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U.S. Senator Rand Paul wants Kentucky GOP to switch to a presidential caucus

The move would eliminate a potential hurdle to Paul seeking both re-election and the White House

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

kentucky mugLOUISVILLE (CFP) — U.S. Senator Rand Paul is asking Republican leaders in Kentucky to switch from a presidential primary to a caucus in 2016 — a move which would allow him to run for president and the Senate at the same time.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

In a letter to the Kentucky Republican Central Committee, Paul asked party leaders to abandon the May 2016 primary in favor of a caucus earlier in the year, which he said would make the Bluegrass State more relevant in the presidential nominating process.

“By May 2016, the GOP will likely have decided its nominee, rendering our votes useless in deciding anything,” Paul said.

However, Paul conceded that the change would also allow him to get around a state law that doesn’t allow the same person to be on the ballot for two offices in the same election, which would happen if he were running for re-election to the Senate and the White House at the same time.

“My request to you is simply to be treated equally compared to other potential candidates for the presidency,” he said.

The committee will consider Paul’s request at a March 7 meeting.

Paul has already kicked off his Senate re-election campaign and is expected to make a decision on the presidential race this spring.

Kentucky Democrats, who control the state House and the governorship, have blocked efforts by Paul’s allies to change the state law against political double-dipping. However, a change to a caucus would not require their approval.

A Bluegrass/Survey USA poll last September showed 66 percent of state voters and 54 percent of Republicans were opposed to changing the law.

Paul maintains the law is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices. He has hinted that he may file a federal lawsuit if any attempt is made to keep him from seeking both offices. Another option would be forgo Kentucky’s presidential primary while seeking re-election to the Senate.

There is historical precedent for running for both the presidency or vice presidency and Congress at the same time, most recently in 2012 when U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, was re-elected to his House seat in Wisconsin.

Vice President Joe Biden also won Senate re-election in 2008 on the same day he was elected vice president, as did Lyndon Johnson in 1960.

The only other senator up for re-election in 2016 considering a White House bid, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, has said he will give up his Senate seat if he pursues the Republican presidential nomination.

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