The Wingnut Tribes of Iowa
Do you suspect that Stormfront will once again recommend “storming the Iowa caucus” for Ron Paul?
“They were the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party,” said Steffen Schmidt, a professor of political science at Iowa State University who has studied the Iowa caucuses for 40 years.
“They’re very powerful and important because they have a huge amount of visibility,” he said, adding that these groups often set the themes for the elections, whether it’s social or economic issues.
Among the biggest tribal leaders are Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, who supported John McCain in the last presidential cycle; Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, and veteran operative Doug Gross who supported Mitt Romney’s candidacy in 2008.
While Sarah Palin supporters try to game out a strategy for the state, five other potential candidates – former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and radio host Herman Cain — have already lined up for a lecture series organized by Vander Plaats, whose support is considered key in any Iowa bid.
In 2008, Plaats backed Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa GOP caucuses and went on to finish second in the Republican primaries behind John McCain. Huckabee is now leading Iowa GOP public polling ahead of 2012.
Schmidt said these groups are even more powerful now after the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case that opened the door for unlimited spending by corporations, unions and other interest groups on election ads.