I’m not a delegate for the Polk County Republican Convention, and actually I’m not even going to be there since I just found out this week I’m going to CPAC.  I’ve also been traveling today so I’m a little late to the party commenting on “Exhibit A” mailed by the Polk County Republicans.  This is a slate of people who will be at-large delegates to the upcoming district and state conventions.

This is not a new phenomenon, but this year the list that delegates and alternates to the county convention received to review for Saturday consists of 38% of the delegates that Polk County can send.

Here’s the list courtesy of Monte Goodyk:

Polk County Exhibit A

David Fischer, former co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa and someone who has been active for years with the Polk County Republicans serving on the rules committee, provided some context on Facebook:

In 2008 Polk had 367 delegates to District/State and 95 people were on Exhibit A or 26% of the slots. The number slated was large because it included dozens of members of the county convention committees. Each precinct got to elect only 1 delegate, regardless of size. So 26% were slated, 50% were elected out of the precincts by delegates, and 24% were selected by lottery. And many slots were filled after the county convention ended. A lot of people were upset about how District/State delegates were chosen.

In 2010 I chaired the Rules Committee and we changed things to empower the delegates. Polk had 263 delegates to District/State but only 28 people were put on Exhibit A or 11% of the slots. These were mostly elected officials, state party officials, and county convention officers. Each precinct got to elect a number of delegates based on the size of the precinct. So 11% were slated, 84% were elected out of the precincts by delegates, and 5% were selected by lottery. All delegate/alternate slots were filled before the county convention ended, which is the only way for them to be legitimate.

In 2012 I was on the Rules Committee and things stayed about the same. Polk had 324 delegates to District/State and there were 29 people on Exhibit A or 9% of the slots. Each precinct elected from 1 to 6 delegates, based on the size of the precinct. So 9% were slated, 84% were elected by the delegates, and 7% were selected by lottery.

For 2014 it looks like Polk has 263 delegates to District/State with 99 on Exhibit A or 38% of the slots. Regardless of size, each of the 177 precincts only gets to elect one delegate. They are apparently assuming some precincts will fail to show up to county (not uncommon) since there’s only 164 slots left (62% of the total) after the slate. So there may not be a lottery for delegates at all. It sounds like the rules are silent on how alternates are chosen and that’s a problem, especially in a year where delegates could be choosing nominees.

Some thoughts…

First off there are some good people on the list and a few I suspect had no idea there were going to be on the list.  Secondly, I agree with Fischer there needs to be clear rules on how alternates are chosen.  Later today the Polk County Republicans did respond with a smaller list.  Here is the message courtesy of Anita Morrill:

Based on your recommendations, we will be proposing that the Rules Committee recommend the following changes to the Convention Rules in Section XVI which better address the rules to affect the following changes:

The removal of Exhibit “A.”

There will be delegate slate now referred to as Exhibit “B.” This slate is greatly reduced in number from over 100 to 50 individuals which includes elected officials, candidates, and essential Convention personnel. (Exhibit “B” attached herein)

We recommend that the delegate process be changed to allow all precincts with at least one credentialed delegate at the county convention to elect one (1) delegate to the District and State conventions. In addition, each precinct with at least five (5) or more credentialed delegates to be eligible to elect up to elect one (1) additional delegate to the District and State Conventions. (This would allow over 200 people to advance to the District and State Conventions from their individual precinct as delegates.)

We offer our sincere apologies that Exhibit “A” created controversy at a time when we work for the unification of the Party and our efforts to elect Republicans."

I haven’t seen a list of “Exhibit B,” but “Exhibit A” is hinky.  What is an executive volunteer? And why make certain donors delegates?  Right at the top of the list is Tim and “Jose” Albrecht (I think they meant Josie).  I believe many know that Tim was Governor Branstad’s communications director and now he works for David Kochel.  Nothing against Tim and Josie (Josie does communications for the Iowa House Republicans), but they should have to run to be a delegate just like everyone else (I don’t mean to pick on them they’re just the first names on the list).  It’s interesting to note that Steve Scheffler, is not on the list.  I know he lives in West Des Moines, but whether he lives in the Dallas County section I don’t know.

Craig Robinson on his Facebook timeline wrote, “The At-Large District at State Delegate slate out of Polk County is undergoing substantial changes this morning. I had good conversations with Polk GOP Chairman Will Rogers, and Branstad campaign staffers Jake Ketzner and Phil Valenziano.”

While I’m glad they responded to the backlash it should be the Polk County Republican Executive Committee, not the Branstad Campaign, determining this list.  As a returning Polk County Republican Central Committee member I find this troubling (I’ve been on the Central Committee since 2004, but took two years off due to my schedule and was just elected again at my precinct caucus).

Personally I’d rather see the remaining spots determined by lottery for at-large delegate slots or change how delegates are elected (by the size of the precinct).  It seems to me that the party was on the right track in 2010 and 2012 and we just took a step backwards, but frankly just because somebody is an elected official, county party officer or candidate doesn’t mean they should get an automatic pass to the district and state conventions as delegates (anyone can attend if they like).  I don’t know if other county parties are doing the same, but I would encourage county delegates to jettison any and all hand picked lists.  This should be a grassroots driven effort.

Update: David Chung’s piece on this is a must read.

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