Presidential hopeful Rand Paul won’t attend the famed Fancy Farm picnic next month; he’ll instead be stumping in New Hampshire ahead of a contentious primary.
But in addition to his bid for the White House, Paul is also planning to seek re-election to his Senate seat.
Paul absence from the state’s most significant annual political events could prompt future challengers to criticize him for not paying attention to his home state while he runs for two offices simultaneously, said Al Cross executive director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community.
Fancy Farm is a necessary stop for any politician in Kentucky running for statewide office, Cross said.
“People in the far western part of Kentucky, very much isolated from the rest of the state, expect statewide politicians to come ask for their votes,” he said.
Paul told reporters in Louisville on Monday that he “loves Fancy Farm” and has attended in the past. He also said he plans on attending in 2016.
But this year, Paul is battling it out for the Republican presidential nomination in a very crowded race. He may not be able to do all of the things that a candidate seeking one office may do.
And Cross said it makes sense that Paul would focus on the presidential primaries instead of his Senate race right now.
“It’s remarkable that he is passing up the Fancy Farm picnic, but it’s not surprising because he doesn’t have an opponent for the Senate yet and he has plenty of opponents for president,” Cross said.
If he does get an opponent though, missing Fancy Farm is the kind of thing that Paul should expect to come up, Cross said.
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“I think it does provide an opening for people that want to criticize him for not concentrating on his Senate job,” he said.
So far, Democratic Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen has been mentioned as a potential challenger.