Sunday, July 20, 2008

Convention reform

As all of our regular readers know, there has been a lot of internet and real chatter and conflict about the proper purpose, function and authority of our state conventions committees. What all the conflict demonstrates with greatest clarity is the need to reform and improve our convention process. TRS submits the following starting point for that reform.

District Conventions. Our existing five, and probably four in the future, Congressional District Executive Committees are grossly underutilized. Any real hope for party reform begins with reactivating the District Committees.

One crucial function of such committees is running their share of the caucus to convention process. The district committees can easily be given a schedule and a budget by the SCC and otherwise be left entirely to their own devices as to how each district runs its convention.

Among the benefits of such a move would be an increased participation in district politics by existing strong counties and a revival of lagging and lethargic county organizations because county strength would matter. This process would naturally enhance the importance of Party participation.

As Marlys and I proposed in 2003, we should move the election of national delegates, alternates, nominating committee members and Presidential electors to the April district conventions. Such a move would save the party tens of thousands of dollars. Increasing the significance of the April conventions should dramatically increase turnout and other participation in the district convention, again, naturally enhancing the importance of Party participation.

State Conventions. The SCC needs to run the state conventions. The officers of the state party should officer the convention. The SCC can appoint a platform committee comprised of a certain number of people from each district. The district executive committees function as the credentials committee. The SCC writes and approves the proposed rules and nominates the proposed delegates.

The foregoing proposal would dramatically increase the importance of party participation at all levels at a time when we absolutely must increase participation. The convention delegation still gets to approve all of the actions of the SCC and the platform committee. The credentials committee would still exist to approve entry on to the convention floor.

The process we are proposing centralizes some functions but disperses other functions. Is it different than the status quo? Yes. Would it require a different mindset regarding participation? Yes again. No one knows how change will work, only how it should work, but we do know that our convention process is not well attended, frequently chaotic and sometimes filled with bitter fratricidal conflict. So, what’s the worse that could happen, a poorly attended, chaotic and conflict ridden convention?

Like Newt says, “[i]t isn’t real change unless its real change.”


Supertramp said...

You are certainly right on this one Ted. Good proposal! I think the April District conventions are far less prone to buy in to slate voting, thus realizing more opportunities for the newcomer delegate and those who actually work on campaigns - not those who just pander to a few people putting the slate together. Additonally, the cost saved would be tremendous - for the party and the delegates (no more overnights in Des Moines).

John said...

The Dems already elect most of the national delegates and candidates for presidential elector* at the April conventions. We had 100% turnout at the district events this year -- granted, that was unusual and due to the Hillary-Obama battle.

* The VOTERS choose electors, the parties choose CANDIDATES for elector. No one's an elector until Obama or McCain wins the state. A geeky pet peeve of mine; the Dems make the same mistake too.

Anonymous said...

Well something else we agree upon -the process needs to be streamlined.
It only makes sense for the National Delegates to be chosen at a full District Convention with 500 or so voting rather than on a Friday night a month later that is lucky to have 20% attendance and costs both RPI and Delegates a lot of time and money.
As a District Chairman in the past I know such a vote for Delegates and Alternates could be easily handled in an hour. Our last two District Conventions have been finished between 3 and 4. Starting the conventions at 9 or 9:30 would easily accomidate such a move. Since the District Conventions require much shorter driving times it would not be a problem for most.
Obviously as you know from your previous attempt to make such a change the biggest opponent will be our new National Committeman and his followers. It is much easier to control Delegate voting on a single night with light turnout and in your own backyard. Many of the District Delegates have no real understanding of the Friday night process and it has always been the number one question about the State Convention asked of County Chairs and District leaders.
Such a move would be a definite plus but will face a real battle I suspect from the "new" establishment.
The only addition to your proposal that I would suggest is increasing the number of National Delegates chosen at District Convention and decreasing the At-Large total. This past Convention most of the grief was caused by this process. The idea that a person runs within their District and is defeated, then runs as an Alternate and again is defeated only to be "chosen" as worthy National Delegate later in the night by a process that smells of nepotism. Others off that list were also defeated earlier in the evening only to be resurrected by a less than savory process. You want to make this a party of grassroots participation again - start here with getting rid of backroom deals and threats and intimidation by special interest groups.
The second part of your suggestion dealing with the State Convention has some merit but I feel many would have to see more details first.
These are a few of the issues that have many upset statewide and deserve a real discussion if we truly want to revive our party. The question is whether the estabishment now will even give such ideas a forum for discussion.
To make our party once again viable statewide we need to concentrate on the areas we agree upon and cleaning up our own backrooms.
Andy Cable

