Here’s a good way for libertarians to prove they’re serious political actors: Mount a third-party challenge to their best shot at a Senate seat in ages because he — Ron Paul’s son — isn’t quite 99 and 44/100 percent pure.

“He had gone from being an outsider candidate to a tea party candidate to an establishment candidate in the past nine months,” [state Libertarian vice chairman Joshua] Koch said. “It’s a complete identity crisis. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Insisting Paul is no Libertarian, Koch called Paul and his Democratic opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, “faces of the same bad coin.”…

Koch said Paul’s views on a variety of subjects differ from the Libertarian Party, including his promised support for any measures to ban abortion and his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Trying to impose a national standard for that would throw the whole system out of balance, and that’s definitely not Libertarian,” Koch said.

Koch also said Paul is out of step with Libertarians in his unwillingness to call for U.S. troops to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’m intrigued by the fact that they think he’s on the level about Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve always assumed that was Paul’s version of Obama’s lie about his supposed opposition to gay marriage, which the left has the good sense to indulge in the name of electability. Seriously, it just so happens that Rand Paul, novice candidate, has sharply different views from his old man in the one area that made Ron Paul electoral poison to so many conservatives in 2008? C’mon. Anyway, the filing deadline’s August 10. The question: Is a party that struggles to crack two percent of the vote in a general election really a threat to Rand Paul in Kentucky? It’s hard to imagine Conway winning 49/48/3, as most purist libertarians will probably hold their nose and vote Paul if the race is that close in the end. But I guess if the purists can get the meme going that he’s a phony, maybe enough people stay home or refuse to donate that it really does end up hurting him. Quick, Rand: Condemn the Civil Rights Act before it’s too late!

Incidentally, they’re quite right about Paul bucking the libertarian tide on abortion. His father’s pro-life too, but Rand is really pro-life. Really.