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April 26th, 2014

Live Blog: GOP Third District Convention

STUART – Good morning and welcome to’s live blog of the Third District Convention. We are scheduled to convene at 10 am, but credentialing just go underway, at 8 and there are plenty of folks already on hand.

Today will surely be an interesting one. The most pertinent business of the day is selecting a new State Central Committee. They act as the board of directors for the state party. The current SCC has been controversial, to say the least.

8 AM  As with every Iowa Republican convention in which officer elections are held, various slates of preferred candidates are distributed by different organizations. In 2012, the “liberty” slate was successful is getting almost all of its candidates for national delegate, State Central Committee and RNC positions elected. The lone exception was Kim Pearson, who lost to Tamara Scott for National Committeewoman.

8:04 AM At the four district conventions, there will once again be slates of candidates. The “liberty” slate is being quietly spread via word of mouth.

In the First District, sources say the Big Liberty endorsed candidates are:

Chelsy Askren, Brad Sherman and current SCC member Tony Krebsbach.

8:05 AM In the Second District, current SCC members Marcus Fedler and Jeff Shipley are sure to have the backing of Big Liberty, as well as John Kabitzke in the Third District. There are others, but has not heard their full slate as of yet.

8:06 AM The Family Leader is publicly endorsing several candidates for SCC. Part of The Family Leader’s efforts is aimed at protecting Chairman Danny Carroll, who is also a lobbyist for The Family Leader. However, that was not a pre-condition of earning TFL’s endorsement. National Committeewoman Tamara Scott, also a lobbyist for The Family Leader, confirms she has been involved in recruiting candidates to run.

The candidates The Family Leader is backing are:

First District: Brad Sherman

Second District: Brad Cranston and Mark Doland

Third District: Michael Demastus, Bill Gustoff and Heather Stancil

Fourth District: Gabe Haugland and John Wacker

(*NOTE: Stancil is a late entry into the race. Her candidacy was not known publicly until late this week. She has not contacted us regarding having her information added in our SCC Voter Guide.)

8:06 AM Fourth District Congressman Steve King has decided to back several SCC candidates across the state. King has asked candidates he is endorsing to favor keeping the Ames Straw Poll. The candidates endorsed by Congressman King include:

First District: Chelle Adkins and Ron Herrig

Third District: Brenna Findley, Ryan Frederick, Bill Gustoff and Sherill Whisenand.

Fourth District: Gabe Haugland, Cody Hoefert, Jamie Johnson and Gary Nystrom

 I believe there are others King has endorsed, but I don’t have all the names yet.

8:36 AM We’ve got a new SCC candidate in the Third. Jon Gruber is running. He had talked about running a few weeks back, but I heard he had dropped out. Gruber is definitely in. That should make the race more interesting. Gruber is a longtime Polk County activist.

8:42 AM There’s lots of hobnobbing going on out in the lobby area. All the campaigns are set up with their tables and yard signs planted outside. Interestingly, State Senate candidate Art Hill might actually be the one winning the sign war, the last I checked.

9:05 AM I’ve seen a few of the Third District congressional candidates working the room. Brad Zaun, Robert Kramer and Monte Shaw are. Joe Grandanette is running his own table, without any help apparently.

9:06 AM The Draft Ben Carson for President group has a table here as well.

9:08 AM BTW, I am serving dual roles today as both media and delegate.

9:09 AM The main talk of the delegate class is whether or not our Third District and U.S. Senate races will have to be decided by convention. There remains a ton of undecideds, even among the delegates here today, who are the most politically active Republicans in the district.

9:17 AM Tom Hoefling’s campaign put literature in all the delegates chairs. That is against the convention rules. Only SCC, Rules, platform committee candidates, etc. are allowed to place their literature on the seats. Hoefling’s stuff has been removed by the sergeant at arms.

9:18 AM Those rules, btw, come from the duly elected Third District Rules Committee.

9:36 AM And the attacks are in full earnest. Liberty Iowa PAC, including a Republican Party of Iowa intern, are handing out flyers attacking several SCC candidates. It looks to be a statewide effort. Not in the least bit surprising.