HawkeyeGOP said...


I hope you don't mind me plugging my much less popular blog here.

I am a new SCC member, currently serving on the Organization Committee so conventions are my bailiwick. I have chaired the State Platform, Rules and Nominating Committee and I have several thoughts on this subject on my blog,

Major Ken said...

I am sure the world's biggest Hawkeye fan will not mind.

Anonymous said...

Hey uncle Teddy - Yepsen has another bitchin and moanin piece this morning.

Apparently, Gary Kirke - who owns Wild Rose Casinos and is lobbying Chet for more casino licenses is unsure whether he will give money to RPI anymore.

When did the republican agenda include promotion of gambling as the answer to economic development?

I guess Gary isn't a republican anymore anyway so who cares?

Anonymous said...

Diane Crookham Johnson is concerned too. Her issues are pro-kill at will and apparently, she must be pro-gay marriage.

Diane - the party hasn't changed. It's always been pro-life and anti-gay marriage.

What is it you lost?

Steve Roberts and Phyllis Kelly were pro-life and anti-gay marriage so what has changed?

Perhaps you really aren't a republican anyway and just haven't noticed.

Anonymous said...

So if your pro-equal rights for gay individuals or your pro-choice but you agree with the rest of the platform you are telling those individuals to take a hike? Unbelievable. You people are crazy.

Anonymous said...

That isn't what the earlier posters meant and you know it.

They're saying that all the hubub about donors leaving the party because Scheffler and Lehman won are the ones who are divisive.

Clinton County said...

I'd like to add that if we move the nominating committee elections back to the April District meetings, we will not have the PR nightmare that we are having happen right now.

It doesn't matter if the omission of certain high profile persons was intentional or not, (I don't believe it was completely un-intentional.)

Giving the committee more time to determine who should be on the list and who should not, can only improve the chances of preventing this PR disaster we have right now. At the bare minimum it would give us time to write press releases stating why certain persons were not included.

Anonymous said...

From the front page of today’s Washington Times…

Grassley won't be GOP delegate

Evangelicals deny senator

Evangelical Christians in Iowa, dominant in the state's Republican Party, have denied Sen. Charles E. Grassley his request for a place on the state's delegation to this summer's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Grassley may attend the party's Sept. 1-4 nominating convention in St. Paul, but not as a voting delegate.

With a majority of nine out of 17 members on the Iowa Republican central committee, religious conservatives made Iowa Christian Alliance President Steve Scheffler chairman of Iowa's 40-member delegation in a vote immediately after their state party convention July 12.

"The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues," the just-ousted Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts told The Washington Times. "It hurts John McCain's chances to win this state."

Other party officials said money for the party is drying up because of past mismanagement and current religious dominance, which has turned traditional Republican politics upside down.

"It's pretty well controlled now by the Christian Alliance," Mr. Roberts said. "If somebody came to me and wanted to be a delegate to the national party convention, I used to say, 'Talk to the state party chairman or to Grassley.' Now it's very simple. You go to the Christian Alliance, and they determine who is a delegate, and you have to do exactly as they say."

In recent weeks, religious activists replaced Mr. Roberts as the national Republican committeeman and also replaced the national committeewoman with pro-life advocates who also oppose gay marriage.

Barring Mr. Grassley from voting-delegate status is seen as a blow to him as the senior Republican official in the state, who normally might have led the convention's delegation.

