From NBC's Mark Murray
The first victor of the night has been declared. The AP says that Rand Paul has defeated Trey Grayson in Kentucky's GOP Senate primary.
As we wrote in First Thoughts this morning:
Meanwhile, if Rand Paul (R) wins in Kentucky as the polls are suggesting, it would be the Tea Party's first statewide primary victory this cycle -- with someone who's never been a politician (Paul) defeating the establishment favorite in the race (Grayson). It also would solidify the argument that Rand Paul's father, Ron, has had more of an influence on the Republican Party than other GOP presidential candidates who received much more attention in '08, including Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. Two years ago, who would have thought Ron Paul would end up winning a 2012 straw poll (CPAC), almost win another (SRLC), and see his son defeat Mitch McConnell's handpicked candidate? Indeed, Ron Paul and his 2008 campaign have had more of an influence over the Tea Party than they've been given credit for; Ron Paul is essentially the godfather of the Tea Party movement. All that said, the Tea Party's success here could be the Democrats' gain, because the Dem primary winner -- either Jack Conway or Dan Mongiardo -- would have an even-odds chance of beating Rand Paul in November, so many strategists on BOTH sides believe.
The outcome also is a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has ruled GOP politics in Kentucky but handpicked Grayson.