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April 26th, 2010

Third District Republicans Gather in Grinnell

Vander Plaats 778Third District Republicans descended upon Grinnell this weekend for the Republican District Convention. It was the second election cycle in a row that Grinnell has held the district convention. Being centrally located and right off of Interstate 80, makes it a convenient location for each of the 12 Third District counties to get to.

As with any convention, there is always a chance that they get a little lengthy, and this one, unfortunately, fell into that category. The convention started slowly, and some of the speeches seemed a little too lengthy and almost unnecessary at times.

Speeches were limited to just two minutes for all candidates seeking state and federal offices. While there was no official timekeeper in sight, the candidates followed the rules for the most part. So, while the six congressional candidates spoke for a combined 20 minutes or so, State Central Committee member Gopal Krishna spoke twice for a total of at least 25 minutes. The convention chairman, Loras Schulte, also spoke for about ten minutes.

The delegates seemed to enjoy those speeches, but when there are contested primaries up and down the ballot, it seemed like a missed opportunity to not to feature the candidates in a more prominent way. The convention also allowed each of the candidates for the platform, rules, and credentials committee an opportunity to speak. At some conventions I’ve attended, that was not done, which saved a lot of time.

It was great to see all of the 3rd District Congressional candidates hanging out at the convention all day, but it was also a necessity, since the first 3rd District candidate speeches didn’t start until after 2 p.m. The convention organizers could have either spread those speeches out throughout the day, or had them speak to start the conventions, since none of the statewide candidates begun their day in the 3rd District.

Third CD Candidates

It is always interesting to see what people put on the chairs or stuff in the convention bags for the delegates. For the most part, the convention bag was full of what you would expect. There were materials for the people who were running for the State Central Committee, and literature from most candidates.

Third District congressional candidate Dave Funk deserves credit for being the most creative. Funk provided activists we an “Election Activity Book.” The Book contained crossword puzzles, word finds, mazes, and other games delegates could play if bored during the convention. Funk’s book also included a DVD, which provided his biography. Funk’s little red book was the one thing that kind of stuck out in a huge stack of materials.

Jim Gibbons, another 3rd District candidates obviously had a convention strategy. Gibbons had an impressive group of kids and supporters wearing his “Burn the Boats” t-shits. Gibbons’ crew lent a helping hand with the lunch by helping people to their seats and picking up lunch trays, a classy move that was probably very appreciated. The Gibbons campaign also held a picnic in a Grinnell park from three to six o’clock.

Brad Zaun, who is also running for Congress, stuffed a letter, a lit piece, and an envelope in the delegates bag. While Zaun’s campaign materials were what you would expect for a top congressional candidate, it was a little odd to see him nominate a candidate who was running for the State Central Committee. Zaun nominated Eldon Pals from Jasper County, but Pals, who was running for re-election, did not get enough votes to retain his seat.

Central Committee Vote

On Friday night, all the district delegates received an auto call asking them to re-elect the three current members of the central committee (Wes Enos, Gopal Krishna, and Eldon Pals). Pals was the only one not re-elected. In his place, delegates elected David Fischer, a long time Polk County activists who was also involved with Ron Paul’s campaign. David is a good guy, and a great addition to the State Central Committee.

Candidate Speeches

The Fresh Face = Rod Roberts

In the nine months that Rod Roberts has been running for governor, he has grown as a candidate. Roberts has come along way from the quietest, reserved state representative, to a well-spoken and passionate gubernatorial candidate. Roberts reminds me a lot of Bob Vander Plaats circa 2002. Vander Plaats got over 30% of the vote that year. If Roberts has the resources, he could perform equally well. If that happens, the likelihood of the nomination being determined at convention increases.

Mr. Delegate = Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats received a thunderous reception at the 3rd District convention. Vander Plaats used his speech to push his positions on life, marriage, and gambling. Vander Plaats also pledged that his Lt. Governor will share his convictions. If the 352 delegates at the 3rd District convention are representative of the people who vote on June 8th, Bob Vander Plaats will do extremely well. On a far less important note, Vander Plaats has the best lapel stickers out there.

Rain Out = Terry Branstad

Former Governor Terry Branstad’s plane was not able to make it to Grinnell due to the weather conditions. In his place, former State Representative Carmine Boal spoke on his behalf. Surrogates speaking on behalf of candidates never goes over very well. When it was announced that Branstad couldn’t fly to Grinnell, it was sunny and warm in Grinnell, but the clouds and rain blew in shortly there after.

Senator Grassley

Grassley was introduced as he walked through the door. Grassley then ran to the stage and reminded the delegates that he’s up for re-election. Apparently, according to Grassley, some people at the Second District Convention in Fairfield didn’t know that.

Third District Candidate Speeches

Brad Zaun – Listen Up

Mark Rees – We Need More than Just Republicans

Jim Gibbons – Burn the Boats

Dave Funk – I’m going to Washington to Pick a Fight

State Treasurer Candidates

Jim Heavens

Dave Jamison

Photo by Dave Davidson

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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