After five rounds of balloting, Republicans in Senate District 35 selected Jack Whitver as their nominee to replace Larry Noble in the Iowa State Senate. Noble resigned his Senate seat after Governor-Elect Terry Branstad selected him to lead the Department of Safety.
Whitver was a walk-on for the Iowa State football team. He made the most of his opportunity and ended up being a three-year starter for the Cyclones. In some respects, Whitver is now walking-on for another team – the Iowa Senate Republican caucus. He helped the Cyclones make three straight bowl appearances, and Republicans hope that he can help them win a majority in the State Senate.
Before the nominating convention was called to order, electors peppered the candidates with numerous questions. Some wanted to know which presidential candidate they supported during the 2008 caucuses, while others inquired as to the type of campaign team they have in place to help them win re-election after the abbreviated term should they be successful.
Of the 43 possible electors, 34 of them were in attendance. The balloting and vote counting, which was done by the Republican Party of Iowa, was quick and very well planned out. There was very little time between each round of balloting. Chad Olsen and his team deserve credit for being well prepared for multiple rounds of balloting.
Jim Kurtenbach, the Co-Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa chaired the convention. Kurtenback did a great job of being impartial and fair to all the candidates who ran. Chairman Matt Strawn was in attendance but was not involved in the convention because he is a business partner with Gocke and the Barnstormers employ Whitver.
There were three candidates who were in contention through out the night, Matt DeVries, Jim Gocke, and Whitver. Gocke was the top vote getter in the first and third rounds of balloting. Whitver led in rounds two and four, and broke the 50 percent threshold in the fifth round of voting, where he received 63.6 percent of the vote.
The two best speeches of the night came from DeVries and Whitver, the two candidates in there thirties. Both were the only candidates to really articulate where they stood on conservative issues like marriage and abortion rights. It also didn’t hurt that Whitver’s ten-day-old baby girl who was in attendance, gave her Dad a shout out during his speech. She was respectful to the other candidates during their speeches.
The field of candidates was very impressive. After listening to the candidates, it became clear that regardless of who won, Republicans were going to have a very strong chance at holding Noble’s seat in the Senate. Whitver was able emerge from the crowded field. He gives Republicans a young, articulate, and conservative candidate who should be very tough for the Democrats to beat in the special election in mid-January.
The politics of a nominating convention are always tricky. You don’t necessarily need to be everyone’s top choice, but you need to be everybody’s second favorite. Whitver succeeded in doing just that. At the end of the night, Whitver was able to attract the most support from those were backing Koester and DeVries. It also never hurts to be the one who gave the best speech of the candidates.
Whitver left little doubt that he’s ready and willing to do what it takes to keep the seat in Republican hands. The election will be held on January 18th.
Below is Whitver’s speech.
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