Arkansas Republicans Want to Make It Easier for Tom Cotton to Run for President

A state legislator is pushing legislation that would allow the Republican to run for the Senate and the White House at the same time.

Sen. Tom Cotton takes the oath of office from Vice President Joe Biden.
National Journal
Andrea Drusch
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Andrea Drusch
March 11, 2015, 8:03 a.m.

The Arkan­sas state Le­gis­lature wants to make it easi­er for Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Tom Cot­ton to run for pres­id­ent in 2020.

The AP re­por­ted Wed­nes­day morn­ing that the state Sen­ate is look­ing at a bill that would al­low its con­gres­sion­al and Sen­ate can­did­ates to also ap­pear on the state’s bal­lot as pres­id­en­tial or vice pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates. The bill’s au­thor, state Sen. Bart Hester, says he did not con­sult with Cot­ton about the bill, but Hester said the le­gis­la­tion is dir­ec­ted spe­cific­ally at Cot­ton, whose first term is set to ex­pire in 2020.

Cot­ton is only in the third month of his Sen­ate ca­reer, and he’s made no men­tion of a White House run. In­deed, should a GOP can­did­ate win in 2016, Cot­ton would likely not even con­sider a run un­til 2024, rather than chal­lenge an in­cum­bent in a primary.

(RE­LATED: Tom Cot­ton: The New Ted Cruz?)

Still, the party is ex­cited about his polit­ic­al fu­ture: The Sen­ate’s young­est mem­ber, Cot­ton is a Har­vard-edu­cated com­bat vet­er­an with sup­port from both the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment and the counter-es­tab­lish­ment. He has quickly made waves in the Sen­ate, po­s­i­tion­ing him­self as a chief ant­ag­on­ist to the White House’s for­eign policy plans. This week, Cot­ton penned a let­ter to Ir­a­ni­an lead­ers warn­ing against the strength of any nuc­le­ar deal struck with Pres­id­ent Obama. The let­ter, signed by 47 sen­at­ors, en­raged Cot­ton’s Demo­crat­ic col­leagues, who called it a dir­ect at­tempt to un­der­mine U.S. ne­go­ti­at­ors.

The idea of clear­ing the path for in-state tal­ent to seek high­er of­fice while hold­ing onto their cur­rent gig isn’t unique to Arkan­sas. A sim­il­ar ef­fort to al­low Gov. Mike Pence to run for both a second term and seek the White House in 2016 failed in In­di­ana, and Re­pub­lic­ans in South Dakota are cur­rently look­ing to re­peal the “Daschle law” from 2002 that they be­lieve could stand in the way of Sen. John Thune’s polit­ic­al rise. Sen. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky is ex­plor­ing a vari­ety of op­tions to cir­cum­vent a state law pre­vent­ing him from ap­pear­ing on the bal­lot twice, for reelec­tion to his Sen­ate seat and as a pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee.

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