Rand Paul is no outsider

His father is a famous representative, so how is the tea party star's victory a sign of "anti-incumbent" sentiment?

Published May 19, 2010 6:40PM (EDT)

I am confused by the idea that the primary victory of Rand Paul is somehow a sign of "non-incumbent" sentiment. I understand, of course, that Paul himself isn't currently holding an elected office -- but his father is. His father, in fact, ran for president, and is one of the most well-known members of the House of Representatives. To make the argument that Rand Paul is some kind of new-to-the-game outsider is disingenuous at best -- though it is certainly the narrative that Paul has chosen for his story.

Sure, saying you're from outside the beltway is an effective message choice. It worked for George W. Bush -- who was another non-outsider posing as one. Maybe Rand Paul really does believe he's an outsider, though. Maybe in his mind his father's famous name has nothing to do with his rising star, or the ease of getting people to take him seriously. Maybe he believes he pulled himself up by his opthamologist boot straps to win this victory with credit only to his conservative beliefs. (I'm sure it was those very outsider credentials that won him a membership to the country club where he celebrated his victory last night.) Maybe he believes this, but at least his followers aren't so fooled:

He paid tribute to his father, who was mobbed by supporters before he could leave the stage where his son delivered his victory speech. People asked him for autographs and told him he was responsible for this victory. It was the same way Barry Goldwater in the 1960s made Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 possible, a supporter said.

Then again, there is something distinctly outsider-y in Rand Paul's fundraising. Paul has raised much more money out of state than he did in-state. His last Federal Elections Commission filing showed him with $742,000 from out of state sources, and $217,000 from in-state donations. Compare that to his opponent, Trey Grayson, who raised $1,303,000 in state and $490,000 outside, and you start to wonder: When Rand Paul says he's an outsider, does he mean outside Kentucky?

By Jenn Kepka

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