Sarah Palin endorsed eye surgeon Rand Paul in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, saying he wants to “shake up the status quo” in Washington.
By ROGER ALFORD
Associated Press Writer
The endorsement gives Paul, son of former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, an inroad into Kentucky's conservative Republican base that might otherwise be skeptical of an outsider candidate. The younger Paul has never before run for elected office.
"I'm proud to support great grass roots candidates like Dr. Paul," Palin said in a statement. "While there are issues we disagree on, he and I are both in agreement that it's time to shake up the status quo in Washington and stand up for commonsense ideas."
Paul is running for the seat now held by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning who opted not to seek a third term at the behest of GOP leaders who considered him politically vulnerable to Democratic candidates. He faces Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the May primary election. Other Republican candidates seeking the U.S. Senate seat include, Bill Johnson, Gurley Martin, Jon Scribner and John Stephenson.
Bunning, 78, a former Major League pitcher enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, hasn't endorsed a potential successor, though he and Grayson have been longtime friends.
Paul, capitalizing on his father's nationwide network of campaign donors, has banked some $1.8 million in contributions and still has $1.3 million on hand. Grayson has collected just less than $1.7 million and has $1.4 million in the bank.
"Our cash on hand lead shows that we're running an efficient campaign that will have the resources we need to win in May," Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson said Monday.
Paul raised $650,000 from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Grayson raised $443,266 over the same period.
Meanwhile, two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates spent Monday courting labor unions, even going so far as to tout them at a meeting of Kentucky's manufacturing executives.
Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway want the support of Kentucky's politically powerful labor movement going into this year's Senate election. Both candidates said Monday they would support a federal initiative known as the Employee Free Choice Act to make it easier to establish labor unions in the nation's workplaces. The measure has stalled in the Senate.
"I believe it's every worker's right to join a union," Mongiardo told nearly 100 members of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers who listened politely at a political forum in Frankfort on Monday.
Grayson and Paul took the opposite tact, telling the executives they would oppose the federal legislation, assuring that neither would receive an endorsement from organized labor in Kentucky.
Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, said union workers appreciate the support of the two Democratic candidates.
"When you have two friends in the primary, it's very difficult under those conditions to have an endorsement," he said. "At this point, we've not held an endorsement meeting. We'll have to wait and see how that pans out."
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