Iowa governor accused of manipulating system to destroy tea party candidates


Some believe Iowa’s Republican governor is doing everything he can to tamp down the tea party.

This Saturday’s Polk County GOP Convention will have 50 fewer automatic slated delegates to the district and state conventions, as the result of a move by Iowa Republicans to police a sticky situation Gov. Terry Branstad has put the party in, an Iowa GOP official told Rare.

Conservative activists have accused Branstad of stacking “family members, donors and current and former staff” in order to create a stronghold for Republicans more favored by the party establishment in upcoming Senate and presidential elections, reported The Hill.

In a March 1 meeting, Polk County GOP officials chose to dump half of the 100 delegates associated too closely with the governor’s office. Many of those delegates were wiped away from the delegation, leaving mostly elected officials.

“I think the reason they shrunk it was so many Iowans, especially in Polk, were outraged by the list that came out,” said A.J. Spiker, Iowa Republican Party Chairman.

spiker paul ap
Iowa Republican Party Chairman A.J. Spiker

Branstad did not break any rules but conservatives were quick to police the situation, in order to avoid any further manipulation accusations from activists that believe the governor’s people are working to keep Tea Party Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., from stealing the Iowa title.

The governor’s office was unreachable for comment but a spokesperson told The Hill it denies any involvement, “As in years past, the county party assembled a wide spectrum of Republican activists for consideration at the county convention. This included evangelicals, so-called moderates and everyone in between.”

Additionally, Branstad has tried to get rid of the Iowa Straw Poll, historically a strong tool for launching off-the-grid candidates, like former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

Iowans know the secret to winning convention votes lies in Polk County, which holds more than half of Iowa’s 3rd House district delegates. The selected 3rd House district delegates could be the determining force for choosing the Republican Party’s congressional candidate to replace retiring Rep. Tom Latham if no candidate receives 35 percent in Iowa’s June primary.

If Branstad is trying to keep any tea party-leaning candidates out of the party’s way, it comes at a time when the stakes are high, as Latham’s seat has been called one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s top five priorities this year.

Republicans are in the midst of a situation that has the potential to divide their own party, when unity is critical going into a convention, explained Steve Deace, syndicated Christian radio host.

“I think it really comes down to the Polk County Republican Party… really now, the ball is in their court,” said Deace.

Deace described Gov. Branstad and this controversy in the Washington Times Tuesday:

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, an undocumented Democrat known for growing government and raising taxes more than any other governor in my state’s history, doesn’t like the fact he might be the only sitting governor in America who doesn’t control his own state party. That’s because pro-liberty Ron Paul supporters in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses played the process fair and square to assume control of the party.”

Deace added, “If I didn’t know any better I’d say Branstad is intentionally trying to kill the Iowa Caucuses.”


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