Yesterday the National Republican Congressional Committee gave another sign that Jim Gibbons is their man in the five-way primary for Iowa's third Congressional district. Gibbons is among a dozen or so Republicans who have been added to the NRCC's list of "on the radar" candidates.
The Young Guns program is designed to assist Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives achieve goals and benchmarks throughout the election cycle focused on the fundamentals of a winning campaign. By achieving 'On the Radar' status, Gibbons has already proven his ability to build a successful campaign structure and achieve important fundraising goals.
"The NRCC is committed to working with Jim Gibbons as he continues to meet the rigorous goals of the Young Guns program," said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions. "Jim is an accomplished, independent leader who has already built significant momentum behind his campaign. I am confident that Republicans will be successful in our effort to defeat Leonard Boswell, who is an out-of-touch politician solely focused on his party's big-government, big-spending agenda rather than job creation."
"On the radar" is the third tier for NRCC-backed challengers in Democratic-held districts. Republican candidates with somewhat better prospects are on the NRCC's list of "contenders." Republicans with the best pickup opportunities are called "young guns." (The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a similar three-tier structure, from the top-ranked "red to blue" districts to "emerging" candidates and "races to watch.")
Washington Republicans have indicated before that Jim Gibbons is their choice in the IA-03 primary, but yesterday was the closest thing to an official endorsement we've seen from the national party insiders.
For some reason, there's no asterisk denoting an "official" NRCC endorsement on this list of candidates in the Young Guns program. But that doesn't matter much. By singling out Gibbons as an "on the radar" candidate, the NRCC is telling major donors and out-of-state political action committees where they should put their money. That is bound to increase Gibbons' money advantage over his rivals in the primary.
I still don't fully understand why Republicans are so much more interested in a former wrestling coach and financial advisor than in State Senator Brad Zaun, a former mayor of a major Republican vote-producing region of Polk County. Perhaps they think Gibbons can bring over Democratic-leaning Cyclone fans. If some well-connected Republican cares to enlighten me, please post a comment in this thread or send a confidential e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.
THURSDAY UPDATE: More establishment support emerges for Gibbons, as former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will headline a fundraiser to be hosted by former Representative Greg Ganske, who represented the fourth district (including Polk County) from 1995-2003. Hastert's influence wasn't enough to carry his son Ethan through in the recent GOP primary for Illinois' 14th district (Hastert's old seat).