Here in Polk County we have a special election coming up to replace State Senator Larry Noble (R-35), who has been appointed to be the new commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.Â The special election will be held on January 18th, and Republicans will be holding a nominating convention tonight to select a candidate.Â Democrats will meet to select their candidate on January 3rd.
A few members of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee (SCC) decided to come out in support of one candidate.Â That story, and some opinion, is well covered by Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican.Â Also, highlights of all five of the announced candidates for tonight’s convention are found here.
Some of the comments left at The Iowa Republican were from people that don’t see why the public support of a candidate by members of the SCC is a concern.
The answer is hardly black and white on its face.Â I have myself worked to remain neutral during the 2010 primary while serving on Polk County’s GOP leadership team (and I am confident that those county leaders are remaining neutral as they did earlier this year) because it seemed most consistent with my own approach to fairness.
I see two principles of leadership at play here:
- Leaders should lead, which often means providing guidance to those who are being lead when necessary. Â For example, when working through or executing a plan, a leader should be able to articulate what needs to be accomplished, and perhaps how.
- In party politics (as in public elections), leaders should allow those who hold the power to elect (in this case, the convention delegates) and those who are competing with each other for a position to do so in a fair and unfettered manner.
Overt support of a candidate by any members of the SCC is not, on its face, in contradiction with the second principle. However, there are some people who will be swayed by the endorsement and will vote without conducting their own due diligence.Â This may be a fact of life, but I like to encourage people to do some research on their own when possible.
The endorsement may also give the appearance ofÂ favoritismÂ and a sense that perhaps those leaders do not trust the delegates to make a sound decision (or the “right” decision) on their own. Â If nothing else, it can “feel” fettered.
Of greatest concern to me is the impact that leadership endorsements have on other candidates, both those running against the endorsee, and those who may want to run in the future. Â It is unnecessarily demoralizing to a candidate who, if they win the nomination, may not believe the party fully supports their candidacy. Â And those who may consider running in the future could easily believe that they are doomed if they are not hand-picked by party leadership. Â It should be clear how these results can impact the success of the party, which needs qualified candidates who are willing to step up and work hard to win.Â Putting up internal barriers, whether perceived or real, will limit the party’s opportunities and long-term success in recruiting qualified candidates.
I began by identifying two principles, and have not addressed the first one. Â Does the endorsement provide the kind of guidance that, as members of the SCC, is needed by the delegates? Â I submit that it does not (I do not have contra-argument, simply no supporting argument comes to mind), and as such it seems the better side of integrity to avoid the appearance of impropriety and act in a way that will help the party in the long run (candidate development) by remaining neutral while the delegates work their way through this decision.
These SCC members have already hurt themselves and the party, perhaps not grossly, by endorsing a single candidate.Â They should take some time and think about this before acting in a similar fashion in the future.Â They should keep in mind that it’s not about them or their preferred candidate, it’s about the party as a whole.
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I’d like to acknowledge an example of someone who took the opposite approach.Â My friend David Chung, who runs HawkeyeGOP.com, was on the SCC when he decided to support Christian Fong for Governor.Â He resigned from the SCC in order to ensure he did not create a conflict of interest, and because he felt it was important to provide public support for Christian.Â David’s enthusiasm and the opportunities he had to create visibility for Christian, made this a good decision.Â His integrity and care for the party make him a valuable asset to Republicans, and I’m glad that after Christian’s campaign ended he was able to be re-elected to the SCC this year.
What a great evening! Kathie Obradovich pointed out that it’s like being in an airplane hanger here at Hy-Vee Hall, but we have a great crowd, a lot of great Republicans and big group of press (75 registered), including a number of national names.
The theme of those speaking is what this crowd expects to hear: Reid and Pelosi are bringing the country down, killing jobs, killing the economy, stepping on the Constitution. What the country needs is smaller government, stronger jobs and economic growth, and greater fiscal responsibility, and Republicans can deliver.
Speakers included Republican Party of Iowa Co-chair Jim Kurtenbach, Representatives Steve King and Tom Latham, Senator Chuck Grassley, Former Governor and Candidate Terry Branstad, and Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn.
