This weekend will include a pretty interesting temperature reading for Republicans in, unsurprisingly, Iowa, where Ted Cruz, fresh from his Texas “victory tour” appearances after the government shutdown ended, will be keynoting a state party fundraiser.
As you may recall, Cruz received what can only be described as a rapturous reception the last two times he appeared in the First-in-the-Nation-Caucus State. But that was before the shutdown saga, and as it happens, Cruz’ latest trip to Iowa coincides with some unusually tough talk from the shadowy circle of self-identified “Establishment Republicans” associated with Gov. Terry Brandstad. This is from a piece that was clearly dripped into the ear of long-time Iowa political reporter Tom Beaumont:
Fed up and ready to get off the sidelines, veteran Iowa Republicans are working to wrest control of the state GOP from the evangelicals, tea partyers and libertarians they blame for alienating longtime party loyalists.
Led by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, these Republicans want to grow the state party – one that ideological crusaders have shaped over the past few years – by bringing back into the fold pragmatic-minded voters while attracting more women and younger voters.
These Republicans say success would be Branstad winning re-election next fall and paving the way for a national GOP comeback in the 2016 presidential election by choosing a mainstream Republican in the leadoff presidential caucuses.
Well, good luck with that last part.
The more notable intramural fight among Iowa Republicans has been between Paulite and non-Paulite conservatives over the activities of a state party committee controlled by the former. The one thing that might unite them is a “takeover” attempt by the “Establishment,” particularly if it’s keyed to some 2016 effort. Indeed, Ted Cruz’ appeal to both Paulites and more traditional social conservatives is part of what Iowa Republicans mean when they call him a potential “unity candidate” for 2016.
So all these dynamics will be in play this weekend, when among other things we find out if GOP willingness to greet Cruz as a conquering hero after the shutdown debacle extends beyond his home state.