In a race viewed across the U.S. as a test of the strength of the tea party movement, Rand Paul beat GOP establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Kentucky primary for U.S. Senate, The Associated Press and other media organizations projected according to early election returns.
“This tea party movement is a message to Washington that we’re unhappy and we want things done differently,” Paul told supporters. “The mandate of our victory is huge.”
The son of former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas notched a key win for a tea party activist in a statewide election that could embolden the movement in other elections across the country. With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Paul was leading with nearly 60 percent to Grayson’s 35 percent.
“I have a message from the tea party,” Paul said during his victory speech. “We’ve come to take our government back from the special interests who think the federal government is their own personal ATM, from the politicians who bring us oversized fake checks emblazoned with their signatures like it’s their money to give.”
Grayson, who had the backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, conceded the race early in the evening, and immediately threw his support behind Paul.
He thanked McConnell for his support, complimented his efforts in the Senate and told Kentucky voters “We just need to get him more soldiers for his army.”
On Monday’s NewsHour, we aired excerpts of last week’s GOP debate that aired on Kentucky Educational Television, and Jim Lehrer interviewed political reporter Joseph Gerth of The Louisville Courier-Journal. Watch the full report on the politics at play in the Kentucky primary: