About one and a half weeks ago the Iowa political world was rocked as Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn announced his resignation. Love him or hate him, he managed to bring the Iowa GOP into the 21st century. That resignation sparked a trio of Iowa Republicans to step up to the plate to vie for the honor of serving in a leadership capacity. I spoke with a member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee who informed me that it would be a close race between two of the candidates. But evidently some others do not agree with that assessment.
The following is the text of an email sent out by former Republican Party of Iowa Finance Director Darrell Kearney.
Sent: 2/10/2012 3:51:01 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: Conservative Breakfast Club
THE CONSERVATIVE CLUB OF DES MOINES
THE DES MOINES CONSERVATIVE BREAKFAST CLUB
“Dedicated to Defending the American Free Enterprise System and Defeating Obama’s plans for a Socialist America”
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
7:00am to 8:00am
Chuck Grassley Conference Center, Republican State Headquarters
621 E. 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa
STATE CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF IOWA
Bill Schickel assumed the Chairmanship of the Republican Party of Iowa following the recent resignation of Chairman Matt Strawn. Schickel will serve the remaining ten months of Strawn’s Chairmanship with the approval of the State Central Committee. The former state legislator, and Mayor of Mason City, has not made public his intention for running for State Chairman beyond 2012.
Bill Schickel is the General Manager of a KCMR radio station in Mason City. He was a well known television news anchor before venturing into Conservative Republican politics. Schickel served in the Iowa House for three terms. After retiring from the Legislature, he was elected to the Republican State Central Committee as Secretary and State Co-Chair. He has been endorsed by Governor Branstad and other Republican Legislative leaders.
Schickel will comment about the change in the State GOP leadership and his plans for the Iowa 2012 Republican Party Victory effort to defeat Barack Obama and maintain the majority control in the Iowa House, help Senate Republicans take back the Iowa Senate and winning additional Congressional seats.
Scrambled Eggs and Ham, Southern Baked Hash Browns, Fresh Fruit, assorted breads, Coffee & Juice
When this email was forwarded to me this afternoon I really didn’t see what the big deal about it was. I simply thought I missed the election of the new Chairman. It wasn’t until after I spoke with a member of the SCC that I was mistaken. The State Central Committee has not, let me repeat that for you, the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee has not elected a new Chairman. Furthermore the SCC member I spoke with this afternoon admitted that the SCC did allow Schickel to serve as INTERIM Chairman, they did not choose to allow him to serve out Chairman Strawn’s term.
While this email could quite simply be an error on the part of Mr. Kearny I find that hard to believe. And while I am not ready to assert that there is some nefarious plot to “steal” the Chairmanship I am not ready to completely discount it either.
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the Republican Party of Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll. For those of you that were unable to attend you missed out on an incredible spectacle that is an important step in the Presidential nomination process. You missed the opportunity to mingle with the various Republican Presidential candidates. You missed the opportunity to learn what a wide variety of conservative organizations were up to. And most of all you missed the opportunity to help shape the debate in the election process. And once the dust had settled there it was clear those that had successes and those that had disappointments.
First off, for those of you that do not understand the significance of a non-binding straw poll I would like to explain the significance. The significance of the Ames Straw Poll is that it is the first real test of the various campaigns organizational strength. Basically it tests how well a campaign can motivate it’s supporters to come out and spend the day in Ames to vote for them. At the end of the day it is up to the campaign’s to determine how well they accomplished that task and plan accordingly. Now without further ado I would like to give you my thoughts on the outcome of the 2011 Ames Straw Poll.
Michelle Bachmann – 4,823 votes
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann emerged from the Ames Straw Poll as the victor. Last Saturday Congresswoman Bachmann was able to lay claim to the mantle of the first woman to win the RPI Straw Poll. This in and of itself is a major success for Team Bachmann, more so considering that it happened in a state that has never elected a woman to serve in the federal government. Despite this symbolic victory it cannot be overlooked that Congresswoman Bachmann just barely managed to hold off Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Most Republican circles began to write off the Texan after the horrid debate performance he had on Thursday evening. One reason for this apparent disappointment could stem from the fact that in the weeks leading up to the Straw Poll many media outlets began to launch a constant stream of attacks designed to diminish her performance. And in spite of these attacks she managed to pull off the win.
Ron Paul – 4671 votes
I would categorize Congressman Ron Paul’s performance at the Straw Poll as a success. As I mentioned above, many Republicans that I spoke with prior to between Thursday night and Saturday morning expected his performance to drop after his performance in the Fox News debate. Despite this performance I still fail to see Congressman Paul winning enough support to emerge from the Iowa Caucus victorious. The reason that I believe this is his stance on foreign policy. It remains to be seen if American foreign policy was the cause of the irrational hatred felt by many Muslims toward the United States. However, we do not have the luxury of traveling back in time to change the past. We must live in reality, the here and now. We cannot allow attacks upon our nation to go unanswered. And once we were engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq we could not withdraw our troops until their nations were once again stable, to do otherwise would be irresponsible. And as for Iran, it is the only nation in the world that has publicly stated that their ultimate goal was to destroy another nation. If we were to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons it would have disastrous consequences for every other nation in the world. And after Congressman Paul publicly announced otherwise, it marginalized him as viable candidate in my opinion. I am confident that very few Iowans’ subscribe to Congressman Paul’s idea of foreign policy.
