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June 12th, 2014

2014 Iowa GOP Convention Primer

The 2014 Iowa GOP state convention is almost upon us. This year’s confab is likely to be less contentious than the previous two. However, anytime 2,000 of the state’s most hardcore Republican and conservative activists gather in the same room, anything can happen.

2010’s convention was heated because gubernatorial primary runner-up Bob Vander Plaats tried to force his way onto the general election ticket by running for lieutenant governor against Terry Branstad’s choice, Kim Reynolds. BVP’s effort was thwarted by around 150 votes.

2012’s convention included the Ron Paul campaign’s successful effort to control the delegate slate to the national convention. It also included elections for Iowa’s Republican National Committeeman and National Committeewoman. Campaigns marred by open mudslinging and anonymous attacks ended with Steve Scheffler getting reelected and Tamara Scott overcoming Kim Pearson, despite Pearson garnering the most votes on the first ballot.

There will be plenty of party business to conduct, and likely some tempers flaring, this Saturday. Here’s a look a few things you can expect to happen:

Elections for lieutenant governor, state treasurer and attorney general nominees

Republicans will nominate their choices for three statewide offices. Kim Reynolds is likely to sail through the nomination process this time around, whether she has a challenger or not.

Adam Gregg is the only announced candidate for attorney general and has been travelling around the state campaigning. Many people have been mentioning Matt Whitaker as a possible AG candidate. Whitaker finished a disappointing fourth in the U.S. Senate race. He has not given any public indication of interest in running for AG.

We also need to choose our state treasurer nominee. It remains unknown whether or not John Thompson will be the lone candidate.

These nominations could be very quick, if there’s only one candidate, or the process could take hours.

Presidential candidates

Potential 2016 hopefuls Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum have each been granted up to 15 minutes to speak. Their appearances will likely garner national media attention. It will be interesting to see which candidate holds the largest sway with delegates and what message they try to deliver. This will be Jindal’s first major speech to a large Iowa crowd. Unity should be a recurring theme in the speeches. Whether or not it is remains to be seen.


Bring cash to pay for your lunch and expect to wait in a long line before you are served. There will be a handful vendors at Hy-Vee Hall offering food, but you will also have to contend with 2,000 or so other hungry people. So, expect to wait a while before you get served, or seek other options.


Every statewide and congressional campaign will be there, likely offering lapel stickers and perhaps other assorted swag. Show some pride and support the GOP ticket, or at least your favorite candidate(s). Wear a sticker. Or 12 stickers. The primary is over. Move past it and support the winners.

Rules Fight

The proposed rules to the convention are almost certain to be challenged and the debate over them could take hours. In 2012, the rules had not been finalized before the lunch break. In 2010, we didn’t eat lunch until around 2pm because the rules fight and lt. governor nominee election took forever.

No Third District Candidate Speeches

All of Republican statewide and congressional candidates will likely address the crowd during the convention, but the state party wisely chose not to allow any of the contenders in the still-undecided Third District race time to speak. We’ll get plenty of that at the special convention on June 21.

Delegate Credentialing Issues

If you were an alternate who became an actual delegate at your district convention, your status at the start of the state convention will be as an alternate, not a seated delegate. That is how it is. Deal with it.

Also, Polk County GOP delegates passed a rule at their county convention that delegate fees for the district/state convention had to be paid prior to the start of the district convention in April, or those delegates would not be seated at district and state. There remain around 25 delegates who have not paid those fees.

The state party does not know what to do about the situation and has consulted attorneys. A Friday afternoon meeting with the credentials committee has been scheduled to hash out that and other issues.

Before you start with the conspiracy theories, the 25 or so delegates this affects span the Republican Party spectrum and include Congressman Latham and former Branstad Chief of Staff David Oman. The rule was made well known at the Polk GOP convention and the delegates had plenty of time to pay their dues prior to the district convention.

I do not envy the credentials committee and expect them to have more than a few headaches Saturday morning.

The Platform

The Paulistinians hijacked the state platform committee in 2012 and flagrantly plagiarized the Libertarian Party’s preamble to its national platform, making it the Iowa GOP’s preamble as well.

They also reduced the mentions of God to just three times and not until Section 12 of the 2012 Iowa GOP platform. Also, two of those planks were identical. God is only mentioned once in the proposed 2014 platform, but that comes in the first sentence of Section 1.

The words “gas tax” and “marijuana” or similar references are not in the proposed platform. Support for cannabis oil for medical use did make it (5:10). There is also a plank supporting traditional marriage (1.3).

Also, the platform has been reduced from the 28-section monstrosity of 2012 to just six sections. Expect some debate about the need to make it longer. Also expect at least a couple of ridiculous planks to be suggested.

The platform debate could take several hours or could be handled fairly quickly. In 2012, many of the convention delegates, tired after a long day of fighting, decided to leave the platform largely as it was proposed. That was a mistake, in hindsight.

One of the highlights of the day will be when the junior delegates present their convention report and platform planks.

A Long Day

This convention will likely last into the late afternoon or early evening. Get plenty of rest the night before, bring plenty of energy and enthusiasm, and expect to be there a while. Enjoy it. We are conducting important party business Saturday. It’s not the most enjoyable exercise, but you get out of it what you put into it.


Whether or not your preferred candidate won the primary race, it is time to get behind the nominee. We have strong candidates up and down the ticket who are good conservatives and have dedicated themselves to public service.

Unless you want ultra-liberals like Bruce Braley, Jack Hatch and Pat Murphy wielding power for the next four-six years, you need to get behind the GOP nominee. We cannot win in November without a united effort.

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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