In one of those “local” developments with national political import that it’s easy to miss, Iowa Republican State Party Chairman A.J. Spiker resigned his position last last week, in the midst of a series of setbacks for his Paulite faction in local party elections that seemed certain to eventually reverse the coup it pulled off in 2012.
WaPo’s Sean Sullivan reported the Spiker resignation as a victory for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, and others will probably soon treat it as a setback for Rand Paul’s presidential aspirations. But it’s all a bit more complicated than that. While Branstad was the most prominent detractor of the “Liberty Caucus” regime, he was joined in the effort to get rid of Spiker and company by the state’s powerful social-conservative forces, who aren’t big fans of Branstad. And as Slate‘s Dave Weigel noted last summer, the whole brouhaha represented the kind of trouble Rand Paul really didn’t need.
My guess is that the state party reshuffle will mostly allow Iowa Republicans to return to their regularly scheduled factional rivalries, which could hang fire in this year’s Senate primary (followed quite possibly by a nominating convention, required if no one secures more than 35% of the vote in the primary). And even if things don’t blow up in 2014, the pro- and anti-Spiker factional lines will give way to more complicated ideological tensions as Iowa Republicans begin to pick sides in the 2016 presidential contest.