Terry’s speech was the most heavily targeted at his opponent (Governor Chet Culver), hitting on all of the same issues we’ve heard on the campaign trail and in this week’s debate. Of the warm-up speeches his was probably the longest. Terry was very warmly received by this crowd, and he also took the time to mention all of the state constitutional office candidates.
A nice video tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan was part of the program, which included highlights from some of his best speeches over the years.
Matt Strawn gave a great talk on the importance of stepping up now and making sure we get as many principled conservative Republicans elected this fall as we can, as he introduced Sarah Palin.
So, what did Sarah have to say?
Sarah complimented Iowa, complimented Terry Branstad, then talked about staying focused on the 2010 election and not the 2012 election, meaning she wasn’t going to talk about whether she is running for President in 2012 or not.
She talked about the need to elect leaders who respect “We the People”, like Senator Grassley, Tom Latham, Steve King, and then mentioned her endorsement of Brenna Findley.
What does “We the People” mean, anyway? Sometimes this term is being used lately in a context that sounds like it is equivalent to “We the Conservatives”. Sorry for the tangent.
Sarah went on to talk about how competition (in primaries) is good, but that it is now time to unite. If we want to stop Obama, Pelosi and Reid, then now is the time to unite. She talked about the need to move on now after having lost primaries. And the Need to set aside internal power struggles for the sake of the party. The need is great going into the mid-term elections.
Sarah then went into an extended criticism of the Press and emphasis on the importance of holding the Press accountable when they are telling untruths. She even Called some of the media “cowards”. She made a number of suggestions about what she thought party leadership should be doing right now.
I think she’s running for RNC Chair.
sarah said that Voters and patriots will restore America. Our (Republican) candidates will bring back constitutional government. She agrees with Obama that there are better days ahead… starting on November 2.
Sarah went on to provide a list of the problems with the current administration and Congress. Culminating with the President’s “foolish” attempts to run a conciliatory foreign policy with our enemies, in stark contrast to Reagan’s strong support of allies and strong confrontational hold against our enemies.
She believes that Principles and People will help hold our nation together, and that it’s time for a national rediscovery and renewal.
Overall, her speech was very pro-business, pro-individual, pro-radical renewal, and very contrary to current federal policies.
And finally the biggest philosophical dichotomy we struggle with against Democrats today: we don’t need to fundamentally transform America, we need to restore America.Â Great line, strongly received.
Although I agree with much of what Sarah had to say tonight, I will say I feel like I’ve been riding on a bullet train as she dropped a lot of already well-worn (literally word for word what I hear day after day from a variety of conservative sources) sound bytes as I passed by.Â She basically covered much of what conservatives are frustrated with in our current government and many of the principles that conservatives are anxious to see drive what our government does (and does not do).
Nothing that she shared tonight compelled me to hold her up (despite my support of her two years ago) as a strong candidate for President. But I do think she can continue to be a strong voice for the movement, the party, and for people who feel they are not being heard.
And many of those people may think this gives her credibility as a Presidential candidate. That’s okay… but I don’t agree. At least not yet.Â As I said before, she states a lot of what I agree with at a very high level, but I want to see some meat in the form of detailed policy statements.Â My friend Shane Vander Hart tells me I need to read some of her recent writings, which I will do.
Anyhow, it was very encouraging to see so many Republicans gathered to celebrate our history of strong conservative values, and to get enthused for the campaign we are fighting this year. Hats off to the Republican Party of Iowa for an awesome job with this event! And thanks to Danielle Plogmann (RPI Communications Director) for doing a great job providing for the press and bloggers!
At the blogging table we had Craig Robinson (the Godfather), Shane Vander Hart (the Preacher, and Sarah’s number 1 fan in the Iowa Blogosphere), Albert Bregar (hizzoner), Grant Young (he never said “epic” tonight) and the folks from The Cool Conservative.
This week on The Conservative Reader Report, we will have Shane Vander Hart from Serve Our Youth as our guest during the first hour to talk about mentoring opportunities and an update on how the new programs at Server Our Youth are progressing.
