The Sky is Falling

To listen to certain moderates in the party, you would think that the sky is falling. The Mason City Globe Gazette spoke to former Republican Senate Leader, Mary Lundby:

The state party’s central committee has given short shrift to other topics in favor of social issues, and that could turn off voters, Lundby said.

“Voters have got so many other issues on their minds and when you only coalesce on those (social) issues, you lose those voters in the chatter, and we can’t afford that,” she said.

Lundby, a state legislator for 22 years, said the central committee has lost touch with rank-and-file voters, and her hopes for Republicans to retake the Iowa House this fall have faded.

I was surprised to see these comments. As a member of the SCC, I have trouble pinpointing how the committee has given short shrift to other topics in favor of social issues? In the prioritization and allocation of resources the focus has been on those races that give us an opportunity to retain or gain a seat — not ideological purity. Perhaps I have not been paying close enough attention, can anyone give an example of the SCC acting in the manner described by Senator Lundby?

Lundby further suggests that the focus is only on social issues. Once again, I will make a plea for a focus on all of our party’s core issues, not just social issues. Likewise, I would suggest that we not exclude social issues either.

As for being out of touch, the SCC is elected by the rank-and-file. Every member of the SCC was elected or re-elected at our recent district conventions. Scheffler and Lehman were elected by large majorities by the rank-and-file at our state convention. I would suggest that the current SCC and our newly-elected National Committee members in fact are a representation of rank-and-file Republicans in Iowa. So just who is out of touch?

The Globe Gazette also spoke to former chairman Ray Hoffman. According to the paper, Hoffman:

… criticized party leaders for pushing social issues at the expense of other concerns.

I had to do a double-take when I read the article. From a distance (I was not on the SCC at the time) I always thought that Ray was a social conservative. He certainly presented himself that way. Again, I would like to know how party leaders are pushing social issues at the expense of other concerns.

It’s funny that social conservatives always get criticized for failing to support all Republicans. If you read the Des Moines Register, it seems that it is the moderates, not the socons  who want to take their ball and go home.

Takeover at RPI

In the interest of full disclosure, let me start this discussion by saying that I am, to borrow a phrase from the Des Moines Register, closely associated with the Christian right. I worked hard, along with many other like-minded Republicans to bring about the takeover. But in the end, in my election for SCC and in supporting Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman for RNC, it was the voters at our district and state conventions who made the final choice. At the State Convention, both Steve and Kim were elected by large margins. neither of them made any secret of their affiliations with Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowa Right to Life.

The preamble to the 2008 State Platform makes as concise a statement of our core principles as I have ever seen. It reads:

As Republicans we continue to uphold the principles of individual responsibility and liberty, adherence to traditional moral standards, a strong national defense, a free enterprise system, and respect for the sanctity of human life. …

Looking at past state platforms, one finds these core values repeated year after year. I believe that these are principles Republicans can unite around. These principles are not extremist, rather they reflect the view of the grassroots of this party.

I would like all of our Republican candidates to not just support, but advocate all of these core principles. I believe that these core values define the Republican mainstream. But I understand that not all Republicans share all of these values and even among those that do there are differing levels of fervor.

This blog went dark for a time when I was elected to the SCC. In my previous role, as a party activist, anonymous blogger and ideologue , I wrote and said things that were sometimes out there. In running for SCC, I understood that I was taking on a new role — a role in party leadership. I am still the same guy, with the same opinions, but in accepting this role, I have chosen to place the interests of our party above my personal opinions.

I listen to Steve Deace once in a while,  but I am not a part of his Operation Extinction. We need a coalition to govern and for that reason, I was a supporter of Jim Leach, an honorable man with whom I had ideological difference. It may surprise readers to know that:

I will always vote for a pro-choice Republican over a pro-life Democrat.

Some of my pro-life friends might be shocked. Is pro-choice Republican an oxymoron? No, but pro-choice Republicans are clearly out of the mainstream when measured by our party platform. So, why can I (unlike Steve Deace) support them. The reason is because we rule by coalition. In our legislative system the majority party is in control. A pro-life Democrat will contribute to a Democrat majority. A Democrat majority will elect Democrat leadership. Under Democrat leadership, the issues I am passionate about — gun rights, property rights, lower taxes and yes, abortion — these issues will never see the light of day.

Yes, there has been a change in leadership at the SCC. Yes, some of us who are new SCC members are social conservatives. But speaking for myself,  as an SCC member and now party leader I promise that I will support and work towards the election of all of our Republican candidates.

Diversity in the Iowa GOP

At the recent SCC meeting some members said that they had been hearing in their districts that makeup of our Delegation to the National Convention was too white. I think they said not diverse enough but they meant too white.

