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Jeff Kaufmann and Cody Hoefert likely to be next Iowa GOP leaders

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CDT

Former Iowa House Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Kaufmann appears likely to be chosen as the next state chair of the Republican Party of Iowa this weekend. Kaufmann has been rumored to be angling for that position ever since he was elected to the party's new State Central Committee this spring. He made his plans official in an e-mail sent to fellow State Central Committee members yesterday. Excerpts are after the jump. Kaufmann served four terms in the Iowa House before retiring in 2012. His son, Bobby Kaufmann, currently represents the same district.

Lyon County Republican Chair Cody Hoefert announced yesterday that he is running for state party co-chair. Excerpts from his e-mail are at the end of this post.

Immediately after their terms began on June 14, the majority of new State Central Committee members signed a letter calling for a meeting on June 28 to elect a new chair and co-chair. Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna have served in those positions since late March.

Some party activists are upset that the new State Central Committee isn't giving Carroll a chance to show he can lead. A former state lawmaker and close ally of Bob Vander Plaats, Carroll is popular with social conservatives. At least two GOP county central committees (Jasper and Warren Counties) have passed non-binding votes of no confidence in the State Central Committee's plan to vote on new leaders. I recommend watching or listening to the video of Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler's remarks to Jasper County Republican Central Committee members, followed by comments from the audience and the no-confidence vote. Scheffler repeatedly brought up the need for the state party to improve its fundraising, and argued that past chair A.J. Spiker created this problem by resigning in March rather than making his resignation effective on June 14, when the new State Central Committee was seated. He also suggested that Carroll should have agreed to resign his position, an assertion that angered some Jasper County activists.

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Weekend open thread: Big Iowa GOP changes

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 10:10:00 AM CDT

The Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party held district conventions yesterday. Nothing particularly important happened at the Democratic conventions, but the GOP gatherings continued the march toward overthrowing the "Liberty" faction that gained control soon after the 2012 caucuses. No one from the Ron Paul orbit won a seat on the newly-elected State Central Committee, which will take over after the party's state convention in June. They are likely to replace Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna in the party's top leadership positions.

I've listed the new State Central Committee members after the jump. Notable names include Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley and William Gustoff, both elected to represent the third district. Gustoff is a partner in the law firm headed by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker and State Representative Chris Hagenow. In 2011, Branstad named Gustoff to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, but the Iowa Senate did not confirm him. Findley briefly was an attorney with Whitaker Hagenow after she left Representative Steve King's staff to run for Iowa attorney general in 2010.

According to Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican blog, "Liberty" activists handed out flyers at all four district conventions urging delegates not to vote for fourteen State Central Committee candidates. All fourteen of them won seats on the committee anyway.

Another interesting development: the GOP platform committee in the first district removed the plank declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman. Katherine Klingseis reported for The Des Moines Register that the new platform language asserts the government should have no role in marriage. Some delegates tried and failed three times yesterday to restore the traditional marriage plank through amendments. UPDATE: According to conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart, one of the IA-01 convention votes on platform language went 116 to 89 to remove so-called "defense of traditional marriage" from the district GOP platform.

Kathie Obradovich wrote up the six IA-03 candidates' pitches to Republican convention delegates. For now I consider it more likely than not that the nomination will be decided at a special district convention.

UPDATE: More thoughts on the Iowa GOP State Central Committee changes after the jump.

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Twilight of the Iowa GOP's Liberty era (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 13:37:23 PM CDT

Time for a discussion thread on news that broke over the weekend: A.J. Spiker will step down early as chair of the Republican Party of Iowa in order to serve as an adviser to U.S. Senator Rand Paul's political action committee. I've posted the Iowa GOP's official announcement after the jump. It puts a positive spin on Spiker's tenure, which began after Matt Strawn was forced out early over the 2012 Iowa caucus vote-counting debacle. Spiker's critics have complained of poor fundraising and an insufficient focus on party unity and electing Republican candidates.

