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.
Paul supporters had a tough act to follow going into the Iowa GOP's state convention weekend. In April, they won a solid plurality on the party's new State Central Committee. In May, they secured ten of the at-large delegate slots for the Republican National Convention.
Twelve more RNC delegates were chosen at district conventions on June 15. Incredibly, slates endorsed by Ron Paul supporters swept the delegate elections in Iowa's first, third, and fourth district, and won two of the three slots in the second district. Adding those eleven people to the ten Paul supporters on the at-large slate, "constitutional conservatives" were set to win 21 of Iowa's 28 total delegates to the national convention.
Three national delegate slots go to Iowa's representatives on the Republican National Committee. Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker co-chaired Paul's presidential campaign in Iowa. Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler didn't endorse Paul before the Iowa caucuses, but he had the Paul supporters' blessing in his effort to win a second term on the RNC. Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman endorsed Rick Santorum for president before the caucuses.
Usually, approval of the at-large RNC delegate slate is a foregone conclusion at the state convention. This year, some Republicans were horrified by the prospect of sending so many delegates who had backed the third-place candidate at the Iowa caucuses.
A delegate named Leta, from Warren County, interjected: "Ron Paul has officially pulled out of the race, so we all should go for Mitt Romney."
Some delegates applauded her comment, while others yelled, "No" and a few booed. Delegate Bethany Gates of Benton County said sending an entire slate of Ron Paul supporters to the national convention is a black eye for Iowa's Caucuses.
"We are going to look ridiculous and we will lose our first-in-the-nation (status)," she said.
In past presidential election years, delegate slots for the national convention have often gone to major party donors or longtime Republican activists. In contrast, some of those elected on the Paul slate have barely been involved with the Iowa GOP in the past. That was a sore point for some Republicans outside the "liberty" camp.
"The nominee from Polk County is someone that not only myself but none of the members of my executive committee that I have asked can tell me who that person is," [Polk County Republican Party co-chairman Dave] Funk said, "and to nominate someone who has not been active in local county politics is inappropriate."
Marlys Popma, a long-time GOP activist, said many the Ron Paul supporters who're going to the national convention don't have a history of voting in Iowa elections.
"I'm sorry. This is a responsibility. Voting is a privilege and a responsibility," Popma said. "How am I going to send these people to Tampa to vote for us if they don't even vote for themselves and their children at home?"
Patrick McQueery, a state convention delegate from Black Hawk County, responded.
"Regarding the voting record of the individuals on the slate, I'd like to submit to you that perhaps they didn't vote because they didn't see anyone fit to vote for on those elections," he said, drawing applause and a few boos.
According to Radio Iowa's O.Kay Henderson, the parliamentarian "struggled to keep order" during the convention proceedings.
The Paul supporters carried the day, as convention delegates approved the Paul-dominated at-large slate by 794 votes to 689. James Q. Lynch published the full list of RNC delegates and alternates, including the at-large slate and the delegates elected at the district conventions on June 15:
National Delegates -- Drew Ivers, chairman, Hamilton; Steve Anders, Pottawattamie; Robert Anderson, Johnson; Andrea Bie, Allamakee; Nancy Bowery, Page; Gov. Terry Branstad, Boone; Michelle Bullock, Polk; Ani DeGroot, Johnson; David Fischer, Polk; Sen. Chuck Grassley, Butler; Mark Hansen, Pottawattamie; Will Johnson, Dubuque; Dusty Juhl, Story; Ed Kelenyi, Jefferson; Brian Kraft, Boone; Gopal Krishna, Polk; Roger Leahy, Jefferson; Jeff Luecke, Dubuque; Rep. Glen Massie, Polk; James Mills, Floyd; Lexy Nuzum, Madison; Brent Oleson, Linn; Kelly Schoen, Linn; Margaret Stoldorf, Montgomery; and Jeff Taylor, Sioux.
Alternate delegates -- Chelsy Askren, Clayton; Jennifer Bowen, Dallas; John Bowery, Page; Buddi Brooks, Pottawattamie; Chris Canny, Johnson; Sam Clovis, Plymouth; Jonas Cutler, Polk; Therese Davis, Guthrie; Aaron Dowdell, Marshal; Benjamin DuBois, Story; Mike Gresham, Fremont; Eric Grote, Franklin; Cody Hoefert, Lyon; Jeff Jorgensen, Pottawattamie; Tracee Knapp, Ringgold; Titus Landegent, Plymouth; Gabe Lanz, Polk; Ruth Long, Union; Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Clarke; Lisa Smith, Wapello; Sarah Stokes, Black Haw; Chet Swanson, Jefferson; Kurt Whalen, Scott; David Wiederstein, Cass; Sen. Brad Zaun, Polk.
