Jim Bunning pitched a pair of no-hitters as a major-league pitcher, including a perfect game, which got him some ink last week, when Mark Beuhrle became only the fifth of the 18 perfect-game pitchers to have both a mundane no-no and a perfect game in their careers.
However, he's now slated to end his second career as a US Senator, as he's opted to not seek reelection next year. He's gotten some flak from less conservative Republicans about his staunch stands against last year's financial bailouts and has had a chilly relationship with fellow KY senator Mitch McConnell.
At 78, Bunning seems to have gone past his freshness date, appearing more than a bit curmudgeonly in his older years. That rhetorical style might win you kudos from the tea-party crowd, but doesn't help you to shape legislation in a center-left universe that is modern Washington. Current Democratic LG Daniel Mongiardo came out of nowhere as an obscure state senator in 2004 to give Bunning all he wanted (51%-49%) in his last reelection bid, and Mongiardo was poised to reverse the order next year if Bunning ran again.
We may have a proxy fight between different styles of conservative; the front-runner is Trey Grayson, the Secretary of State, who has a political-animal resume; government BA from Harvard, MBA and JD from UK and a stint as a corporate lawyer before getting his SoS gig in 2003. He's only 37, so he could be there for five or six terms if he keeps his nose clean and doesn't try to move up yet another level.
Grayson might be the rep of the Mitch McConnell-style conservative establishment, while Rand Paul might be Bunning 2.0. He's at least Ron Paul 2.0. as he's everyone's favorite libertarian's son; like his doctor dad, he is a doctor as well (opthamologist) and has a political style that is like Bunning and his father.
I'm not sure who I'll be voting for next year. Grayson seems a bit too slick and too much a man-on-the-make at first glance; AG Jack Conway could go mano-a-mano with Grayson on that front, as both have Most Likely to be Elected Governor or Senator Someday on their resumes. However, people can have politically-oriented resume (if I ran for office, my BS in PoliSci might be held against me) and be decent folks; Eileen did a stint in the AG office last week as a receptionist temp and seemed to like what she saw of Conway in passing.
Paul, on the otherhand, will have to live down the ... er... more radical... stances of his father. If Dubya had to live down his dad's RINOey side in 2000's primary, Rand Paul may have to place some distance from some of his father's less-advised positions. If he's running as Ron Paul 2.0, it's 74-26 Grayson in the primary. If he brings something a bit more nuanced to the party, it might be a lot closer.