The Polk County GOP continues to find unique ways to raise money. Monday morning, they held the First Annual Governor Bob Ray/Polk County GOP Golf Tournament. The event was an overwhelming success, raising an estimated $20,000 to help local candidates in the November elections.
78 players converged on Willow Creek Golf Course in West Des Moines for the event. They were broken into four-player teams in a best ball format. Throughout the tournament, several local Republican candidates and officials used the opportunity to mingle with the players. The Polk County GOP also gave candidates the opportunity to recruit players, and keep all of the money raised by those players. The fee to play in the tournament was $100.
“I thought it was a fantastic event,” said Vicki Stogdill, the Republican candidate in Senate District 18. “The turnout for the first year was terrific. The namesake is obviously fitting for a man that has done a lot for the party and we want to honor him. For me personally, I wanted to connect with a lot of the people that came here. I really appreciated the opportunity. Events like this are a good opportunity for Republicans to cement relationships.”
Former Governor Ray travelled around the course in a golf cart, stopping to chat with each team. During a brief speech following the tournament, Ray called for Republicans to band together.
“It’s time to be proud to be a Republican,” Ray said. “It’s more important to be a Republican than it is to be different and see where we can disagree. It’s time for all us to work together and come November, see if we can swallow the other side.”
Congressman Tom Latham echoed Ray’s sentiments. “It is extraordinarily important that we have a unified effort,” he said. “We have a lot of great candidates at the county and state level, and all the way up the ticket to the presidency. With your help, I’m going win and you’re going to win Polk County. Not just the election. We’re going to win Polk County.” Democrats maintain a voter registration edge of almost 16,000 in Polk County.
The state’s top Republican officials also contributed to the cause. During the post-tournament luncheon, auctions were held for the opportunity to have lunch with Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, House Leader Linda Upmeyer, Senate Minority Leader Jerry Behn and Senate Republican Whip Brad Zaun. The lunch with Branstad earned the most money, at $250.
Several items were also raffled off. Ironically, Governor Ray, whom the tournament is named after, won three raffle items. Altogether, it was a successful and enjoyable fundraiser that will become a yearly tradition.
“The first time you do anything you’re not sure if it will be successful,” said Polk County GOP Chairman Kevin McLaughlin. “This was successful from both the participation and the financial results, which are extremely important for us because we have so much to accomplish between now and November.”
“I thought the event was a great success,” said Polk County GOP fundraiser Darrell Kearney. “It will be come an annual event in honor of Governor Ray. Three and a half weeks ago we weren’t even sure we were going to do it. It came together very quickly. What we discovered is really a lot of interest in golfing and a lot of interest in this kind of event.”
House Representative Kevin Koester, who visited with golfers throughout the tournament, looks forward to the Governor Ray/Polk GOP Golf Tournament becoming an annual event.
It was very well organized,” Koester said. “I met a lot of exciting people, names that I’ve known, but not met the person face-to-face. I was glad to come and I’ll be bringing a team year after year. It’s an excellent event.”
Other local candidates and officials in attendance included State Senators Brad Zaun, Jack Whitver and Pat Ward, House representatives Peter Cownie and Chris Hagenow, state senate candidate Jake Chapman, House candidates Mike Brown, Jim Carley, Jake Highfill, and Jeff Ibbotson, Polk County Sheriff candidate Dan Charleston and Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart.
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