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September 24th, 2013

RPI Moves Convention Back to June, Aligns 2014 Caucus Date with Dems

Following a huge backlash that resulted in one county central committee and two State Central Committee members publicly calling for Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker to resign, the SCC reversed course and moved the 2014 state convention back to June 14. The decision, made during a Monday evening teleconference, was unanimous.

June 14 was the date the SCC originally settled on for the state convention, during a meeting in April. Then, in August, Spiker encouraged the organizational committee to make a motion to postpone the convention until July 12, 2014. The SCC spent only three minutes discussing the issue and it passed overwhelmingly.  That hasty decision resulted in more than four weeks of headaches for RPI leaders.

The decision was immediately met with disagreement from Governor Branstad, Senator Grassley, all five U.S Senate candidates and Republicans across the state. Holding the convention in July went against a longstanding tradition of holding the biennial event in June. The delay could also be harmful to Republicans on the statewide ballot, particularly the U.S. Senate nominee.

RPI’s stated reasoning for delaying the state convention was due to the possibility that no Republican U.S. Senate candidate would surpass the required 35 percent threshold in the June primary, so the nominee would be chosen by delegates to the state convention. RPI leaders claimed the secretary of state would not be able to certify the primary results in time for the June 14 convention. Therefore, a candidate nominated at that convention would not be legitimate.

However, RPI never consulted with the secretary of state’s office regarding this issue. If they had, this entire mess could have been avoided. Instead, despite weeks of dissension among Iowa Republicans and numerous calls to rethink their decision, Chairman Spiker released a statement on September 12 saying he would not call for another meeting to discuss the issue again.

Spiker claimed RPI had the legal reasoning to keep the convention in July. That prompted Secretary of State Matt Schultz to release a statement saying Spiker’s claims were “misleading” and “false”, and there would be no reason for him to reject a nomination from a state convention, regardless of the date. In fact, Schultz would have no legal means to do so.

Later that day, September 13, while a group of SCC members were organizing an effort to call for another meeting, Chairman Spiker finally relented and decided to revisit the issue. That meeting was held, by teleconference, Monday evening.

The SCC voted unanimously to return the convention to the June 14 date. There was very little discussion about the controversy that surrounded the issue. The issue has played out extensively in the media, social networking sites and Republican gatherings for the past few weeks. Across the board, RPI’s initial decision was denounced. They finally rectified it, four and half weeks later, but Spiker’s leadership of RPI suffered significant damage and many Republicans questioned his motives.

The SCC also decided on Monday to move the 2014 Iowa Caucuses from Saturday, January 25 to Tuesday, January 21. That decision was made so that the Republican and Democratic caucuses take place at the same time, and voters would not be allowed to participate in both.

“I think it’s vitally important that we be in tune with the Democratic Party here in the state of Iowa, not so much for 2014, but we do need to be absolutely on the same page for 2016,” SCC member Loras Schulte said during the teleconference. He made the motions to return the state convention to June and move the caucuses to a Tuesday night.

The motion to move the caucuses passed 16-1. SCC member Mark Doland was the only dissenting vote. Doland cited problems county central committees would have rebooking spots to hold caucus meetings. Specifically, Doland said Scott County had already booked more than 60 locations for the Saturday caucuses. That took a tremendous amount of time and effort, all for naught.

The Republican Party of Iowa allowed the media and some activists to listen to the teleconference at RPI headquarters. No SCC members were present at the building. Jeff Shipley was the only SCC member who did not participate in the teleconference.

Originally, the teleconference was scheduled to take place at 7pm. However, Chairman Spiker moved it up one hour to 6pm so that RPI’s attorney, Bill Talbot, could participate in the event. Talbot had given Spiker legal reasoning for postponing the convention until July. That reasoning was thoroughly refuted by Secretary of State Schultz. Bill Talbot did not participate in Monday’s conference call.

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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