Rand Paul, the son of a libertarian icon and darling of the "tea party" movement, won the Senate seat for Kentucky after a brutal campaign that permanently inscribed the phrase "Aqua Buddha" into the political lexicon.
Paul, an ophthalmologist who has never held public office, defeated Democrat Jack Conway, the state attorney general, for the seat being vacated by former baseball great Sen. Jim Bunning. Paul ran as a Republican, keeping the seat in the GOP's column.
The campaign was closely watched after Paul defeated the Kentucky Republican establishment's choice for the Senate nomination, making him one of the closely watched "tea party" candidates running in this year's midterm election. Paul entered politics by making speeches for his father, Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008.
Paul did not disappoint, spending the campaign attacking the Obama administration's economic and social policies including the healthcare insurance overhaul, tougher rules on financial dealings and the president's economic stimulus program.
Paul's self-described conservatism included a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Paul argued that civil society and not government rules should hold sway and that government had grown too large and intrusive.
Conway waged a traditional Democratic campaign, arguing that some government was needed.
But it wasn't policy that became the centerpiece of the election but a vigorous campaign by Conway, who in an ad accused Paul of being involved in a secret college group that took a blindfolded woman to a creek and forced her to worship "Aqua Buddha."
Paul denounced the ad and replied that he was a good Christian who had Jesus in his heart.
Passions ran so high that at their last debate, a person affiliated with the liberal group MoveOn.org was stomped by a man wearing a "Rand Paul for Senate" T-shirt. The Paul campaign denounced the violent act.
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