Paul, don’t exit early in race for president

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul faces increasing pressure to ditch his presidential run and instead focus on re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Fearing a Senate challenge from a Democrat who could take advantage of Paul’s distraction with the presidential bid, many Republicans are concerned the Bowling Green eye surgeon might have over-extended his prospects for 2016. There’s also the potential for some backlash among voters who resent that Paul arranged for a presidential caucus so he could run for both offices in the same year. Either way, they worry he will lose both bids.

It’s a legitimate concern — although Democrats have yet to settle on a candidate who could mount a strong challenge to Paul in the Senate race.

Adam Edelen, who lost his re-election bid for state auditor in a surprising upset to Republican state Rep. Mike Harmon in November, is mentioned as someone many Democrats would like to see in the Senate race. However, Edelen has consistently said he is not interested right now because the outlook for his party is not good. Other Democrats mentioned for a Senate bid include Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, veterans advocate Heather French Henry and actress Ashley Judd.

Despite his relatively weak poll numbers in a crowded and rambunctious GOP field for president, Paul is still looking for an opening that would give his struggling campaign new life.

Last summer when the Republican Party of Kentucky’s Central Committee was weighing Paul’s request for a caucus so he could run for president and Senate in the same year, we commented that he was asking a great deal of his party. Kentuckians are not accustomed to the caucus, and given the low voter turnout that plagues our state, we had to wonder how many Republicans will show up for the caucus, which is scheduled for March 5.

But Paul agreed to cover the cost of a caucus, and the state’s GOP leaders understandably wanted to accommodate the request of a Kentuckian who has shown some promise in national politics.

Now that the decision has been made and county Republican officials are working to educate GOP voters about the caucus system, it seems to us Paul needs to stay in the presidential race at least though the Kentucky caucus. A great deal of effort has been made to accommodate his wishes. He needs to honor that.

And who knows where this presidential election is headed? Paul might not look like a candidate who is going to break through the noise and antics of more colorful candidates, but these are unusual times for politics. It seems anything can happen.

According to the polls, Paul is trailing several others in the presidential race. However, in the last GOP debate, he successfully presented himself as knowledgeable and more grounded than many of his opponents. The Lexington Herald-Leader commented he was the “voice of reason” in that debate.

Sure. There’s a risk Paul could lose ground in the Senate race while he’s chasing longer odds in the presidential contest. But he asked for this process, and he needs to follow it through — at least until the Kentucky caucus.

Kentucky New Era

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