Rand Paul wins Republican Senate primary in Kentucky
With about 37% of the votes counted, Rand Paul, son of libertarian-leaning Republican Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul, appears to be the first victor of this Tuesday’s string of major electoral contests around the nation. The AP has called the race, where polls closed at around 7 pm ET.
Paul, an ophthalmologist, had sought the Republican nomination to run for Senate in his home state of Kentucky. Fueled by his father’s army of supporters nationwide, and the backing of many Tea Party activists, Paul upset Trey Grayson, the favorite of the Republican Party establishment as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is Kentucky’s other senator.
Following on the defeat of incumbent Utah Republican Bob Bennett in a primary about 10 day sago, Paul’s victory marks the emergence of a sea change of opposition to the existing Republican leadership in Congress. Whether or not Republicans succeed in re-taking the majority in the Senate in November, if candidates like Paul win their contests, they are unlikely to back McConnell as the party’s leader, possibly elevating a farther-right conservative Senator like South Carolina’s Jim DeMint in his place.
However, it’s possible that Paul could face legal challenges that may disrupt his ability to immediately hit the campaign trail against his Democratic opponent. Grayson, who as Secretary of State must oversee the election in which he is participating, has alleged a series of electoral infractions against Paul and his supporters, according to the Lexington Courier-Journal:
Grayson’s campaign seized upon a set of directions given to Paul supporters, saying Paul was “instructing them to engage in illegal activity at polling places today that has resulted in widespread voter intimidation and election law violations.”
“This despicable behavior should not be tolerated,” said Nate Hodson, Grayson’s campaign manager, in a news release. “Bullying and intimidation should have no place in our elections. Rand Paul needs to rein in his goon squad and follow the law.”
David Adams, Paul’s campaign manager, called the Grayson campaign’s allegations “ridiculous” and said reports of problems were “much ado about nothing.”
Katie Gabhart, general counsel for the state Board of Elections, said the Paul campaign has been “very active all over the state.”
She said there was a flurry of complaints in the morning. “We got quite a few complaints about overzealous supporters and we’ve been in contact with the campaign,” Gabhart said. “I can’t tell you no one’s violated the law, but if they did, it was individuals and not a global scheme.”
You can watch the vote count at Politico where Paul’s numerical lead appears to be decisive.
Polls are just closing in Pennsylvania where Democrat Mark Critz is seeking to succeed the recently passed Jack Murtha, his long-time boss, and Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak are locked in a contest for the Democratic nomination for Senate.
Update: Nevermind on the legal challenges – according to CNN, Grayson has conceded the race to Rand Paul. Electoral fraud is the GOP’s dog that barks but never bites.