Rand Paul to Seek Re-Election to the Senate

It’s no secret that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is considering at a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He’s been making the rounds in early primary states, including Iowa and New Hampshire. But the Kentucky Republican made it clear over the weekend that his only concrete plan for 2016 is his re-election to the Senate:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Friday that he would seek reelection in 2016, even as he’s widely seen as having interest in a presidential run that year.

Paul informed reporters of his decision before a local GOP dinner, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The first-term senator did not rule out a presidential bid in 2016, but said that, for now, he is only certain about running for another Senate term.

“For now, we know for sure is we’re going to run for the U.S. Senate,” Paul said at the Woodford County, Ky., Republican Party Reagan Dinner, according to The Daily Independent in Ashland, Ky. “The other decision can come later.”

This has been the source of some speculation. Kentucky election law would prevent Paul from running for both the Senate and President at the same time, though The Hill notes that lawmakers in the Commonwealth may consider changing that statue. Paul filed for re-election to the Senate in April 2011, though that was seen as a move to play down speculation that he would run for the Republican nomination in 2012.

The announcement is sure to put some minds at ease. Paul has been one of the bright spots in the Senate, as has Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), and hasn’t shied away from taking bold stands. For example, he presented a proposal that would balance the federal budget in five years and led a 13-hour filibuster to protest President Obama’s drones policy.

But the speculation over Paul’s potential candidacy for the GOP nomination in 2016 isn’t going to drift away. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Paul more competitive in Iowa against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Clinton holds a 4-point lead over Paul and an 11-point lead over Rubio.

Paul also performs better with independent voters, an important voting bloc in presidential elections, leading Clinton 44/38. Rubio trails Clinton, 41/36, with those same voters.

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