Even the most casual observer of Iowa GOP politics knows that the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) is going through a time of turmoil. Anytime a party suffers defeat the way we did on November 6th, the soul-searching begins immediately and the finger-pointing soon follows. This process is natural and necessary and I hope our party will emerge stronger from it.
I was elected to a third term on the RPI State Central Committee by the newly formed 1st Congressional District. Therefore I am a party insider. Over the years I have been called many things but I would self-identify as a Christian conservative with libertarian leanings (I know some readers may disagree). But I can say, without argument, that I am not a part of the ruling coalition at RPI since I ran against the Liberty Slate for SCC and National Committeeman.
My good friends over at The Iowa Republican and Under The Golden Gnome have been extremely critical of RPI and its leadership. I will be the first to admit that some of the criticism is valid (and applies to me as a member of the SCC) but some of it is not. In this first post in a series on RPI I will take a contrarian position and defend a much maligned action of RPI that I supported and would support again if given the opportunity.
When I received the agenda for the September SCC meeting, I read item 13 on the agenda:
At first I was opposed to this proposal. With an Iowa Senate majority seemingly within reach didn’t it make more sense to target this money to districts where a pickup was possible or the at very least where a struggling GOP incumbent might us it to retain their seat? To say the least, I was skeptical. And if my recollection is correct, when this item came up for discussion, it was National Committeeman Scheffler who articulated the position that strategic targeting would be a wiser course of action.
Now, in this series of posts, I may distance myself from some RPI actions, but in this case I can not. I believe that many SCC members came to the meeting undecided on the issue, as did I. But in the end I spoke out strongly in favor of this expenditure and <modesty-off>I like to think that I persuaded a few people to vote for it.</modesty-off>
The reason I supported the proposal is that I have been a candidate (albeit for the non-partisan office of School Board) and I know what it is like to try and raise money, to get out and meet the public to knock on doors and make phone calls. And most of all I know what it is like to feel like you are in the fight alone. Now to the Iowa Legislature, I am a lifelong Iowan but have only lived in Cedar Rapids for about twenty years. For the majority of those twenty years and through three re-districtings, I have been represented by the same two Democrats, Rep. Todd Taylor and Sen. Wally Horn. My district is strongly Democrat but every election we try to fill the roster and challenge every seat and I have seen numerous Republicans run in my district only to be soundly defeated. Over the years I have tried to help these GOP challengers to one degree or another but each of us understanding that it was a Quixotic battle.
I supported this proposal as a way to encourage every legislative candidate who made the effort to run under the GOP flag, realize that their party values and supports their effort. That they are doing a good work even if ultimately they do not prevail.
There are enough legitimate reasons to criticize RPI (and by that I mean us — I cannot exclude myself) but to suggest this was a stealth effort to funnel party money to Liberty candidates I believe misses the point. As I have stated publicly on this site, I did not support AJ for RPI chairman, but I like AJ personally and IMHO the poor fellow is damned if he do and damned if he don’t.