Though it will fall short of the intense attention we receive during Presidential years, November 2014 in Iowa will develop into a fierce battleground for both political parties.Â In spite of the gubernatorial election on the ballot the prize for each side will be the open US Senate seat vacated by Tom Harkin.
While it is a virtual certainty that BruceÂ Braley will be the Democrat candidate in this race the Republican field is wide open, with no one yet confirming a run.Â As it stands now Rep. Steve King has been given the â€œfirst right of refusalâ€ by fellow potential candidates Kim Reynolds and Bill Northey, andÂ it isÂ widely believed he will have decided by May 1st.Â One way or another, the field will become clear soon after.Â In the meantime, here is a first look at the dynamics if the matchup were King vs. Braley.
On last weekendâ€™s Iowa Press Steve King referred to a Republican winning the seat as a â€œslightly uphill battleâ€â€”and the numbers indeed bear this out.Â Though they were highly inflated due to it being a Presidential election year, the cumulative votes cast last year in Iowaâ€™s four Congressional districts reveal the Republican will be starting in anÂ electoral hole.Â In total the four Congressional Democratic candidates (Braley, Loebsack, Boswell, and Vilsack) received 772,387 votes, while the four Republican candidates (Lange, Archer, Latham, and King) received 726,505 votes (D+45,882).
Obviously this is too broad a measure to be definitive but it does give a feel for the obstacles the Republican will face.Â Far more informative is looking at how Braley and King faired in their individual races.Â In this scenario the candidate and the electorate in their districts remain the same and the only variable that changes is the opponent.Â What the numbers show is that Bruce Braley is a better performing candidate than Steve Kingâ€”something that will likely come as a surprise to many Republicans.
Last cycle Braley went in with a 25,420 voter registration advantage in HD 1 over Ben Lange but won by 59,957â€”beating the numbers by 34,537.Â Meanwhile King went in with a 50,396 voter registration advantage in HD 4 over Christie Vilsack but won by only 30,593 votesâ€”losing the numbers by 19,803.
Yes Braley and Vilsackâ€™s numbers were surely inflated due to Obama being on the ballot, and King and Lange were done no favors by Romneyâ€™s trouble with Independents, but there is still cause for concern.Â This is due to the fact that some of this inflated total was surely offset by King facing a far weaker opponent than Braleyâ€”Lange was a proven campaigner who came within 4,000 votes of beating Braley in 2010 while Vilsack proved to be an awful candidate who ran a terrible campaign.
These facts are certainly not to suggest a Republican cannot win the seat, they merely offer some context on the difficulties involved and likely explain the caution potential candidates are proceeding with.
Braley vs. King on Paper
The perplexing thing about this potential matchup is that on paper King is a far superior candidate to Braley.Â While King started an earth moving construction company from scratch, Braley is a trial lawyer and former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.Â Though it is true King has a visceral way of approaching issues and a knack for the ill-worded statement, Braleyâ€™s voting record reveals he is without a doubt a west-coast Liberal who just happens to reside in Iowa.Â In fact, besides voting with Democrats and Obamaâ€™s agenda 98% of the time in 2008, 99% in 2009, and 98% in 2010, since January 2007 he has voted 91% of the time with Nancy Pelosi.Â Among these votes of course are Cap & Trade, Dodd-Frank, Obamacare, and authorizing more than $6 trillion in debt over the last four years.
The number one objective for the campaign of whatever Republican takes on Braley will be getting the word out on his voting record.Â And if the above facts arenâ€™t enough evidence of his poor decision making for Independents in Iowaâ€”you can add he was one of the first to endorse fellow trial lawyer John Edwards for president in 2008.
In many Republican circles it has become a common belief that Steve King canâ€™t win a statewide raceâ€”I do not concur.Â Perhaps Iâ€™d see more truth in this if the candidate on the other side was a moderate instead of one of the most Liberal politicians in the countryâ€”funny how we never hear Bruce Braley canâ€™t win a statewide race.
That being said, I am of the belief that our strongest candidate by a longshot would be Kim Reynoldsâ€”and we would not risk a House seat in the process.Â While he would surely have a shot if he ran, undoubtedly the media would exclusively focus on Kingâ€™s past statements and ignore Braleyâ€™s voting record.
In the end I predict that King will decide against running.Â Whether he proves me wrong or not, whoever takes up this task will have to run hard.Â Though this is a realistic opportunity for Republicans the numbers show that it indeed will be a â€œslightly uphill battleâ€.