Tim Pawlenty – 2,293 votes
I would say that the biggest disappointment of the day belonged to Team Pawlenty. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was banking on a great finish in the Ames Straw Poll that never materialized. Governor Pawlenty’s biggest impediment in the race was his lack of excitement. He just couldn’t fire up the voters the way that Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann could. As a result of his disappointing finish on Saturday, Governor Pawlenty made an announcement that he was dropping out of the race on Sunday. The expertise and wisdom that Governor Pawlenty brought to the race will be missed, but the Ames Straw Poll succeeded in helping Iowans to vet the Presidential candidates.
Rick Santorum – 1,657 votes
One of the biggest success stories from Saturday’s Straw poll was the emergence of Rick Santorum. Last week I was one of the few commentators to predict that the former Senator from Pennsylvania would jump up and surprise some people at the Straw Poll. And while I did expect him to fare better than Governor Pawlenty, I wasn’t off by much. The reason that I consider fourth place a success for Santorum is because he finished above many candidates that have been in the race longer. The fact that Santorum was able to fire up almost seventeen hundred votes in just a couple of months is a testament to his ability to campaign. I look forward to the next six months as we get closer and closer to the 2012 caucuses. I think that we may see another rise similar to the one Governor Mike Huckabee had post 2007 Straw Poll.
Herman Cain – 1,456 votes
I would also characterize Herman Cain’s performance at the Straw Poll as a success. In my prediction last week I thought that Cain could surprise Iowa Republicans, even though I thought it was unlikely. With his fifth place finish the former Godfathers Pizza CEO has proven to be a tenacious campaigner with the drive to win. However, he still finished in fifth place after having campaigned for longer than most candidates. Perhaps his refusal to answer surveys has held him back. Many Iowans, myself included, have to wonder why he would avoid this free advertisement. Unless it is because he doesn’t want to go on the record in his own handwriting.
Rick Perry – 718 votes
The biggest surprise to me was the fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry who came in sixth with 718 votes. To say that this wasn’t a success would be utter madness. Governor Perry was successful beyond my wildest imaginations. At the same time I find it disappointing that 718 Iowans voted for a candidate that had never campaigned within the state. I find it disappointing that 718 Iowans voted for a candidate that they could know little about. To be perfectly honest I cannot fathom any reason for Governor Perry to finish this high without any campaigning at all. Still I have the nagging feeling that when Iowans begin to actually get to know him, that his campaign will fall back to earth.
Mitt Romney – 567 votes
I know that the defending Straw Poll victor, Mitt Romney, decided not to participate in the 2011 version but I still expected him to do better than Texas Governor Rick Perry. At least Romney has done some minimal campaigning within the state. Furthermore, Romney did campaign extensively in the state during the last caucus. To have him fall so far was hard to imagine. I would say that this does not bode well for Team Romney as we get closer to the 2012 caucus. To say that his performance was disappointing would be an understatement.
Newt Gingrich – 385 votes
I would say that former Speaker of the US House Newt Gingrich suffered neither successful nor a disappointing Straw Poll, although it is still astounding that Rick Perry finished better than Gingrich. Instead, I believe that Gingrich managed to tread water in spite of refusing to participate in the event. We know that he was on the ground in Ames on Saturday, so it is probably because of a lack of campaign funds that held him back from participating in the event.
Jon Huntsman – 69 votes
To be perfectly honest with you, I did not expect Huntsman to fare this well. The man has openly dissed the Iowa Caucus and the Straw Poll. That sixty-nine Iowans voted for him simply astounds me. Due to this I would without hesitation that Huntsman experienced a success at the Straw Poll.
Thaddeus McCotter – 35 votes
You might be asking just who McCotter is. Well the best way to describe him is probably as someone that wanted to be able to put candidate for President on his resume when he leaves Congress. If you had been at the straw poll you would have noticed that his tent area had very few people in attendance. In all honesty I was surprised he received as many votes as he did. It was definitely a disappointing day for McCotter.
There you have it, my take on the results of the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll. I am sure that most of you will have your own opinions as to the aftermath, and you are entitled to them. That is the beauty of our great nation.
While I may have been notably absent from the political blogosphere for the last few months I have not neglected to attend the variety of political events that have occurred in the run up to 2011 Republican Party of Iowa Ames Straw Poll. As the summer progressed the candidates vying for the Republican nomination to challenge President Obama have been making the rounds of Iowa in a determined attempt to drum up support for their candidacy.
