Over at the blog In the Agora, Joshua Claybourn notes that libertarian (and Ron Paul offspring) Rand Paul has taken an early polling lead for the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). Paul has already raised far more money than his opponent, Kentucky's GOP establishment-backed Secretary of State Trey Grayson. But Paul has also been able to convert dollars into poll points. He has jumped 14 points in the last three months.
Claybourn, an attorney and writer just across the Ohio River in Evansville, Indiana observes:
Rand Paul is a strong states' rights advocate who wants the federal government out of people's lives. He opposes federal drug laws and says the U.S. government should not outlaw gay marriage because only churches should be in the marriage business. He is skeptical of foreign interventionism and doggedly Constitutional about any engagement. But more than anything he likes talking about fiscal issues and the need to scale back government intrusion in economics and reform the nation's fiscal policies…
Libertarian intrusions into Republican primaries are nothing new. But what separates Rand Paul from most other libertarian candidates (including his father) is that Rand is not a novelty act. He is a known commodity as a long-time practicing ophthalmologist in western Kentucky. Along with tremendous intellectual heft, Rand is a polished public speaker with a professional presence. In short, he is an ideal candidate for the libertarian cause.
All of which would explain why the national GOP is trying like hell to make sure he doesn't get the nomination.