Even though Rand Paul isn’t up for re-election until 2016. he has a momentous decision to make very soon. Paul must decide whether to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, or jump into a 2016 run for President. Why? Because sports fans, according to Kentucky election laws, no candidate can be listed as a candidate in two elections on the same ballot.
But the Kentucky Secretary Of State’s Office says Paul can circumvent this sticky little problem. Technically, he can still run for President in 49 states, while staying off the presidential ballot in Kentucky and running for re-election. But doing that would essentially brand him as an opportunistic hack, using the Senate seat as a fallback in case his White House dreams fall flat.
Paul has made a LOT of noise about the Presidency, and has already made many moves in that direction. His stint in Iowa recently being just the latest. He took several opportunities to hammer away at the Obama Administration and on Hillary Clinton about the Benghazi attacks. Of course he’s been doing that for months anyway. That he singled Clinton out is no accident, since she is widely expected to make a run herself for the top job. I’m not here to judge what happened in Benghazi or opine on the situation, but it does seem interesting that Paul chose Iowa to make such statements. On the other hand, having a friendly crowd helps when you throw such brickbats.
That being said however, I’m still not certain Rand Paul wants to give up his position in the Senate. If he forgoes a second term, then loses the GOP Presidential nomination, or a general election, it could be a disaster. He loses all credibility, and his fairly effective platform that he uses to lob mortar shells at anything that strikes his fancy. Paul does one thing very well. He knows how to make a splash and get attention. He’s been part of dozens of hearings, and made a huge splash on national TV, but he seems to value the Senate more as a political platform. He lives for the times he’s able to perch on his Senate chair, and snipe at his perceived political enemies, and those he considers ‘opponents of democracy.’
So far, Paul hasn’t shown a great propensity for actually LEGISLATING anything in Washington. Oh sure, his name is on 112 resolutions during the 113th Senate, but nearly all of them are either aimed at spending cuts, or things like amending the Patriot Act regarding drone use. As I examined his record, I saw few, if any, resolutions from Paul that directly impact his Kentucky constituents. There’s a line in “The King’s Speech” when King Edward is asked by the Duke Of York what he’s been so busy doing recently. “Kinging” was the answer. I could also see Rand Paul answering a similar question by saying,”Senatoring”. One of those catch-all, generalized replies.
I suspect when push finally does come to shove, Paul will choose to sit back in his Senate seat, and claim that for the good of Kentucky’s citizens, he’ll try to remain at his post in the Senate.
If that happens and he does run for re-election, it will not be a cakewalk. By 2016, Kentucky voters will have decided whether to re-elect senior Senator Mitch McConnell, so it’s just possible that Paul could be primed for defeat in Kentucky. How McConnell fares in his bid for re-election will likely be a barometer for Paul. If Mitch shows his usual strength, I suspect Paul goes back to Washington too. But if McConnell loses, or is tested hard by Alison Lundergan-Grimes, it could be seen as a backlash against the GOP or Conservatives, and Paul might be facing an uphill battle no matter where he turns.
Although it’s still far too early to even think of an opponent, Kentucky Democrats would do well to begin looking right now. If Secretary Of State Alison Lundergan Grimes loses her run against McConnell, she still could be ripe for a 2016 run against Paul. If Grimes is out of the picture, then Dems must search high and low for a candidate who’s fresh and new. Adam Edelen, come on down!
Most voters expect some kind of record if you’ve been a U.S. Senator, and so far, all Paul seems to have done is wear a path between his office, and Fox News. It’s easy to sit back and lob potshots at those you consider political enemies. While Paul did face a tough opponent in Jack Conway last time out, it was his timing that was faultless, not his platform or policies. His candidacy rose up at the height of Tea Party Mania, which carried him over the top. In 2016–no matter which race he chooses–Rand Paul will have a much more difficult task.