I’m going to disappoint those looking for State of the Union coverage and bore you with local politics. I wasn’t able to watch the State of the Union address last night because I was at a central committee meeting for the Polk County Republicans. We were electing a new chair and co-chair. What I thought was going to be a routine election ended up having some excitement as WHO Radio talk show personality Steve Deace decided to declare his candidacy first on Facebook and then on the air late yesterday afternoon. Kevin McLaughlin (he leads Iowans for Discounted Taxes) and Dave Funk (former congressional and county supervisor candidates) were running for chair and co-chair respectfully, and had contacted central committee members in advance to promote a five step plan.
After the official nominations both men were given five minutes to speak and five minutes for Q&A. There were 103 credentialed voters last night and McLaughlin won the vote 66 to 37.
Below are the speeches and Q&A sessions courtesy of The Iowa Republican:
Some of my observations and thoughts about last night.
Steve absolutely had the right to run… there may be some who feel differently, but it was cleared up last night that you do not have to be a central committee member to run for Chair. Our outgoing chair, John Bloom, wasn’t a member when he was elected.
During Kevin’s Q&A he said he hadn’t read the platform… that made me cringe. He was aware of the major issues however, but still if you are going to run for chair you should read the county party platform.
During Steve’s speech and in his Facebook note he said he wanted to advance the platform. I agree that the platform is vital. It does reflect our principles. I had somebody at my table last night who had a copy of the party platform and pointed this out:
We support the reversal of Roe Vs. Wade and as interim measures, we support:
a. A ‘Woman’s Right to Know Law’ whereby performers of abortions must provide complete actual information to the pregnant woman about the complications of abortion, the biological
development of the unborn, fetal pain and the availability of alternatives to abortion.
b. Legislation requiring consent by a parent and/or legal guardian before a minor child or ward receives an abortion or any other reproductive services and products.
c. The ban of partial birth abortion.
d. Laws designed to protect health care professionals who, for moral or religious reasons, refuse to provide services such as abortion and birth control.
Doesn’t that reflect the “incrementalism” he said he doesn’t support? Doesn’t advancing the platform mean supporting both HF 5, the ban on late term abortions and HJR 3, the Personhood Amendment? Just saying.
I also don’t think his speech helped, not that McLaughlin’s gave a great one either. Deace to me seemed ill-prepared and looked like he flying by the seat of his pants in his speech. I don’t believe he helped himself in that regard. He also made a comment that I think some were offended by (I know I was) – “No one in this room has worked harder in the last four-and-a-half years to advance the platform.” How could he possibly know that? It was an extremely arrogant remark to make. I will acknowledge that he has had the most influence, but to say he works harder? Influence doesn’t equal hard work. I’m not saying Steve doesn’t work hard, but I am saying he alienated people by that remark.
His speech also made clear, to 66 of us anyway, that he doesn’t really understand what a county chair does. Yes there is advancing platform principles and ideals, but frankly most of the job is organizational grunt work, fundraising and grassroots development which I personally don’t believe Deace has the passion for or the time to do. Anyway, listen to the speech above and decide for yourself.
I do want to commend Steve for taking the time to run and for the graciousness that he did show after Kevin was elected. He was nominated for co-chair and would have run against Dave Funk who was unable to be there. Steve declined the nomination saying that since Kevin and Dave ran as a team he didn’t want to get in the way of implementing their plan. That showed a lot of class, and Dave then was voted in by acclamation. I think Steve could have won the co-chair spot and I would have considered him for that role since there is a lot more latitude in the position.
So I agree with Steve that the platform is vital and we must advance the conservative principles reflected in it t be successful, but also need somebody willing to do the organizational behind the scenes work as well.
Update: Art Smith emailed me and wanted to clarify my point about John Bloom not being a member of the Central Committee: “One thing, John was a member of the Central Committee when he was elected chair in 2009. However, at the 2010 caucus, he did not come to our precinct caucus due to the work overseeing the activities of the day throughout the county, and we elected myself and Brinn Shjegstad. It is correct, however, that there is no CC membership requirement for any officer of the party.”
2nd Update: I think Craig Robinson made some interesting points about last night’s contest, but his analysis in the excerpt below is the money quote:
Deace didn’t use the word “we” when talking about the Polk County GOP, he used the word “you.” It might not seem like a big deal, but words matter, and at that point, I got the sense that the voters in the room didn’t believe that he was one of them.
I agree, and I didn’t.