Spiker was a leading supporter of Ron Paul's presidential campaigns in Iowa and benefited from the "Paulinista" dominance during the 2012 county, district, and state GOP conventions. However, Ron Paul loyalists were unable to repeat that performance at this year's county conventions on March 8. In fact, some high-profile Paulinistas weren't even able to win district convention delegate slots.

David Fischer, another prominent figure in the "Liberty" camp, stepped down as state party co-chair earlier this year. Danny Carroll, a former Iowa House Republican and unsuccessful candidate to lead the state party in 2009, won a very close State Central Committee election to succeed Fischer in that role.

Longtime social conservative activist Steve Scheffler made a deal with the Liberty crowd in the summer of 2012 to retain his position as Republican National Committeeman. He told the Des Moines Register that he expects "a huge turnover" on the Iowa GOP's State Central Committee after district conventions on April 26. Scheffler would like to see Carroll serve as the Iowa GOP's interim leader until new State Central Committee members begin their terms this summer.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. P.S.- Some observers believe Spiker's departure will spell doom for the Ames Straw Poll. I suspect the Iowa GOP will still organize some kind of candidate forum a few months before the Iowa caucuses, perhaps even a fundraiser. But new party leaders will likely be swayed by Governor Terry Branstad and other straw poll critics in planning that event next year.

UPDATE: Speaking to a conservative breakfast club on March 12, Danny Carroll confirmed that he will run for party chair this month and again after the new State Central Committee members are selected. He told Radio Iowa he'd like to see the straw poll continue, while making sure tickets are not overpriced and candidates are not charged "exorbitant rent for space at the venue."

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Iowa GOP chair forced to backpedal on state convention date

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 17:51:00 PM CDT

Republican Party of Iowa Chair A.J. Spiker tried this week to end discussion over the unpopular decision to schedule the state GOP convention for July 2014. However, he was forced today to acknowledge that the State Central Committee cannot ignore criticism from a growing number of elected officials, GOP candidates, and even central committee members.
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Republican Party of Iowa or Ron Paul loyalists of Iowa?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 09:40:00 AM CDT

Supporters call them "constitutional conservatives" or members of the "Liberty Movement." Detractors call them "Paulbots" or "Paulinistas." Whatever you call them, you have to admit that the Ron Paul faction of the Republican Party of Iowa pulled off tremendous organizing feats last weekend.  
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Kim Lehman not seeking another term on RNC

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 24, 2012 at 14:09:46 PM CDT

Iowa's Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman announced today by e-mail that she will not seek another term on the RNC this summer.
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Ron Paul delegate revolution discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:41:09 PM CDT

Ron Paul finished third in the Iowa caucuses on January 3, but his campaign's superior organization elected more delegates to county and district conventions than that of any other presidential candidate. Two weeks ago, Paul supporters won six of 16 elected positions on the Iowa GOP's State Central Committee. On May 5, Paul supporters secured most of Iowa's at-large delegate slots for the Republican National Convention. Details are after the jump.
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Iowa's RNC members refuse to sign Romney delegate pledge

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 18:47:53 PM CDT

Iowa's three representatives on the Republican National Committee were denied entry to a reception with Mitt Romney today after they refused to sign a "delegate pledge form."
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New Register poll and GOP presidential race discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:34:20 AM CST

Iowa Republican caucus-goers have switched their allegiance from one joke candidate selling books to another. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads the field in the latest poll by Selzer and Co for the Des Moines Register. Meanwhile, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney trails the latest "not Romney" contender by a larger margin than in the Register's other polls this year.
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Polls, vows, ads and other Republican Iowa caucus news (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 11:32:30 AM CDT

It's time for another news roundup on the Republican presidential campaigns in Iowa. This week brought new polls, new commercials, and hints of new candidates joining the race. It wasn't a promising week for Bob Vander Plaats and his FAMiLY Leader organization, however.

Poll numbers, campaign ads, and more are after the jump.  

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Drive-time host Deace quits leading Iowa talk radio station

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 22:13:51 PM CST

Steve Deace has resigned from WHO-AM radio, and February 11 will be his last broadcast of "Deace in the Afternoon," station manager Van Harden informed employees today.

