GOP establishment seizes control in Iowa

posted at 3:31 pm on June 15, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

In the midst of all the foreign affairs stories it was probably easy to miss a bit of domestic political news coming out of the Hawkeye State yesterday. At the 2014 Iowa GOP state convention, political activists loyal to Governor Terry Branstad essentially ousted all of the “dissidents” loyal to Rand Paul, securing control of the state party for the perceived establishment.

Establishment forces officially wrested control of the Iowa Republican Party from supporters of Rand Paul on Saturday, a development the victors said would help save the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus from being marginalized and possibly spell the demise of the Ames Straw Poll…

The battle for control of the party was primarily an effort by Branstad to reestablish himself as the undisputed leader of Republican affairs in Iowa — perhaps most critically the future of the caucuses.

After the 2012 results, Ron Paul supporters mobilized at district-level conventions to take over the party — despite the fact he finished third on caucus night — and wound up controlling the delegation to the national convention.

Branstad, cruising to an unprecedented sixth term as governor, has spent the better part of the past two years sparring with A.J. Spiker, a co-chair of Ron Paul’s Iowa campaign who defeated the governor’s preferred pick to lead the state party in 2012. As chairman of the party, Spiker was publicly critical of Branstad’s legislative agenda. Establishment-minded donors refused to contribute to the state party as long as Paul people were in charge.

This appears to be the end (at least for now) of a long simmering dispute. The report lists several complaints by Branstad’s alliance creating the need for such a change. The first was a growing fear that the credibility of the Iowa caucus would be damaged if they keep selecting candidates who go on to lose either the primary or the general election. (See Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.) On that score, I have to say that it doesn’t make much sense. We have competitive primaries for a reason and not every state selects the same person, so nobody picks the winner every time.

They did express some other concerns, however, such as a fear that the candidates who are perceived as being more moderate – such as a Chris Christie or Jeb Bush – might wind up skipping Iowa entirely and focusing instead on New Hampshire. This led one committee member to state, “We need to let people know that when candidates come to Iowa, they have a fair shake,”

The other question, though, is what they meant about the possible end of the straw poll.

It also jeopardizes next year’s straw poll: Branstad said the annual ritual has “outlived its usefulness,” and other critics say it’s become a spectacle that raises a lot of money for the party but has little significance politically. Pro-Paul forces, however, enthusiastically support the event and want to keep it going.

Can they really just cancel the straw poll? Aside from the fact that it gives bloggers something to do while waiting for the actual primary battles, it’s something of a tradition which draws the entire political spectrum. As much as I personally disagree with having Iowa and New Hampshire go first every single cycle, it would be a shame to lose it.


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I am glad that straw poll is going the way of the dodo. I doubt Rand Paul gives a F either. :-)

coolrepublica on June 15, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Just a battle. The GOPe hasn’t won any war, nor will they

AH_C on June 15, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Took control of what? They can’t control the voters.

crankyoldlady on June 15, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Not always a huge Rand Paul fan, but the idea of “establishment” gaining control in a state kind of gives you pause because the real establishment, ie Boehner et al, are apparently going to solidify their iron grip on power in the R House by rushing forward the vote for Majority Leader of the Chamber of Commerce & blue state amnesty shill Kevin McCarty.

Why should I care?

I really wouldn’t care that much if McCarthy’s coronation would mean “business as usual,” in other words blocking amnesty bills from coming forward as Cantor actually did, but it looks to me like there would be a strong probability that McCarthy would go further on immigration than Cantor ever did, and McCarthy would likely bring amnesty forward for a vote (the Majority Leader controls the legislative agenda). In the following excerpt you see an expression of McCarthy’s “philosophy” that the House should team with the senate to pass immigration reform regardless of whether Republicans are behind it:

McCarthy believes that “It is better if the House does their work. We should be sending bills to the Senate.”

McCarthy went on to say, “I would not underestimate the House’s ability to pass an immigration bill. I think we have plenty of ideas on that and I think that we can move the ball as well.”

