Republican U.S. Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky has endorsed Bowling Green opthamologist Rand Paul
to assume his seat in Washington, rather than his protege, Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Before announcing his retirement last year, Bunning had given Grayson his blessing to form an exporatory committee for a possible Senate run. Grayson, like Bunning hails from Northern Kentucky.

Bunning (pictured) announced the endorsement Wednesday in a statement:

U.S. Senator Jim Bunning today issued the following statement endorsing Dr. Rand Paul in the Kentucky Republican primary race for the United States Senate.

“In the United States Senate, Kentuckians need a strong, principled conservative to stand up to the liberals and establishment politicians that run Washington. Kentucky needs a conservative who will say no to bailouts, stop the government takeover of our economy, end wasteful spending, and bring down our national debt. And Kentucky’s families need a conservative who believes in traditional values and the rights of the unborn. In 2010, there is only one such conservative running for the United States Senate — Dr. Rand Paul.

“Dr. Paul will be his own man in Washington, not beholden to the special interests and beltway insiders who come looking for handouts on a daily basis. Instead, Dr. Paul will be a strong voice and advocate for the people and values of Kentucky. Dr. Paul is a man of his word who can be trusted to do what is right for Kentucky and the nation.

“I know what it takes to stand up for the conservative principles that are needed to make America a better place for our children and grandchildren. Dr. Paul shares those same core values and has the courage and conviction necessary to make sure the voices of Kentucky’s workers, families, retirees, and children are heard in Washington. That is why I am supporting Dr. Paul to be our next United States Senator from Kentucky.”

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."