Rand Paul has a small hurdle ahead of a possible run for president in 2016. A state law in Kentucky prohibits candidates from running for two offices at the same time, meaning he can’t run for president and for re-election to his US Senate seat simultaneously.
So, Paul has an idea. He is proposing that the state move from a primary system to a caucus system so that he can get around the ban.
A state law holds that, with the exception of some special elections situations, “no candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once.”
Politico reported on Wednesday that the Bluegrass State’s GOP Chairman spoke to Paul about the restriction for some 30 minutes at Senator Mitch McConnell’s victory party on Tuesday night. The pair is considering the change because there isn’t usually a paper ballot with a caucus system.
“He’s got as many questions about it as I do,” Kentucky GOP chief Steve Robertson said. “He’s just curious how it would work.”
If the state were to make this change, it better start making provisions for it quickly. It will take months and a lot of political wrangling to get it done.
But Kentucky wouldn’t be the first state to make substantive changes to voting laws to make a campaign easier for a native son to run for re-election and, at the same time, run for one of the highest two offices in the land.
As far back as 1960, Lyndon Baines Johnson had a Texas law changed so that he could run for re-election to his US Senate seat at the same time he was running as John F. Kennedy’s Vice President. In 1988, Senator Lloyd Bentsen did the same thing so he could run for both the US Senate and Vice President. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (VP in 2000), Delaware’s Joe Biden (VP in 2008), and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan (VP 2012) all did as well.
Polling on the question was already conducted earlier this year. A poll released in February showed that 23 percent of Kentuckians said that Paul should be able to run for both offices at once. The poll was taken of 1,200 adult Kentucky residents.
This isn’t the first time that Senator Paul has been reported as searching for a way around the prohibition against running for more than one office at a time. He was reported as exploring his options as far back as March of this year.
A plan was submitted to state officials at that time.
“Yes, I am working on clarifying an ambiguous state law that Rand Paul believes is unconstitutional if it is interpreted to bar running for re-election to the Senate and for president at the same time,” Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said on March 3.
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