Archive for June, 2012


We Licked ‘Em

Ever since our Randslide victories at district conventions in April, Iowa Republicans have vowed to send Ron Paul supporters packing.  After this weekend, that’s exactly what they’ll be doing – packing their bags for Tampa and the Republican National Convention that is.  Twenty one of Iowa’s twenty eight national delegates in August will be either liberty activists or allies of the movement.  Add Paul co-chair turned RPI head man AJ Spiker, who is an automatic delegate by virtue of his position, and the total is twenty two.

The victory this weekend is especially sweet as it came after a hard fought battle.  Initially, caught off-guard by the energy and organization of the freedom movement, the establishment came to Des Moines prepared.  “I was in Vietnam,” said Paul state chair Dr. Drew Ivers, who still has a slight limp from a Viet Cong 7.62 round to the ankle, “I know something about guerrilla warfare, you hide in the weeds then you get ‘em.  But this was a real fight.”  Like the French at Dien Bien Phu, mainstream Republicans expected to lure the insurgents to open warfare and crush the independent movement.  The result of their cocky ploy?  See reference above.

The convention kicked off on Friday night (technically a “re-convene” of the Districts) where three national delegates, three alternates, and one elector were choose in each room.  In April, Paul staffers played fast and loose with slate cards, spreading them throughout convention halls.  This weekend, it was cloak and dagger stuff.  Phone calls went out to Paul supporters letting them know to find men wearing white hats to get their instructions.  Meanwhile, big-government Republicans donned blue ribbons in a silent show of support for a “unity slate” of their own.  In at least one district, “unity slate” proponents showed their hands too soon, nominating two Santorum-supporting candidates from the proposed official Nominating Committee slate (to be voted on Saturday) as delegates on Friday night.  This move puzzled unaffiliated voters who didn’t understand why people already on the list would take spots away from Friday night’s other candidates.  Paul supporters went on to romp in CD-3 and CD-4.  CD-1 took longer to elect their delegates despite the meeting being ably chaired by former IFR columnist Will Johnson.  Part of that was due to a disruption by a Mittiot [Mitt + idiot, get it?  Cause we're using it from now on.] screaming that he wasn’t going to have anything to do with Paul.  Needless to say, not a winning message in a district Paul won in January, and CD-1 eventually came away with all three delegates and alternates loyal to liberty.

For reasons that have never been fully explained, CD-2 and its predecessors always have contentious conventions and Friday night was no exception.  The freedom movement thought it had a strong slate but were playing on the home turf of “unity slate” kingpin Bob Anderson of Johnson County.  Paul staffer and ex-Iowa YAL chair Ani DeGroote cruised to election but the remaining slots were harder to sort out.  According to reports we got, an overly-energetic Paul supporter who wasn’t on the slate ran of his own accord.  Realizing the potential for vote splitting to knock out two Paul delegates, Jeremiah Johnson, who drew controversy for endorsing Paul while sitting on the State Central Committee, fell on the grenade and dropped out to clear a path for Fairfielder Ed Kelenyi.  When the smoke finally cleared, the only delegate elected from the vaunted “unity slate” was its leader, Mr. Anderson himself.  His prize will be four days in Tampa being surrounded by Paul supporters, a humiliated general with no soldiers held prisoner in the enemy camp.

By the next morning, neocons had caught on to the white-hat trick and outfitted one of their own with a similar ball cap.  Richard “Tricky Dick” Rogers stood at the door trying not to look foolish as he impersonated a Paulite and passed out the “unity slate” list of names for Saturday.  Fortunately, with his gray hair and highly conspicuous ear piece he fooled no one.  Ol’ Tricky Dick couldn’t even humble himself enough to wear a Kim Pearson lapel sticker, even though it would have helped his costume.  When the convention started, the Great Romney Rules Purge we wrote about in April resumed in full force as Mittiots sought to carve out a loophole in the convention rules to allow them to substitute their slate for the slate chosen by the duly elected and fully transparent Nominating Committee (remember, 12 delegates are elected by districts, 13 by the full convention as part of the Nominating Committee list).  Long time state party leader made the audacious claim from the floor that no Santorum supporters were on the Committee list, despite the fact that the committee designed the slate (in particular the alternates) as a frothy mixture of several factions.  Their efforts at substitution failed, but so did a countermeasure by the freedom movement to elected delegates one at the time should the Nominating Committee slate be voted down.

