Bunning endorses Paul in U.S. Senate race

April 14, 2010 | | Comments 35
U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate

By Ryan Alessi –

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning issued a surprise endorsement Wednesday of Republican candidate Rand Paul, calling him the one “strong, principled conservative” and best choice to fill the Senate seat Bunning will vacate later this year.

The endorsement, released at 5 p.m. in a four-paragraph statement from Bunning’s press secretary Mike Reynard, is the latest public indignity handed to Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Bunning loyalist who was once considered the front-runner for the GOP Senate nomination.

Bunning, in the statement, said Kentucky “needs a conservative who will say no to bailouts, stop the government takeover of our economy, end wasteful spending, and bring down our national debt.”

“In 2010, there is only one such conservative running for the United States Senate — Dr. Rand Paul,” Bunning’s statement said.

Bunning’s endorsement might not shift many votes, said Scott Lasley, a Republican and political science professor at Western Kentucky University, but it builds on the disparity in momentum for the Paul and Grayson campaigns.

“The Grayson camp has continued to search for solid footing and it doesn’t help move him to that,” Lasley said.

Paul, a favored candidate of the Tea Party movement, has built double-digit leads in most public polls, fueled by GOP voters’ reaction to his message blasting government spending and the nation’s debt.

Grayson’s campaign manager Nate Hodson said Bunning “is flat-out wrong about Rand Paul.”

“We’ve always respected Senator Bunning’s fiscally conservative views, but even as a major league pitcher, he’d occasionally misfire,” he said.

Bunning also called Paul the candidate most suited among those running in the May 18 primary election who could stand up to “the liberals and establishment politicians that run Washington.”

The “establishment” phrase — and the endorsement in general — also could be interpreted as Bunning lashing out at fellow Kentuckian and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Lasley said.

The relationship between Bunning and McConnell, who has signaled support for Grayson, turned frigid after McConnell nudged Bunning toward retirement last year while the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher was still planning on seeking a third term.

The communication lines between Paul and Bunning opened over the last two weeks since the two attended the 5th District Lincoln Day Dinner in Corbin on March 27.

Paul, in his remarks at the dinner, praised Bunning for his “principled stand” to temporarily block extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits because Congress failed to propose a way to pay for that increased spending.

After the dinner, Bunning saw Paul on his way outside and said just two words to him: “We’ll talk.”
Bunning refused to speak to a reporter at the time, and Paul said he wasn’t sure what Bunning meant by the comment.

David Adams, Paul’s campaign manager, said Wednesday that Paul and Bunning spoke by phone the following Monday and had several “good conversations” afterward.

Bunning’s statement painted Paul as a kindred spirit, who would “be his own man in Washington.”

“I know what it takes to stand up for the conservative principles that are needed to make America a better place for our children and grandchildren,” Bunning’s statement said. “Dr. Paul shares those same core values and has the courage and conviction necessary to make sure the voices of Kentucky’s workers, families, retirees, and children are heard in Washington.”

Bunning’s statement made no reference to Grayson, who like Bunning, lives in Northern Kentucky.

Grayson has long considered Bunning a strong backer. In fact, Bunning encouraged Grayson to form an exploratory committee last spring months before Bunning announced he would retire.

“At the time he never said, ‘I’m going to endorse you.’ He was just looking out for me,” Grayson said in an interview last week.

Grayson’s campaign didn’t return a call for comment Wednesday.

While many Republican officials prefer to stay neutral during primaries, Bunning hasn’t been afraid to pick sides. In 2007, he publicly backed former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup against Gov. Ernie Fletcher in the gubernatorial primary. Northup lost.

Filed Under: ElectionsFederal GovernmentRand PaulRepublican PartyUS Senate Race

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  1. dingo_dog says:

    … waiting for the Bunning bashers….

    remember, soon they will rename the new madrid fault “Bunning’s Fault”

  2. rabbithash says:

    I suspect R Paul’s numbers will now plummet. You couldn’t ask for a more sterling recommendation than from ‘ol sleezeball Bunning (a person whose only accomplishment seems to have been a mean pitcher).