CNN’s Candy Crowley pointed out that McCarthy would not give her a straight answer on whether he would uphold the Hastert rule.

http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/03/house-gop-leaders-well-pass-gun-control-immigration-without-republican-support/

Strong anti-amnesty leader & congressman Tim Huelskamp says this:

I think Raul Labrador would be a great Majority Leader. A new face with a new vision. When conservatives across this country are saying we need new leadership, we’ll see what the D.C. establishment does. [McCarthy would be more of the same, but...] Congressman Labrador is a great conservative. He’s willing to negotiate, but he’s not going to compromise away principles [like McCarthy].

-Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas)

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/06/13/kevin-mccarthy-to-lobbyists-chamber-of-commerce-dont-worry-itll-be-business-as-usual-in-the-house/

anotherJoe on June 15, 2014 at 3:47 PM

What difference at this point does it make ?
What are these GOP loons preparing for ?
Can they guarantee that they will finally rid the country of the jihady , in 2016 ?

burrata on June 15, 2014 at 3:47 PM

As much as I personally disagree with having Iowa and New Hampshire go first every single cycle, it would be a shame to lose it.

So which one is it? I say lose them both, make ‘em take turns with the other 48 states.

iurockhead on June 15, 2014 at 3:47 PM

It’s time to wrestle control away from Iowa altogether. Super Tuesday in May, Conventions in July, No Rules Cage Match in November. And, we have a winner.
Ignore conservatives at your own peril.

HornetSting on June 15, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Just think what could be done if the Repubs in congress went after the Dems the way they do their own party members. They go right on committing suicide and announcing they are going to do it.

crankyoldlady on June 15, 2014 at 3:52 PM

The GOP establishment is part of the DC establishment, just as bad as the dems. Neither give a rip about what normal people think, and they never will.

Guess I shouldn’t care anyway because I’ll be leaving this tyrannical hell in the medium term for good. If the whole world is going to be run by jerks, I may as well go to where the food is better and the women are sexier. Screw the USA anymore – let it rot.

Smegley on June 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Good.

BigGator5 on June 15, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Not always a huge Rand Paul fan, but the idea of “establishment” gaining control in a state kind of gives you pause because the real establishment, ie Boehner et al, are apparently going to solidify their iron grip on power in the R House by rushing forward the vote for Majority Leader of the Chamber of Commerce & blue state amnesty shill Kevin McCarty.

Boy, this sounds like they are all in on preserving true representative government.

Reuben Hick on June 15, 2014 at 3:56 PM

I may as well go to where the food is better and the women are sexier. Smegley on June 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Tijuana ?

burrata on June 15, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Hmm. GOP establishment and Ron Paul… Ron Paul and GOP establishment… Can’t they do, I dunno, a boxing deathmatch? Iowa seems to be a lost case nationally anyway, so why don’t they both choke on a corn cob?

Rix on June 15, 2014 at 4:01 PM

…the GOPe will betray you?

KOOLAID2 on June 15, 2014 at 4:01 PM

The first was a growing fear that the credibility of the Iowa caucus would be damaged if they keep selecting candidates who go on to lose either the primary or the general election. (See Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.) On that score, I have to say that it doesn’t make much sense. We have competitive primaries for a reason and not every state selects the same person, so nobody picks the winner every time.

Not only that, but Iowa has correctly selected the last 2 presidents (Obama for the Democrats, George W. Bush for the Republicans) in their caucuses. New Hampshire picked neither candidate, with the last time New Hampshire picking the eventual winner being George HW Bush in 1988.

Stoic Patriot on June 15, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Smegley on June 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Where ya going buddy? I realize American politics stink because of both parties and Washington. But I’v been in a lot of countries. Girls are sexy everywhere (a lot of good that does me) and there is good and bad food everywhere. I’m hoping you can guide me to a country where the socialists are banned and the government leaves you alone. It might be nice to find one that will stand up to the US government without getting you killed. If Texas and OK would only secede, it would be perfect.