In addition to delegate votes, the state’s male and female representatives to the Republican National Committee were also chosen.  The Committeeman race was held first, chivalry apparently being dead in the Iowa GOP.  This was a race that begged for a NOTA option, the kind Libertarians used at their convention to rebuke a supposedly inferior field of potential party officers.  With IFR’s tweeted pleas to Nick Sarwark coming to naught, we were left with incumbent Steve Scheffler, David Chung, Vanderplaatsian Robert Cramer, and Judd Saul.  Scheffler was the “official” choice of Ron Paul’s leaders but was largely unpopular among the grassroots.  There is a certain revisionist history going on in the neocon blogosphere attempting to transfer all of Scheffler’s questionable past activities to the Paul camp but this is undeserved.  A simple poll of the number of people wearing Tamara Scott and Scheffler stickers versus the number of people publicly standing for Scheffler and Kim Pearson would have borne out the lack of enthusiasm within the movement for Scheffler.  Saul made a direct appeal for Paul support, but he’s burned that bridge in the past and now many found it hard to cross over for him.  To be fair, we must say this about Saul.  IFR had previously thought Mr. Saul to be slightly overweight.  Now we realize that his extra wide pants were needed merely to cover his ginormous balls.  Somebody had to say what he did, we’re kinda glad it was him and not us.

On the women’s side, we had a clear horse in the race with outgoing freedom legislator Kim Pearson earning the strong support of IFR and the freedom movement as a whole.  In what was probably the most accurate way of tallying exactly how many freedom fans were in the room, Pearson won a wide plurality in the first round of balloting 755-514-339-81.  Pearson fired up her base by may have doomed her candidacy during her speech when she held up an attack flier from one of the Rastetter’s shady fascist organizations listed her supposed flaws including supporting conservatives over moderates in contested primaries.  With enough paperwork distributed on the chairs to fill out a phone book in some Iowa counties, many delegates had never seen the flier until Pearson brought it on stage.  “I’m not one of them,” she declared, but sadly, much of the convention was.  The second round of balloting became a stop-Kim Pearson vote as supporters of the eliminated delegates through their weight behind Tamara Scott and dashed hopes of sending a true small government representative to the committee.

Their is a bit of revisionist history out there regarding Pearson as well.  Liberty’s best frenemy Steve Deace posted to his facebook page that “the folks claiming to lead a revolution based on principle and undoing corruption aided and abetted a liar to win re-election, while one of their own who has told and stood for the truth was abandoned.”  The numbers simply do not support this conclusion, nor does the testimony of any freedom activists we spoke with.  In the first round of balloting Pearson received 755 votes and Tamara Scott 514.  In the second round, Pearson only increased her vote total to 782 while Scott surged to 826.  To accept Deace’s conclusion, you’d have to believe that Scott’s bump came from Paul supporters switching to Scott while Stoldorf and Davidson voters split evenly.  What incentive existed for Paul supporters to switch sides, especially the younger delegates in punk rock regalia who refused any Republican flair save that promoting Pearson?  We love Kim Pearson and if we could, we’d make 51 clones of her – one to marry and fifty to elect to the State Senate.  We simply had a plurality of delegates and not an outright majority.  For whatever reasons, Scott appealed to the middle of the road, non-faction fighting delegates and Pearson did not.  It’s a damn shame, and its insulting to suggest we knifed her in the back after all she’s done for us.

