Is Rand Paul Going to Object to Electors?

The junior Senator from Kentucky is drawing a lot of attention to himself on "fraud."

As I noted over the weekend, the next and final real chance for any kind of objection to be levied against the electoral vote is in the Congress when the electoral votes are read on January 6th. For such an objection to lead to a debate and vote in each chamber, it requires a written objection from a member of the House and the Senate. While members of the House have objected to specific slates of electors in the past, they have not had a partner in the Senate that then triggered two hours of debate and a vote on said slate.

Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama has already signaled his intent to object to perhaps multiple slates of electors. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has asked that the GOP caucus in the Senate refrain from joining in.

Via Politico: McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results.

McConnell told his caucus that challenging the results would force Republicans to take a “terrible vote” because they would need to vote it down and appear against President Donald Trump. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also echoed McConnell’s remarks.

There are two candidates for a Brooks ally in the Senate. One is Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, also from Alabama, who will be sworn in before the EVs are counted. Tuberville ran on a sufficiently trumpist/populist platform and appears largely unaware of the way governing and the Senate works that it would not shock me if he joined in. I suspect the move would garner him significant kudos from supporters in his home state.

The other possibility is McConnell’s fellow Kentuckian, Rand Paul. Paul has been on a bit of tear this week proclaiming the election was “stolen.” If Paul is a man of his convictions (yes, that seems unlikely) I suppose he has no choice but to object.

Here he is at a Senate hearing this week:

And on Fox and Friends:

All of this is baseless, but yet he persists.

My guess is that he will weasel out of a formal objection, citing the unfair futility of it all, or some such.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    I think my preferred approach to this is to ask each claimant to name the individuals who committed electoral fraud. No more passive voice — name names, or shut up. If you can’t name names, then you are admitting that you have no evidence and are making stuff up to mess with America.

    Then any named individuals can sue for slander.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    It would hardly be the first time Little Randy dug his heels in, made a stink, then backed down once he’d gotten enough publicity.

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  3. Jon says:

    I think Rand Paul is a perfect example of why Jen O’Malley Dillon correctly referred to Republicans as fuckers.

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  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Actually, I hope one of them does object. Anything to give Moscow Mitch heartburn and sow discord among Rs.

    Tubberville is an ignoramus, but someone will explain to him that if he crosses McConnell, his office will either be a phone booth in the lobby or buried so deep in bowels of the capitol that he’ll need pitons and rope to reach the Senate floor. The there are the committee assignments…

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  5. wr says:

    I think Paul is enough of a self-aggrandizing piece of shit to do this. The only thing that might stop him is if Mitch actually punished a member of his own caucus for once.

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  6. Barry says:

    Why not object?

    It’s clear that trashing the election carries no penalty, and can be done surgically. Note that the GOP is not trying to throw out the elections in swing states, but *only* the votes for president and *only* if they lost.

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  7. drj says:

    Sometimes it’s best to have the rot out in the open.

    I suspect this is one of these cases.

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  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Let him. Under the rules of 3 US 15, there is zero, zero chance that any signed-off objections to any state’s electoral votes will be sustained, so this amounts to theater. If they want to engage in theatrics that accomplish no objectives, fracture their caucus, and aggravate their leadership, OK by me. Just let me know when to have my popcorn ready.

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  9. Kathy says:

    You know how this will play in the street mere days from the count in congress.

    “If there was no fraud, why did all the Republicans in Congress object to the vote?”

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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  10. Scott F. says:

    In the election-related cases they’ve pursued, Trump’s lawyers have pointedly avoided sweeping claims of fraud, because they are bound by rules of the court against making such claims without evidence.

    But Rand Paul can spew out baseless lies claiming that there’s fraud and that the election was stolen in a Senate hearing and he doesn’t have a thing to fear from the institution. If a witness said what he said in that same room, they’d be committing a felony, right?

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  11. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, my fear is that if one Senator does object, then in truth the R’s in the Senate do NOT have to vote it down at an individual level. Between D votes, Romney, Collins, and a couple others there is enough to stop it from passing. But it would still allow up to 49 cynical profiles in cowardice currently masquerading as Senators to do almost unbelievable damage to the country by voting for the fraud.