Harden told employees of WHO-AM in Des Moines that Deace said he and his family had been talking about resigning for some time, and "finally felt lead to make a change."

"While he does not have another position to which he is going, he has had the ear and interest of many politicians and political campaigns seeking his strategic advice, and he says there is a possibility he may be doing some consulting," the e-mail said. "While this came as a surprise to us, we at WHO, and Steve, want all to know this is a very friendly parting, so much so that Steve says he may be  able to make himself available occasionally to do some fill-in work for us if needed."

Des Moines Cityview weekly published a good feature on Deace last year, chronicling his competitive nature, the evolution of his Christian faith and his path from sports reporting to hosting a political talk show. Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican blog credits Deace with helping Mike Huckabee "crush" Mitt Romney in counties that make up the WHO listening area. Similarly, Deace's loud and frequent support for Bob Vander Plaats boosted the candidate's showing against Terry Branstad in central Iowa during last year's GOP gubernatorial primary. (I have to believe Branstad will be relieved to hear Deace is going off the air.)

Two weeks ago, Deace decided at the last minute to seek the position of Polk County Republican chair. According to Robinson, Deace posted on Facebook yesterday "that his next campaign might be for Republican National Committeeman or the State Senate." The talk show host has been and remains a vocal critic of Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley (for instance: "Introducing the Paul McKinley Award for gutless, dishonest, and ineffective leadership!"). Iowa's current elected Republican National Committeeman is Steve Scheffler, the head of the Iowa Christian Alliance whom Deace has called the "least trustworthy & most gutless person in Iowa politics."

I wonder whom WHO will put in the drive-time slot and whether the new host will rival morning host Jan Mickelson in the outrageous comments department. One thing is certain: whoever gets the job will be wooed relentlessly by Republican presidential hopefuls. WHO has a large conservative listening audience.

UPDATE: A press release announcing Deace's departure is after the jump. He says he hopes to publish a book this year, and he isn't ruling out politics or a return to broadcasting someday. He and his wife plan to stay in Iowa: "We look forward to seeing how we will have the privilege to fear God, tell the truth and make money in the future."

The news release says Deace lives in West Des Moines, so if he runs for the state Senate he presumably would face Pat Ward in a GOP primary, depending on what the new map looks like.

SECOND UPDATE: Deace on Twitter: "Just in case you were wondering, almost nothing in the Iowa Republican.com piece about my departure is true, except the spelling of my name."

THIRD UPDATE: In this video, Deace talks about his reasons for leaving WHO and emphasizes that his split with the radio station was amicable. He also says that although it wasn't an easy decision, he knows it was the right one, and he has "slept like a Calvinist at night" since he and his wife decided to pursue new challenges. After saying he felt he needed to take a chance and try something different at this point in his life, Deace added (around the 5:45 mark of the video), "I think a lot of guys, regardless of whether or not you agree with my belief system, you know, if you pee standing up like I do, I think you probably understand what I'm talking about."

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Iowan Gentry Collins exits race to head RNC

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:31:00 AM CST

Longtime Iowa political operative Gentry Collins has ended his bid to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, he told RNC members in a January 2 letter. Collins made the news in November by resigning as RNC political director and sending RNC members a devastating critique of current chairman Michael Steele's leadership. Dropping out of the race to succeed Steele, Collins wrote that

part of his mission in campaigning for chairman was to shed light on the party's financial condition, which he said, "has been a game-changer for Chairman Steele's re-election prospects." [...]

"I entered this race to make sure there was a credible alternative to Michael Steele and have said from day one I will not get in the way of electing new leadership at the RNC," Collins wrote.

Collins continued: "It is after much consideration and thought that I announce my withdrawal from the race for Chairman of the RNC. I believe that there are several qualified candidates in the race for Chairman, each of whom would do a fine job leading the committee through the 2012 Election cycle."

I figured Collins was a long-shot to take his former boss's job for various reasons. It didn't look good for him to establish a committee to support his bid for RNC chairman while he was still working at the committee. Craig Robinson's critique of Collins' "ego," "vengeful style" and "heavy-handed" tactics may have put off some Republican insiders too.

