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Why Rand Paul is opening an office in Northern California

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks at the California Republican Convention on Sept. 20 in Los Angeles. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press)
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend that he "is in the process" of opening an office in the Bay Area.

Unorthodox? Yes. Unexpected? No.

While you're not going to find many Republicans with presidential ambitions focusing their efforts on such deeply liberal terrain, Paul's move is his latest play to distinguish himself as the Republican leading the charge to expand the GOP. It's also part of his effort to endear himself to some powerful donors ahead of a possible 2016 presidential campaign.

Paul has spent the past two years talking to anyone who will listen about the importance of building the GOP brand beyond its traditional base. To that end, he has appeared in settings conservatives rarely venture into. He has given high-profile speeches at historically black colleges, delivered an economic address in Detroit and has courted young voters nationwide with his libertarian-leaning views.

Now he's adding San Francisco, the home of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to his list. Paul has experienced some hiccups in his bid to broaden the GOP tent. But as the unofficial start of the 2016 presidential campaign nears, he's clearly not deterred and plans to continue his efforts to make himself stand out in the prospective Republican field.

The second reason it makes sense for Paul to build inroads in Northern California is money. You can't successfully run for president without a lot of it. And some of the most prolific donors are wealthy technology executives from Silicon Valley.

Many of them give mostly to Democrats. But Paul clearly sees potential worth cultivating. Politico reported earlier this year that he huddled with PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Thiel donated millions to a group supporting Paul's father, former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), in his bid for president in 2012.

As the Los Angeles Times reported in July, Rand Paul brought his limited government message to a San Francisco technology confab. "Don’t be depressed with how bad government is. Use your ingenuity, use your big head to think of solutions the marketplace can figure out, that the idiots and trolls in Washington will never come up with," he said is his remarks.

Nothing Paul does happens by accident, even if it may seem random on the surface. Opening up an office in the Bay Area is a clear example of why.