Riding a wave of notoriety from his failed presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul has returned to Kentucky, relatively unscathed, to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.
Paul has an easy path to securing the nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. With no major challengers this year, he hasn’t run TV ads or participated in public debates. Paul has appeared in a series of town hall meetings across the state, touting his platform, which is essentially the same as it was during his 2010 race.
A vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and intervention in foreign wars, Paul voted against budget compromises that would have avoided a government shutdown in 2013. On the campaign trail in Kentucky this spring, he defended the move.
“My point is that maybe it needs to shut down so we can fix it,” he said. “We have to do something about it.”
There are two Republicans running against Paul — Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Louisville engineer Stephen Slaughter. Both are political newcomers and haven’t run high-profile campaigns.
On his website, Slaughter says he supports construction of the Keystone-XL pipeline and creating jobs by re-industrializing the country.
“This will provide options for those that are currently or formerly working in the coal industry,” he states.
Gould says on his website that he wants to lift economic sanctions against Russia and “freeze domestic national spending on programs to respond to the rate of inflation and population growth.”
According to the Morehead News, Gould’s only other run for public office was for Morehead City Council when he was a 21-year-old student at Morehead State.
During the 2010 primary, Paul summoned Tea Party support to defeat former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who had been endorsed by Sen. Mitch McConnell. Paul’s isolationist views on foreign policy and surveillance fell out of favor on the national level, though, after growing worries about terrorism at home and abroad.
Paul mitigates his isolationist stance by saying he favors Ronald Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” mantra — that force is a necessary means to achieve peace. And the main plank of his platform is the same as it was when he was first elected in 2010: reduce federal spending.
“As a government, we have to do what you all do: Spend what comes in,” he says. “We have to balance our budget. I’m afraid they’re not listening to us, that maybe what we really need is an amendment to the Constitution that says ‘enough is enough,’ you can only spend what comes in.”
Paul won the influential Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll three years in a row. He suspended his presidential bid earlier this year, after a poor showing in the Iowa Republican Caucus.
The primary is Tuesday, May 17.