Rand Paul has a problem. It’s an age-old dilemma, that every politician and office-holder faces sometime in their career. Which voter should he piss off, and how can he minimize the damage?
He can piss off the voters of Kentucky-the very people who opted to send him to Washington. Or, he can piss off the far right-wing of the national GOP. His current political base. It’s a lose-lose for the junior senator from Kentucky, and the first time he’s faced personal adversity since his coronation as the darling of Tea Party organizations everywhere.
Paul has faced some political adversity recently, and therin lies part of his connundrum. He tried, and failed miserably, to push through a bill in the Kentucky General Assembly that would allow him to run for two federal offices at the same time. Some states actually allow this. Both Lloyd Bentsen, and Joe Biden ran for Vice-President, while simutaneously running for re-election to the Senate. Kentucky is NOT one of those states, and Paul’s supporters tried valiantly to pass such legislation early this year. No dice.
It managed to upset a few folks in Kentucky, but the general thinking seemed to be that since the election in question is still two years away, Rand and his folks would either get over it, or try again next year. There is a slight chance the Kentucky House or Senate could flip from Democrat to Republican in this year’s mid-terms.
But at least a few voters are already wondering just what Rand Paul might do if it SHOULD pass. Rank-and-file Republicans in The Bluegrass State are more than just a bit miffed that he seems to be trying to find a safety net in case he loses the Presidential election. He has to be at least a little bit worried about that faction turning against a Senate re-election bid.
He’s also already managed to piss-off some Tea Party factions in Kentucky because he endorsed Senator Mitch McConnell in his re-election run this year. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a problem. BUT-McConnell is facing a primary challenge from a well-funded candidate, who happens to be a die-hard Tea Partier. Matt Bevin has made some rather amatuerish mistakes, but has shown some flashes of at least knowing where McConnell is vulnerable.
Bevin waited to enter the race, and in the meantime, Rand Paul endorsed Mitch McConnell. The move thoroughly ticked-off the far right of the Kentucky GOP, since it was already well-known that Bevin was considering the race. They were already pissed at Mitch, because he initially ran from the Tea Party like a thoroughbred on Derby Day. When Paul was elected over Mitch’s chosen candidate. McConnell began cozying up to the Tea Party, claiming he always had been a member and was proud to be associated with them. A claim NO ONE was buying in Kentucky. So, Paul may have pissed-off another set of GOP supporters. Of course that’s in addition to the Democratic voters in an already politically schizophrenic state.
He faces a slippery slope if he opts to run for President. If so, does he even bother to campaign in Kentucky for Senate? Not likely, and that would open him up to the carpetbagger charges he dodged the last time around. He spent almost all of his life in Texas until moving to Kentucky a few years before his Senate run. Not for nothing does one Kentucky political website refer to him as, “mini-Texan.”
Now, losing a Presidential race is one thing. Politicians have recovered from that plenty of times and thrived. How about Ted Kennedy? George McGovern? John Kerry? Bob Dole? All went on to serve honorably in the Senate for a long time after their losses. Rand Paul may not get the chance to do that. He seems to think winning re-election in Kentucky if he loses the Presidential race, is a foregone conclusion. I’m here to tell you, and him that it may not happen.
If the double run scenario DOES become a reality, (and frankly, I doubt that it happens), There is a great chance that Tea Party, GOP, and ALL of Paul’s base lines up against him for the Senatorial race. It may not be overt, but it will happen. After 17 years of living in Kentucky and covering Kentucky politics, I know one thing for certain. Voters there will NOT be pushed around.
Rand Paul learned a valuable lesson when he won election to the Senate. Kentucky voters don’t like to be mocked, and they don’t like being taken for granted. Paul’s opposition in both his primary and general election took it for granted that voters would vote for them because they were main-stream candidates. Paul seems in danger of doing that very thing. But,my gut tells me he’ll step away from the Presidential ambitions to concentrate on being a Senator. He likes causing trouble for Democrats, and hasn’t got much patience for legislating or governing, so he’s in the right place already.