- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul is plotting to repeat his father’s 2012 achievement of getting his name on the Republican presidential nomination ballot in all 50 states, the five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

That would be no mean feat. History suggests it’s likely to be most presidential nomination aspirants’ toughest row to hoe.

It takes hordes of volunteers, separate staffs and leaders for organizations in place on the ground in each of the states and territories, money to finance it all and the know-how to pull it off.

It also takes organization and a long head start to compete successfully in states that hold presidential preference caucuses instead of primary elections to award delegates to the Republican presidential nominating convention, to be held next summer in Cleveland.

Only two GOP presidential nomination candidates managed to have their names on the ballots (or to be fully prepared for the logistic challenge of caucuses) in every state and territory in 2012.

One was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had more money available than anyone else in the field and a full-blown national campaign organization. The only other 50-state-plus competitor was former Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican — the senator’s father. The libertarian conservative had the advantage of twin followings. One was tens of thousands of millennial youth belonging to the ubiquitous Young Americans for Liberty chapters on college campuses. The other was older voters whose stated highest political desideratum was to get the government off their backs and out of their bedrooms.

Getting on the ballot became a headline issue only occasionally in the last presidential cycle.

Mr. Paul and Mr. Romney were the only candidates that appeared on the ballot in Virginia’s March 6 primary – one of the Super Tuesday contests that year. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican — a favorite of many religious conservatives — never filed in the state.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did file but his paperwork fell short of state requirements. As widely noted in press reports at the time, Rick Perry, then the popular governor of Texas, lost a legal challenge, along with other GOP hopefuls, on Virginia’s requirements.

To the consternation of many social conservatives, Mr. Santorum — who cast himself as the conservative alternative to Mr. Romney — was not on the ballot when some people desperately wanted to vote for him in Virginia, where some think he may have been in position to beat Mr. Romney.

A disgruntled Santorum conservative said through clenched teeth at the time, “You can’t beat if you don’t compete.”

Being on all ballots and winning the most delegates isn’t automatic, as 2012 showed.

Mr. Romney wound up with 1,575 delegates, Mr. Santorum with 245, Mr. Paul with 177 and Mr. Gingrich with 138.

But that’s not the point, Rand Paul’s supporters maintain.

The elder Paul had the millennials but not the wider support his son enjoys among independents who will play a big role in the outcome of the New Hampshire primary on the second Tuesday of next February – and what Paul forces count on as millions of war weary and leave-me-be Republicans who think the younger Paul is more like them and a bit less rigid in his libertarian conservatism than his father. The Rand Paul team is counting on their man not only attracting donors and recognition to mount a 50-state campaign, but being able to capitalize on something in those states.

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