Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey held his 7th Annual BBQ Bash over the weekend. It was a well-attended, fun event that was also newsworthy, as Northey announced his plans to run for reelection in 2014. TheIowaRepublican.com was there for the festivities.
Here are my thoughts and observations from the event:
The setting and atmosphere: The Walnut Center on the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines was the perfect spot for this event. It provided just enough room and the building fit the tone.
The atmosphere was casual, relaxed and family-friendly. Classic rock cover band Misfit Toyz provided the entertainment as folks ate, giving the event an appropriate soundtrack.
The crowd: An overflow audience of 250 people, from every corner of the state. It was a great mix of elected officials, big money donors, party activists, ag leaders and many people who have great respect for our well-liked secretary of agriculture.
I saw some volunteers from the 2010 campaign that I had not seen since then, which was nice. It also was another indication that Iowa Republicans are ready to reengage the process.
The money: This was, by far, Bill Northey’s most successful fundraiser ever. He raked in more than $100,000 dollars. That will provide a healthy nest egg for his reelection campaign.
The food: Completely awesome, and fittingly, very Iowa agriculture-centric. Pork chops on a stick, steak sandwiches, corn dogs, turkey salad, soybean salad, eggs on a stick and chips. For dessert, a variety of homemade pies and ice cream. Everything was delicious.
Notable attendees: Elected officials included U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, State Senators Charles Schneider and Jake Chapman, State Representatives Jeff Smith (who served as emcee), Tim Kapucian and Thomas Sands.
Other prominent attendees included U.S. Senate candidate David Young, RNC National Committeeman Steve Scheffler, Third District Executive Committee Chair Naomi Leinen and former RPI Chair Matt Strawn.
Notable absences: In what has become a recurring theme, everyone from Republican Party of Iowa HQ and the State Central Committee not named Steve Scheffler.
Also missing was every U.S. Senate candidate not named David Young. The decision to skip this event was mind-boggling to me. We have one candidate who lives in Polk County, is in the midst of a “Farm Listening Tour” and openly admits he isn’t well-versed on ag issues.
The event also would have been a perfect opportunity to mingle with ag folks from all over the state in a casual setting, as well as raise your profile among 250 Republican primary voters. Any candidate that wasn’t there missed a golden opportunity.
Also missing, despite receiving a press release alerting them that there would be an announcement regarding Bill Northey’s 2014 election plans: the Des Moines Register.
Most touching moment: Secretary Northey got the entire crowd to sing “Happy birthday” to his mother, whose birthday was Sunday. For an added touch, he told them to say “mom” instead of her name during the song. Nice son.
The speeches: Along with the emcee, Rep. Jeff Smith, the only speakers were Senator Grassley and Secretary Northey. Grassley kept his speech short, heaping praise on Northey.
The secretary of agriculture spoke for around 14 minutes. He talked about the past and future of Iowa’s agricultural environment. Northey focused heavily on water quality.
He also provided an anecdote regarding the 1959 visit to Iowa by then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who was so impressed by the state’s agricultural environment, he tried to copy it in the USSR, with disastrous results.
At the end of the speech, Northey announced his plans to run for reelection in 2014, thanked the attendees for their support, and told them he will need them again next year.
Overall: The event was less than two hours, which was perfect. I did not hear a single complaint from any attendee. Overall, this was a great event in every way.
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