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December 19th, 2013

Hodgepodge: Potential Latham Replacements, Ernst & Whitaker Not Interested, and the Real Story Behind the Story GOP Purge

It’s been a whirlwind week in Iowa politics with major shakeups in two major races, two State Central Committee members are removed from the Story County central committee, a visit from a potential Democrat presidential contender and much more.

Here’s a look at the latest news on the campaign trail in Iowa:

Long List of Potential Third District Candidates

Numerous Iowa politicos are expressing interest in running for the Third Congressional District seat Tom Latham will be vacating in 2015. On the Republican side, they include Secretary of State Matt Schultz, State Senators Brad Zaun, Jake Chapman, Charles Schneider and Jack Whitver, along with State Rep. Chris Hagenow, have all expressed interesting in running. I’m sure there are others who are considering it.

AppelRepublicans have a very deep bench in the Third District and any of these gentlemen could hold the seat, as our TIR poll showed on Wednesday. I would expect at least one state senator who is not up for reelection next year to pursue this opportunity. Why wouldn’t they?

Although this might have initially seemed like good news for liberal Democrat Staci Appel, who planned to run against Latham, it is not. Democrats with a much better chance of winning are eyeing the race and seem to have no qualms with pushing Appel aside.

Ernst, Whitaker Staying in U.S. Senate Race

Amid widespread speculation that some of the candidates in the crowded U.S. Senate field would switch over to the Third District race, both Joni Ernst and Matt Whitaker said they are staying in the senate campaign.

Ernst_State_Senate_48“I am fully committed to winning the Republican nomination for United States Senate, and defeating Democrat Bruce Braley next fall,” Ernst said. “Iowa deserves a Senator who isn’t a cheerleader for Obamacare and will fight to stop runaway government spending. As a mother, soldier, and conservative, I will take my proven record of fighting for our shared Iowa values to Washington as your next United States Senator.”

Whitaker told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday that he still plans to run for the senate.

Most of U.S. Senate Field Skipping Renewable Fuels Forum

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association is holding a forum for Republican U.S. Senate candidates this afternoon in Cherokee. Unfortunately, only two candidates will participate in the event: Sam Clovis and Mark Jacobs.

The Ernst, Whitaker and Young campaigns all had “previous engagements”. Interesting.

Another State Senator Who Prayed for Abortion Could Join Gubernatorial Field

The announcement of Tyler Olson’s withdrawal from the 2014 Iowa gubernatorial race brought speculation that more Democrats might join the field. State Senator Janet Peterson told the reporters she is considering running. Petersen was a close Olson and Hatch pray for abortionally of Olson’s and many observers believed she would be his running mate if Olson won the Democrat nomination.

Petersen would fit right in with the Democrat gubernatorial field. The liberal senator from Des Moines was right there next to Olson, joining him and Hatch with her head bowed, spending several minutes praying for abortion during that infamous rally at the State Capitol back in August.

Democrats Not Ceding Presidential Nomination to Hillary

Although some Democrats seem determined to clear the 2016 field for Hillary Clinton, it appears she will have some competition. Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer visited Iowa on Wednesday in what could be considered the first Iowa Caucus campaign event for the Dems in 2016.

SchweitzerSchweitzer headlined Progress Iowa’s Christmas party at Prairie Meadows in Altoona. He spoke to 100 attendees. Schweitzer is barely known out his home state, but is a very interesting and likable guy who could gain some traction in Iowa if he spends enough time here.

Schweitzer struck a chord with the liberal crowd when he talked about the Iraq War and he said he plans to come back to Iowa again and again to talk about what he saw as a senseless war and  he wants to make sure we don’t get into another one. That stance could cause headaches for Hillary Clinton, who was a strong advocate of the Iraq War.

Spiker, Steenhoek Stricken from Story County GOP

The real story behind the removal of RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker and SCC Chad Steenhoek is not nearly as controversial as it was made out to be. The Story County GOP removed twenty inactive members from the committee on Monday. Spiker and Steenhoek were among them.

The reasoning behind this decision, right before the January caucuses, is simple and makes sense. The Story County GOP’s bylaws state that members serve as temporary chairs for the precinct caucuses. They did not want inactive members suddenly showing up and running the caucuses next month. Story County GOP Publicity Committee Chair Jeff Angelo explains:

AJ Spiker“AJ Spiker had previously requested to be removed from the county central committee due to his duties as the party chairperson and the Monday night vote, in which he and around 20 other people were removed from the committee, was not targeted toward him or any other individual activist,” Angelo said.

Spiker and Steenhoek stopped attending Story GOP meetings and events months ago.

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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