# Isaiah McGee

Looking for prominent Iowa Republicans ready to #NeverTrump (updated)

Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination for the presidency by winning yesterday’s Indiana primary, prompting Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus posted on Twitter, “we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton.” Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann weighed in a little later last night, “The only movement I’m a part of is the #NeverHillary movement #UnitedIowa.”

Yet many lifelong Republicans have vowed not to vote for Trump under any circumstances. After the jump I’ve listed some well-known Iowa activists and strategists in that camp. I have not yet found any elected GOP official in Iowa willing to say #NeverTrump. Governor Terry Branstad and our state’s Republican U.S. Senators and House representatives are poised to support the nominee, despite Senator Joni Ernst’s discomfort with Trump’s way of expressing himself. I welcome tips on any GOP state lawmakers, school board, city, or county elected officials willing to go on record that they will not vote for Trump.

UPDATE: Hardin County Auditor Jessica Lara (R) confirmed on May 4 that she is “not ashamed” to say, “NEVER TRUMP.” She further commented that she is “low key when it comes to politics” and did not endorse any candidate before the Iowa caucuses, adding that Trump “does not represent me or my values.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ernst, and Representatives Steve King and David Young confirmed that they will support Trump. I’ve added below excerpts from the Des Moines Register story by Brianne Pfannenstiel and Matthew Patane.

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Will any elected Iowa Republicans vow to #NeverTrump?

In an effort to halt Donald Trump’s momentum and also to preserve some self-respect, a growing number of Republicans are vowing never to vote for Trump, even if he becomes the GOP presidential nominee. As Megan McArdle reported for Bloomberg, the #NeverTrump faction represents “all segments of the party — urban professionals, yes, but also stalwart evangelicals, neoconservatives, libertarians, Tea Partiers, the whole patchwork of ideological groups of which the Republican coalition is made.”

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman said she would consider voting for Hillary Clinton over Trump. At a funeral in Des Moines this past weekend, the daughter of the deceased (like Whitman a moderate Republican) struck a chord with some of the mourners when she joked during her eulogy that she was a little envious her mother would not have to vote in the presidential election now.

At the other end of the GOP ideological spectrum, staunch conservative U.S. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska became the first member of Congress to take the #NeverTrump pledge, laying out his reasoning in a long Facebook post.

So far, the most prominent Iowa Republican to join the #NeverTrump camp is right-wing talk radio host Steve Deace, who explained his stance in a column for the Conservative Review website. Deace worked hard to persuade fellow Iowans to caucus for Ted Cruz. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio endorser and former Waukee City Council member Isaiah McGee described himself to me as a “founding member” of #NeverTrump.

Early signs suggest that few, if any, elected GOP officials in Iowa will join the club.

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New IA-03 Republican candidate speculation thread

Representative Tom Latham’s surprise retirement announcement last Tuesday was an early Christmas present to some ambitious Republicans (who now have an opportunity to move up) as well as to Democrats (who now have a prayer of winning IA-03).

Here’s a new thread on potential GOP contenders for the vacant seat next year. My thoughts on many possible candidates are after the jump. Appearing on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, Latham said he does not expect to endorse a candidate in the GOP primary to represent IA-03. He added that he might become a lobbyist or work for a charity after leaving Congress.

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Bombshell in IA-03: Tom Latham not seeking re-election

From the day I first saw Iowa’s new map of political boundaries in 2011, I had a bad feeling that Republican Tom Latham would be representing me in Congress for most of this decade. I did not see today’s news coming: in an e-mail to supporters this afternoon (full text here), the ten-term incumbent announced that he will not seek re-election to the U.S. House in 2014. Latham plans to spend more time with his family.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was already targeting Iowa’s third Congressional district, and Latham was in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s incumbent protection program. As an open seat, the race will be far more competitive than if longtime incumbent Latham were on the ballot. I am curious to see which Republicans jump in this race. I doubt Des Moines-based teacher and business owner Joe Grandanette, who had already announced a primary challenge to Latham, will be the GOP nominee. I assume several state legislators or former legislators will go for it, but probably not State Senator Brad Zaun, who couldn’t beat Leonard Boswell in the biggest Republican landslide in decades.

Former State Senator Staci Appel has a head start in the race for the Democratic nomination, with nearly $200,000 cash on hand as of September 30 and the support of several Democratic-aligned interest groups, including EMILY’s List. Gabriel De La Cerda is the other declared Democratic candidate in IA-03. With Latham retiring, I wonder if other Democrats will jump in the race. For instance, State Senator Matt McCoy was planning to run for Congress in the third district in 2002 before Representative Boswell decided to move to Des Moines so as not to face Steve King in what was then IA-05.

As of December 1, IA-03 contained 157,456 active registered Democrats, 164,311 Republicans, and 160,205 no-party voters, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

UPDATE: Shortly after news broke of Latham’s retirement, Appel sent out a fundraising appeal and tweeted that her team was “thrilled to see our work holding Latham accountable has paid off.”

SECOND UPDATE: State Senator Janet Petersen comes to mind as a potential Democratic candidate as well. On the Republican side, I wonder whether some mayors or Waukee City Council Member Isaiah McGee will go for it.

THIRD UPDATE: Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds already ruled out running for Congress, but Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is seriously considering it.

I’ve added Appel’s statement on today’s news after the jump.

FOURTH UPDATE: Added Schultz’s statement after the jump. He served as a Council Bluffs City Council member before running for Iowa secretary of state.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal lives in IA-03 and could run for Congress without risking his state Senate seat, since he’s not up for re-election until 2016.

