In Iowa Politics tonight, Will Rogers and Dave Edwards faced off in the biennial Polk County Republican Party Central Committee Officer Elections. Â Will Rogers won the election 93 to 45.
Polk County is home to about 20% of Iowa voters.
Both candidates gave strong speeches and answers to questions from the committee. Â With 139 in attendance, the group showed a great deal of support for both candidates, and asked some great questions.
The other three positions had only one candidate each and were elected by acclamation:
Co-chair: Chad Brown
Secretary: Joe Heuertz
Treasurer: Cheryl Weisheit
Congratulations to each of the candidates… these are challenging jobs, and not considered lightly.
Despite predictions of a contentious meeting, this was a very calm and unified time with Republicans. Â Great work by all!
Late last week we brought you a message from Polk County Chair candidate Will Rogers.Â Today we bring you a word from the other candidate in the race, Dave Edwards.Â One of these two men will be declared leader of the Polk County GOP Tuesday evening.
Last year Mr. Edwards ran for the Iowa Senate in District 16 and, though he lost, showed a great deal of courage in running in the first place.Â The voter registration numbers for this districtÂ on the day of the voteÂ were: D-16,353; R-7,591; NP-10,410…enoughÂ said. Â Though running against tremendous odds, Edwards put in a lot of work and was unafraid to talkÂ about the non-PC issues negatively impacting his district.Â If he should prevail Tuesday he will have a first-hand perspective on just howÂ steep a climb some of the districts in the countyÂ have become.
Though thereÂ is a great deal of contrast between these two candidates both in style and background, I amÂ convinced that either will bringÂ a unique set of helpful traits to the Party.
Below is the full transcript of Mr. Edwards’ letter to The Conservative Reader: Iowa.
To begin with, I want to thank the readers of your publication for their support of my Senate campaign in last yearâ€™s election.Â We were blessed with a fantastic outpouring of volunteersÂ – from parades, to envelope stuffing, to door knocking.Â It was a lot of hard work, but a very rewarding experience.Â Volunteers like you are what it is going to take to reclaim our state and our country and we need to get fired up now to win that battle and help the Republican Party to grow and be the messenger for prosperity and freedom that our nation so sorely needs right now.
I am running for Polk County Republican Party Chairman because I want to stand beside you in that fight to beat back the liberals here in our county.
I have served my community in various ways over the years.Â In the past, Iâ€™ve served as a member of Des Moinesâ€™ Housing Appeals Board as well as several years as a board member for the Valley High Manor Neighborhood Association.Â Currently, I am a proud member of the Carlisle VFW Post 2099, and serve in the Color Guard there, helping to provide flag and rifle ceremony presence at funerals for those who have served in the military.Â I have put in many hours as a softball coach for various teams for my seven children for the last twenty years.Â Also, my wife of 27 years, Teressa, and I, host a weekly family Bible fellowship which is held in our home.
Last March, I threw my hat into the ring as a Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 16, running against a 16-year Democratic incumbent.Â As a candidate for the Iowa Senate, I walked hundreds of miles and spent countless hours talking to voters in my district. I met a tremendous number of Republicans and Independents who agreed with us in principle, but did not feel actively engaged with our efforts.
I believe that there is an opportunity right now to bring these voters into the Polk County Republican Party by having leadership in the party that they can relate to and showing them the tremendous success we can have as a party by promoting our principles of limited government and personal responsibility.
I envision a Polk County Republican Party that takes the next step here to grow and strengthen itself even more. With Iowaâ€™s first in the nation status, I believe eyes across the country are directed at this state. I believe that with the right chairman and the right direction, Polk County can be seen as an example not just in Iowa, but across the country. We are well poised to bring Polk County to a higher level with the right leadership and vision. I have some specific goals for fundraising and voter contact/registration that I would like to achieve as Chairman, but I believe the most important part of my job will be to energize our base and build grassroots enthusiasm and activism to lead to a Republican victory in 2014 and beyond.
I am running for chairman of the Polk County Republican Party because right now this party is at a crossroads. Right now, there is a very real disconnect among the leadership and the members of the Republican Party in Polk County. This disconnect is pretty obvious from the Central Committee meetings, on down to the lack of voter enthusiasm I saw while on the campaign trail.
