In Iowa politics, we refer to the non-presidential years as off-years. The reason is that Iowa’s First in the Nation Caucuses are the main event. Several Republicans seem to be jockeying for position leading up to the 2016 caucuses, we’ve heard from Jindahl, Rubio, and Huckabee. Rand Paul went on a trip to Israel, arranged by the American Family Association, with National Committeewoman Tamara Scott and RPI Chairman AJ Spiker. But last week, everything changed. When Tom Harkin decided not to seek a sixth term in the Senate. Politicos have been waiting anxiously for the retirement of both Grassley and Harkin. For Harkin to step down at a time when his seat will be up for election in the sixth year of a Democrat president’s term is a dream come true for Iowa Republicans.
There are a number of intriguing scenarios, including a potentially competitive governor’s race, two open US House seats and the open US Senate seat. No matter who decides to run or which scenario plays out, 2014 will certainly be an intense political year.
Watching the blogs and commentators, a common sub-theme has been the question of whether SCC members will remain neutral in the inevitable primaries. I can tell you with certainty, that SCC members will not recuse themselves from the 2014 primaries.
RPI has no rule preventing SCC members or officers from endorsing candidates or even taking paid positions on campigns during primaries.
Five members have, in the past, served concurrently in RPI leadership positions and as paid staffers for campaigns:
- National Commiteeman Steve Scheffler (Steve has said he will not take a paid position in the future)
- RPI Chairman AJ Spiker
- RPI Co-Chairman David Fischer
- RPI Finance Chairman Drew Ivers
- SCC Member Wes Enos (Wes has said he will not take a paid position in the future)
At both the 2002 and 2012 state conventions, delegates rejected amendments to the RPI constitution calling for some form of neutrality for RPI members in primaries. (While I was a co-author of the 2012 amendment, I believe it over-reached. I still believe that the grassroots would support a move to prevent party leaders form getting paid by campaigns in primaries, though I digress.)
The SCC Organization Committee is considering a proposed amendment to the RPI bylaws. The purpose of the amendment it to keep RPI neutral in primaries, however the amendment specifically calls out the right of members to support candidates in primaries. The last line of the proposed amendment is:
… This section shall not preclude any member of The Republican Party of Iowa from individually supporting candidates in Primary races.
Some have read this post (pictured below) on the party’s Facebook to say that SCC members will remain neutral in primaries. What this actually says is that the party will remain neutral — members will not.
To be honest, I don’t really have much of a problem with SCC members endorsing primary candidates. I have promised that I will not do so, but I set that standard for myself and promised my district that I would honor it. My daughter is a 1L at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, she says that I am naive because I hold myself to a higher standard than those around me, even if it gives them an advantage.
I do however have a problem with party leaders taking a paycheck from primary candidates. I think it sends a message that this party can be bought — maybe it can. (And yes, I had a problem with Matt Strawn taking a paycheck from Strong America Now who was trying to influence the 2012 caucuses.)
So the question isn’t whether SCC members will interject themselves into the 2014 primaries — rather the question is, which members and who will be paying.