by Mike Flynn 6 Jul 2013, 7:43 AM PDT

Sens. Cruz, Lee and Paul have become the conservative conscience of the Senate. Sen. John McCain, an improbable GOP nominee for President, smeared the triumvirate and other principled conservatives as "wacko-birds" earlier this year. McCain ally, Sen. Lamar Alexander, who faces a potential primary fight next year, however, is putting his electoral future in the hands of Sen. Rand Paul. "Wacko-birds", it seems, are a popular species with Republican voters.

This week, Alexander launched the first ads of his reelection campaign. His very first ad features prominently a testimonial from Sen. Rand Paul. The ad comes on the heels of Alexander's vote to support the Senate amnesty bill and cites his work on an obscure legislative issue regarding fishing. In Alexander's world, it is okay to rend the fabric of the rule of law, as long as people can fish at the bottom of dams.

What is noteworthy, however, is his decision to tout an "endorsement" from Sen. Paul. McCain may dismiss Paul as a "wacko-bird" but Alexander clearly understands Paul is closer to the heart of the Republican base than McCain. The political corollary to the quip that there are no atheists in foxholes is that there are no "moderate" Republicans in primaries.

Facing voters, Alexander would rather be aligned with Paul than McCain. How many candidates in 2014 will cite McCain's support in their ads? I'll gladly take an over/under, but I'm betting ZERO.