It was the ticking time bomb that many people, including myself, had hoped would detonate after the November 4th elections, not with three weeks yet to go. Last week we saw our US Senate Candidate claim that the Republican Party of Iowa is actively working against him, then on Saturday David Hartsuch sent out a press release stating he was told by the McCain campaign that he could not speak at Saturday’s rally because of some comments he made two years ago in support of traditional marriage.
I’ll be honest with you, this is not a subject that I enjoy writing about, but with the growing attention this story is getting I guess I might as well jump in and give my take.
Before we delve into the latest saga concerning the Iowa GOP, I first want to get a few things out of the way. You may have noticed that I have not spent much time discussing the US Senate race, or the Congressional race in the 1st district on my blog. That has been intentional on my part, not because I don’t support those two candidates, I do, but because they need to earn it, they need to make some noise and then I’ll gladly give them some love.
You might have also noticed that I have not used this forum to bash and trash these candidates either. While I don’t like to see candidates using their contributions to purchase clothing or even gas, I don’t see what good will come of me berating a campaign or candidate for doing it. I might have a different viewpoint during a primary, but when our party nominates a candidate I will not work against them, and if there is something I don’t like I’ll just keep my mouth (err keyboard) shut.
Every Republican insider you know will tell you that the focus here in Iowa is regaining the majority in the Iowa House of Representatives. I do not disagree with that line of thinking; however that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore or pretend that other campaigns in the state don’t exist or can’t help the overall election effort.
Now I can understand why Reed and Hartsuch are frustrated but I also think we need to clear some things up. First, the RPI has never given a candidate for any office a pile of money after they won the Republican nomination, it simply will never happen. So the reports that the Republican Party is withholding financial support to any campaign are simply not true. What the party does do through its Victory effort is to identify supporters and turn them out on Election Day. Reed and Hartsuch should be getting their supporters to help in those efforts.
What I also think that the RPI must also do a better job of providing non-financial support to our candidates. I’m sure to Reed and Hartsuch it seems like the state party refuses to advocate for them, and I think that argument has merit. I don’t understand why the folks at the party can’t find something positive to say about these candidates when asked in private or at events. If someone came up and said “hey Krusty, can Reed win,” I’d use my time to bash Harkin and tell them that anything can happen especially with the mess in DC. Heck, I might also point out that while he isn’t well known to many Iowans, he has a strong following with the grassroots activists across the state.
There are things that the Party can provide our candidates that don’t cost a dime. Those are the things that they seem to be unwilling to do. They can talk up our candidates to anyone who inquires about them, especially the media. They can publish press releases, announcements, and other communications on their website and email distribution list, they can speak out against their Democrat opponents when the opportunity arises, and they can provide opportunities for these candidates to speak to large groups of people for Republican event. None of that costs a dime, just a little bit of time.
The major source of the frustration from Reed and Hartsuch is the fact that they have not been allowed to speak at recent McCain rallies in Iowa. Now, I will acknowledge that these are McCain events and since they pay the bill for them they can dictate who is allowed to speak. But the fact that Reed has not been allowed to speak at the Cedar Rapids or Davenport McCain event, and Hartsuch was told he can’t speak at the Saturday’s event is troubling.
If you have ever attended one of these things you will know that you’re supposed to get there hours in advance, and they have a bunch of local candidates speak to fill up the time. In Cedar Rapids they had 4-5 legislative candidates speak plus Miller-Meeks. Both Hartsuch and Reed were on the stage but not allowed to speak. It didn’t surprise me that Hartsuch didn’t speak since the event was outside of his district, but if we can find time to listen to these State House and Senate candidate’s don’t we have time for a little Harkin Bashing from Reed?
As for Hartsuch, he has sent out a press release entitled “McCain ’08 Shows Gay Pride by Snubbing Hartsuch.” Now that’s probably not the approach I’d take, but hey I might call myself Dr. Hartsuch instead of Senator Hartsuch with the Congress’ favorability ratings in the tank. Anyway, I’d be pissed too if I saw a state legislator without an opponent have the opportunity to speak while the only State Senator in the 1st District and Congressional Candidate was told he couldn’t speak because of comments he had made two years earlier in defense of traditional marriage.
Seriously folks, these are not prime-time convention speeches, they are simply filler before the candidate arrives. Christopher Reed and David Hartsuch are our candidates, the least we can do is let them speak at these large gatherings of Republicans, and the folks at RPI should be advocating for their inclusion.
Every campaign that is takes root in this state is an opportunity to expand and grow our Republican party. It doesn’t matter if it’s a long shot campaign or not, they all engage a new group of people. Unfortunately, we tend to douse some campaigns with weed killer if the powers that be don’t like the way the campaign is being run. I don’t think I need to remind any of you that our textbook campaigns haven’t done very well over the last 12 years or so.
The sad thing is that there is no way that Republicans can win anything in this state until we stop the internal bickering and backstabbing. We need to work together for the greater good of our party and our candidates. The blame is shared by both sides and the chattering class on the sidelines.
We can and should do better.