As you may have heard, my hairpiece of a junior senator Rand Paul may be playing for the White House in 2016. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Oval Office for ol’ Rand. Kentucky law says that a candidate’s name can’t appear twice on the same ballot for different races, so Rand either has to run for Senator or for President, but not both. Rand and the KY GOP want to change that law or even go around it. But any election law business has to go through Kentucky’s current Secretary of State.
Six weeks after she lost her own bid for the U-S Senate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (R-Kentucky) tells WHAS11 if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) tries to appear on the same ballot for both Senate and President in 2016, she will challenge him in court.
“The law is clear,” Grimes said. “You can’t be on the ballot twice for two offices.”
Kentucky Democrats are not cooperating as Paul considers mounting simultaneous campaigns for Senate and President. Democrats maintained control of the Kentucky House in last month’s election, a roadblock to legislation favored by the Republican Senate to remove the prohibition. House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) declined to consider a Senate bill to that effect earlier this year.
Paul may challenge the law in court as the Republican Party of Kentucky also discusses whether to hold a presidential caucus rather than a primary, which would allow Paul to follow the letter of the law by not appearing on the primary ballot, twice.
“We haven’t made a final decision one way or another,” Paul told WHAS11 last month, “other than I have decided I am going to run for reelection for the US Senate.”
Grimes was asked about the potential battle after a meeting at Kentucky’s Board of Elections on Tuesday.
“I will not be bullied,” Grimes said. “I think hopefully the people of Kentucky understand that over the course of this past year, and I will not hesitate to seek help and assistance in the opinion of a court.”
Pressed whether she would also seek an opinion from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D), who lost to Paul in the 2010 Senate race, Grimes reiterated that she would rely on the courts.
“We’ll look to the court for any guidance that is needed,” Grimes said. “And at the end of the day, we’re not going to be bullied. I’ve done my job as Secretary of State for the people of Kentucky and I’ll continue to do that.”
Some background on politics here.
Republicans control Kentucky’s state Senate, Democrats control Kentucky’s state House. Odds are good there’s going to be a Senate bill reversing the law, but it will have to get past the House and Kentucky’s ambitious House Speaker, Greg Stumbo. If it does, Kentucky’s gubernatorial election becomes key in 2015, when Democrat “Dinosaur” Steve Beshear (he of the tax credits for the Ark Encounter park, recently reversed) hangs it up after his second term. (Kentucky’s off-off year election for Governor is how state officials get around the election law locally when running for that office, the other state offices are during presidential election years.) Beshear’s running mate Jerry Abramson recently left the Lt. Governor’s office to be the Obama administration’s point man on local governments. Beshear called in former State Auditor Crit Luallen to finish up Abramson’s term, but she’s not going to run for Governor. Republican and current Ag Commissioner James Comer is already in for the GOP, versus Democrat and current Attorney General Jack Conway and it’s possible that if Comer wins, he can push to overturn the law in time for Rand to run in 2016. If Conway wins, he can veto it if needed.
So, having said all that, I’m thinking that all this theater may be Alison’s opening act, but not for a run at Frankfort. Sticking it to Rand is a good way to get noticed by the Village, after all. And if Rand jumps in the clown carpool and the law still stands, suddenly his Senate seat is a open race in 2016. Conway, Grimes, maybe even Luallen might take a shot at it. On the GOP side, if Comer loses in 2015 I’m betting he’d be in, and lurking around the corner is Libertarian spoiler David Patterson, who got 3% in November’s race.
Either way, next year should be pretty exciting around the Bluegrass State.
Um, we apologize in advance for how this will probably find a way to mess up America in the process. Sorry.