We began the discussion of Rand Paul’s prickly Kentucky problem last year, along with the rather unique proposal he’d been floating to solve it. Kentucky election laws don’t allow a candidate to appear on the ballot for two different offices simultaneously, which meant that Rand would either need to forgo running for reelection to the Senate in the 2016 primary or not appear as a choice for the GOP presidential candidate. The proposed solution was to switch Kentucky’s primary to a caucus so there would be no ballot to worry about. As odd as the scheme may have sounded, Rand pulled it off this week and the motion was approved. (Washington Post)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) avoided a major headache Saturday after Kentucky Republican Party approved a rule change that would allow him to run for president while seeking reelection to his Senate seat.
“I applaud the Republican Party of Kentucky on their decision to hold a caucus in the upcoming Republican presidential cycle,” Paul said in a statement. “The people of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process.”
The party’s central committee approved Kentucky’s first-ever presidential caucus for March 5, 2016. The vote was 111 to 36, a stronger showing than expected, after a drama that took most of the day — ending just 20 minutes before the meeting had to end. Two-third of the central committee were needed to approve the caucus.
Paul’s statement is hilarious on its face. What he really should have been saying is that he applauds the decision because it benefits only one of Kentucky’s approximately 4.4 million residents. Yes, the people of Kentucky “deserve a voice” in choosing the nominee, but they would have had a voice in any event. There are well over a dozen other choices they could have made. As to how “relevant” this makes Kentucky in the process, they will get into the mix on the same date as they were always going to and have the same number of delegates to offer. The only way they become more relevant is if they thought that Paul actually had a shot at the nomination. That may be in doubt because as of this weekend, even Rand himself doesn’t see much hope of it. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
In March, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul put his odds of winning the Republican presidential nomination at “one in five, one in six.”
But on a Thursday night conference call with Republicans who will vote this Saturday on whether to have a presidential caucus next year, Paul adjusted those odds to “one in 10.”
The other troubling aspect of this is that part of the deal requires Rand Paul to pay for the cost of the caucus himself. We’re talking about roughly a half million dollars here. Even assuming that’s legal (and I’m guessing somebody would have raised a flag by now if it wasn’t) doesn’t that just smack of the old axiom about people “buying an election” in the most literal sense? Except in this case, he’s not buying the outcome… he’s buying the actual infrastructure and process.
Doug Mataconis takes a similarly dim view, which is shocking since he’s a libertarian and has spoken favorably of some of Paul’s positions in the past. (Outside the Beltway)
It’s hard not to walk away from this with anything other than the impression that Paul is buying a method to get himself around a law that would otherwise bar him from running for President while also running for what most every observer believes would be a safe bid for his party’s nominate for Senate. Other than the purpose of allowing Paul to get round the law, there doesn’t seem to be any other logical reason for the Kentucky Republican Party to agree to a caucus rather than a primary…
The Kentucky GOP gets absolutely no benefit out of this other than the fact that it won’t have to pay for it. Given the fact that Paul’s campaign doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it all seems to be incredibly pointless. Well, perhaps that’s unfair. The obvious point of this was to allow Paul to continue running for President, so I guess it succeeded in that respect. Exactly what it does for the voters of Kentucky, though, I have no idea.
I did a bit of searching on a related question to determine where the funds are coming from when Rand Paul writes these checks. (He’s paying for the caucus in several installments.) Is it coming out of the campaign funds he raised for either his Senate race or his presidential primary contest? It clearly sounds like he is since he makes frequent reference to “raising the money.” If so, is that an appropriate use of the cash? If the answer is yes then that’s essentially a flat admission that this move from primary to caucus is being done only as part of his own electoral aspirations, not for the benefit of the public. Might his donors not have legitimate questions as to where all those donated dollars went?
Or maybe he could just pay for it out of his own pocket. Between Open Secrets and other sources I’ve seen quotes ranging from as high as $10.8M to as low as $1.1M. Either way, a half million is a significant chunk out of the nest egg so I doubt it. (Again, assuming that’s even legal.)
Nothing about this looks very good, but Rand Paul has bought himself a caucus. Let’s see what he does with it.