Rand Paul's Presidential candidacy is going nowhere, but I guess one of the prerogatives of being a United States Senator is that you can indulge in pointless ego tours and no one will complain too loudly. However, if Rand Paul wants to continue being a United States Senator for much longer, he might want to pack up his campaign, at least after Iowa, and head back home to defend his seat, because he just got a serious challenger.
The mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, announced Tuesday he will challenge Rand Paul for the Senate, giving Democrats their best shot yet at defeating the Republican incumbent.
"As your Senator I won't just talk, I'll listen. I'll offer common sense solutions. And I'll work to restore the American dream for every family in Kentucky," the wealthy Jim Gray, who had been courted by the party to run, said in a statement.
Gray has a ton of money, and will be able to position himself as the kind of blue dog democrat who has had success statewide in Kentucky in the past. Kentucky is a red state but not so red that it can be taken for granted. And Gray is already telegraphing the line of attack he plans to use:
The mayor, who filed the paperwork to run on Tuesday for what remains an uphill battle, said Paul has forgotten Kentucky in his pursuit of the White House.
"In Washington, Senator Paul has put his own ambition ahead of Kentuckians and is behind policies that would hurt Kentucky families," Gray said. "He voted for a plan that would double healthcare costs for our seniors and supports privatizing Social Security. He supported massive cuts of over $160 billion to our military, and Senator Paul signed a pledge to protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas."
Iowa is only a week away, so there's no harm for Rand Paul staying in the race there, but if he has a disappointing finish there, and also in New Hampshire, he would be well served to fold up his campaign quicker rather than later. The last two election cycles his father has stuck it out to the bitter end to make some kind of point; if Rand Paul has this strategy in mind, he might well be putting what should be a safe senate seat at risk.