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Is Ron Paul Setting the Stage for a Third-Party Run?

Rep. Ron Paul announced today, via Tweet, that he will not be seeking reelection after 22 years in office. Instead, he says he’ll be directing all of his attention toward his presidential campaign:

“I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election,” Paul said. “It’s about that time when I should change tactics.”

His announcement will give enough time for anyone with aspirations for his seat to think about running, he said. Paul didn’t want to wait for filing in the 2012 primary to let people know he wasn’t seeking reelection.

“I didn’t want to hold off until in December,” he said. “I thought it shouldn’t be any later than now.”

The announcement comes as a surprise — even Paul’s congressional staffers only found out this morning, Reason’s Mike Riggs reports. And it’s left some, including Riggs, to wonder whether Paul will run as a third-party candidate if he loses the Republican nomination.

I contacted Paul’s campaign spokesperson Gary Howard, who denied Paul was considering a third-party run. “No. Dr. Paul is running to win the GOP nomination for President,” Howard told me over email. “So that’s an option the congressman has completely taken off the table for 2012?” I asked, but haven’t received a reply.

During Paul’s long-shot Republican presidential campaign in 2008, there were rumors he might run as a third-party candidate. He never did, possibly because of a contractual obligation in the GOP primaries that prevented him from running under a different party if he failed to secure the nomination.

The congressman’s assertion that he wants to direct his attention to the presidential race is definitely understandable. But in 2008, Paul’s focus on the primaries didn’t seem to get in the way of his congressional reelection. He closed down his campaign in March, 2008 (long after it was clear he had no chance at winning the nomination), and won reelection to Congress easily. Of course, if he was simultaneously running as a third-party presidential candidate, then that would have been much more difficult to do.


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