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February 1st, 2014

Live Blog: RPI Co-Chair Election

Greetings and welcome to’s live blog of the Republican Party of Iowa’s election for a new co-chairman. The known candidates at The Family Leader lobbyist Danny Carroll from Grinnell and longtime conservative activist Eric Rosenthal from the Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The election is taking place at RPI headquarters in Des Moines.

Follow along here for all the updates. Remember to hit REFRESH often.

10:54 Good morning. We should get started here shortly. There are not a lot of State Central Committee members here yet. The weather clearly kept a lot of people away, though Cody Hoefert, who had the longest trek, coming from Lyon County, made it. I assume others will be voting by phone.

10:56 This election will be very interesting and could come down to only a few votes. Carroll would be a controversial selection, since in 2010 he very publicly stated he would not support Terry Branstad in the general election even if he defeated Bob Vander Plaats in the primary. Curious to see if he’s changed his tune or not. The co-chair should help all Republican general election candidates, as should everyone with RPI. Of course, that has not necessarily been the case lately…

10:58 There are 18 voting members of the SCC. In the case of a 9-9 tie, Chairman A.J. Spiker casts the deciding vote. That would make things very, very interesting.

10:59 They are running to replace David Fischer, who resigned a couple of weeks ago to run for the Iowa Senate.

11:00 For Rosenthal to win, some of the Ron Paul contingent on the SCC would have to peel off and support Rosenthal. I am not seeing Steve Scheffler or Gopal Krishna yet. They live in Polk County and should have no problems getting here.

11:01 Scheffler and Krishna are believed to be backing Rosenthal. Scheffler is here.

11:04 Chairman Spiker just came by and said hello. Interesting. He’s recovering from the flu. Maybe he just wanted me to catch it. (I’m kidding.) And Tamara Scott just offered fresh chocolate chip cookies.

11:06 And here we go….

11:07 Among the attendees are new state Rep. Stan Gustafson, Iowa Senate staffer Dane Nealson, Governor Branstad campaign manager Jake Ketzner, and the spouses of Danny Carroll and Eric Rosenthal.

11:08 And we are underway. Pledge and prayer are done. It looks like there are 11 voting members present, and others participating by phone. INTERESTING: Chairman Spiker just said the members participating by phone can send proxies, but cannot vote by phone.

11:12 That proxy rule likely doesn’t matter if the members gave their votes to another member who is present. That would count as a proxy vote.

11:13 David Chung votes for Rosenthal by proxy.

11:13 Jeff Shipley , Chad Steenhoek, Marcus Fedler, Kris Thiessen, Tony Krebsbach are others voting by proxy. They likely are all for Danny Carroll.

11:15 Loras Schulte nominates Eric Rosenthal. Jamie Johnson seconds.

11:16 Mark Doland nominates Danny Carroll. Tamara Scott seconds.

11:17 Schulte now speaking on behalf of Rosenthal. Talks about his extensive involvement in campaigns. “One of the great things I see about Eric is his ability to understand data…and what can be done with it. That, I believe is important to us in every election cycle….more important in this one…”

11:18 Schulte: “What I’m looking for in the next co-chair is a truly a technician and someone who can work with Republican candidates across the state…” Schulte done. Doland now speaking for Carroll.

11:19 Doland: Calls Carroll a personal friend. Cites a Corinthians passage, basically that you are who you roll with.  “Danny has worked with me on campaigns..” Mentions the justice ouster in 2010, Huckabee, Bachmann and BVP campaigns.

11:20 Doland: “He’s been a champion out there while others are displaying apathy…. I don’t have anything against Eric Rosenthal. They are both wonderful candidates and would do a good job…. Danny is a constitutionalist and he embodies and exemplifies the platform…”

11L21 Nominations are closed. It’s Carroll vs. Rosenthal. John Kabitzke makes a motion that candidates give opening statements and then SCC members be allowed to ask them, and candidates alternate on responses.

11:23 Rosenthal speaking now. Mentions that Carroll is a friend and will remain friends afterwards. “I’m coming to you today to ask for some specific things from the SCC, whether elected or not….”