Unlike four years ago when I attended my first Straw Poll, I am not going in with a candidate already selected. Instead I find myself in the curious position of neutrality toward the candidates. In my honest opinion all of the candidates scheduled to be in attendance have some great attributes in their favor. At the same time they all have some negatives working against them as well. So this year I will walk into the Ames Straw Poll having to as yet make a decision as to who I intend to support. That doesn’t mean that I do not have an opinion as to how each of the candidates will perform once the ballots are tallied. And now without further ado, here are my predictions as to how the poll will shake out.
I believe that Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann will the one candidate that will come out on top on Saturday. I have attended her events and seen an excitement amongst her supporters that I haven’t seen since Mike Huckabee last campaigned in Iowa prior to the 2008 Iowa Caucus. And while Congresswoman Bachmann does have some baggage I do not believe that it will be enough to hold her back.
I firmly believe that Congressman Ron Paul will come in a close second. Congressman Paul was right on almost every count on America’s fiscal policy 4 years ago and that has won him increasing support. However he has several issues that will draw down his potential support. Among them is his continued policy of inserting pork into bills even though he votes against them. Another significant negative that I believe is keeping him from winning the number 1 spot at the Straw Poll is his fanatical fringe of supporters. These are the supporters that are willing to get into your face and shout you down as you attempt to politely debate them on the issues. I saw this fanatical fringe first hand at the 2008 Straw Poll when several of the fringe lined the entry way to the event. One of the fringe got in the face of one of my companions despite being politely rebuked. If Congressman Paul were to somehow manage to gain control of these dedicate, if somewhat socially challenged individuals I believe that he may have had a stronger shot at winning the poll.
Now I am going to surprise some people with my next prediction. In third place I don’t see what some others see. I don’t see former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty drawing enough votes to take third. I don’t see the defending Straw Poll winner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney pulling it off either. Instead I see a surprise in the wings much along the same line as Governor Huckabee’s surprising win four years ago. I am going out on a limb to predict that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will pull of a third place finish on Saturday. Despite the media’s tacit dismissal of Senator Santorum’s presidential campaign he has steadily built upon his solid social conservative credentials and his lengthy track record in the US Senate to build a support base in much the same way that Governor Huckabee did. He hasn’t done it by taking part in a lot of GOP party fundraisers. Instead he has traveled across the state going from one house party to another speaking directly to the voters in Iowa. While he does have the albatross of losing his seat in the US Senate, I don’t think that it will hold him back all that much.
Predicting the candidate that will come in fourth place on Saturday was really the toughest prediction that I have made thus far. This really was a toss up between two candidates in my honest opinion. This slot could have gone to either defending Straw Poll winner Mitt Romney or former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. After careful consideration I came to the prediction that Governor Pawlenty would be the one to take fourth place. The major difference here is that Governor Pawlenty has been tirelessly crisscrossing the state in a concerted attempt to win the support of Iowan’s. Despite his relentless campaigning I don’t believe that he will be able to inspire enough support for him to place higher in the Straw Poll.
As I am sure that you can surmise, I believe that Mitt Romney will come in fifth in Saturday’s Straw Poll. It is not that I believe that he could not do better than this. It is more that I believe that most Iowan’s attending Saturday’s event will take offense to the fact that Romney has not really campaigned in Iowa this time around. Furthermore there are a large number of Iowa Republicans that will not vote for Mitt Romney under any circumstances. So this coupled with his lack of a campaign presence in Iowa will hinder his chances this weekend.
In my honest opinion positions six through nine are too fluid to really predict. However with that said, anyone of these candidates could provide a surprise on Saturday. For instance former Godfathers Pizza CEO Hermann Cain’s campaign started out with a bang. He picked up rapid support due to his status as the outsider, the non-politician candidate. However his campaign quickly lost steam when it began to hemorrhage staffers. Today Cain’s campaign is just a shell of its former self. Another candidate that held promise early in the campaign season was former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. However after some of his staff left over differences in opinion on campaign strategy the Gingrich campaign quickly lost steam. Michigan Congressman Thadeus McCotter will be a non-entity on Saturday due to the fact that he really hasn’t been campaigning. No one in Iowa really knows much about him and I don’t believe that he will have the time to rectify this problem. Another candidate that I believe will be a non-entity at the Straw Poll will be Jon Huntsman due to the fact that he has decided to bypass Iowa.
With a few days remaining until the Iowa Straw Poll the political situation is volatile. Anyone of these candidates can break their campaign with some entirely avoidable gaffe. And at the same time a candidate has the ability to elevate their status through some shrewd and effective campaign strategy. Essentially, until the ballots are cast on Saturday the outcome of the Straw Poll is entirely fluid. But it is fun to make predictions isn’t it.
First I must apologize to all of our readers as well as other members of the alliance for my scarcity over the last several months. I have had some personal issues that I had to deal with and was extremely busy. I won’t go into the details but let be clear I am profoundly sorry that I have not been around. Now onto the current event, the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2010 Reagan Dinner at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines. I am going to attempt to publish live updates as the night progresses but I must stress that I will most likely not be able to get every detail that transpires on the blog tonight. Then over the next couple of days I will work on publishing my commentary of tonight’s event.
