Republican Senate leaders in Kentucky cheered a bipartisan vote Wednesday that advanced a bill to let Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul run for president without automatically giving up his Senate seat – but Democratic leaders in the House warned it was not a sign the bill has enough support to become law. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, joined seven Republicans in voting to send the bill to the Senate floor. McGarvey told reporters he thinks Paul can run for two offices at once just like former Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman did in 2000 when he was Al Gore’s running mate. But Greg Stumbo, leader of the Democratic-controlled House, repeated his comments from last week that “a man that can’t make up his mind which office he wants to run for ain’t fit to hold either one.” Asked if that were true of Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat who ran for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat while Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008, Stumbo said: “That’s exactly right. Quote me on that.”
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, changed the bill so that it would only apply to people running for president or vice president. He said he modeled it after a Wisconsin law that allowed U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to run for re-election while also running for vice president under Republican Mitt Romney.
“I think the opportunity to have one of our own run for president of the United States is an opportunity of gargantuan proportions,” Thayer said. “I want to clarify that he can run for both at the same time, or anyone (can) for that matter.”
If Paul wins both elections, he would resign his Senate seat and Kentucky’s governor – possibly a Democrat – would choose someone to replace him for two years until voters could elect a replacement in a special election. That was troubling to some senators, who worried about people voting for someone who would not take office.