Paul And Rubio Face 2016 Dilemma

Rand Paul and Marco Rubio both share a similar political dilemma as they consider a run for the White House in 2016:

Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are facing a big obstacle if they seek the White House in 2016 — and it’s not each other.

State laws could force the two GOP senators into a difficult choice: run for president or run for reelection to the Senate that same year. Because in their home states of Kentucky and Florida, neither Republican can be on the ballot for both offices at the same time.

It might seem like a technicality, especially so far out from 2016. But these seemingly arcane state laws could have real-world consequences for the two men — and their party’s chances of winning the White House, or taking back the Senate.

A number of states allow public officials to run for two offices at once. Joe Biden ran for reelection to the Senate in Delaware at the same time he won the vice presidency in 2008. Same for Paul Ryan in 2012, who was reelected to the House from Wisconsin even as he went down in defeat as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Paul’s dilemma is trickier: Kentucky’s election laws are more restrictive than those in Florida. Under current law, the tea party freshman would need to file for one office by late January 2016. He could try some maneuvering to circumvent the restriction, though that could open him up to litigation or political blowback.

Rubio has more breathing room: He could wait to see whether he’s crowned the party’s nominee at the Republican National Convention before abandoning his Senate bid. But if he were to lose in November, he couldn’t go back to the Senate.

Paul’s decision is the trickier one, obviously, since he’ll have to make up his mind between running for President and running for re-election before the vast majority of the primaries have taken place. Indeed, if he wants to be a candidate for President he’ll likely have to make his choice well before then. Rubio, on the other hand, at least has the relative luxury of waiting until the nomination process is nearly over before having to make his decision. At that point, if he were the GOP nominee, he’d have to give up running for re-election to the Senate, but I’m sure that’s a price he’d be willing to pay under the circumstances. These laws are likely to have an impact on how each candidate approaches the 2016 election so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Caj says:

    I don’t see any dilemma for 2016 between Rubio and Paul. Both are tea party people but the country will not stand for any of their nonsensical policies! No dilemma at all seeing as neither will ever set foot inside the White House.

  2. Frankly, it would be nice if more states passed laws like this. One thing that annoys me about congress and the senate lately is how politicians expect to be able to disappear for two to three years to run for another office, denying their constituents of effective representation, while still collecting a paycheck and having their seat held open for them.

  3. Tony W says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    denying their constituents of effective representation

    I think gerrymandering has already taken care of this concern.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Paul won’t run. Rubio might, but only if he thinks the rewards of a losing race are greater than a Senate seat for 6 more years. Reading the future is hard, but if Obama survives the next 3 1/2 yrs largely intact with no wars, (Israel being the wild card) and the economy continuing to improve, 2016 could be really hard for the GOP. The smart money might be on waiting till 2020 by which time the economy may very well have soured.

    This scenario also depends on the GOP overplaying their hand which they have already done on guns.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That should say, “if Obama survives 2 1/2 years” Cause that is when these guys will have to make their decision (tho Rubio later)

  6. fred says:

    GOP is in a shambles and have no coherent policies for the country. As for GOP again talking about impeachment…shows how they try to belittle our political system with cheap and irresponsible talk. GOP is no longer a national, but southern, political entity.