With the freedom movement reeling from Pearson’s defeat, the outcome of the Nominating Committee slate looked to be in doubt.  A spirited effort was made to throw it out and start over without an officially recognized process for doing so was launched in the final thrust of the Great Romney Rules Purge.  After voice votes and a standing division were inconclusive, a move from the floor called for paper ballots which was agreed to by the convention chair.  It turned out that the neocons just yelled a little louder, summoning an enthusiasm sorely lacking at rallies for their candidates during the caucus season.  The paper ballot tally was 794 in favor of the Committee slate and 698.  With eleven of twenty eight already in the books, the ten freedom activists on the list clinched the majority for Ron Paul.  Half a year after that cold January night, Ron Paul declared victory in Iowa.

With the platform debates still to come, neoconservatives fled the hall in droves, one can hope returning to the Democrat and Socialist Worker’s Parties from whence they came.  Their ideology has brought tears to thousands in the last decade – Iraqi Christians murdered by Shiite militias empowered by the occupation, widows and orphans of our soldiers fallen in Afghanistan, red-blooded patriots back home weeping for their lost liberties, peaceful protestors sprayed with tear gas for daring to question how millionaire bankers with failing companies got rich on the tax dollars of the working class – but on Saturday it was many of them who wept on their way out.  For them, “their” party was slipping out of their grasp and their twin weapons of the military-industrial-congressional complex and the Fed’s printing press perhaps to soon follow.

With half of the delegates gone, platform debate was an anticlimax.  Much of the heavy lifting was done by freedom-friendly platform committees who have bequeathed the Iowa GOP with a fine document upholding our great nation’s founding principles.  Those who stuck around fought off a challenge to the no foreign aid plank and educated their fellow delegates about the finer points of currency and agricultural policy with their own proposals.

It was not a day without some losses, as not having Kim Pearson on the RNC will be tough after we came so close.  Her speech and the nominating speech by Glen Massie served as a sobering reminder of how much those two will be missed in the Iowa House.  But the direction of the Republican Party in Iowa has been turned for the better, perhaps irrevocably.  If we stay united and exert the same effort to defeat Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Terry Branstad, Mike Gronstall, and their ilk as we did to win this weekend, there just might be “Hope for America” after all.


Vote June 5!

Just a quick reminder, primary elections are tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5.  While Libertarians and the Constitution Party nominate by convention and we don’t know of any worthy Freedom Democrats in Iowa, there are several excellent Republican candidates scattered throughout the ballots statewide.  On Friday, wrote our primary primer and included our endorsed candidates – Will Johnson in SD-50, Kevin Wolfswinkel in HD-1, Josh Davenport in HD-2, Tom Shaw in HD-10, Tony Seliquini in HD-36, Matt DeVries in HD-37, as well as recommended candidate Jake Highfill in HD-39.

Today, we’ll throw out a few more last minute recommendations.  These are not “endorsements” per se, but if you remember our endorsement policy, a “recommendation” is our way of saying, “well, this guy is probably better than the other guy, you might want to look into him.”  We use it when there is no clear liberty candidate in the race, when we have reservations about someone, or when we just don’t know enough about him/her to endorse.

Iowa Senate District 6 – Matthew Ung

With a primary challenge to an incumbent lawmaker in Chris Rant’s district, Ung has marked himself as a rising star in the Iowa GOP.  He says a lot of the right things and has a lot of the right endorsements (Kim Pearson, Iowa Gun Owners, ect.) while the incumbent is a run of the mill mainstream Republican.  He tries to base his ideas on the Constitution, but tends to have a bit of the rose colored glasses syndrome towards his party and could get lost in the weeds bashing gays instead of fighting government encroachment when he gets to Des Moines, but based on what we know, we’d rather have him there than return Ron Jorgensen.  IFR doesn’t usually have much coverage in the desert that is western Iowa, so maybe our readers in Steve King Country could enlighten us as to Ung’s credibility.

