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GOP divide in the 5th Congressional District

by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 9, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 9 at 4:22 PM

After reading on the WHAS11 Political Blog that Rand Paul was not invited to the Pulaski County Lincoln Day dinner, the Republican Party chairman in neighboring Laurel County let me know that Paul is not only welcome at their event, but is credited with bringing new energy to the local party.

And, Bryan Mills says Laurel County now boasts 28,171 registered Republicans, 34 more than Pulaski County's 28,137 registered Republicans

Mills says Trey Grayson, Rand Paul and Bill Johnson have all confirmed for the April 17 Republican Dinner.

"Although I must be neutral in the primary,  I just wanted you to know that his views of limited government are well received in the largest Republican county in the Fifth Congressional District, and that is Laurel County," Mills said.

And, the Grayson campaign would be wise to listen to Mills' view of the race.

"This time last year I was introducing Trey Grayson at a fundraiser; I did not think Rand Paul had a chance," Mills said, saying the "elephant in the room" among establishment Kentucky Republicans today is that Paul is a viable candidate. 

"A lot of Republicans want to view him as a fringe candidate.  He could have some beliefs from his father (former Libertarian presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul [R-TX]) , but more conservative than many establishment Republicans."

Mills, who says he began his GOP involvement during the 1994 Republican Revolution, says "there's kind of a momentum building up I haven't seen in my brief political lifetime."

He says the energy is coming from the Tea Party mindset of limited government, "a lot of individuals, people who would not turn out for regular GOP events, but do show up to change the status quo."

While "maybe 20 people" would show up for an event with Congressman Hal Rogers or Secretary of State Trey Grayson, 50 to 75 people attend a Rand Paul event, Mills said, adding that he has heard a lot from the "new folks," encouraged that they have a choice in the primary, and are not being told who nominee is.

"They can change things from the inside, but they have no interest in supporting the Republican party apparatus," Mills said.   

And some of that party apparatus is equally suspicious of the newcomers, especially long time party activists, Mills said.