Something newsy from today’s interview with Hugh Hewitt. Remember, he and Rand Paul face a dilemma about 2016. Their Senate seats are up, and laws in Florida and Kentucky prevent candidates from appearing on the federal ballot for more than one office. Paul’s working on getting that law changed so that he can run for president and Senate simultaneously but he’s got a problem with the state’s House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats. Hewitt wanted to know if Rubio would try the same trick. Answer: Nope, it’s either/or for him. If he jumps in for president, he’s done in the Senate, which raises the stakes — and not just for him. Matt Lewis wondered a few weeks ago what would happen if neither Rubio nor Paul could get his state’s law changed:
Let’s suppose Rand Paul and Marco Rubio both run for president — and let’s suppose Rubio wins the nomination, while Paul drops out in time to qualify for re-election on the ballot.
It is entirely possible that this scenario would potentially cost Republicans two U.S. Senate seats (in what will already be a tough year for Republicans defending Senate seats).
At the very least, this could make both candidates look selfish. To avoid undermining the incumbent (or losing to him), Florida and Kentucky Republicans would presumably avoid fielding a candidate until the dénouement. This would put them at a severe disadvantage if a Democrat with statewide name recognition (think Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Alex Sink in Florida) seized the opportunity, and began aggressively running (and fundraising).
At a minimum, if they both run it’ll end up costing the GOP one. Alternate scenario: What if they run for president and one or both of them falters early, leading them to drop out? Would the loser then jump back into his state’s Senate race? Rubio’s cagier about that but he sounds disinclined to do so. Unlike Paul, it’s one office or the other for him. I assume you’ll hear him mention that on the trail if Paul does end up getting Kentucky’s law changed: Why would tea partiers, who loathe Washington careerists, support letting anyone run for two different offices at the same time?
Add this to your list of 2016 X factors, then, alongside “Will Jeb run?” If Bush is in, Rubio probably isn’t. If Bush isn’t in, then Rubio has to weigh his odds at the presidency versus his odds at Senate reelection. If the former look very slim but the latter look solid, maybe he’ll pass on the presidency for now and try to bank more time as a legislator. If, on the other hand, his job approval as a senator crumbles in Florida, he may decide he has no choice but to try for the presidency now. If reelection’s a long shot, why not go for the brass ring?