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Kentucky Voters Want To Stick To The Issues, Despite Jack Conway-Rand Paul Drama

Laura Cueva |
October 29, 2010 | 3:50 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

KY Senate candidates Jack Conway and Rand Paul. (Creative Commons)
KY Senate candidates Jack Conway and Rand Paul. (Creative Commons)
Senate elections in Kentucky have been rife with controversy, scandal, and more controversy.

Democrat Jack Conway is running against Republican Rand Paul, the son of well-known Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Despite strong efforts on Conway’s part, Paul, who has the backing of many Tea Party activists, still leads in the polls 52 to 43 percent.

The race hit the national stage after a video surfaced documenting a volunteer for the Rand Paul campaign stomping on the head of Lauren Valle, a volunteer for the liberal group MoveOn.org. Drama also arose from one of Conway’s attack ads, the now infamous “Aqua Buddha” ad, in which he questions the legitimacy of Paul’s faith and brings up a college prank where a woman is quoted as having had to bow down to his “Aqua Buddha” god.

But for many Kentuckians, the issues facing their state are more important than the campaign’s drama.

“Rand Paul is too radical for the state and myself,” said John Horton, a 22-year-old student at Western Kentucky University. “He has failed to provide us with a clear plan as to how he will help grow the economy, cut spending, or balance the budget.”

Horton anticipated supporting Paul, but was actually undecided until the very last minute. The deciding factor for him ultimately became Paul’s stance on Medicare.

“[Paul] has previously spoken of a $2,000 deductible for Medicare, but recently he decided to flip-flop,” Horton said. “I can't take the chance for him to flip-flop again and start charging my father, a disabled veteran, a $2,000 deductible.”

Phil Blunk, a 60-year-old retired auto worker, said as a Democrat, he’s concerned about the state’s rural population, which tends to vote Republican.

“Rand Paul's Libertarian views are simplistic and out of step with modern society's needs,” Blunk said. “However, his and the Republicans’ simplistic slogans about ‘small government’ attract a lot of voters in Kentucky and elsewhere.”

Even so, Blunk isn’t satisfied with the Democratic candidate.

“Jack Conway strikes me as barely average, but at least he's a Democrat,” Blunk said.

Other voters have their disagreements with Paul’s stance on a number of issues, but prefer his more conservative views.

“I'm hoping Rand Paul wins,” said Donald Dunnam, who’s from Mississippi but remains politically active in a number of states. “His libertarian views go a little further than my own, yet he is closer than most anyone else.”

In the end, Dunnam thinks that politics in general has strayed from its original purpose: being by the people and for the people.

“The size of government has gotten out of hand and our public servants now mostly consider themselves masters,” Dunnam said. “This needs to be changed.”

To reach reporter Laura Cueva, click here. Or follow her on Twitter @leccueva.

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