They took over the entire leadership apparatus of Republican Party of Iowa and its State Central Committee, but former Ron Paul backers are finding victories much more difficult to attain in GOP county central committees. “Liberty” candidates were defeated on Tuesday night in chairman races for two of the state’s most significant county parties: Polk and Scott.
Will Rogers bested former Iowa Senate candidate David Edwards, 93-45, in Polk County. Non-Paul backers won the other three officer seats as well, all by acclamation. Chad Brown was elected co-chair, Joe Heuertz is the new secretary and Cheryl Weisheit was named treasurer.
Edwards had the backing and organizational help of the Liberty Iowa PAC. They even use his photo on their website as a tool to recruit local activists. An email sent to the “liberty” wing of the Polk GOP last week stressed the importance of electing David Edwards and claimed they had the numbers on their side if everyone showed up for the meeting.
For his part, David Edwards spoke to the central committee about the need to unite the Republican Party in Polk County. Following his victory, new Polk GOP Chairman Will Rogers had high praise for David Edwards.
“I really do appreciate Dave Edwards,” Rogers told TheIowaRepublican.com. “I think he’s an honest, hard-working individual. I’m glad he was a part of our organization in the past. I know I’m glad that he ran for office. We need people like Dave Edwards out there, being a part of our party and I’m going to hopefully engage him in our party in a meaningful way over the next couple of years.”
Over on Iowa’s eastern border, Scott County GOP Chair Judy Davidson was re-elected to a third term, overcoming a challenge from former Ron Paul backer Anthony Woolever. The final tally was 71-25. The Quad City Times previewed the Scott GOP “battle” in an article last week.
Davidson and other county leaders had been at odds with the local “liberty” group since last year’s Republican county convention. Ron Paul backers even tried to reconvene that meeting because they were upset with some of the proceedings and the delegate selection process. The group, led by Michael Elliott, failed to gather enough delegates for a quorum.
Elliott tried to win one of the Scott GOP vice-chair positions on Tuesday, but lost to former State Central Committee member John Ortega, 67-25. Carol Crain and Gary Turpin were also elected to vice-chair positions and Lynne Bosten won the race for secretary. Each faced, and defeated, a “liberty” candidate. Andrea McGivern was elected treasurer by acclamation.
The losses for the Paul backers in Polk and Scott counties follow a trend that has developed in recent weeks. “Liberty” candidates were also rebuked in the Johnson County and Story County GOP elections, although Ron Paul did well in both counties during the 2012 Iowa Caucus. Similar scenes have played out across the state.
Coupled with the revolt by county activists in Iowa’s Fourth District during a SCC special election in Ft. Dodge, it is obvious there is very real, statewide backlash against the state party’s entire leadership apparatus being controlled by supporters of the same 2012 presidential candidate.
As for the newly elected, or re-elected, leaders of the county parties, part of their task is to find ways to keep the liberty crowd engaged in the process, especially with an open U.S. Senate seat, at least one open U.S. House seat and several statewide races on the 2014 ballot. Republicans must be competitive in both Scott and Polk counties to have any chance at success.
“It feels great. I’m glad to continue to be a part of the Polk County organization,” said Will Rogers, who is also the former co-chair and former executive director of the Polk County Republican Party. “I’m hopeful that we’re going to continue to unite Republicans moving forward.”
“Everyone’s working together starting out of the gate and I think we can do a lot of good,” said new Polk GOP Co-Chair Chad Brown.
Rogers and Brown replace Kevin McLaughlin and Dave Funk, respectively. Neither official sought re-election.
Photo by Brad Boustead
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