Mr. Grassley had said "yes" when asked by Iowa Republican Chairman Stewart Iverson if he wanted to be a voting delegate to the national convention, Mr. Iverson said

Political observers in Iowa saw the move against Mr. Grassley as retribution for his having tangled with evangelical pastors in his state. He initiated a Senate Finance Committee investigation of six televangelists for conspicuous personal spending.

"That had nothing to with it at all," Mr. Scheffler said Sunday. He said Mr. Grassley and the other members of the Iowa congressional delegation already had national convention floor privileges - meaning they could walk the floor but not vote.

He was asked if Mr. Grassley had been chosen as a delegate, would he also have been expected to be chairman of the Iowa delegation.

"I suppose it's true. He would have been chairman," Mr. Scheffler said. "But the most important point is that we wanted grass-roots activists to attend to help get John McCain and Iowa House candidates elected."

Mr. Grassley's Washington office did not respond to several requests for comment.

Robert Novak on Saturday noted yesterday that the "74-year old Grassley once was considered the leader of the Iowa Republican Party's conservative wing, but has been at odds with the increasingly influential evangelical elements in the party."

Party officials in the state say the takeover is alienating major Republican donors and driving them out of the party.

The takeover by members and leaders of the Iowa Christian Alliance, successor to the Iowa Christian Coalition, was extensive.

Gopal Krishna, aligned with the Christian Alliance, was expelled from the Iowa party for "troublemaking" in 2000, but worked his way back onto the party's central committee and replaced Reid Houser as state party treasurer.

Mr. Scheffler is the new Iowa member of the Republican National Committee, having defeated Mr. Roberts, the longtime national committeeman who, though he attended Christian Alliance meetings, was considered too moderate by some religious activists.

In another exercise of strength of the Christian right, Iowa Right to Life Executive Director Kim Lehman defeated veteran conservative state Rep. Sandy Greiner for a slot on the committee.
this is real BS and is what we have to expect from Scheffeler and crew in the future- this is building party unity? No, further example of the divisive tactics Scheffler uses -

It was bad enough leaving Leon Mosley our State Co- Chair off the list but to also embarrass Chuck Grassley is hopefully the last straw for even those Sceffler backers who were giving him the benefit of the doubt

Grassley should have been Delegate but that meant he would be the Delegation leader. Steve Scheffler could not let that happen, this man has only two things on his mind; power and ego- he is a cancer to the RPI

Anonymous said...

Why is Senator Grassley not voting delegate at the RNC this summer? Has the religious right taken over so much that a standing Republican Senator is not worthy. Maybe the silent masses of polka lovers and Jesus freak have a plan to take over planned the RNC. We are doomed.


Deyoe said...

This is sad. Im staying home in November, get your S#$% together!

Anonymous said...

All you good republicans don't give up hope. Shortly we will be starting another faction of the GOP. Stay turned. The ICA can have their group and the others will have the opportunity to have another choice. The Sheffler group will be called the Iowa Evangelical Republicans and the rest of us will be the GOP(Grand Old Party). There will be some struggling with them over which group the RNC will recognize. However with the large numbers wanting a GOP, the RNC will want to work with a group not so closely aligned with a litmus test. No presidential candidate would want Iowa to be a first in the nation caucus state except Mr. Huckabee whom uses the evangelical churches for his base and campaign headquarters.

Al said...

Anon 7:04, what you are proposing is to divide the party. All factions of the RPI are needed to win. If anyone splits off they are all doomed to failure. Are you too stupid to see that?

Still trying to be like Yoda said...

WAR Sporer for Chairman

Anonymous said...

Move things around to April? For God's sake, Sporer, and screw around with opening day of Baseball Season? What the hell's the matter with you?

Anonymous said...

Wow - Deace's handlers must have slapped him around a little bit. Might have to start calling him "Dobson Jr".

Anonymous said...

Wow - Deace's handlers must have slapped him around a little bit. Might have to start calling him "Dobson Jr".