Various "whip counts" published by Washington-based journalists showed Collins with only three firm commitments from voting RNC members, far behind the front-runner, Wisconsin Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus. (That's pronounced "ryns pree-buhs.") Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn had publicly backed Collins, but committeeman Steve Scheffler was an early Priebus endorser. Iowa's committeewoman Kim Lehman is supporting Priebus too; she and Scheffler backed the main alternative to Steele in 2009.

Four previous leaders of the national GOP have been from Iowa. The most recent was pro-choice moderate Mary Louise Smith in the mid-1970s. Smith is still the only woman to have headed the RNC. Two women have entered the race to replace Steele, but a rule requiring the party chair and co-chair to be different genders puts them at a disadvantage.

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Iowa's RNC members split on race for chairman

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 16:36:33 PM CST

Longtime Iowa political operative Gentry Collins officially announced yesterday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee this January. Collins filed paperwork for the race last month shortly before he resigned as the RNC's political director. One of the three Iowa RNC members, state party chairman Matt Strawn, has already endorsed Collins.

However, RNC member Steve Scheffler told The Iowa Republican blog that he will back Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus for RNC chairman.

Not only is Scheffler supporting Priebus, but he has agreed to serve in Priebus' "kitchen cabinet." [...]

Preibus won Scheffler's support by being a strong defender of Iowa's first-in-the-nation status, having a strong stance on social issues, and pledging to run a tight ship if elected to lead the RNC.

Scheffler's support of Priebus is also a blow to Gentry Collins' bid to be RNC chairman. Collins, an Iowan, has spent years working in Iowa politics. His inability to secure the support of all three Iowa RNC members will likely be a red flag to other members of the committee.

Scheffler would have come into contact with Collins when Collins was running Mitt Romney's Iowa campaign in 2007. Scheffler heads the Iowa Christian Alliance, which organized house parties featuring Romney and several other Republican presidential candidates before the caucuses. (Neither Scheffler nor the Iowa Christian Alliance endorsed a candidate in that GOP field.) Scheffler was elected to represent Iowa at the RNC in July 2008, and Collins worked for John McCain's campaign in Iowa during that year's general election.

I haven't seen any public comment from Iowa's third RNC representative, Kim Lehman, regarding the upcoming race for chairman. She and Scheffler are ideologically similar, having been elected by the same faction of socially conservative delegates to the Iowa GOP state convention in 2008. In January 2009, Scheffler and Lehman publicly supported Katon Dawson for RNC chairman. He lost to current chairman Michael Steele on the sixth round of balloting.  

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Iowa RNC member Kim Lehman believes Obama is Muslim

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:39:04 AM CDT

You come across the strangest things on Twitter sometimes:

Barack Obama,Kim Lehman,RNC

Yes, it's delusional to believe Politico is in the game to "protect" Barack Obama, but for now I'm more interested in Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman's claim that the president is Muslim. Presumably she was responding to Tim Grieve's August 19 report for Politico on the latest Pew survey about the president's religion. Pew found that about 18 percent of American adults say Obama is Muslim, while about 34 percent say Obama is Christian. About 34 percent of those who identified themselves as conservative Republicans told Pew Obama was Muslim. Grieve's report referred to "a dramatic spike in false views about the president's religious faith." Politico's Josh Gerstein also reported on the Pew finding, as well as a Time magazine survey which (using different wording) found even higher numbers of Republicans believe the president is Muslim.

Neither Lehman nor anyone else would claim Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad's not really a Christian because his mother was Jewish. Yet for some reason, it's not enough for Lehman that Obama has been baptized, regularly attended Christian churches for many years and was sworn in on a Christian bible.

I wonder how many other prominent Iowa Republicans believe the urban legend about Obama being Muslim. Representative Steve King recently claimed Obama is a "Marxist" who "surely understands the Muslim culture." What about Senator Chuck Grassley, Representative Tom Latham and Republican Congressional candidates Ben Lange, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Brad Zaun?

