By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
Republican Rand Paul will run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016 regardless of any decision to launch a presidential bid. And he will campaign for his Kentucky colleague and Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014.
Paul was here to address the Woodford County Republican Party Reagan Dinner on Friday evening and to give a boost to Republican state House candidate Lyen Crews in his June 25 special election.
Paul said he has decided to run for re-election to the Senate in 2016 though he thinks it may be possible to run both for the Senate and for U.S. President.
Kentucky law forbids a candidate from appearing on the same ballot for multiple offices but there are multiple opportunities for the General Assembly to change that law before the January 2016 filing deadline. With a Democratic-controlled House and a Democratic governor, that’s not likely to happen, but Republicans hope Crews’ election might be the beginning of a change in control of the House.
Paul deflected a question about whether he thought he could run for both offices in the absence of such a change in Kentucky law.
“For now, we know for sure is we’re going to run for the U.S. Senate,” Paul said. “The other decision can come later.”
But if Paul wasn’t unhappy discussing a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday indicating he’s presently the strongest potential Republican opponent in Iowa for Democrat Hillary Clinton should she choose to run in 2016.
In Quinnipiac poll, Clinton leads Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio 48-37 but is ahead of Paul by only four points, 46-42. The same poll showed Paul leading Vice President Joe Biden 44-39 in a potential matchup.
Paul said he hadn’t studied the poll results but he smiled when talking about it. He said his recent visit to Iowa to speak to the state Republican Party at a Lincoln Day Dinner earlier this month might have given him a slight edge over Rubio.
But he preferred to talk about how narrow Clinton’s lead was and as he has done in recent weeks, he said Clinton must accept responsibility for the lack of security during an attack on the Benghazi consulate while she was Secretary of State. Paul has previously said the lapse in security should “disqualify” Clinton as a presidential candidate.
When asked if he would campaign for McConnell in 2014, Paul didn’t hesitate: “Yes.”
Asked whether that might be affected by a Republican primary challenge to McConnell, Paul said, “Let’s just leave it at the first one-word answer.”
While Paul and McConnell have forged an apparent friendship and political alliance since Paul upset McConnell’s preferred candidate, Trey Grayson, in the 2010 Republican Senate primary, some Kentucky tea party activists have vowed to field a tea party challenger to McConnell in next year’s campaign.
In addition to his trip to Iowa, the first presidential caucus state, Paul also recently traveled to New Hampshire, the first presidential primary state. He’s also made a number of policy speeches, including on the Republican Party’s need to reach out to minorities.
Previously, however, Paul called for a constitutional amendment which would no longer allow automatic “natural born” citizenship to children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant parents. Such citizenship is presently granted by the U.S. Constitution to anyone born in the United States.
Paul said such an amendment won’t be necessary if the country passes an immigration reform bill which secures the national borders and restricts illegal immigration.
Immigration is a sticky problem for Paul. His tea party base generally vigorously opposes any reform they see as “amnesty,” but Paul has said the Republican Party can’t compete nationally with Democrats if it isn’t more welcoming to immigrant populations and minorities.
He said he is considering offering an amendment to any immigration reform bill which would require review of border security and the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country each year before continuing with the reform.
“If the numbers weren’t going down, that would stop it,” Paul said.
Paul’s speech to the Woodford County Republicans reflected recent criticisms of IRS attempts to single out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status and also support for Crews.
Democrats currently hold a 54-45 majority in the state House but dream of taking the majority in 2014. If they can elect Crews — he’s opposed Democrat James L. Kay II and independent John Mark Hack — in the June 25 special election to succeed Democrat Carl Rollins, that task will be that much easier.
It would also be easier for a Republican House and Republican Senate to pass a law allowing Paul to run for both the Senate and President in the same year.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.
Presidency not out of question yet
By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
- State News
Healthcare signup in state extended
While the national health exchange established by the Affordable Care Act — known to some as Obamacare — suffered glitches, crashes and delays, the Kentucky-run exchange, Kynect, was often used as a national model.
Kentucky budget passed with little debate
The Kentucky General Assembly, divided between chambers along party lines, overwhelmingly passed a $20-billion, new two-year budget not only on time but with almost no debate.
Lawmakers agree on snow bill
Kentucky school officials, parents and students finally have what they’ve been asking for: A bill to allow them to get out of school before the summer fully sets in, even if they don’t make up some of the days they missed during the severe winter.
Tensions rise during budget negotiations
Tensions increased Friday between the Republican Senate and Democratic House over continuing negotiations on a new, two-year budget. It even got personal at times.
Kentucky Power plan a potential landscape-changer
Electrical ratepayers, local governments and those employed in the coal industry might have a hard time understanding the complicated transaction through which Kentucky Power Company is purchasing half the generating capacity of a coal-fired West Virginia plant.
Senate passes budget with no locked-in gas tax hikes
The state Senate on Tuesday passed its version of a two-year revenue measure, and unlike the House version, it does not lock in gas tax increases.
House passes bill aimed at saving Big Sandy Plant
Backers of a bill to require the Kentucky Public Service Commission to “reconsider” its previous order approving Kentucky Power’s purchase of a West Virginia generator say all they are asking “is for them to take a second look and look at all the facts.”
Judge: Companies can’t use eminent domain for pipeline project
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd on Tuesday ruled that companies building a natural gas liquids pipeline across parts of Kentucky cannot invoke eminent domain to force private property owners to provide easements.
Still no snow day solution from lawmakers
Senate and House negotiators, working on a bill to give school districts flexibility in making up snow days, each accused the other of moving the goal posts – but it’s the local school districts who may be penalized.
Senate sets budget with ‘wiggle room’
It was no surprise the Republican-controlled Kentucky state Senate altered the $20 billion, two-year state budget approved by the Democratic-controlled House, but there may have been a few who were surprised by how little it was changed.
- More State News Headlines
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