David Young's television commercials featured the candidate performing magic tricks, and he certainly pulled a rabbit out of his hat today. Today some 500 delegates selected Young as the Republican nominee in Iowa's third Congressional district. Not many people saw that coming (aside from Julie Stauch). Young ran a solid and well-funded campaign but finished fifth in a six-man field on June 3.
Kevin Hall live-blogged the special district convention through all five ballots today. Short version: Young won by having less baggage and fewer enemies than the candidate who was eliminated on each ballot. Robert Cramer finished second to last on the second ballot (even though he finished a close second in the June 3 primary) and declined to endorse another contender after dropping out. Matt Schultz was the bottom candidate on the next ballot and endorsed Young afterward. Monte Shaw, widely viewed as the establishment's favorite and in particular as Governor Terry Branstad's unofficial favorite, was eliminated after the fourth ballot, leaving just Brad Zaun and Young.
I expected Shaw to win at convention through the same kind of path Young traveled today, benefiting as rivals with more baggage finished last on successive ballots. After his victory this afternoon, Young promised delegates that he would "make [Democratic IA-03 nominee] Staci Appel disappear" in November. Young will have a ton of money at his disposal, thanks to connections built during nearly two decades as a Congressional staffer. From 2006 until last summer, he served as chief of staff to Senator Chuck Grassley.
UPDATE: Radio Iowa has the audio of Young's victory speech to delegates. After the jump I've posted the Appel campaign's comment on the GOP convention, as well as a comment from Grassley on his protege's Congressional campaign. Officially, Grassley stayed neutral in the Republican primary, but several of his consultants worked for Young.
SECOND UPDATE: Added more observations below from Craig Robinson, who spent the day at the nominating convention.
Staci Appel campaign press release, June 21:
Statement from 3rd Congressional district candidate Staci Appel (D-Ackworth) on the Republican nominee, David Young:
"I welcome David to the race and I'm looking forward to putting my record up against his. Voters have a real choice in this election. I will fight to increase the minimum wage for our workers, provide equal pay for equal work and always put Iowa's middle class families first. Young has opposed all of these middle class priorities and he sides with Republican plans to end the Medicare guarantee for seniors and future generations, put tax cuts for the wealthy ahead of middle class families and deny women the ability to make their own health care decisions. I look forward to talking to voters across the 3rd district about their choice this November."
About Staci: Born and raised in Iowa, married for 17 years, mother to six kids and a former financial consultant, Staci Appel calls rural Ackworth, Iowa home. Staci took her deep Iowa roots, and her equally deep commitment to Iowa families to the State Senate in 2006 where she fought for Iowa's backbone - middle-class families, farmers and small-business owners. During Staci's time in the Iowa Senate, legislators took notice of her steadfast commitment to the people she served. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said, "I have never seen a freshman legislator come down to the capital and work as hard as Staci Appel." That work included leadership on legislation like Iowa's statewide smoking ban, pre-school for every 4 year old and championing the bill making Iowa the first state in the nation to require equal pay for equal work.
From a Radio Iowa report by O.Kay Henderson:
Grassley issued a written statement late this afternoon saying Young "has the ability to appeal to a cross section of residents in the third district. Grassley also pledged to "do everything he can to help" Young get elected to congress.
SECOND UPDATE: Craig Robinson's commentary is worth reading. Here are a few interesting points:
Delegates were shocked when Young beat Monte Shaw on the fourth ballot, but signs of Young's strength were noticeable much earlier than that. [...]
Young received 86 votes on the first ballot, and while that was only good enough for him to finish fourth in the balloting, Young was strong enough to create some major problems for some of his opponents. Matt Schultz was particularly hurt by Young's strength. Schultz, who served as a city council member from Council Bluffs, won Pottawattamie County on June 3rd, but it was Young who won the county in the early rounds of convention balloting. Young also basically equaled Schultz in Polk County and was able to pick up support from Dallas County delegates as the rounds of balloting progressed.
Schultz led Young in the first few round of voting, but it was Young who was able to pick up votes after Robert Cramer exited the race, not Schultz. On the third ballot, Young picked up 23 votes from Cramer, which is how he was able to surpass Schultz. [...]
Many people believe that it was the Schultz supporters who voted for Young on the fourth ballot that shifted the dynamics of the convention, but it actually began a round earlier. Young just didn't survive the third ballot, he put himself in position to move in front of Shaw on the next ballot. [...]
Matt Schultz could have won the nomination in very much the same way that Young did, but in hindsight, Schultz likely made a mistake by attacking Robert Cramer in the weeks leading up to the convention. Despite Cramer's strong second place finish in the primary, I always believed he was going to struggle at the convention. Schultz needed those Cramer supporters, but he likely turned them off by attacking their guy.
Despite having a big block of voters on the initial ballot, Monte Shaw ended up being his own worse [sic] enemy. For some reason, Shaw felt it was necessary to declare himself the frontrunner for the nomination at the convention. All that did was put a target on his back, at which his opponents repeatedly took aim. Like Schultz, Shaw attacking Cramer was unwise. Those are the votes he desperately needed, and while those were unlikely votes for him to get, Shaw's decision to go after Schultz and Cramer meant that the only candidate he could expect to pick up support from was Young.
Brad Zaun picked up support quickly, and at one point he did seem to be the inevitable nominee. Zaun would have easily been the nominee had the final ballot been between himself and Shaw, but Young crashed that party. His home county also hurt him when it split its vote 126 to 126 on the final ballot. Even though that result was shocking, more votes were cast against Zaun in Polk County in every round of voting than he actually received. People seemed distracted by his large vote total, but, most people never realized throughout the day that he was struggling in Polk County.