11:24 Rosenthal: “I want you as a committee to listen to what I have to say….especially what we can do about our opposition…”

11:25 Rosenthal: “It’s something bigger than a personality contest here… I believe the role of the SCC is to represent all registered Republicans. That doesn’t me we don’t have our differences… I’ve been involved in primaries… We support their party platform. It’s not ours. It’s theirs…. I’m very supportive when our party supports the platform.”

11:26 Rosenthal: “There is a perception right now that that is not the case…. SCC  needs to represent all Republicans…”

11:27 Rosenthal: “I think sometimes we have a combative relationship when we should have a collaborative one…”

11:28 Rosenthal: “When we collaborate as Republicans, we are very, very effective…”

11:29 Rosenthal: “That’s the kind of relationship I would hope you as leaders promote… ” Talks about his time as Linn County chairman and the differing views, and being able to solve problems to get members to work together.

11:30 Rosenthal: “Collaboration can elect Republicans… The role of the co-chair is to work quietly with the SCC, directly for the SCC, because you are the boss. The chair and co-chair serves at your pleasure… I would ask that those goals include some of those that I’ve addressed with you… The behind-the-scenes grassroots activism and the integrity of the vote…”

11:31 Rosenthal talks about the effectiveness of Leon Mosley when he was co-chair, and how well-liked Leon was in that role. Rosenthal sees the role as a little different, working behind the scenes to affect the results of races.

11;32 Rosenthal calls Stan Gustafson “one of my heroes”. Stan is one of the foremost doorknocking, get out the vote activists in the state, and a newly elected Iowa House representative.

11:34 Rosenthal talks about Democrats’ effectiveness in door-to-door campaigning.

11:35 Rosenthal is talking way too long. They should have limited speeches.

11:36 Gopal Krishna is not here and did not submit a proxy vote. Without that vote, Danny Carroll is practically guaranteed to win. Where is Gopal and why didn’t he submit a proxy if he couldn’t be here?

11:37 Rosenthal: “It’s time for us to respond to what the Democrats are doing… I don’t believe we would have lost as badly as we did… I would be more than happy to train people behind the scenes… “

11:38 Rosenthal is talking about statistics and studies, now talking about the integrity of the vote.

11:39 Rosenthal is now passing out a graph to everyone, showing absentee ballots. Too much detail. Too wordy. Too long. If you can’t get your message across in five minutes, you’re wasting time.

11:41 Rosenthal questions whether all the Dems absentee ballots were valid. Talks about need to have “trust in our system”.

11:42 Rosenthal says not just for the co-chair election, the integrity of the vote is a much bigger issue.

11:43 Rosenthal wrapping up, finally. He’s talking about election night 2012, being with Nick Wagner, who was up by double digits, but somehow lost. “We need to know… It’s not an option anymore…”

11:45 Carroll up now. “I came prepared for a five-minute speech.” And for that, we’re all thankful.

11:46 Carroll: “About 30 years ago today, I started knocking on doors in my first campaign…”

11:47 Rosenthal spoke for more than 20 minutes. That’s ridiculous. He might have lost a vote or two because of that.

11:48 Carroll is talking about his experience as a candidate, chairing district conventions, etc. “It wasn’t until recently that I ever saw a parade. I never got to see it. I was always in it…”

11:50 I think Carroll has decided to go long since Rosenthal did. Wonderful.

11:51 Carroll” Why am I here?” He’s channeling Admiral Stockdale.

11:52 Carroll: “I had no idea there was a place like this. That goofy line from the “Field of Dreams” is real to me.”

11:53 Carroll: “I’m not here to advance a political career… I simply want to be able to look my granddaughters in the eye one day and when I had the chance to defend life and liberty, that I took a chance and did something… ” Carroll got emotional saying that.

11:54 He’s using the right buzzword for this crowd: LIBERTY! If he says “moneybomb” I’m leaving.

11:55 Carroll: “I choose to fight. I choose to stand for something.”

