Prospects for Liberty Looking up in Iowa GOP

Reports are still funneling in from Republican district conventions across the state and we’re sure they’ll be all over the Pauloshpere by morning, but we had to give a quick recap.  Your Iowa Freedom Report team was deployed to District 4 today where freedom lovers were cautiously optimistic they could carry the day despite the frothy mix of out-dated neoconservativism and Opus Dei theocracy that swept the northwest corner of the state in January.

The major prize at stake in today’s conventions was control of the Republican state central committee.  The Register has a full recap of those election results and credits Paul backers with 6 of 12 seats up for grabs.  Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican tweeted that 10 were either Paul supporters or favorable to Paul.  This includes people like Chad Steenhoek of Ames, a staffer on Gingrich’s super PAC who has worked with Paulites in the past.  Joel Kurtinitis (CD3), Kris Thiessen (CD4), Dave Cushman (CD1), Iowa Freedom Fund board member Jeff Shipley (CD2), John Kabitzke (CD3) and Marcus Fedler (CD2) are all well-known for their advocacy of smaller government.  What this likely means in a practical sense is that Iowa politicians will be forced to take seriously Paul’s ideas, even though the central committee is not itself a policy making body.  You’re also likely to see the group taking more stances on policy matters, taking cues from the actions of combative social conservative national committeefolks Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehmen.

Various other committee seats were up for grabs as well.  Freedom advocates ran mixed slates of Ron Paul supporters and their allies for every seat on the delegate nomination, credentials, rules, and platform committees.  Paul staffers were reluctant to share details with Iowa Freedom Report, but from where we sat, returns looked quite promising.  From a national standpoint, a majority on the nominating committee could mean a majority of Paulites in Iowa’s national convention delegation.  A majority there and in just four other states means that Paul could be nominated from the floor of the RNC in Tampa.  That would be a far cry from 2008, when Paul was barred from even stopping by the convention in St. Paul, despite a run allowing sitting Republican congressman free access to the convention floor.  Let’s put it this way, 2008 Libertarian nominee Bob Barr, an active opponent to John McCain was granted greater access to those proceedings than Paul.

One major coup attempt disrupted the convention briefly in Fort Dodge.  Someone, and at this time we are unable to determine with any certainty who it was, tried to push through major rule changes to the caucus to convention process.  For as long as any Iowa Republicans can remember, national delegates have been selected in a “district caucus” the night prior to state convention.  Technically, the district conventions go into “recess” for two months and re-convene the Friday night of convention for delegate elections.  This year, some forces, whether outside or local we don’t know, called for district conventions to elect national delegates then “adjourn.”  A claim was made that an unknown group (Paul supporters by implication) wished to hold “secret meetings” for delegate selection.  Of course, these “secret” meetings are the common practice and in fact quite well-publicized.  Ironically, while they were the presumed target, the Paul campaign urged all its supporters to defend the long ago agreed upon rules.  Whoever was behind the rules purge pulled out all the stops in CD 4.  Robocalls and emails went out the night before.  A young-looking Romneyian was even dressed up in Paul garb to disrupt the proceedings, shouting loudly about how undemocratic the process was and at one point acting as though he would square off with the sergeant at arms in a fist fight.  It was so well acted that some Paul supporters told IFR that they suspected the young man was actually a brilliant Paul loyalist attempting to use reverse psychology to convince the delegates that Paul was behind the unorthodox rules purge.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the convention voted down the intrusion.  It made for an interesting sideshow and perhaps a preview of what the establishment could pull at state convention as their cold dead fingers tighten their grip on the party.

Much progress was also made on the platform.  Planks that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago sailed through with minimal objections.  Republicans committed themselves to a repeal of the Patriot Act (in Steve King’s district no less!), nullification of various mandates, and a complete abolition of the IRS.  Overall, the day provided a strong indication of the shifting winds within the Iowa Republican Party.  Now if we just had some candidates to go along with it, but we’ll have more on that in the coming weeks. . .