Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) easily swept a straw poll of 2016 GOP contenders at the Maine GOP convention this weekend, securing nearly a hundred votes more than the next best potential presidential candidate.
Paul topped the field with 176 votes out of 690 cast, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finishing second with 98 votes. Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker rounded out the top three vote-getters in the straw poll with 70 votes, while Dr. Ben Carson placed fourth with 62 votes.
Establishment Republicans like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t even break the top four in the Maine GOP straw poll. Christie placed fifth with 60 votes, Bush sixth with 57 votes, and Ryan seventh with 37. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) all received fewer than 30 votes.
The Maine GOP convention occurred in Bangor, Maine, on Saturday, with more than 1,500 GOP activists attending.
Despite Paul, Cruz, Walker, and Carson’s topping all GOP establishment potential candidates in the Maine GOP straw poll, the state has elected what the American Conservative Union (ACU) has rated the most liberal Republican in the U.S. Senate in Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Even so, Maine elected a Tea Party-backed GOP governor in Paul LePage.
During Rand Paul’s speech, according to aides of his, he was warmly received, and multiple standing ovations interrupted him. “This doesn’t look like division to me. I see unity, and I smell victory,” Paul said in the speech.