The Democrats’ next hope

When Rand Paul won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky last week, much was made of the fact that his victory was evidence of the tea party influence on American politics this year, and hinted at November victories for candidates who win tea party support.

Tea party candidates may indeed do well in this year’s general election. But so far, Rand Paul is proving to be more a boon to the Democrats than the GOP.

First, shortly after winning the Republican primary, Paul told a liberal talk show host that he didn’t think the federal government should have the power to force restaurants and other businesses to admit minorities against their will.

That view ignores a few decades of civil rights law and court decisions. It may play well with a small minority on the fringes of the Republican Party, but it isn’t likely to win mainstream Republicans and independent voters needed for a general election victory.

Then, on Friday, Paul stood up for British Petroleum, saying the government is being to harsh on the company for the oil rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always go to be somebody’s fault instead of the fact that maybe sometimes acccidents happen.”

That statement is not as egregious as the one about minority access to restaurants. But it this case it’s clear that BP avoided environmental and preventative measures — with the cooperation of the federal Minerals Management Service — that could have substantially reduced the impact of the accident that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drill rig.

Polls show Rand Paul with a large lead over the Democratic nominee for the Kentucky Senate seat, Jack Conway. But that could evaporate if Paul spends the bulk of the campaign with a foot in his mouth.


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