Old Country Boy on June 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

As much as I personally disagree with having Iowa and New Hampshire go first every single cycle

Agreed, other states should have a chance. The straw poll is a joke too. Bachmann won the last one.

cat_owner on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

The report lists several complaints by Branstad’s alliance creating the need for such a change. The first was a growing fear that the credibility of the Iowa caucus would be damaged if they keep selecting candidates who go on to lose either the primary or the general election. (See Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.)

McCain and Romney were the recent candidates who went on to lose the general election. And Romney was bound to, as he was the kind of candidate who has to outspend his opponents massively to beat them, and that spending advantage was never going to be available in the general election.

If you want candidates who have a prayer in the general election, you need more like Santorum (and for all his faults McCain), that is candidates that can win some against the financial odds.

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

I know this sounds crazy but we need to hold 5-6 regional primaries a month apart from Jan thru June, with a rotating schedule. And we need to eliminate caucuses for presidential nominations.

I know what you’re thinking – it makes way too much sense to ever happen. But it’s still a good idea.

myiq2xu on June 15, 2014 at 4:14 PM

How about doing away with the arcane and preposterous caucus and its baleful effect on the presidential selection process?

Esaus Message on June 15, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Gaia forbid those self-important fuds lose their precious.

Bishop on June 15, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Smegley on June 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Have you decided where you’re going?

crankyoldlady on June 15, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Branstad, cruising to an unprecedented sixth term as governor,

That right there points out a huge flaw in our political system. Two terms were enough even for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 15, 2014 at 4:17 PM

In the midst of all the foreign affairs stories it was probably easy to miss a bit of domestic political news

Oh good! We’re finally going to get a HA post on the huge numbers of young people illegally crossing our border and the deplorable conditions into which they have been placed by our benevolent federal government…

coming out of the Hawkeye State yesterday.

…oh, my bad.

At the 2014 Iowa GOP state convention, political activists loyal to Governor Terry Branstad essentially ousted all of the “dissidents” loyal to Rand Paul, securing control of the state party for the perceived establishment.

Wait, isn’t Rand Paul doing everything possible to ingratiate himself to the GOPe right now?

Establishment forces officially wrested control…from supporters of Rand PaulRon Paul supporters

Wait, which is it? You know they’re not the same thing, right?

yaedon on June 15, 2014 at 4:19 PM

If you want candidates who have a prayer in the general election, you need more like Santorum (and for all his faults McCain), that is candidates that can win some against the financial odds.

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

McCain?!?!?! Where can I get some of whatever you’re on?

yaedon on June 15, 2014 at 4:22 PM

I know this sounds crazy but we need to hold 5-6 regional primaries a month apart from Jan thru June, with a rotating schedule. And we need to eliminate caucuses for presidential nominationspolitical parties.

I know what you’re thinking – it makes way too much sense to ever happen. But it’s still a good idea.

myiq2xu on June 15, 2014 at 4:14 PM

George Washington would approve!

yaedon on June 15, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Branstad, cruising to an unprecedented sixth term as governor

No state that re-elects the same person six times (!) should be allowed to set the tone for the rest of the nation.

yaedon on June 15, 2014 at 4:26 PM

The report lists several complaints by Branstad’s alliance creating the need for such a change. The first was a growing fear that the credibility of the Iowa caucus would be damaged if they keep selecting candidates who go on to lose either the primary or the general election. (See Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.)

McCain and Romney were the recent candidates who went on to lose the general election. And Romney was bound to, as he was the kind of candidate who has to outspend his opponents massively to beat them, and that spending advantage was never going to be available in the general election.

If you want candidates who have a prayer in the general election, you need more like Santorum (and for all his faults McCain), that is candidates that can win some against the financial odds.

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Santorum lost his senate seat by 18 points. He’s dead weight on the primaries. We need new blood.
The fact that you want McCain tells me you have a short term memory bank. “We have nothing to fear from Obama.”

