FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s state Senate passed a bill Tuesday “to clarify” that Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul can simultaneously run for president and re-election to his Senate seat in 2016.
At least that’s the way Republican Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, sees it.
It looks differently to most Democrats, including Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, who called it “special legislation” to benefit one individual - Paul.
The bill picked up two Democratic votes in the Senate – Robin Webb of Grayson and Morgan McGarvey of Louisville. One Republican, Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset, voted against the measure.
Webb said the bill represents “an expansion of democracy,” making it easier to challenge incumbents. McGarvey said he simply didn’t have a policy dispute with the idea. Girdler has repeatedly said he doesn’t think anyone should run for two offices at the same time.
Despite its easy passage in the Senate, the bill isn’t likely to go anywhere in the House where Democrats hold the majority. Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has repeatedly answered questions about the bill with the same response: “A man who can’t decide which office he wants to run for ain’t fit to hold either office.”
Kentucky Revised Statute KRS 118.405 prohibits a candidate’s name from appearing for more than one office on the same ballot. Paul is considering running for president in 2016 but has said he also plans to run for re-election regardless of what he decides about a presidential run.
Thayer maintains the statute was never meant to apply to federal office and that state law can’t trump federal qualifications for federal offices. He notes that several national candidates have simultaneously run for congressional seats in other states, including present Vice President Joe Biden.
Thayer also says the bill is “bi-partisan” because it will apply to candidates from either party – but clearly the positions taken so far in the General Assembly are almost entirely partisan. And Thayer makes no bones about wishing to help Paul.