At local conventions starting in January and continuing through April, the governor's machine successfully mobilized supporters to elect a slate of 16 people to the GOP central committee, including a few loyal holdovers. This group, essentially the party's board of directors, took over Saturday night. There is no longer a single Paul-aligned, libertarian on the central committee.
Twenty months out from the 2016 caucuses, the Kentucky senator is arguably the frontrunner in Iowa. His main opponents concede privately that the Hawkeye State is Paul's to lose. And there is an argument — even some of his supporters are making it — that it's actually a good thing for Paul that his team no longer controls the state party.
If they had, the argument goes, it would be much easier for opponents to claim the caucuses are rigged in Paul's favor. The Branstad takeover, ironically, could legitimize a Paul win.