Rand Paul has a chance in Kentucky

Mike Riggs Contributor

There’s a great profile of Kentuckian Rand Paul, son of Ron, up at Reason. W. James Antle, III of the American Spectator encapsulates what many Paul watchers have already known about his shortcomings with establishment Republicans (Rand’s opposition to the Iraq War, his belief that government should stay out of not just peoples’ wallets and bedrooms, but also their medicine cabinets), while also crafting a rather astonishing picture of the loose coalition of opinions leaders behind Paul:

[C]areful messaging has helped Rand win the mainstream conservative support that eluded his father’s Republican presidential campaign. The biggest example is the endorsement of former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who said she was “proud to support great grassroots candidates like Dr. Paul.” In an oblique reference to Paul’s deviations from the Republican line on foreign policy and civil liberties, Palin continued, “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 common sense ideas.” Trey Grayson’s campaign responded by initially questioning the authenticity of Palin’s endorsement.

Palin isn’t the only prominent Republican to pick Paul over Grayson. The publisher, flat-tax maven, and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes is a Paul backer. So is former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, whose organization FreedomWorks lists Paul as one of the five most important candidates to support in 2010. Concerned Women for America has endorsed Paul, helping to allay concerns about his social conservatism. Gun Owners of America weighed in on Paul’s behalf as well, though there were never any questions about his opposition to gun control.

Paul is even starting to be mentioned alongside other conservative movement–approved candidates in the Republican primaries: Marco Rubio in Florida, Ovide Lamontagne in New Hampshire, and Chuck DeVore in California. Such company has helped him appeal to Republicans who wanted to read his father out of the party in 2008, such as Erick Erickson of the activist conservative blog RedState.

During the presidential primaries, RedState users with accounts less than six months old were banned from posting about Ron Paul. “Hey, we’re sure some of Ron Paul’s supporters really are Republicans,” Erickson and Leon Wolf wrote at the time. But this year, things are different. “Fiorina, Ayotte, and Grayson become establishment candidates,” Erickson argued in a post. “That means they must all three be beaten.” Even if that means supporting Rand Paul? “I am 1,000,000 percent on board with Rand Paul.”

Paul has his fair share of detractors, including Dick Cheney, who threw his heft behind Trey Grayson. Here’s Dave Weigel explaining what that’s done for Grayson:

[A]mong “conservative” voters, Paul now has a 22-point lead. Among “pro-life” voters, Paul leads by 23 points, which is impressive when you consider how Grayson has tried to define Paul as a pro-choice candidate.