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Rand Paul’s impact on the midterms will influence a 2016 run

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is making the rounds for the 2014 midterm elections.

With the potential for a Republican takeover of the Senate, the GOP is counting on Paul to help deliver states that have a strong libertarian and independent leaning voter class. There are a number of close races along with a handful of states that bear the potential for December runoff elections. If the GOP intends to take the Senate, they will need any and all supporters to get out and vote.

{mosads}Paul is a new type of Republican. He is comfortable expressing his desire for the GOP to expand its foundational makeup and become more inclusive. He is also among the names of potential presidential candidates for 2016.

Names such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), and even former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been floated throughout the party as potential 2016 candidates. Paul is a name that is often mentioned, but he may become a more serious suggestion after the midterms.

The 2014 midterm elections are a test for Rand Paul.

He is not up for election, but his power to persuade a national audience is. Paul has expressed confidence in his ability to win back his Kentucky Senate seat when it is up in 2016. Kentucky should not be a problem for Paul. It is the rest of the country that he must win over if he intends to be a serious presidential candidate.

As Nov. 4 quickly approaches, Paul has become increasingly outspoken in support of Republican candidates in states such as Alaska and North Carolina. As for his home state of Kentucky, it is possible that Paul may come out stronger in his endorsement of fellow Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) later this week. Hillary Clinton is set to join Democratic hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky Wednesday night. While Paul has stated publicly that he is confident Kentucky will re-elect McConnell, the presence of Clinton in the state may bring out greater enthusiasm from him.

Former Secretary of State Clinton is among the names for potential Democratic presidential candidates in 2016. Paul is no stranger to speaking out against Clinton and appears to be priming voters for a 2016 showdown between the two.

McConnell winning Kentucky could do two major things for Paul. The first, as Senate minority leader, McConnell has the potential to become the majority leader and any endorsement he gives Paul will carry with it great weight. Although McConnell and Paul have differed from one another in the past, Paul will need the support of veteran GOP members such as McConnell going forward. The second benefit a McConnell win brings Paul is the ability to diminish the influence of “Clinton Democrats,” a term Lundergan Grimes used during a recent Kentucky senatorial debate.

Paul still has a long way to go in terms of convincing his party he is the right candidate for the presidency. He continues to hint at an early 2015 decision regarding whether or not he will run. A strong showing for the GOP in the midterm elections may make Paul’s decision for him. If things do not go the way polls are leaning, Paul may have a harder time winning over the support of his party in anticipation of a 2016 run.

He has no problem garnering media attention, but it is gathering public support on the national scale that is of utmost concern when running for the presidency.

Nov. 4 proves to be not only a critical date for Republicans and Democrats running for election, but also for individuals such as Paul. This midterm cycle can either do little for the future of Rand Paul, or play strongly in his favor moving forward.

Floyd is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Master of Public Administration program and the author of PANIC: One Man’s Struggle with Anxiety.

Tags Hillary Clinton Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Rand Paul

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