State party chairman Matt Strawn and Steve Scheffler, head of the Iowa Christian Alliance, are Iowa's other two representatives on the RNC. Do they and members of the Iowa GOP's State Central Committee share Lehman's view?

Branstad's own interfaith family background makes him an ideal person to speak publicly about religion as a matter of faith and an individual's spiritual journey, as opposed to a genetic inheritance. But I'm not holding my breath for Branstad to dispel false rumors about Obama. He generally avoids taking any position that would anger conservatives--when he's not kowtowing to far-right sentiment, that is.

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New thread on the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 10:27:03 AM CDT

It's time for another look at the Republican presidential contenders' prospects in Iowa. The 2012 cycle may seem like a long way off, but the serious candidates will probably start hiring staff in Iowa before the end of this year. Since the last time Bleeding Heartland covered this ground, several Republicans with presidential ambitions have spoken out on our GOP gubernatorial contest, visited Iowa or scheduled trips here during this fall's campaign.  

Lots of links and speculation are after the jump.

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Early reaction to Branstad's choice of Kim Reynolds

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 20:54:47 PM CDT

A string of prominent Iowa Republicans spoke out today praising Terry Branstad's choice of State Senator Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor. IowaPolitics.com posted the Branstad campaign's press releases with encouraging words from Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, Iowa House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, former Congressional candidate and tea party favorite Dave Funk, former gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong, and Iowa's representatives on the Republican National Committee, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman. Scheffler heads the Iowa Christian Alliance, and Lehman is a past president of Iowa Right to Life.

The Branstad campaign is anxious to avoid an embarrassing display of support for Bob Vander Plaats at this Saturday's Republican state convention. Today they hit convention delegates with an e-mail blast and robocalls stressing Reynolds' "conservative credentials." The strong words from Scheffler and Lehman in support of the ticket may prevent any media narrative from developing about religious conservatives rejecting Branstad. The Iowa Family Policy Center (viewed by many as a rival to the Iowa Christian Alliance) backed Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican primary and vowed not to endorse Branstad against Democratic Governor Chet Culver. That group recently affirmed that Branstad would need to undergo a "fundamental transformation" to win their support in the general election campaign.

Lehman wrote at the Caffeinated Thoughts blog today that Reynolds' "record speaks for itself." Lehman's long list of conservative bills co-sponsored by Reynolds in the Iowa Senate impressed Caffeinated Thoughts blogmaster Shane Vander Hart. He supported Rod Roberts for governor and was a leader of the petition drive lobbying Branstad to choose Roberts as his running mate.

To my mind, Reynolds' record in the Iowa Senate says only that she sticks with the consensus in the Republican caucus. She has not taken any unusual positions or been outspoken on any major issues under consideration. An acquaintance I spoke with today, who spends a lot of time at the capitol every year during the legislative session, had not even heard of Reynolds before this week. That's how low her profile has been during her two years at the statehouse. Reynolds may be a reliable back-bencher for conservatives, but I don't see her as a strong advocate for the religious right. She doesn't have the stature to drive the agenda if Branstad is elected. Like Todd Dorman wrote yesterday, the lieutenant governor gets to do "whatever the governor lets you do. And in a Branstad administration, if the past is an indicator, his mate will be the special director of the Department of Not Much."

Nor is there any indication that Reynolds would urge Branstad to make social issues a priority. I think this pick indicates the business wing of the Iowa GOP is fully in charge--or at least one faction in that wing. Others in the business community appear to have been pushing for Jeff Lamberti or Jim Gibbons to be selected as Branstad's running mate.

Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge spoke about Reynolds today on behalf of the Culver campaign. She suggested that Reynolds may not help Branstad with the social conservatives who supported other candidates for governor, because she "comes out of the same camp as Terry and Doug Gross rather than out of the camp of Bob Vander Plaats or Mr. Roberts." In a press release and news conference, Judge also emphasized that we don't know much about Reynolds' views on key issues, and that her learning curve will be steep, because she has relatively little experience at the statewide level: "It will take a lot of study on Kim's part. [...] If [Branstad] keeps her in the basement in a small office as he did [former Lieutenant Governor] Joy Corning, then she's not going to have much of an opportunity to know what's going on." Say what you will about Patty Judge (I'm not a fan), but she did have a strong legislative record and eight years of holding statewide office going into the 2006 campaign. She has had real influence on policy in the Culver administration.

