The plot thickens regarding the Republican Party of Iowa’s decision to move the 2014 state convention from June 14 to July 12. Amid a chorus of disapproval from GOP U.S. Senate candidates and elected officials, TheIowaRepublican.com has learned this important matter was not placed on the agenda for Saturday’s State Central Committee meeting, the entire discussion and vote on the issue took only three minutes, and one SCC member at the meeting says he was not in the room when that discussion and vote took place. (You can view the meeting agenda at the bottom of the article.)
Despite claims from RPI that the vote was unanimous, SCC member Cody Hoefert does not recall the matter being discussed during the meeting. Hoefert, who represents the Fourth Congressional District, says he would have voted against the measure. However, he did not know the state convention had been moved from June to July until receiving a phone call during his drive home following the meeting.
“The idea that was put out today that it was unanimous is not accurate. I did not vote for it. If I was in the room when that vote was taken, I would have voted no,” Hoefert told TheIowaRepublican.com.
Cody Hoefert concludes that discussion of the issue and the vote took place while he took a brief restroom break. A recording of the meeting obtained by TheIowaRepublican.com shows that the entire discussion of moving the convention and the vote approving the move took only three minutes.
For various reasons, five other SCC members were not in attendance at Saturday’s meeting: Bob Anderson, David Chung, Wes Enos, Jamie Johnson and Loras Schulte. Chung questions the manner in which the decision was made.
“As usual, SCC members did not hear about it until the meeting,” Chung told TheIowaRepublican.com. “I would have hoped that in making a significant change like this, input would have been solicited from county leaders and SCC members. I know that there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around about the date change — I don’t know whether to believe them. But, we missed an opportunity. This was a chance to get the DECs involved and get buy-in. Instead everyone is suspicious of everyone else. We at RPI have not done a good job of building trust between county leadership and the state party.”
RPI’s stated reasoning for moving the convention to July is due to concern that no one in the GOP U.S. Senate field will surpass the required 35% of the vote in order to win the primary election. If that happens, the nominee would be determined by delegates to the state convention.
RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker cited a 27-day canvassing period state code requires for election results to be certified by the secretary of state’s office. However, neither Spiker, nor anyone else with RPI, consulted with the secretary of state’s office before deciding to move the state convention.
“Nobody from the state party called the secretary of state’s office to discuss this. I certainly am not aware of it and nobody in our office was aware of it,” said Deputy Secretary of State Chad Olsen.
Olsen said the canvassing period could take 20-27 days. However, there is no requirement in state law dictating a nominating convention cannot take place before the canvassing period concludes. In fact, when Steve King earned the GOP nomination for Congress during a special convention in 2002, the canvassing period had not concluded.
The state party also opted not to discuss the issue with any of the U.S. Senate candidates or their campaigns. Candidates Sam Clovis, Joni Ernst, Matt Whitaker, David Young and Scott Schaben responded to the decision to delay the state convention by signing a letter to RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker arguing that the additional month will help Democrat Bruce Braley in the general election and hurt the GOP nominee.
Iowa’s two most prominent elected Republicans, Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley, also oppose delaying the state convention.
“If nobody gets 35 percent of the vote, the sooner we have a convention and choose a nominee, I think the better it is for the party,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference. “We’ve always had conventions in June as long as I can remember and I’ve been involved pretty much every one of them since 1968, so I believe that we ought to stay with the June convention. I think they made a mistake and I think they should reconsider.”
Senate Grassley has been the only statewide elected official who has aligned closely with the Spiker regime at RPI. However, he told the Register that he disagrees with their decision.
“If we’d had one candidate, we’d have started the general election campaign right now. And to go August, September, October– three months –is not a very long general election campaign,” Grassley said. “So I think the governor’s right.”
Spiker fired back at critics via Twitter, asking them to propose another date. They have. They want the convention to return to the original June 14 date. However, if RPI absolutely feels its necessary for the canvassing to be completed prior to the convention, then June 28 would work.
Holding the convention on June 28 would give the secretary of state’s office a full 25 days to conduct the canvassing. That is just two days less than the required state deadline and knowing that the results are necessary for the U.S. Senate race, surely the secretary of state’s office would work overtime to meet that deadline.
RPI officials also oppose holding a separate nominating convention for the U.S. Senate race after the state convention. They argue that the cost would be around $20,000. Considering Democrats will spend at least $10 million to help Bruce Braley win the general election, $20,000 seems like a pittance.
We also have no idea how the U.S. Senate primary will unfold. The field looks crowded now, but we are 10 months away from the June 3 primary. Some candidates could drop out. One or two could emerge from the pack. RPI’s decision shows a clear lack of faith in the GOP field.
The state convention should be a time when Republicans finally put the primary battles behind them and unite behind their nominees. It is a time to rally the troops and begin the push toward the November general election. The sooner that happens, the better.
RPI’s decision to delay the convention not only could hurt the U.S. Senate nominee, it affects the entire Iowa GOP field, including congressional candidates. It seems obvious this decision was made with little to no regard for other Republicans on the ballot.
Republicans statewide have voiced concern regarding this decision. The fact that RPI made it without any input from outside the State Central Committee, they spent less than three minutes discussing it, they held a vote while one member was apparently out of the room, and the U.S. Senate field is opposed to it, should compel the Republican Party of Iowa to reconsider moving the convention to July.
SCC member Gopal Krishna, who proposed the motion at Saturday’s meeting, told WHO Radio’s Simon Conway on Monday that moving the convention back to June is something the committee might consider.
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