9:41 AM RPI intern Sarah Brooks and a Liberty Iowa cohort are now placing their attack flyers in the delegate seats. Again, this is against convention rules.

9:53 AM I just showed the RPI/Liberty Iowa attack flyer to Co-Chair Gopal Krishna. He laughed it off. Still looking for Tamara Scott, the National Committeewoman, for her response.

9:54 AM I’m sure these attacks are going on at all four conventions, as Big Liberty desperately tries to cling to power.

10:00 We are going to get underway here in a few minutes. Folks are still filing in.

10:09 And here we go …

10:10 State Senator Jake Chapman of Adel is the temporary chair. Aaron Sewell did the prayer.

10:14 Pledge and prayer done.

10:16 Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds is the first speaker of the day.

10:17 Big applause when Reynolds calls Terry Branstad “the hardest working governor in the nation”.

10:18 Looks like the Iowa Democrat Party’s tracker is getting the boot.

10:19 I spoke with National Committeewoman Tamara Scott about RPI’s intern handing out attack flyers. She spoke with Sarah Brooks, the intern, who apparently claimed she was just helping out someone who asked. Sure she was.

10:20 Reynolds talking about Branstad successes, including passing the largest property tax cut in state history. “35 years we worked to reduce property taxes and we got it done last year.”

10:22 Reynolds says the campaign has a strong, statewide grassroots effort. “We can succeed by working together…” Reynolds mentions Braley’s pandering to trial lawyers.

10:23 Reynolds praises Congressman Latham and the “great candidates” running to replace him. “Let’s get behind them and do all we can to keep that seat in Republican hands.” (big applause)

10:25 Lt. Governor Reynolds is also talking up the statewide candidates, Mary Mosiman and Bill Northey.

10:26 Reynolds wrapping up. She’s headed to Storm Lake for the Fourth District next. Standing ovation for Reynolds at the beginning and end.

10:27 Governor Branstad will hit the First and Second District conventions.

10:28 Guthrie County GOP Chair Dean Hopkins addressing the delegates. They are the hosts for the convention.

10:29 Hopkins quotes Abe Lincoln. Maybe RPI should invite him to their next Lincoln Dinner, since the Great Emancipator rarely, if ever, gets mentioned at that event.

10:30 Sen. Chapman asks legislators to stand. It looks like a dozen or so are delegates. Mostly Iowa House members, naturally. There are a couple of state senators on hand. Along with Chapman, Charles Schneider and Julian Garrett are here. Joni Ernst will surely be by later.

10:31 Congressional candidates starting speeches now. Monte Shaw is first on the docket.

10:32 Shaw chaired this convention two years ago, while he was on the SCC.

10:33 Shaw mentions his campaign was the first to announce chairs in all 16 counties in the district. They released that list last night.

10:34 My understanding is that candidate speeches will be kept to three minutes. Thank goodness.

10:35 Shaw refers to Dem nominee-to-be Staci Appel as “Nancy Pelosi’s pet”. lol. Shaw done. Robert Kramer up now.

10:36 Kramer says he wants to make the Third District “the most constitutionally literate district in the nation…. The liberals want to give out condoms. I want to give out constitutions.” Good line.

10:37 Kramer wrapping up. One of the better speeches I’ve heard from him.

10:38 Joe Grandanette up now. Joy.

10:39 For those seeking my usual gastronomical comments (that’s food-related, for those of you in Lee County), many of the campaigns brought doughnuts this morning. The Branstad folks had cookies. David Young campaign had packets of candy.

10:40 Grandanette just said “I want to give you your soul.” Gee, thanks Joe. Since I’m a ginger, many think I don’t have one.

10:42 Grandanette also said “jock strap”. You don’t hear that often from a candidate. Hopefully I won’t ever again.

10:43 Brad Zaun up next.

10:44 Zaun is reading an article from 2004 that noted Urbandale’s tax rate was the lowest in the Des Moines area when he was mayor there.  “And it quotes me: ‘We are tightwads.'” He’s used that line before, but it got some laughs and applause.

10:45 Zaun mentions traffic cams, Common Core and shutting down the Department of Education, as usual. Big applause.

