Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Potential Presidential Candidates Decide on Next Steps

In Presidential campaign on December 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

Two informal pronouncements were made yesterday from potential presidential candidates, with a rather odd statement coming from a third. The first two comments came from a pair of US senators who surprisingly indicated that they plan to seek another term in their current political position.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) informed potential national supporters that he has decided not to run for president and will instead seek re-election to the Senate seat he won in 2010. Before returning to Congress, Portman served as President George W. Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget after a short stint as the administration’s US trade representative. Before that, Portman was elected to six terms in the House of Representatives.

In a state just to the south of Portman’s Ohio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul appears intent on running for two political jobs: his current Senate position, and for president. Paul has a serious problem in trying to do both, however, as Kentucky election law does not allow an individual to appear on the ballot for more than one office.

The bid for Republicans to gain control of the Kentucky state House of Representatives failed, thus ending any chance of changing the state election law to allow candidates to simultaneously seek two offices.

Without having the ability to alter the election statute, another potential way exists for Republicans to craft a system that will allow Sen. Paul to run for both offices: Should they change the nomination process to a caucus from the regular primary election, then the aspiring presidential candidate’s name would not technically appear on a ballot, especially if caucus participants vote directly for delegates and not for the individual candidates. But, caucuses are party-run operations meaning that the Kentucky Republican Party would be responsible for the entire substantial cost of conducting the statewide meetings in potentially every precinct. Under the current primary voting structure, the state is responsible for implementing and financing the electoral event.

A third option would find Sen. Paul running for president in 49 states, in all but the place he currently represents, Kentucky. For the Blue Grass State primary, Paul would only be on the ballot for US Senate.

Paul’s stated desire to run for both offices answers a critical question about whether or not he would relinquish the Senate seat in attempting to go “all in” for the presidential contest. Upon successfully securing the Republican presidential nomination, he would then be forced to resign from the KY senatorial ticket. At this point he would be out of options to keep his current position as a political insurance policy, since both the presidential and senatorial contests would go before the people in the 2016 general election.

Yet another potential presidential candidate also made a statement in an attempt to clarify future plans. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he will decide shortly whether to run for the nation’s top office and admits to be seriously considering doing so.

But, his approach is an unusual one, to say the least. Seemingly poking a figurative stick in the eye of those who comprise the bulk of the GOP voting base, Bush was quoted as saying at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council event that the eventual Republican presidential nominee should, “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.” He did not elaborate on how a candidate would advance to the general election after losing the primary.

Conservatives have major strength in the nominating system, so Bush coming out of the gate firing salvos at them may not be the strongest way to begin a campaign … if that’s what he’s doing.

Adding these top names to others like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and even businessman Donald Trump who are all actively making trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, means as many as 20 Republicans are mentioned as either considering or are taking active steps toward launching campaigns for president.

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