As a general rule, in Iowa, the Republican Party of Iowa and county parties stay out of contested primaries. This does not mean individual State Central Committee members or County Central Committee party members or county party leadership don’t back specific candidates. They often do.
In some cases, county party leadership run for elected office as is the case with Palo Alto County Republican Chair Jesse Wolfe in Iowa Senate District 1 or Warren County Republican Chair Rebel Snodgrass in Iowa House District 26. However, there generally is not a financial commitment.
Most county parties listed expenditures related to county caucuses, county convention, delegate fees to the Republican Party of Iowa, and party activity expenses (most spent less than $2,000 in 2018). Only six Republican county parties made any political contributions in 2018 before the disclosure deadline.
After a looking into financial disclosure forms of Iowa’s 99 Republican county central committees that were due on May 19th, Caffeinated Thoughts has found that four county parties have donated to state-level candidates in contested primaries.
These contributions likely do not violate each county party’s bylaws, but the donations do put their neutrality in certain races in question. In most cases, the donations were made to candidates that lived in the county whose county party contributed to their campaign.
Adams County Republican Party
The Adams County Republican Central Committee donated $1000.00 to Ray Gaeser who is running for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Gaesser is a resident of Adams County and is one of five candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Secretary of Agriculture.
The party also spent a total of $489.84 on a fundraiser for Gaesser which raised $120.00 in proceeds for the candidate.
Greene County Republican Party
The Green County Republican Central Committee donated $150.00 to Anna Bergman who is running against Travis Grassel for the Republican nomination in Iowa House District 44 that has an open seat due to State Representative Rob Taylor’s retirement. This is an odd donation considering Greene County is not part of Iowa House District 44.
They also donated a total of $2719.09 to Phil Thompson who is running in a three-way contested primary in Iowa House District 47, their home district. 58 percent of the party’s expenditures in 2018 consisted of donations to Thompson. Thompson is a resident of Greene County, the other two candidates live in Boone County.
Jones County Republican Party
The Jones County Republican Central Committee donated $1000.00 to State Senator Dan Zumbach (R-Ryan) who is vying for the Republican nomination for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in a five-way primary. Zumbach is from a neighboring county, Delaware County.
Palo Alto County Republican Party
The Palo Alto County Republican Central Committee donated $250.00 to Jesse Wolfe, the party’s chairman, who is running in Iowa Senate District 1.