FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Rand Paul, the son of 2008 presidential
candidate Ron Paul, ended months of speculation Wednesday by saying
he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by
fellow Republican Jim Bunning.
The Bowling Green ophthalmologist told The Associated Press he
is entering the race and plans to run as a candidate with
"outsider" credentials. His father is a GOP congressman from Texas.
Rand Paul had been considering a campaign even before the
77-year-old Bunning announced last week that he intends to retire
when his second term ends.
Two other Republicans - Secretary of State Trey Grayson and
western Kentucky businessman Bill Johnson - have already announced
they're running for Bunning's seat. Two major Democrats, Attorney
General Jack Conway and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, are seeking
their party's nomination.
"It's about time we have someone who is an outsider and not a
career politician in Washington," Paul said in an AP interview.
"Nothing ever seems to change, even when we think we vote for
Western Kentucky University political scientist Scott Lasley
said Paul can legitimately present himself as "an outsider"
candidate, which would be appealing to Kentucky voters.
"To establish himself as a potentially viable candidate, he has
to show he has fundraising strength," Lasley said.
Paul spoke to the AP ahead of a national television appearance
later Wednesday meant to give him wider exposure and help attract
potential donors in Kentucky and out of state for an Internet
Fundraising, or lack thereof, has already played a key role in
the Senate race. Bunning, a sports icon enshrined in the Baseball
Hall of Fame, withdrew from his re-election campaign, citing an
inability to raise enough money to run successfully. He had been
widely considered one of the nation's most vulnerable GOP
incumbents, a view that made donors unwilling to give.
Kentucky has trended Republican in recent years, with both of
its Senate seats and four of six House seats in GOP hands.
Paul has been sharply critical of both Republicans and Democrats
in Congress, saying members of both parties have proven unwilling
to do what's necessary to strengthen the country.
"I don't see things in terms of Republican verses Democrat,"
he said. "I see in terms of issues and whether they're good or
bad, and I think that will strike a chord with people."
Paul will have to overcome the fundraising prowess of Grayson, a
rising star in the Kentucky GOP, to win the nomination. Even
without announcing his candidacy, Grayson reported raising more
than $600,000 in the second quarter for an exploratory committee he
formed to consider the race.
To be competitive in the primary election, Paul said he likely
will need about $2 million.
Borrowing a strategy from his father's Republican presidential
campaign, Paul said he plans to lean heavily on Web-based
fundraising. His father banked $6 million in one day from an
Paul's single-day fundraiser is scheduled for Aug. 20. He set a
goal of $1 million.
"If we get this thing rip-roaring, there are still people who
believe we can get there," he said. "I don't know yet. But, if we
do, I think we completely transform this race."
And the race is on! Let me know what you think about the upcoming race for Kentucky's U.S. Senate seat.
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