John Landon garnered just 366 votes in the June 5th primary, which was good enough to finish a distant third place in a crowded six person primary. Landon received 257 fewer votes than the second place finisher Matt DeVries got, and 348 votes less than the 714 votes the top vote getter, Jim Robidoux got in the primary. Yet, despite getting beat by almost as many votes as he received, John Landon is the Republican nominee in House District 37, not either of the candidates who finished far ahead of him.
Landon is the nominee because 12 of the 21 delegates who attended a special nominating convention on Wednesday night preferred him over the top two candidates. Combined, Robidoux and DeVries accounted for 64 percent of the vote in the primary, while Landon could only muster 17 percent of the vote. That means the delegates basically told primary voters, “thanks, but no thanks.”
Even though Robidoux was head and shoulders above his opponents in the primary, he could only muster one vote in the first round of balloting, while Landon and DeVries each garnered ten votes. Landon won on the second ballot with 12 votes to DeVries’ nine. Robidoux, the candidate who won eight of eleven precincts, and was just 18 votes shy of avoiding the race going to convention, received no votes on the second ballot.
To the outside world, what happened to Robidoux is probably shocking. To those who have followed the primary and process closely, it’s no surprise. Landon and DeVries were working to put their friends and allies on the Polk County Central Committee for months. Sadly, the message the nomination convention sends is to focus more on stacking the county central committee than going out there and working to earn people’s votes.
It’s surprising to me how easily the convention delegates disregarded the primary vote. I understand that this is the process when no candidate receives 35 percent of the vote, but completely ignoring the will of the people could have future consequences that are not good for Landon or the Republican Party.
Consider the following:
Landon could easily be viewed as an illegitimate candidate since his performance in the primary was so poor when compared to Robidoux and DeVries. That could invite a challenger in the general election since there currently is not one. It could also set Landon up for a primary fight in 2014 since the means of his victory is not going to sit well with some voters.
Even though Landon got the result he desired at the nominating convention on Wednesday night, it comes at a cost. There will no doubt be some hurt feelings and bad blood that linger long after the 2012 election. Ankeny is a Republican stronghold, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. The community is experiencing dynamic growth, and it’s not just Republicans who are moving here. As Ankeny grows, the more diverse it becomes. The more diverse the city, the more important it will be for Republicans to be united around their candidates. I worry about the lingering effects from what took place on Wednesday night.
I have been concerned about the internal convention process for Iowa Republicans for the last two years. Instead of delegates and central committee members viewing themselves as representatives to their precincts, many now act as if they are kingmakers. And it’s not just the Ron Paul supporters who are guilty of acting this way.
This first became an issue in 2010 when some delegates wanted to nominate Bob Vander Plaats as Terry Branstad’s Lt. Governor instead of Kim Reynolds, who was Branstad’s pick. I find it a little ironic that most of delegates who supported Landon on Wednesday night were probably outraged at the effort to put Vander Plaats on the gubernatorial ticket. These delegates have no room to complain if something similar to the Vander Plaats fiasco happens at future conventions.
It’s also probably safe to say that many of the delegates who voted for Landon on Wednesday night probably don’t like how Ron Paul’s delegates took over the Republican Party of Iowa and awarded him all but three of our national delegates despite his third place finish. Landon basically did in House District 37 what so many Republicans are outraged that they Paul people did in the caucus to convention process statewide. Just look at the mess that has created.
House District 37 was fortunate to have a number of quality candidates seek the nomination. As a resident of the district, it was difficult to choose between Robidoux, DeVries, Landon, and Jeff Wright. I liked them all, but at the end of the day my decision came down to Robidoux and Landon. I voted for Landon because I thought he worked hard, was a good fit for the community, and we shared similar beliefs.
The primary results showed that my friends and neighbors preferred Robidoux over Landon by a significant margin, almost 16.65 points to be exact. I respect their decision, and feel that Landon and the central committee members did not. I have a hard time coming to grasp with that, especially in a political climate were the people are demanding that their representatives in Des Moines and Washington D.C. listen to them.
Landon doesn’t have an opponent in the general election, but he may want to knock on the doors of every primary voter in an effort to reach out to those who didn’t support him in the primary. In fact, he might want to knock on the doors of his own primary supporters too. Winning at all costs is not new to politics, but aftertaste it has left in this voter’s mouth is not good.
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