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Third candidate offers Rand Paul a debate

by Joe Arnold


Posted on January 18, 2010 at 10:07 PM

Todd County businessman and veteran Bill Johnson is clamoring to be considered a credible candidate in Kentucky's Republican U.S. Senate primary.

After the U of L College Republicans announced that, in the absence of a debate agreement with Trey Grayson, Rand Paul would be speaking solo at the University of Louisville on Wednesday January 27, Johnson let me know that he has offered to participate in the "debate," but his "offer was ignored."

The college Republicans tell me they "will continue to invite (Grayson) to various events... including our annual bipartisan 'Cards Decide Week' that we host with the College Democrats," but no word why Johnson is not invited.

"Rand is unwilling to debate a candidate of substance and experience," Johnson said.

And Johnson took swipes at both rivals in a statement after Grayson filed for office on Thursday:

“The race is shaping up to be a grassroots Reagan conservative versus two Goliaths. The Washington machine has chosen Grayson. Ron Paul’s libertarian movement has funded his son Rand.  I will simply rely on the people of Kentucky for support."

Does Johnson have a shot? 

In December, his campaign cited internal and independent polls showing Johnson at approximately 17% support.

"In southern counties Johnson has a three-to-one lead over Trey Grayson and a five-to-one lead over Rand Paul. 'Our strategy is to move into the eastern and northern counties of Kentucky during January.  I am confident my energy experience, military background and business understanding will resonate with voters,' Johnson said. As the campaign strategy unfolds, Johnson believes he will be in the number two position by March.  'My campaign is based on taking my conservative message directly to Kentucky voters through grass roots efforts.  The strategy is working,'"