The Rand Paul Litmus Test

| Mon May 24, 2010 2:27 PM EDT

Democratic candidates are looking to capitalize on Kentucky Republican Rand Paul’s disastrous entrée into the national spotlight, attempting to link their Republican opponents with Paul's ideological extremism. In North Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Elaine Marshall has sent an email asking "True or False…Republican Sen. Richard Burr agrees with fellow Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended racial segregation.”

The reader has to click through the post in order to get an answer—and, as it turns out, Burr doesn’t seem to have commented on Paul’s controversial remarks. Noting that Burr has promised voters “it is impossible for any candidate to get to the right” of him, the campaign urges Marshall supporters to sign a petition to “force him on the record!”

Though Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Paul, Democrats like Marshall are hoping to paint him as a symptom of the party’s rightward shift. Marshall is facing her own primary contest in North Carolina, where she’s competing in a run-off election against Cal Cunningham, the choice of the national Democratic establishment. Having portrayed herself as an unapologetic progressive, Marshall could conceivably benefit from being seen as a foe of Republican extremism. But whether Marshall--or other Democrats outside of Kentucky--will see much benefit from Paul’s running mouth remains to be seen.