During the second hour, Craig Robinson of the The Iowa Republican and Kim Lehman, one Iowa’s representatives to the Republican National Committee and President of Iowa Right To Life.Â Our topic will be the purpose and future of political parties in America.
We’ll have updates on the Iowa Legislature’s first week of session, along with the Dumb and Smart politicians of the week.
Only on The Conservative Reader Report!
Note: Art Smith is Communications Director for the Polk County Republican Party.Â His views as expressed here are not necessarily those of the Polk County Republican Party.
Just an observation but ifÂ theÂ Executive DirectorÂ of the Republican Party of IowaÂ (RPI)leaves this key position to work on the Branstad campaign, isÂ that not sufficient reason to confirm that Branstad is going to run?Â Â Well, Jeff Boeyink did.Â RPI has benefited greatly from Jeff’s work, and will certainly be a challenged in finding a comparable replacement.Â Matt Strawn had this to say today:
â€œI hope all Iowa Republicans join me in thanking Jeff for a job well done. The Iowa GOP is better off because of his service and tireless advocacy for principled, conservative government. Iâ€™m personally grateful for his wisdom and guidance and wish him well.â€
This is a major coup for the Branstad campaign,Â due to Boeyink’s strong skills, relationships, experience, andÂ the level of credibility he adds to the campaign.
From Terry Branstad’s campaign comes this statement:
Richard Schwarm today announced the hiring of Jeffrey Boeyink to lead the Terry Branstad 2010 Committee as it continues to explore a possible gubernatorial run by former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
Schwarm said, â€œThis is the next natural step in our exploratory process as we move from a volunteer effort to the acquisition of professional staff and financial resources to take Terry Branstad 2010 to the next level of effectiveness.â€
Boeyink has served as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) since last February and resigned yesterday to accept this new position. Prior to joining RPI, Boeyink served as President of Iowans for Tax Relief where he worked for more than two decades.
Schwarm also noted, â€œThis appointment does not signal any change in Terry Branstadâ€™s status as a potential gubernatorial candidate. He continues in his role at Des Moines University and will make his plans known at a future date.â€
Others commenting today included Polk County GOP Co-Chair Will Rogers:
“Jeff has a tremendous amount of experience and will bring a level of talent to the race that is unparalleled by any of the other campaigns including Culverâ€™s.”
The story broke this morning at The Iowa Republican web site (although I first found out about it from David Chung’s Hawkeye GOP site via Facebook).Â Â As David stated, finding a new Exective Director is going to be job one for Matt Strawn.
For all of the other candidates for Governor, I think the time has come to acknowledge that Branstad is in the race, despite Schwarm’s comments about the campaign being “exploratory”.Â For some, that might mean cutting off the campaign and for others it means being more direct in speaking about Branstad’s record and ability to beat Culver.Â Either way, the elephant in the room should be visible now.
We will be talking about this today on The Bean Walker Live! internet radio show during the first hour.Â Email me or chat me your comments today!
Two new Iowa web sites have popped up in the past few weeks.
One is The Iowa Republican.Â Craig Robinson founded this site as an alternative to the media content currently available that, especially in Central Iowa, maintains a particularly strong slant to the left.Â Craig managed to also snag Krusty Konservative, Battleground Iowa and Constitution Daily as resident commentary (replacing their former site locations).Â The site has a very professional look, contains valuable content and appears to be a great start to providing valuable and timely news and commentary relevant to those of us who espouse a Republican, and apparently conservative, perspective.
The other is The Bean Walker.Â Tim Albrecht publishes this site that looks a lot like the Drudge Report, only it’s focused on Iowa news.Â The site includes links to web sites for what I think are every known media outlet in the state, including Iowa-based blogs (including The Conservative Reader).Â Also a great approach, good content, and an independent reporting vessel iteself.
Both of these web sites are great additionals to the resources available to Iowans for news and commentary.Â Good luck to both as we all continue to grow the value of the Internet and bring valuable content to Iowans!