Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to announce his intention to run for president next month, or it could be an announcement that he's not. We'll all know by April 7 (via Lexington Herald Leader):
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul isn't waiting for the Kentucky Derby to shoot out of the starting gate.
Next month — the day after the NCAA championship game — Paul plans to announce that he is running for president in front of hundreds of supporters at Louisville's Galt House.
While Paul's team stressed that the senator might still decide against running for president, they confirmed the planned April 7 launch date, which was originally reported by The New York Times, and said invitations to the event have already been sent to supporters and Republican officials.
The event will prominently feature Kentucky in an effort to capture the historic nature of the announcement for the state. That also dovetails with the desire of Paul's budding campaign team to build a sense of state pride around his candidacy, building a foundation for the senator's presidential campaign and keeping his approval numbers aloft as he tries to run for re-election to his Senate seat simultaneously in 2016.
Following the announcement, Paul will leave Louisville to embark on a nearly week-long trip to the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, with fundraising stops and grassroots rallies in a handful of other states along the way.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has threatened legal action should Sen. Paul try and run for two federal offices at the same time, which is against Kentucky law. Paul wants to stay out of the courts.
So, Rand is trying to circumvent that law by urging the state party to have their next year’s May primary pushed back to March. Oh, and he wants it to be a caucus, which will give Paul some breathing room in the primary phase of 2016. If he’s successful in clinching the nomination, another problem could arise (via USA Today) [emphasis mine]:
Trying to thread the needle of running for president and the Senate at the same time in Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul on Saturday will make his case to state Republican officials for shifting next year's May GOP presidential primary to a March caucus.
A likely presidential contender, Paul is attempting to get around a state law that bars a candidate from appearing on a ballot more than once in most cases.
Appearing before the 54-member Republican Central Executive Committee in his hometown of Bowling Green, Paul will ask for a caucus system for selecting national convention delegates, a process that would not be governed by state law.
In a Feb. 9 e-mail to central committee members, Paul said he was not asking for anything unusual, just a way to run for two offices at once, as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's vice presidential candidate, did in 2012.
"My request to you is simply to be treated equally compared to other potential candidates for the presidency. Over half of the states already allow this to occur," the senator wrote.
Paul told reporters last month a court challenge would be costly and lengthy, probably stretching beyond next year's election.
The caucus approach addresses the conflict with state law, at least for the primary season, the senator said. He said he would worry about the general election later.
The general election could be a problem for Republicans in Kentucky if Paul secures the GOP presidential nomination: state law prohibits parties from replacing candidates on the ballot after the end of the primary season unless a candidate dies, is disabled or is determined to be ineligible to hold office. Bottom line: the Kentucky GOP could end up without a Senate candidate if Paul is at the top of the ticket.
Again, that's if he decides to run for president. Nevertheless, Sen. Mitch McConnell is well aware of the consequences if voters decide to Stand with Rand in 2016. So far, Paul is running unopposed for re-election for his senate seat in 2016; it’s a guaranteed Republican hold, whereas the White House isn’t.
Paul’s last hope to change the Kentucky law barring him from running for two federal offices at the same time was dashed in the 2014 elections, where Democrats held onto their majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives.