FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul faces a potential quandary as he weighs whether to run for president in 2016 or focus solely on re-election to his Senate seat. Legislation introduced today in his home state would allow him to run for both.
The measure would clarify that current Kentucky law, which prevents someone running for multiple offices, does not apply to federal elections, said Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer.
“He (Paul) is the impetus for it, but it could affect anyone in the federal delegation,” said Thayer, R-Georgetown, who introduced the bill in the GOP-led state Senate.
Thayer said he was approached by Paul’s staff about the legislation and later spoke with Kentucky’s freshman senator about it.
Paul, a Republican who rose to the Senate as a tea party favorite, is seriously considering a run for the White House in 2016. The son of ex-U.S. Rep. and former presidential candidate Ron Paul has visited several early primary and caucus states to gauge support for his own possible presidential run.
He also will be up for re-election to the Senate in 2016. Paul has said he has not made any decision about running for president.
“He’s 100 percent committed to running for re-election to the Senate,” Paul spokesman Dan Bayens said. “Regardless of what other decisions he makes, he’ll be on the ballot for Senate in Kentucky.”
Another Paul staff member said the senator believes he can legally run for two federal offices at the same time but wants to clear up any doubts with Thayer’s bill.
“Federal law governs federal elections, and the Supreme Court has made it clear that states cannot impose additional qualifications beyond those in the Constitution,” said Doug Stafford, a Paul senior adviser. “We are not seeking to change the law, but rather to clarify that the Kentucky statute does not apply to federal elections. We thank Sen. Thayer for taking this step in clarifying this issue.”
If the Republican-run state Senate passes the bill, it faces an uphill struggle in the Democratic-led state House.
Republicans are making a strong push to take control of the state House in this year’s election. If they succeed in doing so, the bill’s chances would drastically improve in the 2015 legislative session, still giving Paul plenty of time to file for both races in 2016 if he chooses to do so.