To set the stage, this year’s dinner is being held at Hy-Vee Hall instead of at the Fairgrounds. I assume that the venue was moved for a couple of reasons. This years event seems to have attracted much more media attention than last years event did. This could be due to the fact that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is the keynote speaker for tonights event. Additionally RPI seems to have been able to sell more tickets for tonights event as opposed to last years event. I would not hesitate to say that this bode’s well for the GOP’s chances in the November general election.
As I am sitting here I am watching people slowly start to filter in for tonights events. I have found out that RPI had a contest going on that woudl allow the individuals that make the most calls for RPI to have a seat in the VIP section for tonights events. This is a number of chairs set up near the stage so the attendees can have a better view of the stage.
Shane Vander Hart and I just got done speaking with an individual that traveled to Des Moines from Cincinati, OH just to be at tonight’s event.
I just got done speaking with the gentleman from Ankeny again. We were discussing whether we could see what demographics were getting active from the comments we receive on our blogs. I had to inform him that the IDA was set up we really could not determine demographic groups to track those kind of statistics. Although this does give me some ideas to look into a future demographic survey for the site.
We just had a couple of visitors descend upon bloggers row. The first was the Republican candidate for Marion County Attorney Ed Bull. As several of you know I have done some work attempting to get Ed elected to this position. He was stopping by to let me know that he will be having a meet and greet at the Swamp Fox in Knoxville on October 7th at 5:30 PM hosted by Jim and Dianne Ellis. For more information you can check out Ed’s Facebook page.
Dallas County Recorder candidate Chad Airhart also put in an appearance at Blogger’s Row where he proceeded to needle fellow blogger Grant Young about apparently getting dressed up. Not sure the story behind this, but one of the comments being made was that there would be “No brain suck in Dallas County.”
Events are beginning to pick up. The meal is now being served. The Iowa Events Center catering staff is in the process of carrying the stainless steel covered food trays to each table.
The announcer is now asking for people to take their seats. It appears that the show is about to begin. I have seen Congressman Steve King saunter through on his way to his table in the VIP section. A few minutes later I saw former Governor Terry Branstad hurrying toward his table in the VIP section of the floor. Dave Davidson is back taking pictures of Blogger’s Row. At the same time State Representative Erik Helland came up to speak with Shane Vander Hart.
After a patriotic video the RPI Co-Chair is kicking things off with applause for troops followed up with a prayer. According to the co-chair this is the largest attendance of any Reagan Dinner. Quite an impressive feat. From what I have heard more than 1400 people in attendance tonight.
After the invocation State Auditor Dave Vaudt lead the assembled activists in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Now speaking Congressman Steve King. He said that he wasn’t ready for the sprint to the stage, but he is ready for November. Talking about the takeover of some of the largest corporations in the US. Now he is talking about how Obamacare needs to be completely repealed. Talked about how to get the repeal down by using a Congressional races. Next year we will have a Republican majority. Accuses the Democrats of being anti-Constitution. 2013 we will have a new President. Claims Obamacare will be repealed on the first day of the new Presidency.
Tom Latham speaking now. Great day to be a Republican that stands for something. People at town halls are upset with how the country is being governed. Democrats don’t listen to the will of the people. They are pushing San Francisco ideas on the country. Sees the dedication in the volunteers based on 20,000 calls made from Ames, IA.
Jim Gibbons introduncing state level candidates. They stand to be recognized. Northey is in Delaware. Huge applause for Northey. Bigger applause for Brenna Findley. Same for Matt Schultz. Slightly less for Dave Jamison. Huge applause for Ben Lange. Called Miller-Meeks Mighty Mouse. Better applause for Brad Zaun.
Now playing a video about Grassley. They used his latest TV campaign ad. Kind of tacky I think. Grassley on stage now. Admits that Senators work for us. Says that people are scared and that people don’t like what is happening to America. Pelosi Reid is digging America into a hole. Says that in November we will take the shovels away from Pelosi and Reid. Says that he went to Congress to fight for Constitutional Principles. Claims to say what he means and means what he said. Congress must take bold action bring accountability to government. Touched on Border Security. No apologizing for America. Respect for Life(importantly). Will reclaim America from Reid and Pelosi. Together we will reclaim it.
Branstad proceeded by his latest campaign ad. Arrived on stage to a standing ovation. Culver is in trouble. Great job at Des Moines University. We want good, clean, responsive government. Something we have not had. Touched on the variety of scandals that have plagued the Culver adminstration. Still not a very impressive speaker. Stated that the Culver administration is beginning to sound like Illinois. Talking about I-Jobs. Unemployment was under six percent at the beginning now it is over six. We can’t afford more of Culver’s leadership. Ambititious goals. 200k new jobs among other things. Talking about his running mate Kim Reynolds. Now talking about Dave Jamison, Matt Schultz, Dave Vaudt, Brenna Findley. Not nearly the enthusiasm at the end of his speech.
I am sorry that I missed most of Chairman Matt Strawn’s speech. It was simply talking about Reagan’s unshakeable faith in America and it’s people. Talked about how we need all of the GOP candidates to win in November if we are to correct the problems of the current administration.