The battle between traditional Republicans and Libertarians that began in Iowa on Caucus night in 2012 has risen to a destructive level and needs to be addressed.Â If it werenâ€™t so publicly obvious I would call this an opinionâ€”but the reality is itâ€™s a fact.Â Â What has transpired to this point is a lot of bomb throwing from each side and very little, if any, attempts to search for the potential common ground that would result in, at the least, a truceâ€”and perhaps even a mutually beneficial alliance.
The feud started when, after having a relatively modest presence in 2008, Ron Paul inspired Libertarians organized and made a concerted effort to acquire as many county central committee seats as possible on caucus night.Â Perhaps surprising even themselves, they encountered very little resistance and were hugely successful in many precincts.
Since that night in June the hostility level has ratcheted up several notches, and I believe both sides share some responsibility in what has become a very non-productive situation.Â Initially I understood the reaction and the lashing out from Republicansâ€”they were taken by surprise, infiltrated, lost a good deal of influence they had taken for granted, and their tone at first was a reasonable natural response.
On the other side, Libertarians went on to essentially take over RPI and gain a presence at the county leadership level.Â In the aftermath I feel there was a lack of reaching out to traditional Republicans that could have lessened the wounds, resulted in more unity, and ultimately led to more victories in November.Â The bottom line is they came up short on election night, and if they thought prior they didnâ€™t need inner-Party cooperation to win House and Senate races they were clearly proven wrong.
What makes this battle so maddening is that each side could have benefited greatly by working together.Â This was proven by the returns from the Iowa Senate races where only a few hundred more votes would have led to Republicans winning a majorityâ€”and thus controlling the Governor’s Office and both Legislative Branches in Iowa.Â Had this come to pass, both factions would today be much closer to implementing their principles into legislation.Â At a minimum traffic cameras would be banned, taxes would be lower, and the proposals being debated on education reform would look much different.
Each Side Shares Some Blame
For what itâ€™s worth here is how I see each sideâ€™s culpability in this conflict:
Where Traditional Republicans are to blame
â€¢Â Not enough interest at a grassroots level on caucus night to even fill central committee seats.
â€¢Â Rhetoric has been too harsh and focused on a small number of political operativesâ€”by extension this has served to alienate libertarian leaning voters who may be persuaded to support the Republican candidate in their district.
â€¢Â Lack of success in building the Party base and, so far as I know, doing very little youth outreach.
â€¢Â Especially at the Federal level, the chance was blown to control government expansion and spending throughout the 2000â€™s.
â€¢Â Not realizing that Conservative and Tea Party Republicans are now closer on the spectrum to Libertarians than they are to traditional Republicans.
Where Libertarians are to blame
â€¢Â Not enough reaching out by new leadership after taking over RPI.
â€¢Â Rhetoric has been too harshâ€”sending mass e-mails impugning the personal integrity of media members is not the way to conduct yourself.
â€¢Â Too many rank and file Libertarians in the movement donâ€™t care about winning elections and are uninterested in working to shape the Republican Partyâ€”if a Libertarian is not on the ballot they disappear.Â The all or nothing approach is irrational, and in fact is counter-productive if you hold strong convictions.
â€¢Â Lack of realistic policy goalsâ€”the Federal budget isnâ€™t going to be balanced in a year, nor will we go from marijuana being illegal to all drugs being decriminalized in a 2 year timespan.
â€¢Â Complete lack of pragmatism from many rank and file in the Libertarian movement.Â To me the litmus test for this are Libertarians who could not bring themselves to vote for Mitt Romney, even though he was running against a president that was the proven antithesis of everything they claim to stand for.Â You can say what you want about Romney, and I get the criticisms, but the guy ran on the Paul Ryan budget for heaven sakeâ€”no more aggressive approach will ever be championed by a presidential candidate (prior to a total economic collapse that is).
Whether you agree with my specific assessments of blame or not doesnâ€™t really matter.Â What matters is that both sides start attempting to bridge this divide well before the 2014 elections.
Personally I donâ€™t have a dog in this increasingly silly fight.Â What I want is for Conservative principals to be implemented and this can only happen if Democrats are defeated in elections.Â When it comes to primaries I subscribe to the William F. Buckley philosophy of supporting the most Conservative candidate who can win.
If Conservatives, traditional Republicans, and Libertarians all followed this mantra in both primaries and general elections all would benefit and success would be had.Â If segments of each faction continue being concerned about what kind of Republican is on a general election ballot (unless there is a specific and compelling reason to withhold support), then Democrats will win.Â As long as Democrats win society will continue to get more progressive and taxes and spending will riseâ€”itâ€™s just that simple.
