Rand Paul (AP/Stephan Savoia)

Rand Paul's latest ballot option: Dare Alison Lundergan Grimes to defy him!

The senator is still trying to figure out how to run for both president and senator. Here's another frisky idea


Jim Newell
December 3, 2014 12:53AM (UTC)

Senator Rand Paul is running for reelection in 2016. Can you believe it? He's also probably running for president in 2016. That means that Paul will be running for two (2) offices in Kentucky in 2016 -- a double-win for America, but also something that he can't do according to Kentucky state law.

Paul's favored recourse -- getting the Kentucky legislature to eliminate a law stating that "no candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once" -- is all but dead, after the Kentucky GOP's efforts to take control of the state House fell short on Election Day. Kentucky's Democratic Speaker has been clear that he has no intention of bringing up a bill to eliminate the law, because he doesn't like Rand Paul.

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This doesn't leave Paul without options. A couple of them are fairly straightforward: he could just not run in the Kentucky presidential primary and cede those delegates. Or the party could move the presidential primary to a caucus in March and keep the Senate primary in May -- something that the party could choose to do without the legislature's approval, the downside being that the party would have to cover the costs of the caucuses. The bigger problem with either of these options, though, is that they would only solve the primary ballot quandary, not the general election one: if Paul won the GOP presidential nomination, he would have to drop out of the Senate race.

(This) Salon (writer) is on the record hoping that Paul opts for a legal challenge against the state law, for the spectacle of the whole thing. Just imagine Rand Paul and his lawyers arguing that it is unconstitutional to bar Rand Paul from doing whatever he wants. Anyone who knows anything about the Constitution understands that the Founding Fathers wanted Rand Paul to run for as many offices as possible. It's written in invisible ink on the back of the Constitution, like in the important Nicholas Cage film National Treasure. In his recent interview with Salon, Paul suggested that he's looking into the constitutional challenge.

And yet could there be an even more dramatic option available to this senator who seems to court drama? National Journal reports today on another, more confrontational option, this one involving our old pal Alison Lundergan Grimes:

Perhaps the most intriguing options involve Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state whom McConnell crushed last month en route to his sixth term. One possibility is for Paul to simply file for both offices and dare her to deny one of the most popular political figures in the state a chance to run for both.

"I anticipate that if a candidate seeks to appear on the ballot for more than one office, this office would seek guidance from the attorney general and/or the courts," said Lynn Zellen, a spokeswoman in the secretary of state's office. The Kentucky attorney general, Jack Conway, is the Democrat Paul defeated to win his Senate seat in 2010.

Oh ho ho! Daring Grimesy not to let Rand Paul do whatever he wants? Why that sounds like... a dare that she should act on because it's not much of a dare. The statute may be dumb, but it's on the books, and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of ambiguity to it. It wouldn't be a very difficult decision for Grimes, backed by Conway's guidance, to say "no sorry you can't do this, because the law explicitly states that you can't do this."

Grimes is up for reelection in 2015. Paul and the Kentucky GOP will try to oust her. If a Republican were to win, as National Journal writes, there would be a three-week window in which the new secretary of state could certify Paul to run for everything. It's not clear, though, how the new secretary of state would get away with blatantly breaking state law to help a political ally. I'm sure they can figure it out.

But again, all of these convoluted schemes could be done away with if Kentucky Democrats would just agree to eliminate the law. How dare they not go out of their way to help Rand Paul do whatever he wants. The poor man is the only person in the world who can save this country and this Constitution and they are blocking him, and therefore blocking America. It is unconstitutional to block America. (Just offering up some lines for the court case here, Senator -- free free to use them, they're winners.)

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Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

MORE FROM Jim Newell

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2016 Elections Alison Lundergan Grimes Courts Editor's Picks Election Law Jack Conway Kentucky Rand Paul

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