Imagine a U.S. Senator running for president in every state but his own.
It’s one of the options Sen. Rand Paul’s team is keeping on the table as it continues to navigate a Kentucky law that currently says a candidate can’t appear on the same state ballot twice.
Paul faces re-election to a second term in the senate in 2016, the same year he’s eyeing a run for president.
The freshman senator’s team have consistently said it believes he can run for both offices simultaneously because federal law supersedes state law. But the team is also seeking more clarity before Paul ultimately has to settle on a decision on how to proceed.
Legislation to allow Paul to appear on both ballots in the Bluegrass State cleared a state Senate committee on Wednesday, but prospects for final passage are unlikely.
Even Paul’s own allies acknowledge the legislative battle will be fruitless unless Republicans can take back control of the state House in November.
“If he can’t make up his mind on that, how can he care for the people’s business?,” Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo told The Associated Press.
For all intent and purposes, the legislative gambit is mostly window dressing. A Paul aide concedes that a federal court will have to step in and resolve the issue, but there’s no telling when that might occur.
“My feeling is it’ll be resolved by a court challenge, hopefully sometime this year,” the Paul aide said, speaking candidly in exchange for anonymity.
One point of contention: Whether the law applies to the primary or only the general election. If the statute only covers the November ballot, the conflict would matter only if Paul captures the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, which is likely to be resolved by June.
But Paul’s team isn’t ruling anything out.
That even means the radical option of having him file for president in 49 states and pursuing another Senate term in Kentucky. That unorthodox move might be enough to spark a Constitutional crisis, but given Paul’s obsession with the Constitution, his team feels like they will be standing on firm ground.
After all, it’s not like this hasn’t been done before. In 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ran for vice president and pursued another term in Congress and in 2008, Sen. Joe Biden was re-elected to the upper chamber as he won the vice presidency.