerald.
FitzGerald, 58, is a lifelong Democrat, Founder and Director of the Kentucky Resources Council, and has been active in state evinronmental issues since the 1970s. He says he is being encouraged to run and believes that McConnell’s 28 year tenure in the Senate should come to an end.
“I’ve seen the devolution of McConnell as a progressive, modern county judge in Jefferson County to an increasingly right-wing politician who is defined more by protecting power than meeting the needs of Kentuckians,” he said.
Currently, the incumbent faces no GOP challenger, although speculation remains whether Kentucky businessman Matt Bevins will decide to run for the seat. Democrat contractor Ed Marksberry of Owensboro and Louisville musician and music promoter Bennie J. Smith have said they will enter the race, but neither have a statewide following.
FitzGerald has said he will make a decision by mid-May, and would resign his office at the nonpartisan Kentucky Resources Council if he decides to challenge Senator McConnell.
It has been clear for some time that Senator Rand Paul sees himself as far more than Kentucky’s junior senator. Paul has established himself as a truly national figure - any remaining doubt of that was shredded by his nearly 13-hour filibuster two weeks ago, where Paul successfully took over the Senate for over half a day. His actions that day won him the praise of many, and put his name on the lips of nearly every politically aware person — and many who aren’t. Speculation has understandably abounded about whether Paul will run for President in 2016 — and if he will give up his Senate seat to do so.
Fuel for the latter proposition was added this week when Senator Paul made a dramatic reversal of the immigration views he espoused during his Senate campaign and made clear he was open to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (though he did not use those words). As this Politico article points out:
The endorsement of any sort of legal status for illegal immigrants amounts to a remarkable reversal for Paul, who in his first month in the Senate proposed a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. (On Tuesday’s conference call, Paul said a secure border would make the amendment unnecessary.) While running against an establishment pick in Kentucky’s GOP primary in 2010, he proposed building an underground electric fence along the length of the entire border.
With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection coming up in 2014, numerous individuals have been looking at taking a whack at the Kentucky senator. He’s annoyed grassroots conservatives, libertarian Republicans, and Tea Party types for awhile now, both for his deals with Senate Democrats to keep things moving (such as the recent deal on filibusters) and just because he really hasn’t done anything to cut spending.
Recently, though, this irritation has built a bridge between Kentucky conservatives and Kentucky liberals, and an unlikely grouping of very strange bedfellows indeed are exploring the possibilities of an alliance against him. Seth Mandel at Commentary magazine doesn’t like this at all:
The sometimes contradictory nature of the grassroots conservative criticism of GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was apparent a few weeks ago when one conservative group began to advertise against McConnell from the right. It turned out this same group, which rates members of Congress on their dedication to conservative principles and freedom, gives McConnell a 95 percent rating.