Dispatch from Kentucky

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I have a Time.com piece up on Rand Paul’s victory party last night. For a candidate who framed himself as the crusading outsider, the shindig was a pretty genteel, insider-y affair, populated more by personal connections, campaign coordinators and influential backers than Tea Party folks. (There were none of the ubiquitous “Don’t Tread on Me” flags; instead I noticed one or two people wearing the ubiquitous Tea Party symbol as a lapel pin.) I suppose this is typical of a victory party, but holding it at a swanky country club — albeit one in Bowling Green, a relative backwater when it comes to Kentucky’s political nerve centers — also struck me as incongruous. The mood was happy but subdued; at one point, as the crowd waited for Paul to take the podium, I heard a young guy in a jacket and tie note with a hint of regret that Lost was about to start. A flavor of the scene:

For all of the race’s star power, what shaped up as a marquee tussle morphed into a cakewalk, and the climax was relatively subdued. As they waited for Paul to take a podium surrounded by verdant lawns, a golf course and a lap pool, supporters in ties and sundresses quietly sipped drinks and munched on snacks. The result was never really in doubt — polls showed their candidate enjoying a double-digit lead going into the primary — but Paul backers were buoyant. “People don’t understand the depth of the revolt that’s taking place,” says Jack Richardson, a former party chairman in Jefferson County. “A lot of people in the Beltway have been in a state of denial. This is going to wake them up a little bit.