U.S. Senate race becoming a Duke vs. UK battle?

March 14, 2010 | | Comments 37

By Jack Brammer –

FRANKFORT — March Madness knows no boundaries in Kentucky.

Two of the top four contenders in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race are highlighting their opponents’ degrees from Duke University in an attempt to parlay the Big Blue Nation’s disgust for Christian Laettner and all other Blue Devils into a victory on May 18.

Laugh if you want, say political analysts from the University of Kentucky and Duke, but it’s no joking matter for the candidates.

“Many Big Blue fans have horrible memories about Duke,” said UK political science professor Donald Gross, well aware of the buzzer beater shot Laettner made in 1992 to give Duke a 104-103 win over UK in an NCAA regional final game.

“I guess arguing over what college a candidate attended is, on the face of it, part of the silly season,” the professor said, “but, yes, it could make a difference to some Kentucky fans.”

Though mentioning rival basketball teams in a U.S. Senate race is unusual, it’s not uncommon for candidates to paint their opponents as outsiders, said Michael C. Munger, chairman of Duke’s political science department in Durham, N.C.

Voters generally want to identify with the candidates they support, Munger said. “Many think, ‘You are the same as I am, therefore I will vote for you.’”

As teams for the NCAA tournament were selected Sunday night — UK and Duke both received No. 1 seeds — Secretary of State Trey Grayson launched an online ad highlighting his key Republican opponent’s degree from Duke’s School of Medicine.

“In March, there’s one big difference between Rand Paul and Trey Grayson,” says the ad, which then shows an unflattering picture of Paul with a caption that says “I’m Rand Paul and I’m a Duke Blue Devil.”

Paul’s campaign responded Sunday night by saying Grayson’s campaign has become a joke.

“Well, I guess that might be a real issue if you’re running for student council,” Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, said in a statement. “It’s especially funny watching my Harvard-educated opponent complain about where I went to medical school.”

Paul also noted that “I’ve been a Kentuckian longer than my opponent’s been a Republican,” a reference to Grayson’s decision to first register as a Democrat and vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 while getting his undergraduate degree at Harvard. Grayson later became a Republican and graduated from UK’s College of Law in 1998.

In the Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo dared his key opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway, to make a “friendly wager” on Monday about which team would advance farther in the NCAA tournament.

Conway has an undergraduate degree from Duke and a law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Mongiardo is a graduate of Transylvania University and UK’s College of Medicine.

“If Jack loses, Jack will serve as my golf instructor at Louisville’s Audubon Country Club, where he is a member,” Mongiardo said in a news release. “If I lose, I will serve as Jack’s hunting guide on a wild turkey hunt in Western Kentucky.”

Conway’s campaign dismissed the proposal in a statement as a “lowbrow political attack,” but noted that he has picked UK to win the tournament.

“At a time when Kentucky’s unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent, we believe it’s more appropriate to keep the focus of this campaign on which candidate can help the people of Kentucky in this difficult economic time,” the campaign said. “Jack is less interested in where anyone went to college than in making sure Kentucky families can afford to send their kids to college.”

Calling Conway “overly sensitive” about Duke, Mongiardo campaign spokesman Kim Geveden said Conway “really should lighten up” and follow the advice of UK coach John Calipari and “have fun.”

Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson also described his ad as a light-hearted effort to energize supporters. “We’re having some fun as we work to organize our campaign through the volunteer and bumper sticker sign ups we will receive,” Hodson said.

Those who click on the ad are taken to Grayson’s campaign Web site, where they can watch a short video that shows Paul introducing himself to a crowd as a “Duke Blue Devil.”

Filed Under: Daniel MongiardoElectionsJack ConwayRand PaulUS Senate Race

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  1. Hong Ma says:

    We certainly don’t want anyone who attended a university where reading is a prerequisite.

  2. HUGOO says:

    Pretty cool. Latiner will probably be at a fund raiser.
    I bet PAUL has learned his lesson.

  3. piked says:

    Conway is a Duke Grad also. We could have the choice of 2 Duke Grads for US Senate.

  4. Linda T. says:

    Grayson is very weak and desperate to be doing this.

  5. Peter says:

    This is hilarious! Nice job Team Grayson for having a sense of humor and acting like normal people…..GO BIG BLUE!

  6. Joe says:

    Greyson must be pretty bad off to actually spend money on an ad saying Rand Paul went to Duke. Who cares he went to Duke?
    Obviously there is a reason that Greyson is losing his race and it appears he has nothing of substance to talk about.
    That said, Go Big Blue and the hell with Duke!

  7. Jack McCock says:

    So rooting for Duke (where Rand Paul received some of his education) is supposed to disqualify him for a US Senate seat? Reaching out to the lowest common denominator, Trey? By May 18, people aren’t going to remember this, anyway. It is a non-issue and designed to be a distraction. They will be more likely to remember Trey’s chicken suit buffoon stunt.

  8. Peter says:

    And all of Rand Paul’s out of state supporters come on here saying, who cares about UK. Obviously the haven’t visited the home page of this website.

    If it’s no big deal and voters will hate this then why do you feel the need to comment?

    Boys this is Kentucky, let me give you a brief tour…..In March only one thing matters – BIG BLUE BABY!

  9. Halyn says:

    I don’t care where the candidates went to university. Both of the GOP candidates are kooky, anyways. And both of the “frontrunners” in the Democratic primary are bought off by corporate interests. Price is Right for US Senate!