Strawn introduces Palin to a standing ovation. Palin:”Do you love your freedoms?” Asks all military veterans to stand to be recognized. Thanks them for their service. Claims to have wore Hawkeyes t-shirt and Cyclone cap. Talking about special education and special children. Claimed that Branstad worked to advocate for them. Says that we need to elect strong leaders that are not afraid to shake things up. We need Grassley in the Senate. Grassley has a special place in her heart. Joked about his tweets. She wished Grassley and his wife happy anniversary. Says that he has common sense. Praised King and Latham. We need to have strong principled leadership. Says that Iowa is good people. Competition is good. Builds character. Now we need unity. It is time to unite. If the goal is to take power away from Reid, Pelosi, and Obama we need to unite.
Talking about losing primary campaigns. You win some and you lose some. For America’s future we need elected leaders to lead, so we need to unite. States that we need to put the internal power struggle to the side to restore America. Leaning on Constitutional principles. Dismissing anonymous sources, questions their their existance. And if they do exist they are coward for hiding their identity. Talking about the Tea Party and common sense. We need to get back to founding principles.These are not extreme positions. Constantly attacked by the far left. Says that we need everybody working together. Everyone can work together to win. Continues to say that it is “We the People”, the patriots that will restore America. Seems to be the standard fluff piece to pump up the party faithful.
Talking about the failed stimulus package. One company created 50 new jobs that cost about $2 million a piece. When unemployment rose above 10% Obama said better days were ahead. Palin agrees, November 2nd is ahead. Small business taxes are going to rise in January. Some workers will be laid off. Those people will be more dependent upon the government. Let small business owners keep more of what they earn to spend on new employees. don’t take it to add to government bloat. Difficult to find common ground. Attacked cash for clunkers and weatherization programs and a economic boost. They believe that America’s future should be dictated from the top.
Reagan had the best foreign policy. Reagan said that we win, they lose. Reagan inspired us to greatness. Reagan understood the exceptional nature of America. Our principles and our people will restore America. We are due for a rediscovery. It may take a shake up to get there. Those that wrote the Constitution were freedom fighters.
We are the party of No. We have to say no when bills violate our Constitution. More than enough reason to have faith in America. Places like Des Moines, Dallas, and Dover. It may take some sacrifices. May have to reprioritize so that children will have the opportunities. More and more people are getting involved. They are attending tea parties. They are writing Op-eds. They are running for office. They are attending Town Halls. We have been through some dark days, but we can and will prevail because of our founding principles.
We are going to stand up and fight for our principles. We are going to buck the system. We are going to take it back. We believe that the government that governs best governs least. We believe that freedom is not free and that it is worth fighing for. We believe that every innocent life deserves to be protected. She ends with God bless Iowa, God Bless America.
A final update from the Reagan dinner. the event is now over and people are filing out of the hall as music plays over the speaker system. I will provide some commentary on tonights event at sometime over the next couple of days.
Now that I have had an opportunity to sit down and think through my experiences from the 2010 Republican Party of Iowa State Convention I believe I can accurately convey my thoughts and conclusions from the event. First off, I believe that Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn and the State Central Committee need to be commended. They did an excellent job in organizing this event in order for it to be the success that it was. They have set the benchmark that all future conventions will be judged by.
Now if you were to judge the mood of the delegates by some of the articles written about it you could come to conflicting conclusions. If you were to believe this article written by Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican, the Republican Party in Iowa is united behind its candidates. And if you were to believe this article written by Des Moines Register political director Kathy Obradovich, you would come to the conclusion that the Republican Party is still greatly divided. Both of these articles hold a measure of truth, but neither of them is totally correct.
Let’s start with the unity that was evident at the convention. The Republican Party is energized for the first time in years. It isn’t due to the gubernatorial nominee. The reason the party is showing any signs of unity is due to the emergence of solid young conservatives running for statewide office. Brenna Findley and Matt Schultz have begun the process of healing the rift in the party by reaching out to voters that may feel disenfranchised by the results of the primary on June 8th. They have been largely successful in recruiting these voters and giving them something to be excited about. The base of the Republican Party has found the future of the party and they are coalescing around those campaigns.
In fact, in my opinion the only rift that really remains in the party is at the top of the ticket. This rift is not entirely due to the brutal primary, it had been simmering for years as Iowa Republicans lost election after election. Rather than looking for ways to win in spite of the challenges that they face, the factions within the party began placing the blame for electoral losses on each other. They completely forgot the Republican mantra of personal responsibility. And it appears that the current gubernatorial nominee has not learned anything from this exercise. Prior to the State Convention Terry Branstad’s campaign has failed to make any meaningful overtures to the supporters of his opponent, Bob Vander Plaats. Perhaps if in the time between the primary and the State Convention the Branstad campaign had made some sort of effort to bridge the gap the floor fight for the Lieutenant Governor nomination would not have happened.