HornetSting on June 15, 2014 at 4:34 PM

When was the last time a (R) got the electoral votes from Iowa or New Hampshire? So why does everyone in the GOP fall all over themselves for these two states, the media and the Democrats? The RNC should ignore these two states and encourage the candidates to do so as well. It’s not like they got any amount of delegates anyways.

lowandslow on June 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

I know this sounds crazy but we need to hold 5-6 regional primaries a month apart from Jan thru June, with a rotating schedule. And we need to eliminate caucuses for presidential nominations.

I know what you’re thinking – it makes way too much sense to ever happen. But it’s still a good idea.

myiq2xu on June 15, 2014 at 4:14 PM

I’ve been in favor of this approach for ages. But, as you say, it makes way to much sense to ever happen.

Jazz Shaw on June 15, 2014 at 4:46 PM

When you have people like Michelle Backmann purchasing all her straw poll votes and then repeating adnausium that she won the straw poll, it makes one barf. If they want a poll, let people vote for free and give them a indelible purple finger (like 3rd world countries) to show they voted.

New Hampshire should be consistent with their primaries, this year, it is Sept., as are the “local” primaries in presidential years. It’s is BS for them to have 2 primary dates so inconsistent.

KenInIL on June 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Whining about the eeeeeeeeeeeevil GOP “establishment” democratizing the rules is just insane.

It was the Paul supporters, only 21.5% and third in the caucuses where they are strongest, who used the arcane rules to seize control of the delegation when they could not win them outright. This just sets things right.

If that’s your idea of “grassroots,” keep it.

And the Ames Straw Poll just shakes down candidates to buy tickets for their supporters (except for the mind-numbed Paulbots, who forego soap and munchies to buy their own). The winner of the ASP has rarely won the caucuses in competitive years.

It is useless for anything except raising money for the state party. It also tends to force candidates to start earlier to build their organizations.

Nostalgic for ASP? Do you miss rotary dials, too?

Adjoran on June 15, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Terry Edward Branstad (born November 17, 1946) is an American politician who is the 42nd Governor of Iowa, in office since January 2011. Branstad was also the 39th Governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999, and he was President of Des Moines University from 2003 to 2009.

The good folks in IA seem to like him…

OmahaConservative on June 15, 2014 at 4:57 PM

The only thing worse than the IA straw poll are the caucuses.

Terry Edward Branstad (born November 17, 1946) is an American politician who is the 42nd Governor of Iowa, in office since January 2011. Branstad was also the 39th Governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999, and he was President of Des Moines University from 2003 to 2009.

The good folks in IA seem to like him…

OmahaConservative on June 15, 2014 at 4:57 PM

They also like Harkin.

formwiz on June 15, 2014 at 5:16 PM

When was the last time a (R) got the electoral votes from Iowa or New Hampshire? So why does everyone in the GOP fall all over themselves for these two states, the media and the Democrats? The RNC should ignore these two states and encourage the candidates to do so as well. It’s not like they got any amount of delegates anyways.

lowandslow on June 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

George W. Bush, Iowa – 2004
George W. Bush, New Hampshire – 2000

Stoic Patriot on June 15, 2014 at 5:19 PM

…a development the victors said would help save the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus from being marginalized and possibly spell the demise of the Ames Straw Poll…

Who can tell me the last 3 GOP Presidential nominees who won a contested caucus? How about the last 3 GOP Presidential nominees who won an Ames Straw Poll?

Steve Eggleston on June 15, 2014 at 5:23 PM

We need to keep the Ames Straw Poll, because it helped launch the candidacies of President Pat Robertson, President Phil Gramm, President Bob Dole, President Mitt Romney, and President Michele Bachmann. Oh, wait …

Nobody has ever won the Ames Straw Poll and later gone on to become president at any time in their life unless their name was George Bush. (Bush 43 is the only candidate to win at Ames and then win the presidency the next year. Bush 41 won at Ames in 1979 but didn’t win it in 1987 during his successful presidential campaign.)

