April 9, 2015 — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), as expected, officially announced his 2016 presidential campaign in front of a raucous crowd of supporters in Louisville earlier this week. He also confirmed that he intends to seek re-election to the Senate.
The latter may be a difficult feat, since Kentucky law prohibits individuals from appearing for more than one office on the same ballot. If the state Republicans changed their nominating system from a primary to a caucus, Paul could get around that requirement, but the result would become problematic for the Kentucky GOP, ironically, if Sen. Paul were to win the party presidential nomination. Kentucky election law contains no provision for replacing a party nominee who prematurely withdraws from a race.
But Sen. Paul’s presidential prospects are what’s at top of mind during this period, and opinions vary as to whether he has a legitimate chance of winning the nomination and the presidency itself.
With the Republican national campaign in a major state of fluidity, and no candidate beginning in the clear favorite’s position, it is conceivable that several contenders within what could be a huge field of 14 candidates or more could cobble together a winning coalition.
Of all the participants, Sen. Paul may be the most unique. Coming from the libertarian wing of the Republican electorate, and following in his father’s — former presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul’s — footsteps, the Paul coalition has staying power, particularly within a very crowded field of candidates.
The fact that the senator brings in large segments of people to a Republican primary not tied to the party or any other candidate in many ways makes him a wild card. And, in this campaign, a base constituency not entangled in a traditional Republican mindset would have a distinct advantage, particularly if it appears the campaign will proceed to the national convention without any candidate in the clinching position. Under this brokered convention scenario, Sen. Paul could be in an interesting and powerful position because he will have a relatively large contingent of committed delegates less inclined to be swayed by a traditional party leadership-driven backroom deal for another candidate.
Furthermore, because the Paul organization has experience in primaries throughout the country due to Ron Paul’s previous campaigns, they have an understanding about using the party rules to their advantage. As a result, in states that choose the individuals to serve as delegates in a convention, the Paul operation has typically exceeded their total delegate number in relation to primary or caucus votes received.
The Paul announcement means that there are now two official Republican presidential candidates, he and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Coming Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is poised to join them.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), languishing in a weakened and wounded position after failing to attract majority support in February’s preliminary Chicago citywide election, came roaring back to reverse his fortunes with what looks to be a 56-44 percent victory margin over Cook County commissioner, and fellow Democrat, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Local polling for the past several weeks detected the Emanuel prowess, and the data proved correct.
In February, Emanuel placed first but with less than 45 percent of the vote. When key political figures and Hispanic and African American leaders began falling in line behind Garcia, it appeared the reeling Emanuel was treading in unfamiliar (for him) and dangerous political waters.
But, with a combination of overwhelming money, precinct organization, and building a coalitions with the Republicans -– the latter group understanding that Garcia was well to the left of Emanuel -– the mayor was able to reverse his fortunes and claim a 65,000-vote win from more than 565,000 votes cast.
Emanuel effectively twisted Garcia’s campaign promises to add and expand city programs into a referendum over how he would pay for what he proposed. Lacking a clear response, the tide began to turn and the mayor created a momentum flow that only became stronger.