# Iowa Republican Party



Iowa Republicans more like "Party of Hoover" than party of future

The Republican Party of Iowa is celebrating its “rising stars” tonight at an event featuring Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Judging by what we’ve heard lately from Iowa GOP leaders, they’re gonna party like it’s 1929.

Case in point: Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley. The possible gubernatorial candidate’s weekly memos continue to whine about spending and borrowing by Democrats (see also here). Republicans would rather slash government programs and provide “targeted” one-year tax credits.

The lessons of Herbert Hoover’s presidency are still lost on these people. I apologize for repeating myself, but excessive government spending cuts can turn an economic recession into a depression. Since state governments cannot run budget deficits, it makes sense for the federal government to help the states “backfill” their budgets. That was the express purpose of the state transfer funds in the stimulus package.

In addition, it is prudent to spend federal funds on projects with long-term benefits. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was in Des Moines on June 23 to highlight the first installment of what will be $41 million in stimulus funds for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in Iowa. Energy efficiency programs in particular will have huge collateral benefits, saving consumers money while helping the environment.

No matter how many times Republicans repeat their misleading talking points about the I-JOBS state bonding initiative Democrats passed this year, it is prudent to borrow money for worthwhile projects when interest rates are low. I don’t hear McKinley or other Republican leaders telling businesses not to borrow money to make capital improvements.

Share any thoughts about Republican ideas, rhetoric, or career lobbyist Haley Barbour in this thread.

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Iowa GOP building new machine to sell old ideas

Thomas Beaumont wrote about the Republican Party of Iowa's revamped outreach strategy in Monday's Des Moines Register. GOP chairman Matt Strawn is working on several fronts to bring the party back to power after three consecutive losses in Iowa gubernatorial elections and four consecutive elections in which Republicans lost seats in the Iowa House and Senate.

Strawn's strategy consists of:

1) meeting with activists in numerous cities and towns

2) using social networking tools to spread the Republican message

3) building an organization with a more accurate database

After the jump I'll discuss the strengths of this approach as well as its glaring flaw.

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The Republicans' problem is what they say, not how they say it

The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa went outside the box yesterday in selecting a new party chairman. They picked Matt Strawn, best known as part of the group that owns the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team, instead of someone with experience as an elected official or leader of a county GOP operation.

Strawn began his campaign for the chairmanship as an underdog compared to outgoing state GOP treasurer Gopal Krishna (at one time seen as the front-runner in this race) and former State Representative Danny Carroll. The latter appears to have been the grassroots favorite in the field; he turned out the most enthusiastic supporters to a recent public forum for the state chair candidates and was supported by several conservative Iowa bloggers.

Strawn prevailed with a combination of old-school politicking (a “Pizza and Politics” tour to ten Iowa cities) and a technologically savvy online campaign (a blog with occasional YouTube video postings).

The new Iowa GOP chairman wants to use technology to improve Republicans’ standing with younger voters:

Strawn, 35, noted that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama beat Republican John McCain by 2-1 among young adults in Iowa. He said part of the problem is Republicans have failed to use modern communications methods, such as Twitter and Facebook. People are left with the impression that the party either doesn’t know how to use those channels or doesn’t care to, he said. “Either way, we’re sending a terrible message.” […]

Strawn said at a press conference that he would reach out to all age groups as he seeks to build up party registrations, raise money and recruit strong candidates for office. He vowed to regain the majorities in both houses of the Legislature, win back the governorship and make gains in Congress.

He said Republicans could do all those things without watering down the party’s conservative priorities. “If we communicate our beliefs, we can win elections,” he said.

There’s no question that the Republican Party lost young voters by large margins in 2006 and 2008, and not just in Iowa. This map created by Mike Connery shows that if only voters aged 18-29 had cast ballots for president, John McCain would have won fewer than ten states.

Instead of complaining that “a bunch of stupid college students” sank the campaigns of “far superior” candidates such as Carroll (who lost to Eric Palmer for the second time in Iowa House district 75) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (who lost to Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s second Congressional district), Republicans should be asking themselves why young voters are rejecting their candidates in such large numbers.

Strawn’s answer is that the GOP’s failure to fully exploit new technology is “sending a terrible message” to young voters.

I sincerely hope that Republicans continue to believe that their recent election losses are rooted in communication problems. I think the Republicans’ ideology is what turns off young voters. The tendency for Republicans to campaign on “culture war” issues exacerbates this problem, highlighting the topics that make the party seem out of touch to younger voters.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, the Republican Party did quite well with the 18-30 age group, including college students. In fact, my age cohort is still relatively strong for Republicans. (A chart in this post shows the presidential vote among young Americans for the past 30 years.)

