Sen. Rand Paul is quite obviously running for president in 2016. And he has also made it clear that he is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016. However, Kentucky law clearly states that a candidate cannot be on the state’s ballot more than once running for two different offices (minus the odd case of special elections like that of the 4th District congressional race last November).
Therefore, much of the speculation around Paul’s political future has focused on which race he chooses, the assumption being that he can’t run for both.
However, that is not necessarily the case. LEO Weekly spoke with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office and former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, confirming that while Paul cannot be on the ballot in Kentucky for both of those positions, KY legal statutes would not preclude him from running for Senate in Kentucky and running for president in the other 49 states.
If Paul chose to do so, he could spend all of 2015 and the first part of 2016 basking in the national spotlight of campaigning in early primary states and participating in debates, while still running as a backup plan for re-election as Kentucky’s senator.
The catch, of course, is that Paul could not be on the ballot in Kentucky, both in the primary and the general if he won the GOP nomination (stop laughing). Kentucky’s primary is one of the last ones in the country, and the nominee is usually a foregone conclusion by that point, but Kentucky’s 8 electoral votes in the fall would be a large concession to Democrats.
Another catch is what this strategy would do to his chances of winning re-election for Senate. Paul is expected to have a top-notch Democratic opponent in that race, who could easily paint Paul as someone consumed with national ambitions who is less focused on his job of representing Kentuckians (a charge that many have already made against Paul).
Will Rand Paul choose this path? Considering how much he likes the attention of a national audience, and the fall back security of keeping his old job, I wouldn’t put this past him.