early and often

Rand Paul Wins Kentucky: Tea Partier-in-Chief?

Despite Aqua Buddha hijinks and unfortunate head-stomping by his supporters, Republican Rand Paul has been declared the projected winner of the Kentucky Senate race by NBC News.

Paul, the libertarian son of the 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul, beat out Democrat Jack Conway with a projected 55 percent of the vote. He is expected to be perhaps the most influential Tea Party member in the incoming class, causing headaches not only for Congressional Democrats but also for top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

There were some signs of hope for Kentucky Democrats, as Rep. John Yarmuth defeated Republican challenger Todd Lally, and Rep. Ben Chandler was in the lead against the GOP’s Andy Barr.

Mother Jones’ Josh Harkinson and Nick Baumann:

If the hardcore libertarians who support Rand Paul get their way, he’ll act much like his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who is known as “Dr. No” for his practice of voting down almost every spending and tax bill to cross his desk. … In the Senate, Paul—or other incoming tea partiers—could do that again and again, freezing both legislation and appointments.

Conway tried to capitalize on Aqua Buddhagate by pointing out that Paul belonged to a secret society at Baylor that not only mock-kidnapped a fellow student and demanded that she pray to a water deity, but that also mocked Christianity. The Hail Mary failed: National Journal’s Marc Ambinder reported that Evangelical Christian voters backed Paul by a 40 point margin.

Paul will replace retiring Republican Senator Jim Bunning, so his victory won’t be a net pick-up for the GOP. But it certainly is a great sign for the Tea Party as the first Election Night results begin to roll in.

[MSNBC] [MoJo], [WLKY]

Rand Paul Wins Kentucky: Tea Partier-in-Chief?