U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, said Thursday it should be left up to Gov. Matt Bevin on whether to concede the gubernatorial election.
In a call to Kentucky reporters, Paul also explained why he thinks the Ukraine whistleblower case is different than other whistleblower situations and touted a $12 billion infrastructure bill.
Bevin has asked for a recanvass of votes cast in Tuesday’s election, which showed him losing to his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear, by a little more than 5,000 votes.
The recanvass is slated for Nov. 14. Even as Beshear has started planning to take the governor’s seat, Bevin has shown no signs he will concede the election even after a recanvass. Without offering any evidence, Bevin said Wednesday that there were irregularities in the election.
Paul campaigned on Bevin’s behalf, including at a Monday rally in Lexington featuring President Donald Trump.
Paul acknowledged being disappointed in Bevin’s loss but said it was “a one-off,” noting that all the other down-ticket state races were won by Republicans.
The election overall was “good from a Republican perspective” and shows the Republican Party continues to gain strength in the state, Paul said.
As for a concession, “I think (Bevin) only can make that decision.”
Paul has also been making national headlines for his calls for a whistleblower, who disclosed Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and led to the current U.S. House impeachment inquiry, to be publicly identified.
The whistleblower’s account has been supported by others who have raised questions regarding Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter.
Federal law provides broad protections to whistleblowers.
“I have been in favor of whistleblower protections,” Paul said, adding that he does believe whistleblowers should be protected from prosecution and retaliation.
The difference in this case, Paul said, is that since the impeachment inquiry could lead to criminal proceedings at some point, the president has a constitutional right to publicly face his accuser.
“I don’t think the president should get less rights,” Paul said.
He also said the whistleblower was part of the government’s Ukraine policy desk and worked with Joe and Hunter Biden and thus could be “a material witness” to possible “corruption.”
Paul also questioned whether the whistleblower’s account fell into the category of simply stating an opinion.
He said others on the Trump-Zelenskiy call stated they did not see a problem with it, so “Is he really blowing the whistle or (just) voicing his opinion,” Paul said.
Paul also touted his bill that would boost U.S. infrastructure spending.
“I think people do want infrastructure” spending, but that legislators have failed to come upon with ways to fund it, he said.
His plan calls for requiring federal agencies to cut 1 percent of their budgets with the resulting roughly $12 billion in savings going into a fund that would be passed down to states to be used for infrastructure.
The “other agencies would not know it’s gone,” he said of the 1 percent, adding that he routinely sees federal funds being spent on “outrageous stuff.” The cuts wouldn’t include entitlement programs like Social Security.
Paul admits the $12 billion would be just a small part of what is needed to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, but that “it’s nothing to sneeze at.” He said the funds would equate to “thousands of miles of interstate,” being built.
Paul said he hopes to get bipartisan support for the bill. “We will be trying to get Democrats on board,” he said.
– Follow News Director Wes Swietek on Twitter @BGDNgovtbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.