Will Rand Paul win in Kentucky?

After putting his foot in his mouth on the Civil Rights Act, Rand Paul seems to be playing defense in the press about another one of his principled stands.

This time, Rand Paul is trying to explain why he claimed he was a board-certified ophthalmologist, when in fact he never renewed his board certification after passing the exam in 1995. Briefly, he felt the existing American Board of Ophthalmology was wrong on the principle of renewals, so he created a National Board of Ophthalmology.

On a larger note, very little of the criticism Rand Paul has received so far has to do with his positions on issues that are before the country, but seem to have the thread of taking principled, unpopular stands on unusual issues.

Polls seem to have Rand Paul floating right under the 50% mark which are good numbers for election. Does the Democrat (I forget his name… oh, yeah, Jack Conway) have a chance of winning? Will this whole election cycle go by without one story on Mr. Conway?

Considering some of the other people that Kentucky has put into office, I’d say Paul has good a chance as anyone.

I’d say he has a very good chance. Republican in a red state, high name recognition, popular father. All good things.

Two negatives could work against him severely…both are, as yet, unquantifiable.

  1. Foot in mouth disease. Does he spend a lot of his time ‘clarifying’ extreme positions that turn off voters.

  2. Public perception of the Tea Party. As a strongly identified Tea Party guy if the Tea Party continues into the negatives Paul’s negatives will increase as well.

The early view from here in Madison County is that yes, he’s got a good chance of winning… but it’s certainly not a lock. Kentucky is very, very, very socially conservative, and thus has all appearances of a “red” state–but recall that we did throw our electoral votes twice for Clinton, have a Democrat governor, a Democrat state house (Republican state senate, though), and one third of our US House delegation are Democrats. We are also mostly registered Democrats. Kentucky may be several times very socially conservative, but fiscally? Not so much. Running against federal spending might play in Texas, but it won’t win you any votes here. Say as much ill as you’d like about Mitch, but he does bring home the bacon; if Rand Paul takes the Tea Party stand, it may certainly cost him the election.

(I’m a registered Democrat in Kentucky and am a vote for Jack Conway.)


Paul comes out in favor of mountain top removal mining. Or he did last year and it’s being brought out now.


Regardless of what you think about MTR it’s not particularly popular with voters right now.

I think a lot will hinge on whether there are going to be debates and how he does in them. If not, and if he declines opportunities to answer anything but softball questions from his adoring fans, then he’s got a very good chance. If he gets his ass handed to him in debate, then it could be a tight race.

The biggest factor in Paul’s favor is the fact that Kentucky Democrats could fuck up a wet dream*. They should have been hammering Paul nonstop these last few weeks, filling the coffers and spinning Paul’s self-destruction into a loser narrative, but their response has been half-assed at best.

Paul is very beatable, but if it’s going to happen Conway needs national Democratic muscle and money, and he needs it now.

  • The only thing worse is Kentucky Republicans, but Paul’s campaign braintrust stretches far beyond the state.

Sadly, this will help him here in the mountains. The coal companies and their astroturf campaigns (Friends of Coal, Coal Mining: Our Future, etc.) have successfully built the narrative that any attempt to rein in their excesses is an attack by outsiders on hard-working people putting food on the table. There’s no possibility of middle-ground; if you say one critical word about protecting the environment or even enhancing miner safety, you’re “against coal”, and you might as well have just taken a dump on Adolph Rupp’s grave.

I’d love to see their great-granddaddies who died unionizing those mines rise out of their graves and slap some sense into them, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen before November.

These same people are the social conservatives that would likely stay home if Paul seemed insufficiently opposed to abortion and gay rights (not that he has let his libertarian roots keep him from opposing either). So positioning himself as the “pro-coal” candidate is smart.

Apparently, in that Ol’ Kentucky Home, the sun is the only thing the shines bright.