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  12. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    It’s purely to boost their street cred with the Trumpkins. But the Trumpkins appears to be getting tired of all talk and no action.

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  13. Moosebreath says:

    Let’s see:

    1. It gets Rand Paul’s name in the headlines.
    2. It shows he is independent of the mainstream Republicans, and especially the Senate leadership.
    3. Doing so does not require actually producing evidence, just setting forth his feelings.

    Seems overdetermined to me.

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  14. drj says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    But it would still allow up to 49 cynical profiles in cowardice currently masquerading as Senators to do almost unbelievable damage to the country by voting for the fraud.

    Sure. But why would it be better for the country if they waited to do this until the next time?

    Your strategy is similar to hoping that a violent person doesn’t get an outburst. This makes sense as long as you can get yourself removed from the situation at some point.

    I’m not sure that’s possible here. Republicans won’t get any less crazy.

    Which means that exposing the extent of the rot at the earliest opportunity might still convince some people to step away from the ledge. The more they are being radicalized, the less likely that will be.

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  15. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Looks like Putin has switched ponies. At least this one managed to get elected to something first.

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    By embracing the Pauls, Libertarians do themselves no favors. I give a lot of grief to Libertarians, but I think for the most part they are naive, not malignant. Rand Paul, on the other hand, is a malignant little weasel, with no sense of morality or decency. All you have to know about Rand Paul is that he deliberately and viciously antagonized his neighbor for years, and when his neighbor finally cracked* and tackled him, Paul sued him for every dollar he had.

    *Here’s the story. Years ago, Paul had a big pile of unsightly branches in the middle of his yard and his neighbor asked him if he would remove them. Paul responded by moving them to the edge of his property closest to his neighbor’s house. After some time had past, the neighbor finally removed all of it himself. For the next several years every time Paul had yard waste he would pile it in the same place, and his neighbor would remove it. On this particular day, Paul had an especially big pile so he hid half of it behind his garage and put the other half in the usual place. Sure enough the neighbor came out and spent a couple of hours bundling and tying the waste and taking it to the dump. As soon as the neighbor left Paul came out and moved the other half of the pile into position. When the neighbor came home Paul stood in the middle of his yard so he could see the guys expression and laugh at him. That’s when the neighbor lost it and charged Paul and tackled him.

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  17. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “If they want to engage in theatrics that accomplish no objectives, fracture their caucus, and aggravate their leadership,…”

    As far as we can tell, it does accomplish objectives, boosting Rand Paul as a Loyal Trumpist (i.e., positioning for 2024), and trashing the legitimacy of a Democratic administration.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    What about Ron Johnson, why assume only Tuberville and Paul?

    And, given how much the Republicans don’t want to have to vote on it and put their names to it… why not a particularly plucky Democrat who can then vote to seat the electors?

    If I were a Senator, I would want something for not forcing my Republican colleagues to make a politically hard vote. Extend the Covid relief bill until 70% are vaccinated, perhaps.

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  19. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Oh yah, absolutely. They’re running for reelection.

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  20. @Sleeping Dog: I honestly don’t think Tuberville cares/understanding of committee politics.

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  21. @HarvardLaw92: Agreed all around.

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  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Is Rand Paul going to object to electors?

    I dunno. Is there money/political mileage to be had from doing it?

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  23. Teve says:

    @lawindsor

    BREAKING: Defying McConnell, Sen-elect Tuberville suggests he will challenge Electoral College, while stumping in Georgia

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  24. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    The man doesn’t even know the three branches of government. He thinks; they’re the house, the senate, and the executive.

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  25. Teve says:

    @trumpstip

    This move actually might be worse for Republicans. That’s why Mitch McConnell is trying to avoid it. Mitch doesn’t care about the country. But he does care about a whole bunch of Senate Republicans are going to have to basically vote against Trump because of this.

    @brokedownpalac4

    Exactly correct. He doesn’t want to have all senators forced to go on record. Then MAGA knows exactly who to primary and where the fault line is

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  26. Not the IT Dept. says:

    You know, it’s going to be interesting to watch how McConnell keeps his ducks in a row over the next few years. Even a few of them kicking over the traces and defying the Establishment is going to make him look bad. And if the GOP loses the Senate, it will be even worse. He could be the latest victim of the Trump Curse.

