# Robert Rees

IA-Sen: Robert Rees ends GOP primary challenge to Chuck Grassley

Conservative Republican Robert Rees announced this afternoon that he is ending the U.S. Senate campaign he launched in January. He explained in a statement posted on his campaign’s website,

Due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the subsequent entrance in to the race by former Lt. Governor Patty Judge, the dynamics of the U.S. Senate race in Iowa have changed.

While we are on pace to get on the ballot, I have decided to not run for U.S. Senate at this time.

Rees had been struggling to collect enough signatures to qualify for the GOP primary ballot. Nominating papers must be submitted to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office by the close of business this Friday, March 18. At this writing, Grassley and two of his four declared Democratic challengers (tate Senator Rob Hogg and former State Senator Tom Fiegen) have qualified to run in the June 7 primary. Former State Representative Bob Krause and Judge have not yet submitted their petitions.

Although Rees was never positioned to defeat Grassley, I regret his exit from the race, because his performance on June 7 would have signaled how many highly engaged Iowa Republicans are dissatisfied with the party’s most popular establishment figure. Little-known Tom Hoefling won just under 17 percent of the vote in his 2014 GOP primary challenge to Governor Terry Branstad.

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Grassley's Republican challenger: "GOP Leadership Doesn't Want Me On The Ballot"

Six-term U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley qualified for the Republican primary ballot today after submitting more than 20,000 signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office on Friday. But Grassley’s would-be GOP challenger Robert Rees is struggling to meet the March 18 deadline to submit at least 3,331 valid signatures from at least ten Iowa counties. In an e-mail blast on Saturday, Rees asserted, “part of the reason we’ve had a tough time getting the signatures required is because the establishment doesn’t want me on the ballot.”

Record-breaking attendance at this year’s Republican caucuses created good opportunities for GOP candidates to put their nominating papers in front of activists around the state. However, Rees asserted in the e-mail (enclosed in full below) that only eight of the 99 GOP county chairs helped his campaign collect signatures on caucus night. His campaign sent petition forms to the 30 largest counties ahead of this weekend’s county conventions, but “Early on in the day on March 12th, we were being told that some counties were dissuading people from signing them and some didn’t put them out at all!” Rees then described and refuted “some new arguments” being used to justify denying him ballot access. Rees has been working hard in recent weeks to collect signatures–reaching out to voters at the girls state high school basketball tournament, for instance. But as of yesterday, his campaign still needed well over a thousand signatures to reach its goal. (Candidates typically submit far more than the minimum number, in case some signatures turn out to be invalid.)

If Rees ends up on the ballot for the June primary, I doubt he would receive even the 16.8 percent of the vote Tom Hoefling got in his bid for the 2014 gubernatorial nomination against Terry Branstad. It’s interesting that GOP leaders are actively working against his efforts to qualify for the primary, though. I guess they don’t want someone traveling the state for the next two and a half months telling voters that Grassley has been in office too long.

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IA-Sen: Robert Rees challenging Chuck Grassley in GOP primary

Catching up on news from the busy final weeks before the Iowa caucuses, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has a rival for the GOP nomination. Robert Rees launched his campaign on January 18, pledging to support term limits for members of Congress and the 10th Amendment, which reserves for the states powers not delegated to the federal government. Rees most recently worked as a conservative talk radio host but fell victim to a format change in October, when 98.3 FM in Des Moines switched to classic hip hop. Rees has a campaign website and is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. He frequently uploads “campaign diaries” and other videos to his YouTube channel.

After the jump I’ve posted background on Rees, some of his answers to frequently asked questions about his challenge to Grassley, and his introductory video, in which he notes that Grassley has been in Washington, DC since a year before Rees was born. I’ve also enclosed excerpts from two articles linked on the Rees campaign website. Among other things, those pieces criticize Grassley for approving too many judges nominated by President Barack Obama–which is comical, since during Grassley’s first year as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate confirmed only eleven federal judges, “the fewest in a single year since 1960.”

I can’t conceive of any scenario in which Grassley loses a Republican primary, but assuming Rees qualifies for the ballot, it will be interesting to see how many conservatives cast protest votes for him. For reference, Tom Hoefling got just under 17 percent of the vote in his 2014 GOP primary challenge to Governor Terry Branstad. Turnout is likely to be very low on June 7, since no other statewide offices are elected this year, and only one of Iowa’s four Congressional districts appears likely to have a competitive GOP primary (Representative David Young is expected to face at least one conservative challenger in IA-03).

Rees had nominating petitions out at some Republican precinct caucuses on February 1. To qualify for the primary ballot, he will need to submit to the Secretary of State’s office by March 18 at least 3,331 signatures (0.5% of the votes cast for Governor Terry Branstad in Iowa’s 2014 general election). In addition, those signatures must be collected in at least ten counties, and for each of those counties, the number of signatures on nominating petitions must equal at least 1 percent of the votes cast for Branstad in the 2014 general election.

A few conservatives made noise about a primary challenge to Grassley in 2009, when it appeared he might support some version of health care reform, but they never followed through. Iowa’s senior senator defused some anger on his right flank by warning that end-of-life counseling provisions in the proposed bill could let people “pull the plug on grandma,” though he had voted for a previous law including such counseling. He later voted against the Affordable Care Act in committee and on the Senate floor, while seeking credit for some of its provisions.

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