  3. one mind says:

    Paul is not even a Republican by position. He is not pro life, he is for withdrawing all the troops from the war, he is for closing Gitmo, civil trials for terrorists, blames 911 on the USA’s arrogance and is anti defense. I am a Democratic, have voted for Republicans for the Senators for a long time, but Paul is more liberal than the Dems candidates. What are the Republicans thinking?

  4. MrZed says:

    I thought R Paul was the darling of the anti-establishment teabaggers? How can the endorsement of a establishment Republican help?

  5. Steve says:

    Why are you surprised? Sen. Bunning was forced out of office by Political Boss Mitch McConnell!

  6. Buck Feshear says:

    Bunning endorses Paul. McConnell appears to support Grayson.

    Further validating my plans to not cast a vote in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

  7. Bob says:

    “One Mind”

    You obviously don’t know what the true meaning of Conservative is. You have been confused with the Neo-Conservative movement led by Karl Rove. That is not true conservatism. Rand Paul is a true conservative.

  8. DontLikeAnyofEm says:

    I can’t see how the New Madrid fault could be Bunning’s fault ha ha .. but actually I can’t see how anything could be his fault. Has he actually done anything of merit in his time in the house and senate? Has he done anything not of merit? So anyone that replaces him, Dem or Repub would have to be an improvement. Heck, a coon hound would be an improvement (well, would be to Mitch’s liking, I’m sure)

  9. Verne Lundquist says:

    Mr. Zed: Wrong. Bunning is not an establishment Republican by any definition of the word.

  10. dave says:

    Endorsements from the possible alzheimer’s suffering, retiring Senator carry about as much weight as a bucket full of holes carrying Jell-o. The best thing this man can do is to no longer tarnish the office of the US Senate and just keep his mouth shut and fade off into the sunset.

  11. dave says:

    This is a shocking endorsement. I think this seals Grayson’s fate. Paul will pick up a ton of votes in Northern Kentucky. BTW, for those Bunning-bashers, I don’t believe it was Jim Bunning that was supporting the liberal policy of forcing banks to give out home loans to people base on their skin color….You know, that little policy that caused the housing bubble…

  12. Ruthie says:

    I know now who I will not vote for.

  13. Abe says:

    Bunning bucked his party when they were wrong on bailouts and he consistently had one of the very best voting records in Washington. His endorsement of Rand Paul tells me I’ve found my candidate for sure.

  14. Pro-Life09/11 says:

    Rand Paul supports the use of RU-486, he is not Pro-life. His foreign policy ideas also strike me as being akin to a 9 year olds perception of the world after studying in his Social Studies textbook.

    Rand Paul will not only hurt KY, he will hurt this Country.

  15. Buck Feshear says:

    Bob, Karl Rove is not a neo-con. Irving Kristol was a neo-con. Rove is not Jewish enough to be a neo-con. Look up the history of that term and you’ll see that it has been misapplied for years now.

    Rand Paul is no true conservative. He’s more of a libertarian or more precisely, a Ron Paul disciple.

  16. Buck Feshear says:

    Bunning also endorsed Anne Northup against Ernie Fletcher, which tells me plenty about a Bunning endorsement. I was never going to vote for Paul anyway and Bunning’s endorsement reinforces my decision.

  17. snappy says:

    BUCK YOU ARE CORRECT — MORE OF A LIBERTARIAN. oops. libertarian is sometimes what I think a conservative is. sometimes, “conservative” means acting like liberals but just having different causes– still want big govt, on their terms… not really small govt minded.

    I still say you have the best name here

  18. KeepAlive says:

    I’ve never met a republican that is ‘pro-life’. I’ve met a few that seem to be pro-death. ‘pro-life’ just seems to be a catchphrase for ‘we need more cannon fodder … raise ’em up to fight the rich man’s wars.’