Iowa House District 81 – Rick McClure

No website, no twitter, no facebook page, no money raised – IFR sincerely hopes Mr. McClure has been more active door knocking in Ottumwa than he has been knocking out blog posts and web ads because we just heard about him minutes ago and he sounds great.  McClure is an Air Force veteran and John Deere worker who is politically independent and was inspired to get involved by Dr. Ron Paul’s campaign.  Straight party voting is the reason he joined the GOP.  “Voting straight party at the ballot box is as irresponsible and lazy as casting a straight party vote on any bill up in Des Moines,” McClure told his hometown paper when asked why he joined the GOP.  Sounds like the kind of man we need in the State House.  We’re keeping this a “recommends” only because we haven’t had time to properly vet him.  Networking, people.

U.S. Congress District 1 – Rod Blum

Much of the freedom movement in northeast Iowa has been all atwitter – and all over twitter – about Mr. Blum for several months now.  But under the surface, there is a lot of uncertainty.  We’ve held off writing anything at all about Blum until election night eve out of fear of stirring things up one way or the other.  Go to Blum’s issue page and there’s virtually nothing to disagree with.  But this wasn’t always the case.  Blum is no new face on the scene, as a columnist for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Blum has been carrying the water for big-government Republicans for a long, long time.  During the Bush administration, Blum proudly declared that he “doesn’t know what all my rights are” and that it was a moral imperative to invade random Middle Eastern countries.  While we encourage people to move from fascism to freedom in their thinking, one should always be wary of a politician who comes to you and says, “oh, dude, it’s totally different now!” right before an election.

We at IFR have a bit of a personal issue with this.  You see, your editor was on the front lines of recruiting Bob Barr to run for President in 2008, to the point where leading Libertarians (including past national staff members of the LP) fingered him as “the guy who got Barr into the race” because no one wants to be the one holding that bag.  How did Bob Barr repay us (including us personally)?  By endorsing Space Cadet Gingrich and abandoning the LP to prostrate himself on the pro-war, pro-big government altar of the GOP.  You’ll currently see him cheering whenever Mitt Romney shows up to campaign in Georgia.  Let’s hope Blum’s fortuitously-timed conversion is genuine because one person who hasn’t changed is Ben Lange, Blum’s opponent.  Lange is again looking for a way to return to the center of power, this time (thank God) minus the whole “Congress-should-decide-if-you-can-build-a-church-or-not” issue that attracted so much of Bruce Rastetter’s money to the 2010 race.  We were Lange’s harshest critic back then when we had a real dog in the fight.  Click his name at the bottom of the post, it all still applies.

So here’s our bottom line on Blum:  in the words of Stewie Griffin, “huzzah for the lesser of two evils!”

And in other news. . .

While it is quite unfortunate that State Representative Kim Pearson declined to run for re-election, she’s not getting out of politics completely.  After a few days of rumors following Kim Lehman’s decision not to see reelection, Pearson made it official – she will run for the position of Republican National Committeewoman.  Each state and territory is represented on the Republican National Committee by one man and one woman.  Iowa’s committeepersons will be chosen at the state Republican convention on June 16.  Pearson will compete with two announced statists, with other nominations possibly to come from the floor.  If you’re reading this site, you already know what we’ll be doing but for what it’s worth, Iowa Freedom Report hereby gives Representative Pearson our full endorsement.

After you vote tomorrow (assuming you have a candidate on the ballot worth the trip to the polls), be sure to catch Governor Gary Johnson on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  While Stewart is essentially a Democrat Party spokesman (perhaps the only credible one they have), lately his monologues have been leaning toward liberty and he is clearly respectful of our position and engages it in good faith so he’s certain to give Johnson a fair shake.  With a lot of disillusioned young voters up for grabs in the election, this could be Johnson’s breakout moment.  If you’ve been too busy with Republican caucus politics to think ahead to November, let this be your introduction to the man who proved that the moderate application of libertarianism to government is not only possible, but can be wildly successful and popular.


