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February 12th, 2013

Live Blog: GOP State Central Committee Special Election

FORT DODGE – The Republican Party of Iowa is holding a special election this evening to fill a vacancy on the State Central Committee. The seat, representing the Fourth Congressional District, opened when two-term SCC member Tim Moran resigned last month.

The known candidates are Lyon County GOP Chairman Cody Hoefert and Hampton Mayor Shawn Dietz. College student Jeremy Freeman withdrew his candidacy earlier today and endorsed Hoefert.

The seat will be voted on by the Fourth District executive committee, which is made up of county chairs and co-chairs from the district’s 39 counties. There are also a few extra representatives on the committee for larger population areas like Ames. So, there are around 81 members, maximum. I doubt anywhere near that many will be here.

The meeting is taking place at the Ft. Dodge Public Library and slated to get underway at 6:30. will be live blogging the event.  You can follow along right here by hitting ‘REFRESH’ often.

5:53 pm – I’m here at the Ft. Dodge library. Looks like there’s some serious interest in this. Secretary of State Matt Schultz is here. As is State Senator Randy Feenstra.

5:56 pm – National Committeeman Steve Scheffler is also on hand. SCC member Chad Steenhoek is the temporary chair and John Ferland is the temporary secretary for the proceedings.

5:58 pm – Candidate Cody Hoefert has arrived. He’s hard to miss. Cody is 7 feet tall. Literally.

6:02 pm – Still just about 10 people here. Crawford County GOP Chair Gwen Ecklund, Hardin County GOP Chair Andy Cable  and Sioux County GOP Chair Mark Lundberg are among the early arrivals.

6:04 pm – Lots of hobknobbing going on right now. In terms of the candidate race, Hoefert has secured the endorsements of Congressman Steve King, several county chairs and conservative activists across the Fourth District. Hoefert was an early supporter of Rick Santorum in the 2012 Iowa Caucus. I have not seen any public endorsements for Shawn Dietz. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten any. Dietz endorsed Ron Paul.

6:10 pm – Shawn Dietz has arrive. He’s at the front of the room talking to RPI staffer Ferland, while Cody Hoefert is in the back of the room mingling. One of these approaches is wrong.

6:15 pm – Just had a little chat with Dietz. He came over and wanted to discuss a few things. Dietz was not happy about some of the things I’ve written, and let all the GOP chairs know that in a mass email earlier today. We cleared the air. Seems like a decent enough guy.

6:17 pm – The room is really filling up now. SCC member Jamie Johnson, and his wife Janis, are both here. Jamie always calls me Craig (Robinson). How dare he. Vengeance will be mine.

6:20 pm – SCC member Kris Theissen on hand. She is also the Clay County GOP chair. I also see Dane Nealson from the Story County contingent. Dane is one of those few “extra” representatives from large population areas who is not a county chair or co-chair.

6:22 pm – There is assigned seating here, BTW. There is an RPI printed flyer on the back of every seat. Longtime Boone County GOP activist Bonnie Hall says she’s never seen anything like that at one of these meetings.

6:24 pm – Proxy votes are allowed at this. It’s such a huge district, with 39 counties, that surely some proxies will be used. Obtaining them are difficult, though. To vote by proxy, you have to give your written form to a member of your county central committee or another member of the Fourth District executive committee. I’m curious to see how many proxy votes there will be. Smart strategy for a candidate to collect those.

6:26 pm – We’re about ready for kickoff. It looks like there will be quite a few empty seats. Lots of folks still standing, so it’s hard to tell how many are here. I’m going to set 60 as the over/under. Anyone wanna wager? Purely for entertainment purposes, of course.

6:28 pm – I’ve known Jamie Johnson longer than I”ve known his son Jacob, but Jacob always gets my name right. Come on, Jamie. Get it together.

6:29 pm – T-minus one minute and counting…

6:30 pm – Plymouth County GOP Chair has taken control of the meeting, even though SCC member Chad Steenhoek is the temporary chair. Steenhoek tried to interrupt him. Plymouth Chair Don Kass nominated Carroll Co. GOP Chair Craig Williams to be permanent chair. Williams was elected. Now they’re basically forcing Steenhoek out.

