A week after Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty hired a trio of GOP consultants with presidential experience, there is news that Pawlenty is scheduled to be in the state next month to raise money for the Republican Party of Iowa. Governor Pawlenty will headline an RPI fundraiser on Saturday, November 7th in Des Moines.
Two of the political operatives that Pawlenty hired are Iowa natives with deep political roots – Sara Taylor and Terry Nelson. Both Taylor and Nelson have vast knowledge of the Iowa caucuses, and they appreciate the ability the caucuses have to catapult a candidate like Pawlenty to frontrunner status.
While Iowa has already seen numerous potential presidential candidates like Haley Barbour, George Pataki, John Ensign, and Rick Santorum, visit the state this year, Pawlenty is the first potential 2012 candidate who is actually already building a campaign structure to come to the state. In Iowa, starting early has a lot of benefits.
With Mitt Romney’s avoidance of Iowa after coming in second to Mike Huckabee in the 2008 caucuses, Pawlenty will be unchecked if he aggressively starts to organize the state. In traveling around the state to conservative or Republican events, one thing is clear – people are already looking for a leader or alternative voice to President Obama. In Iowa, there is no such thing as starting too early.
While Mitt Romney obviously feels scorned by Iowa caucus-goers, he did a number of things right in building his last caucus campaign. In fact, if you are looking for a blueprint on how to build a caucus campaign, you could do a lot worse than following what Romney did in Iowa between 2003 and July of 2007.
Romney began to build his Iowa network during the 2004 election cycle. In 2004, Romney’s Commonwealth PAC made contributions totaling $58,000 to legislative candidates and state and county political party organizations. Legislative candidates and county central committees often have a difficult time raising money to fund their operations. Needless to say, when a potential presidential candidate shows up out of the blue with a check for $500 or $1000, they take notice.
Contributions like these help legislative candidates pay for radio or TV ads. For county organizations, a $500 or $1000 contribution is like winning the lottery. It helps them rent a storefront for their county headquarters, hire part-time staff, or put in phone lines. These candidates and activists also don’t forget this generosity. Many legislators ultimately endorsed Romney in the caucuses, and a lot of county party activists supported his campaign as well.
Romney’s problem in Iowa wasn’t the campaign he was able to put together, it was the inconsistencies of candidate himself. This is probably why Romney has basically ignored the state since January 3, 2008. Governor Pawlenty has a solid conservative record and will not have to overcome the obstacles that prevented Romney from being successful in Iowa.
Iowans should expect to see a lot more of the neighboring Governor from the north. With the creation of his Freedom First leadership PAC, it is likely that Governor Pawlenty will be “helping” candidates and county organizations very soon. Mitt Romney set quite the precedent for creating a blueprint and timeline to build an extensive Iowa campaign. Potential 2012 candidates would be foolish to discredit it just because Romney didn’t win the Iowa caucuses.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to win the Iowa caucuses; it takes hard work and time. Governor Pawlenty’s recent moves and planned visit to Iowa show that he is willing to do both.
Republican Party of Iowa
Leadership Iowa Event
Saturday, November 7th
5:30 p.m. – General Reception
6:00 p.m. – Program
Iowa State Fairgrounds
Elwell Family Center
Des Moines, Iowa
Call the Republican Party of Iowa at 515-282-8105 for ticket information.
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