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  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    His neighbor did the right thing. No question.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “I don’t think that Tuberville understands…” is going to be a continuing theme in articles about his time in the Senate for about 6 years. There’s going to be a whole bunch of stuff that Tuberville doesn’t understand–and won’t learn about, either.

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  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gustopher:

    Johnson faces the voters in 22 and as it is, the race will be close and the Dems are looking at it as a possible flip. He’s built up his bonafides with the the trumpkins and he can’t afford to piss off moderates.

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  30. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You’d know better than I would. How he manages constituent services will be interesting.

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  31. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t he?

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  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I gave you a thumbs up but on a more serious note, this is a fundamental human conundrum – there are always people willing to turn everything into shit just because pissing people off gives them a woodie. How do decent people handle someone like Paul without wading into the shit themselves?

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  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I have really negative opinions about NCAA Division 1 sports. Tommy Turberville confirms every negative stereotype I hold.

    (When I would share this low opinion of professional college sports with one particular friend, a Penn State alum, he would respond by saying, “Sure there’s a lot of bad people in college sports, but what about Joe Paterno?”)

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  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I’d start by piling every type of excrement I could get my hands on, piling it on top of the rubbish pile Paul made, wait for a day when I knew the winds would be blowing towards his house and light that fucker up.

    Who? Me? Why I never!

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  35. flat earth luddite says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Who? Me? Why I never!

    Ask Cracker about an episode involving my neighbors, a putrid song on repeat, and a Scottish Bagpipe record set to volume “11.” While revenge is a dish best served cold, sometimes steaming hot, fresh from the salamander, is still tasty.

    That said, Paul’s neighbor never learned the lesson of how to say something so offensive that the other guy HAS to swing first.

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  36. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:
    The most important thing with attention whores, like Trump and Paul, is to not give them the bandwidth they crave.

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  37. JohnSF says:

    Anybody know the details of Senate procedures: can McConnell shut it down?
    AFAIK the wording of the relevant statute is :

    “When all objections so made to any vote or paper from a State shall have been received and read, the Senate shall thereupon withdraw, and such objections shall be submitted to the Senate for its decision.”

    As this says nothing directly as to how the Senate is to decide, could the Majority Leader have it dropped without a formal vote?

    Reason I ask is, I suspect McConnell (and a lot of other Republican Senators) are desperate to avoid a recorded vote.

    If I were Rand Paul I’d be wary of accepting a Christmas drink from McConnell 🙂

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  38. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: ““I don’t think that Tuberville understands…” is going to be a continuing theme in articles about his time in the Senate for about 6 years.”

    What’s Ron Johnson going to run on when he can no longer claim the title of dumbest man in the senate?

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  39. The Q says:

    Too bad Rand’s neighbor is not in jail for murder.

    “It’s a Republic madam, if you can keep (the Trumper wingnuts from destroying) it.”

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  40. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:

    If I were a Senator, I would want something for not forcing my Republican colleagues to make a politically hard vote

    “A plan so cunning, you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel!”

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  41. al Ameda says:

    A couple of observations:
    (1) If Rand Paul was ‘normal’ he’d be Ron Johnson.
    (2) Tuberville is destined to be the answer to the question:
    … What would it be like to have Mo Brooks in the Senate?

    My expectations of Republicans are at Death Valley levels, and to be fair, I’m not usually perceived as an optimist.

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  42. CSK says:

    @wr:
    Tuberville will be in the senate for as long as he wishes. It doesn’t matter how moronic he turns out to be. He’s a college football coach in a state that reveres college football coaches as if they were gods. Or God.

    The fact that he led Auburn to six consecutive victories trumps–you should pardon the expression–everything: knowledge, experience, legislative ability.

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  43. Heisenberg says:

    I think it’s all hilarious because if the Senate fails to verify the vote, the office of President will be vacant. But the House certifies the VP vote. So there will be a vice President.

    Which means come Jan 20, Kamala Harris would be sworn in as President….

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  44. James Joyner says:

    @Heisenberg: That is not correct.

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  45. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Teve:

    BREAKING: Defying McConnell, Sen-elect Tuberville suggests he will challenge Electoral College, while stumping in Georgia

    “Stupid is as stupid does”.

    Never really understood that comment, but the GOP of late 2020 really has helped me better understand.

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