Libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has reportedly hired a campaign manager in a move that confirms his 2016 presidential aspirations. However, the senator’s choice reveals the type of campaign the senator intends to run and where he believes the future of the Republican Party belongs.
Paul hired Chip Englander, the former campaign manager for Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner, who defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn last November. A memo sent to Paul donors and allies underscored that Englander helped elect a Republican governor in President Obama’s home state, which the president “won by 25 [percentage points in the 2008 election].”
The memo also said Englander “drew in new types of voters to win the state, including winning a majority of moderates, unprecedented for a Republican.”
The GOP establishment consultant class quietly (and sometimes publicly) mocked Rauner for reaching out to traditional Democratic voters, including inner-city minorities, many of who endorsed and subsequently voted for him. In what most pundits claimed to be an upset — except, however, for PPD’s model — Bruce Rauner comfortably defeated Pat Quinn and won a significant amount of black and Hispanic voters.
Sen. Paul has made similar efforts since the 2012 election, arguing Republicans must expand their appeal or suffer long-term defeat in national elections. Must to the panic of Democrats, spoke to the all-black Howard University in 2014 regarding civil rights, visited Detroit and other inner-city neighborhoods to talk about sentencing reforms and introduce the liberty message.
He has also reached out to another bloc of voters that constitute the Democratic base — the youth. Paul spoke at UC Berkeley at an event that was hosted by the Berkeley Forum student organization, during which he fired up the crowd speaking about his class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration and the National Security Agency.
But the GOP field will be a crowded one, to be sure. The announcement comes as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, stole headlines by telling a group of supporters to hold off on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush because he was likely to jump in the race. After months of repeatedly denying interest in a 2016 bid, both publicly and privately, Romney dropped the bomb during a meeting with 30 former large donors in Manhattan, New York.
Romney’s announcement same just one week after Jeb Bush quit all his major corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including one that profited off of ObamaCare.
A recent Gravis Poll found Romney trouncing Bush among Iowa caucus goers, but Paul was also trailing in the 11-way matchup at 8 percent. However, Paul ran ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). For now, Romney’s name recognition and affinity among Republicans give him an edge over Bush and Paul, but a few recent polls offer good news for a Paul bid.
A recent PPD Poll found a slim majority — 51 percent — of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say they are less likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election if Jeb Bush is the nominee, and 48 percent of registered voters say they definitely will not vote for another Bush.
Further, just 29 percent of Republicans say the former Florida governor should run for president in 2016, but even among these voters, just 14 percent say they will definitely vote for Bush in their state primary or caucus. The same is true of Romney, but to a far less extent.
A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 64 percent of likely voters say Republicans should “look for a fresh face to run for president in 2016,” while just 10 percent say they should get behind a candidate who has run in the past.
With such a sentiment among the Republican and general electorate, Paul’s choice of Englander, a young and energetic outsider who recognizes it, was significant. It has teed-up an intra-party battle between those who tap donors, and those who tap voters.
“America has intractable problems and it’s going to take a transformational leader to fix them,” Englander said. “Senator Paul is going to be the bold, transformational figure in this race.”
Paul is scheduled to visit two states with early primary contests later this week. On Wednesday, he will travel to New Hampshire, with a stay in Nevada planned for Friday and Saturday.