There's A Major Legal Obstacle To Rand Paul's Potential Presidential Campaign

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) appears determined to simultaneously run for re-election and for president in 2016.

The libertarian-leaning senator officially announced his re-election plans Tuesday morning, setting the stage for a possible legal showdown over Kentucky state law, which reportedly does not allow candidates to run for multiple offices on the same ballot.

“I have sought to work with any and all who are eager to find solutions and promote reforms. I stand with Kentucky in this fight, and I hope to continue together in the task of repairing and revitalizing our great nation,” Paul said in a statement.

Hours before Paul’s statement, the National Journal detailed his various options for pursuing both re-election and the presidency in 2016. Paul, who says he is still undecided about a White House bid, originally hoped for Republicans to take the Kentucky state house, which would then allow his allies to change Kentucky law.

However, Democrats held on to the lower chamber. Still, according to the National Journal, Paul’s inner circle has many backup plans:

  • Move the Kentucky Republican primary date: Kentucky Republicans could theoretically hold their senate and presidential primaries on different days — removing the possibility of Paul’s name appearing twice on the same primary ballot. This would be accomplished by moving the state’s May 2016 presidential primary to a caucus in March, according to the National Journal. However, if Paul won both primary elections, he would be then on the same ballot twice in the November general election. The state party chairman also told the publication that “it would be difficult to guess” whether his organisation would agree to the plan.
  • Give up Kentucky’s delegates in the primary: A variation on the earlier plan, Paul could simply not run for president in Kentucky’s Republican primary, which would mean forgoing the Bluegrass State’s delegates. However, he could still have a problem in the general election if he won both primaries.
  • Elect a Republican secretary of state: Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) might ultimately decide whether to allow Paul to run for both offices at once. She’s up for re-election in 2015 and, if toppled by a Republican challenger, her successor could be more favourable to Paul’s interests. However, Grimes, who ran a high-profile (though ultimately unsuccessful) bid for Senate in 2014, could be difficult to beat.
  • Run for both and see what happens: The National Journal calls this one of the “most intriguing” options for Paul: simply filing for both offices and daring Grimes “to deny one of the most popular political figures in the state a chance to run for both.”
  • Sue: Other national candidates — including then-Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-Delaware) vice presidential bid in 2008 — have successfully run for re-election at the same time and Paul’s supporters reportedly believe Kentucky’s restriction on multiple office-seeking is unconstitutional.

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