Let’s look at the raw numbers:

Kentucky 2010 Primary Election Results

Total primary voters:

R total = 352,275
Rand Paul = 206,986

D total = 521,657
Jack Conway = 229,433

IMHO it would be very surprising for Rand Paul to close the gap in pure numbers.

[li]Let’s say Paul gets all of those R votes 352,275.[/li][li]Let’s say Jack Conway get all his votes (229,433) plus only gets half of the D votes that he didn’t get ((521,657-229,433)/2=146,112), that puts him at 375,545.[/ul][/li]
That scenario put Conway up by ~23,000 votes.

This should be emphasized. Right now, Rand Paul signs and bumper stickers are everywhere, he’s in the news cycle, he’s got both statewide and national attention. Conway? Nothing. If you were dropped into the middle of Kentucky (where I am) right now, you’d neither see nor hear ANY evidence that Jack Conway even exists, much less is running for Senate. Why the Democrats seem to even be shying away from the fact that they are running a candidate for Senate is just… odd.

@Icarus: interesting, but that sort of assumes the turnout in the primary is the same (or at least mirrors) the turnout in the general. I’m kinda skeptical that’s true.

In anycase, I hear if he looses, Paul will just form his own State, make his wife governor, and declare himself senator.

Then Carl “HORSE PORN” Paladino will supply him with all the Caligula-style accoutrements he needs.

I realize this post wasn’t necessary, I just wanted to type down Carl “HORSE PORN” Paladino’s name again.

Yep, the Democrats have proven time and time again that they know how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Martha Coakley, anyone?

…well, you have to start with something, and the primary voter turnout is the most concrete information we have…

I’m not sure how relevant the primary vote was. Paul was the overwhelming favorite and perhaps Republicans didn’t believe the need to get out and vote as this primary was a foregone conclusion.

Jake from Page One Kentucky kind of went off today about the whole thing. The bottom line is that Conway’s campaign staff is not even close to ready for prime time, and there’s a sense of loyalty keeping him from shaking it up. (Much of his rant is personal and inside-baseballish, but it gives you a good sense of how Conway’s operation is running.)

He might still be able to turn it around, but I’m afraid he’s missed too many opportunities, and that Paul is going to wise up and stop giving them to him.

See, for example: http://www.wkyt.com/wymtnews/headlines/97204294.html

"Local leaders are upset by Ashley Judd’s recent comments

Actress, activist, and eastern Kentucky native Ashley Judd calls mountaintop removal the ‘Rape of Appalachia’"

(emphasis added)

Bingo. I donated fifty bucks to Conway in the primary so I’m on the email list now, and all he ever asks me to do is sign some damn petitions that no one in America cares about. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen out of a senate race in Kentucky, and I’ve seen some awfully dumb things.

I live in Lexington. There is basically no evidence that I’ve seen that Jack Conway is running for this seat. He’s not on TV. He’s not on radio. I don’t see many web ads for him, and I read a ton of political and news sites, with both Kentucky and national focuses. He’s just twiddling his thumbs, and hoping that the fact that his opponent is unpopular will let him win. That didn’t work for Mongiardo in 04 and it didn’t work for Lunsford in 08, but Conway’s doing the same thing. He SHOULD be on the evening news and in the papers everyday hammering home just how nutso Rand Paul actually is, and basically doing everything in his power to establish the conventional wisdom description of the race as “Sane Jack Conway vs. Weirdo Rand Paul.” That seems to be the developing consensus, basically in spite of Conway’s (lack of) efforts. For this Kentucky liberal, it is incredibly disappointing.

That was kind of rant-y, but the Cliff’s Notes are that I think Rand will win unless Jack Conway gets his act together and mounts a decent campaign, at which point it would be a true tossup.

ETA: I read the Page 1 rant when it was published and couldn’t agree with it more.

Nor should you at this point. Money is limited and polls this far out are meaningless. If, in early October, you can say the same thing, then Conway is toast. But if, in early October, Paul is running tight on funds and Conway has a bankroll to spend, then Paul is toast. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.