Iowa's RNC members split on race for chairman

Longtime Iowa political operative Gentry Collins officially announced yesterday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee this January. Collins filed paperwork for the race last month shortly before he resigned as the RNC’s political director. One of the three Iowa RNC members, state party chairman Matt Strawn, has already endorsed Collins.

However, RNC member Steve Scheffler told The Iowa Republican blog that he will back Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus for RNC chairman.

Not only is Scheffler supporting Priebus, but he has agreed to serve in Priebus’ “kitchen cabinet.” […]

Preibus won Scheffler’s support by being a strong defender of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, having a strong stance on social issues, and pledging to run a tight ship if elected to lead the RNC.

Scheffler’s support of Priebus is also a blow to Gentry Collins’ bid to be RNC chairman. Collins, an Iowan, has spent years working in Iowa politics. His inability to secure the support of all three Iowa RNC members will likely be a red flag to other members of the committee.

Scheffler would have come into contact with Collins when Collins was running Mitt Romney’s Iowa campaign in 2007. Scheffler heads the Iowa Christian Alliance, which organized house parties featuring Romney and several other Republican presidential candidates before the caucuses. (Neither Scheffler nor the Iowa Christian Alliance endorsed a candidate in that GOP field.) Scheffler was elected to represent Iowa at the RNC in July 2008, and Collins worked for John McCain’s campaign in Iowa during that year’s general election.

I haven’t seen any public comment from Iowa’s third RNC representative, Kim Lehman, regarding the upcoming race for chairman. She and Scheffler are ideologically similar, having been elected by the same faction of socially conservative delegates to the Iowa GOP state convention in 2008. In January 2009, Scheffler and Lehman publicly supported Katon Dawson for RNC chairman. He lost to current chairman Michael Steele on the sixth round of balloting.  

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