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.
Everyone knows 2012 was a tough year for Republicans both nationwide and in Iowa.Â After a few months absorbing the disappointment, the only productive thing to do is regroup and begin making the necessary changes to ensure that 2014 does not find us ceding more ground to Liberalism.
In terms of Polk County politics the few bright spots were Tom Lathamâ€™s defeat of Leonard Boswell and Rep. Chris Hagenow holding on to a razor close victory over Susan Judkins.Â Unfortunately the list of negatives was much longer.Â At the top of this list was losing a strong Republican House District in Urbandale (HD 40), but the bad news didnâ€™t stop there.Â In spite of having an unusually strong set of candidates well matched to their districts, none of them were able to beat the registration disadvantages and hence no upsets were pulled off.Â This is particularly disappointing because itâ€™s going to be tough finding better Republicans willing to run in Polk County than Dave Edwards, Patti Branco, Vicki Stogdill, Dan Charleston, etc.
The Chair and Co-Chair election coming up February 26th is a great opportunity to get some new eyes and fresh strategies involved in our shared goal of electing strong Conservatives into office.Â I have no personal qualms with Kevin McLaughlin or Dave Funk, but, having been present at multiple Central Committee meetings last year, itâ€™s clear that what the situation devolved into was unacceptableâ€”and frankly embarrassing.Â I think both men put in a good deal of effort, had some positive impacts, and I sincerely thank both for their service to the Republican Party.
In terms of the new leadership, I am whole-heartedly endorsing Chad Brown for Co-Chair.Â The primary reason for this is that his large volume of campaign experience is equaled by the enthusiasm and energy he brings to our cause.Â The challenges facing Republicans in this neck of the woods is well known and, in my view, this mixture of operational know-how and dedication is what is required to beat the odds and deliver results.
Among the many inter-party clashes we have had in Iowa is the belief by some that the mechanics of elections are somehow not paramount.Â This could not be further from the truth.Â The focused and meticulous work of bringing voters philosophically to our side and then to the voting booth is what the Party apparatus exists for.Â Chad both knows this and is willing to put in the work to make it happen.
While the integrity of going about things the right way matters even in a vacuumâ€”our political beliefs do not.Â To make a difference these principals must be put into action, and doing so requires elections to be won.Â I have great faith that Chad Brown will be an asset to achieving this goal, and will operate with great character in doing so.
Below is Mr. Brownâ€™s general outline for strengthening the Republican Party in Polk County.
The Victory Plan: Call To Action
Goals and First Steps
Our Purpose: Elect More Republicans and support the Party Platform!!!
Political parties exist to advance core principles and elect individuals who hold these principles into office. We are not designed to be a social club. If we fail to elect more Republicans, we fail in our purpose. In the past, we have lost far too many campaigns that we should have won. Going into the 2014 cycle, Iâ€™ve discussed with numerous Central Committee members that we have identified five goals.
1.Â Polk County Courthouse: When I began to volunteer in the 1990â€™s, we only had one Republican Supervisor in Polk County. We picked up a second supervisor in 2002. Now, we have a real opportunity to pick up a third Republican supervisor and take the majority. If we can achieve this goal, Republicans will gain the Courthouse in Polk County for the first time since the 1940â€™s!
2.Â House District 40: We must work to win back this traditionally Republican State House seat in Urbandale. We can retake this seat.
3.Â House District 30: This is the second suburban State House seat we lost in Polk County. Due to the growth in the suburbs to the east of Des Moines and the trending conservative numbers of this district, we should be very competitive in this race.
4.Â Help Protect Rep. Chris Hagenowâ€™s seat: Rep. Hagenow won his House race by 23 votes. We will work very hard to retain this seat as the Democrats will attempt to challenge Rep. Hagenow in 2014.
5.Â Do our part in Polk County to get out the vote to ensure victory for our Congressional and statewide candidates: We lost Polk County badly in 2012. We need to significantly reduce the Democratsâ€™ voting edge.
Our mission is clear, and we need leadership to clearly state this mission. I say â€“ letâ€™s get to work!!!
Run the Polk County Republican Party of Iowa like a Campaign!
More than anything else, we need more Republican activism. Our candidates come to Central Committee meetings for two reasons: They attend to receive financial and volunteer support. Our candidates and their families put a lot of effort and sacrifices into their campaigns. They run to advance the principles we espouse. When we sign up volunteers at events, we must follow up by activating these volunteers and getting these volunteers to the State House and State Senate candidates who need support. This should be obvious, but according to the Representatives and candidates Iâ€™ve spoken with, it rarely happens. We must do a better job of organizing our volunteers to help our candidates. We must also do a better job of funding our candidates to push them over the top and elect more Republicans.
