U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has provided the required funding for a Kentucky Republican presidential caucus in 2016.
The Republican Party of Kentucky last month set the $250,000 payment as a requirement for it to conduct the caucus, which represents a break from the party’s usual May primary election.
The deadline for Paul to submit the payment to the state party was Friday. In a statement Friday afternoon, state Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said Paul had met the party’s conditions set forth for the party to conduct a caucus.
The Republican presidential caucus is slated for March 5.
“We’re incredibly excited to be moving forward with a caucus in Kentucky,” Paul political adviser Doug Stafford said in a released statement. “This is great news for Republicans across the commonwealth who will now play an important part in the presidential primary nominating process.”
While exploring a possible run for president several months ago, Paul asked state party leaders to hold a presidential caucus next year, allowing him to simultaneously vie for the presidency and his Senate seat.
It’s a way of working around a state law prohibiting candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. The change would mean Kentucky Republicans would allocate their presidential delegates in a caucus and also hold a primary in May to nominate candidates for other offices, including Senate.
Paul had previously asked the state legislature to change the law, which Paul believes is unconstitutional, but that has yielded no results.
Last month, RPK’s executive committee voted to hold a presidential caucus, but with the condition that Paul pay for part of it ahead of time.
Paul’s presidential bid has run into struggles to gain ground against the other contenders in recent months.
But the campaign has consistently vowed to pay for the full cost of the caucus, instead of allowing all the costs fall to the state party.
With the $250,000 payment in place, plans can move forward.
The next step is for the party to hire a caucus director, said Scott Lasley, a member of the RPK executive committee and a special committee created to explore a caucus plan.
He said once that person is hired, formal planning for the caucus will begin.
“That person will be able to start reaching out to the county parties because there is going to have to be significant amounts of information disseminated to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Lasley said.
And there is going to be a lot of work to do in a relatively short amount of time. The caucus is scheduled for less than six months from now.
“They are going to have to prepare the guidelines and work with the county chairs to develop caucus plans — line up locations, where the caucuses are going to be held,” he said. “So, there is going to be plenty of work.”
The stakes are high. County party chairs will be carrying out the caucus in their respective counties. Lasley said there will be added pressure because they will be in the public eye, and they’ll carry the biggest burden for the caucus.
“There is not a trial run for something like this,” he said. “We got to make sure we do it right from the start.”