Two days ago, State Senator Bill Dix asked Senate Republicans to caucus this morning in Des Moines. He planned to call for a leadership election during that meeting, while current Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley is vacationing out of the country.
Unfortunately for Dix, he didn’t have the votes.
Dix has long been rumored to want the top spot in the Senate GOP caucus. He attended all three nominating conventions for special Senate elections during the past year, while McKinley attended none. Generally, McKinley is seen as a weak politician compared to Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. McKinley didn’t help his cause by going on vacation a few weeks before the special election in Senate district 18.
State Senator Sandy Greiner, a Dix supporter, told Rod Boshart this week that in her opinion, Dix wouldn’t call for an election “unless he was pretty sure he has the votes.” Greiner was wrong about that. Craig Robinson reports at The Iowa Republican that Dix backed off from his request to caucus today. Robinson vents:
There is no way to sugarcoat what has transpired in the last few days. If you don’t realize how dysfunctional things are, all you need to know is that the Republican House Leaders are leading the effort in Senate District 18, not Senate leadership. […] In fact, the incompetency of the Senate team raises the question about whether or not they are even capable to doing what it takes to win a majority at all. […]
A number of people have criticized Dix for challenging McKinley when he is out of the county on vacation. McKinley being on vacation while the balance of the senate is up for grabs is a major problem. […]
TheIowaRepublican.com has been told that Dix had the votes to oust McKinley during the last legislative session but to failed to pull the trigger. […]
Obviously Dix thought he had the votes to take out McKinley when he emailed his Republican colleagues on Tuesday morning. However, Dix made a major tactical error. He never made sure that his votes were able to be in Des Moines at the time he called for the caucus to take place.
His lack of organizational and communication skills is what did in his attempt to take control of the Senate Republican caucus.[…]
Dix is now credited for causing a distraction, and in doing so, has forfeited any future opportunities to become the Senate Republican Leader.
No doubt about it, Dix comes out of this fiasco looking like an idiot. Still, I’m not convinced he couldn’t fight McKinley successfully another day. The Iowans for Tax Relief crowd have been pushing his career for a long time.
Dix’s failed leadership challenge spotlighted McKinley’s surprising hands-off approach to the special election in Senate district 18. McKinley has scheduled the next Senate Republican caucus for November 10, two days after that election. If Democrat Liz Mathis wins that race, some Republicans will blame McKinley for not fully engaging senators in the campaign. Greiner commented on Tuesday, “Quite frankly, I’m stunned there doesn’t seem to be a lot of focus on this special election in our caucus. We need the help of all the senators, we just need everybody to pitch in.”
What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?