The Republican faction that supported Ron Paul for president in 2012 and managed to take over the leadership of the Iowa state GOP was ousted from power on Saturday, which could have ramifications on the 2016 presidential campaign.

The GOP Power Play That Could Be Bad News for Rand Paul in 2016

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during an event at the University of Chicago’s Ida Noyes Hall in Chicago on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

The state Republican Party sets the rules and plays a major role in organizing the all-important Iowa caucus, the first presidential contest that kicks off the race to the party nomination every four years. The leadership change could impact the presidential ambitions of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul – Ron Paul’s son – who has the support of most in the state’s libertarian movement.

Iowa is the first state to strip power from liberty movement followers that won key executive offices in several state Republican parties across the country in 2012, according to the Des Moines Register.

At a party convention Saturday, business and evangelical conservatives won all 16 seats on the state’s GOP central committee, voting out all of the Paul-alligned supporters who swept into control of a majority of central committee seats in 2012.

The Register cited anonymous Republican insiders who characterized the move as making a “broader party that is more focused on electing candidates and less focused on pet liberty movement issues like police checkpoints, raw milk or getting rid of the Fed.”

On practical terms, libertarian-leaning Republicans will no longer have full control over invitations to big state party events, on grassroots training and staff hired to work in Iowa Republican party headquarters.

Party insiders further told the Register, “Big donors who closed their checkbooks may start giving money to the state party again.”

The libertarians found a silver lining, as one anonymous official told the Register: No longer being in leadership frees activists up to campaign for Paul in 2016, and further will keep critics from discounting a possible Paul victory in the 2016 caucus as somehow rigged by the state party.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told the Register, “This is the biggest development yet in the backlash to Paul-ite control. It will give energy to similar efforts in other states.”

Pro-Paul conservatives took key leadership positions the Nevada, Maine, Minnesota, Virginia and Alaska Republican parties. But in those case, there wasn’t bad blood as was the case in Iowa. This dates back to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, where the Iowa delegates cast their votes for Paul rather than nominee Mitt Romney, causing angst among Republicans such as Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Charles Grassley.

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