10:46 Matt Schultz up now. He brought his family on the stage, wife and five kids. Says he’s running for his kids, who are burdened with $50,000 of national debt. “I want to go to Washington to fight for my family and fight for your families.”

10:47 Schultz notes that the Des Moines Register doesn’t like him very much.

10:48 Schultz says we can’t keep sending people to Washington who work for themselves instead of the people. “We must have term limits.”

10:50 David Young up now. They wanted to run his commercial on the big screen but they’re having some technical difficulties.

10:51 Young says he will be “a taxpayer watchdog for you, Iowa”.

10:52 Young mentions Benghazi and the IRS scandals, noting that they’re not “phony scandals” as the Dems would have you believe.

10:54 Young is done. That concludes the congressional candidates. U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs is up now.

10:55 Jacobs mentions he supports a 10% across the board cut for every federal agency. Got some applause for that.

10:57 Jacobs: “Folks, on November 4, we need to tell Bruce Braley to pound sand.” Big applause for that. Wrapping up now.

10:58 Now for some convention business. Report of the Rules Committee first. John Stokka from Polk County is the chair.

11:00 An amendment offered to change a rule that any changes to the platform would require 50% plus 1 vote.

11:02 I’m told the Cramer campaign has water and granola bars. Excellent.

11:03 The current rules, from the Rules Committee, requires 2/3 to change a platform plank. Debate going back and forth in favor of and against. Three on each side.

11:06 Voting on the amendment now, which is, it would require a 50% plus 1 majority to change a platform plank. It’s so close we had to do a standing count vote.

11:10 The amendment fails. 162 ayes, 185 nays. So to change a platform plank, it will require 2/3 majority, as the rules committee suggested.

11:11 BIG NEWS FROM THE FOURTH DISTRICT: New SCC members elected: Gabe Haugland, Cody Hoefert (reelected), Gary Nystrom and Jamie Johnson (reelected).

11:14 It was a landslide in the Fourth. We’re now doing nominations for permanent chair. Someone said “Jake Chapman”, who is the temporary chair. He said, “No thanks.”

11:15 State Sen. Charles Schneider the only one nominated. He is elected by acclamation.

11:16 Looks like Liberty Iowa/RPI’s attacks in the Fourth District didn’t work too well.

11:17 Credentials chair says 399 seated. 74 alternates, who will be seated. There are 513 total slots.

11:19 U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis is now addressing the convention.

11:20 Clovis says “there’s a big horse on the rail” and he’s coming, referring to himself in this primary horse race.

11:21 Vote totals in the Fourth District: Hoefert 464, Haugland 441, Johnson 410, Nystrom 314, Wacker 191.

11:22 Clovis encourages delegates to vet the candidates and says he will be the same as a U.S. Senator as he is today.

11:23 Congressman Latham is up next. I didn’t know if he would be here or not.

11:24 Big standing ovation for Latham.

11:25 Latham talks about the necessity of being victorious this November.

11:26 Latham: “Remember the liberties that we hold so dear, making sure that our freedoms are intact… We as Republicans stand for liberties…the Constitution…”

11:27 Latham: “We have to stand up, do the right thing for the right reasons and we’ll always be successful.”

11:28 Latham getting emotional. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you…”

11:29 HUGE standing ovation for Congressman Latham. Good stuff.

11:32 Organizational committee report approved quickly. We’re now taking a five minute recess.

11:39 We’re back in order.

11:40 New credentials report. There are now 475 seated delegates. The report is approved.

11:41 Time for State Central Committee elections…. Here we go …

11:42 Mike Wachtel from Warren County nominates John Kabitzke, a current SCC member.

11:43 Darrell Kearney from Polk County, puts in a shameless plug for the Polk GOP dinner (May 20), headlined by Steve Forbes. Kearney nominates Ryan Frederick, another current SCC member.

11:45 Lowell Scott (Natl. Committeewoman Tamara Scott’s husband) nominates Michael Demastus, a Des Moines pastor.

11:46 Stan Gustafson, Iowa House rep., nominates Heather Stancil, a Madison County activist.