Republican campaign rhetoric in the 1980s tended not to emphasize abortion, the so-called “homosexual agenda” and other polarizing social issues. Will Iowa Republicans be ready to nominate more pro-choice moderates, or at least not demonize slightly less extreme anti-choice candidates, in 2010? Given how many party activists and State Central Committee members are also involved with anti-choice groups, I am skeptical.

The Iowa Supreme Court will rule on the Varnum v Brien case sometime this year. If the majority grants same-sex marriage rights or even state-recognized civil unions, I expect an anti-gay marriage crusade to figure prominently in Republicans’ 2010 gubernatorial and statehouse campaigns. That won’t help the party’s image with young voters, who are overwhelmingly tolerant of same-sex unions. I am not even convinced it would help Republicans with the electorate at large. The only recent Iowa poll on this issue showed that even before the publicity surrounding Varnum v Brien, 58 percent of Iowa voters supported either gay marriage or civil unions.

Some Republicans want their candidates to emphasize economic issues more and do away with “litmus tests” on social issues. Shortly after the election, Doug Gross discussed the Republican Party’s problems on Iowa Public Television. Gross worked for Republican Governors Bob Ray and Terry Branstad in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was the Republican nominee for governor against Tom Vilsack in 2002. Gross had this advice for Republican candidates:

What we really have to do is speak to the fundamental issues that Iowans care about which is I’m working hard every day, in many cases a couple of jobs, my wife works as well, we take care of our kids and yet the government is going to increase our taxes, they’re going to increase spending and they’re going to give that to somebody who is not working.  That kind of message will win for republicans among the people we have and we’ve gotten away from that.  

Ah yes, the glory days, when Republicans could win by running against “tax and spend” Democrats who supposedly took money away from hard-working Americans and gave it to “welfare queens” and other unemployed ne’er-do-wells.

Suppose the Republican Party of Iowa goes back to the future with this 1980-style message. I am not convinced that this is a winning ticket. Nationwide exit polling from the most recent election showed that a majority of voters believe government should do more, not less. The same exit poll found Barack Obama won even though most people believed Republican claims that he would raise taxes.

Moreover, rising unemployment is not just an issue for lower-income or blue-collar workers. Layoffs are also hitting groups that have trended toward the Democratic Party in the last decade: suburban dwellers, white-collar professionals and college-educated whites generally. Even in affluent neighborhoods, just about everyone knows someone who has been laid off in the past six months. Government assistance to the unemployed may be more popular now than it was in the 1980s.

Losing your job means losing your health insurance for many Americans, which is particularly scary for those who have “pre-existing conditions.” More and more people are delaying routine preventive care and treatment for chronic conditions in this tough economy. I believe that the problems with our health care system are another reason that Republican “small government” rhetoric has less salience now than it did 20 years ago. Just talk to people whose families have been devastated after a private insurance company denied coverage for expensive, medically necessary procedures.

Strawn can’t single-handedly reshape the ideology of the Iowa GOP, even if he wanted to. What can he do, besides use more online social networking tools?

Fundraising must become a big part of Strawn’s job, because Iowa Republicans have fallen behind Democrats in the money race as they’ve lost political power.

Doug Gross touched on this problem in his Iowa Public Television appearance:

Now, what I hear from large givers for the Republican Party is they are tired of losing elections. They think we need to do something different, they think we need the kind of candidates who can appeal to a broader scope of the populous, that we can’t just have litmus tests associated with one particular issue if we’re going to accomplish overall republican goals and we’ve got to accomplish that if we’re going to meet them in terms of the fundraising goal.

Even wealthy people don’t like throwing money away, so Strawn will have to demonstrate that he has a winning strategy if he wants to get major donors to open their wallets yet again.

Gross is also alluding to the fact that a lot of the business community Republicans do not agree with the GOP platform on social issues. Not only that, last year party insiders snubbed one of the all-time largest donors to Iowa Republican candidates, according to Gross:

Marvin Pomerantz is a dear friend of mine and no greater supporter of the republican party than Marvin Pomerantz over the course of his life in terms of financial contributions and otherwise.  A few months before he died he wanted to be able to go to the convention because he was John McCain’s chair, finance chair in the state of Iowa and was prohibited from doing so because some member of his family had given to Planned Parenthood.  Now, I don’t support Planned Parenthood any more than you do but at the same time you don’t punish somebody who is with us 80% to 90% of the time over an issue like that.  That’s how we narrow the party and that’s how we don’t broaden it.  We have to get away from that.

