I was at the Night of the Rising Stars event in Des Moines last month. I talked my brother Brian into going with me. When we were milling around waiting for the event to stat, I introduced him to several of the rising stars. When we ran into Kent Sorenson, I told my brother that:

This is Kent Sorenson — he's absolutely fearless.

Today's letter by Representative Sorenson over at the Iowa Republican proves that I was right. Kent's letter takes GOP Senator Chuck Grassley to task on a variety of issues ranging from TARP to Eric Holder to marriage. A freshman state representative taking on the Senior US Senator fom his own party in his home state — Kent is definitely fearless.

Sorenson closes his letter with:

You have been in the U.S. Senate for a long time, but I’m guessing our country has never needed principled and bold leadership from its leaders more during your tenure than it does right now.

We are facing a war for our very way of life, both at home and abroad. Senator Grassley, we need you to set an example of that principled and bold leadership that will inspire us both here in Iowa and across the country.

Iowans cannot afford any more of Obama-Culver-Gronstal government. However, I fear that unless our party shows them something more righteous than “the lesser of two evils” as a comparison, that’s exactly what we’ll get.

Senator Grassley, Iowans need the bold convictions of our party platform like never before. I wish to partner with you in advancing that platform if you’re interested in offering the principled and bold leadership Iowans need.

I could not agree more.

The 2010 Caucus on a Saturday

The Republican Party of Iowa announced today that the 2010 Cacucuses will be held on Saturday, January 23rd at 1pm. The Iowa Democratic Party has agreed to hold their caucuses at the same time.

I was on the State Central Committee when we chose the date and the intent was to try and get more voters involved in what are generally, lightly attended non-presidential year caucuses. The Des Moines Register's Katie Obradovich says:

That’s a really good idea and it will serve as a great test before the next presidential-year caucuses in 2012.

Don't expect to see Saturday caucuses in a presidential year. In order to get the maximum effect from Iowa's First in the Nation Caucuses, they need to occur during a normal weekday news cycle. The caucuses are timed so that presidential straw poll data will be available fo rthe late news.

Obradovich also notes that the Saturday date will cause conflicts for some observant Jews. This is certainly true, but any date will have conflicts. It has been my experience that the caucuses make it very easy for newcomers to get involved in politics locally. I think the Saturday experiment is a good one.

Fong on Gay Marriage “… Iowans deserve the right to vote on a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman …”

In my previous post I wanted to be certain that readers of this blog understand that I am a supporter of Christian Fong. I am not an official spokesman for Fong campaign but I am a committed supporter. Therefore, when you read this blog you should keep that in mind.

I read the post on the Iowa Republican about Christian's interview with KCRG's Beth Malicki. The post was titiled:

Fong on Gay Marriage: “We can’t label people as an issue … condemn them for what they hold so deeply.”

Of course the implication is that Christain supports gay marriage, the post also noted that I resigned from the SCC to support Christian. Let me be clear on this, Christian Fong is not a supporter of Gay marriage (nor am I). If you listen to the discussion you will find that he supports a constitutional amendment defiing marriage as between one man and one woman and believes that Iowans deserve the right to vote on the issue. These beliefs are precisely in line with my own.

This is a transcript of the entire segment on gay marriage:

Malicki: "If you're for the next generation, how can you speak out on things and speak out against things like gay marriage when many young people in Iowa embrace the idea of one man and another man loving each other or one woman and another woman loving each other and you have been vocal about being against that."

Fong: "It certainly is the topic of the day. A lot of Iowans care about this. So, let me be clear where I stand.

"I believe that Iowans deserve the right to vote on a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman it is a constitutional amendment that I would personally support."

"At the same time, we can't ever label people as an issue. We can't label them as a problem. I am not embarrassed about where I stand on that issue. But at the same time, I don't look across at anybody that has a different view. I don't condemn them for what they hold so deeply, and I invite everyone to the table. Let's keep talking about this is Iowa. In Iowa, we are big enough to deal with tough problems, with tough topics and do it in a respectful and honoring way. That encourages dialog rather than perpetuating an I'm right you're wrong style of politics, I'm not about that."

Here is the full video of the segment.

Many Iowans (including me) care deeply about the issue of gay marriage. But Iowans are concerned about other issues as well, schools, crime, the economy. In order to both win the governorship and govern effectively our candidates must be able to address all the issues that concern Iowans.

Note to the Reader

In my previous post, I printed the letter I sent to Republican leaders in the Second Congressional District announcing my resignation from the State Central Committee. I resigned in order to keep my promise to not endorse candidates in Republican primaries while serving on the SCC.

In the interest of full disclosure to my readers, I want to be very clear that I resigned in order to devote my energies to helping my good friend Christian Fong win the Republican nomination and become the next governor of Iowa. Unlike some other blogs (or even other media), I want you as readers to know that when you read a post here, you are reading a post from a Fong supporter. On the other hand I am not blogging in an official capacity for the Fong campaign. The opinions presented here are as always my own.

Furthermore, as I no longer hold an official leadership position in the party, I may decide that I have freedom to discuss issues that I did not while serving on the SCC.

This blog has gone through an evolution. Initially it was anonymous. After I was elected to the SCC, the tone changed (voluntarily) to reflect the position of leadership I held. Most recently, I am not anonymous but I am no longer in the party leadership either. It will be an interesting ride.

My Resignation from the SCC

Dear Second District Republicans,

Fifteen months ago, I was elected to represent the Second Congressional District on the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa. During my tenure, I have worked to bring openness to the process of electing a State Party Chairman and for the first time in my memory, the candidates and
vote totals were published on blogs and tweeted in real time. As a member of State Organization Committee, I have helped place into motion a plan which will make national delegate selection a
part of the normal district conventions and do away with the Friday night meetings before the state convention. I have served as head of the Technology Committee that is working to provide a better online presence for the party and better communicate with grassroots Republicans all across the state. Finally I have supported all of our candidates who have passed the most important litmus test of all – they won their primaries.

