On Tuesday, the Tea Party movement scored its first major statewide victory over the Republican establishment. Bowling Green ophthalmologist Rand Paul trounced Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson by 59 percent to 35 percent, winning the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY).
Grayson was the handpicked candidate of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In a normal year, that might have assured him the nomination. Instead such ties became a liability, one Grayson exacerbated by demonstrating a sense of entitlement to a Senate seat last seen when Martha Coakley turned up her nose at shaking hands with voters outside Fenway Park.
Rand Paul tapped into the primary electorate's anger at Barack Obama, bipartisan bailouts of private industry, and the steady growth of the federal government. But the son of 11-term libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) won in large part because he knew when to follow in his father's footsteps and when to chart his own course.
"Have you ever made an embarrassing mistake?" conservative Christian broadcaster James Dobson asked. Dobson went on to say that he did when he initially endorsed Grayson. "Senior members of the GOP told me Dr. Paul is pro-choice and that he opposes many conservative perspectives, so I endorsed his opponent," Dobson said. "But now I've received further information from OB/GYNs in Kentucky whom I trust, and from interviewing the candidate himself."