FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Libertarian Party is considering running a candidate in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, saying GOP nominee Rand Paul - the son of a former Libertarian presidential candidate - has betrayed the party's values.
Party Vice Chairman Joshua Koch said Wednesday that Paul has been a black eye for Libertarians because of stands he's taken on issues, including his criticism of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Koch said Paul is not a Libertarian. He called Paul and his Democratic opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, "faces of the same bad coin."
Rand Paul's father was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1988. He is currently a Republican member of Congress from Texas.
Koch had strong criticism for Paul, who won the Republican Senate nomination last week by trouncing the GOP establishment candidate, Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
"He had gone from being an outsider candidate to a tea party candidate to an establishment candidate in the past nine months," Koch said. "It's a complete identity crisis. I've never seen anything like it."
The Libertarian Party doesn't have a strong presence in
Kentucky. But the race is being closely watched and Democrats seek to reclaim a seat that is being vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, a 78-year-old former major league pitcher who opted not to seek a third term.
University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck said if the Senate race were to be close, a Libertarian candidate could potentially take enough votes from Paul to affect the outcome.
"A lot of the Libertarian candidates are people with little or no political experience," she said. "They don't speak well in public. They're underfunded. But it would make a point."
Koch did not say who the Libertarian Party might put up to run in the race. Neither the Paul nor the Conway campaigns would comment immediately on the matter.
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