Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) avoided a major headache Saturday after the Kentucky Republican Party approved a rule change that will 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.” State law in Kentucky bars a person from appearing on an election ballot as a candidate for two different offices. So if Kentucky Republicans were to choose their nominees for president and Senate in a primary election, Paul could not run for both. By approving a caucus to select a presidential nominee, the Republican Party has cleared the way for him.
The party’s central committee set 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 — finishing just 20 minutes before the meeting had to end. Two-thirds of the central committee were needed to approve the caucus.
Paul himself attended the vote at Frankfort, Kentucky’s Capital Plaza, lobbying in person for the right to remain a 2016 candidate without further turmoil. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has endorsed his colleague’s presidential bid, supported the caucus and dispatched his state director to say so at the meeting.