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May 8th, 2012
 

How We Became The Party of Paul

From the outside, one must think that the Republican Party in Iowa is a minority party that has never recovered from the losses of 2006 and 2008.  It’s not close to being true, but that is how it feels these days.  Despite having elected a governor, gaining control of the Iowa House of Representatives, and leading the Democrats in voter registrations after trailing them by 110,000 after the 2008 elections, the Republican Party is going through a regime change.

The new regime that was elected to govern the Republican Party of Iowa earlier this month at the district conventions is laser focused on their own goals.  In fact, Mitt Romney will be lucky to garner six votes this fall out of the 16 state central committee members that were elected at district conventions.  Laugh all you want, but I’m not joking.

By now, those of you who are paying attention realize that the supporters of Ron Paul and other like-minded individuals have taken over the Republican Party of Iowa.  While they use their purity test as a reason why they can’t support Romney, they have no problem selecting delegates to the national convention whose beliefs violate various planks in the platform.

Of the 13 at-large delegates that were selected on Saturday, one was an active Democrat in 2010, another supports gay marriage, and yet another repeatedly attacked a Republican leader in the house last year because that leader supported a bill that would limit abortions in Iowa.  Maybe the 2012 state platform that will be ratified at the state convention in June will provide an exemption for anyone who doesn’t agree with the document so long as they pledge their allegiance to Ron Paul.

TheIowaRepublican.com has provided step-by-step coverage of how Ron Paul’s revolution has taken over the Republican Party of Iowa.  While traditional news outlets are now catching on, this is a story we have followed for quite a while.  In fact, our coverage began two-years ago when four people associated with the Campaign for Liberty were elected to the state central committee in April of 2010.  The name of that article, “The RPI Revolution?,” ended up being very prophetic.

The Paul supporters are reveling in the moment, while other long-time GOP activists are worried about what the future holds for the Republican Party under the new leadership.  TheIowaRepublican.com has spent a lot of time covering the events that have led up to this point, but we have not spent much time discussing how it happened.  This article is intended to shed a little light on that subject.

As has been stated before, the Ron Paul supporters have taken control the Republican Party of Iowa and the county and district conventions through legitimate means.  While some feel that they have exploited the rules to their advantage, they have broken no rules in Iowa.  However, there are concerns in other states where Paul supporters have taken over.  For instance, in Nevada, Paul supporters secured most of the delegate spots and seem poised to vote for their candidate at the national convention even though Nevada’s delegates are bound to support Romney.

How did the Ron Paul supporters take control of the GOP apparatus in a state like Iowa?  Here are some of the main reasons.

The Paul Supporters are Organized

We all know that Ron Paul has not run a traditional campaign for president.  He did in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where he campaigned and ran TV ads, but since then, Congressman Paul has only made a few appearances in caucus states, and that’s about it.  Instead, the Paul campaign has focused on district and state conventions in states like Iowa.

While other campaigns were focusing on upcoming states on the primary calendar, the Paul campaign repeatedly called its supporters in an effort to turn them out to county and district conventions.  With no other campaign organizing delegates, and with Santorum getting out of the race and Gingrich becoming an afterthought, the Paul campaign basically had no competition.

Romney has Zero Presence in Iowa

Despite campaigning hard in Iowa during the final stretch before the caucuses, the lack of grassroots support for Romney is shocking in this state considering that he finished just 34 votes shy of winning here.  Romney’s Iowa campaign can be compared to a carnival.  It’s impressive when it’s all set up around the town square, but when it’s over there is no sign that it ever existed.

Romney had little to no presence at county or district conventions last month.  No signs, no table to sign up to volunteers, nothing.  Also missing from the conventions were actual Romney supporters.  Sure there were a few of them, but for the most part, many of the people who caucused for Romney showed no interest in being a convention delegate.

One of the main reasons why the Paul supporters have been able to ride roughshod over the county and district conventions process is because of the absence of the Romney campaign.  For months the Romney campaign made the case that they had the nomination all synched up.  They do in the traditional sense, but while they dried up their main opponents’ money, they were also signaling to their supporters that it wasn’t necessary to participate in the rest of the caucus to convention process.  This was bad move that is now going to cause them a major headache.

Some Social Conservative Leaders Have Sold Out

For years, social conservatives have dominated the delegate process in Iowa in thanks in large part to the work of National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and his Iowa Faith and Freedom organization.  Scheffler’s efforts were largely successful.  Scheffler insists that since becoming National Committeeman, he no longer pushes for the election of a specific slate of candidates.  Instead, the Paul campaign and other groups, such as Iowa Right to Life, have instituted the practice.  However, Scheffler’s fingerprints can still be seen everywhere you look helping Paul devotees become delegates.

As we have seen with the at-large slate, not all Ron Paul supporters favor traditional marriage or are on the same page with Scheffler’s Iowa Faith and Freedom organization.  Furthermore, it seems odd for the National Committeeman to be aiding the Paul campaign in their quest to secure a majority of the national convention delegates from Iowa.  If Iowa awards its delegates to Ron Paul in Tampa, Iowa’s National Committeeman will have helped tarnish the state’s First-in-the-Nation caucuses even worse than the certification fiasco did.

TheIowaRepublican.com will have more on Scheffler later this week.

Nobody should be surprised that the Paul supporters have taken over the Republican Party of Iowa.  For the last two years, they have been gaining seats on the Iowa GOP State Central Committee, including electing one of their members as the party’s chairman.  What has caught some people off guard, however, is how blatant they have been with the at-large national convention delegate slate.  Most people expected Paul to get a majority of the slots, but nobody imagined that they would have awarded delegate positions to some of the people who got them.

I guess there is no longer any need for them to appear reasonable.  There is little doubt that the Iowa GOP has become the Party of Paul.

Photo by Dave DavidsonPrezography.com

 

 

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, 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 TheIowaRepublican.com 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, TheIowaRepublcian.com. 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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