Now the Branstad campaign is sending Kim Reynolds to the counties that Bob Vander Plaats won in an effort to win his supporters over. I believe it may be too little too late for this gesture. The lack of effort prior to the State Convention will only make this effort look like an afterthought. I believe that Vander Plaats supporters may see this move as nothing more than pandering to them to get their vote. The weeks ahead will tell us if this effort was successful or if it was a wasted effort.
Despite the rift at the top of the ticket the Republican Party of Iowa has a lot going for it going for heading into the general election campaign. It has the able leadership of Party Chairman Matt Strawn. It has the principled conservative candidates in Brenna Findley and Matt Schultz. And it has a strong cast of candidates working hard toward returning control of the legislature back to the GOP. Despite all the commentary on a divided party, 2010 looks like it will be a great year for the Republican Party of Iowa and the citizens of the State of Iowa.
As most of you are by now aware, Republican Gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad announced his selection for Lieutenant Governor Nominee in one Kim Reynolds. I will admit that on the surface the selection of Kim Reynolds has the potential to energize the Branstad campaign in much the same way that John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin two years ago gave his campaign a boost. However once you take a step back and look at some of the consequences of this pick it is easy to come to the conclusion that this was Branstad’s one of the few mistakes his campaign has made.
Issue number one that will haunt the Branstad campaign is the fact that Senator Reynolds has been arrested for OWI on two separate occasions, the first in 1999 and the last in 2000. First let me state that I believe that Reynolds has successfully put the incidents behind her as the last event happened ten years ago. I believe that she has made amends for her indiscretions and successfully combated her alcohol addiction. Still there are a large number of Iowan’s that will be unable to forgive Reynolds indiscretions. This will hurt Branstad and his campaign.
With his selection former Governor Branstad has irrevocably tied his campaign to the eminent domain issues raging in Clarke County. For more information on this issue read this and this. Given the fact that Senator Reynolds represents Clarke County in the Iowa Senate her silence on the issue is puzzling. Some Iowa Republican’s rightly point out that one Senator does not have all that much power to change the law. However, what those same Republicans fail to realize is that as Clarke County’s representative in the Senate she had at her disposal a pulpit from which to decry the actions taken against property owners in her home county. Her silence on this issue inevitably leads one to ask which side of the issue she really stands on. And by association the same question will now be asked of former Governor Branstad.
Another aspect about this selection that is troubling is the fact that Branstad chose a sitting Senator as his running mate. With a Democrat majority in the State Senate the Republican Party needs all the hands they can get. Now if Branstad were to win the general election a special election will have to be undertaken at an additional cost to the State of Iowa. To add to this the Republican Party will need to recruit a candidate in an attempt to hold on to this seat in what I have been lead to believe is a Democrat heavy district.
The Branstad campaign has enough baggage as it is, it did not need anymore. Yet that is just what they got with his selection. As I stated above I don’t find the OWI’s troublesome considering the fact that they happened about a decade ago, however some Iowan’s are not as forgiving as I am. I do however find the silence on Clarke County’s eminent domain issues troublesome. And I find it worrisome that Branstad would select a sitting Senator in the middle of what could be a huge Republican comeback. In all I think this was a horrible decision by the Branstad campaign and I firmly believe that it will cost him at the ballot box in November.
Now that we are a week removed from the conclusion of the 2010 primary races we can look back at the results with a little bit more of a clear head. We will be less likely to let emotion and irrationality dictate the conclusions that we can draw from the results. We can also provide some advice for former Governor Branstad in his quest to reunite the Republican Party in Iowa. Also looking at some of the data presented to us from the primary we can recognize some trends that must be acknowledged in order for the party to move forward to challenge Culver in November.
The result of the Governor’s race primary was much closer than those polling the race claimed. If you will remember many of the pollsters had former Governor Branstad winning the race by more than 20%. Well, I guess Vander Plaats managed to surprise them. Now let’s look at the vote numbers from the race as posted on the Iowa Secretary of State website here.
|Bob Vander Plaats||92,742||40.88%|
As you can see, while former Governor Branstad did manage to defeat his opponents, it was not by the large margin the pollsters predicted. In fact, almost half of the voters in the Republican primary voters voted for a candidate other than Terry Branstad. Now shall we look at the amount of campaign funds spent during the primary by each candidate followed by a breakdown of cost per vote.
|Candidate||Spent||Cost per Vote|
|Bob Vander Plaats||632,509.70||6.82|
As you can see, Team Vander Plaats has nothing to be ashamed of. Despite being outspent they managed to pull down about 41% of the vote. At the same time, Team Branstad should be a tad bit worried. The Branstad campaign was outworked by the Vander Plaats campaign. The obvious conclusion that can be drawn from this data is that if had not been for Branstad’s superior war chest there is a great possibility that he may not have won this race.
Another obvious conclusion to be drawn from this information is the clear division within the Republican base. The primary winner barely pulled down half of the primary voters. This indicates to me at least that the Republican base is not happy with the chosen nominee. It now falls upon Branstad to attempt to heal this divide because if he wants to defeat Culver he must win over the one hundred thousand voters that rejected him in the primary. He must tread carefully because any misstep in this process could quite possibly alienate these voters even further.
