Kentucky Republicans have given Rand Paul what he wanted, the ability to compete for the state as 2016 GOP nominee in a caucus and then remain on the ballot as Senator when he loses the presidential nomination.
The Kentucky GOP’s central committee voted Saturday to adopt a presidential caucus system next year, clearing the way Republican Sen. Rand Paul to run for president and reelection at the same time.
Paul, who is in his first term, had pushed Kentucky Republicans to move from a primary to a caucus system as a way to get around a state law forbidding candidates from appearing twice on the same ballot. He has pledged to pick up the tab for holding the caucuses, which could run $500,000 or more.
The motion to adopt a caucus system required a vote of at least two-thirds of the committee vote to pass. It was approved with 76 percent of the vote, according to a video of the announcement posted online, on the condition that Paul transfer $250,000 to a state GOP account next month. POLITICO reported this week that Paul told the member in a letter on Monday that he had transferred $250,000 into a state party account, but Paul had not actually done so.
Paul applauded the committee’s decision — which still must be approved by the Republican National Committee — after the vote.
“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,” he said in a statement. “I am also grateful for the Republican Party’s trust in me, allowing me to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate and seek the nomination for the presidency of the United States.”
The vote was also a victory for House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had endorsed the switch to caucuses.
“Look, all we cared about is giving Rand a chance in his presidential race,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “Because of the peculiarities of Kentucky law, all I asked of him was to defray the cost and he’s indicated he’s going to do that and so I think we’ll go ahead and do the nomination for president by caucus.”
You know what they say in situations like this: now that we've established that the Kentucky GOP is willing to take money, it was just a question of price. A pretty good deal for Rand at the low, low price of a quarter-million, too.
Over at Outside The Beltway, Doug Mataconis calls it what it is.
It’s hard not to walk away from this with anything other than the impression that Paul is buying a method to get himself around a law that would otherwise bar him from running for President while also running for what most every observer believes would be a safe bid for his party’s nominate for Senate. Other than the purpose of allowing Paul to get round the law, there doesn’t seem to be any other logical reason for the Kentucky Republican Party to agree to a caucus rather than a primary. For one thing, as I’ve noted before, caucuses are an inherently flawed way to pick nomineeswhen compared primaries. Because they often take place in the evenings, the number of people who are even able to show up is dramatically smaller than the number of people able to show up to vote in a primary. Caucus schedules are also difficult for people who have to work in the evenings, and families with children who can’t find a babysitter. Additionally, there is no absentee voting in a caucus so anyone who is out of state on caucus day will be unable toa vote, as will residents of Kentucky who are in the military and stationed out of state. Beyond these concerns, switching from a primary to a caucus arguably dilutes Kentucky’s importance in the Presidential race. Add into this the fact that holding a caucus deprives the Kentucky GOP of voter data that they could use in the General Election, and it’s hard to see exactly why they would have agreed to do this.
They did it because Rand is paying them, and Mitch McConnell told them to do it, and that's that. Since when was this about anything other than the aggrandizement of my two embarrassments of senators that "represent" me as a constituent?
Clowns. But clowns with money and power.