The Republican Party of Kentucky’s central committee on Saturday approved a plan to hold a presidential caucus next year instead of a primary election, allowing Sen. Rand Paul to run for president and re-election to the U.S. Senate simultaneously in the state.
The vote also means county party officials will be tasked with carrying out an election next year. The plan is contingent on Paul providing $250,000 to the party next month to carry out the caucus.
Paul asked party members to move to a caucus to get around a state law prohibiting candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. Ahead of the vote, Paul called the law “unconstitutional.”
Before members convened, Paul told a crowd of supporters outside the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort that no matter how the vote went, he would be “running for both the presidency and re-election to the Senate” — signaling that he was still open to challenging Kentucky’s law in court.
According to outgoing RPK president Steve Robertson, the caucus plan received 111 out of the 147 votes cast Saturday. It needed two-thirds of committee votes for approval. Members voted by secret ballot.
Following the vote, Paul said he was pleased.
“It’s a great day,” he said. “As you know, winning a two-thirds vote is not easy, and we exceeded two-thirds, and we had a really great discussion.”
The first half of the RPK meeting was closed to the media and the public. However, what was decided behind closed doors was a deal about when Paul would need to pay for part of the caucus.
An amendment was added to the caucus plan that says Paul’s campaign has to give the party $250,000 by Sept. 18. If the money isn’t provided in time, Republicans will revert to a primary election.
Warren County Chair Scott Lasley, who helped draft the caucus plan, said many members were still undecided when they first got to the meeting.
“I would think a lot of people probably made up their mind up today,” he said.
According to Paul, there was a lot of debate.
“It’s almost a little bit like being in a jury,” he said. “It goes back and forth and back and forth. Ultimately, I think people got to the point where they were very comfortable.”
Paul said he expects the caucus will excite Republican voters in the state and make their decision more relevant nationally.
“It is about something above and beyond one person. It is about trying to grow the party,” Paul told reporters after the vote. “I am thoroughly convinced that were I not in this race, that this is just good for the Republican Party, that we will grow our lists and excite people and get more people to turn out.”
When asked, Paul said he is not worried about raising money in time for the September deadline.