J.S.K. on June 15, 2014 at 5:32 PM

If you want candidates who have a prayer in the general election, you need more like Santorum (and for all his faults McCain), that is candidates that can win some against the financial odds.

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

No, you want a candidate who can raise a boatload of money and win. Hillary is going to be able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. You know what you call a modern presidential candidate who operates at a financial disadvantage in the general election? There’s one thing you don’t call him, and that’s “Mr. President.”

J.S.K. on June 15, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Can they really just cancel the straw poll? … As much as I personally disagree with having Iowa and New Hampshire go first every single cycle, it would be a shame to lose it.

Looks like someone thinks the Iowa straw poll is the Iowa caucus. They’re two different things, only one of which is totally meaningless.

The caucus, not the straw poll, is what determines who the state’s convention delegates vote for – and even without the straw poll, the caucus would still leave Iowa and New Hampshire “first every single cycle,” for whatever that’s worth.

bgoldman on June 15, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Closed primaries with voter ID. That should solve the problem.

karenhasfreedom on June 15, 2014 at 6:08 PM

No, you want a candidate who can raise a boatload of money and win. Hillary is going to be able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. You know what you call a modern presidential candidate who operates at a financial disadvantage in the general election? There’s one thing you don’t call him, and that’s “Mr. President.”

J.S.K. on June 15, 2014 at 5:36 PM

OK, I see what you are saying. (And for yaedon and HornetSting, yes I get that McCain was a bad candidate who would have been a bad President and who ran a terrible, very bad, no good campaign that would not even have had volunteer campaign workers except for Sarah Palin.)

But is a financial advantage really available?

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 6:31 PM

After the 2012 results, Ron Paul supporters mobilized at district-level conventions to take over the party — despite the fact he finished third on caucus night — and wound up controlling the delegation to the national convention.

Ron was always considered a fringe candidate; at this time going into 2016, Rand isn’t. So rather than this being a pure establishment vs. insurgents battle, the Iowa fight can also be seen as a Rand Paul vs. everyone backing a candidate other than Rand Paul fight (i.e. — If you live in Iowa and support Ted Cruz in 2016, why do you want Rand Paul’s people to control the Iowa Republican Party? It’s in your interest to support Branstad in this fight).

jon1979 on June 15, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Actually, the Ron Paul group did gain control in a few states and lost senate races that may have been won, otherwise. They were very well organized in 2012 and I respect them for that. BUT, there are issues w/ the contingent. Issues that focus around some legalization of drugs, low on the church issues, weak on military security and definitely want their own control. They are not innocent of wanting control.

Having said that, I agree with their fiscal conservative issues and belief in freedom. BUT freedom cannot come if it is “my way or the highway” and “Freedom means I can do anything I want, anytime, anywhere as long as I don’t hurt anyone.” Unfortunately, w’ this statement, the damage often occurs later so…. caution to the wind is a very bad idea. (Not 5 Taliban for one deserter.)

MN J on June 15, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Can they really just cancel the straw poll? Aside from the fact that it gives bloggers something to do while waiting for the actual primary battles, it’s something of a tradition which draws the entire political spectrum.

It’s an idiotic ritual that attempts to use the bandwagon effect to moot every other primary/caucus in the party. It plays directly into the hands of the mainstream media, and their view of themselves as the gatekeepers of all that is true and holy in the political realm.

GWB on June 15, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Can they really just cancel the straw poll?

Yes, “they” who show up and make the Party rules can do whatever they like:

http://www.unifiedpatriots.com/2014/06/15/i-told-you-so-what-can-happen-when-conservatives-stay-out-of-party-politics/

The people who make the rules are the people who show up and get involved in the internal process of the Party. In each state. In each county. In each local Party district committee. In each precinct.