Steve Scheffler, the RNC committeeman who sat next to Gross during that taping, did not dispute this account. All I can say is wow. As it turned out, Pomerantz passed away before the Republican convention, so he would not have been able to attend. But his health was known to be poor, and it is beyond belief that delegates to the state GOP convention rejected his desire to go to St. Paul as a delegate, after everything he had done for the party over so many years. I would love to replace our campaign finance system, but with the system we have you just don’t spit on your most generous contributors. I have no doubt that this story traveled widely among Republicans in the business community.

If I were Strawn, I don’t know how I would go about mending fences with offended Republican moderates, because I doubt he has the will or the ability to take social conservatives in the party leadership down a peg.

At the end of the day, I have no idea whether the State Central Committee picked the best person to run the Republican Party yesterday. Krishna’s bizarre public attack on his State Central Committee colleagues (see also his interview with Iowa Independent), just days after he failed to show up at a public forum for candidates seeking to run the party, suggests to me that he lacked the maturity for the job. Carroll’s failure to learn from his 2006 loss to Eric Palmer makes me wonder whether he would be able to turn the party around.

As I’ve written before, Republican prospects for a comeback may have less to do with new GOP leadership than with how well the Democrats govern (in Iowa and nationally). If Governor Chet Culver and state legislative leaders are seen to be doing a good job, Iowa will continue the trend toward becoming a blue state. If Culver and the statehouse leaders screw up, the Republicans may rebound no matter what Strawn does.

That said, Strawn has his work cut out for him if he wants to do more than sit back and wait for Democrats to self-destruct. I don’t think the Republican Party of Iowa can twitter and YouTube its way out of the hole they’re in, especially when it comes to younger voters.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Strawn will need to inspire confidence among statehouse Republicans in order to minimize the number of retirements. Four Republicans in the U.S. Senate have already indicated that they plan to retire rather than run for re-election in 2010. Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate may do the same, recognizing the GOP will be the minority party for some time to come. The more open seats the GOP has to defend, the more difficult it will be for them to come back.

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Update on new leadership for Iowa Republicans

Iowa Senate Republicans voted out Ron Wieck as minority leader on Tuesday. New leader Paul McKinley of Chariton promised “to rebuild this party from the ground up.”

Wieck, of Sioux City, was selected for the job by Senate Republicans in 2007 after Sen. Mary Lundby of Marion chose to step down from the leadership role. He will continue to serve in his District 27 seat.

McKinley, former owner of the textile company Neely Manufacturing, stressed that all Republicans will continue to work together. Senate Republicans will focus on being a spending watchdog for the state, retaining Iowa’s pro-business economy, providing tax relief and advocating for smaller government, he said.

Last week Iowa House Republicans picked Kraig Paulsen to replace Chris Rants as minority leader.

No consensus candidate seems to be emerging to take on the unenviable job of rebuilding the divided Republican Party of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register’s David Yepsen wrote in his latest column,

Republicans are looking for a new state party chairman. The challenge for the party is to find a chair who is acceptable to social conservatives but who can raise money from more moderate business types. The new leader must look good on TV and execute a management turnaround, all while working for a board of directors that too often squabbles and micromanages.

Good luck. Polk County chairman Ted Sporer is running, but he may be too hot and scrappy for some. His critics say the Polk County GOP organization he heads isn’t impressive. He says it’s better than when he started.

Former state Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell is also mentioned. He’s a smart, well-liked guy but may be too much of a social conservative for a party that needs to broaden its appeal. Carroll’s also lost two consecutive legislative races.

Another former state representative, Bill Dix of Shell Rock, gets mentioned but may be more interested in another run for office someday.

If you’re wondering why anyone would consider Sporer “too hot and scrappy,” read his take on the Tom Harkin/Christopher Reed debate.

Appearing on Iowa Public Television the weekend after the election, Republican moderate and former gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross described his dream candidate:

Gross: Well, I can think of 1964 we had a debacle, the Goldwater debacle and Johnson won in a landslide.  The democrats took over the governorship in both houses of the legislature.  And then we brought in a young Des Moines attorney by the name of Bob Ray to run the party as a guy that understood the importance of communication, appealing to all factions of the party and worked his tail off to help rebuild the organization.  That’s the kind of person we need as party chair again.  What we don’t need is someone whose is ideologically pure on one side or the other, that’s not what we should have.

