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20 October 2010

Kentucky – Senate

Rand Paul (R) v Jack Conway (D)

By Rob Higson

Rand Paul, a Republican candidate with Tea Party backing, is favourite to win this Senate seat. Paul, son of Congressman Ron Paul, is running against the Kentucky attorney general, Jack Conway, a 40-year-old Democrat.

The race is extremely close and has focused the nation’s attention. Paul, a 49-year-old ophthalmologist, has sought to portray the attorney general as an ineffectual liberal trial lawyer. The Democrats haven’t won a Senate seat in Kentucky since 1992, and haven’t carried the state for the president since Bill Clinton’s re-election in 1996.

Clinton stumped for his fellow Democrat during the campaign by suggesting that the race was between a progressive moderate and Paul, a man “with radical ideas and no record to back it up”.

Mitch McConnell, Republican Minority Leader in the Senate and a senator for Kentucky, is also another important figure watch. Were the Republicans to win a majority, a feat that at the moment remains unlikely, McConnell would be favourite to become Senate majority leader.

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A popular figure in Kentucky, McConnell, 68, has been at the heart of attempts to stall the Obama reform agenda. According to some reports, he “reacted in a positive way” to the idea of “shutting down” the government if Republicans gained control of Congress.

A spokesman denied the claim. McConnell in fact supported a different, more mainstream Republican – Trey Grayson – in the primaries, but the party base opted for Paul last May.

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