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Why Phil Moffett Isn't Rand Paul Why Phil Moffett Isn't Rand Paul Why Phil Moffett Isn't Rand Paul Why Phil Moffett Isn't Ra...

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Politics

Why Phil Moffett Isn't Rand Paul

March 4, 2011
Fundraising: In this area, Paul's connection with his father proved to be a huge advantage. Thanks largely to an enthusiastic network of Ron Paul supporters, Paul had little problems raising enough money to compete as a novice candidate. While Paul found great success with out of state donors, Kentucky's in-state Tea Party movement did not emerge as a fundraising force, according to former Grayson aide Les Fugate. "Kentucky donors didn't really have an appetite for the Tea Party," Fugate said. "Almost all of Rand's money came from outside Kentucky. Almost all of Grayson's came from inside." From the outset, Moffett lacked Paul's immediate fundraising base, and he has failed to develop one in the early stages of the campaign. As of January 1, Moffett had less than $9,000 cash on hand. At the same time, Williams had more than $640,000 cash on hand. National Buzz: The chances of Moffett's fundraising and name recognition improving are diminished because of the lack of national buzz surrounding the gubernatorial race. With control of the Senate on the line, Paul's primary generated a lot of interest at the national level. Thanks to his famous last name and espousal of Tea Party positions, Paul became a frequent guest on Fox News, appearing on the network much more often than Grayson. "When Kentucky Republicans saw Rand Paul on Fox News as a candidate in their state, it told them that he was closer to their point of view than Trey Grayson," said Al Cross, a longtime political columnist at the Louisville Courier-Journal. Without significant federal implications, it's unlikely that the media or national Tea Party activists will pay close attention to the gubernatorial race. A Third Choice: Despite the presence of several minor candidates, the 2010 Senate GOP primary was truly a two horse race between Paul and Grayson. But in this year's gubernatorial contest, a third relevant candidate - Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw - made a late entry into the field. Holsclaw's presence poses two problems for Moffett. First, like Moffett, Holsclaw is from Louisville. She is widely known and generally well-liked by Republicans in the area where Moffett has the highest name recognition. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the anti-establishment vote now will likely be divided between Holsclaw and Moffett. Voters who oppose Williams simply because of his lengthy career in government now have two alternative choices, rather than just one. Anti-Incumbency: In the Senate race, Paul's campaign successfully framed Grayson as an incumbent candidate. While he wasn't running for reelection, Grayson had been hand-picked by the Republican establishment to run for a GOP-held seat. In the gubernatorial race, the primary will produce a challenger for a sitting Democratic governor. As a result, Williams can actually present himself as an anti-incumbent candidate - with the incumbent being Beshear. Grayson didn't have that luxury. It's difficult for Moffett to paint Williams as the incumbent when Williams can argue that he represents the party's best chance to flip control of the governor's mansion. No Endorsement: Moffett's candidacy could receive a significant boost from a Paul endorsement, but Paul has said he plans to remain neutral in the GOP primary. Paul has made appearances with both candidates. Moffett introduced the freshman senator at CPAC in February, while Paul appeared with Williams last week to promote a state Senate measure supporting a federal balanced budget amendment. Moffett and his supporters actually protested outside the Capitol during Paul's appearance, and Moffett speculated that Paul's heart wasn't "fully behind" the effort. But Moffett faces an even bigger obstacle in his hope for an endorsement. While he remained publicly neutral, Williams supported Paul's primary campaign at a time when almost the entire GOP establishment backed Grayson. "Nobody did more to get Rand Paul elected than David Williams," one Kentucky GOP source said. As a result of this support, it's highly improbable that Paul would endorse anyone over Williams. Despite these daunting factors, the Moffett campaign remains optimistic. With more than two months to go before the May 17 primary, Adams said intensified public attention could change the dynamic of the race. "In reality, there's significant discontent with the idea of David Williams representing the party in a fall election," Adams said. "And that leaves it wide open." While the rhetoric might seem familiar, Moffett will need some dramatic shifts in the dynamics of the race to recapture Paul's Tea Party magic.
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