*** Originally published March 4, 2009 ***
One of the objectives of The Iowa Republican is to be honest and up-front about our point of view. In order to accomplish that goal, I think you need to understand what brought me to the point of creating a political news site.
To say I was politically-minded while growing up would be a huge understatement. My first political memory was election night in 1984. I was 8 years old and fixated with the election coverage. I was determined to stay up until that that last state turned red. My parents, who always voted but never were politically active, told me it wasn’t going to happen as Minnesota was Walter Mondale’s home state. I reluctantly went off to bed.
My parents are good, hard-working people. The only political conservation I ever remember them having contained just four words, “did you vote today.” How my mother, an independent at the time, and my father, a registered democrat back then, produced a politically obsessed son is still a mystery. However, I’m happy to report that they are supportive of my condition.
With my parents being as non-political as they come, my first taste of Iowa politics occurred during the 1996 caucus campaign while I was a freshman at St. Ambrose University. I was intrigued by a new candidate who got in the race late – Steve Forbes. I remember calling the campaign office and asking for some bumper stickers. When they came in the mail, I plastered them all over my car. Unfortunately, that’s where my involvement ended. I didn’t attend a caucus or even know what one was.
A few years later, the Republican candidates for President were back in Iowa, and once again, I was drawn to Steve Forbes. This time I knew that I actually had to do more than just put a bumper sticker on my car; I needed to attend my caucus and vote for a candidate.
Needless to say, I did a little more than caucus for Forbes; his presidential campaign was my first job after college. I had no clue what to do or what was even expected of me, but somehow found my way. I was a field staffer responsible for organizing 27 or so counties from central Iowa to the Southeast Iowa. My first day on the job was June 6th, and I was told that there was this thing called the Straw Poll in Ames on August 14th.
That day I also met the guy with whom I would share an office with, Tim Albrecht. Back then, not everyone had a computer on their desk, so Tim and I had to share. I remember him showing me some internet page with straw poll vote goals by congressional district and my name with the number 1296 next to it. I freaked out. I didn’t have a clue how I could find that many people to attend the Straw Poll. Tim didn’t necessarily soothe my fears when he said, “Oops, I wasn’t supposed to show you that.”
Forbes didn’t win the Iowa Straw Poll in 1999, but we only missed our target by just a handful of votes. While devastated, I was able to find 1300 or so people to attend the event. The caucuses ended up a lot like the Straw Poll with Forbes finishing second.
With the caucuses over, I eventually found my way to Capitol Resources, a political fundraising firm located in Brooklyn, Iowa. It was there that I spent seven years raising funds for candidates running for State House like Bill Dix, or State Senate like Brad Zaun. I helped raise funds for gubernatorial candidates like Steve Sukup and Jim Nussle. I also spent a healthy amount of time focusing on the congressional campaigns of Jim Leach, Tom Latham, and Bill Dix. It was during this period of time when I became more politically involved in my local county central committee. In 2004, I served as the third district and state platform committee chairman.
In 2007, I was once again attracted to the bright lights of the Iowa Caucuses. This time I wouldn’t be working for a candidate, instead I would play a critical role in organizing the Straw Poll and Caucuses as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa. The position allowed me the opportunity to work on events I had always wanted to organize; it was one of the high points in my career.
I write about these experiences to give you glimpse of who I am. While I’ve never run a campaign, my past positions have allowed me a unique perspective of the inner workings of some of the major campaigns and events in the state over the past decade. It is that unique perspective that got me thinking about how my past experiences might lend me a career reporting on Iowa politics.
The final motivation for creating this site was the lack of a state-wide conservative news outlet in Iowa. The Iowa Republican will strive to fill that void and provide people with the transparency in government that they need and deserve.