Kentucky Senator Rand Paul enjoys a highly influential voice in Washington, D.C., and his seat looks relatively safe if he wants to rise up the Republican ranks. He’s also clearly laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign. Thanks to Tuesday’s election results, however, Paul may have to abandon his post in the Senate in order to run for president in 2016.
State law prevents candidates from running for two offices at once. Since Paul is up for reelection in 2016, the junior senator would have to give up his place on the ballot if he decides to make a White House bid. It would be either the presidency or bust for Paul.
Republicans hoped to spare Paul this dilemma by taking over the Democratic-held Kentucky House of Representatives on Tuesday, which would have allowed them to pass a law allowing the senator to run for both offices at once. Paul campaigned on behalf of Republican candidates in swing districts, but in the end, Democrats retained a 54-46 majority. They have already shot down previous efforts to give Paul an extra slot on the ballot.
Paul spokesman Dan Bayens told the Cincinnati Enquirer the senator is set on announcing a run for reelection first, and that any other plans will come later in the year. Bayens contends that state law can’t dictate Paul’s appearance on a federal ballot and he may have some creative workarounds available, like skipping the Kentucky GOP primary or turning it into a caucus to buy him time in case he doesn’t get the nomination.
For now, though, Paul looks like he could be stuck in a tough choice between moving up the ladder in the Senate, where he’s managed to generate tremendous attention for libertarian causes near and dear to his heart, or following in the footsteps of father Ron Paul and running for the White House.