Friday, May 30, 2008

Ryan on Rathje and an endorsement for Reed

We here at TRS received a letter from Pochahontas County Chair, Michael Ryan, with a request for republication. As the TRS readers know, we typically oblige such contributors.

So here, without edit or alteration, are Chairman Ryan's words:

To the County Chairs and Co-Chairs:

On May 2, 2008 we had the privilege of scheduling all three of the U.S Senatorial Candidates at our Central Committee Meeting at the Pocahontas County Courthouse. During that month I had lined up all three candidates and set in place an agreement of the itinerary for each. I’ve sent this letter out to you to discuss specifically my opinions and observations on the lack of professionalism and tact demonstrated by the candidate and campaign of Steve Rathje.

The Rathje campaign showed no reservations in asserting their belief that the Pocahontas Central Committee existed, on that day, to provide exclusive service and attention in the promotion of the Rathje campaign. Generally, I am inclined to promote enthusiastically all of our Republican candidates, but the message I had picked up on at this point was that we all had a greater obligation to the Rathje campaign than we had to our fellow committee members and the other Republican candidates for Senate. It is not unfair, nor is it an exaggeration to say that the crass, insensitive manner in which they conducted themselves was at first surprising, and finally insulting.

More troubling than their demands was that they neglected to show basic respect or even polite regard for the individuals who had taken time from their evening, as the local Republican leaders and constituency, to give audience to these requests for support. None of the other campaigns or individual candidate were so presuming as to be selective of the constituency that they would address, yet it seemed that Mr. Rathje could not wait to excuse himself from the event. Upon the conclusion of an obviously rehearsed, scripted speech, Mr. Rathje avoided discussion, and dodged a couple of questions regarding his positions. He finally hurried out with those gentlemen that had accompanied him and spoken on his behalf.

Specifically, it was insisted at the last minute that I change the planned itinerary for the evening to accommodate the plans and desires of Mr. Rathje’s campaign. They called the Monday before the event to insist that Mr. Rathje meet the business leaders of Pocahontas exclusively and separately. The Rathje campaign was politely reminded of the arrangement previously agreed upon by all interested parties, and that no special arrangements or accommodations had been prepared for, nor requested by, any of the candidates. From here on, the pursuit of this issue began to be undertaken much too persistently and on too short notice to be considered appropriate or professional. We should be able to expect at least professionalism and courtesy from our Republican candidates.

I’m sure that it is not necessary to discuss in great detail with the County Chairs how these demands may have been perceived as somewhat unreasonable. By this time notifications had already been sent out and such. It may not have been so difficult to work with them (forgiving their behavior) had the Rathje campaign not insisted upon the delivery of this specific audience with such marked disinterest for the people who were initially to attend the committee meeting. I cooperated with the Rathje campaign (would I not have cooperated, I doubt that the man would have come), and notified the Humboldt County Republican Party of the request as well. Several appointments that enabled Mr. Rathje to talk to the local business owners were arranged. I assumed that Mr. Rathje had been appropriately accommodated, if he hadn’t been treated more than fairly. I also assumed all the plans were satisfactorily agreed upon and finalized.

However, on Thursday, May 1, 2008, the night before the meeting, the Rathje campaign called me and asked me again about the plans for following night. I told them of my format which was all three speak five minutes their piece, and then sit down at the table for group questions and discussion. His campaign then floored me, informing me that Mr. Rathje was uncomfortable with this simple format, and that he may be unwilling to cooperate, or even attend were he not allowed to speak first, then leave. Of course, the man can do whatever he pleases. Again, I wanted Mr. Rathje to keep his appointment, and hoped that he would address the committee, so I complied with his request.

Whatever the reason on that day, Mr. Rathje is very uncomfortable, and struggles in unscripted political discussion. On the day of the meeting, I met Mr. Rathje and the co-chairs of his campaign at a restaurant in Pocahontas at 5:00 with a small group of voters. During this time, I listened as one of the central committee members present politely chatted with and questioned the candidate regarding his positions regarding government spending. Mr. Rathje demonstrated here, to all of us, exactly why he was unwilling to participate in group discussion at our committee meeting. The conversation and responses given by Mr. Rathje were particularly troubling in that the candidate’s most typical mannerism in (softball, chatty) political discussion was to give scripted responses to very simple questions/comments. It was plastic, and sometimes the answers and comments given by Mr. Rathje were embarrassingly and obviously inapplicable and out of step with the conversation. It would have been comical were the man not intending to be our Republican candidate and run against Tom Harkin for his seat in the senate.

Not only was Mr. Rathje struggling in simple discussion, but I found that his attitude toward his Republican peers was disappointingly childish and distasteful. In a private conversation between Mr. Rathje, myself, and another central committee member, I mentioned Mr. Rathje’s Republican competition. He did not require a scripted answer for his response. He remarked that he “deserved” to be the nominee. He excused himself for this assertion in that he had campaigned for three years, and it’s not right that some “Johnny-come-lately’s” filed at the last second. Again, his sense of entitlement was extremely disappointing… Royalty and liberals enjoy entitlement. Conservatives earn.

When it came time for Mr. Rathje to speak at the committee meeting, the man turned to plastic. The choppy, scripted address was disappointing, and reminiscent of a rehearsal for a High School play. He seemed to direct his speech inward, rather than at connect with the guests in attendance. My co-chair Mike Diischer was curious about Mr. Rathje’s opinions pertaining to immigration and the border fence. Mr. Rathje cut off the man twice, and argued with him on the validity of his question. Mr. Rathje came off as though he didn’t want to be there. He was indifferent to and dismissive of my committee members and guests.

