Coming to Grips with Ted Cruz at the National Convention

I was not planning on being a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. But when Ted Cruz won Wisconsin, and it looked like Donald Trump would go into the convention with less than the 1237 delegates necessary to win the nomination, I decided to run for a delegate slot. I ran hoping that there would be no decisive winner and that I could be part of a movement to elect Ted Cruz as our nominee and then president of the United States. I was not and am not a part of the #NeverTrump movement. Donald Trump is the nominee. While I would describe myself as libertarian-leaning I find the Johnson/Weld ticket to odious to consider and I am most definitely #NeverHillary.

I was on the floor of the convention when Ted Cruz gave his speech. It was a great speech, perhaps the speech of the convention. He spoke of those ideals that not just Republicans, but all Americans should share. I was up on my feet cheering so often that I finally decided to remain standing. But as he wound it down it became clear that he was not going to do the thing he had pledged to do — he was not going to endorse Donald Trump.

I Ted Cruz affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.

I think there could have been two good outcomes to this.

1) Ted Cruz could have challenged Donald Trump to a duel. Perhaps pistols at dawn by the lake at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Duels have certainly been fought over less. As Iowans we evidently support duels since in 2015, we repealed Article I, Section 5 of the Iowa Constitution, the stricture preventing people who participate in duels (even as seconds) from holding office in Iowa!

2) Ted Cruz could have called a press conference about his endorsement before the convention and given the speech (OK the important part is the Q&A at the end) he gave to the Texas delegation on Wednesday morning. In other words he could have explained why he could not endorse. He could have been out front and owned it regardless of the consequences.

I like Ted Cruz, I wanted to go to Cleveland to help him become the next president of the United States, I just wish he had done in this case, what he has done so many times before — taken the issue (the pledge) gotten out front, owned it, and let the chips fall where they may!

The course of action that Ted Cruz took, by not endorsing at the convention, and then having to explain it to his home state delegation afterwards almost seemed like damage control.

The Walkout That Wasn’t!

The Whips at work on Marlys Popma

One of the  nice things about being retired from the Republican State Central Committee is that I do not have to parse my words. Since I am no longer in leadership, I don’t have to worry about people thinking that I speak for the Republican Party of Iowa. I never did and I do not now.

Imagine my surprise when at the convention, several reporters came up to me and ask me about the walkout by the Iowa delegation. I opened up Facebook and saw several posts either congratulating or excoriating the Iowa delegation for this action. The problem is:

There was no walkout – I was there on the floor

Do not believe what the media is telling you. There was no walkout. Let me tell you the real story.

First a disclaimer. I voted for Ted Cruz in the Iowa Caucuses.was elected by the Republicans of the First Congressional District to be a delegate here in Cleveland.  I made no secret of the fact that if Donald Trunp did not get 1237 delegates, I was going to try and help Ted Cruz win the nomination. But I also resolved that I did not want the RNC changing the rules to bring in a white knight candidate someone like a Romney or Ryan to be the nominee. I have been consistent I  am #NeverHillary, not #NeverTrump. I believe that the Iowa delegation is bound to vote according to the bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa and I helped craft those bylaws.

So, what happened today? I was part of a movement to call for a Roll Call vote on the Rules. Let me be clear, I do not want to unbind the delegates. But I have concerns about the rules. A lot of it is minutiae but some issues like encouraging states to hold closed primaries, continuing the tradition of making rules committee members available to their constituents, not consolidating power in the RNC or chairman. But all of these are important.

In order to make this happen supporters got signatures from a majority of delegates in 11 states including Iowa. The picture above is the Trump and RNC team whips working to get delegates to withdraw their signatures. In the vote on the rules, the chairman took a quick vote and ignored calls for a roll call and then left the stage for some time. Then the chairman came back and said that 3 states had rescinded their signatures and there were not enough states supporting the motion for it to be considered. Then the chairman did something totally inappropriate … he toke a voice vote on the motion that he had just told the convention was out of order. Then he declared that they ‘ayes’ had prevailed. Thats when thing really got crazy.

