Iowa GOP outsourcing special election to special interests

When your party suffers a net loss of seats in the state House and Senate for four elections in a row, it’s time to try something different. In the case of the Republican Party of Iowa, that apparently means outsourcing operations for the September 1 special election in Iowa House district 90.

In a July 31 e-mail blast, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn encouraged activists to contact “Matt Gronewald, our Legislative Majority Fund Director,” if they would like to volunteer for Stephen Burgmeier, the Republican candidate in district 90. However, Burgmeier’s campaign website tells the real story:

 To volunteer please contact:

   * Katie Koberg,, 515-971-4571

   * Mary Earnhardt,, 515-778-5229

   * Mark Doland,, 641-295-0135

Koberg and Earnhardt serve as vice president and policy director, respectively, for the conservative group Iowans for Tax Relief. The Iowa Republican blog’s Al Swearengen was partly right when he wrote,

Ed Failor Jr. and Iowans for Tax Relief are running the entire campaign effort in the special election…

Word is that Failor has committeed big dollars to the race and already has his ITR staff embedded in the district and running the race […]

Anybody that questions the power and influence of Failor and ITR need to look no further than this race…they are running this race…and are in charge of all House and Senate elections…

I say Swearengen was partly right because Burgmeier’s site also lists Mark Doland, who is on the Iowa Family Policy Center’s payroll as chief candidate recruiter.

You may remember the Iowa Family Policy Center, which organized a petition drive in April to pressure county recorders not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The “views” page on Burgmeier’s campaign website doesn’t talk about same-sex marriage, but Burgmeier is on record supporting legislative action to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which matches the agenda of Iowa Family Policy Center Action (the group’s political wing).

The special election in district 90 won’t change the balance of power in the Iowa House, but it is the first high-profile race since Republicans selected Strawn to be state chairman in January. Strawn can’t be too confident about the party’s ability to fund and manage a statehouse campaign if he is giving outside interest groups control over this race.

Democrats within striking distance of district 90 can sign up here to volunteer for Curt Hanson.

Maintenance Notice - As of November 14, 2023 we are still seeing issues with replying to comments...Thanks for your patience, this will be restored.

  • Big deal

    So you added a few things from your last post.  You can be good money that every Big name democrat group is helping in some way.  I knew about ITR before Al did.  

    This election can change things alot in Des Moines.  If Burgmeir wins, all the labor bills are dead.  Marek can’t be the winning vote.  This is a big election, or you and JD wouldn’t be asking for volunteers on every post you make about this election. 🙂

    This will end up being the most expensive seat in the Iowa house  I bet it will cost over $300,000 for each canidate.

    • Marek's not going to vote

      for any of the labor bills either way. If Burgmeier wins, it means we need to replace two members of the “six-pack” rather than one. Not much of a difference.

      Of course I’m going to encourage Democrats to help elect other Democrats in every election. I certainly would rather see Curt Hanson win this race.

      On a different subject, are you by any chance acquainted with Bleeding Heartland user Bill Spencer?

    • "helping in some way"

      is different from managing the election campaign. The Republican Party is wholly owned by special interests.

      • Replacing the six pack

        will not be an easy task.  Marek is in a republican district so you can’t go with a left of center canidate their or in most of the other six districts.  The only democrat that can win those seats is already holding them.

        When this is done the unions will have their fingers all over Hanson.  He is not that accomplished of a canidate to run his own campaign.  Heck they ran his anouncement at the same time they put out Whitikers resignation.  They are just being a little more suttle right now.

        The democrat party is owned by the unions.  Special interests are on both side of the fence here.  Most canidates run on a few core values that end up lining up with one or more special interest groups just goes with the territory.

        I’d love to see everyone stay home.  Steve has already beat Hanson in a primary a few years back.