Politics

This story has been updated.

Two Republican presidential front-runners say they plan to file for Kentucky’s Republican presidential caucus in March.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday filed to be a candidate in the caucus, according to the Republican Party of Kentucky. Also on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones he plans to campaign for votes in Kentucky next year.

“Our goal is to be involved in every state possible,” Rubio, R-Florida, said during a roughly 15-minute radio interview, in which he talked about sports and politics.

“It is difficult to predict what the race will look like by the time we get there,” he said. “So we want to be involved everywhere, and that’s another place we intend to be involved.”

The Republican Party of Kentucky voted last month to hold a caucus at the request of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, another presidential candidate. Paul suggested the caucus as a way to work around a state law that prohibits candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. Paul is also seeking re-election next year to the U.S. Senate.

Bush and Rubio are polling ahead of Paul in current national polls.

Rubio told Jones he plans on being competitive in the state, even though Paul has a home-state advantage.

“We intend to be competitive and try to get everywhere,” he said. “Obviously, when you have a home-state person running, they have a huge advantage and that helps them.”

He said “it’s important for us to be on as many ballots as possible.”

Republican presidential candidates must pay a $15,000 fee to be on the caucus ballot. The fees help defray the cost of running the election. Paul has said his campaign will pay the rest of those costs.

For the caucus to officially take place, Paul had to give $250,000 to the state party last week, which he did.

Kentucky Republican Party chairman Steve Robertson recently said he expects the state will become a stomping ground for more presidential candidates.

He said the caucus will be held early enough during election season that Republican candidates will have an incentive to vie for votes in the state.

“It just makes the calculus on Kentucky different for presidential campaigns because there is an environment where they know that they can come to our state, compete for delegates, start identifying their support structure throughout Kentucky,” Robertson told WFPL earlier this week.

Unlike the traditional May election, Kentucky Republicans next year will cast ballots for GOP presidential nomination contenders on March 5 at events throughout the state. The events will be organized by the county chairs.

The state’s Republican convention delegates — who will officially choose the party’s presidential nominee —will be divvied among the contenders proportionally based on the caucus vote.

Kentucky will have at least 45 delegates in the 2016 Republican National Convention, out of a total of 2,470. The state could gain a delegate if Republican Matt Bevin wins this year’s governor’s race.

Kentucky Democrats will vote during a regular primary in May.