When I was elected, I promised that I would neither seek nor accept a paid staff or consultant position with any campaign or issue-based organization. I further promised that while serving on the State Central Committee, I would remain neutral and not make any endorsements in contested Republican
primaries. I am excited that we have such an excellent field of Republican candidates for governor.  It has always been my intent to remain neutral in the upcoming gubernatorial primary and give my full support to the winner.

However, last week everything changed. Last Friday my good friend and fellow Eastern Iowan, Christian Fong announced that he intended to run for governor. I ran for State Central Committee because I  wanted to make a difference, I wanted not just to elect Republicans but to see those core principles defined in our platform enacted. Christian is a social conservative with excellent business and financial credentials; he is a visionary and a leader in our community; he is a husband, a father and most importantly a man of integrity. He is exactly what Iowa needs. With Christian in the race I now believe that I can make the biggest difference for our state, our district, my community and my family by working as a volunteer to help him win the GOP nomination and beat Chet Culver in 2010.

Earlier today, I sent a letter to RPI Chairman Matt Strawn resigning my position on the State Central Committee effective immediately. By resigning now, I hope that the Second District Executive Committee will be able to act quickly and elect my replacement in time for the September State Central Committee meeting.

It has been an honor to serve.

David R. Chung

Former Second
District Representative

Central Committee – Republican Party of Iowa


My Run-In with Haley Barbour

This last summer, I had the honor and privilege of representing Iowa on the Republican National Platform Committee. As a delegate from Iowa, I did my best to work with other delegates to try and shape the National Platform so that it reflects the same values that the Iowa Platform does.

The National Platform is not like our State Platform. The process is quite different. In Iowa, we draft a State Platform based on input from county and district level platforms. The National Platform is drafted by the candidate's team — this was the McCain platform. Therefore, I was surprised that the draft platform was so socially conservative, more so than McCain himself. (On the last day of the convention, McCain put out his own platform that reflected his more moderate views.)

During the platform discussion, the McCain camp had their team in the room and they read the various motions before they came to the floor. If someone made a motion that they didn't like, they would be invited back behind a curtain and a full-court press woodshed would be laid on to get them to withdraw the motion. I have to admit that in advocating for the issues in the Iowa Platform — I got taken behind the McCain woodshed a time or two.

On one of those occasions, in debate I had a run-in with Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. The issue was drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The draft platform mentioned all sorts of domestic sources of energy except Ethanol and ANWR. (I stood up for Ethanol too!) Led by one of the delegates from Alaska, I joined a spirited discussion of why ANWR was critical to our nations energy security. I challenged delegates to speak up if their state platforms did not explicitly call for drilling in ANWR – none did. <modesty-off>I gave a great speech.</modesty-off> But it was a Quioxtic effort. The McCain people floor managed the committee well and they won the day.

It was during this debate that Gov. Barbour spoke, he did not address the substance of the issue, whether it was a good idea or bad to drill in ANWR, he simply said, in his Southern Good 'ol Boy way: (As closely as I can recall).

John McCain is our candidate and we don't want to poke a stick in his eye.

I did not have a chance to speak to the issue again, but I muttered under my breath that it was John McCain poking a stick in our eyes.

Two weeks ago, I heard Governor Barbour's now infamous speech at the Night of the Rising Stars event in Des Moines. Barbour was charismatic, witty and entertaining. He even made a joke about his predecessor at the RGA, Mark Sanford. Overall I thought it was a great evening — so why does my eye still hurt?

The TEA Party and the Grand Old Party

Today is Independence Day and across Iowa and the nation there will be all sorts of festivities including TEA Parties. I had hoped to attend the Cedar Rapids TEA Party but today is the last day of my son's leave before he and his fellow soldiers of the 82nd Airborne (hooah!) deploy to Afghanistan — today is his day.

I read with interest the article You May Be a Teapublican by Dave Davidson over at The Iowa Republican. In it Davidson tries to tie the TEA Party and the Grand Old Party together, he even has a TEApubliican website. Davidson says:

If you think Haley Barbour who visited recently should go back to
Mississippi after a pathetic compromising plea to vote for pro choice
Republican candidates just to win …

If you like Chuck Norris and the presidential pick Chuck Norris endorsed…

If you think having the 10 commandments hanging on the wall of our
court buildings may help our judiciary branch catch a clue of what is
right and wrong…

If you think it’s something for Bob Vander Plaats to make the front
page of the Des Moines Register explaining to Chet Culver how to
deliver the leadership Iowa needs…

You May Be A TEAPublican!

I appreciate Davidson's effort to bring the TEA Party movement into the Republican fold. However the TEA Party movement is not about Haley Barbour's Big Tent or support for Mike Huckabee or the Ten Commandments or Bob Vander Plaats proposed executive order on marriage. Many people in the TEA Party movement would find themselves on opposite sides of these issues. The TEA Party movement is about limited government, responsible spending and tax accountability.

These are core Republican issues. They are not the only core issues but as a party, we Republicans should own these issues. The problem is that when we were in the majority, we had a spending problem. Our presidential candidate (and our president) supported the first bailout. When we had Republican majorities in both houses and a Republican president we did a decent job on taxes but we failed the test on limited government and reduced spending.

Like Davidson, I think that the natural political home for the TEA Party movement is the Republican Party. We are the party of limited government. We are the party of responsible spending. We are the party of tax accountability. At least we say we are.

Unfortunately we have strayed from these core beliefs. If we are to win over voters from the TEA Party movement we must be credible and true to our Republican principles. They have a right to be skeptical.