The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention today, but it wasn't the unity-fest Terry Branstad was hoping for.
Representative Steve King nominated Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor, and Reynolds emphasized socially conservative stands in her speech to the convention. Former gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts declined efforts to nominate him for lieutenant governor, endorsing the Branstad/Reynolds ticket.
State Representative Dwayne Alons (not the sharpest knife in the Republican drawer) nominated Bob Vander Plaats for lieutenant governor, saying, "This nomination is not about one person, one man or one individual. I believe I am speaking for a grassroots effort that has been going on since the beginning of Bob's campaign." Vander Plaats took up the challenge:
"I fully understand and respect Gov. Branstad's ability to recommend to [the delegates] who he wants as his lieutenant governor," Vander Plaats said in an address to the Republican Party of Iowa Convention. "But it would be hypocritical of me to spend more than a year championing government by the people, of the people and for the people and then ignore the will of the people."
The final delegate vote was 749 for Reynolds, 579 for Vander Plaats. I'm surprised Reynolds only managed about 56 percent of the delegate votes. I expected her to do better, especially after State Rep Kent Sorenson endorsed Reynolds for lieutenant governor last night. Sorenson thinks Chuck Grassley is too moderate and was such a passionate supporter of Vander Plaats for governor that he vowed in January never to vote for Branstad under any circumstances. As far as I know, Sorenson still hasn't officially endorsed Branstad for governor, but I imagine he will have to do so if he doesn't want to lose moderate Republican support in his campaign for Iowa Senate district 37 this fall. I stand by my prediction that Vander Plaats won't run for governor as an independent.
Branstad made a lot of promises in his speech to Republican delegates. For instance, he again said he'll veto any budget that spends more than 99 percent of projected state revenues. When will Branstad show Iowans how he would have balanced the current-year budget without using any money from federal stimulus funds or the state reserves?
Branstad promised to reverse former Governor Tom Vilsack's executive order allowing convicted felons to get their voting rights back, although this liveblog suggests he wrongly attributed that executive order to current Governor Chet Culver. Putting more restrictions on voting rights would help Iowa Republicans, in part because of the enormous racial disparity in Iowa prisons. I would like more details on whether Branstad would let any felons apply for their voting rights. If his running mate deserved the chance to stay in public life after two drunk driving citations, then surely others who have served their time should have the chance to exercise their voting rights.
This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. Anyone spent time at the downtown art festival? I hope to swing by tomorrow after I hit the art show at the fairgrounds.
UPDATE: Your unintentional comedy of the day comes from The Iowa Republican blog's top story for Monday, titled, "A Stronger Republican Party Emerges From Contentious Convention". Here's the lead paragraph by Craig Robinson:
Don't believe what you are reading in the newspaper or what you are seeing on the local news. The Republican Party in Iowa isn't divided. It's not coming off of a contentious convention. It matured and now is poised to make huge gains in November.
But Craig, you just described the convention as "contentious" in your own headline. How anyone would try to spin Saturday's events as the sign of a party not divided is completely beyond me.
Branstad had some tough words for Vander Plaats on Monday: "Remember that the person who opposed [Reynolds] for the nomination has been running here for 10 years, has probably spoken to everyone in that room 10 times," Branstad said. "We took the risk of going to the most conservative base of our party, and we won it fair and square, just like I won the primary fair and square."
The head of Mike Huckabee's HUCK PAC, Hogan Gidley, told the Washington Post, "It would be disrespectful to Mr. Vander Plaats and to many of Governor Huckabee's friends and supporters in Iowa if he were to endorse Governor Branstad without Mr. Vander Plaat's [sic] having already done so."
Meanwhile, the Cedar Rapids Gazette's Todd Dorman wins the prize for headline of the week: "Branstad Handles the Vander Pout."