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June 18th, 2012

Republican State Convention Losers


The Unity Slate/Effort

I don’t think it’s fair to come down too hard on the folks who attempted to pass an alternate at-large slate of delegates or organized people to run for national convention delegate out of their congressional district on Friday night.  They were out maneuvered, out numbered, and had only been planning for a few weeks, not a few months.

Still, some of the decisions that were made by “Unity” effort were strange.  First, organizers failed to unveil the Unity Slate until the day of convention because they were hopeful that some of picks might get elected on Friday night.  That sort of logic might make sense, but to build support for the Unity Slate, people needed the opportunity to vet it for themselves.  Secondly, the Unity Slate needed to include Ron Paul supporters, which it didn’t.  I understand that they were trying to counter what happened on Friday night when the Paul supported took all but one delegate spot.

Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition

For decades, Steve Scheffler’s political organization has religiously sent a number of the group’s donors and activists to the Republican National Convention.  Their motivation was to make sure that the Republican platform would remain socially conservative and also ensure that the nominee for Vice President was conservative, too.  This year, only Scheffler and Gopal Krishna, the Vice President of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, are headed to the convention in Tampa.  In 2008, at least eight staunch members of the group were full-fledged delegates.

Joining Scheffler and Krishna as delegates this year are delegates who support gay marriage, something that would have been unheard of when Scheffler was organizing slates of candidates to run for the national delegate.

Bob Vander Plaats

Some in the news media proclaimed Vander Plaats to be a big winner in the June 5th primary as seven of the nine candidates he endorsed were victorious.  Vander Plaats’ luck ran out at the Republican State Convention where he endorsed Robert Cramer for National Committeeman and Kim Person for National Committeewoman. Both lost.

Making matters worse is that in endorsing Pearson, Vander Plaats snubbed Tamara Scott, a longtime pro-life activist and someone who had been an ally in campaigning against the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who were up for a retention vote in 2010.  Scott even spoke at some of Iowa for Freedom’s press conferences, which cannot be said for Pearson, who focused her energies on the impeachment route.

Vander Plaats has also been a little schizophrenic when it comes to his endorsements.  On one hand, Vander Plaats is endorsing Pearson who has been critical of Republicans that voted for a budget bill that included funding for some abortions, and on the other hand, he backed four incumbent legislators who supported that very same budget bill.  Even Jen Green of has been critical of The FAMiLY Leader for its endorsements in the June 5th primary.

Steve Scheffler

Scheffler may have won re-election to his National Committeeman spots, but his credibility and influence took a major hit.  When a man takes the stage and has to tell the audience that he has integrity, that’s not a good sign.

Just four years ago, Steve Scheffler was the go-to social conservative leader in the state.  Today he shares that space with Bob Vander Plaats, who quite frankly, had a much larger impact on the 2012 presidential contest than Scheffler did in 2012.

When Scheffler unseated Steve Roberts as National Committeeman in 2008, he was at the height of his influence.  Scheffler easily defeated the more moderate Roberts that year.  This year, a relatively unknown challenger, David Chung, nearly took him out.  What a difference four years makes.  Scheffler was able to survive mainly because he has attended events, and thus built relationships, in nearly every county in the state, while his opponents have not.

Another factor that was in play was the fact that Robert Cramer’s votes split between Scheffler and Chung on the second ballot.  Had Cramer been able to finish in the top two after the first votes, Scheffler would have probably been defeated since none of Chung’s votes were going to go to Scheffler.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Kim Pearson

Of all the speeches that were delivered by the candidates running for National Committeeman or Committeewoman, Pearson’s brought down the house.  While her politics and choice of tactics are an acquired taste, there is no doubt she is a smart, articulate, and passionate person.

Pearson is on the list not just because she lost to Tamara Scott.  Pearson is on the “losers” list because she no longer has a stage on which to speak.  She is no longer a candidate, a state representative, or an elected leader of the Republican Party.  Don’t get any ideas that she’s going away, but without a position of prominence to advocate from, she will struggle to get her voice heard.

The Paul Brand

Congressman Ron Paul did an outstanding job of growing his appeal from his small but passionate group of supporters in 2008 to a more mainstream group of supporters that included Republicans of all shapes and sizes in 2010.  Unfortunately, when Paul left the stage, his support once again began to contract, not because of anything he did, but how his most ardent supporters choose to conduct themselves.

Had the Paul movement continued to try and widen its support, Senator Rand Paul may have had an easy time running for president some day in the future in a state like Iowa.  The divide within the Republican Party of Iowa that the media talks about is one between the Paul supporters and the non-Paul supporters.  The state convention showed us that these two camps are not going to get along any time soon, and that bad for the “Paul” brand.

Mitt Romney

A number of speakers mentioned Mitt Romney, the guy who will be the Republican nominee for president, but other than that, the Romney campaign didn’t have much of a presence.  Congressman King probably went the farthest in saying why he is supporting Romney this fall, but Governor Branstad, Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen, and others all made sure to mention Romney in their remarks.  One person who didn’t mention Romney’s name was RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker.  The party did send out an email early on Sunday morning alerting people to Romney’s visit to eastern Iowa later today.

The Republican Party of Iowa

One doesn’t even know where to begin.  This is probably a subject for an entire article, but a convention full of drama and bickering is not what the Republican Party of Iowa needed.  State Conventions used be something activists looked forward to.  After the 2012 convention, many are saying it could be their last.

Why the gloom and doom?  It’s not because of the influx of Ron Paul supporters or that some people didn’t get their way.  It’s because people feel nothing was accomplished.  Did Republicans unite around a slate of candidates on Saturday? Nope.  Heck, the convention broke for lunch before the rules had even been adopted.  Convention delegates also ruined what was one of the few bright spots of the day, the report from the Junior Delegates, when they couldn’t come to agreement on the planks the young delegates proposed.

Another thing missing from the convention was corresponding events.  Typically, someone with an eye to the future, be it a potential gubernatorial candidate, U.S. senate candidate, or presidential candidate, might hold a luncheon or breakfast for convention delegates.  In years past, the Republican Women or Christian Coalition, or have offered lunch to delegates and featured separate speakers.  This year, there was nothing except for the drama.

State Convention winners will be published later this morning.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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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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