It is a great day to be a Republican

Perhaps my memory is faulty but it has certainly been a while since we have had a full slate of Republicans running on a statewide ticket. When was the last time we had candidates for:

  • Governor (and Lt. Gov)
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Secretary of State
  • State Auditor
  • State Treasurer
  • Attorney General

I read over at The Iowa Republican that we may have a full slate this year. Apparently Brenna Findley, Steve King's chief of staff is considering throwing her hat in the ring to run against long-time Democrat Attorney General Tom Miller. Miller was first elected when I was in high school (and since I am an old guy — that was a long time ago!).

Brenna is a young woman with an impressive list of accomplishments. She is an Iowa girl who was homeschooled and went to Drake University. She then earned a law degree at the University of Chicago. The Iowa Republican piece has more details on this impressive young woman. 

I met Brenna while serving on the State Platform Committee some years ago. If I recall correctly Craig Robinson may have been the chairman that year. I was very impressed by Brenna. She was intelligent and articulate (she graduated from UC Law after all) and she was enthusiastic about core Republican issues.

Brenna is a rising star in our party, and this is a great year to be a Republican.

“I voted for Obama, I voted for Obama … ???”

This is an odd one. My daughter is a member of WestSide Delegation, the varsity show choir at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids. If you don’t know what show choir is — watch the Fox TH Show Glee


When they are at competitions they have several cheers that they do as a group between performances. My daughter told me that they often chant:

I voted for Obama, I voted for Obama, …

She said that sometimes she is so caught up in the cheering that even she finds herself joining in before she realizes what she is saying. I asked her why they do it, she says she does not know. None of them are even old enough to have actually voted for Obama.

I have to ask my older children whether they cheered, “I voted for George W.” or “I voted for Bill Clinton”. Somehow I doubt it.

Linn County and the Loyalty Oath

Last Tuesday night the Linn County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution

containing the following text:

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED by the Republican Central Committee, Linn County, Iowa, this date met in lawful session, that the Central Committee encourages contested primary candidates for Governor to pledge support for the primary process and of the eventual duly elected Republican nominee so that our primary objectives of defeating Chet Culver and electing a Republican as Governor of Iowa is met. This pledge shall be asked of each candidate for Governor upon the first public event attended by said candidate or at the Iowa Caucuses held at Washington High School, whichever shall occur first.

The resolution was authored by Brent Oleson, a Republican Linn County Supervisor and Branstad supporter. The resolution of course is a response to Iowa Family PAC and Kent Sorenson's endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats and un-endorsement of Terry Branstad fueling speculation that should Vander Plaats not win the nomination he might even run a third-party campaign for governor.

While I did not support the resolution, I would not go as far as Al over at the Iowa Defense Alliance and call it madness either. In debate, I led the minority opposition and the resolution passed by a relatively narrow margin. Now, I do believe that we as Republicans should support our candidates and the primary process — my problem was that this resolution was an attempt by a Branstad supporter to embarrass Vander Plaats and I did not want my county central committee to insert itself into the process in this way.

At our Caucus both Rod Roberts and Bob Vander Plaats gave speeches. Afterwards, Linn County Chairman, Tim Palmer (editor of the Hawkeye Review), spoke about the resolution. He said that the loyalty pledge had been sent to each of the campaigns and that Branstad, Rants and Roberts had responded that they would support the eventual nominee. The Vander Plaats campaign said that they would have a press release clarifying their position soon. Tim may have given more detail but that is my recollection. 

It puts Vander Plaats in an interesting position. If he agrees to the pledge, he runs the danger of alienating some of his strongest and most vocal supporters who have said that they will not support Branstad even if he wins the primary. On the other hand if he does not agree to the pledge he runs the risk of alienating others in the party who consider all four of our candidates to be a better choice than re-electing Chet Culver. People seem to forget that in 2006, Vander Plaats played the good party soldier and suspended his campaign to run on a Nussle/Vander Plaats ticket. It will be interesting to see what he does this time.

Well played, Brent, well played.

