The GOP Establishment Fightback Starts Tomorrow, in Minnesota

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 25 2013 6:24 PM

The GOP Establishment Fightback Starts Tomorrow, in Minnesota

Earlier this week, Beth Reinhard wrote about the ways the Republican "establishment," such as it is, would try to reverse the gains of the conservative base, the Tea Party, Ron Paul's Liberty Movement, and the Raelians (or whoever else they're blaming for the quagmire right now). 

Tactics being discussed among Republican strategists, donors, and party leaders include running attack ads against tea-party candidates for Congress; overthrowing Ron Paul's libertarian acolytes dominating the Iowa and Minnesota state parties; promoting open primaries over nominating conventions, which can produce Republican hard-liners such as Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and shutdown-instigator Mike Lee of Utah; and countering political juggernauts Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, and FreedomWorks that target Republican incumbents who have consorted with Democrats.

Is this working? I checked with Marianne Stebbins, who led Minnesota's Ron Paul delegation to the RNC last year.

"In the sense that they're running specific candidates and amply funding them, yes," said Stebbins. "They will likely be successful in electing their national committeeman tomorrow at the special state central committee meeting. There, however, in the straw poll for gubernatorial and US Senate candidates, I don't think the monied, establishment candidates (Scott Honour, Mike McFadden*) will do well. The strictly liberty faction never had a majority in the MN GOP; we were a motivated and organized minority. Combined with allies, we can be a majority, so how the next couple of years play out is an unwritten story."

*Stebbins originally referred to this candidate as "Bob" McFadden. The error was pointed out by half a dozen Minnesota readers who, honestly, need to find better ways to spend their Fridays. I make my email very easy to find here and on Twitter, for tips and (too often) for people to flag me about something I missed. Tweeting at someone to deride how he got a fact wrong without actually specifying what the fact was is just an ego exercise.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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