  10. dave schmidt says:

    First, to vote for a candidate based on the school they attended is idiodic at best. There are real issues to look at people! Secondly, candidates who advertise a ” vote for me because I went to UK and my opponent went to Duke should be ashamed of themselves for dumbing down their supporters. As a registered republican who was up in the air over the primary races, Greyson just lost my vote.

  11. Liberationdemonology says:

    Someone with photoshop skill needs to superimpose these two on a movie poster with the AVP tag line of “Whoever wins, we lose”.

  12. Drew B says:

    At least Jack went to school in the south.. Our beloved Lt. Governor decided to leave the country for his undergrad. McGill University… in CANADA! Problem with the US Education system, Lt. G?

  13. Drew B says:

    Pardon the mistake… Lt. Governor went to Canada for his residency… my bad!

  14. Andy V. says:

    Yeah, that’s the main problem with Kentucky. A home-schooled idiot will always be preferred to an Einstein from “elsewhere”.

  15. Benfranklin says:

    This makes Grayson look like and absolute FOOL.

  16. diamondbill says:

    Mongiardo went to Transy and UK then McGill
    Jack went to Duke and then GW

    bottom line….


  17. John says:


  18. Andrew says:

    Obviously Rand Paul would say something like that, he’s not from KENTUCKY!

  19. Hank says:

    Sorry Rand, but anyone who thinks being a Blue Devil in Kentucky isn’t an issue dosen’t know squat about Kentucky. This just show how little Paul knows about Kentucky.

  20. Alex says:

    C’mon people. The ad is meant to be funny. Lighten up.

  21. unfair says:

    I don’t give a rat’s behind if he went to the Blues Clues Academy. The bozos in there now sure are noting doing it for us.

  22. unfair says:

    I do not give a rat’s behind if they all graduated from the Blues Clues Academy as the bozos in there now sure are not doing it for us.

  23. KY4KY says:

    I guess Trey and Dan both have something in common they care more about petty insigifigant attacks than the issues, Rand has shown time and time again he would rather take the high road-that is what you want from a US Senator someone who will take the political high road rather than try to start trouble over something as petty and FRANKLY VERY STUPID as where someone went to school. Dan is attacking for the sake of attacking seems sort of like he is worried, dont you think?

  24. special delivery says:

    This Trey fellow is pathetic, he is an absolute joke. He must be coached by another joke, forgy.

  25. littleNate says:

    Trey watches every game that UK plays in …. in every sport.

    Vote for Trey!

    Rand Paul doesn’t even watch Duke games!

  26. TcafS says:

    Holy Chit! Trayson is a bottom feeding scum sucker.

    Next ad:

    “Hi, I’m Trey Grayson, Rand hates Miley Cyrus, but I will always love Hannah Montana, vote for me!”.

    Thats about as relevant to anyone more than 3 teeth or 85 IQ. The rest of you, which is a stunningly high number here in Kentucky, go ahead and vote Trayson.

  27. KY4KY says:

    Dan & Trey Both desperate senate candidates who would rather make fun of someone than debate on the issues-Who writes this stuff for these guys geeeze!

  28. KYVoter says:

    Thanks Peter, It’s this simple mindedness that has given us our current government. Hey wait, has anyone seen, or more importantly NOT seen one of these candidates wearing a flag lapel pin? Thats what I always fall back on in instances where neither candidate went to my favorite basketball college.

  29. daniel says:

    OOPS – I guess I’ll have to vote for UK..

  30. yeah right says:

    Isnt it sad that on a day when we face such important issues like Health Care, and Banking/Investment Banking Reform, etc. that these Idiots are trying to campaign on the bases of who supports who in a ball game……….sad….

  31. Buck Feshear says:


    You Paul disciples should try it sometime.

  32. pmilatty says:

    Grayson’s a moron.

    Vote for Rand Paul. The only serious candidate.

  33. Dan says:

    “And all of Rand Paul’s out of state supporters come on here saying, who cares about UK.”

    Umm…among KENTUCKY GOP:

    Rand Paul: 42%
    Trey Grayson: 27%
    Other: 11%
    Undecided: 19%

    Grayson looks like he could use some support from Kentucky himself…cause right now it looks like he’s going down in flames when Kentucky votes on May 18th.

  34. fedup2here says:

    Well if they want to make it a contest over who went to what university then I guess I’ll have to vote for the Duke, they are ranked 10th in the nation compared to UK who ranks about 128th in the nation.

  35. DukeMaster says:

    Only hillbilly Kensucky fans would think this even funny or mature. It’s pathetic that you morons from the hills have to attack someone because he went to Duke. How sad (but typical).


    GO DUKE!!!!

  36. Big Ben 4 liberty says:

    I for one don’t give a crap what university any political candidate went to. But as for the Duke fans who have spammed this thread, I for one hate that overrated, pretentious school in general as I do the entire state of North Carolina and anything having to do with it. And the fact that you felt the need to use this blog article as evhicle to promote it, speaks volumes.

  37. Buck Feshear says:

    Wasn’t Christian Laettner actually Danny Ferry’s illegitimate stepson? And wasn’t Woj the offspring of Thomas Hill and Grant Hill? Jamaal Magloire wants to know if his back is still aching.