Grayson concedes race to Paul

05/18/2010 08:46 PM

Trey Grayson, flanked by his family, delivers his concession speech

Updated 8:34 p.m.: Trey Grayson’s unequivocally endorsed Rand Paul during his concession speech, arguing that  Republicans needed to rally around for the good of the state, though supporters in the room were not immediately heeding the call. “Tonight my campaign comes to a close, but I pledge my full support of him in this coming election,” he told a crowd of 100 or more supporters who crowded around a small podium. Grayson’s wife and two daughters stood by his side during his concession speech, and he said he had just told his girls that daddy would be home for dinner more often.

Grayson said he had not yet reached Paul to concede but had talked to his campaign staff, pledging to appear with the Republican nominee at a unity rally scheduled for Saturday in Frankfort.

Moments after Fox News declared Paul the winner, seen on a projection TV in the ballroom, a group of three Grayson supporters expressed their deep disappointment in the results and said they were undecided whether to support Paul in the general election.

“I’m a member of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, and I think the press has got this big narrative that Paul is the Tea Party candidate, and it’s just not true,” said Gary Leach of Fort Wright. “I think Ron Paul wants to be a national leader more than a Kentucky leader.”

Linda Tabeling of Edgewood who knew Grayson since he was a child and attends the same church as his family, said she would have to take a long look at Paul. “I have to wait and see. If I do vote for him, it will be with a heavy heart,” she said.

Joni Finnell of Fort Wright was unhappy with the “goofy stuff” Paul says, including his stance on public education and eliminating farm subsidies. “He’s an opthamologist, and I think he should go back to doing that,” she said.

Grayson demurred when asked about future plans to run for office, pointing out that he had more than a year left in his term as secretary of state.

He had one suggestion from support Linda Tabeling. “You know what? Governor Grayson,” she said.

After a surge of TV cameras crowded him in a semi-circle and their bright beams dimmed, Grayson lingered, hugging supporters, several of whom cried. He maintained a smile and a calm demeanor throughout, chatting amiably with groups of people. His father stood nearby, and many supporters followed his call to stay and party despite the outcome.

- Bob Driehaus

Updated 7:57 p.m.: Hearty applause as Grayson enters for concession speech.

- Bob Driehaus

Updated 7:04 p.m.:

Trey Grayson supporters gather at his election night HQ

Trey Grayson’s father, Mer Grayson, a veteran banker and native Northern Kentuckian, appeared calm and confident as he waited for his son to arrive at the election night headquarters. “I truly expect to win,” Mer Grayson said, citing very strong support in the state’s 5th district and the closed primary format that required voters to register as Republicans by December in order to vote in today’s primary.

A dozen or more supporters and their children have begun filing into the ballroom reserved for Grayson’s party.

- Bob Driehaus

Updated at 5:52 p.m.: All is quiet at Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s primary night headquarters at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott except for reporters from six television stations and several print outlets setting up shop.

No supporters except for a few campaign workers have arrived.

A podium emblazoned with a Grayson campaign poster, flanked by American and Kentucky flags, is upstage of a long white curtain illuminated by red and blue lights.

- Bob Driehaus

Updated at 4:55 p.m.:

With polling places less than two hours from closing, Republican U.S. Senate candidates were still bickering with each other, this time about reports of Paul supporters being escorted from Eastern Kentucky.

“This is part of a pattern of illegal activity by the Paul campaign,” Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson said in a memo posted on www.TreyGrayson.com. “They have repeatedly evaded tax laws, violated campaign finance laws and are now knowingly instructing supporters to violate election law.”

Hodson was referring to reports earlier that Paul supporters were conducting exit polling and electioneering too close to polling places, and in at least one instance insisted on observing the voting process.

Neil Cavuto of Fox News asked Paul about it, and Paul denied any wrongdoing by his campaign and then questioned Grayson’s role in the election process as secretary of state.

“Nah, I think they play games with that,” Paul said of the Grayson campaign. “We did get a lot of poll watchers. We want the election to be honest.”

He said Grayson needs to be watched because he “actually gets to count the votes.” It’s actually the state Board of Elections, of which Grayson is one member, that is responsible for certifiying election results.

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