Still smarting from last November’s thumping, both sides have matured and became savvier about working together. The loyalty of the Paul folks has shifted from father to son, and many believe they can be most helpful to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s likely 2016 presidential campaign if they have a seat at the table.
The peacemaking bid starts with Nevada. Seeking a second term as RNC chairman in January, Priebus flew to Las Vegas to mend fences. Most major donors, including Sheldon Adelson, had stopped funding the party when the Paul forces took over.
“He has helped eliminate some of the barriers that we had with some of the casino owners,” said Nevada national committeeman James Smack, wearing a “Stand with Rand” button Friday here at the party’s three-day summer meeting.
Some of the more hardcore Paul supporters have been pushed out of leadership positions at the local level. The Clark County Republican Party, for instance, censured Priebus last year for supporting Romney before he officially beat Paul at the summer convention. But last month, the party voted to replace the county chair who pushed that resolution with David McKeon, an unapologetic establishmentarian and the son of California Rep. Buck McKeon.