Our Central Committee meetings should be utilized to help members organize their precincts for our candidates. The urgency to do this is even more needed immediately following redistricting. At least once in the upcoming cycle, Central Committee members should huddle with their respective candidates during a Central Committee meeting. I have had candidates tell me their time was far better spent door knocking than attending Central Committee meetings. We must become a more effective body. Our candidates and members give money and time to this organization. I propose we do not waste our candidatesâ€™ and membersâ€™ money or time. Our members and candidates should meet as a group to network and form an action plan for victory. I propose we develop our volunteer pool so we can make coordinated efforts in State House and State Senate races where we are needed to push a candidate over the top.
Integrity: Serving the Best Interests of the Polk County Republican Party of Iowa
Building the Polk County Republican Partyâ€™s reputation will have enormous value with voters, donors, and the community we serve. Building a strong reputation will increase our ability to recruit excellent candidates, grow strong relationships with communities and organizations within our county, and will make us more effective in growing our base of volunteers, donors and voters.
We expect the Chair, Co-Chair, Executive Committee and our candidates to adhere to the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and conduct with each other, the Polk County Central Committee, vendors, and the community we serve and to comply with all applicable laws in regards to conduct as a political entity. As leaders of the Polk County Republican Party, we have a special responsibility to follow the highest standards in all aspects of our lives because our everyday actions influence what people think about our Party. Thatâ€™s called our brand. Others call this our reputation. A reputation or brand is earned over years of consistently focusing on what is best for our members and the community and following high standards of conduct. I believe good people gravitate to an organization that values ethics. We should act in a manner that will serve the best interests of the Polk County Republican Party. Honesty and trustworthiness and avoiding conflicts of interest and/or the appearance of conflicts of interest must be a priority.
We need to include members as much as possible and actively display a spirit of inclusion and ensure they donâ€™t feel like we are wasting their time. If we can actively show them that their efforts make a difference as part of our team, they will be more likely to remain active. We had a lot of enthusiasm during and immediately following the Caucuses. This enthusiasm evaporated. After attending the Polk County Republican Convention in Ankeny and the Central Committee meetings immediately following the caucuses, some activists Iâ€™ve spoken to were turned off and quickly turned away. Central Committee attendance declined following these events. I do not accept the notion that attendance drops following such events. Attendance following the Caucuses should not have to drop. It is clear that we must learn to work as a team.
Fund Raising for Candidates
The Polk County Republican Party has done an exceptional job in raising record funds. At no time in our past have the Polk County Republicans earned so much. We need to continue to build on the trust of our donors. We can build upon our fund raising successes through ensuring very good stewardship of our financial resources. For example, we need to ensure that we use these resources wisely to elect Republicans. More donors will come to us as they gain our trust. Simultaneously, we will elect more Republicans which will also cause our organization to grow in numbers and influence, and donors will continue to trust our leadership as they see us spending every penny with diligence and responsibility.
It is essential that we increase our visibility. I propose we rebuild an Editorial Team to our Executive Committee. We used to have this committee over a decade ago. We have writers amongst our organization, and this Committee will not cost a dime. The Internet also provides us new opportunities to spread our message.
We need to take every effort to engage the Democrats, aggressively and articulately. We cannot be defensive and reactionary, but we need to take the fight to the Democrats by publicly engaging in the debate over local and state issues. We need to identify issues facing this yearâ€™s legislature and start advocating for their position on a precinct specific basis. This increases our visibility and makes us a good partner with our legislative delegation and other conservative organizations.
We need more Republicans. We need to have a Republican presence at every local public function where such booths are permitted so long as the cost is not prohibitive. We could have Republicans signing up supporters outside large city festivals and events. The Democrats have staffers with clipboards to sign up supporters outside the main gates of many festivals. This is another free method to reach new supporters that we need to explore. Most important, we need to follow up with the new supporters we sign up. This is where we activate new activists. We have a large and untapped resource in our community â€“ the many people who can become enthused about the Republican Party. We need to get involved with every group that represents voters. We also need close interaction with Republicans at all of the local colleges. None of us will be here forever, and Iâ€™m a believer that we must train our replacements.