Yepsen: Have you got some names?

Gross: Do I have some names?  I’m looking for Bob Ray’s sons but he only has daughters but the daughters would be alright too.

Feel that inclusion, Republican ladies?

Even if Bob Ray had a son, I doubt a pro-choice moderate who welcomed increased foreign immigration to this state would have a prayer of winning a leadership contest in today’s GOP.

Here’s a tip for conservatives, though: Governor Ray was just about the only Republican my mother ever voted for.

For more speculation on a possible new leader for the Iowa GOP, read this post or this post at the Krusty Konservative blog. Check out the comments too. The conservatives sure are angry.

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Will new leadership help Iowa Republicans? (updated)

I am disappointed that the Democrats did not gain as many seats in the Iowa legislature as I’d hoped. With Barack Obama winning this state by 9 percent and Democrats enjoying a big voter registration advantage, we should have done better in the statehouse races. We need to analyze what sank some of our down-ticket candidates so we can do better in 2010.

None of that should obscure the much bigger problems currently facing the Republican Party of Iowa.

Six days after the fourth straight election in which Republicans have lost seats in both the Iowa House and Senate, the Republicans House caucus voted to replace Christopher Rants of Sioux City as their leader. Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha (a suburb of Cedar Rapids) will take on the job. According to the Des Moines Register,

Rants and Paulsen have starkly different governing styles. Rants is known at the Capitol as a fighter, often using sharp language to rally for his party. For years, he has been the main go-to guy for his party, advising them on nearly every issue.

Paulsen has been described by his peers as being rather mellow. He’s also got a reputation of being able to work well with Democrats. This summer, for example, he was seen frequently working with other legislators such as Sen. Robert Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, on flood-related issues.

With two House races yet to be decided, Republicans are likely to end up with only 44 of the 100 seats in the lower chamber. Eight years ago they had 56 seats. The delegation is not only smaller, but also more conservative than it was in the past. For instance, my own House distict 59 has traditionally been represented by moderates (Janet Metcalf, Gene Maddox, Dan Clute), but incoming representative Chris Hagenow was backed by right-wing interest groups.

Speaking of those two House seats that are still too close to call, let this be a lesson to voters about the importance of filling out the whole ballot. Democratic incumbent Wes Whitead leads by six (!) votes in House district 1, and some ballots are being challenged because an estimated 100 to 120 Woodbury County voters received absentee ballots listing candidates in the wrong state House district.

In House district 37, highly targeted Democratic incumbent Art Staed trailed Republican Renee Schulte by less than 50 votes on election night and by only 14 votes as of Friday. If Whitead’s lead holds and a recount changes the outcome of Staed’s race, House Republicans would end up with with only 43 seats for the next two legislative sessions.

Speaking of contested ballots, the votes of 50 Grinnell students who listed the address where they receive mail, rather than the address of the dorm they live in, will be counted in House district 75. As I predicted, that race turned out not to be close enough for the challenged votes to be decisive. Targeted Democratic incumbent Eric Palmer beat former state representative Danny Carroll by about 1,200 votes (54 percent to 46 percent).

About those close races: the Republicans might have picked up more seats if the Democrats had not banked so many early votes. Rants announced after being ousted as House Republican leader that “he’ll now take on a personal crusade to spark Republican voter registration drives and early voting as a way to help his party rebound.” Building an effective early-voting campaign will not happen overnight, though.

Republicans in the Iowa Senate are considering changing their leadership as well, now that their Senate caucus will be the smallest in history. Depending on the outcome of the extremely close race in Senate district 10, Republicans will hold just 18 or 19 seats out of 50.

The national economic and political climate could be very different in 2010, which may give some Republicans hope. But don’t imagine it will be easy for them to defeat Governor Chet Culver and win back a net six or seven seats in the House and the Senate. A few years ago, Republicans and Democrats had about the same number of registered voters in Iowa. Yet Culver beat Congressman Jim Nussle (who was considered a strong candidate) by about 100,000 votes in 2006. Culver goes into the next campaign with the advantages of incumbency as well as a Democratic lead in voter registration.

The Republican Party of Iowa also faces divisive battles between social conservatives and moderates. Stewart Iverson announced last week that he will not seek another term as state party chairman. Polk County Republican Chairman Ted Sporer wants the job and wants to make the party more confrontational:

“We need to fight with the Democrats. I want to fight with the Democrats every day,” he said. “I want our party leadership to join me in that.”

The current GOP leadership has led the party to the bottom, he said.

