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June 9th, 2010

Secretary of State: A Tale of Two Campaigns

By James Johnson

Yesterday’s primary election for the Republican nomination for secretary of state was not just a tale of two men running to be Iowa’s chief elections officer. It was a tale of two entirely different campaign strategies.

The first campaign was that of GEORGE EICHHORN, whose strategic formula was: SS + JK + ME.

SS = State Service. Eichhorn ran on his record of public service on the state level, having served six years in the Iowa House of Representatives.

JK = Job Knowledge. Eichhorn ran on his extensive working knowledge of the job of secretary of state, which he gained by chairing two legislative committees that were responsible for overseeing the office.

ME = Many Endorsements. Eichhorn published a list of over 50 respected persons who went on record to affirm that his past service and working knowledge of the office he was seeking was a good reason to entrust him with the Republican nomination.

The second campaign was that of MATT SCHULTZ, whose strategic formula was: LS + FL + SA.

LS = Local Service. Schultz ran on his current record of municipal service as a city councilman in Council Bluffs.

FL = Future Leadership. Schultz never came out and said it, but no one who ever met him on the campaign trail could be unaware a vote for him would be a vote to help put a youthful face and energetic image on the state party for many years to come.

SA = Strategic Ads. Schultz did not have the money to buy a lot of advertisements, but he did have enough to strategically place the few ads that he made on key radio and internet news sites that constantly draw republican visitors, such as WHO and The Iowa Republican.

Well, the election results are in. And Republicans have spoken. Schultz won the primary in a convincing manner. Schultz won with 47% of the vote to Eichhorn’s 27% and Chris Sanger’s 26%.

In years to come, the primary campaign strategies employed by George Eichhorn and Matt Schultz for the Iowa secretary of state’s nomination in 2010 may be a valuable tool for political science students and future campaigns in Iowa and states with similar voter demographics.

Moreover, certain aspects of these strategies may prove to be more or less significant in more traditional or predictable election years — specifically, when the winds of change swirling around the election are less fierce, and when populist frustration with the political establishment and its traditional methods of winning primary elections are not as criticized.

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About the Author

James M. Johnson
James M. Johnson is the president of the Iowa Republican Assembly, which works to get constitutionally minded conservatives elected to leadership positions in the Republican Party, and to elective office on the local, state, and federal level. He has worked on over 50 political campaigns and holds an M.A. in public policy with a concentration in political communication.

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