The May 18 Republican primary win of ophthalmologist Rand Paul for the Kentucky U.S. senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Bunning was viewed by many political commentators as a sign of a rising anti-incumbent wave across America. Dr. Paul, who has never held political office, defeated Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson by about a 59 percent-35 percent margin.
Grayson had the backing of the Republican Party establishment behind him, having been endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also of Kentucky, and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Dr. Paul, in contrast, is regarded as a favorite of activists in the grassroots Tea Party movement. That movement, which takes it name from the historic 1773 tax protest in Boston Harbor, is considered closely related to citizen activists who supported Dr. Paul’s father, U.S. Rep Ron Paul (R-Texas), in his 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. A writer for CNN noted: