U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is making the rounds in Kentucky this week, taking a break from the presidential campaign trail and concentrating efforts on his Senate re-election.
For the most part, Paul’s been focusing his attention in recent months on his struggling presidential campaign, but not this weekend.
There could be a couple of factors that explain this shift.
Politico reported Tuesday that “one of the three super PACs supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has stopped raising money.” Soon after, there were reports that Paul was holding fundraisers for his Senate race.
University of Kentucky political science professor Stephen Voss said money might not be the only reason Paul’s back home.
Wednesday’s Bluegrass poll wasn’t just bad news for Bevin, who trails Democrat Jack Conway by 5 percent, Voss said. He noted the survey could also serve as a warning to Kentucky’s junior senator.
The Bluegrass Poll’s latest survey of Kentucky voters — which shows Conway holding a narrow lead in a three-way governor’s race — is a reminder to Republicans in the state that they still have to fight it out for votes here, Voss noted.
“The Republicans can’t assume that these folks are so loyal and identify with the GOP so closely that it’s basically theirs to lose,” he said. “You do have to go after these votes.”
Paul is slated to attend events in Jefferson and Bullitt counties on Friday. On Saturday, he is scheduled to attend a rally in Frankfort in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin.
Voss said Paul’s strategy moving forward is going to have to include significant face time with Kentucky voters.
“For Rand Paul to read the temperature of the voters looking at recent polls and decide that he has got to go shore up the Republican side of the ledger going into a Senate contest — it would make perfect sense as a strategy,” he said.
Paul may end up facing a hefty Democratic challenger. Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen has been mentioned as a possible opponent next year.
Edelen hasn’t officially announced any plans to run, but he did give a hint of a possible challenge during this year’s Fancy Farm picnic. During his speech, Edelen criticized Paul for a Senate filibuster aimed at curtailing the domestic surveillance program.
“We also prefer the speeches that Rand Paul gives at Fancy Farm than the ones he gives in the well of the U.S. Senate,” Edelen said. “The difference being in Fancy Farm, Rand Paul is limited to five minutes, and his speeches don’t jeopardize the national security of this country.”