6:32 pm – RPI Executive Director Steve Bierfeldt now trying to take the podium. He’s being told to sit down and that he’s out of order. FIREWORKS IMMEDIATELY!! Wow.

6:33 pm – Williams Bierfeldt (typo) says the chairman was appointed by RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker. He’s being told by several members of the committee that Spiker does not have that authority. Andy Cable, Hardin County GOP Chair and Plymouth GOP Chair Don Kass are leading the mutiny. They are now on the verge of removing Bierfeldt from the meeting. FILM AT 11.

6:36 pm – New permanent chair Craig Williams is now in control of the meeting. Bierfeldt still standing at the podium behind him. This is a revolt. It’s obvious the county chairs in the Fourth District are not pleased with the current leadership of the Republican Party of Iowa. This is very contentious.

6:37 pm – Chairman Williams is reading the RPI bylaws and constitution regarding this meeting. Bierfeldt still lingering. They are also passing out the rules so everyone can read them. The District executive committee is correct, according to how I read the by-laws.

6:38 pm – The by-laws say the district committee, not RPI “perform all of the duties relating to any election to fill a district vacancy on the Republican State Central Committee”.

6:40 m – Gwen Ecklund, Crawford County GOP chair was just elected permanent secretary, by acclimation. Andy Cable, Hardin GOP chair, is the vice-chair of the meeting.

6:41 pm – Bierfeldt is still standing at the podium, behind Chairman Williams. Not sure why.

6:42 pm – Nominating speeches will be one minute long. Candidate speeches will go four minutes. It looks like Steenhoek and Ferland have left the room after they were ousted from their temporary positions.

6:43 pm – This is discussion about allowing members to ask questions of the candidates. That was not in the original rules. Voting now to change the rules. Approved overwhelmingly. Questions will be allowed.

6:44 pm – Update: RPI staffer John Ferland is still here. I don’t see Chad Steenhoek. They’re now voting to see if they have enough attendees here for a quorum.

6:45 pm – We have a quorum, under Robert’s Rules of Order.

6:46 pm – Steve Bierfeldt still standing at the podium, behind Chairman Craig Williams.

6:47 pm – Craig Williams now asked SCC member Jamie Johnson in prayer. He did, and we did the Pledge of Allegiance, during which Bierfeldt finally moved away from the podium and is now in the back of the room. Steenhoek is outside in the hallway, so he hasn’t completely left the premises, but did leave the room.

6:51 pm – I’m told National Committeeman Steve Scheffler has left the premises. He’s definitely not in the room any more. I believe the original plan was to have Scheffler start the meeting by leading us in prayer. That was before the coup.

6:52 pm – Secretary of State Matt Schultz addressing the attendees now. Three guesses at what he’s talking about…which BTW, according to the Des Moines Register’s poll, 71% of Iowans support Voter ID.

6:54 pm – Schultz still talking. Getting the room fired up for 2014. “Had there been 100 votes cast differently, Republicans would control the Iowa Senate. So, make sure you get out… We need more people getting involved…” Schultz offering to come to central committee meetings to get local activists fired up. Big applause for Schultz.

6:55 pm – There is a total of 42 members in attendance. That’s about half.

6:57 pm –  There are 14 proxy votes. So there will be a total of 56 votes.

6:58 pm – I was wrong. Steve Scheffler is still here. He’s on the back row. I didn’t see him.

6:59 pm -Now taking nominations. Sioux County GOP Chair Mark Lundberg nominates Dr. Cody Hoefert.

7:00 pm – Lundberg says, “There’s nobody in the state of Iowa that worked harder than Cody and his volunteers in Lyon County…” during the past election cycle.

7:00 pm – Tom Crane (not sure of spelling), the Franklin County GOP chair, nominates Shawn Dietz.

7:01 pm – For those wondering if what the committee did in ousting the RPI appointees from running the meeting, here is a link to the RPI bylaws and Constitution.

7:02 pm – Candidate speeches now. Hoefert going first. He jokes that he’s “happily married to a woman here in Iowa”. Thanks Shawn Dietz for putting himself out there and running. Hoefert says he’s pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-Second Amendment and supports a balanced budget amendment.

