Thayer's bill regarding Rand Paul's 2016 options could open door for legislators to seek 2 jobs

03/11/2014 10:58 AM

When state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, proposed legislation to clarify the law in case Rand Paul runs for president and re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Thayer’s bill may have opened the door to much more.

Thayer’s bill , which he filed last week, would amend current statute to explicitly say that a candidate’s name can appear more than once on a ballot — if one or both of the offices sought is a federal office — U.S. House, U.S. Senate or president.

The current state law bars candidates from having their names appear more than once in a general election, although Thayer and others have argued that it can’t apply to federal offices.

But the way Thayer’s proposed changes read, a sitting state lawmaker could run for re-election at the same time as running for Congress or U.S. Senate. That could cause a problem among Senate Republicans, some of whom said they’re concerned state Democratic lawmaker were to file for re-election and run against a Republican congressmen. Republicans hold five of the six U.S. House seats in Kentucky.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchaester, said Republican senators are debating potential changes to Thayer’s bill.

“We’ve had a discussion about that,” Stivers said. “We’ll look at it. I know there are conversations going on with additional people and accordingly I think that discussion and how it could possibly be tweaked will be part of the mix this week.”

Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said Thayer may have made an error in drafting the legislation. But even if the language was intentional, he said the bill is not one he would support.

“I think you have to make a decision of what are you going to do as a candidate. Are you going to run for state office or are you going to run for federal office? Or are you going to run for two federal offices simultaneously,” said Yonts, who chairs the House State Government Committee. “I understand the consequences, but that’s the nature of the beast.”

Kentucky’s lone Democratic congressman — U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville — said in theory he doesn’t have “much problem” with the bill, but he doesn’t agree that proposing policy for one person years before a possible run is “good policy,” referring to Paul.

“Senator Paul could run for both offices. He just couldn’t run…for the Kentucky delegates, so it doesn’t make any difference to me one way or another,” Yarmuth said.

In an effort to highlight the bill’s bipartisan appeal, Thayer told reporters last week that Yarmuth is another Kentuckian who could possibly benefit.

“What if the Democratic nominee thinks what if John Yarmuth would be a good selection to be their running mate? This would allow him to run for Congress and vice president. This is a bipartisan bill,” Thayer said.

Yarmuth said he appreciated the gesture, but wasn’t sure that would happen anytime soon.

“Even though I appreciate him throwing out the idea that I might be selected vice president I don’t think that’s on the agenda,” Yarmuth said.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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