News Center

September 15th, 2013

Kevin’s Korner: Convention Back to June, Chung’s Demands and Why Does A.J. Spiker Hate Liberty?

It appears there will be a positive outcome to the sad and ridiculous saga of the 2014 Iowa GOP state convention. State Central Committee members who support moving the convention back to June believe they have more than enough votes to force the switch. They need 10. Hopefully, common sense has finally prevailed.

It is unfortunate that it took Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to basically call A.J. Spiker a liar for the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa to reconsider his foolish decision to move the state convention to July, but that is basically what happened. Spiker brought it all on himself, and absolutely deserved the smackdown Schultz delivered. And yes, this was A.J. Spiker’s decision. The SCC simply rubberstamped it.

It was Spiker’s idea to move the convention. He helped ramrod it through the SCC in three minutes, he ignored the advice of every sane Republican in the state and he failed to consult with the secretary of state’s office. Spiker even ignored a request from one of his own allies on the SCC, Joel Kurtinitis, who suggested they calling another meeting to discuss returning the convention to June, shortly after the initial backlash.

Chairman Spiker could have saved himself and the entire party a lot of time, effort and grief if he had just made a simple phone call to Secretary of State Matt Schultz, or anyone in his office, before hatching this senseless plan. He did not. Nor did anyone at RPI. Even after receiving a call from the secretary of state’s office after the initial decision, Spiker still chose to ignore their advice.

There are only two explanations for what could have led A.J. Spiker to decide that he would not call for another vote on this. One is a Dolores Umbridge-like arrogance, believing he is absolutely right and everyone else is absolutely wrong. The other possible explanation is that Spiker has an ulterior motive, concocted by Big Liberty. Either way, it is a monumental failure in leadership.

As for Spiker’s possible ulterior motive, SCC member Jamie Johnson laid it out very clearly Friday on Simon Conway’s WHO Radio show. Johnson, and a lot of other Iowa Republicans, believe delaying the state convention was all part of a strategy to help Big Liberty’s chosen candidate, who is not yet in the field, get the nomination through the convention delegates, just as they did for Ron Paul with Iowa’s delegates in 2012.

Spiker’s refusal to call for a SCC revote only lends credence to those suspicions. So do the new, sponsored Facebook ad promoting RPI Co-Chair David Fischer’s still unannounced U.S. Senate bid. There have been several of those.

Some RPI minions have whined that we should be focusing on other “more important” issues, and the date of the convention does not really matter. It does matter, and anyone with basic knowledge of campaigns knows that.

Spending a month and a half following the primary focusing on organizing convention delegates, instead of defeating Bruce Braley, would put the eventual Republican nominee at a significant disadvantage. There is a reason why Iowa Democrats were turning cartwheels while this whole mess played out. That much time in a general election campaign is a lifetime, especially for a seat of this magnitude.

Why are the leadership of RPI so opposed to the same grassroots activism they claim to champion? The grassroots of the party is speaking in one loud, clear voice. Meanwhile, the establishment, which is the current leadership of RPI, thumbs its nose at the grassroots.

This U.S. senate election is a monumental opportunity for Iowa Republicans and the state party seemed determined to sabotage that, deliberately or not. Tom Harkin was not going to be defeated in 2014, but Brace Braley can be. Regardless of whatever conservative issues you champion, I can assure you that Bruce Braley feels the exact opposite of the way you do. United States Senator Bruce Braley would fight against every single conservative cause you hold dear. Guaranteed.

Electing a conservative, instead of a dyed-in-the-wool liberal like Braley, will make an impact not just here in Iowa, but nationally, and even internationally. This election also has long-lasting ramifications. That is why Iowa Republicans, at least those who aren’t Big Liberty apparatchiks, are so upset.

“Oh, but look at all the great things RPI has done! They sent out a press release opposing gay marriage!” Sorry, that does not outweigh the significant damage that would have been done to our U.S. senate candidate needlessly losing a month’s worth of time. Nor does it forgive the stubbornness and arrogance of the way the Spiker regime handled this entire situation.

Matt Strawn did many great things as RPI chairman. He was also beloved by most Iowa Republicans. But that did not outweigh Strawn’s mishandling of the Iowa Caucus announcements and certification. founder Craig Robinson was, by far, the most vocal proponent in calling for Strawn’s removal as chairman.

In a surprising move, longtime SCC member David Chung is leading that charge against A.J. Spiker. It’s surprising because Chung is not a reactionary. He is respected by Republicans statewide for bringing common sense to the SCC and doing everything possible to avoid conflicts of interest.

Here is what David Chung had to say regarding A.J. Spiker, as he called for the RPI chairman to step down or be removed:

“My call for AJ’s resignation or removal is not based on the moving of the convention date. Rather it is a general leadership style that is absolutely tone-deaf to any input from outside his inner circle. The convention date is just the latest in a string of such incidents.

Ultimately, we are going into 2014 with the rare opportunity to pick up a US Senate seat and the level of distrust between the leadership of RPI and the grassroots has never been higher. The convention date is just another example of AJ squandering an opportunity to at least consult with the governor, our senate candidates, or the newly formed District Executive Committees and get buy-in or form a consensus. Instead, by making the decision and doubling down in response to criticism, he has managed to further weaken our party and thus our candidates. AJ is not the only one to blame here but the stakes are too high to continue down this path. He needs to go.”

I highly doubt there are enough votes on the SCC to remove Spiker as chairman. Using the convention debacle as an example of his stubbornness, I also doubt Spiker will resign. The way to remove the current leaders of RPI is vote them out at the 2014 district conventions and replace them with people interested in serving the best interest of the party, not their own.

For now, the state convention date is the priority. The SCC meets by teleconference on September 23 at 7pm to discuss the issue. Pursuant to Article IV, Section 6 of RPI’s bylaws, this meeting must be open to the public. unless they try to move it into “Executive Session”. They should not. This teleconference should be open to the public and we should get every single member of the SCC on the record, telling us where they stand.

We can only hope the votes hold where they were Saturday night and the SCC finally makes the right decision. There is no logical, or legal, reason not to hold the GOP state convention on June 14 or June 21. Then, let’s get behind whoever the U.S. Senate nominee is and get work defeating Bruce Braley and his ultra-liberal agenda. That is what really matters.

Photo by Dave Davidson,

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

blog comments powered by Disqus