Rand Paul for U.S. Senate or president in 2016? Or could he try for both?

02/05/2013 10:25 AM

Eventually, Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will have to decide whether to be a candidate for re-election or for president in 2016. But he might be able to run for both for a while.

Paul has been kicking the tires on a potential run for the GOP nomination for the White House. And his Senate term expires in 2016.

Kentucky law doesn’t allow for a candidate to appear on a ballot for two different offices (see the statute at the end of the article). But Paul might still be able to run for both — at least until the filing deadline at the end of January 2016.

Paul already has a re-election campaign fund in place. And federal law doesn’t prohibit him from starting an exploratory committee for president at the same time. That would allow him to campaign in early primary states over the next several years.

So he would likely have a good idea of his support among Republicans by the Kentucky filing deadline on the last Tuesday in January after the early presidential primaries in states like New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina by that point.

Paul, who turned 50 last month, told Pure Politics at a Republican dinner Friday night that he’s still a while away from making a decision on running for president. But he said he’s definitely planning to run for a second term in the U.S. Senate and will begin fundraising.

Though he didn’t endorse Paul, Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell also mentioned the prospect of the state’s junior senator being a contender for the White House in 2016. He mentioned Paul along with a pair of other under-60 Republican candidates as compared to a couple of potential Democratic candidates who are well over 60 years old.

There’s only one instance in which Kentucky allows a candidate to appear on a general election ballot twice, and that’s in the case of a candidate filling an unexpired term in a special election plus the regular term, according to state statute 118.405. It reads:

No candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once, except that a candidate’s name may appear twice if he is a candidate for a primary or a regular election and also a candidate to fill a vacancy in the same office required to be filled at a special election, when the special election to fill a vacancy is scheduled for the regular election day.


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