Is Mitt Romney destined to become the presidential nominee least liked by his own party's activists? Yesterday's elections to the Republican Party of Iowa's State Central Committee provided another clue that the answer is yes.
The Iowa GOP's new State Central Committee consists of 16 people, four chosen from each of Iowa's four new Congressional districts. The only Republicans able to vote for the central committee members were delegates to yesterday's district conventions. Those delegates were previously elected at Iowa GOP county conventions in March.
The Iowa Republican blog asked all publicly announced candidates for the State Central Committee three questions, including "Who [sic] did you caucus for in 2012?" Kevin Hall posted a handy "voter guide" about the GOP committee candidates here.
It's remarkable how few people running for the State Central Committee wanted to associate themselves with the certain Republican nominee.
Hall mentioned seven candidates in IA-01, eight in IA-02, nine in IA-03, and eleven in IA-04. I don't know how many people ran for the central committee at the district conventions without publicly announcing their bids ahead of time. One of the people elected in IA-04, Kris Thiessen, was not mentioned in Hall's post.
Here's how the presidential preferences broke down for the central committee hopefuls contacted by The Iowa Republican blog.
IA-01: Four refused to answer, one each caucused for Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum.
IA-02: Three declined to state a presidential preference, three caucused for Paul, one each for Santorum and Michele Bachmann.
IA-03: Three caucused for Paul, two for Romney, one for Bachmann, one for Newt Gingrich, one declined to state a preference, one was for Tim Pawlenty initially but neutral later.
IA-04: Two were for Paul, two for Santorum, two for Gingrich, one each for Romney and Perry, one declined to say for whom he caucused but "was a supporter of Santorum after the caucuses," and two said they did not caucus (one of those had worked on Romney's 2008 campaign).
It's striking that only three people seeking spots on the State Central Committee were willing to go on the record saying they caucused for Romney, who essentially tied for the win on January 3. Maybe some of the people who declined to state a preference were closet Romney supporters. It would be risky to advertise that fact to a small electorate composed entirely of district convention delegates. Romney's campaign didn't work as hard as Paul's to get their supporters elected to county conventions and from there to district conventions.
Here are yesterday's election winners. I've noted the incumbents who were re-elected and presidential preferences, when available.
David Chung (incumbent, declined to state presidential preference)
Dave Cushman (Paul)
Tony Krebsbach (declined to state preference)
Loras Schulte (Santorum)
Chelle Adkins, a State Central Committee incumbent who refused to state her preference, was not re-elected at the district convention. Another incumbent did not seek another term on the committee.
Bob Anderson (declined to state preference)
Mark Doland (Bachmann)
Marcus Fedler (Paul)
Jeff Shipley (Paul)
Trudy Caviness and John Ortega, incumbents who did not state their presidential preference, failed to win another term on the State Central Committee. Another incumbent from this district did not seek re-election.
Wes Enos (incumbent, Bachmann)
John Kabitzke (Paul)
Gopal Krishna (incumbent, did not state preference)
Joel Kurtinitis (Paul)
One incumbent from this district did not seek re-election.
Jamie Johnson (Santorum)
Tim Moran (incumbent, did not caucus; worked for Romney campaign in 2008)
Chad Steenhoek (Gingrich)
Kris Thiessen (Paul)
Three incumbents from this district did not seek re-election. Two failed to win another term on the State Central Committee: Paul supporter James Mills and Craig Williams, who said he did not caucus for anyone in 2012.
To sum up, the new Iowa GOP State Central Committee has six Paul endorsers, two Santorum endorsers, two Bachmann endorsers, one Gingrich endorser, and five who either did not caucus or did not state a presidential preference publicly. That leaves zero who were loud and proud for Romney.
No doubt the 16 central committee members will all support the eventual Republican nominee against President Barack Obama. Still, it's clear that as a group, the district convention delegates weren't favorably inclined toward Romney.
A.J. Spiker, who co-chaired Paul's campaign in Iowa, replaced Matt Strawn as Iowa GOP chair in February.
Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.
UPDATE: I should have clarified that RNC members Kim Lehman and Steve Scheffler are also on the state central committee. Lehman and Kris Thiessen will be the only women on that 18-member body.