Politics & Government

Rand Paul's campaign fires back after Alison Lundergan Grimes weighs in on ballot issue

After getting walloped by incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes appears to be wading into a fight against Kentucky's other Republican senator.

Grimes told WHAS-TV in Louisville this week that if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul attempted to put his name on the 2016 ballot twice — once for re-election to his Senate seat and at the top of the ticket for the presidential nomination — she would take him to court.

"We'll look to the court for any guidance that is needed," Grimes said. "And at the end of the day, we're not going to be bullied."

Paul's aides said they have had no contact with Grimes on the matter of Paul running for two offices at the same time.

Doug Stafford, Paul's top adviser, told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that it was "good to see her still fighting after such a huge loss."

"Maybe since she is talking again she can finally say whether or not she voted for President Obama," Stafford said.

Bradford Queen, a spokesman for Grimes, said Thursday that Grimes would "follow the law, which is clear that no candidate's name may appear on the ballot twice."

"As she has during her three years as secretary of state, she will administer the law and seek opinions from the courts when necessary," he said.

Grimes, who was unclear about her political plans during her interview with the Louisville station, was defeated by more than 15 points in last month's election.

By weighing in on the matter, Grimes might well have elevated herself to become the public face of opposition to Paul's efforts, which polling shows has divided Republicans.

Damon Thayer, the Republican majority floor leader in the state Senate, said Thursday that Grimes had "unnecessarily politicized" the issue and done so in a way that might rally Republicans around Paul.

"I think she's escalated the interest Republicans may have in the issue because she's clearly universally disliked in our party," Thayer said.

Thayer, who this year sponsored unsuccessful legislation that would have allowed Paul to run for both offices in 2016, said Grimes' comments "helped the cause."

"To me it sounded like she's still in campaign mode, and somebody ought to remind her that she lost the election and she's still secretary of state," he said.

Mike Ward, a former congressman from Louisville and a Grimes ally during the campaign, said Grimes simply was doing the job she was elected to do.

From a political standpoint, Ward said, "it's a good opportunity for her to be seen doing her job."