By ROGER ALFORD – Associated Press Writer
FRANKFORT — Republican Rand Paul doesn’t want his chief opponent in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race to oversee the vote count in the May primary election.
Paul, son of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas, is running against the man who oversees elections in Kentucky, Secretary of State Trey Grayson. In a letter sent to Grayson’s Capitol office earlier this week, Paul asked Grayson to recuse himself from overseeing the Senate election.
“I really feel like if you’re in the election, you shouldn’t count the votes,” Paul told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I think he shouldn’t have access to any computers counting or tabulating the votes.”
Grayson spokesman Les Fugate called the request absurd. Fugate said Grayson won’t recuse himself.
“It is an insult to the judgment of Kentuckians that Mr. Paul suggest Secretary Grayson stop doing the job that they elected him to do,” Fugate said. “Secretary Grayson is a national leader in elections reform who has received broad, bipartisan support for his commonsense ideas that make our elections more secure, more accessible, and more honest. This political request is absurd and blatantly self-serving.”
It’s an issue that crops up from time to time in 39 states where secretaries of state oversee elections, said Kay Stimson, spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State in Washington.
Under Kentucky law, Grayson, as secretary of state, also serves as chairman of the Kentucky Board of Elections.
“Because of this, it is clear that a conflict exists between your role as secretary of state and your role as candidate for office in this election,” Paul said in the letter dated Jan. 15 and obtained by the AP.
In the letter, Paul called for Grayson to “immediately step aside as the supervisor of this election and allow the appointment of a nonpartisan civil servant to handle this important task.”
The campaigns exchanged heated words over the issue.
Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson called Paul’s charge desperate.
“It sounds ridiculous — like another cheap political stunt from a desperate candidate whose campaign continues to fall apart,” Hodson said.
Paul campaign manager David Adams accused the Grayson campaign of orchestrating a protest outside the secretary of state’s office the day Paul filed his candidacy papers.
“Given the dirty tricks that we’ve seen so far, we’re understandably concerned about having them count the votes in May,” Adams said. “I don’t think this is the end of this.”