2010’s Most Important Senate Race?

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and his son, Rand (left). | Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/4318291874/">Gage Skidmore</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>)

What’s the most important senate race this cycle?

Over at Politics Daily, MoJo’s David Corn says it’s the Rand Paul-Jack Conway faceoff in Kentucky:

As reported by Details magazine, Paul, while campaigning recently in Kentucky’s coal country, maintained that there should be no federal regulation of the mining industry: “If you don’t live here, it’s none of your business.” Asked about the Big Branch mining disaster in West Virginia, where an explosion killed 29 miners last April, Paul said,

Is there a certain amount of accidents and unfortunate things that do happen, no matter what the regulations are? The bottom line is I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You’d try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don’t, I’m thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.

I’m not an expert. Don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules. Ponder the implications of this. So members of Congress who are not oil industry engineers should not regulate deep off-shore drilling? Actually, by Paul’s logic, legislators should not impose any health, safety, or environmental standards on any industry. And the answer to such tragedies as mining disasters is . . . well, nothing. The workers in unsafe facilities can simply quit their jobs—that is, unless they’ve already been blown apart due to bad company practices. Paul wants to become a senator so he can do nothing.

David’s argument hints at what’s most interesting about Rand Paul: he’s a hardcore economic libertarian. If Paul gets elected, he won’t just be the most radical anti-regulation Republican in the Senate. He could also be a sign of things to come. If Paul can win, Republicans might be more comfortable nominating candidates like him in other races. One hardcore economic libertarian in the Senate won’t make much of a difference. But what about two or three—or ten? two or three or ten could shift economic policy decidedly rightward. Anyway, read the whole thing