Senate sends House bill to pave way for Rand Paul to run for U.S. Senate and president

03/18/2014 04:04 PM

After Republican senators urged their colleagues to support the White House aspirations of “one of our own,” the state Senate approved the bill clarifying the law so that a Kentuckian can be on the ballot for Congress or U.S. Senate while also running for president.

This comes as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul considers running for the GOP nomination for president in 2016 — the same year that the Senate seat he occupies comes up for re-election.

“I don’t want to deny the people of Kentucky the ability to vote for or against one of their own in 2016,” said Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who sponsored Senate Bill 205. Kentucky’s law currently says that names can’t appear on the ballot for more than one office. But Thayer has said he believes that only applies to state offices — not federal positions — but wanted the bill to clarify the law.

The bill passed 25-13 largely down party lines with Republican Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset voting with the Democrats against it and Democratic Sens. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville and Robin Webb of Grayson voting with Republicans for it.

Webb said she saw the bill as an “expansion of democracy.”

Other Democrats were not so pleased with it. “I view this as cynical opportunism,” said Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville.

Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, said he might have supported Thayer’s original version of the bill that would have permitted a candidate to run for state legislative office while also seeking a federal position, like U.S. House or Senate seats.

As it stands, though, he said he saw the bill as special legislation to benefit only Paul, and said he wants his U.S. Senator to concentrate on the job to which he was elected.

“If you’re focused on running for president, where’s your heart going to be? Where’s your attention going to be?” Jones said.

The bill also lays out the procedures for replacing a U.S. Senator or congressman who is elected on a presidential ticket — a measure modeled after Wisconsin’s law.

Thayer explained that on the floor, which fed into Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas’ opposition to the bill:


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.