Iowa’s Republican governor opens assault on his state party
GRINNELL, Iowa — Two years from now, Republicans will formally kick off the process of nominating a presidential candidate with caucus meetings in church basements, community centers and school classrooms. The candidate they nominate will rise or fall, in part, based on the grass-roots prowess of the Republican Party’s organization here and in other swing states.
But as they gather for biennial caucuses Tuesday evening, many Republicans, including Gov. Terry Branstad, worry that their party, run by supporters of former congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian firebrand, isn’t up to the challenge. Branstad is leading a not-so-quiet push to wrest control of the Iowa party, one front in the war for the soul of the GOP. And though the presidential contest is two years away, the health of the state party could affect the GOP’s more-immediate chances at winning control of the U.S. Senate.
The fight mirrors feuds within other Republican Party organizations, from states such as Arizona, Nevada and Maine to the Republican conference in the U.S. House of Representatives, where insurgent outsiders seized control in 2008 and 2010. Now, the establishment — led by long-time operatives and party elders, including Branstad and House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) — is fighting back.