In a recent post, I referenced 2000 and 2005 census data that places the total minority population of Iowa at just under 5%. Our national delegation consists of:

15 District Delegates (3 from each congressional district)
22 At-large Delegates
National Committeeman
National Committeewoman
Party Chairman

In total there are 40 delegates plus 15 District and 22 At-large Alternates. I must admit that I do not know all the delegates personally but among the ones that I do know there are at least three minority Delegates. 3 out of 40 is 7.5% one-and-a-half times the percentage of minorities in the population.

I do not know the ethnic makeup of the alternates. Assuming that there are no minorities among the alternates, the delegation would have 3 minorities out of 77 total  members. 3 out of 77 is 3.8% somewhat less than the population of Iowa as a whole.

On the floor of the convention of course, one minority (Indian – from India) delegate was replaced with another (Hispanic). So the activity on the floor did not change the percentages.

Interestingly if you look at the leadership of the Iowa GOP you will see that minorities are quite well represented. The party leadership consists of 15 SCC members, two National Committee members and the Party Chair and Co-Chair. Of these 19,  5 are  minorities (unless you count Norwegians). Two Black, one Indian (from India), one Hispanic and me. I am 1/2 Pacific Islander, 1/4 Black, 1/4 Chinese and my mother had an Hispanic surname (Cruz). 5 minorities out of 19 is over 26% — more than 5 times the percentage of minorities in the population at large.

Someone in the same meeting said, "we haven’t done anything for minorities in Iowa." Since we were all getting along so well. I simply muttered under my breath.

… haven’t done anything for minorities? Do you mean besides holding the line on taxes, fighting for better schools, fueling economic growth … ?

I do not know the numbers but I would be willing to bet that the leadership of the Republican Party of Iowa consists of a larger percentage of ethnic minorities than the Democratic Party of Iowa. Anyone know if this is the case?

Convention Reform

My friend Ted over at The Real Sporer has an excellent post about changing the way we run our party conventions. Over the years I have chaired our State Convention Platform, Nominating and Rules Committees. (I am still not in charge of seating.) I am also serving on the SCC Organization Committee and if there are changes in the way we run our conventions, this is committee that will be involved in the process.

I agree with most of what Ted has to say.

District Conventions

Ted suggests having the District Executive Committees run the District Conventions. When I first read the RPI Constiution and By-laws. I was surprised to learn that we even had District Executive Committees. I could not recall ever hearing of one meeting.

The District Executive Committee in each congressional district consists of the county chairs and co-chairs plus extra representatives for counties over 50,000 in population. Ted suggests that these committees could be given a budget and then charged with the planning and execution of the district conventions. A side-effect would be to empower these county leaders and get them working together in a meaningful way.

District Delegates

In my first SCC meeting, I asked why we even bothered to hold the District Presidential Caucuses (the Friday night meetings before State Convention). I agree that the right place to elect district delegates and alternates to the National Convention is at the District convention. I am in the 2nd District and we got out Friday night well after midnight. At a district convention, ballots could be counted in the background while other business occurred (like the platform debate).

The selection of district delegates and at-large delegates to the National Convention is tightly regulated by RNC rules 11-10. As I read it there is no way to increase the number of delegates selected by the districts even with a commensurate reduction in those selected by the State Convention.

These ideas came up in the Organization Committee meeting on the Friday night preceding the SCC meeting so the establishment is certainly open to considering change.

State Convention

I agree with Ted that for the most part the SCC (or the Organization Committee of the SCC) could and probably should work with RPI staff to plan the State Convention. As I mentioned, I have not served on the Permanent Organization Committee but it seems to me that the SCC might be better equiped to handle these duties.

I do want to vigourously disagree with Ted on one issue — the Platform. In my opinion, the platform committee needs to be elected by the District Conventions. Appointing the Platform Committee removes the platform from the grassroots and makes it a product of the party establishment. While this could be done without changes to the RPI Constitution or By-laws, I would argue that it would be unwise to do so.

This is an important discussion that we are having in the SCC and the Organization Committee in particular. I would certainly appreciate any input or suggestions for future conventions.

State Central Committee – Kum-Bay-Yah Time

I am happy to report that this weekend’s Republican State Central Committee went off without the predicted fireworks. As I predicted in my preview, none of the rumored actions took place.

First, there was no attempt to remove Stewart Iverson as party chairman. There were no outbursts or challenges to Stewart’s leadership. He did a great job and his experience added important historical perspective to our deliberations.

