As you all know, I’m not a big fan of endorsements. Sure there nice to receive, but at the end of the day that don’t account for much. In many instances, endorsements have greater consequences to those who actually make the endorsement than the candidate who receives them.
I would point to Tom Tancredo’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. It was a meaningful endorsement for Romney but the most significant result was Tancredo flushing any credibility down the tubes. Likewise, Rick Santorum was in Iowa yesterday apologizing for his 2004 endorsement of Arlen Specter. He made that endorsement eight years ago and he is still dealing with it. This article isn’t about the endorsements that people like Tancredo and Santorum make, it’s about the endorsements that are made by members of the Republican State Central committee.
Every two years, grassroots activists who attend district conventions elect people to represent them on the State Central Committee. That group serves as the board of directors for the Republican Party here in Iowa. The role of a state central committee member is to oversee that the state party is run properly and to elect Republicans.
Perhaps the greatest responsibility that makes all things possible for the party to be successful in those endeavors is our First in the Nation Caucus. Aspiring presidential candidate are already sprouting up in Iowa. It’s just a matter of time before their start staffing up and organizing republicans, and the generating buzz and enthusiasm that helps all republicans at every level, not to mention the cash they dole out to candidates on the local ballot.
In order for us to maintain our beloved First in the Nation status, we must keep the process above even the slightest perception of favoring one particular candidate over another. The integrity of the caucus and the party is at stake which means nobody will come and participate. That includes the Ames straw Poll too folks.
Nothing infuriates the grassroots like seeing state party officials stick their noses into primaries. If a member of the central committee wishes to endorse, they can do so while not representing the State Party. It’s as simple as that. Former SCC member David Chung of Linn County set a good example of this when he resigned in order to support a candidate for governor. It would be preferable that he not endorse nor resign but at least he tried to do the right thing for the good of the party and the integrity of the position.
In some of the recent endorsements of Rod Roberts, the endorsee has states that they reason they chose Roberts is that he is the only candidate in the race that can unify the party after the primary. That may be true, but when I see State Central Committee members like Bill Schickel say this I scratch my head.
In addition to serving on the board of directors of the party, SCC members are also the ambassadors for the party. Frankly, it’s not their job to endorse the candidate who can unite the party, it’s their job to work with all the candidates and campaigns to ensure that the Republican Party emerges stronger than it was before the primary.
This is why I was critical of Kim Lehman’s actions in the lead up to the 2008 general elections. The horror stories of the national committeewoman Kim Lehman’s endorsement of Peter Teahen and eventual sour grapes in the general are well documented here and elsewhere, but let’s take a look at what is going on this year. Bill Schickel of the 4th CD has publicly endorsed Rod Roberts for governor, but gives us the caveat that he will step down as RPI’s secretary although not as a SCC member. What? So your endorsement of Roberts will create problems with how you function as secretary but not as a SCC member? Wes Enos, of the 3rd CD has taken a paid position with Bob Vander Plaats’ primary campaign for governor. Joni Scotter of the 2nd CD endorsed Gov. Terry Branstad just a few short weeks after pledging to remain neutral in order to win a seat on the SCC.
If we want a strong and robust Republican Party of Iowa, we need State Central Committee members who will put the party above any personality that runs for office. The reason the Republican Party in Iowa sucks is because nobody actually cares about the party itself, they only care about the individual candidates that they support.
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