Paul wins Maine straw poll

Greg Nash

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the clear winner in the Maine Republican Party's straw poll on Sunday.

The Tea Party senator, representing the libertarian wing of the party, came away with 176 of the 690 votes cast in Bangor, Maine, according to multiple reports. That was good enough to beat out his colleague Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who came in second place with 98, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who received 70, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who pulled in 60 votes.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a potential sleeper candidate for the GOP in 2016, pulled in 62 votes. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) got 57, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice each got fewer than 50 votes.

Maine has been friendly to the Paul family in recent years.

In 2012, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the senator’s father, won the majority of the state’s 24 delegates, even though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the state’s nonbinding caucuses earlier in the year. The Republican Party's treatment of the delegates caused a minor protest at that year's national convention in Tampa, Fla., highlighting an ideological divide within the party. 

Unlike his father, the younger Paul has made more of an effort to ingratiate himself with the mainstream elements of his party, which has caused some analysts to speculate that he could pose more of a threat to traditional party stalwarts in 2016.

Paul has been actively traveling across the country to raise his appeal before a possible presidential bid. The freshman senator has been urging the GOP to open its doors to more diverse members, and reportedly told the convention on Saturday that it needed to grow if Republicans were to have a shot at taking over the White House in two and a half years.

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