DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Ron Paul may be exiting the political stage, but his legions of followers say they are only getting started.
Loyalists of the two-time Republican presidential candidate have quietly taken over key-state GOP organizations, ensuring fights with the GOP establishment as the party tries to heal from its 2012 defeat and laying the groundwork for a future presidential candidate.
Their new relevance, especially in early caucus states Iowa and Nevada, could clear the way for such a candidate, perhaps the Texans' son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It's the next step in the group's ongoing development, from rambunctious malcontents of just a few years ago into more serious party activists bent on reshaping a party they say has drifted from its conservative roots.
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