Report from an Iowa GOP district convention and some helpful suggestionsSubmitted by spacehabitats on Sun, 04/22/2012 - 19:18
As pleased and proud as I was about my wife being elected to the state nominating committee, that wasn't the best news to come out of our convention. The best news was how we overcame adversity and still pulled off multiple victories.
You see, just before our convention, there was a leak of the names of Ron Paul supporters running for various offices.
There was also an anonymous robocall that went out to the delegates warning them not to allow the convention to be "recessed" as called for on the agenda. (Normally the district conventions reconvene at the site of the state convention and that is where and when their national delegates are elected.) The reasons were confusing and even the Ron Paul people weren't sure who the call came from. My guess is that it was disinformation from the establishment that was afraid that by June, if Romney had the nomination sewn up, only the Ron Paul delegates would bother to show up giving him an advantage.
Apparently that is exactly the battle that developed at another Iowa convention:
Jamie Johnson, a 4th District delegate from Webster County, explained.
"There's a legitimate concern statewide that if the delegates are all chosen in mid-June only the diehard people will drive down to nominate delegates," Johnson said Saturday. "The general concern is that the deck will be stacked by Ron Paul supporters."
He said that in the previous two presidential election cycles, the delegates for the national convention have been chosen on the night before the state convention.
The concern is that when a roll call is taken at the national convention, many of Iowa's delegates would then vote for Ron Paul rather than the nominee apparent, Mitt Romney.
"It's because of this rabid followership of Ron Paul supporters," Johnson said.
At our convention no one objected to the agenda calling for a "recess", but there WAS a battle over another proposed rule change.
One of our state central committee members, Monte, was the temporary chair and opened our convention with a motion to change the rules so that only nominees receiving a 51% majority could be elected. The rules proposed by our district rules committee would have allowed election by a "plurality". In other words, if eight people were running for four positions, we couldn't just declare the four nominees with the highest vote count as the winners.
The idea was obviously aimed at minimizing the strength of a group of delegates voting as a block.
From a news article the day before:
Watch for a move in the 3rd District, which includes Polk County, to change the rules that allow the election of state central committee members by a simple plurality rather than a majority.
If, for example, there are eight candidates running for four seats, a candidate could get elected with less than 20 percent of the votes.
“There is no legitimacy in that,” Monte Shaw, a state central committee member who is not seeking re-election, wrote in an email to fellow Republicans.
“I honestly don’t know which candidates will be helped or hurt by insisting on majority rule. But I do know it is the right thing to do!"
That last statement was complete, 100% USDA prime BS. Monte knew full well that the Ron Paul supporters would be the only candidates hurt by the change. I know Monte well enough to know that "fairness" isn't what keeps him up at night.
Unfortunately, the motion passed by a narrow margin. As a result most of the elections ended up running into multiple ballots adding hours onto an already grueling process. We also ended up running out of our first set of ballots and had to tear the last ballot of the second batch in half in order to finish the last election of the day.
Well before that, most of the people who had voted for the new rule had changed their mind. But a vote to SUSPEND the rule required a 2/3 majority and we couldn't quite get that many votes.
A slate of candidates had been communicated to our delegates for a couple of the key races but we had to make some last minute changes and additions for the "minor" races (like rules and credentials committee).
I won't go into detail about how that was done. Let's just say that it worked well enough.
A rising tide of Republicans who share Ron Paul’s philosophy of limited government are flooding into GOP party roles in Iowa.
Like the anti-abortion movement and tea partiers that made inroads into GOP politics here in recent years, Paul loyalists want to send a message to party leaders, the governor, the state Legislature and the nation, they said Saturday.
Six of the new Iowa GOP state central committee members elected at district conventions Saturday have publicly expressed support for Paul, a libertarian-leaning presidential candidate: Dave Cushman, John Kabitzke, Joel Kurtinitis, Marcus Fedler, Jeff Shipley and Kris Thiessen.
And as for the other critical race for nominating committee:
Paul loyalists did well in getting their supporters onto the GOP’s “state nomination committee,” which will nominate Iowa’s 13 at-large national delegates. Another 12 delegates will be selected June 15. The GOP chairman and Iowa’s two Republican National Committee members are also delegates.
One woman was elected to the central committee Saturday. That makes just two women on the board including Iowa’s Republican National Committeewoman, Kim Lehman.
I'll give you three guesses who that other woman was. :-)
To summarize, what you need to win at a convention like ours is:
1) Delegates - you gotta have the numbers, baby.
2) Candidates - delegates willing and able to step up to the plate and run for office. Preferably they should look good and smell good. They should not have made a lot of enemies by shooting off their mouth. Ideally, (at least for crucial offices) they should have been vetted and selected by the campaign.
3) Preparation - mailers and flyers for the major races. Glossy and color-printed if you can afford it. Helpers to put them on the chairs and/or hand them out. A nominating speech (within the expected time limit) and someone to deliver it.
4) Organization - hopefully the campaign will provide leadership for you. If they do, don't muck their plans up by trying to submit your own slates. Try to coordinate with them. Volunteer if you can. Keep your mouth shut about goals and strategy and candidates. For some people this is probably the hardest thing to do.
5) Experience/Intelligence - Know thy enemy. This is where having experienced leadership helps. For example, I didn't need to understand Monte's proposed rule change to know that it wouldn't be in our favor. Why? Because I know Monte.
6) Communication - Be creative. Again, hopefully this will be handled by the campaign. But remember, assume that anything you send in an email or post on the Internet WILL be read by your opponents (Hi, Monte!) and used against you at some point.
7) Don't spread yourself too thin - I had this lesson driven home again during this convention. I was our county chairman. As such I was running back and forth between the secretary and our delegation, counting ballots, and trying to coordinate the voting of the RP delegates. (By the end of the day, even the neutral, non-RP delegates were turning to me for advice about who to vote for. Sometimes it pays to be a nice guy.) But I had also been elected to the District platform committee which convened over lunch in a separate room. Meanwhile the convention reconvened and Mrs. Spacehabitats had to act as my replacement on the floor. I almost missed her nomination speech!?!
Anyway, I hope this helps.
Enjoy the process, learn from your mistakes, and never, EVER give up!