Also added statements from Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, and the Iowa Democratic Party below. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action released a statement calling on Latham to help move immigration reform forward, now that he “has nothing to lose.”

Have to agree with John Deeth: “On the GOP side I expect a clown car and maybe even another convention.” State Senators Brad Zaun and Jack Whitver are both thinking about it.

FIFTH UPDATE: Added statement from Gabriel De La Cerda, who was the first Democrat to declare in IA-03 earlier this year.

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Charles Schneider is the GOP candidate in Iowa Senate district 22

West Des Moines City Council member Charles Schneider will face Democrat Desmund Adams in the December 11 special election to fill Iowa Senate district 22. Six Republicans sought the nomination at a special district convention last night: Schneider, former West Des Moines School Board president John Ward (the widower of Senator Pat Ward), Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena, longtime GOP activist Connie Schmett, high school teacher Greg Hudson, and former Waukee City Council member Isaiah McGee, who now works for the Iowa Department of Education. About 60 Republican delegates from the district elected Schneider on the second ballot using a convoluted procedure for allocating votes to each candidate. McGee placed second, Ward third.

Senate district 22 covers the Des Moines suburbs of Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and parts of West Des Moines. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that 12,633 registered Democrats, 17,184 Republicans, and 15,097 no-party voters live in the district. Those totals do not include any voters who registered on election day.

Education Department grants Iowa temporary break on No Child Left Behind

The U.S. Department of Education has approved “one-year freeze of the target increases that schools are held to under the federal No Child Left Behind Act,” Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass announced on July 2. Iowa had requested the one-year freeze last week, shortly after federal education officials denied Iowa’s application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

After the jump I’ve posted statements from Glass with more details and comments on the latest development, along with reaction from Iowa Senate Education Committee Chair Herman Quirmbach. I also added the statement announcing members of the new Instructional Time Task Force, created under Senate File 2284, the education reform bill approved at the end of the legislative session.

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Rejected Branstad nominee lands state education job

The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate has rejected only two of Governor Terry Branstad’s nominees this year. One of them, former Department of Human Rights Director Isaiah McGee, started a new job Friday as education program consultant for achievement gaps and student equity at the Iowa Department of Education. Controversy surrounding McGee’s instructions to Human Rights staff and members of certain state commissions hurt the nominee with Senate Democrats. He fell a few votes short of confirmation. McGee stayed in his position at Human Rights until today; state law allows rejected nominees to keep serving for 60 days after the failed confirmation vote. State Department of Education Director Jason Glass “sought out” and offered McGee his new job as a program consultant, Branstad told journalists today. Glass commented,

“I am excited Isaiah will be joining us, because he has numerous talents and knowledge that will benefit the people of Iowa,” Glass said. “He is the exact right person for this job, as we need to continually serve the needs of all students in Iowa. Isaiah is passionate about education and will offer thoughtful solutions to the challenges we face in our educational system, and work to see those solutions through.”

Branstad hasn’t named a permanent director for the Department of Human Rights. Today he appointed Danielle Plogmann as interim director. She handled communications for the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2010 election cycle and early this year, until McGee hired her in March to be his executive assistant. Speaking to reporters today, Branstad twice described Plogmann as “loyal”:

“She has worked there, in the department, and I wanted to have somebody that I thought was loyal and somebody that I thought would work well with everybody.” […]

Branstad is interviewing candidates to take over as the director of the Department of Human Rights and he does not anticipate that Plogmann will be more than a temporary agency chief.

“I think this will be fairly short term,” Branstad said. “But I think she is somebody that I think is loyal and competant and can do the job in the short term and we will have a permanent director named in the near future.”

I’m not clear on what Plogmann’s loyalty (to the governor? to McGee’s vision? to Republican values?) has to do with managing the Department of Human Rights. I hope Branstad appoints a permanent director with a bit more relevant experience.

In related news, this week the governor named Michael Mullins to the Iowa Court of Appeals. Mullins is a registered Republican and has served as a District Court judge since 2002. He replaces Edward Mansfield, whom Branstad appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in February. Mullins was also on the short list of Iowa Supreme Court candidates the State Judicial Nominating Commission sent to the governor.

Incidentally, one of Branstad’s appointees to the State Judicial Nominating Commission was the other person Iowa Senate Democrats declined to confirm. Branstad’s replacement pick for that position was Jim Kersten, whom the Senate unanimously confirmed last month. A Fort Dodge native, Kertsen served as a Republican member of the Iowa House and Iowa Senate and also as an assistant to Branstad during his earlier tenure as governor. Kersten currently works as Associate Vice President of Development and Government Relations at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. He recently was one of seven heavy-hitting Iowa Republicans who flew to New Jersey to encourage Governor Chris Christie to run for president.

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Iowa Senate may reject two Branstad appointees (updated)

The Iowa Senate confirmed six of Governor Terry Branstad’s appointees to state offices and boards yesterday, but Democratic senators indicated that two of the governor’s picks may not receive the two-thirds vote needed in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, Branstad suggested at his weekly press conference that race may be a factor in opposition to Isaiah McGee as director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights.

Follow me after the jump for more on who was confirmed yesterday and the battles coming later this week.

UPDATE: On April 12 the Senate rejected McGee as well as William Gustoff, one of Branstad’s appointees to the state Judicial Nominating Commission. Senators confirmed Teresa Wahlert with two votes to spare and three members of the Environmental Protection Commission. Details on the April 12 votes are below.

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