Paul hopes race sets standards on religion attacks

Movement's goals at odds with many

Associated PressNovember 4, 2010 

Kentucky Senate

Sen.-elect Rand Paul, R-Ky., sat for TV interviews Wednesday.

ED REINKE — AP

BOWLING GREEN — A day after a winning a hard-fought U.S. Senate race, Republican Rand Paul said Wednesday he's hopeful a religious attack that backfired on his opponent will head off similar strategies in future political races.

Nearly four out of five Kentuckians who voted in Tuesday's election said they felt Democrat Jack Conway unfairly attacked Paul by running a TV ad that asked why Paul was a member in college of a secret campus society that mocked Christians and claimed his god was "Aqua Buddha," according to exit polling conducted for The Associated Press.

Paul denounced the ad as false and chastised Conway for running it. The spot triggered a public outcry across the state and nation.

"I think that you shouldn't attack a person's faith, and I think it did backfire on them," Paul told the AP on Wednesday. "My hope is that when someone loses and that issue appears to have had an influence that maybe it discourages people from those attacks."

Paul, bolstered by Tea Party movement supporters angry with the Washington establishment, rose from relative obscurity as a small town eye doctor in Bowling Green to be elected to the Senate to replace the retiring Jim Bunning, a 79-year-old former major league baseball pitcher who opted not to seek a third term.

While the Tea Party made a statement by helping to elect Paul, political observers and exit polls suggest the movement's future in Bluegrass State politics is far from clear.

"There's a core of liberals and some moderates who just aren't going to go along with it," said Laurie Rhodebeck, a University of Louisville political scientist.

While Paul touted his Tea Party support, exit polling indicates the movement was not a factor in the decisions of nearly half of the Kentuckians who voted for him.

But David Adams, a state Tea Party leader who was Paul's campaign manager for the GOP primary, said it was the Tea Party that provided a base of support to Paul when his candidacy drew "dismissive giggles" from the Republican establishment.

"It put Rand Paul on the map and created a platform from which to discuss principles of liberty that have not gotten a fair hearing in a Republican Party primary," said Adams, who left the Paul campaign to direct the 2011 gubernatorial campaign of Republican Louisville businessman Phil Moffett. "Once he did that successfully, that message just resonated with the general electorate."

According to exit polls at 40 precincts, slightly more than four in 10 voters said they strongly or somewhat support the Tea Party. The rest were split in opposing the grass-roots movement or being neutral.

Adams said the Kentucky results have given momentum to the movement.

"I think we're headed in the direction of Tea Party principles dominating and guiding the Republican Party," he said.

University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss said the Tea Party's impact on the outcome isn't so clear cut.

"What's hard to separate is the effect of the Tea Party from the effect of people who always were Republicans being very unhappy with the direction the nation is going," Voss said.

"That unhappiness ... expands well beyond just these newcomers that the Tea Party brought in," he added.

Rhodebeck predicted Tea Party candidates will face challenges in turning their platforms into reality. Paul denounced congressional earmarks, for instance, but many voters back government-funded projects in their districts, she said.

"I think they've created a political noose for themselves," Rhodebeck said. "They've set up expectations that they're not going to be able to meet."

In his first act after winning the race, Paul named Doug Stafford, his top political consultant, as chief of staff. Stafford is a longtime Republican operative in Washington who now serves as vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and as a consultant to the Campaign for Liberty.

Appearing relaxed and speaking more candidly than he had since his primary campaign, Paul spent Wednesday morning doing media interviews while his wife, Kelley, prepared for them to leave on vacation to an undisclosed location.

County Paul-R Conway-D

Adair 4,498 2,032

Allen 4,277 2,115

Anderson 4,572 3,523

Ballard 1,647 1,362

Barren 7,458 5,385

Bath 1,409 1,981

Bell 5,269 3,236

Boone 24,331 8,363

Bourbon 3,026 2,818

Boyd 6,982 7,039

Boyle 4,960 3,880

Bracken 1,765 1,392

Breathitt 2,023 2,464

Breckinridge 3,686 2,757

Bullitt 14,547 8,608

Butler 2,699 1,283

Caldwell 2,544 2,114

Calloway 6,093 4,346

Campbell 18,386 9,948

Carlisle 1,249 969

Carroll 1,509 1,807

Carter 3,797 4,475

Casey 3,207 1,145

Christian 8,832 5,410

Clark 6,287 4,485

Clay 3,712 1,270

Clinton 2,844 884

Crittenden 2,053 1,316

Cumberland 1,978 686

Daviess 16,930 13,858

Edmonson 2,656 1,730

Elliott 493 991

Estill 2,760 1,999

Fayette 43,312 44,590

Fleming 2,445 2,627

Floyd 4,794 6,360

Franklin 7,910 10,649

Fulton 1,045 1,009

Gallatin 1,619 1,167

Garrard 3,617 1,693

Grant 3,882 2,147

Graves 6,818 5,169

Grayson 5,443 3,133

Green 2,926 1,622

Greenup 5,862 5,750

Hancock 1,444 1,719

Hardin 16,064 11,271

Harlan 4,934 3,455

Harrison 3,035 2,596

Hart 2,748 2,268

Henderson 6,650 6,885

Henry 2,992 2,551

Hickman 947 733

Hopkins 8,888 6,151

Jackson 3,421 1,015

Jefferson 114,435 143,383

Jessamine 10,197 5,468

Johnson 5,216 2,692

Kenton 29,372 14,581

Knott 2,720 3,067

Knox 5,664 3,267

Larue 2,729 1,865

Laurel 11,472 3,927

Lawrence 2,685 2,207

Lee 1,639 1,040

Leslie 3,520 916

Letcher 3,856 3,540

Lewis 2,436 1,080

Lincoln 4,000 3,096

Livingston 2,090 1,792

Logan 5,061 3,087

Lyon 1,727 1,475

Madison 13,737 10,401

Magoffin 2,496 3,131

Marion 2,349 3,029

Marshall 6,689 5,254

Martin 2,453 1,226

Mason 2,724 2,282

McCracken 13,629 8,601

McCreary 3,417 1,375

McLean 1,731 1,826

Meade 4,984 4,269

Menifee 869 1,520

Mercer 4,501 3,125

Metcalfe 2,112 1,783

Monroe 3,488 1,098

Montgomery 3,864 3,986

Morgan 1,733 2,334

Muhlenberg 4,019 4,945

Nelson 7,706 6,502

Nicholas 882 1,087

Ohio 4,498 4,021

Oldham 14,932 7,248

Owen 1,968 1,458

Owsley 1,199 634

Pendleton 2,525 1,472

Perry 4,834 3,833

Pike 7,663 7,470

Powell 1,758 2,116

Pulaski 14,209 5,001

Robertson 373 373

Rockcastle 3,182 1,301

Rowan 2,883 3,752

Russell 4,443 1,786

Scott 8,577 6,250

Shelby 8,733 5,609

Simpson 2,846 2,065

Spencer 4,295 2,562

Taylor 5,539 3,977

Todd 2,283 1,545

Trigg 3,300 2,254

Trimble 1,432 1,291

Union 2,513 2,516

Warren 18,651 11,686

Washington 2,480 1,904

Wayne 3,868 2,835

Webster 2,195 1,909

Whitley 6,469 2,594

Wolfe 737 1,122

Woodford 5,344 4,520

TOTAL 755,206 599,592

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