Bunning Endorses Paul in Kentucky

Posted April 14, 2010 at 4:42pm

Updated: 7:05 p.m.

In what can no doubt be viewed as his parting shot at the Republican establishment — namely Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) endorsed surgeon Rand Paul (R) as his chosen successor on Wednesday.

Paul, son of iconoclastic Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is in a heated primary with Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R), the preferred nominee of national party leaders. Recent polls have shown Paul leading the contest by double-digit margins.

Bunning, whose relationship with his Kentucky colleague McConnell as well as with Senate leaders has frayed dramatically since the beginning of the cycle, issued a statement saying Paul is the candidate who shares his “core values.”

“Dr. Paul will be his own man in Washington, not beholden to the special interests and beltway insiders who come looking for handouts on a daily basis,” Bunning said. “Instead, Dr. Paul will be a strong voice and advocate for the people and values of Kentucky.”

It’s unclear how much of a boost Paul will get from Bunning’s endorsement, considering the state’s cantankerous junior Senator is not particularly popular in his home state. Regardless, it offers Bunning one last opportunity to poke his finger in the eye of McConnell and his cohorts.

Grayson’s campaign released a statement in response to Bunning’s endorsement, calling the Hall of Fame pitcher flat out wrong.

“We’ve always respected Senator Bunning’s fiscally conservative views, but even as a major league pitcher, he’d occasionally misfire,” spokesman Nate Hodson said. “Kentuckians need a fresh face, an outsider who can stand up for Kentucky values in Washington.”