Convention scenario could spell trouble for Iowa GOP

As many as seven Republican candidates may be competing for the chance to face seven-term Representative Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third district this year. John Deeth noticed yesterday that Scott Batcher was the first to file for the Republican nomination in IA-03. Batcher’s campaign website highlights extensive experience in business, including 15 years as a healthcare consultant. He’s been running a low-profile campaign, but collected enough signatures “at high school basketball games and coffee shops” to attempt to qualify for the ballot.

Five declared Republican candidates have filed Federal Election Commission reports on fundraising for the IA-03 race, so I assume they will follow through and qualify for the ballot: Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees and Pat Bertroche. A seventh Republican, Jason Welch, was rumored to be getting into this race too, but what turns up on Google searches as Welch’s official website hasn’t been working when I’ve clicked on it.

The second Congressional district Republican primary will be nearly as crowded, with four declared candidates likely to qualify for the ballot: Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Chris Reed and Steve Rathje. (So far only Rathje has filed nominating papers.)

If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, district conventions would select the Republican nominee in IA-02 and/or IA-03. In 2002, a fifth district convention selected Steve King as the Republican nominee for Congress after no one in the four-way primary cleared the 35 percent threshold.

Republican county conventions scheduled for this weekend will select delegates for the district conventions, which will be held later this spring. If no winner emerges from the June primary, the second or third district conventions would have to reconvene to select a Congressional nominee. That could happen during the state convention, to be held on June 26 in a location not yet determined. The convention usually takes place in Des Moines but has occasionally been held in Cedar Rapids. This year, Sioux City is also in the running as a venue. That would be a three to four hour drive from the counties in IA-03 and a four to seven hour drive from the counties in IA-02.

Western Iowa is the most Republican area of the state, but the bulk of the Iowa population still lives in the eastern counties. Former GOP State Central Committee member David Chung, who lives in Cedar Rapids, sounded the alarm on his Hawkeye GOP blog:

Even if hotels are short in Des Moines, holding the convention in Sioux CIty almost guarantees that a large number of delegates will need hotel rooms. I do not know whether there will be a major pre-convention event but if there is, it will be impossible for 1st and 2nd Republicans to attend without taking a whole day off from work.

Even worse, given the number of candidates for the 2nd and 3rd district congressional races there is the real possibility that the nominee will be chosen at a district convention. The state convention has been scheduled long enough after the primary to make resolving nominations at the convention possible. I cannot stress how bad a decision it would be to decide the 2nd CD race in Sioux City! The turnout from our district will be greatly suppressed if Siouxland is the choice.

Krusty Konservative also warned yesterday that many Republican delegates will not bother to attend a state convention in Sioux City.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks had a hard time uniting second district Republicans even after winning the 2008 primary. Be prepared for lasting hard feelings if a small group of party activists ends up choosing the GOP nominee in IA-02 or IA-03 this year. King wasn’t hurt by his path to the nomination in 2002, but he was fortunate to be running in heavily Republican IA-05. In contrast, Boswell’s district leans slightly Democratic (D+1) and Dave Loebsack’s district leans strongly Democratic (D+7).

P.S.- I took my kids to see a game at the Iowa girls’ state basketball tournament on Wednesday. A bunch of teams in the Des Moines metro area made the 4A quarterfinals. I noticed that NRCC “on the radar” candidate Jim Gibbons had an ad scrolling occasionally (nothing special, just “Jim Gibbons for Congress, www.gibbonsforcongress.com”). Unfortunately for him, the teams from Republican-leaning Ankeny and Johnston were eliminated in the quarter-finals, so their fans who live in IA-03 won’t be back to see more of the Gibbons ads later this week. Des Moines East advanced to the semis, but I don’t think many GOP primary voters live on the east side of Des Moines. The other teams in the semis are Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Kennedy (IA-02) and Waukee (IA-04).

  • IA-3

    I think the convention madness could help a guy like Funk, this is presuming his rabid supporters that I keep hearing about actually show up.

    Rathje, Miller Meeks and Reed all have fairly good name id amongst the party faithful so all bets would be off in my estimation in such a scenario.  

    • Funk is the wild card

      Will he get 3 percent or 25 percent in the primary? I have no clue, but his support will probably be the biggest factor determining whether the nomination gets decided at a convention.

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.