Calling him "the only true conservative" in the race, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) this evening endorsed Rand Paul to succeed him. This comes as something of a surprise, because Secretary of State Trey Grayson was said to be acting with Bunning's blessing when he formed his exploratory committee and formally got into the race after the incumbent announced he was retiring.
Then again, maybe it should not be that surprising. Bunning blamed the state Republican establishment and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Grayson supporters, for drying up his campaign fundraising and forcing him to forgo re-election. Rand Paul was very respectful of Bunning when he stepped aside, choosing to praise the senator's votes against the TARP bailout rather than focus on their disagreements. When Bunning opposed the unfunded extension of unemployment benefits, Paul led rallies to support him.
Now Bunning is supporting 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," said Bunning in the statement. "Instead, Dr. Paul will be a strong voice and advocate for the people and values of Kentucky." Bunning called Paul a "conservative who will say no to bailouts, stop the government takeover of our economy, end wasteful spending, and bring down our national debt" who also believes in "traditional values and the rights of the unborn."