Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky gestures at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md. on March 14, 2013.
Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Rand Paul bedeviled by Kentucky law

On the one hand, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is a stickler for the rules and legal limits. “We can’t be for the rule of law at our own convenience,” the senator has said.
On the other hand, laws sometimes get in Rand Paul’s way.
Requesting help to avoid a “costly and time-consuming legal challenge,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is asking members of the Republican Party of Kentucky to create a presidential caucus in 2016 that would happen well ahead of the May primary election.
In a letter dated Feb. 9, Paul told GOP leaders that an earlier presidential preference vote would give Kentuckians “more leverage to be relevant” in the wide-open competition for the Republican presidential nomination.
But as the senator conceded, the goal here is not solely about improving Kentucky’s “relevance”; this is about helping him advance his personal ambitions.
While some states allow candidates to seek more than one public office at a time, the Bluegrass State does not. Next year, that poses a problem for Kentucky’s junior senator – Rand Paul wants to run for president, but he also wants to run for re-election. He could give up his Senate seat to pursue the White House, but given his odds at winning a national campaign, there’s a pretty good chance Paul would find himself unemployed in January 2017.
The Republican lawmaker pushed for the state legislature to change the statute, but Kentucky Democrats balked, leaving Paul to explore new options for circumventing an inconvenient law.
“We can’t be for the rule of law at our own convenience,” but apparently we can be for loopholes when the law proves to be annoying.
As the Lexington Herald-Leader reported, if Kentucky Republicans agreed to move up their presidential nominating contest from a May primary to a March caucus, “Paul’s name could appear on a May primary ballot for re-election to the Senate.”
In other words, GOP voters in Kentucky would vote for “Paul for President” in March, and then “Paul for Senate” two months later.
Also note, the senator’s letter to state Republican officials said he hopes to avoid a “costly and time-consuming legal challenge,” which leads me to believe Paul and his team are prepared to challenge state law in court if the state party fails to honor his request.
The 54 members of the Kentucky GOP’s executive committee will meet on March 7. Watch this space.