I have to admit that I love GOP conventions. I get to see many old friends and make new ones. The conventions really are like a big family reunion. Of course every family has its own little eccentricities. Our 2nd District GOP family is in the middle of a hotly contested congressional primary, add in the governors race and their is bound to be tension.
State Representative Tom Sands chaired the convention. I thought he did a good job. Usually the convention chair is a ceremonial position and involves little controversy. Tom definitely got a workout as chair Saturday.
This year there were more speakers than usual.Now, this is a good problem to have because I cannot remember the last time we have had a full slate of statewide candidates. From a logistical point of view it was challenging, we had our 4 congressional candidates, 3 gubernatorial candidates, Senator Grassley, Auditor Vaudt and Ag Secretary Northey. We also had Brenna Findley for Attorney General, two Secretary of State candidates and two candidates for state treasurer. Add RPI Chairman Matt Strawn and you can see the logistical problem. The speeches took a couple of hours. But again I want to stress that this is a good thing. It means that we have challengers up and down the ticket, but it does make the convention planning difficult.
After the speakers we had nine candidates run for three State Central Committee positions. Since winning required a majority, it took 8 ballots and a couple of hours to finally get all three elected. In 2008 we went from 7pm to 1am trying to elect our 3 delegates and 3 alternates to the National GOP Convention so this is probably not a surprise. If my memory is correct, in 2008 we were unable to come up with a mechanism to drop the low vote getters from the list so it took several ballots to get our delegates selected. I chaired the Rules Committee and we adopted a rule that called for the candidate with the least votes to be dropped after the second and all subsequent rounds of voting. There were a couple of attempts to suspend the rules to either accept a plurality instead of a majority of drop the bottom two candidates rather than the bottom one — neither attempt to speed up the process succeeded.
I think it was about 3pm when we finally had our 3 SCC members. At this time, delegates became aware that we only had the facility until 5pm. As Representative Sands was preparing to hand the convention over to the Platform Committee chair, Don Racheter, a motion was made to suspend the rules and accept the proposed platform as submitted by the Platform Committee. This motion passed by a 2/3 majority and then things went crazy.
The motion essentially ended any possibility of discussing the platform. There were over 20 proposed amendments that had received enough signatures and had been accepted by the Platform Committee. Several delegates were upset and a number of points of order and other forms of objection were raised but to no avail. The motion was in order and passed appropriately.
There are three primary items of business at our district conventions: 1) Giving our district and state-wide candidates an opportunity to address district activists 2) to elect SCC members and committee persons for state convention committees 3) to finalize a platform.
It is my view that different people come for different reasons but for some reason it is always the platform that gets short shrift. I hope in the future we can come up with a way to do all three of these things in the time we have for our convention. I am open to suggestions.