2016 Elections

WKU PBS

U.S. Senator Rand Paul will be in Bowling Green this weekend, asking fellow Republicans to change the way they nominate presidential candidates.

The Republican Party of Kentucky’s executive committee is meeting Saturday afternoon in Warren County, and Paul is hoping they will endorse his plan to replace the state’s presidential primary with a caucus.

In a primary, the winner is determined by counting ballots. A caucus counts the number of supporters who appear at meetings across the state on a specified day.

Paul wants the state GOP to move to a caucus so that he could run for both President and another U.S. Senate term at the same time. Current Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from appearing on the same ballot for multiple offices.

The Associated Press reports Paul believes a caucus would also offer military personnel greater opportunities to participate.

Kentucky is home to two military bases and absentee voters have posed problems for other caucuses around the country. A spokesman for Paul noted a caucus gives organizers more options to accommodate military voters.

Office of Ky Governor

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the national Democratic Party is paying the price for not putting enough resources into winning Congressional and state legislative races.

Beshear made the comments over the weekend during the release of draft recommendations made by a task force charged with helping the party prepare for the 2016 election cycle.

Beshear is one of the 11 members of the task force, and says the Democratic National Committee needs to implement a “National Narrative Project” that will gather input from party leaders and members to create a “strong values-based national narrative that will engage, inspire, and motivate voters to identify with and support Democrats.”

Beshear also called upon the party to rebuild “its bench” by recruiting stronger candidates for state legislative seats over the next three election cycles, something he said would help Democrats influence the redrawing of Congressional districts after the next Census is completed.

A published report says Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is eyeing April 7 as the date he will announce whether or not he’s running for president.

The story in The New York Times quoted anonymous sources close to the Bowling Green Republican as saying only family doubts regarding a run could keep Paul from entering the race.  If Paul officially enters the GOP primary field at such an early date, it would give him 10 months to raise money and hire staff ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

The report says Paul would most likely declare his White House bid in Kentucky, followed by a tour of states with early nominating contests, such as Iowa, New Hampsire, and South Carolina.

Paul has already announced plans to run for re-election to the Senate in 2016. Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from appearing on the same ballot for two different offices. Paul is actively lobbying the state Republican Party to hold a presidential caucus in 2016 instead of the usual primary vote, which would allow him to simultaneously run for his Senate seat and president.

There may not be any officially declared candidates for president yet, but prominent Republicans from Jeb Bush to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are making big speeches and jostling for consultants and donors. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton may not formally announce whether she is running for months. But any number of polls would indicate, without even declaring, she has a lock on the Democratic nomination.

Which got me thinking — who are the other potential Democratic candidates?

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, political leaders with an eye on the White House in 2016 spent much of the week jumping into, and then trying to bail themselves out of, the vaccine debate.

Some brushed the issue off as an unnecessary media circus, but it's worth taking a look at its deeper political meaning. Here are five things the vaccine politics kerfuffle of 2015 tells us about the emerging field of presidential candidates for 2016.

1. Vaccination politics are a problem for Republicans — not Democrats.

In a prime-time speech Wednesday, President Obama called on Congress to support his fight against the extremist group known as Islamic State. That call has been getting mixed reaction on Capitol Hill, including from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. He says that while he supports the fight against ISIS, he believes the president is "going about it in the wrong way."

His father, Ron Paul, twice ran for president as a candidate who never strayed from a firm libertarian path.

It's still more than 15 months until the Iowa caucuses, and no one in the crowded field of Republicans with presidential ambitions has announced. But things are already happening in Iowa, especially for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Paul has reached out to Iowans who never considered voting for his father, Ron Paul, who made a respectable third-place showing there in 2012.

He's still popular with his father's old supporters. Many of them are in the so-called liberty faction of the Iowa GOP.

WKU PBS

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has several appearances in New Hampshire this week—appearances  that are likely to further the impression that the Bowling Green Republican is planning to run for the White House.

Sen. Paul is scheduled to speak at an event Thursday in Manchester, New Hampshire, that is hosted by Generation Opportunity, a libertarian-leaning youth group the website Politico says has ties to the Koch brothers.

On Friday, Paul will headline the New Hampshire Republican Party’s Breakfast in the Granite State,  a unity event following Tuesday’s state primary.

New Hampshire, of course, is one of a handful of early caucus and primary states that plays an outsized role in U.S. Presidential elections. Paul’s brand of libertarianism has many fans among Granite State Republicans, who are known for their independent streak.

Paul has said he will announce in early 2015 whether or not he is running for the White House in 2016.

In a ranking of the Politico 50, the online political magazine says Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator--and possible 2016 presidential candidate--is scrambling the way we think about terms like "conservative."

WKU PBS

A majority of Kentuckians are against the idea of changing a state law to allow Rand Paul to run for both the White House and Senate in 2016.

The Bluegrass Poll of 647 registered voters shows two-thirds are against changing the law, including a majority of Republicans.

See the poll's data here.

Paul, a Bowling Green Republican,  is up for re-election to the Senate in 2016, but is also considering a presidential bid that year. Kentucky law disallows a candidate’s name from appearing on the same ballot for two different offices.

Some highlights from the poll:

  • 66% of those surveyed were opposed to changing the law, with 27% in favor.
  • 54% of Republicans were opposed, while 78% of Democrats said the law should not be changed.
  • Sen. Paul is viewed favorably by 39% of those surveyed, 32% view the Bowling Green Republican unfavorably, and 24% said they were neutral

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