Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker

(Des Moines, IA) This is a follow-up to yesterday’s story about the Iowa GOP moving the State Convention date back. I did update the story to say that Lyon County Republican Chair Cody Hoefert said he was not present for the vote as he was out of the room for a restroom break.

Here is the list of those in attendance who I was told voted.

  1. Chad Steenhoek
  2. Cody Hoefert
  3. Gopal Krishna
  4. Joel Kurtinitis
  5. Steve Scheffler
  6. Tamara Scott
  7. Marcus Fedler
  8. Jeff Shipley
  9. Mark Doland
  10. Dave Cushman
  11. Tony Krebsback
  12. A.J. Spiker (Correction: Spiker was present, but the chairman can not vote)
  13. Bob Anderson (by phone – update: did not vote)
  14. John Kabitzke (Updated: I was told later that he was present as well)
  15. David Fischer (Updated: He was there, but like Spiker has no vote.)

Mark Doland, who is the secretary for the committee, said “I specifically remember the motion and discussion. Cody was there. A.J. does not call votes when people are in the bathroom.”

He told Caffeinated Thoughts that the discussion about the convention date came out of the organization committee report that is chaired by Gopal Krishna. He remembers it being a unanimous vote in that committee as well. He said nobody objected to the idea during discussion.

Tamara Scott told Caffeinated Thoughts, “the way they explained it, it made sense.” She also said nobody objected. She said she did not remember if Hoefert was in the room, but said she had no reason not to believe him. She said the committee had heard from the 2nd District who sent a request for a date.

Scott believes this decision is fair for all of the candidates, and was not meant to favor any one candidate. All of the U.S. Senate candidates, I believe, have signed a letter requesting the committee to reverse their decision. There is a question whether the candidates attitudes will be different if the decision has to be made at convention. Scott said there was discussion that if the nominee had to be decided by convention that the candidates would want time to reach out of delegates.

She has been disappointed by some of the reaction. “I hope that one day our love to country will surpass our angst toward fellow Republicans and that we would do what is best,” Scott said.

Caffeinated Thoughts was told that Governor Branstad had representation at the State Central Committee meeting and there was no objection from them at the time. (Update: It was pointed out to me that non-SCC members were not given the opportunity to comment, nor was there an appropriate time to do so. Also, somebody else mentioned that Branstad folks couldn’t comment without first “running it up the flagpole.” Both are good points. A phone call from Gov. Branstad or surrogate on Sunday would have been preferable to criticizing the decision during a press conference on Monday however).

Caffeinated Thoughts also learned from A.J. Spiker, that the state law states that a valid vacancy does not exist on the ballot until the Secretary of State’s office completes its canvass and validates the vote. He said theoretically they could hold a convention anytime, but that doesn’t mean that they should. An inquiry has been made to the Secretary of State’s office to confirm whether this is the case.

My thoughts: Hindsight being 20/20 this probably should have been handled differently. One argument was that it wasn’t placed on the agenda; however the next State Central Committee is scheduled for December 7th. Could you imagine if they waited until December to change the date? Perhaps they could have put on the agenda and meet earlier, but I don’t know what scheduling issues there would be. From those I talked to there was no indication that this decision would be controversial, that it made sense for the party. There certainly wasn’t any nefarious intent.

Also while you can have a special convention prior to canvassing being complete is that really wise?

This is a different strategy, and people tend to resist change. That doesn’t necessarily make the decision “a mistake.” There needs to be more respect shown and grace extended.

Update to my thoughts: By the way, I just thought I’d mention that I’m not encouraging anyone to dig their heels in, and if State Central Committee members hearing feedback from their constituents decide to move the date back – fine by me. I’m not stuck on a particular date, as that would contradict my point. What I’ve been troubled by mostly has been the vitriol by some who have criticized the SCC and leadership and what I believe is as an overreaction to the date change. I do understand why the candidates are concerned at the moment, and I thought the letter signed by the U.S. Senate candidates below was well written and respectful in its tone. However, if the nomination has to be decided in convention so they may feel differently on June 5, 2014.

Update: Below is a copy of the letter signed to A.J. Spiker from all five of the U.S. Senate candidates.

Photo credit: Dave Davidson –

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  1. “(Update: It was pointed out to me that non-SCC members were given the opportunity to comment, nor was there an appropriate time to do so…”
    I think you meant to say that non-SCC members were NOT given the opportunity to comment. The SCC meetings are open to the public, but not for participation so it’s not surprising that neither the Governor’s aide, nor I, commented on the motion.
    I was in the room at the time this was voted on. Cody did leave the room around this time of the meeting, but I didn’t track him and can’t say with 100% certainty that it was during the vote. What I can say is that I’ve known Cody long enough to know that he is a man of his word.
    I was on the SCC for 2 years and attended meetings before and since. People get up and move around, take bathroom breaks, grab a water, etc. There is not a roll call taken for votes.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, and yes that is what I meant to say.