This county needs a leader that can work with everyone in the party. I believe I am that leader. I believe my experience on the campaign trail is proof of my commitment to the Republican party and of my strong work ethic. My campaign generated excitement across a broad spectrum of voters. I believe that was because I was a candidate people could relate to.Â I mentioned earlier all of those unengaged Republican voters that I met while on the campaign trail. I believe this is a prime time to draw those voters into active involvement in the party by giving them party leadership they can trust and relate to.Â I believe that my experience gives me tremendous knowledge about energizing grassroots activists and continuing to keep enthusiasm there.
In the end, all of our efforts will be measured out on election day.Â Having run my own campaign I know first-hand what local candidates need in order to be successful. And the bottom line comes down to grass-roots organizing.Â Personal contact during a campaign is the single most effective method of turning out voters.Â We need to re-vamp our efforts at organizing our House Districts down to the precinct levels. We need to continually refresh and update data and volunteers so that candidates have an instant and built-in network to hit the campaign trail running.Â And we need to host training to enable volunteers and candidates to maximize their efforts.
It is said that a house divided will not stand.Â I am asking for a chance to pull the people of this party together and make the Polk County Republican Party better than it has ever been.Â With your support, I look forward to advancing our conservative principles here in Polk County, and helping turn Iowa back to a red state once again.Â Please make sure you are there for this important vote on Tuesday, February 26, 7:00pm at the Holiday Inn, Mercy Campus at 1050 – 6th Avenue in Des Moines.
Four days from now the Polk County Central Committee will gather to elect a successor to Kevin McLaughlin and Dave Funk.Â While several people expressed possible interest in running for Chair, it is my understanding that the only two people openly vying for the post at this point are Will Rogers and Dave Edwards.
For the politically active in Polk County who don’t yet know Mr. Rogers and his background, below is a the full transcript of a message he sent The Conservative Reader: Iowa regarding his candidacy.Â It is followed by the personal section of his bio.Â The list of candidates and campaigns he has worked on or led over the last few decades is extensive to say the least, andÂ there is noÂ doubt he has the background to attack the challenge of winning elections.Â Â Among the notable namesÂ of Polk County Republican political veterans who are officially endorsing Mr. Rogers are Brad Zaun, John Bloom, Greg Ganske, E.J Giovannetti, and Darrell Kearney.
Dear Conservative Reader,
I appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers why I am running for the chairmanship of the Polk County Republican Party and what I hope to accomplish once I am elected.
While there are many important objectives that we need to accomplish as a political organization, I believe the two essential missions of the county party should be helping elect republicans to office and advancing the county party platform. And I am running for county party chairman because I believe that now, more than ever, that our party must win and get our county, state, and country moving in the right direction.
I personally know thousands of Republicans in Polk County and around the state of Iowa, but I realize there are likely to be thousands of your readers that donâ€™t know much about me and the level of activism that I have had.Â So before I go any further, I would like to share some background on how I have been involved as a Republican.
Over the past twenty years I have worked and volunteered for several Republican candidates and elected officials.Â In 2003, I served as Executive Director of the Polk County Republicans and served as the co-chairman of the Polk County Republican Party from 2008 through 2010.Â I have been committed to helping elect Republicans from the presidency to city hall.Â But that is just the highlights of my resume. It still doesnâ€™t tell you who I am.
Who I am is a republican activist that believes in God, country, freedom, and conservative principles.Â Who I am is someone that believes you must relentlessly pursue perfection, knowing very well that you will never achieve it.Â But by relentlessly pursuing perfection, we will fall short and achieve greatness.
Who I am is someone that believes our country has been the greatest source of social and economic freedom in the world and that it is our duty to ensure it continues to be that way for future generations.Â And if I am elected chair, my first priority will be to unite the Republican Party by working on our shared beliefs, instead of squabbling over our differences.
As chairman, I will focus on building a strong grassroots organization committed to the core principals of the Republican Party and dedicated to achieving victory. Combined with the solid financial resources, and both traditional and modern communications tools, we can help deliver majorities in the Unites States and Iowa Senates and help re-elect our incumbent Republicans.