11:57 Carroll: If we lose a little bit of liberty, it takes a long time before we can get it back…

11:58 Carroll: “I’m encouraged and excited about what I see in young people today… They know what’s not working… They know life begins at conception. They know it’s much better for a child to grow up in a home of a loving mother and father…”

11:59 Carroll: “Perhaps I can help out by being a party of the Republican Party leadership… I’m here for three reasons… One of our responsibilities is to promote the principles and priorities…. I want to do that… I want to help assist with elections… To help all Republican candidates, without favoritism. Everybody gets treated the same…. “

12:00 Carroll spoke for 15 minutes. Again, way too long. They’re now taking questions.

12:01 Kurtinitis asks how RPI can pull from the the pool of independents. Rosenthal references door-knocking and what Stan Gustafson has successfully done.

12:03 Rosenthal talks about Dems datamining all of social networks. “We need to figure out how to get into that data gathering mode… Right now…the guys that know this stuff inside our own party think we’re five-10 years behind.”

12:04 Now asking the same question of Danny Carroll. Kurtinitis mentions new study showing Iowans are twice as likely to identify as conservatives over liberals.

12:05 Carroll says we need to stand for something.

12:06 Carroll talks about Big Data. Says Amazon, Google, etc. know what to send you because they monitor that. “The canvassing data that Eric talks about…we need to look at, not what the Democrats are doing, but getting ahead of that… I think we can do that…”

12:07 And, just like the speeches, they should have limited the answers to 1-2 minutes. Carroll still talking.

12:08 Carroll” We give them a good reason, find out who they are are…they’ll vote for us…

12:09 Tamara Scott: What defines us, Republicans vs. Democrats.

12:10 Carroll: We don’t look to the government first. We look to our family, our church, our neighbors…. Democrats look first to government.

12:11 Rosenthal: “Freedom vs. dependence. Freedom comes with risks…”

12:11 Rosenthal: “Our family takes a dim view of people dissing our founding documents…” “There are people dying for that freedom right now…”

12:12 Cody Hoefert asks about fundraising experience and what role you will play at co-chair. Secondly, the GOP is very diverse. “Are each of you prepared to defend our nominee from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket…”

12:13 Rosenthal says he raised $50,000 in six weeks in Linn County. As for the diverse party, Rosenthal says he comes from a diverse background…

12:14 Rosenthal: “There is a tension in our party right now. The tension is not going to go away… Our party platform stands for certain things… Our SCC is pledged to stand for those things… It’s a challenge for our party to represent everyone…. that’s part of our Constitution…” Says we settle our differences after the primary. We need to advocate for Republicans as a party…”

12:16 Carroll says he’s raised money as a candidate. “Sometimes it’s not much more complicated that making a phone call… Look forward to working with all of you….” “I think anybody who is going to serve in this office or this committee, has to be ready to support all the candidates…. ” He references the platform as well. “Just by being on this committee you’re saying you’re supporting Republicans…”

12:18 It’d be nice if someone asked Carroll specifically about supporting Governor Branstad, since he referred to do that four years ago.

12:19 Question: The difference between you is a behind-the-scenes strategist and a principled philosopher. Why do you think the party needs that?

12:20 Carroll: “I see the role of co-chair as being a little more public… In front of microphone…motivate my base to get involved, as well as those independents that I talked about earlier…. Help people recognize that more government is not the answer…”

12:21 Rosenthal says the question is the core of the SCC decision today. ‘You need to find out if the vote has integrity…” “It’s pretty easy for Terry Branstad to rasie money these days. You can agree with Terry or disagree….we need to get back on the winning track… We can’t just lean for our presidential candidate for 20 years…”

12;23 Rosenthal: “For my grassroots activism, there’s where I’ve spent my time…. I’ve worked for a few campaigns… I’ve financed my political activity….” “Move this state back to a center-right…. ” elect a Republican senator…”

12:25 Jamie Johnson asking if they would be willing to travel the state to win back donors, bringing the party together, bring back those who have become disenchanted.

12:26 Rosenthal: “I will go and meet with anyone, anytime, anywhere…”

12:27 Rosenthal: “There’s more at stake than personalities here. The future of our country literally is at stake…The balance of the U.S. Senate is at stake…”

12:28 Carroll says he would, time permitting. “I’ve got other irons in the fire.”