Being a blank slate may have its advantages, however. Iowa State University Professor Steffen Schmidt thinks Reynolds was a good choice because she is so unknown that she won't turn voters off or take attention away from Branstad.

Share any thoughts about the Branstad/Reynolds ticket in this thread.

UPDATE: Jason Hancock pointed out at Iowa Independent:

Kim Lehman, another member of the Republican National Committee and formerly president of Iowa Right to Life, praised Reynolds' selection and her legislative record, ticking through each of the bills she has sponsored since entering the state Senate in 2008 and concluding, "Reynolds went into office and took the bull by the horns and got busy."

However, a closer look at the bills Reynolds signed on to reveals she only sponsored one piece of legislation on her own - a requirement that the Department of Natural Resources develop depredation plans to fill harvest quotas of antlerless deer in each county that have not been met at the end of the last established deer hunting season each year.

Other than that, she nearly always joins with all or a large majority of the state Senate's 18 Republicans to push bills.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Reynolds gave an interview to Kathie Obradovich and spoke about being a recovering alcoholic. This is not going to be an issue.

The Branstad campaign is trying to counter opposition to Reynolds over her support for a recreational lake project that angered some property rights advocates. Today the campaign released an endorsement from State Representative Jeff Kaufmann, who tried to intervene in that dispute on the side of property owners.

"I remain dedicated to the fight for private property rights in this state," said Kaufmann. "The last four years of Democratic control of the Legislature has yielded no strengthening of these rights.  The Democratic majority has not allowed debate of a single property rights bill despite overwhelming support for the 2006 landmark legislation."

"Our attempts to protect property rights will be thwarted, as usual, by Governor Culver and Democratic leadership without Republican control of the Legislature," added Kaufmann. "To me, all other property rights discussions are secondary to that goal.  I look forward to working with Kim Reynolds in the future to protect property owners in the future."

The Branstad campaign also sent conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart a statement from Reynolds about eminent domain:

I fully support the 2006 legislation that curtailed the use of eminent domain to take private property. I do not support eminent domain for commercial development purposes. I support eminent domain only for essential public services.

That answer satisfied Vander Hart. However, one issue with these recreational lake projects (like ones proposed for Page County, Clarke County and Madison County in recent years) is that the advocates will claim the land grab serves an essential public service, like providing more drinking water. However, analysts dispute whether the lake is really needed as a drinking water source, or whether that's a ruse to obscure the real goal behind the project. A few people stand to make a lot of money if the farmland they own can be developed as lakeshore property. So the question is whether the state would allow other people's farmland to be condemned in order to create a lake that's basically a private commercial development.

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High-ranking departures point to "full-scale bloodletting" at RNC

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 20:09:53 PM CDT

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has been under pressure lately. Since he took over in January 2009, the RNC has spent far more than it has raised, and the latest numbers show the Democratic National Committee ahead of the RNC in cash of hand (which is highly unusual). Major Republican donors have been fleeing the RNC for various reasons, including staffers' embarrassing fundraising proposals and massive overspending on luxury hotels, limos and nightclubs. Today RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay resigned, prompting one of Steele's advisers to leave in what Jonathan Martin described as "a full-scale bloodletting":

"Leadership requires that I can safely assure you, our donors, and the American people that our mission is what drives every dollar we spend, every phone call we make, every email we send and every event we organize," Steele wrote in the email [sent to RNC members and donors on Monday], obtained by POLITICO. "Recent events have called that assurance into question and the buck stops with me. That is why I have made this change in my management team and why I am confident about going forward to November with renewed focus and energy."

McKay didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

But his apparent firing has roiled the close-knit world of GOP operatives and Monday night longtime Republican strategist and Steele adviser Curt Anderson said his consulting firm would no longer be working with the RNC.