Republican Primary Preview

Iowa Freedom Report is back from our month-long Vegas hangover just in time for updates and endorsements in next week’s primary elections.  The success of the Ron Paul campaign in organizing the state unfortunately didn’t result in a caucus night victory, but it did leave in it wake a number of globally thinking-locally acting candidates seeking lower office.  Unlike in 2008 and 2010 when freedom candidates were restricted to deep-blue districts where mainstream Republicans offered little resistance, many of our people are poised to break through the glass ceiling and join Jason Schultz and Kent Sorenson in the Iowa Legislature’s de facto liberty caucus.  Here’s a look at some of those candidates with contested races on Tuesday’s ballot.  Consider them all to be “endorsed” unless otherwise noted.

Iowa Senate District 50 – Will Johnson

Will Johnson speaking with Ron Paul at the 2010 Campaign for Liberty Regional Conference. Photo courtesy of Will Johnson.

Johnson is a well known leader in the freedom movement from his 2010 Congressional campaign and his status as a former columnist at IFR.  He just has the sad misfortune of living in Democrat controlled Dubuque.  Our sources inform us that in a rare turn of events, Johnson is actually the establishment favorite in this primary as Senate Republicans see him as the only chance to put this seat in play.  Johnson for his part is avoiding typical Republican talking points like “Democrats are bad” and “Obama is a secret Muslim communist atheist!!!” to focus on nonpartisan issues like the proliferation of red light cameras in Dubuque.  His efforts on civil liberties have earned him a reputation around town as “the camera man” and his elevated profile and crossover appeal should carry the day over traditional Republican John Hulsizer Jr.  The one drawback is that Johnson’s fundraising has been far less than you’d expect from someone with his resume.  Although Hulsizer didn’t raise enough to require a filing (ie, less than $750), we’ll need to get Johnson some help before the fall.

Iowa House District 1 – Kevin Wolfswinkel

Kevin Wolfswinkel receving a donation from Iowa Freedom Fund treasurer Steve Hoodjer in April.

House District 1 in the far northwest corner of Iowa represents an unique pick-up opportunity brought about by redistricting.  Freshman Representative Jeff Smith represented the old district 1 but lost half his former constituents to the new lines.  Smith generally towed the party line in his only term, including siding with the National Rifle Association when that august organization launched an all-out effort to derail proposed “Constitutional-carry” firearms legislation.  Wolfswinkel has a background working with Campaign for Liberty as well as a local effort aimed at tax reductions.  He was an easy choice to be a prime recipient of Iowa Freedom Fund’s support.  The money race has been about even in this one, and it could go either way on Tuesday so anyone with friends and family in that area, call in your favors now.

Iowa House District 2 – Josh Davenport

Spencer Pastor Josh Davenport first came to our attention last fall when he came out for Dr. Paul around the time of Paul’s visit to Clay County.  At the time Davenport had slowly moved to liberty going through the nanny statism of the Huckabee campaign to the tea party and finally arriving in the liberty camp.  Davenport is a late entry into the House race, but don’t underestimate his chances with a background as minister and a former co-chair of the county GOP.  The establishment candidate is former legislative staffer Megan Hess, who had a head start and backing from the NRA (which you’d have to assume means she’ll oppose Constitutional-carry) but Davenport has done well with fundraising and has lined up the freedom movement behind him, including newly elected State Central Committee member Kris Theissen.  The district leans Republican, but the Democrats have a strong candidate, so Davenport will need our help if he gets through on Tuesday.

Iowa House District 10 – Tom Shaw

Representative Shaw is the rare incumbent legislator who didn’t support Ron Paul when he had the chance but who’s record in office is so exemplary that he still warrants our full support.  Shaw, a Republican In Name Only in the truest sense of the term, complied an impressive pro-liberty record in his first term voting along with freedom legislators Kim Pearson and Glenn Massie.  While Pearson and Massie unfortunately took themselves out by declining to seek re-election, the Republican establishment is looking to help Shaw go the same way.  They’ve put up former U of I student body president Maison Bleam in the primary.  Bleam is the scion of a prominent Republican family in Calhoun county which is new to Shaw’s district and is a former staffer to Congressman Steve King.  Shaw should be favored, but if you live in Humboldt, Pochantas, Calhoun, or Webster counties don’t take it for granted, make sure you vote for Shaw on Tuesday.

