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December 27th, 2012

The Year-End Review Part I

By Craig Robinson

January – Romney Wins. No, Santorum Declared Official Winner of Iowa Caucuses

Due to the early date of the Iowa Caucuses, the top political story from Iowa in 2012 occurred in the early days of the New Year.  The winner of the Iowa Caucuses is always in the running to be the top political story of the year, but the razor thin margin between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum was only the tip of the ice burg.

Within days of the conclusion of the caucuses, Edward True, a Ron Paul supporter from Appanoose County said that the results from his precinct were reported incorrectly, and the true winner of the caucuses was Santorum, not Romney.  True’s allegations added importance to the Republican Party of Iowa’s certification of the caucus results.  Sixteen days after the caucuses, the certified caucus results showed that Santorum, not Romney, was the official winner of the caucuses.

Santorum would go on to become Romney’s main challenger for the Republican nomination.  While Romney would eventually win, Santorum presented a much larger threat than anyone ever expected out of the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.  The fallout from declaring the wrong candidate as the winner of the caucuses set off a series of events that would alter the leadership and the effectiveness of the Republican Party of Iowa for the rest of the election cycle.

February – Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn Resigns

The Republican Party of Iowa’s certification of the January 3rd results clearly showed that Rick Santorum had won the caucuses, but in numerous media interviews, Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn refused to clearly declare Santorum the official winner.  What motivated Strawn to keep the results of the caucuses muddied is still unknown.

Strawn’s refusal to clearly declare Santorum to be the winner of the caucuses caused the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee to intervene and demand that the state party issue a statement declaring Santorum the winner.  By the end of January, Strawn announced that he would officially step down as chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa on February 10th.

March – Pink Slime Month

Pink slime, otherwise known as finely processed beef trimmings, became a major political story in Iowa when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and a handful of other governors from beef producing states, stepped in to defend the meat product and its producers.

A series of reports by ABC News in March of 2012 brought wide-spread attention to the product.  When opponents of the product successfully convinced fast food chains and large grocery stores to ban the use of meat filler in its products, the companies that produced it were forced to shut down factories in multiple states.  On March 25th, Beef Product Incorporated (BPI) announced that it would cease production in three of its four plants, including one in Waterloo, Iowa.

Governor Branstad, along with other governors and elected officials toured BPI’s South Sioux City, Nebraska, facility and dined on hamburgers that contained the product to fight the notion that the product was somehow unsafe.

April – Ron Paul Supporters Dominate the Republican State Central Committee

After managing only a third place showing in the Iowa Caucuses, supporters of Ron Paul remained engaged in the caucus to convention process despite their candidate’s inability to win a primary or caucus.  Their strength became apparent at the district conventions in April, where Paul supporters and individuals who are sympathetic to Paul’s movement were successful in capturing a majority of the 16 seats on the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee.

May – Primary Battles

The month of May saw a number of campaigns intensify as the June primaries approached.  Two congressional primaries in eastern Iowa were the largest Republican primaries, but the most contentious was the primary between State Representatives Annette Sweeney and Pat Grassley.  The biggest primary upset occurred when Jake Highfill defeated incumbent State Representative Erik Helland in House District 39.  Helland was a member of the leadership team in the Iowa House, but a high profile drunk driving arrest and a lackadaisical campaign did in Helland.

June – The Ron Paul Delegation

In addition to electing the majority of state central committee members at the District Conventions in April, Ron Paul supporters also controlled the selection process of the Iowa Republican at-large delegates.  Ten of the state’s 13 at-large delegates were awarded to Ron Paul supporters in May.  The slate of at-large delegates was ratified at the Republican Party of Iowa State Convention in June, but the Paul supporters were not done yet.

Paul supporters were also successful in winning 11 of the 12 delegate sports with people who were either declared Paul supporters or those with strong ties to ties to them.  At the national convention in August, the third place finisher of the Iowa Caucuses was awarded with 22 of the state’s 28 national delegates.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.

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