"Ken McKay's departure is a huge loss for the Republican Party," Anderson said in a statement to POLITICO. "Ken steered the party through very successful elections last fall that have given us tremendous momentum. He's a great talent. Given our firm's commitments to campaigns all over the country we have concluded it is best for us to step away from our advisory role at the RNC. We have high personal regard for the Chairman and always have; we wish him well."

It's hard to see how the turmoil at the RNC won't end with Steele's departure, although Josh Marshall argued today that Steele

can't be fired, in significant measure, because he's black. Because canning Steele now would only drive home the reality that Republicans were trying to paper over, fairly clumsily, when they hired him in the first place. So Republicans are stuck with his myriad goofs and #pressfails and incompetent management and all the rest because of a set of circumstances entirely of their own making.

Hey, don't blame Iowa's RNC members; they voted for Katon Dawson over Steele in January 2009. But I must say I doubt a guy who became a Republican because the government desegregated his high school, and more recently belonged to an all-white country club, would have been the right man to rebuild the GOP's image.

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Ralph Reed planning GOTV operation in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 14:37:25 PM CST

Republican operative Ralph Reed, who once headed the Christian Coalition, is building an Iowa branch for his latest venture, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Reed spoke at an Iowa Christian Alliance event on Tuesday and promised the crowd that the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition will get "people who share our values" elected "from governor all the way down to the statehouse and school boards all across the state of Iowa." He said he needed to raise half a million dollars to execute the GOTV plans, reminding the audience that they could donate an unlimited amount, because "we're not a PAC and we're not a candidate."

Reed announced yesterday that he is passing on a chance to run for Congress in order to focus on his new organization:

I believe I can best advance conservative principles by continuing to serve as CEO of Century Strategies, LLC, and founding chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Century's voter contact subsidiary and grassroots team will be involved in a number of races in 2010. FFC is growing rapidly, with over 150,000 members and supporters already, currently adding one new state chapter a week and 1,000 new members a day.

In 2010 and 2012, FFC will register an estimated one million new faith-based voters and make tens of millions of voter contacts in what may be the largest conservative get-out-the-vote effort in modern political history. These nationwide efforts offer a much better prospect for changing the direction of the country than winning a Congressional race myself.

Speaking of GOTV, Reed made a bizarre analogy during his speech to the Iowa Christian Alliance audience. According to Kathie Obradovich, Reed said that Barack Obama's 2008 win in Iowa was like a Harlem Globetrotters game in which the GOP were the team that showed up to get beaten. Makes you wonder why the Republican Party of Iowa hired Jim Anderson as its executive director late last year. Anderson's main political experience in this state was with John McCain's "Victory" GOTV operation.

Iowa Christian Alliance head Steve Scheffler said his group won't be "directly involved" in Iowa elections this year, but will "encourage activists to get involved with a candidate, especially in competitive legislative districts." Scheffler is also one of Iowa's representatives on the Republican National Committee.

Former Senator Rick Santorum headlined the Iowa Christian Alliance event. You can read about his speech at Iowa Independent and the Des Moines Register's blog. I find it amazing that anyone can be considered presidential material after losing re-election in a purple state by 18 points.

All three Republican candidates for governor also spoke Tuesday evening. William Petroski covered highlights at the Des Moines Register's blog, and Kathie Obradovich covered the event on Twitter. Bob Vander Plaats talked about economic issues and education as well as repeating his promises to halt same-sex marriages and choose a running mate who shares his values. Vander Plaats also mentioned polls showing him leading Governor Chet Culver. Terry Branstad criticized "arrogant" Democratic leaders who are blocking a vote on the definition of marriage. He also took credit for helping make home-schooling legal and passing a ban on late-term abortions while governor. My favorite Branstad line was, I know we made our share of mistakes but I think it's important to ask Jesus Christ for forgiveness.. Rod Roberts said he can beat Chet Culver and "emphasized his background as development director for Christian Churches/Churches of Christ in Iowa."

