ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Where do former U.S. Senate candidates go after a painful defeat at the polls? In Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s case, the answer is Harvard.
Grayson, who lost to Sen. Rand Paul in the state’s GOP Senate primary last year, is heading to the university to run its prestigious Institute of Politics -- a gathering place for students, academics, politicians and activists based at the Kennedy School of Government.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Grayson, who received his undergraduate degree in government from Harvard College in 1994. While there he served on the Institute’s student advisory board.
“I am excited and humbled to be selected as Director. The IOP played a pivotal role in developing my interest and approach to politics and public service,” Grayson said in a statement on Friday. “I look forward to working with the staff, students, and my Kennedy School colleagues to inspire a new generation of undergraduates to pursue public service like I did.”
Paul, newly sworn in as a senator this week, defeated Grayson in one of the country’s most contentious primary fights, and one that amounted to an early test of the influence of the Tea Party movement.
Although Grayson enjoyed the support of key establishment figures in Washington, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he ended up losing to Paul by a considerable 58 percent to 35 percent margin in the May primary. Paul went on to fend off a challenge from Democrat Jack Conway in the November general election.
In his new position, Grayson follows in the footsteps of other prominent political figures who spent time at the Institute of Politics before, after or in between jobs in public office, including New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, who now heads the National Endowment for the Humanities.
And in the spirit of bipartisanship, Caroline Kennedy called Grayson “exactly the right person to lead the IOP as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father’s Presidency,” in a statement issued by Harvard.
Grayson will take over on Jan. 31 for former U.S. Senator John C. Culver, an Iowa Democrat, who has served as interim director since July 2010.