BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The Tea Party movement claimed its biggest victory to date in Kentucky's primary race, as Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul easily defeated GOP favorite Trey Grayson.
The eye doctor-turned-politician represented new blood, not the stuffy GOP establishment. His constitutional conservative message stressed term limits, an end to earmarks, and abolishing the Department of Education.
"We have to stand up and take our government back," Paul told a crowd after his win.
Click play for more analysis with CBN News' John Waage, following David Brody's report.
Paul told CBN News that he was able to turn his Tea Party message into a victory because of hard work on the front end.
"You have to earn the Tea Party vote," he said. "I interviewed with every one of the different committees in the Tea Party and they will ask you, 'Will you be a rubber stamp for the Republican Party?' And that's not a good thing because they say sometimes the Republican Party is wrong."
Paul's victory is a blow to Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell, the GOP's powerful Senate minority leader. Mitchell backed Paul's opponent, Grayson, to no avail. In fact, endorsements by old guard types like former Vice President Dick Cheney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuiliani could not help either.
Meanwhile, Paul was backed by fresh conservative faces like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. The anti-establishment message came through pretty clear.
"I think people are sick of the status quo," said Matt Collins, a Rand Paul supporter. "I think people are sick of the Republican establishment behaving in the way it has been in the past."
"That's what this election is about," he added. "It really is a referendum on the future of the GOP."
Candidate Paul may now be in the national spotlight. But for 'Dr. Paul,' it is back to work this week. The campaign trail can wait. He will be treating patients back at his eye doctor office in Bowling Green.
He is not the typical politician, and that is what has made him a Tea Party hero.