      I never thought we’d be bickering over Cody’s bathroom habits. I don’t want to impugn anyone’s integrity. I think enough of that has already occurred.
      I like Cody. I like Mark. I like Jamie. I like A.J. Etc. etc…

      Can’t we all just get along?

      I’m looking forward to putting this behind us.

  2. Craig, I was not making an assertion of dishonesty. Did you understand everything that Gopal had said? I was sitting across the room and had to ask my neighbor what was said for my notes. He was in the room when we voted. He could easily have misunderstood what was being proposed. If you wished to speak you could have just as you did make comments on the FEC Audit after asking permission from the Chairman Spiker. What is being said about us ramming this vote through while Cody was out of the room is not true. Reporters are glamorizing their story to make it sound like a malicious and nefarious attempt to sneak something through. It just isn’t true.

    1. No. I have to work hard to understand what Gopal says. I don’t hear well to begin with and his accent is difficult for me to decipher. I was more focused on trying to interpret than on noting who was or was not in the room. It could be that Cody was there and couldn’t understand what Gopal was saying. I recall someone asked a question, but the question actually related to the motion that had already passed and not to the one on the floor which made understanding the issue even more confusing.

      I am sure that if I or the governor’s aide had asked to speak, AJ would probably have allowed it. There weren’t that many of us there. I also understand that it is not my meeting and you can’t just have members of the audience weighing in randomly. It would be chaotic.

      I specifically asked for permission to speak about the FEC issues because I have been directly involved in the audit from the start and have stayed with it for more than a year after my tenure on the SCC ended. Given the feedback I received during and after the last SCC meeting, I assumed there might be some questions I could answer for you.

      The problem with blogs and emails is that it is too easy to misinterpret what others mean. My point in my note that non-SCC members were “NOT” given the opportunity was actually just to clarify what the author meant to write, not to insinuate that we were forbidden to speak.

      I don’t believe anyone waited for Cody to leave the room and then try to ram something through while he was gone.

      I am confused, however, on why this was brought to a vote when it was already voted on at the previous SCC meeting. If someone thought the vote was in error at the last SCC meeting, I would think it would have been an agenda item or at least circulated around the SCC prior to the meeting.

  3. The rhetoric certainly should be toned down, but the SCC still needs to revisit this and, I think, change it. Sometimes change is a good thing and people will react poorly just because they tend to resist change. But I don’t think either of those are the main factor here.

    The history of the convention being in June was not just some decision pulled out of the hat in the past. There are good reasons not to have it go later than early to mid-June. We have all been in meetings where some angles have not been considered when a decision is made. The response, then, is to look at it again in light of a more complete picture, not to dig in your heels and stick to a bad decision. Let’s give the SCC members the benefit of the doubt on motives and intentions, but they then need to give the same benefit of the doubt to those critical of the decision (even if some of the messengers are over the top in tone or tactics).

    One major historical reason for not going so late has already been brought to the picture. It will hamstring our US Senate candidate from mounting an effective campaign against Braley. How can this possibly serve the interests of the party? Whoever our nominee ends up being will not be able to raise funds or run a general campaign until the nomination is settled.

    The possibility of a close primary has never been an obstacle before, and it need not be now. If anyone running in this primary is not strategic enough to look at his or her polling data leading up to the primary and be reaching out to delegates as part of a campaign strategy in case it goes to convention in June, then he or she has no business running for the seat in the first place!

    Another big reason not to delay it is July falls in prime time summer activities for families. We always bemoan the lack of involvement in the process, and now we move the convention to a time when a large share of Iowans are on vacations with their families. I for one already have unchangeable plans for mid-July. I have been at every convention for years, and I make my plans on the common sense planning by the party in the past. I cannot change those plans at this point and will miss the convention. I have talked to several others in similar situations.

    I look at the list above, and I know some of them are big enough people to step up and say this needs to be reconsidered ASAP. This is NOT uniting the party, even if a civil tone prevails in the discussion. It is a bad decision. We all make bad decisions, but we need to have the maturity to step up and admit to the mistake rather than dig in our heels like its a playground fight. We obviously have been lacking in a broad-based leadership mindset in the powers that are controlling the RPI now, and this is a chance for someone on the SCC to show some leadership to unite the party and lead with common sense!

    1. Good points. I am not sure this is as big of a mistake as some make it out to be, but I do think the SCC needs to listen to their constituents and candidates and act accordingly. I’m not latched to either date, but this isn’t anything to divide over.
      I just wish some folks acted in good faith instead of looking at this as another opportunity to blast the party.

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