    So if Rand Paul is really against the rich man’s wars, I’m all for him.

    If we can stop the rich man’s wars, then maybe ‘pro-life’ could lead to a fulfilled life.

  19. Ken Moellman says:

    Snappy – Most Republicans run as Libertarians and govern as Democrats. Personally, I switched to the real deal over a decade ago.

    And it is important to note that Rand Paul isn’t a Libertarian:

  20. Buck Feshear says:

    Snappy, I also toyed with “Stuck Fumbo” but decided on “Buck Feshear.”

    Also, “Duck Fuke” and “Suke Ducks.” And K Coach F. And you can’t spell Duke without UK.

  21. PikeCoGOP says:

    I have to say, I disagree with Buck’s politics, but I stand completely in support of all his hypothetical screen-names. Any of them would have been a fine choice, but I am partial to the one you ultimately selected. Well done, good sir.

  22. formergop says:

    lot of discussion about the economy, unemployment, national security, abortion, pro-life, etc. in this race…this race like others is not about those traditional issues. yes, they are important but the politicians who are running commercials about national security and arguing on the web about abortion (through their minions) are out of touch. this year, more than most, the issues aren’t the issue…incumbency is the issue! if you’ve been there (whether Secretary of State or something else), you are perceived to be part of the problem and NOT the solution. didn’t say fair or not, but it is what it is…

  23. Loving steak says:


    You seem to be an ill informed as Senator Bunning. The housing crisis was not caused by blacks or poor people. It was caused by many people across this country, including banks and borrowers who want everything and want it now. That includes millions of wealthy people who borrowed way over their heads. Check out the forclosures and you will see its not only black people but very rich white people in 300,000, 400,000 and 600,000 houses as well
    Amazing ignorance.

  24. Dan says:

    I respect Jim Bunning’s voting record in Congress and I respect Rand Paul’s independence and courage to stand up to the establishment.

  25. James M says:

    Even more reason now to vote democratic this election. Why elect another quirky freak to our delegation?

  26. Kelsey says:

    Bunning knows a winner when he sees one.

  27. newferry says:

    Oh man, can’t we just keep Jim in the closet until after the election?

  28. BetseyRoss says:

    Wow, first an endorsement from Palin (arguably the stupidest person in the US, other than perhaps that Bachmann lady from MN), and then an endorsement from Bunning (arguably the least effective Senator in the US). I’m sure the Dems are chuckling.

    And what is with this fellow above that wants to have sex with the Kentucky leadership?

  29. bub says:

    A lot of you liberals are missing the point. Bunning is still popular in Kentucky whether you like him or not. Most Kentuckians are not liberal, they lean conservative so this is diffinately not a bad thing for Rand Paul. Rand Paul will be our next Senator in Kentucky. If you don’t like it, move to San Francisco so you can vote for Nancy Pelosi.

  30. room106 says:

    BetseyRoss | Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    Wow, first an endorsement from Palin (arguably the stupidest person in the US, other than perhaps that Bachmann lady from MN)

    Miss Ross,
    Obviously, your comments are more partisan than factual…besides, the proper choice of words would be “arguably the most stupid person…”

  31. littleNate says:

    This is a phantom endorsement, this didn’t really happen!

    Vote Grayson!

  32. Fortune Teller says:

    Rand Paul wins the primary…..the Dems win the General in November! Can’t wait!!!

  33. Buck Feshear says:

    Bestey Ross:

    I wish we had 435 Michele Bachmanns in Congress.

    And I have no desire to have sex with Steve Beshear. To call him “Kentucky’s leadership” is quite a stretch, you know.

  34. Even though Rand Paul is a bad choice, I think he will still beat Conway. Paul is keeping his fool mouth shut and riding the Republican wave that is going to sweep the Democrats.

    – Rick

  35. The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.