I need your support for the chairmanâ€™s election taking place on Tuesday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. at the Downtown Holiday Inn.Â But I am also going to need your support after the chairmanâ€™s election.Â I am going to need your help in making a difference by door knocking on your street, making phone calls, lit dropping, putting up yard signs, and by make a financial commitment to the county party.
And on Tuesday, November 4th, of 2014, after all the phone calls have been made, after all the doors have been knocked, after all the absentee ballots have been counted, a solemn voice will come on the television and say that â€œIowa has elected a Republican U.S. Senator.â€Â And while your neighbor is home asleep in bed, you will be downtown at a victory party that no one will ever forget.
Thank you for your past and continued support of the Polk County Republicans and I look forward to working with you over the next two years as your chairman.
God Bless, Will Rogers
Will Rogers can be reached by call 515-669-1648 or by email at:Â [email protected]
Will Rogers Bio
I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduating high school, I served in the U.S. Army as an M-1 Tank Crewman and served in combat operations as a part of Desert Shield-Desert Storm. After my enlistment, I returned to Des Moines to pursue an education at Drake University where I majored in Political Science and Rhetoric.
While at Drake University, I worked as field staff for Dr. Greg Ganskeâ€™s campaign for Congress in 1994. After the election I returned to finish my degree at Drake. After operating a small business for five years, I returned to politics to assist Congressman Greg Ganskeâ€™s campaign for Senate in 2002.
In 2003, I was named the first full-time Executive Director for the Polk County Republican Party and was instrumental in rebuilding the county party after the failed elections of 2002. In 2004, I served as Campaign Manager for Congressman Tom Lathamâ€™s re-election.
From October of â€™05 through May â€™07, I worked for the Iowa Soybean Association as a Producer Services Coordinator and was instrumental in promoting Iowaâ€™s renewable fuels industry.
I currently serve as the Director of Government Affairs for the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association and work closely with several members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and state/local government officials.
For over 20 years, I have worked for and volunteered with several local, state, and national political campaigns including:
George W. Bush for PresidentÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Kim Schmett for U.S. House of Representatives
Newt Gingrich for PresidentÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Dave Vaudt for State Auditor
Phil Gramm for PresidentÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Bill Northey for Secretary of Agriculture
Steve Forbes for PresidentÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Brad Zaun for Iowa Senate
Mitt Romney for PresidentÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Pat Ward for Iowa Senate
Charles Grassley for U.S. SenateÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Charles Schneider for Iowa Senate
Greg Ganske for U.S. SenateÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Dan Kennedy for Iowa House
Deb Fischer for U.S. SenateÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Kim Pearson for Iowa House
Greg Ganske for U.S. HouseÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Darlene Blake for Iowa House
Tom Latham for U.S. HouseÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Nick Van Patten for Iowa House
Steve King for U.S. HouseÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â E.J. Giovannetti for Polk County Supervisor
Brad Zaun for U.S. HouseÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Halley Griess for Des Moines City Council
In addition, I served as the Co-Chair of the Polk County Republican Party from 2008 to 2010.
I have been married to Hannah (Holl) Rogers of Minden, Nebraska since 1998 and we have one daughter, Ariella, who was born in September 2009.
Dave Edwards is the Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 16, the vast majority of which covers Des Moines and then swings Southeast to include Pleasant Hill.
While there is no getting around the fact that this is a Democrat stronghold (they haveÂ double the number of registered voters), if any RepublicanÂ can win this district it is most certainly Dave Edwards.Â What makes this race one of the most fascinating in the state this year is that Mr. Edwards is a blue collar, union member who is bringing the fight to Democrats on their turf.Â He is challenging an incumbent who has already been in the Iowa Senate for 18 years (and was in the Iowa House before that), and few would argue that this particular district is better off than it was two decades ago.
Besides knowing these neighborhoodsÂ well, I have seen Mr. Edwards speak on multiple occasions and can tell you first hand that his style and message will resonate.Â He has displayed courage both by stepping up to run, and by being willing to talk about illegal immigration, which is such an obvious problem that most are scared to talk about.Â Republicans who live in or near this district need to return the favor, and can do so by visiting his website (click here), and getting involved to any extent possible.