7:03 pm – Hoefert says we need goals like no Democrat elected to the Iowa House or Senate out of the 4th District, keeping a Republican representative in Congress, Republican governor, etc.

7:04 pm – Hoefert is talking about the accomplishments of the Lyon County GOP, including strong fundraising, calling every voter in Lyon County on election day. He also talked about the need for unity in the party. “You will hear me and you will see me.” He says he hopes to remain Lyon County GOP Chair if elected to the SCC.

7:05 pm – Hoefert: “Big problems require big solutions.” Hoefert done. Dietz taking the podium now.

7:06 pm – Dietz says his value system is similar to Hoefert’s: pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, etc.

7:07 pm – Dietz just said he is happy to be here for “Cody’s coronation”. Interesting. He’s now talking about divisiveness in the Iowa GOP.

7:07 pm – Dietz: “That rule thing at the beginning, that was great. Fantastic job…I appreciate that kind of respect for the rules…” Very interesting. Dietz is giving a good speech here.

7:08 pm – Q&A time: I believe they’re allowing two questions each. First question is about having district committees organizing the GOP state convention, instead of the SCC. Do candidates support? Hoefert says he’s all for the grassroots being as involved as possible.

7:10 pm -Dietz taking the same question. “I’m afraid of top down management and top down government… That’s why I’m sincere when I say I applaud the move at the beginning of the meeting…Using the rules… That’s grassroots activism. That’s fantastic…”

7:11 pm – Next questioner is saying she was elected to the state platform committee, but told next day she wasn’t on it. Cody jokingly encourages Dietz to go first. Everybody laughs. Good stuff. The mood has definitely lightened in the room.

7:12 pm – Dietz: “To me, there would need to be a call from the chair…or secretary of the convention explaining what happened…”

7:13 pm -Q&A is done.

7:14 pm – Voting time … Ballots being handed out by Andy Cable. They’re being doubly cautious and double-checking as each county receives their ballots.

7:15 pm – I’m interested to see how the vote in the room breaks down. It’s obvious that Cody Hoefert has some vocal support here. I expect Dietz to pick up a fair amount of votes from the room. My guess is Hoefert wins, but I’m not positive. There are quite a few faces here that I don’t recognize, and I’ve been all over this district at GOP events.

7:18 pm – Ballot distribution still going on … Almost done with that part.

7:19 pm – Story and Woodbury County both get three ballots, instead of the usual two, because they’re from higher populated areas.  All three Story County reps. are here. There’s one proxy for Woodbury and two attendees.

7:21 pm – Ballots are already collected. That was quick. SCC members Jamie Johnson and Chad Steenhoek (he’s back) are being asked to come up and verify the counting. Hoefert and Dietz are up there as well.

7:22 pm – SCC member Kris Thiessen is also helping to verify the vote.

7:23 pm – I can hear Cable call out the votes. Early on, sounds pretty even so far. Five in a row now for Hoefert…

7:24 pm – The other attendees are chatting so it’s harder to hear the vote counting now. I’m about 15 feet away.

7:25 pm – Still counting votes. It looks like the Hoefert pile is getting pretty large.

7:27 pm – Vote counting is now complete. Announcement coming…

7:28 pm – Final tally: Hoefert 49, Dietz 7. Cody Hoefert is the new Fourth District representative on the Iowa Republican State Central Committee meeting.

7:29 pm – Hoefert joked that he told his wife he needed to go to the Crawford County central committee on Thursday. “We don’t have anything else going on…” His wife sternly reminded him Thursday is Valentine’s Day. Crawford GOP chair said, “You can bring her along.” Laughs all around.

7:31 pm – And with that, we are adjourned. Cody Hoefert is the new SCC member. Much more on what went down in this meeting tomorrow here on

7:32 pm – Thanks for reading along. It was fun.

Correction: I referred to Don Kass and Andy Cable as the chairs of their respective county parties. They are, in fact, both co-chairs. Darin Raymond is the chairman for Plymouth County. Gene Newgaard is the chairman for Hardin County. My apologies.

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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