Gopal. Many of the rumors and controversies surrounding the SCC swirl around SCC treasurer Gopal Krishna. Rumors ranged from a SCC sponsored motion to remove Gopal to Clinton County chair Nicole Baker coming in-person to bring petitions calling for Krishna’s ouster.

In the end, the only issue Gopal faced was a technical question about budgeting. In his first report, he did a very good job of explaining the budget. As a newcomer I felt that I got a better handle on it than I had until this time.

In other business, the SCC decided to dedicate some funds to State Senate races. Yes, the biggest game in town is the Iowa House, but the Senate is also important.

Gentry Collins (with help from David Roderer) gave an excellent presentation from the McCain campaign. They addressed, polling results and fund-raising efforts. Afterward I found myself more excited about the ’08 race and McCain’s chances than I have ever been. SCC members will share this info with counties soon.

All in all, the committee sat around the campfire and sang Kum-bay-yah, all day Saturday.

State Central Committee Meeting

One of my favorite Iowa blogs, In Flyover Country posted today about this Saturday’s  State Central Committee meeting. In keeping with their hilarious Airplane theme, I’ll answer McCroskey’s question (paraphrased).

What can you make of this weekend’s SCC meeting?

Like Johnny, my answer is:

The SCC meeting? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl.

Seriously, the rumor mill is swirling once again. I will address some of the issues brought up In Flyover Country. I want to stress that I am writing based on my own perceptions, opinions, etc.

First what will happen about our party Chairman Stewart Iverson. I have to admit that in my new role on the SCC, I have been approached by multiple people regarding our chairman. Some have praised him and the job he is doing and warned against removing him. Others have said that they hoped I would work for his removal and do it soon.

It is a curious system whereby we always change SCC members right about the time our primary ends, when we ought to be getting our game in order for the general election. Add the flood and postponed convention to the mix and those of us who were elected this year have had only one in person SCC meeting (we have had two conference calls but they were limited to specific topics). I think a change of leadership so close to D-Day in November would be disastrous. Stewart knew he was taking on a difficult job, he should be given the opportunity to complete it.

Likewise, there will be an election for chairman in January. Stewart’s term ends in January so this is a scheduled election. In political time, January is eons from now. Therefore I will not make any predictions about who our next chairman will be. I will make this promise. In the past, when I was an outsider, I was frustrated that the SCC voted to report that Ray and Stewart were elected unanimously. Everyone knows that this was not the case, there were in each case other candidates who received votes. Individual SCC members vote by ballot and they may choose to reveal or not reveal their choices.

According to Robert’s Rules, it takes a truly unanimous vote (by ballot) to make a vote that was not unanimous appear so. Therefore I will make a promise.

As long as I am an SCC member, there will be an honest reporting of votes for chair/co-chair. Since it take a unanimous vote to hide the results, I will always dissent. And, in January, when we next elect a chair and co-chair for our party — I will report the results and the vote count on this blog.

In Flyover Country also asks about Gopal Krishna in his role as treasurer. I agree that Gopal’s removal from the list of national delegates was a surprise. I cannot imagine that SCC would consider removing Gopal at this time. First, Gopal was just elected. Second he has served in the position before and has experience. Third, I doubt that any other SCC member wants to jump in to the job at this time. I know I don’t!

Captain Oveur (at In Flyover Country) is right. We’ve had our ideological battle but now it is time to get together. Fund-raising is a top priority. We need to put aside our differences and work together to elect Republicans from the Whitehouse right down to our county courthouses. Having a harmonious SCC meeting this weekend would be a great start.

GOP Convention — Pro-Life Platform

Liberal blogger John Deeth (the guy with the red beret) has a post about Republican bloggers’ responses to the GOP Convention. I saw Deeth at our 2nd District Convention and introduced myself to him this weekend at the state convention. It is an interesting coincidence that immediately after linking to this blog, he writes about the Right to Life section in the platform. Deeth notes:

… I found it interesting that the "right to life" (sic) section was the very first item in the platform.

There is a history behind the placement of the Right to Life section in the beginning of the platform. In the 1996 State Platform (and previous platforms) pro-life planks were in a platform section labeled Health and Human Services. Over time these planks became the majority of the section in both length and number.

In 1998 I served as Secretary of the State Platform Committee under Committee Chairman Chuck Hurley (now with Iowa Family Policy Center). I got to be secretary primarily because I was the one with the laptop computer. Before the committee met, I assembled the platforms from all five congressional districts and put them into a single document. Since each district defined their sections differently, I made judgment calls about what sections to define and what planks to place in them.