“If 2009 doesn’t look like the bottom has dropped out, I mean if this isn’t truly where you bottom out, what’s it going to look like?” he said. “We have to turn around and start fighting back.”

Sporer said the party must return to its conservative values, from fiscal to social and everywhere in between.

“We were so not conservative in the last election cycle,” he said, adding: “[Republicans] are so afraid of losing power that they pander to the middle instead of running hard and proud as who they are.”

But even before the election, moderate Iowa Republicans were planning to “fight back against the evangelicals and goofballs who have taken over the party.” Goofballs such as U.S. Senate candidate Christopher Reed and Kim Lehman, who was elected Republican national committeewoman this summer at the GOP state convention (replacing Sandy Greiner). Steve Roberts, another moderate Republican who lost his RNC slot to a social conservative, suggested before the election that Lehman should choose between leading Iowa Right to Life and serving on the RNC.

The moderates (including 2002 gubernatorial nominee Doug Gross according to Cityview) think Republicans should not take such a hard line on social issues. Former Republican lieutenant governor Joy Corning, who is pro-choice, took issue with Lehman in this letter to the Des Moines Register:

Pro-life can and does mean pro-choice to great numbers of Republicans. It means they want government to let individual citizens decide on matters best left to each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility.

If Kim Lehman, one of two Iowa representatives on the Republican National Committee, makes being anti-choice a litmus test, it only further divides the Republican Party.

We are defined by principles that have been our foundation since the time of Lincoln – limited government, strong defense, fiscal responsibility, self-determination and opportunity. We are not defined by a National Right to Life survey.

Last week’s election results strengthen the moderate Republicans’ argument, in my opinion. Lynda Waddington of Iowa Independent showed in this piece that Republican statehouse candidates who emphasized abortion as a campaign issue did not do very well.

But who will take on and defeat Sporer in a campaign to lead the state party? His belief that the GOP has been losing because it’s not conservative enough is shared by most Republicans, even if the overall electorate disagrees.

I don’t give the moderates much chance against the “goofballs” if Republican activists are doing the choosing.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that as a rule, the party out of power sees more of its members retire from the state legislature. It’s not much fun being in the minority during the legislative session. In all likelihood, Republicans will go into the 2010 cycle with more open seats to defend in the Iowa House and Senate.

I also want to link to a few conservative bloggers’ commentaries on the situation facing the Republican Party of Iowa.

At his own blog, Ted Sporer lays out his vision for a “Republican Rebirth” in Iowa. Many of his ideas are grounded in the Republican mainstream, but make no mistake: Sporer is more closely aligned with the “goofballs” than with the moderates.

After Christopher Reed went way over the top in his debate with Tom Harkin last month, Sporer defended Reed’s description of the four-term incumbent as the “Tokyo Rose of al-Qaeda.” To hear Sporer tell it, this phrase was “accurate,” and “we need more discussion of objective factual truths in politics.” Furthermore, he argued that Reed’s line of attack against Harkin could have been a winning message if only Reed had had “more money, a staff and some TV advertising.” This tells me that if Sporer does become Iowa GOP chairman, we’re in for a lot of Newt Gingrich-style rhetorical bomb-throwing in 2010.

The well-connected Krusty Konservative notes that groups of Republican moderates and conservatives have met in recent days to discuss the way forward:

While I’m glad that both the establishment crowd and conservative activists are meeting, I just wish they would sit down and meet together. If this turns out to be a battle between the two groups only one thing will come of it; defeat.

Krusty also wants social conservatives to be “more inclusive and tolerant of people and candidates who don’t comply with a strict anti-abortion litmus test.” But he had this to say to the Republicans who blame the religious right for losing elections:

It amazes me that the social conservatives are being blamed for the lack of message within the Republican Party. This couldn’t me farther from the truth. The liberal media would lead you to believe that our candidates only talk about gay marriage and abortion. […]

When you look at the message breakdown on economic/kitchen table issues it’s been the establishment candidates who have failed us. In this last presidential campaign we saw John McCain lose the kitchen table issues to Obama, but we shouldn’t have been surprised, our Republican standard barers [sic] have not been able to win the debate on economic issues vs. their Democrat challengers for more than a decade.

Commenting on my post about the problems facing Republicans nationally, Bleeding Heartland user dbrog recommended watching the latest Iowa Press program on Iowa Public Television. The video is here, and you can download the transcript at the same page on the IPTV website.