11:47 Tyler Hahn, Dallas County GOP co-chair, nominates Polk GOP Co-Chair Sherill Whisenand. Sherill was just elected to the SCC on April 14, filling the vacancy created when Gopal Krishna became co-chair.

11:48 Iowa House Rep. Chris Hagenow nominates Bill Gustoff, a homeschooling advocate and attorney from Polk County.

11:49 Carmine Boal, Iowa House chief clerk, nominates Brenna Findley, the 2010 GOP attorney general candidate and an advisor for Governor Branstad.

11:50 Norm Pawlewski, longtime activist and advocate for Iowa Right to Life, nominates Jon Gruber, Polk GOP activist who spends a lot of time working on the platform committees.

11:51 SCC nominations cease. I believe we have eight nominees.

11:53 SCC candidates speaking now. Kabitzke up first.

11:55 Kabitzke done. Adair County GOP Chair Ryan Frederick up now. A pretty big ovation for Ryan.

11:56 Polk GOP Chair Will Rogers and his extremely loud jacket have taken a seat next to me in the back of the auditorium.

11:57 Ryan just quoted Cicero. Impressive. I’m just hoping I spelled Cicero right.

11:58 Frederick: “This isn’t about egos or personal politics… Republicans and Americans are a resilient bunch… We can make this country right again…” Well received speech.

11:59 Mike Demastus now speaking.

12:00 pm Demastus just name dropped his “friend Kim Pearson”, insuring a lot of votes against him.

12:01 pm Demastus mentions his offered a prayer at the Iowa Capitol a few years back that was labelled “offensive” in a Register article.

12:02 Good applause for Demastus. Heather Stancil, Madison County GOP co-chair is up now.

12:03 Stancil says she has doorknocked, wrote letters to the editor, etc.  to help get Republicans elected.

12:05 Stancil says a SCC member it is her duty to empower all Republicans.

12:06 Polk GOP Co-Chair Sherill Whisenand now speaking.

12:07 Whisenand says she’s worked tirelessly on Republican candidates.

12:08 Whisenand: “Electing ANY Republican is better than electing any Democrat.” (applause)

12:09 Whisenand done. Bill Gustoff up now. Jokes about his status as an attorney.

12:10 Gustoff: “I’ve been an active Republican all of my adult life.” Mentions central committees, causes, etc. that he has worked on, including lobbying on behalf of homeschoolers at the Capitol.

12:11 Gustoff notes we agree on 95% of things, we need to rally together to defeat Democrats.

12:12 Gustoff gets good applause. Next up is Brenna Findley.

12:13 Findley notes she could have walked to the convention today. She’s from nearby Dexter.

12:14 Findley: “I want to do all I can to elect Republicans up and down the ticket.”

12:15 Findley: “We owe it to our conservative ideals, not just to campaign on conservative ideas, but to win…”

12:16 Findley notes that lapel stickers she handed out were recycled from her 2010 campaign, with the attorney general part cut off. That proves her fiscal conservatism, she jokes.

12:17 Jon Gruber up now.

12:18 Gruber says he wants to reinvigorate the state party. Says he’s “an outsider”, not a Branstad-approved candidate.

12:19 Here’s who BIg Liberty/Liberty Iowa PAC/RPI  is telling people NOT to vote for:

First District: Adkins, Chung, Herrig, Shulte

Second District: Anderson, Davidson, Kaufmann, Caviness

Third District: Findley, Frederick and Whisenand. Gustoff was on the list but got crossed off.

Fourth District: Johnson, Hoefert, Nystrom. (all three got elected). Oops.

12:21 pm U.S. Senate candidate Scott Schaben speaking now.

12:22 pm It looks like we will cast our first ballots for SCC candidates, then break for lunch while they are counting the ballots. Candidates need to achieve 50% +1 to get elected.

12:23 pm Secretary of State candidate Paul Pate is addressing the convention now.

12:24 Pate: “I’m running because I love Iowa and I felt the call to take a break from my business to run for a seat we cannot lose…”

12:25 Pate says his opponent is flaunting that he helped lead the Obama campaign in Iowa in 2012.