Electing a new Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman was also on the agenda for the June 16 state convention, even though the new RNC representatives' terms won't begin until August. Four years ago, Scheffler and Lehman ousted Iowa GOP establishment stalwarts Steve Roberts and Sandy Greiner at the state convention.
Scheffler, who also runs the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, had the Paul supporters' blessing for a second term as committeeman but faced three rivals for the position: Judd Saul, David Chung, and Robert Cramer. The Iowa Republican blog devoted some unflattering coverage to Scheffler last week, related to allegations that he used a church in Burlington to funnel donations to the Iowa Christian Alliance.
Outgoing committeewoman Lehman did not seek a second term on the RNC. Four women sought to replace her, including prominent Paul supporter and retiring Iowa House member Kim Pearson. The other three candidates were Judy Davidson, Tamara Scott, and Margaret Stoldorf. Davidson chairs the Scott County GOP annd stayed neutral before the Iowa caucuses. Scott is Iowa director for Concerned Women of America and co-chaired Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign in Iowa. Stoldorf chairs the Montgomery County GOP and is a past county supervisor. She supported Rick Santorum for president.
Pearson won a plurality but not a majority on the first ballot. Scott came from behind to win on the second ballot in what Craig Robinson called the "lone bright spot" of the day for non-Paul supporters at the convention. In a fun bit of pre-convention intrigue, the Iowa GOP's Rules Committee sought to change the procedure for electing RNC members, so that the person with a plurality on the first ballot would be elected. That rule change was derailed after The Iowa Republican blog pointed out that it violated the state party's constitution. Pearson would have been Iowa's Republican National Committeewoman for the next four years if that rule change had been adopted.
Despite Pearson's loss, it was a banner weekend for Ron Paul supporters in Iowa. They deserve a lot of credit for getting so many like-minded people to show up for the county, district, and state conventions. On June 18 the Liberty Iowa PAC, a political action committee created this spring by former Ron Paul staffers, did a little chest-pounding in this press release:
Liberty Iowa Highlights State Convention Success
LIPAC Efforts Result in National Delegate Wins
Des Moines, IA- Republican conventions in Iowa this weekend saw sweeping victories by constitutional conservatives within the party. Delegates from all over the state poured into Des Moines Friday and Saturday to participate in the selection of Iowa's delegates to the Republican National Convention in August, as well as to elect a National Committeeman, National Committeewoman, and help shape the party platform.
In an unprecedented string of successes, well-organized members of what has become known as the "Liberty Movement" orchestrated a near-sweep of national delegate slots, and defeated a proposed amendment to the RPI constitution aimed at limiting dissent within the party.
21 of the 25 delegates elected to represent Iowa at the Republican national convention are members of the Liberty Movement, and most supported Texas Congressman Ron Paul in the January 3rd Iowa Caucuses.
Liberty Iowa, a PAC aimed at advancing the causes of limited government and individual freedom, celebrated what Executive Director Adil Khan called a "signature win". "Liberty Iowa's network of dedicated activists proved once again that we will be a force in Iowa politics for years to come. Our volunteers were active in coordinating delegates and alternates throughout the convention process, and our efforts were rewarded - Iowa can now count on a strong voice for liberty at the national convention," said Khan.
While Liberty Iowa is not affiliated with any presidential campaign or candidate, many Paul supporters also actively support the PAC. Seven of Iowa's pro-Paul national delegates, as well as several alternates, are active within Liberty Iowa, in both leadership and volunteer capacities. Drew Ivers, Ron Paul's State Campaign Chairman, said that Liberty Iowa's efforts were critical to the convention gains. "A number of groups and organizations of liberty-minded people participated in this victory, including Liberty Iowa, whose efforts proved to be of great value in the weeks leading up to convention." Ivers said that Iowa's delegates would carry an important message to the Tampa convention. "The future of our nation can only be secured by bringing expansive, out-of-control government back under control," said Ivers. "There is a movement to restore liberty and return state and national government to constitutional limits, and Liberty Iowa is an important part of that movement."
Not to rain on the Paul supporters' parade, but they face a big challenge winning over the Iowa GOP's fundraising base. Since Spiker replaced Matt Strawn as state party chair in February, donations have slowed dramatically. I anticipate that the weekend's events will encourage more Republican donors large and small to invest their political resources elsewhere. That will make it hard for the Iowa GOP to fund a strong statewide GOTV program this fall.
Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.