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October 13th, 2011

More State Senate Republican Drama

State Senator Bill Dix’ attempt to unseat Senator Paul McKinley as the Senate Minority Leader was basically thwarted on a technicality.  Some senators thought Dix was out of line in challenging McKinley because he was out of the country on a 37th wedding anniversary trip.

Dix openly challenged McKinley on Tuesday, September 27th, and McKinley hasn’t been back in the state since then.  That’s 17 days that McKinley, the Republican leader in the State Senate, has been A.W.O.L.  While it is rumored that McKinley now is back on U.S. soil, he will not return to Iowa until later this weekend after a legislative conference he is attending.  In all, McKinley has been absent for nearly 20 days.

Being gone for 20 days is a very long time when you consider that McKinley will have been absent for nearly half the days that will make up entire period of time in which the special election in Senate District 18 will take place.  With that being the case, it’s easy to understand why some Senate Republicans are frustrated and fed up with McKinley.  While Dix’s challenge fell flat, another Republican State Senator, Rick Bertrand, called for McKinley to resign his post at a business roundtable in Sioux City yesterday.

Bertrand’s frustration is understandable, but why go public with this now and not when Dix openly challenged McKinley?  The reason why Dix is not the leader of the Senate today is because he lost the public relations battle when he allowed McKinley’s supporters in the Senate to spin his leadership challenge as a cowardly and illegitimate move.  As a result, Dix lost some key votes and thus had to revoke his challenge.

It’s likely that nobody in the Senate Republican caucus has the votes to be elected the leader of the chamber.  Not McKinley.  Not Dix.  There is no doubt that a leadership election could take place when Senate Republicans caucus on November 10th, but publicly calling on McKinley to resign now does nothing but distract from the task at hand in Senate District 18.

The only person who all of this drama helps is Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.  Instead of Republicans pulling together to gain equal control of the chamber, they appear to be more interested with internal politics than helping Cindy Golding be successful in Senate District 18.  Meanwhile, the Republican Senate fiasco has to be a great fundraising tool for Gronstal, who can easily make the case that Senate Republicans couldn’t work together to navigate their way out of a paper bag.

Senate Republicans had an opportunity to oust McKinley weeks ago, but they didn’t go through with it because they didn’t think it was appropriate to do so given that McKinley was heading out on a 20-plus-day excursion.  It’s now clear that McKinley is a severely damaged leader who may need to resign his leadership post even though he withstood Dix’s challenge.  It’s just too bad these senators are more willing to fight amongst themselves than to actually go to Cedar Rapids and campaign to change the entire complexion of the chamber.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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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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