As you will see below, his answers are extremely thoughtful, spot-on, and the case he is making to traditional Democrats is very convincing.Â The age-old notions of the Republican Party that persist in this part of Des MoinesÂ certainly present a challenge, but there is no reason that a message of less government, fewer taxes, and more liberty can’t take root in districts like SD 16.
Simply put, Dave Edwards is the right candidate at the right time to be this messenger.Â Should he win, the more “buttoned-up” folks at the State House (including Republicans) would be wise to listen to him…but for now lets just hope the voters in his district are truly listening to him.
1) Being a blue collar, union member Republican running in a heavily Democratic district makes you and your race one of the most unique in the state. Briefly tell us how your campaign is going, and if you are finding folks in your district receptive to the different political solutions you are offering? If so, which ones are resonating?
The campaign is going great. I have talked to literally thousands of people over the last year or so. In my job as a union laborer, I drive a truck all around the city during the day. I have the opportunity to interact with Republicans and Democrats alike. I have grown to understand that the issues we face, we face as Iowans, and not as Democrats or Republicans. The economic hardships that are facing the people of this state are affecting us all – not just one party or the other.
I am talking to all the voters in this district when we are door knocking. Naturally, when I knock on a democratâ€™s door, they are reluctant to talk to me when they find out Iâ€™m a republican. But as we talk, they begin to see that my message is not one of partisan politics. My goal is to be the voice of the working people of this state. I want to work to make Iowa a state where business can thrive and where our citizens can earn a living wage. The legislature shouldnâ€™t be burdening the people of this state with more regulations, and definitely shouldnâ€™t be adding any new taxes, when people canâ€™t pay their bills or feed their families. These are messages that are resonating with the residents of my district.
2) As you are out door knocking and talking to voters, what are the top few issues weighing on the minds of the people in your district? And what are they saying they want done about them?
People in my district are definitely concerned about the economy and their job security. They want to be able to go to work every day, and at the end of the week, have something to show for it. My top priority as a senator will be to alleviate the tax burden on the working people and the businesses of this state.
Iowa is one of the 10 lowest-ranked states in Tax Foundationâ€™s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The ranking is arrived at by looking at all the taxes levied in a state. Iowa is known for high corporate tax rates, high property taxes, high individual income tax rates and high unemployment insurance tax rates – all of which are taken into account in arriving at this poor ranking. That is a very sad state of affairs. The fact that we need to offer tax incentives to get businesses to come to this state speaks volumes about Iowaâ€™s tax climate. Letâ€™s get rid of the incentives and lower Iowaâ€™s total tax burden. If we improve the tax climate in Iowa, we create more jobs and people have more money to spend, thereby improving the quality of life for all Iowans.
Another issue on the minds of the people of my district is illegal immigration. They want the problem dealt with. I believe the existing immigration laws of this state and this nation should be enforced. The illegal workforce here is driving down wages, and placing an extraordinary burden on Iowaâ€™s social safety net . Recently, I have been sharing my belief that the illegal immigrant population in this state is being held in bondage. They are forced to take low-wage jobs with unscrupulous employers who donâ€™t care about the safety of their workers. Because of their low wages, they are forced to live in low-rent housing under sub-standard living conditions and because of their immigration status, they feel they do not have the freedom to report these conditions .This issue is pitting the working class citizens of this state against the immigrant population. But the real problem here is the governmentâ€™s failure to enforce its own laws.
3) Assuming you are victorious in November and get sworn into the Iowa Senate, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting, and why?
I have vowed to introduce a bill on day one of the session that will outlaw traffic enforcement cameras. We have got to put a stop to government intrusion into areas where it doesnâ€™t belong, starting with traffic cameras. These cameras are an infringement of privacy and violate due-process laws. The citizens of this state have shown overwhelmingly that they are against these cameras. The fact is, they donâ€™t improve safety. They are being used as a revenue source for municipalities.
Another vote I am looking forward to casting is one in favor of across-the-board property tax reform. This will be a good starting point towards making Iowa more attractive for business and giving our economy a much-needed jump-start.
Lastly, when the republicans gain control of the senate this fall, I really look forward to the opportunity to vote for a new senate majority leader to replace Michael Gronstal!