This post has been updated:.
Rand Paul announced Tuesday he’s running for office in 2016, but it’s not the one presidential watchers were expecting.
The Republican said in a news release that he’s seeking re-election to the Senate from Kentucky. Paul will decide sometime this spring whether he’ll also run for the White House, according to Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to the senator.
Paul, who is at the top of some early polls for the GOP presidential nomination, has said previously he will not be deterred by a Kentucky law that prohibits candidates from appearing more than once on the ballot.
Republicans in Kentucky’s Legislature tried unsuccessfully in the past session to change the law so candidates can run simultaneously for two federal offices — as states such as Texas already do. The measure passed the GOP-controlled state Senate but did not go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled state House.
Stafford told reporters during a conference call there are “many options” available to Paul if he decides to run for president, including a court challenge. In an interview with Salon in November, Paul suggested a state nominating convention would mean he would not be on the ballot twice.
The senator also told Salon there should be an equal playing field across the states when it comes to running for president. “The Constitution set the requirements for eligibility for office that states can’t modify for federal office; they can modify for state office, but I think that’s actually a case that could be won, but it’s also just a fairness issue,” he said.
In Paul’s Senate re-election news release, GOP leader Mitch McConnell and all Republicans in Kentucky’s congressional delegation endorsed their colleague’s bid for a second term. McConnell, who is set to become majority leader in January, called Paul “an irreplaceable partner” and hailed him for his “innovative mind for conservative reforms that create jobs and get the economy working again.”.
Paul also discussed his legislative record in Kentucky on issues such as industrial hemp as well as national ones like economic freedom zones. “I ran for office because, like many Kentuckians, I was alarmed at the problems facing our country,” he said, citing the economy, a “disastrous” health care plan and a “misguided foreign policy.” Paul said he wants to “continue together in the task of repairing and revitalizing our great nation.”.
News of Paul’s decision to run for Senate re-election was first reported by the Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky.