Does Michael Needham run the Republican party?

David Brooks seems to think so. On NBC’s Meet the Press, Brooks said that the immigration reform debate is really “about who runs the Republican Party.” That is, “do the leaders who want to have a long-term future, a presidential, national future as a multi-racial party, do they run the party, or does Mike [Needham] run the party. And the truth is, Mike runs the party.”

Brooks is partly right. The immigration debate is about whose influence is primary within the Republican Party. And he has not misidentified Contestant Number 1 — it’s the Party leaders coupled with the business community. But Contestant Number 2 isn’t Mike Needham. Rather, it’s the GOP rank-and-file, which disfavors amnesty and, above all, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

And in case you were wondering, Michael Needham is the president of Heritage Action.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru asks: “if Mike Needham runs the Republican Party, how did the farm bill pass?”