12:26 Pate notes out-of-state liberal PACs (George Soros-funded) will spend millions of dollars against GOP secretary of state candidates in four states, including Iowa.

12:27 Pate: “During my watch as Secretary of State, we cracked down on felon voters and absentee voter fraud.” Notes his opponent is a Democrat political operative.

12:28 BIG NEWS: First District SCC elections: The winners are Chelle Adkins, David Chung (current member), Ron Herrig and Loras Shulte (current member)

12:29 Looks like Liberty Iowa/RPI’s attacks failed in the First District as well.

12:30 We are now voting for Third District SCC members, then we will break for lunch.

12:31 So lunch is next. I will return in an hour or so.

12:49 ANOTHER BIG UPDATE: From the Second District: Judy Davidson, Trudy Caviness and Jeff Kaufmann are elected to the SCC on the first ballot. The final vacancy goes to a second ballot.

1:25 My lunch is done. It took a while to get through the line, but it was good. Choice of pork or beef bbq sandwiches. I went with the pork. Then a choice of chips (I had Doritos) and a huge selection of dessert. Plus a Diet Mountain Dew to drink. All for $8. Not bad. Thanks to the Guthrie County GOP for arranging and a serving that.

1:31 The voting for SCC candidates is done and have been handed to the chairman. I have heard rumors of who won, but I’m not going to report until we have the official announcement.

1:32 BTW, the new SCC does not officially take over until after the state convention adjourns.

1:39 We will reconvene shortly.

1:45 Second District SCC election still not final. Current SCC members Jeff Shipley, Mark Doland and Marcus Fedler have either dropped out or been eliminated, I’m told. That leaves current SCC member Bob Anderson and Pastor Brad Cranston. One candidate needs to get at least 50% + 1.

1:47 The natives in the Third District are getting restless. Reconvening now…

1:48 BIG NEWS: THIRD DISTRICT SCC ELECTIONS: Elected on the first ballot are Ryan Frederick, Sherill Whisenand, Bill Gustoff and Brenna Findley. It’s official.

1:50 So, all of Big Liberty’s SCC members have been swept out of office. And so far, everyone they said not to vote for has won.

1:51 To paraphrase the Great Communicator: “It’s morning again in the Iowa Republican Party.”

1:53 State Auditor Mary Mosiman just addressed the delegates. U.S. Senate candidate and State Senator Joni Ernst on the stage now.

1:54 Ernst is joined onstage by her husband and a daughter. She’s talking about Braley making the closing speech on Obamacare on the U.S. House floor.

1:56 Ernst is going after Braley hard on Keystone pipeline, the Second Amendment, the Constitution. This is a different stump speech than usual. It was good too. Very well received.

1:57 We’re now nominating Platform Committee candidates.

2:02 Here are the candidates nominated for Platform Committee. They’ll each get two minutes to speak: Ruth Long, Jon Gruber (current District committee platform chair)…

2:05 Jason Schmidt… Tim Overlin and Mark White.

2:06 BIG NEWS: SECOND DISTRICT SCC ELECTIONS: Bob Anderson is reelected to the SCC.

2:07 That means every single person Big Liberty told people not to vote for won. Crushing defeat for the Paulistinians today.

2:08 Here is your new Iowa GOP State Central Committee:

FOURTH DISTRICT: Cody Hoefert, Jamie Johnson, Gabe Haugland and Gary Nystrom

THIRD DISTRICT: Ryan Frederick, Brenna Findley, Bill Gustoff, Sherill Whisenand

SECOND DISTRICT: Trudy Caviness, Bob Anderson, Judy Davidson, Jeff Kaufmann

FIRST DISTRICT: Chelle Adkins, David Chung, Loras Shulte, Ron Herrig

2:10 The new SCC takes over immediately at the end of the state convention. The current group can still do some damage. They have a meeting on May 24, I believe.

2:13 We’re now voting on platform committee. We elect four candidates, with a total of five running.

2:16 There are some people headed to the exits already. There’s not a ton of interest in the committees beyond the SCC. We’ve already heard from all the Third District congressional candidates and most of the U.S .Senate candidates. The only stuff left is committee elections, a few speeches and then the platform discussion, which could take hours.