12:29 Bob Anderson is asking about using volunteers in Victory campaigns in other ways than phone calling.

12:30 Carroll says volunteers like all of us, are committed to do different things.

12:31 Rosenthal says he’d use volunteers right now to prepare for 2014 and 2016. “I’ve never forced any volunteer to do what they don’t want to do… If they want to phone call, doorknock, etc…”

12:32 Rosenthal is praising Stan Gustafson again. I’m starting to think maybe someone should have nominated Stan for co-chair. He’s been praised by both candidate.

12:34 Bob Anderson question: “Are you both capable of fighting for what you want, but settling for 80% and coming back for 20% later?”

12:35 Rosenthal: “i stand for our platform.. As a party official I don’t feel like I’m called to that… ” Says that’s more for the candidates for office…

12:36 Rosenthal says he’s always fully supported the winner in the primary.

12:37 Carroll: “People are motivated by people who stand for something…. In my experience, we are inclined to compromise way too early…. I don’t know how many meetings I’ve been in, trying to come up with something Gronstal will accept…. Let’s stand for something… I never worried about losing an election. I worried about losing an election and not having stood for something…”

12:39 Carroll says we have so many independents because we compromise….. “Now, having said that, after being drug kicking and screaming….then maybe you have to settle for a compromise…. but it need not be compromise that violates scriptural…or the party platform…”

12:40 Carroll: “We compromise way too early. And then if we do compromise, we compromise way too early…”

12:41 Steve Scheffler asking now about the fractures in the Iowa GOP. What would you do to..try to get activists who are upset to engage with them and bring them back into the fold? (paraphrased)

12:42 Scheffler: What would your response be to people who feel like they get no response from the state party?

12:43 Carroll references the book of Matthew. “You know what we do instead, we gossip? We go to everybody else…. we write blogs that are anonymous… It’s hard to go to someone who is upset….”

12:44 Carroll says you have to go and talk to them.

12:45 Rosenthal says he’s been working hard on listening. Says listening takes time and he would take the time to do that.

12:46 And…another question. Loras Schulte says the one thing standing between us and significant success in 2014 is party unity. References the U.S. Senate race with six candidates, four viable, and another that might jump in, plus congressional races.

12:48 Schulte on hurt feelings after primaries and races potentially going to convention. How can you bring party together are these, and focused on November?

12:49 Carroll: “The thing that unifies us as a party is the thing that we believe in… The platform, the things that we stand for…”

12:52 Rosenthal: “As far as a party uniting…it takes humility… As for as the controversy of whether this SCC really represents the whole party…it takes both sides… We have to listen to each other.”

12:53 Cody Hoefert asking a question about balancing commitments. How are you going to balance time commitments, political commitments… I know Danny works for a specific organization that endorses candidates, supports candidates…

12:56 Carroll: “My guess is we’re all in one level or another in political campaigns…. We all have conflicts of interest, acknowledged, admitted or otherwise… The Family Leader takes positions in primaries and even general elections… The important thing…from time to time you have a conflict of interest. What’s important is to identify and recognize that..and how you’re going to deal with… We’re all bound from time to time to have a conflict of interest. And so you manage it. And sometimes it means you leave the room….”

12:58 Carroll says he’s an independent contractor with The Family Leader and doesn’t sit in on board meetings.

12:59 Spiker now calling for final question, if there is one. There is none. Thank goodness, though still, no one asked about Carroll’s 2010 anti-Branstad stance, the single most relevant question in this whole situation.

1:00 We are now ready to vote. My prediction: 10-7 for Danny Carroll. Again, Gopal Krishna is not here and did not submit a proxy vote, for whatever reason.

1:02 Ready for the announcement. And the winner is…

1:03 Danny Carroll wins 9-8. With one member, Gopal Krishna, not here and not voting by proxy. That likely would have created a tie and required Chairman Spiker to cast the deciding vote.

1:04 Thanks for following along. Join me tomorrow in Kevin’s Korner.

1:05 Congratulations to Danny Carroll, the new Republican Party of Iowa co-chair.

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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