Is Rand Paul gearing up to challenge Romney in 2016?

But it’s increasingly looking like Paul, 76, and his passionate loyalists are consolidating clout in state party organizations and laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2016 by the congressman’s son, freshman U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

A run even — and, perhaps, especially — if Romney is the incumbent president. It’s a scenario that the younger Paul, 49, a Tea Party favorite, has not tamped down…

“Since the Republican Party is the vehicle through which this action is happening now, it’s probably better if Romney wins [this year] and is as bad as the libertarians expect him to be,” Brian Doherty, senior editor of the libertarian Reason magazine, said recently at a Cato event to promote his book, Ron Paul’s rEVOLution.

That scenario, Doherty argued, would allow a “convincing primary challenger to make very real to the party that there are two wings to the party fighting for supremacy — the Romney wing vs. the Paul wing.”