The most significant thing I did as secretary was re-order and re-define the sections (and chair most of the meeting at the State Convention when Hurley had to leave). I decided to create a new section call Right to Life. When I presented it to the committee, I told them that my hope was that each year when Republicans met in their county,  district and state platform committees, they would debate, not whether the Health and Human Services section should be pro-life, but rather which pro-life statements should we put in our Right to Life section.

Since the platform sections are traditionally arranged alphabetically, Right to Life always appeared last. This year the platform committee (I chaired the Rules Committee so I was not involved in the platform) changed the name of the section from Right to Life to A Right to Life. Therefore when the sections are ordered alphabetically, A Right to Life comes first.

Renee Schulte — HD 37

One of the back stories of this weekend’s convention involves Renee Schulte, candidate for House District 37. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports this morning that Schulte has been the victim of identity theft. To add insult to injury the thief (alleged) is a campaign consultant working on fundraising for her campaign. Many of us first learned of this crime during Friday night’s district nominating conventions. Renee is always an outgoing, bubbly and personable woman and seeing her sitting in the back of the room gloomy and subdued was a tip-off to all who know her.

The HD 37 race is a critical race. If we are to take back the Iowa House, this will be one of the battlefields. Renee is a great person, highly qualified and as hard-working a candidate as I have ever met. This is a seat we can win.

I will not comment further on this crime (you can talk to Renee instead). I do want to use this opportunity to encourage my Republican readers to join me in making a financial contribution to Rennee Schulte for House District 37.

GOP Convention — Loyalty Oath

There has been a lot of buzz about a loyalty oath in the platform passed at this weekend’s State GOP Convention. At issue is the plank 7.9 which reads:

We believe candidates running as Republicans for any local or state office should be required to complete and return to the Republican Party of Iowa a signed questionnaire indicating whether the candidate agrees, disagrees or is undecided about each plank of the current party platform.

This plank absolutely calls for a loyalty oath. On the other hand neither RPI nor the State Central Committee will consider such a thing. Having served on countless platform committees, I can tell you that planks of this nature arise from a frustration among the grassroots Republicans who create the platform. This year as in years past, some candidates and party leaders have stated publicly that they have not even read the platform. 

So what good is the platform since I just said that as a SCC member I will not call for the party to enforce 7.9? The platform is the most comprehensive statement of what we as a party believe, having been vetted all the way from the precinct caucuses to the state convention. No document or statement can claim to represent the core values of this party more accurately than the platform.

I believe that the importance of the platform is in the core principles expressed in it year after year. Take a look at your old platforms and you will see that the mainstream of this party is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business, pro-defense, etc.

In an ideal world all of our candidates and leaders would support these core principles. In the real world, while I do not support a mandated loyalty oath, I think it is fair for individual Republicans to ask them where they stand.

GOP Convention — Rules

The buck stops here. (At least concerning the convention rules — I am still not in charge of seating!)

I served as chairman of the State Rules Committee for this year’s convention. While this is the first time I have ever served on the committee — I am a rules guy. The controversy of course was over rule 26:

26. There shall be no nominations from the floor for delegate-at-large, alternate delegate-at-large or presidential elector-at-large.

In 2004 (the last year we elected convention delegates) the rule read:

23. There shall be no nominating or seconding speeches for Delegates-at-Large or for Alternate Delegates-at-Large.  No nominations may be received from the floor but the report of the Committee on Nominations may be amended by substitution motion duly seconded and adopted by a majority of votes actually cast.

Speaking for the committee, our rule 26 was never intended to prevent the convention from modifying the slate of delegates by a majority vote. One of our goals was to simplify the rules and remove those things that are clearly defined in Robert’s Rules.

Since the report of the Nominating Committee is a committee report, it can be amended from the floor by majority vote like any other committee report. The proof of the matter is that even though the rule was not deleted, the Convention chose by majority vote to replace Gopal Krishna with John Ortega on the slate.

As a lesson learned, if it can be established in our institutional memory, I will do my best to see that our 2012 rules make it clear that the nominating committee presents a list of delegates but it is the convention that has the final say.

As for the election rules, I have heard several people suggest that there should be a question and answer time with the National Committeeman and Comitteewoman candidates. In this case you had Steve Roberts, an incumbent with a long record of service at the RNC. The three credible challengers, Sandy Greiner, Kim Lehman (spelled with an ‘N’ not an ‘M’ as on her stickers) and Steve Scheffler are among the most well-known and recognizable activists in our party. All of them went out of their way to state clearly where they stand. They and their surrogates also worked hard to frame their opponents’ views in their terms. All four were highly visible and available on the convention floor. If anyone came to the convention undecided, there were ample opportunities to learn about the candidates and make an informed decision.

I would certainly welcome input and on the rules throught the comment selction of this blog or the e-mail link on this page.