Krusty Konservative wasn’t optimistic after watching:

Interestingly enough both National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and Doug Gross discussed the future of the Republican Party in Iowa on Iowa Press this past weekend. The interview didn’t generate any real fireworks, but it also lacked any specific ideas to move our party forward. All I took out of it was to expect more of the same, which means we should prepare to lose more legislative seats in 2010 and maybe a statewide elected Republican unless we can rally around the cause of winning elections.

Blogger abregar of the Iowa Defense Alliance describes what he wants to see in a party chairman:

The Republican Party of Iowa is in crisis. As a party we have just come off another losing election cycle. There were a few areas that provided a sense of optimism, but they are few and far between. It has become obvious that the current party leadership does not know how to win. Their strategy has led us down the road to defeat yet again.  The party is fractured and in need of healing yet our leadership has not attempted to do just that. The next RPI Chair needs to be someone that understands and supports all the values and ideals that our party stands for. Essentially the next Chair should eat, sleep, and drink the party platform. The next RPI Chair must unite our crippled and fractured party. There are deep divisions in the party right now that current leadership has done little to heal.

To my mind, a GOP chair who “eats, sleeps and drinks the party platform” will be unable to heal the party’s divisions, because social conservatives have been so dominant in crafting that platform. But that’s not the most interesting part of abregar’s analysis:

I cannot deny that under normal circumstances I think that [Sporer] would excel as Chair of RPI. Ted is solid on all the issues that represent the Republican Party here in Iowa. He most definitely is outspoken and has great ideas. At this point in time, Ted may not be the right person for the job. Far too many people across the state Ted is a symbol of the Polk County political machine and they resent that. […] Other party members across the state see the influence that Polk County has and they resent it. I hate to say this, but I don’t think that Ted would bring the party together like we need.

Right now RPI needs a leader that can reach across the state to bring Republicans together. We need someone that is going to be a strong leader that will promote our issues and values. We need a strong leader that will loudly and vocally support all of our candidates, not just one or two. We need someone that is going to be solid on all Republican issues. In order to do this RPI is going to need to look outside of Polk County.

Not surprisingly, the most influential Republican moderates in this state are based in Polk County, which contains Des Moines and most of its suburbs. Polk County is also where a lot of the heavy-hitter Republican donors live (both moderate and conservative). If the state GOP takes abregar’s advice and looks outside Polk County, will unifying the party become any easier?

The bottom line is that there is no easy path forward for the Republican Party of Iowa.

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Iowa Republican Party convention open thread

The Iowa GOP convenes today after flooding derailed its originally scheduled state convention last month. John Deeth is liveblogging the proceedings over at his blog.

Please share any thoughts you have about the Republicans’ prospects or strategies in our state.

By the way, Deeth wrote an interesting post on the uncontested races for the Iowa House and Senate. Republicans left one Democratic state senator and 20 Democratic state representatives without a challenger. Democrats failed to field a candidate in six Republican-held Senate districts and 10 House districts.

UPDATE: David Yepsen notes that Mike Huckabee’s presence signals he may run for president in 2012 if John McCain loses to Barack Obama this year. Yepsen also sees the Iowa GOP moving to the right:

Steve Scheffler, the head of the Iowa Christian Alliance, easily ousted longtime national committee member Steve Roberts by a vote of 788 to 543.  Kim Lehman, the head of the Iowa Right to Life, defeated state Rep. Sandy Greiner for the job of national committeewoman by a vote of 729 to 484.

Roberts and Greiner were seen as the older, more centrist candidates who sought to make the party a big tent that appealed to a wide, diverse group of people.  Scheffler and Lehman said the party needed to take strong stands on social issues in order to attract voters and inspire workers.  Yet centrists argue these positions turn off independents and mainstream voters needed to win elections.

At one level, their election is further evidence of the rightward drift of the Iowa GOP and how it’s been hijacked by a narrow ideological faction that sometimes seems bent on turning the GOP into a church instead of a political party.

But it’s also a recognition that the party machinery is in sad shape and some Republicans want a shake-up in management.  While Scheffler and Lehman are most definitely on the right hand side of the spectrum, they are also respected for their organizational skills.

The desire for new management bodes ill for state party chairman Stewart Iverson when the central committee meets after the November election to elect a chair for the coming year.  (He just replaced Ray Hoffman as party chair, has little time to right the organizational ship, but will still take the rap for any Republican defeats in the fall.)

Polk County GOP chairman Ted Sporer, who is allied with Scheffler and Lehman supporters, is making noises about challenging Iverson if he runs.

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