New Committee Functions and Transparency
I believe in the grassroots. Effective communication and ground-up organization are important. We need to redefine the tasks of our existing committees and establish a list of objectives and goals for each committee to accomplish. I believe we need to establish some new standing committees and ask for your help with these committees. Further, we can network with our neighboring counties.
We also need to re-structure our Inclusion Committee on building teamwork between all Republicansâ€¦ to ensure all Republicans feel included in The Big Tent that great presidents such as Ronald Reagan always espoused.
Politics, like every other activity that requires volunteer effort, has to be fun. We should plan different activities with different purposes. Some such activities should be family targeted and family priced and some should be fun for adults. We need to get together for fun as well as business. Good fellowship is a great device for inclusion.
Churches understand this principle. They have expensive retreats for active members, and then they have the ice cream socials and sporting events and other inexpensive, inclusion activities to get visitors through the door. It is time to increase our numbers.
Activities can often be geared for both business and social interaction. The 2016 â€“ Obamaâ€™s America event on August 30 included a social at Champps for candidates and activists to network, and then the movie included the political message. Also, our event created buzz for more to see the movie. Further, a movie is inclusive to all ages including the younger voters that we will need. This was Darrell Kearneyâ€™s original idea, and I organized it with the above purposes in mind. Then, Ryan Keller and April Linder increased its importance by getting the director to call the Central Committee! We did see new people who havenâ€™t attended other functions. Why not get to work at increasing our inclusionary efforts?
I propose that we take action on a few critical needs in the next month of our organization. The following is a list of what I propose we do in the next month.
A.Â Start a Solid and Objective Post-Mortem to learn from mistakes made in the 2012 Election so return stronger for the Midterm Elections.
â€œThose who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.â€ â€“ Santayana â€“
I propose we form a Committee to analyze what went wrong in our 2012 election. We lost too many races that should have been won. Objective analysis may prevent us from making some of the same mistakes. The purpose of this Committee will not be to point fingers but to identify points where the Republican Party came up short so we donâ€™t let it happen in future elections. Our campaign strategy for the 2012 election must be examined to evaluate what did work and what failed. Some of our losses were completely unnecessary and avoidable.
B.Â Organize a Volunteer Pool. We will organize a list of names and days/hours when volunteers can staff our office to work on data entry and organization. In getting to know so many of you, I have learned there is a large volunteer base out there. We need to call this volunteer base to action to organize beginning as soon as possible. By splitting up our needs among a large base of volunteers, we donâ€™t have to ask any one person to spend more than a few hours a week to these efforts, and we will still advance in our goals. Further, we will follow up with the volunteers who sign up to volunteer. This is obvious and should be done. We need to follow up. We must utilize our volunteers to elect Republicans.
C.Â Coordinate with Republicans. With new leadership at the Polk County level, we can put old feelings of resentment behind us and build a new relationship and get past any hard feelings that resulted last year.
I have also contacted leaders in other counties in our district and state to try and find areas in which we can learn from each other and share our resources. I have worked with the Dallas County Republicans during the Adel Green Corn Days and with their parades in Adel and Waukee, and their leadership is ready, willing and able to work with us. I have spoken with the Story County Chairman in Ames and discussed his approach with the inclusion of college students.
Every change we are making in the short-term is intended to push us closer to achieving long-term goals. We need to build upon our foundations of what we are doing correctly and to fix what we are not doing and build upon our areas that are weak. In the long-term, I would like to see the following accomplished:
A.Â We grow our political operation. We need to have enough volunteer activity to keep at least one or two volunteers busy on a full-time basis, every day. This can be stuffing envelopes, data entry, telephone calls, etc. Having a full time volunteer organization will be great. It will take a lot of pressure off our full-time staff so that our full-time staff can focus on what we envision. Theyâ€™re extremely valuable to us as a resource. Also, we need accountability for Central Committee members who do not attend meetings and do not participate in the organization of our county.
B.Â We integrate our Republican Central Committee base with our local Candidates. Our party is a political party, not a social club. To be successful in reaching our goals, we need to help our candidates. We can increase the number of Republicans elected in our county if we aggressively target State House and State Senate seats as well as County wide positions and Supervisor positions. If all of our members only volunteered 30 minutes twice per month, we would be able to door knock the entire county. Twice.
C. We continue to aggressively target new and non-traditional constituencies. There is a way to do this without sacrificing our principles and values. We should continue to reach out to non-traditional constituencies, but we should not waste resources on left-wing propaganda publications. We need not pander but should embrace prosperity and our values and include all in the spirit of inclusion to all people.
With improved organization, we can build the Republican Party in this county! Letâ€™s get to work to make this a reality!