Iowa Republicans are going through some soul-searching the the wake of last month's defeats, and the in-fight action is playing itself out in the Iowa rightosphere.
Republican National Committee member Kim Lehman, who also heads Iowa Right To Life (sic), is under attack from 2nd District GOP leaders for an IRTL newsletter that called congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks a "great pretender" on the issue and said, "Miller-Meeks is pro-abortion."
Republican activists, or at least those with blogs, believed Miller-Meeks had a chance, despite the lack of national-level external indicators. But she lost to incumbent Dave Loebsack by 19 points.
There were a lot of reasons for that. True, MMM has a good backstory, and she did well in the district's southwest tier. But Miller-Meeks kept pointing out how often Loebsack voted with Democratic leadership as if that were a bad thing. I think that just reinforced Loebsack's bona fides in a Democratic district. And it was just a great Democratic year, a great Obama year, and Loebsack got on the Obama train early. It takes a compelling argument to knock off a congressional incumbent. Loebsack's Leach-as-enabler case was effective; MMM's "do-nothing Dave" wasn't.
The GOP can't retroactively change the national climate or MMM's campaign tactics. But they can punish those in their own midst. Lehman says she was not reponsible for the newsletter, but a group of county chairs is calling for Lehman's removal from the RNC. O. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa has a nice backgrounder.
A lot of Republicans were unhappy with Lehman's election to begin with. A sizable faction at the state convention favored outgoing legislator Sandy Greiner, and a... recall, do-over, or whatever effort against Lehman is a key proxy war in the ongoing direction battle between Money Republicans and Jesus Republicans. (A gross oversimplification, but you get the idea.)
"The only reason a National Committeeman or Committeewoman can be removed from office is if they do not support the Republican nominee for President or Vice President," writes Krusty Konservative. (Republican Party rules seem to be stricter than Senate Democratic caucus rules.) "While I don’t have any problem with people being upset with Lehman, they need to voice their opinions one last time and move on. Additionally, Kim has a lot of work to do to clean up her image."
Republicans are also choosing a new state chair, as former legislator Stew Iverson departs after a short and electorally unsuccessful tenure. Grant Young at Questions Comments Insults has both a good summary and a distinctive writing style. Seriously, lefty readers, you should get over to the right side of the web more. Gotta know what they're up to. Here's a few of my regular stops: