The nominating convention that will be held this Thursday night to determine the candidate who run to fill the State Senate seat being vacated by Larry Nobel, will not only likely determine who the next State Senator from Ankeny will be, it will also provide a clue as to how members of the Republican State Central Committee may impact the 2012 caucus process.
Officials with the Republican Party of Iowa will conduct the nomination process for the vacancy in Senate District 35. Unlike a regular primary where the Secretary of State counts the votes, the party assumes the official role in selecting its nominee in this instance.
Recently, eyebrows were raised over the involvement of a handful of State Central Committee members supporting the candidacy of one particular candidate, Matt DeVries. The four State Central Committee members who are supporting DeVries are also associated with the Campaign for Liberty.
If the Republican Party were not in charge of conducting this election, there wouldn’t be a reason to be concerned about a group of committee members being involved in a primary campaign. However, since they do control the entire nominating process, the staff and the State Central Committee of the party must take the extra steps necessary to make sure that the party is seen as fair and impartial.
Overseeing the nomination process in a state legislative race is one thing, but overseeing and insuring the validity of the caucus vote takes things to another level. Having served as the Republican Party of Iowa’s Political Director in 2007, I can’t reiterate enough how important it is for the Republican Party of Iowa to take its roll as a the conductor of the election very seriously.
In 2007, I received criticism because my wife put a Huckabee sign in our front yard. The incident landed a picture of our home in the Politico and New York Times. I remained neutral in the caucuses and didn’t even cast a vote because I was in the tabulation center overseeing the votes that came in from every precinct around the state. The Politico story was an unnecessary distraction, especially considering that I went out of my way to treat all candidates fairly. In the current situation, you have party officials (not their family members) openly campaigning for one particular candidate. It’s no wonder this situation has raised concerns.
During that last caucus season, perhaps no candidate’s supporters were more vocal about their candidate getting the raw end of the deal than Ron Paul’s. It began when Paul was excluded from a candidate forum put on by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance in the spring of 2007. It continued when Paul was excluded from some of the early presidential debates. Even though the Republican Party never excluded Paul from any of its events, his supporters never had faith in the party or the process.
It’s interesting to note that the four State Central Committee members who are supporting DeVries are also associated with the Campaign for Liberty – and thus Ron Paul – It’s more than a little ironic that these four are willing to conduct themselves in a manner that, just a few years ago, they were up in arms about.
I took a lot of heat while working for the Republican Party of Iowa in 2007. I always made sure that I had a good line of communication with every campaign, even those who suspected that I personally preferred one of their opponents. Regardless of what others might have thought, the only entity that I looked out for was the Republican Party of Iowa itself. Every decision that was made was always based on what was in the best interest of party, never a particular candidate.
Fortunately, the party is in good hands for the upcoming caucus cycle. Throughout the 2010 elections, Chairman Matt Straw conducted himself in a very professional manner. There were more contested primaries in 2010 than any other year in recent memory, yet there were very few complaints about how Strawn and the party staff conducted themselves.
Strawn has also hired Chad Olsen to serve as his Executive Director. Olsen is as squeaky clean as you can get. Not only does he bring a wealth of caucus experience to his position, but he is as honest and fair as anybody you could ever find. It’s imperative that the party staff remains impartial, but it’s equally important that the members of the State Central Committee don’t undermine the party by their own individual actions.
Anyone who serves on the State Central Committee, is employed by or serves as chairman or co-chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, does so by their own choosing. Their decision to hold an official position with the party means that they are willing to advance the party itself, not a particular candidate. If that’s not the case, then they shouldn’t be on the committee.
In order to maintain our First-in-the Nation status, the party must first and foremost prove to all candidates that it is capable of being fair and impartial. Seeing a sizable percentage of the State Central Committee get involved in an election in a district in which none of them reside is unnecessary and unwise. Their candidate should be able to win on his/her own merits, not because he has the support of certain party officials.
It seems to me that a handful of Ron Paul’s supporters are now guilty of the very thing so many of his supporters rallied against not long ago. What a difference a few years makes.
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