I have chaired portions of numerous state, district and county conventions and I can tell you that as a chair it is very difficult to tell the out come of a close voice vote. The problem was THE VOTE SHOULD NEVER HAVE OCCURRED IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

Empty seats in the Iowa Delegation

As for the walk out, Wes Enos and I did indeed walk out shortly after the vote. The reason is, we’d been in the hall since the beginning and the rules vote was the only significant business of the morning session. We both went to seek out alternate delegates and trade credentials to give them a chance to get on the floor.

Now there may be pictures (like this one) of empty seats in the Iowa Delegation. Obviously there were several empty seats. But they do not tell the whole story. I actually think there were three reasons for those empty seats:

  1. Several of the most well known leaders in the party were (perhaps rightly) concerned about being on TV or in still pictures in the middle of an apparent revolt.
  2. Some of the high-ranking folks who supported the roll call were elsewhere in the hall negotiating with the Trump team.
  3. Chairman Kaufmann said in the Des Moines Register that ranking delegation members were meeting with the RNC to preserve First in the Nation.

There were empty seats but there was no walk out.

[[Note: I have been told that two delegates did walk out. I do not know who they are and they did not make a fuss about it because I was on the floor and had no idea that it happened.]]

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the First Amendment

I saw in my Facebook feed this week that one of my Facebook friends Pastor Michael Demastus and his church, the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ have filed a lawsuit against the commissioners of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission among others. The suit is over a church’s right to

… to stop the government from censoring the church’s teaching on biblical sexuality and from forcing the church to open its restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.

I should probably toss in a disclaimer here, in 2010 I applied to serve on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. When it was made clear to me that the Democratic leadership in the Iowa Senate would fight my confirmation, I withdrew my application.  One of my friends, knowing that I am very involved in Iowa politics sent me an email about the lawsuit asking for my opinion. My friend sent me link to a Fox News article and the following quote:

Does this law apply to churches? Sometimes.  Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public.

I have to admit that I did not read the article before responding. I had already been reading about the suit so I looked at the quote he sent. I quickly replied:

I am not sure where the examples in the e.g. came from. I have trouble believing that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission used the language ‘church service open to the public’  as an example of something other than a bona fide religious purpose.

I was certain that he was quoting someone’s opinion. The idea that a church service open to the public could be considered anything other than a bona fide religious purpose seemed absurd. It must be hyperbole on the part of Pastor Demastus or his allies. Imagine my surprise when I found  the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s pamphlet online, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, A Public Accommodations Provider’s Guide to Iowa Law.

The text my friend had sent was a direct quote from the pamphlet! While churches in Iowa are exempt from this law with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose the problem is that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is the one that gets to decide what qualifies as a bona fide religious purpose. The pamphlet suggests that a church service open to the public is somehow not a bona fide religious purpose!

Public church services are core to the mission of churches of nearly every denomination. Considering this along with the definition of harassment from the pamphlet, it is very likely that my pastor in our public services and I as a Bible teacher in our adult Sunday School have both been in violation of Iowa law.

We have long been asked, “what do you have to fear from granting special rights to homosexuals?”


The State Party and the List

The Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa

In my last post I called out the State Party and the SCC for choosing not to make the lists of caucus attendees available to county central committees in electronic form. I pointed out that in the official caucus handbooks, sent to all 99 counties, RPI had assured county chairs that,

The state party will return to the county a list of persons who attended each caucus in the county.

Instead the SCC voted to give paper lists of first-time caucus-goers to the counties. One SCC member told me that this was a “…a good faith attempt to address the needs and concerns of all involved …” I felt that this action was a ‘breach of promise” — violating both the letter and the spirit of what RPI told the counties it would do.

Earlier today, the SCC met in a conference call and reversed itself, deciding to make the list available to counties with some provisions to maintain the value of the list for RPI. Here is the text of the resolution passed unanimously today:

The Republican Party Iowa will make available to each county chair who makes written request the list of caucus attendees for his or her county at the 2016 caucus, in electronic form if available, and only upon execution of an agreement by those authorized to bind the county central committee that the list will be used exclusively by the county for its own purposes and not transferred to any campaign or other individual or organization for a fee or otherwise, such executed agreement to be received no later than October 1, 2016.

I appreciate the SCC’s willingness to listen to the counties and reverse themselves on this decision.