2:19 Governor candidate Tom Hoefling speaking now.

2:22 Hoefling is attacking Branstad on Common Core.

2:23 Now doing nominations for Rules Committee. We’ll elect two people.

2:28 I think we’re waiting on nominations until the ballot counting for Platform Committee is completed. So we’ve moved to platform discussion.

2:29 There is a motion to scrap the entire district platform and replace is with a more condensed one. Richard Rogers, a Polk GOP activist who is regularly involved in platform issues, drafted the amendment and spoke in favor of it.

2:32 Tamara Scott is now speaking against the amendment.

2:33 Scott doesn’t think we should shrink the proposed platform. I believe we absolutely should. Polk County produced a very concise, clear cut platform. The current RPI platform is way, way too big (and redundant). In fact, some planks are identical.

2:34 Mark White speaking in favor of the amendment, saying the district platform is too lengthy and redundant.

2:40 Time to vote on the amendment. It needs 2/3 support to pass.

2:41 The voice vote sounded like it did not pass. There was a call for division, so a standing vote is being done.

2:45 Amendment fails.

2:46 I hear the Fourth District has already adjourned. We’re not anywhere close to that.

2:47 Next amendment: Anyone of at least 18 years of age, with no mental disability and no criminal history shall be allowed to own a handgun. Lead sponsor is Cole Button.

2:48 The Diet. Mt. Dew isn’t quite doing the trick. I’m fading. Need a boost. Thank goodness again for the David Young congressional campaign. Packets of candy. Sugar rush!!

2:57 It’s now silly season now. There’s a vote to suspend the rules to make a grammatical change to an amendment. Fails.

3:01 Amendment fails.

3:02 Another amendment: Parents should not be prohibited from teaching their children the safe operation of a handgun prior to 14 years of age. Eric Durbin, who is running for the Iowa House in Warren County, is the sponsor.

3:09 We’re now voting on the amendment. Standing vote count.

3:12 Amendment passes.

3:13 Motion now to accept the platform as amended. Passes overwhelmingly.

3:14 Ruth Long, Mark White, Tim Overlin and jon Gruber elected to the platform committee in a very close vote.

3:15 Now for the report from the junior delegates. Usually a highlight of these conventions. They suggested two planks: We believe those that are capable of working, should work. And, we support the legal selling of fully automatic firearms. Huge applause for them from the crowd.

3:17 Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Danny Carroll is addressing the delegates. He says after seeing today’s SCC elections, he sees that his task is making all 600,000 Iowa Republicans happy. How does he do that? Winning big in November.

3:19 BTW, here are the vote totals for the Third District SCC candidates:

Ryan Frederick 380

Brenna Findley 318

Bill Gustoff 309

Sherill Whisenand 276

Heather Stancil 135

Mike Demastus 124

John Kabitzke 83

Jon Gruber 57

3:21 U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker talking now.

3:22 Whitaker says this is the fourth convention he’s visited today. That’s impressive. Logistically, being able to hit all four is difficult. Governor Branstad didn’t attempt it, so he and Lt. Governor Reynolds split it up.

3:23 Whitaker is giving his fairly standard stump speech. Good delivery, and well received.

3:24 Guthrie County GOP has free cookies and water. Woo hoo!

3:34 We’re now voting on Rules Committee. Candidates are Tim Newman, John Stokka, Isaiah McGee, Mark Hansen, James Davis and Jonas Cutler. Cutler makes the third Cicero reference of the day.

3:38 Candidate speeches done. Now voting on candidates. We can elect two. After than, we elect credentials committee and then we’re done. The end is nigh!

3:55 Elected to the Rules Committee are Isaiah McGee and John Stokka.

3:56 Nominated to the Credentials Committee are Naomi Leinen, Crystal (?) Keagle, Tracee Knapp and Craig Newton. They’ll give two minute speeches, then we’ll vote and hopefully call it a day.

4:19 And the winners are…. Naomi Leinen and Tracee Knapp.

4:20 That’s it. The Third District convention is over. Congrats to all the winners today around the state.

4:21 I’ll see you tomorrow in Kevin’s Korner. It should be a fun one!

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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