Branstad to Rove: Butt out of Iowa primaries

Governor Terry Branstad says he called Karl Rove this week to urge the new Conservative Victory Project not to get involved in Iowa races.

Thomas Beaumont reported for the Associated Press yesterday,

“I basically told Karl Rove that what he was doing is counter-productive and he needs to stay out of it,” said Branstad, recounting a phone call to Rove, the leader of the new Conservative Victory Project. […]

[Rove’s] targeted effort conflicts with a more diplomatic approach favored by Branstad and other mainstream Republicans wary of offending important officeholders and factions. Branstad, who is influential as the five-term governor of a political swing state that hosts the first nominating contest of each presidential campaign, was especially inflamed by indications the Rove organization would target Iowa arch-conservative Rep. Steve King if he tried to run for the state’s open Senate seat in 2014. […]

“If some outside group that has no connection to Iowa attacks somebody from Iowa, that is not smart,” Branstad said.

Beaumont also quoted Richard Schwarm criticizing Rove’s strategy. He is a longtime fixture in the Iowa Republican establishment and close associate of Branstad. Schwarm and Rove are also friends, according to Beaumont.

I’m standing by my prediction that Steve King won’t take on the Senate race. If Rove publicly backs off from his promise to intervene in the GOP primary, that will give King the opening he needs to heed Branstad’s public and private advice. Branstad knows King could never win a statewide election.

Another prediction: no matter who wins the Republican nomination for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat, some Rove-affiliated group like American Crossroads or Crossroads GPS will spend heavily against likely Democratic nominee Bruce Braley. At that point, Governor Branstad won’t ask Rove to “stay out of it.”

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