Jim Bunning had some choice words for Republican leaders as he announced his retirement, implicitly including his fellow Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell: “Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising,” the Washington Post quotes Bunning as saying. “The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate. For this reason, I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010.”
The money that McConnell and John Cornyn were keeping from Bunning will now flow to Trey Grayson. But expect Rand Paul to tap the Ron Paul “money bomb” donor base to compete with Grayson in the Republican primary. This is a rare case where an open seat actually improves the incumbent party’s chances of retention.
UPDATE: This is Rand Paul’s Facebook status right now: “Rand Paul has nothing but good things to say about Senator Bunning. I would also like to thank him for his service, and I commend him for his courage to vote against the bank bailout.” Both he and Grayson said they would not run if Bunning sought re-election.