FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB FOX41) -- Republican Rand Paul's opposition to federal funding for state and local drug enforcement initiatives could cost him votes in a region likely to be a key battleground in the U.S. Senate race.

Paul wants to cut federal funding for undercover drug investigations and drug treatment programs. Both are badly needed in Appalachia, a hotbed for marijuana growers and drug dealers selling prescription pills and methamphetamines. His Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, favors using federal money.

Paul says he doesn't think it's a pressing issue and suggests that eastern Kentucky voters are more concerned about fiscal and social issues.

Paul's campaign strategy requires winning all of Kentucky's rural vote. Conway has been using the drug issue to whittle into Paul's rural base.