Mr. Rathje’s co-chairs were really nice despite Mr. Rathje’s actions. Bill Wirth and Leon Mosley were excellent, were both exceedingly friendly and knowledgeable, and it was a pleasure to welcome them to Pocahontas. I wonder at their endorsement, and am somewhat concerned that Leon’s support, given his position in the Iowa GOP, may be perceived as the endorsement of the Iowa Republican Party. It is worth noting that the state central committee board and Chairman Iverson have remained neutral in this primary. I only wish Mr. Rathje would join the debates with Rep. Eichhorn and Mr. Reed rather than shirking them off as if he were above them.

As it pertains to Rep. Eichhorn, he was pleasant and friendly. The common opinion was that he was a friendly guy, but could have done better connecting with us. The only thing that bothered me, personally, was how he lost his house race in 2006. One positive mention of Rep. Eichhorn is that he is fully open to respectful debate and discussion with the other GOP candidates. If Rep. Eichhorn were to become the nominee, he would have my full support.

As it pertains to Christopher Reed, he was the best received by the committee. Personally, as I have had the privilege to work with and talk with Mr. Reed, I find him a man of respectable character who takes time to seriously consider and answer questions. Mr. Reed is a very humble man and answers with clear, precise, and factual answers. Mr. Reed’s schedule is very hectic but in his busyness he still takes time to take questions from the people in my county. I am impressed with that Mr. Reed is that he is the only veteran running in this race, and the only person to have a hunting license and handgun permit. Recently, the Gun Owners of America endorsed Mr. Reed. The GOA grades candidates even harder than the NRA, and Mr. Reed was endorsed out of all three. I was disappointed that there was an e-mail sent out to the county chairs that accused Mr. Reed of skipping an event in an attempt to “create a situation where he could use disparaging comments against Mr. Rathje”. The man had been kind enough to provide his personal phone number, so I called to ask what had happened. Mr. Reed explained that the event in Clayton County was not put on his schedule, and that the only event that appeared on his schedule was an event in Grundy Center. The “disparaging comments” that were referred to were in regard to Mr. Rathje’s refusal to debate Mr. Reed and Rep. Eichhorn. This may be interpreted more as a statement of fact than a disparaging remark, but I leave that for you to decide. I personally fail to see how those remarks were, in any way, inappropriate. I can also say honestly, and with no reservation, that I believe Mr. Reed would make the best challenger to Sen. Harkin.

I have had a lot of time to contemplate whether or not I should send this letter. I have come to the conclusion that our experience here in Pocahontas County is significant evidence as to the character of our candidates, and have been compelled to share this information with my Republican peers. Now, my point in writing to you has not been to just gripe about the experience had between the Pocahontas Central Committee, Steve Rathje and his campaign. It is also not simply to endorse any of the individual candidates, but most importantly to share my observations on their strengths and weaknesses. The lion’s share of the attention in this letter was given to Mr. Rathje (he would, I’m sure, have it no other way), as I believe that the most particularly revealing and significant observations taken from this event regard character. Mr. Rathje’s campaign strongly demonstrated lack of character, tact, and professionalism. That this man and his campaign are and will prove to be incapable of producing the personality, tact, and professionalism required to inspire support where it is needed to win this seat in the Senate seems inevitable to me. The main trouble comes from the candidate’s self-serving attitude, and an embarrassing ineptitude to involve himself in political discussion and debate even with his own constituency. No questions allowed? What happens when it’s time to butt heads with the incumbent?

Michael Ryan
Pocahontas County GOP Chairman


Art A Layman said...


The first thing that pops into my mind is, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

I considered running for office once but I had neither a hunting license nor a gun permit so I scrapped my plans.

Anonymous said...

Why did Reed duck the Register questionnaire in today's paper? That looks TERRIBLE. Free publicity, in his own words, and he gives it away to his opponents instead. Hardly a ringing endorsement for being a tough general election candidate. Foolish.

vlad the impaler said...

Rathje is a fucking twit. We already knew this.

KenRichards said...

There is no way Rathje will survive the Primary vote so the point will be mute very soon. How this guy has any supporters is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on Richards, you can do better that that! Why don't you suggest that based on the spelling of this guy's name he must be some kind of Muslim! Or at least a leftist pinko Commie fag! Shit, pal you really are letting your edge get away from you. What's Mark Klein's phone number again? I'd like to call him and invite HIM back in here. At least that was fun. Dumping on that shit heel like that. What was the price of a gross of Batman Costumes going to cost us again?

Terri said...

Thanks for posting this. I haven't been paying much attention to the Senate race because of educating myself on the District 2 race. So little time and so many candidates.

We have to pick someone who can stand up to Harkin. Someone who needs a script isn't going to do very well. This item has prompted me to dig a little deeper.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Mr. Ryan. THIS is real blogging---the best post to ever appear at this website in the many weeks/months I've been reading it. Write to Sporer more often! ---Spotlight

Rae said...

Just hopped on your blog after holding our own Meet the Candidates and read this article with interest. It was interesting that I blogged about some of the same things said in this article in regards to Rathje and his well polished speech. I hope we get everyone we can out to vote tomorrow!!