Blogging about the Party won’t change the Party. The only people who can change the Party are those who get “inside” it where they live. In this case, more of Branstad’s supporters got involved than Paul’s. Majority rules. If the Iowa GOP is anything like the average state GOP apparatus, probably about half of the precinct-level slots are vacant. Representing a huge opportunity for conservatives if they filled up all the vacancies.

Will conservative “activists” ever figure out that the best place to begin their “activism” is “inside” the Party where they live so we can work together to takeover the Party?

I hope so.

Richard Viguerie gives the blueprint for doing this in his new book, “Takeover,” in the last two chapters. It’s just common sense, but will only work when enough conservatives get “inside” our Party.

And, heh, it’s fun!

Thank you.
CW

Cold Warrior on June 15, 2014 at 7:47 PM

so why don’t they both choke on a corn cob?

Rix on June 15, 2014 at 4:01 PM

because you don’t put corncobs in your mouth …..
it has other uses ….

conservative tarheel on June 15, 2014 at 8:06 PM

AJ Spiker was ousted in Iowa because, like many Ron Paul backers, they are more than a little bit nutty and people don’t tend to follow or donate to people like that. That’s all you need to really know.

Spiker became the state chair at 32 years old thanks to a plan to flood county and regional caucuses with Ron Paul supporters in 2012. Most people vote in their caucus and then leave. Paulbots took delegate positions up the chain to succeeding county and regional conventions and ultimately to the state level where they were able to secure control of the state committee and things went downhill for them from there. Imagine if 2012 version of Paulbots controlled the RNC as the official brand of the GOP. And you see why the governor sought to have the convention process monitored more closely this time!

It doesn’t have anything to do with Rand Paul at all, who will be a strong candidate in Iowa in his own right.

I am curious who is attempting to make this an establishment vs. TEA party thing. Some pre-emptive spinning and I don’t know why just yet.

Caustic Conservative on June 15, 2014 at 10:24 PM

I am curious who is attempting to make this an establishment vs. TEA party thing. Some pre-emptive spinning and I don’t know why just yet.

Caustic Conservative on June 15, 2014 at 10:24 PM

This is word for word what happened in Minnesota at the same time. If the Ron Paul weeds have been pulled out by the roots, that’s a good thing.

Ricard on June 15, 2014 at 11:06 PM

We sure are making them nervous.

joecollins on June 15, 2014 at 11:57 PM

I may as well go to where the food is better and the women are sexier.
Smegley on June 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I’m in Italy right now. It would fit you’re requirements if you’re willing to put up with a 50% tax rate and socialism.
Think of it like living in NYC with hotter women.

Happy Nomad on June 16, 2014 at 2:22 AM

Don’t worry, Iowa will fix the problem. They will only allow only one name on the straw poll and primary ballots. Whichever name the RNC Chairman Rinsing Repeat chooses will be on the ballot

Brock Robamney on June 16, 2014 at 5:52 AM

Do we really need another poll that endorses Ron Rand Paul? We know who their supporters are, and roughly how many of them there are, and what they believe.

And that they’ll gleefully play spoiler, if we don’t give them their way. That’s what happened in 2012, and they’re fixing to do it again in 2016.

No, thanks.

ReggieA on June 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM

If you want candidates who have a prayer in the general election, you need more like Santorum (and for all his faults McCain), that is candidates that can win some against the financial odds.

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Oh, fer…
Look, neither of those guys has any executive experience. None, just like BHO didn’t have. This time, we need to run a successful Governor. Romney had potential, but didn’t have a fighting spirit; no “fire in the belly” as they say. McCain has the fighting spirit – but he’s fighting us, not them.

Governor Walker has lots of potential. Palin has the right ideas, but needs more experience. (Another turn as Governor? Perhaps a cabinet position?) And Sen. Santorum has made mistakes, but can be forgiven those. He still has no executive experience: Perhaps he could run for PA Governor in 2020?

List the two-term Governors who are running, ranked by popularity in their state. Note their budget deficits or excesses, and other policies. The best candidate should quickly become apparent.

ReggieA on June 16, 2014 at 3:50 PM