Iowa House District 36 – Tony Seliquini

This race has flown far under the radar despite its location in Polk County, perhaps because the district leans Democrat.  Still, freedom candidate Tony Seliquini is in the midst of a contested 3-way primary for the chance to be an underdog in November.  Seliquini is an Army vet with a wide range of civilian experience and campaign experience volunteering for Dr. Paul and numerous local candidates.  He faces Jeff Ibbotson, who is employed in Homeland Security which alone should give any one pause and Larry Steele who didn’t raise enough money to trigger the filing requirement with the state.  Seliquini is looking for last-minute volunteers to phone bank over the weekend, so if you have some free time, contact him at the website listed above.

Iowa House District 37 – Matt DeVries

As an somewhat well-known candidate in a brand new, heavily Republican district, Matt DeVries represents the best chance to put a pro-freedom candidate in the state legislature in 2012.  A rising star in our movement, DeVries’s political career got off to a rocky start in 2011 when he lost a convention race to run in the special Senate election that was eventually won by Jack Whitver.  Still, DeVries’s exposure in that race may give him an advantage in name recognition, an advantage desperately needed as 5 big-government Republicans saw the same opportunity we did leading to a crowded primary.  If no candidate gets 35% on Tuesday, the race will go to convention where freedom voters should have an advantage as Romney and Santorum supporters largely boycotted the caucus-to-convention process for reasons that have never been fully explained.  DeVries has put an emphasis on reenforcing government marriage (for straights only) and normally anyone who considers teh gayz as the major threat facing our state demonstrates that they lack the critical thinking necessary in an office, Murray Rothbard did say that everyone gets on deviation, so DeVries has our full support.

Iowa House District 39 – Jake Highfill

The HD-39 primary has been an interesting one to say the least.  Iowa City blogger John Deeth calls it the WTF primary and we’d be hard pressed to give the Erik Helland-Jake Highfill match-up a better moniker.  In his two terms in the House, Helland is still best known for his drunk driving convention.  Despite lots of money and lots of establishment support, this Kerry Burt Republican seems ripe for a primary challenge in a safe Republican seat.  Stepping up to the challenge is Ron Paul Republican Jake Highfill, a recent U of I grad.  Unfortunately for both him and the movement, Highfill has stirred up unneeded controversy with both accusations against his opponent and Obama-style “evolution” on key issues.  First, in a he-said/he-said debate Highfill claimed Helland offered him a job to get him out of the primary.  Helland counters that he was only steering Highfill to a more suitable entry into politics, not making any offers himself.  Then Highfill reversed course on his previous public stands for liberty.  In a January interview for a story on Paul’s young supporters, Highfill took the proper stand saying he would never vote for Mitt Romney.  Then last week he told The Iowa Republican, neoconservativism’s blog of record that he’d be the “first in line” to cast his vote for the Massachusetts fascist.  Highfill also seems to have backed off his previous support for extending government marriage to same-sex couples.  Given an excellent opportunity to educate the public about freedom of contract or to help the GOP reverse their losses among the creative class, Highfill took the easy way out and told TIR he’d support only straight government marriage.  Sadly, Highfill sounds like a young man who’s heart is in the right place but whose pro-liberty ideology is not fully set.  He’s worth a vote over Helland but it would be hard to place a lot of hope in his chances.  With all the questions marks surrounding Highfill’s true beliefs, call this one a “recommends”.

We’ve heard stirrings about other potentially good candidates, but haven’t had the chance to vet them in light of their past involvement in the movement (any one can say good things in an election race, and everyone does, we look at actions), so pass along any others you know who are worthy of our support in either the comments or tweet to us @IAFreedomReport.  We’ll be spending more time on legislative candidates between now and November, including some good ones who aren’t contested next week.

Remember, get out and vote Tuesday!  (You can change your registration at the polls if needed and change back on Wednesday.)