The 2016 presidential campaign is officially underway, as the first candidates have begun to announce their bids and the first primaries and caucuses are less than a year away.
That means that candidates officially declaring their intentions will soon become weekly news, particularly when it comes to the wide open Republican nomination.
It also means that many people will start tuning out these announcements. But for online poker supporters, there might be reason to pay more attention to the latest politician to begin their campaign.
On Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) officially announced that he would be running for the GOP nomination for the 2016 presidential race, making him the second major candidate to do so.
He follows Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who made his announcement in March.
“We have come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank, the special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare,” Paul said during his official campaign launch event in Louisville.
“The message of liberty, opportunity and justice is for all Americans, whether you wear a suit, a uniform or overalls, whether you’re white or black, rich or poor,” he continued. “Many Americans, though, are being left behind. The reward of work seems beyond their grasp. Under the watch of both parties, the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer.”
That message could tie into what some think will be the Paul campaign strategy: an attempt to combine his libertarian base with a broader coalition of young and even minority voters who haven’t traditionally voted for Republicans in recent elections.
Based on his first campaign speech, he’ll also be focusing on foreign policy and his views on the role of government, especially what he sees as government overreach.
While it isn’t likely to come up in his stump speech, one area in which Paul believes the federal government should limit its oversight is online poker.
Paul stands in opposition to the efforts of some Republicans to push forward with the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill that would essentially ban online poker and casino games across the United States, even in states that currently regulate that activity.
Paul and some other GOP lawmakers believe that this would infringe on states’ rights, particularly since gambling is an area that has traditionally been governed by states.
“I’m opposed to restrictions on online gambling,” Paul told The Alpha Pages after being asked how he felt about efforts to curb online poker. “The government needs to stay out of that business.”
Paul faces an uphill battle to win the Republican nomination, not so much because of a lack of support on his part but rather because of the crowded nature of the field.
Recent polls have former Florida governor Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as the frontrunners for the GOP nomination, though each typical poll under 20 percent.
Paul and Cruz are part of a second tier of candidates that are generally polling in the high single-digits currently, a group that also includes Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Rick Rubio. Other potential candidates could include New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former Texas governor Rick Perry, and former Senator Rick Santorum.