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Lansing — West Michigan GOP strategist John Yob will play a key role in trying to help Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul win the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Yob, a consultant in Grand Rapids who has a propensity for working for unconventional candidates, will serve as the Paul campaign's national political director.

Paul announced his candidacy for president Tuesday in his home state, joining Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the only two declared Republican candidates for president 10 months before the Iowa caucuses. Other Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are exploring potential bids for the White House, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to decide whether to jump into the race later this month.

"Rand Paul has the unique ability to inspire conservative and libertarian Republicans while reaching out to youth and other non-traditional Republican voting groups," Yob said in an email to The Detroit News. "That is why he consistently performs the best against Hillary Clinton in head-to-head match ups."

Paul has tried to make in-roads with racial and ethnic minorities, groups that overwhelmingly vote Democrat. In December 2013, he was in Detroit to help the Michigan Republican Party open an office on Livernois Avenue.

During that same visit to the city, Paul pushed in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club for the creation of federal "economic freedom zones" with a flat 5 percent individual and corporate income tax rate.

Paul also proposed lowering payroll taxes and eliminating capital gains taxes for Detroiters as a way to attract businesses and residents back to the city, while Detroit was going through a historic bankruptcy reorganization.

In kicking off his presidential campaign Tuesday from Louisville, Paul renewed his proposal for Detroit, saying it could bump more than $1 billion of economic stimulus into the Motor City.

"Can you imagine what a billion-dollar stimulus could do for Detroit or Appalachia?" Paul said.

Yob specializes in organizing coalitions for candidates at political conventions and party caucuses, which may prove crucial in the junior Kentucky senator's campaign. He also will serve as Paul's chief strategist for Michigan's March 8, 2016, Republican presidential primary.

Last July, Yob signed onto the precursor of a Paul presidential campaign, becoming national political director of the senator's RANDPAC political action committee.

In 2010, Yob helped a politically unknown venture capitalist named Rick Snyder win a five-man Republican primary for governor in Michigan and go on to win two four-year terms. Yob also worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaigns of Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 and the 2012 campaign of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who could be preparing for another White House run.

Libertarian-leaning U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, is expected to endorse Paul for president Tuesday. Paul, 52, is an ophthalmologist and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Paul's libertarian firebrand father — former Texas Rep. Ron Paul — sought the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2012 and once as a Libertarian Party candidate in 1988.

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty political advocacy group has a network of nearly 50,000 conservative and libertarian Republicans in Michigan, said Tony DeMott, president of Michigan Campaign for Liberty.

DeMott stressed the advocacy group cannot endorse Rand Paul for president, but he personally favors him.

"I think it's fantastic as a conservative and Republican that there's a candidate running for president who champions civil liberties, limited government and individual responsibility," said DeMott of Ann Arbor.

Dan Osterman, a Campaign for Liberty member from Belleville, said not everyone within the grassroots movement founded by Ron Paul is sold on his son yet.

"He's not his father and I think that's probably a good thing and in some circles it's probably a bad thing," said Osterman, a 60-year-old sales engineer. "I think Rand is a lot more politically savvy than his father. ... But I think once you look at the field, logically they're going to support Rand anyway."

In September 2013, Rand Paul won a straw poll among Michigan Republican Party activists at the GOP's biennial leadership conference on Mackinac Island.

"Once Rand's message gets out there, I think it will resonate with a lot of people within the Republican Party," said Osterman, a member of the Michigan Republican Party's state committee. "He's got a more measured approach to foreign policy than any of the other candidates. He's not a hardline type of war hawk, if you will. … I don't think Rand is an isolationist."

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/ChadLivengood

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