Final note: the Federal Election Commission appears not to have ruled yet on a complaint filed against the Iowa Christian Alliance last year. The complaint alleged that the group had run donations through a Burlington church, a 501(c)3 organization, so that donors could benefit from a tax deduction they wouldn't receive from giving directly to the Iowa Christian Alliance, a 501(c)4.

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Dream recruit may spark Republican infighting in Senate district 45

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:21:07 AM CST

Iowa Republicans have landed Sandy Greiner, their dream candidate against first-term Democratic State Senator Becky Schmitz in Senate district 45. The southeast Iowa district includes all of Washington, Jefferson, and Van Buren counties, plus part of Wapello and Johnson counties (map here). Schmitz defeated Republican incumbent David Miller by 184 votes in 2006, but the area leans slightly Republican in terms of voter registration.

Greiner represented Iowa House district 89, which makes up half of Senate district 45, for four terms (1993 to 2001). She then served for two years in the Iowa Senate before redistricting prompted her to return to House district 89 for another three terms (2003-2009). Consequently, she starts the race with high name recognition in the area and will be able to campaign almost as an incumbent. Republican blogger Craig Robinson sounds ready to declare this seat won for the GOP.

Greiner will be a stronger opponent for Schmitz than the three Republicans who had previously declared for the seat (Richard Marlar, Randy Besick and Dan Cesar). However, I would not assume that local Republicans will be united behind her this fall. Greiner is linked to business elites who have battled with activists on the religious right for control over the direction of the Iowa GOP.

Join me after the jump for more background on Greiner and why I suspect some social conservatives will fight her candidacy.

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Republican National Committee rejects "purity test"

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:15:16 AM CST

The Republican National Committee won't be imposing the "purity test" proposed by committeeman James Bopp of Indiana. During last week's meetings in Honolulu, a group of state GOP chairs unanimously voted against requiring Republican candidates to agree with at least eight out of ten conservative policy stands in order to receive RNC support during the 2010 campaign.

Bopp withdrew his motion from the floor on Friday after a compromise had been reached. RNC members then unanimously passed a non-binding resolution that "only 'urges' party leaders to support nominees who back the party's platform," Politico's Jonathan Martin reported.

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Illinois and Delaware would have failed Bopp's purity test and therefore not qualified for RNC support. The resolution that passed does not penalize candidates who disagree with various "core principles" of the GOP. Still, Bopp tried to spin the compromise as a victory:

"You've got to determine that the candidate supports all the core principles of the Republican Party before you support them," he said, explaining the alternate measure.

But when asked whether it was binding, Bopp was cut off by Oregon GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan, who was standing nearby the impromptu press briefing.

"That resolution passed is not binding; it's a suggestion," said Tiernan.

As Bopp began to again make his case for the compromise, Tiernan again interjected.

"There's nothing mandatory or required in there," the Oregonian noted.

"Can I answer the question, Mr. Chairman?" Bopp shot back.

Continuing, Bopp explained that he thought the RNC's decision to, for the first time, make it party policy to urge candidates to pledge fealty to the GOP platform represented a significant step.

But Tiernan, standing just over Bopp's shoulder, again rebutted his committee colleague.

"I'm not going to take that back and make my candidates sign it, that's ridiculous," Tiernan said, gesturing toward the compromise resolution in a reporter's hand. "We don't have a litmus test and we rejected the litmus test today."

As Bopp continued, Tiernan again spoke up.

"There's nothing binding in there," said the state chairman.

"Can I finish?" a plainly annoyed Bopp asked.

"Read the words," replied Tiernan.

"Shut up," Bopp finally said.

Although the RNC papered over this dispute, clearly tensions remain over whether Republican leaders should insist that candidates be conservatives.

Two of Iowa's RNC members, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman, supported Bopp's purity test. Our state's third representative on the RNC, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn, didn't comment on Bopp's effort when it first emerged or last week, to my knowledge. I assume he agreed with other state party chairs, who according to various reports strongly opposed the idea. If that is inaccurate, I hope someone will correct me.

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