I really don’t know what it would take to win these voters over, but I can tell you what won’t. First and foremost, Branstad must attempt to distance himself from Doug Gross. Many of the voters that rejected Branstad do not really like Gross’ condescending manner, nor the constant ridicule he continues to pour upon them. Branstad must also admonish his supporters that continue to rub the salt in the open wounds left from the primary battle. If you were to check the comments on The Iowa Republican you would find scores of Branstad supporters belittling and ridiculing Vander Plaats supporters. All of these factors are building together to present former Governor Branstad with the virtually impossible task of reuniting the Republican base in order to defeat Culver in November.
I could give you another detailed account of the Republican Party of Iowa’s Leadership for Iowa event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds from last night. But you can check that out at The Iowa Republican; Caffeinated Thoughts; and Questions, Comments, and Insults. All have good descriptions of the event. Instead I will just discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly from last night.
It has been said that some of the events held by RPI prior to the current leadership were a tad bit on the boring side. This is the second event that I have had the opportunity to attend that has been put together by Matt Strawn and his team at RPI. The event was launched by rock music designed to get the crowd pumped up. And judging by the reactions of the crowd it worked. The lineup of speakers was pretty good in my opinion, although I would have opted to have Auditor Vaudt speak in person rather than via recording. I can understand why Steve King and Tom Latham were unable to attend the event as they were stuck in Washington defending American against the Pelosi healthcare takeover bill.
Strawn himself gave a good speech during his introduction of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. During the speech he took a jab at the Democrat Bruce Braley for his involvement in the Cash for Clunkers program that the government recently attempted. I really like the line that Strawn gave saying that it is time to trade in the 1st District’s clunker. He reiterated the message that in order for the GOP to win it must stand on the principles that make a Republican a Republican. He then held up Virginia and New Jersey as evidence that Republican principles can still win elections. And of course it was inevitable that he would take some swings at Chet Culver criticizing Culver’s policies and actions. Strawn said that Iowa needs a leader and Chet Culver is not a leader.
Tim Pawlenty, affectionately known nationwide as T-Paw, was a great speaker in my honest opinion. He wasn’t here to talk policy, he was here to provide a pep talk to Iowa Republicans. He was here to fire the grassroots up. And most importantly he was here to raise funds for the Republican Party of Iowa. While I don’t know if he was successful on the last part, I do know that he was successful on the first two. Just like Strawn he pointed out that Virginia and NJ were the starting points for the Republican comeback. Throughout the speech Pawlenty pounded away at President Obama, his administration, and the Democrat controlled legislature. He reiterated that President Obama’s policies are bad for America and that his foreign policy of appeasement is a danger not just to the United States but to the world. He called for the government to live within its means just like average citizens. And he got huge laughs when he said that the only thing growing faster than the national debt was Chris Matthews man crush on Obama. He advocated for lower taxes, lower spending, more appreciation of freedoms, etc…
Now we move onto the speeches by the gubernatorial candidates. Each candidate was to be allowed 10 minutes to speak, but I don’t think it was enforced.
I wasn’t overly impressed with Mr. Behn’s speaking abilities. However I do believe that he was solid on the issues. When it comes to economic development he asserts that Governor Culver’s policies and agenda place barriers around the state that would inhibit economic growth in the state. I like that he attacked the unelected board that oversees Iowa’s energy industry for denying the construction of a new efficient coal fired power plant and that this denial cost the state $1.75 billion in business. He also touched on the need for real education reform in Iowa and the notion that anyone but Culver would be an improvement in state leadership.
I had high hopes for Branstad’s coming out party. I expected Branstad to be an eloquent and powerful speaker, but that did not materialize. Sure, he had some high points in his speech such as his pride at the growth of Des Moines University. However there were far too many awkward pauses in his speech where it became evident that he was reading from a prepared script. I don’t know if he expected to get by on the fact that he is Terry Branstad, but he will have to work harder than that to win over a majority of Republicans. When it came to the issues he talked a good game. He said that he wants to focus on bringing jobs back to Iowa. He leveled criticism at the Democrats, but it left me scratching my head because some of the criticisms were things that he himself attempted during his time in Terrace Hill. I think that he was attempting to use this event to get the other nominees to not attack his record because he stated that he will not speak ill of other Republicans. I think he needed a better showing than what he provided. As of right now the only thing keeping him in the game is his name.
If you want a speaker that can fire up a crowd, you can usually count on Vander Plaats to do that. Even though this speech wasn’t his A game, it was still among the better of the night. Among the many points that he made on the night was the idea that this year’s primary may be for the future of the GOP. Will the GOP swing to the left and become more moderate or will it swing to the right and remain conservative. Naturally he reiterated that on the first day of his governorship he would issue an executive order placing a stay on gay marriage in Iowa until the legislature addressed the issue with a constitutional amendment allowing the population to vote on the issue.
