Former Kentucky House Speaker: Democrat's Senate Candidate Should Harp on Paul's White House Run

Jan 28, 2016

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in the studios of WKYU PBS
Credit Abbey Oldham

As U.S. Senator Rand Paul prepares for a Republican presidential debate Thursday night, a former Kentucky House Speaker says Democrats could benefit from Paul’s White House bid.

Glasgow attorney Bobby Richardson was a state Representative from 1972-1990, and served as House Speaker during the 1982 and 1984 General Assembly sessions.

Richardson says whoever emerges as the Democrat’s nominee for U.S. Senate should remind voters Paul is seeking two offices at the same time.

“I think he needs to say he’s running for the United States Senate, and I’m going to be a Senator. I’m not going to be running for President, and I’m not going to be running for anything else. I’m going to be there taking care of business.”

The Kentucky Republican Party is holding a presidential caucus March 5 so that Paul can run for re-election to the Senate and seek the White House simultaneously.

Paul rejects the idea that he’s been distracted by running for both offices.

During a recent stop in Bowling Green, the Republican said he’s remained a strong voice for Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.

“I’ve made the vast majority of my votes, Paul said. "I’m in Washington every week representing them.  I’ve made, I think, over 95 percent of my votes.”

“I continue to travel around the state of Kentucky and I don’t think there’s any evidence that I haven’t been doing my day job."

Paul Struggling in GOP Race for White House

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows Paul running eighth in Iowa among Republican presidential candidates. The poll shows the Kentucky Senator with two percent support of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, far behind frontrunner Donald Trump’s 32 percent.

Iowa holds its caucus Monday, Feb. 1.

A poll of likely Republican primary voters in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary shows Paul in ninth place, with four percent support. Trump also leads that poll, with 31 percent backing.

While there has been speculation that Paul’s meager showing so far in the presidential contest could impact his U.S. Senate re-election chances, Democrat Bobby Richardson admits Republicans have a major advantage in the Senate race.

Simply put, the most visible Democrat in the world, President Barack Obama, remains deeply unpopular in the Bluegrass State.

Obama an Albatross Around Kentucky Democrats' Necks?

A Survey USA poll conducted last fall showed 61 percent of registered voters in Kentucky disapproved of the Mr. Obama’s job performance.

Richardson, the former Kentucky House Speaker from Barren County, says those numbers are important when it comes to this year’s U.S. Senate race. He says Obama’s low approval ratings hurt “every Democrat” because Republicans can portray the Democratic candidate for Senate as “an Obama clone.”

“It’s easy to say, and to get people thinking that way,” Richardson said.

Paul is facing two little-known Republican Senate primary challengers: James Gould of Lexington, and Stephen Slaughter of Louisville.

The most high-profile Democrat running for Senate is Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Other Democratic challengers are Rory Houlihan of Winchester; Jeff Kender of Phelps; Ron Leach of Brandenburg; Tom Recktenwald of Louisville; Grant T. Short of Owensboro; and Sellus Wilder of Frankfort.