Iowa GOP outsourcing special election to special interests

When your party suffers a net loss of seats in the state House and Senate for four elections in a row, it’s time to try something different. In the case of the Republican Party of Iowa, that apparently means outsourcing operations for the September 1 special election in Iowa House district 90.

In a July 31 e-mail blast, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn encouraged activists to contact “Matt Gronewald, our Legislative Majority Fund Director,” if they would like to volunteer for Stephen Burgmeier, the Republican candidate in district 90. However, Burgmeier’s campaign website tells the real story:

 To volunteer please contact:

   * Katie Koberg, katiekoberg@gmail.com, 515-971-4571

   * Mary Earnhardt, mkearnhardt@gmail.com, 515-778-5229

   * Mark Doland, luviowa10@aol.com, 641-295-0135

Koberg and Earnhardt serve as vice president and policy director, respectively, for the conservative group Iowans for Tax Relief. The Iowa Republican blog’s Al Swearengen was partly right when he wrote,

Ed Failor Jr. and Iowans for Tax Relief are running the entire campaign effort in the special election…

Word is that Failor has committeed big dollars to the race and already has his ITR staff embedded in the district and running the race […]

Anybody that questions the power and influence of Failor and ITR need to look no further than this race…they are running this race…and are in charge of all House and Senate elections…

I say Swearengen was partly right because Burgmeier’s site also lists Mark Doland, who is on the Iowa Family Policy Center’s payroll as chief candidate recruiter.

You may remember the Iowa Family Policy Center, which organized a petition drive in April to pressure county recorders not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The “views” page on Burgmeier’s campaign website doesn’t talk about same-sex marriage, but Burgmeier is on record supporting legislative action to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which matches the agenda of Iowa Family Policy Center Action (the group’s political wing).

The special election in district 90 won’t change the balance of power in the Iowa House, but it is the first high-profile race since Republicans selected Strawn to be state chairman in January. Strawn can’t be too confident about the party’s ability to fund and manage a statehouse campaign if he is giving outside interest groups control over this race.

Democrats within striking distance of district 90 can sign up here to volunteer for Curt Hanson.

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