Next in line was the winner or the Allamakee County straw poll. After that feat Roberts had some expectations to live up to. And he succeeded. Roberts was extremely well spoken and articulate. He communicated the issues intelligently and essentially demonstrated why he won Allamakee County’s Straw Poll. He affirmed his beliefs in limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise. One thing that he really stressed was that Iowa needs to invest in energy and the need to defend Iowa’s right to work law. Overall I think that this was a good night for Roberts. I think that it will benefit his campaign as people may give him a second look in the primary.
This was my first opportunity to hear Mr. Fong speak. I found him to be very well spoken and articulate. He discussed the issues very clearly. One interesting thing that I noted from Fong’s speech is an idea to help curb illegal immigration. He stated that to fight illegal immigration we must celebrate legal immigration. One of his stated goals is to return Iowa to prominence and bring jobs back. One idea that Fong has is to eliminate the state income tax. All in all this was a good night for Christian Fong, however it wasn’t the breakout night that he needed to catch up with the front runners.
I would have to say it that Christopher Rants was the one candidate that had a stellar night. He gets it. The Republican Party didn’t lose elections because it was too far to the right, it lost those elections because it failed to stand on its principles. He pointed out that those attending the Tea Parties are the voters that the GOP lost. Furthermore he stated that Republican elected officials should not be afraid to talk about what they would like to cut from the budget.
Overall the night was a success in my opinion. Those in attendance were fired up by the variety of different speakers that were on hand. And everyone in attendance has now been able to hear the candidates themselves so they can make a decision on their own. I would like to take a moment to thank Matt Strawn and the leadership at RPI for making candidates available to the state’s conservative blogs. And I hope that we can do this again in the future.
This week there was an opportunity to vote in a “gubernatorial straw poll” which has generated a lot of attention in Iowa and I hear nationally. I guess when Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris get in on the excitement of supporting a man like Bob Vander Plaats there is an extra measure of interest. Add Steve Deace into the mix and there is even more attention, controversy, harsh comments and sour grapes.
It is not often that I take time to read comments left on blogs. I try to keep my sweet natured self intact and reading nasty stuff just does not make my day. But today I wandered over to other blogs and read the comments.
Some people were unhappy with how the voting was done. There are others like me that didn’t know how to text so that was grinding on their souls. I took the option to vote by e-mail, so all was well for me getting to vote.
What really caught my attention was a comment left which I will share in part here:
“…it’s way too early to determine WHICH candidate will represent the silent majority.”
I suspect that the person writing that comment was planting the idea that there are those who are not happy with Vander Plaats and are expecting another candidate to surface that will save the day.
As to the “silent majority” – wow, I thought I was the silent majority, so there must be at least two groups who believe that their views are not considered, valued, or represented in what has been happening in the Republican Party of Iowa.
Until my involvement with Iowa Defense Alliance I had been silent. I showed up to vote and went home and hoped for the best. And in some ways I continue to be silent to those who think they run the show in the Republican Party. Thanks to the internet and additional ways to communicate I have found others who have decided to be not so silent. We are busy being the true grassroots. We volunteer for our candidates of choice and talk to our neighbors, friends, and family about supporting candidates who will represent our views and concerns. We are donating money, attending county meetings, and we are paying attention.
Those like me who once were silent are not sitting around trying to find a candidate who will save the moderates of the Republican Party. We have more to do than denounce Steve Deace and spin our wheels thinking of mean and cranky things to say about him.
The not so silent any longer “Silent Majority” has found our candidate for Governor in Bob Vander Plaats. Let the tug of political war continue. We are up for the task. Many formally silent Iowa tax payers and voters are engaged in Iowa politics and I believe the other silent majority group is in for a big surprise.
Doug Gross is quickly becoming an embarrassment to Iowa Republicans. The former gubernatorial candidate has been relentless in his quest to find a candidate for Governor that he finds acceptable. However his search has not yielded the results that he has hoped for. And to top this off he has been constant in his lecturing of the party faithful that they need to compromise their beliefs in order regain the seats of power in Iowa government. And time after time he has been dealt setback after setback. I applaud Mr. Gross for his desire to be involved in the Republican Party, but the time has come where his efforts have become more of an embarrassment rather than an asset.
The names of several of his potential candidates for Governor have found their way into the public light. Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstead is one of those names. And yet when questioned by the media Branstead has denied any interest in running for Iowa’s highest office again. Another was Vermeer Manufacturing CEO Mary Andringa. She too has denied any intention or even interest in running for Governor of Iowa. And now the latest name added to the fray is Dubuque University President Jeff Bullock. He has not stated whether he intends to run for the office but his candidacy would most likely be a no go due to donations to Democrats.
I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Gross’ intentions are pure. However it requires no stretch of the imagination to view his actions as a self-serving ego boost. It is also relatively easy to see that his efforts are a way to boost his presence in Iowa political news. In my opinion Mr. Gross is blind to the harm that he causing to the party by his ill-timed power trip. I urge Mr. Gross to reconsider his strategy before he ruins the chance of any Republican to win election in 2010.