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.”