Linn County GOP Caucus

It is becoming a tradition in Linn County to hold our off-year caucuses in a single venue. The disadvantage is that it becomes a much longer drive for those living in the northern part of the county. The advantages are that it is easier to find one location than 70+, by concentrating a larger number of Republicans in a single place it allows the county party and candidates a forum. This year we had Bob Vander Plaats, Rod Roberts, and three other state wide candidates as well as all three 2nd District congressional hopefuls. And while the speeches went long it was still a good opportunity — in some case the first — for Linn County Republicans to hear some of these candidates.

To me the caucuses are a big family reunion. It was great to see so many friends and colleagues that I have met over the years. Like any family, we have our occasional quarrels and that one weird relation (in case my own family is reading this i am speaking hypothetically). I got an unofficial count of 341 my recollection of the last off-year caucus is that we had closer to 125 in attendance.

There was an electricity in the room. The word for the day was Massachusetts! I know I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch but Speaker Paulsen has a nice ring to it — much better than Minority Leader Paulsen. (Rep. Kraig Paulsen is from Linn County)

While the turnout was excellent, I did not see any overt indication that there was a huge influx of newcomers, specifically from the Tea Party movement. I am not saying they were not there (a double negative), rather if they were they did not stand out from the rest of the Republican milieu.

Props to the Linn County team consisting of the Central Committee Executives and many other volunteers who made the caucus an administrative and organizational success.

Harry Reid on Obama

In the new book Game Change, Harry Reid is quoted as referring to Barack Obama as:

… a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

This revelation has brought about numerous calls for Reid’s resignation. Of course most of these calls come from Republican’s like RNC Chairman Michael Steele. On the other hand, Democrats from President Obama on down have been quick to forgive Reid.

This reminds me of our local hero, (white) Iowa Sentaor Jack Hatch, who famously refereed to himself and and (African American) State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad as niggers. Iowa Democrats rallied to Hatches aid.

As I have mentioned before, I am as black as Barack. So to my friends of all colors on the right — let it go. After all:

Barack Obama is a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

So what?

McGee endorses Branstad

Isaiah McGee is a former Waukee City Councilman and Mayoral candidate. I got to know Isaiah when we were colleagues on the Republican State Central Committee. I have a great deal of respect for Isaiah. He is young, articulate and intelligent. He is an asset to the SCC. Isaiah, is a standup guy, he is one of the good guys.

I got this tweet last night from Isaiah:.

After much thought & prayer I decided I can’t sit back & be neutral in this Gov primary. Here’s my choice.

The link is to a Branstad press release announcing that McGee will serve as Branstad’s Young Professional’s chair. McGee is a good pickup for Branstad, he is charismatic and will be able to reach the targeted demographic.

I have gotten some emails and messages from people asking about whether I thought Isaiah should resign from the SCC. As I said in a previous post:

I believe SCC members should not endorse nor accept paid staff or consultant positions with campaigns during primaries.

I made this promise to my district when they elected me and  I kept this promise when I resigned in order to support my friend Christian Fong. I criticized my successor on the SCC because because she (and the other two candidates for the position) promised to remain neutral and she also made an endorsement in the gubernatorial primary.

So, why am I not calling for Isaiah’s resignation? Because he made no such promise. He violated no RPI rules. His decision to endorse Branstad is between him, his district and his God.

However, given the potential bruising nature of the upcoming primary, it is my personal view that candidates and all Republicans have the right to expect that the party be neutral and treat each one fairly. When members of the SCC endorse candidates in primaries or work as staff or consultants on primary campaigns it gives the entire party the appearance of partiality. Not just for 2010, but for 2012. With talk of campaigns skipping the Iowa Caucuses, It is critical we preserve both the integrity and perception of integrity of our state party.

Tiger’s next move

I was on my way to Ireland on a business trip and to celebrate 27 years of marriage to my lovely wife Janice. Our flight from New York was canceled so we re-routed via Atlanta.

We are enjoying the coldest winter that Dublin has ever seen. In the Atlanta airport, I saw this Accenture ad with Tiger woods. Pretty poignant.

The subtext reads:

We know what it takes to be a Tiger

Apparently now that Accenture really knows what it takes, they have fired him as their spokesperson.

I have been so blessed in my marriage that anytime I see divorce — it breaks my heart.