Fence mending for Iowa GOP

Elections have consequences.  Whether it's for president of your high school class or for POTUS, the winning and losing candidates generally remember who their keenest supporters were — and who were for he other guy or gal.  The recently-departed Mary Lundby, a former state legislator who died in January, had a rather infamous list of the 16 people who told her they'd vote for her for House Speaker, but then didn't.

It will be interesting to see the consequences of the race for chairman of the Republican National Committee.  As you likely know by now, the winner this past Friday was Michael Steele.  He was not the candidate the Republican Party of Iowa's national committeeman and committeewoman endorsed.  The two went on record for a Politico story. Kim Lehman and Steve Scheffler didn't like Steele's connection to the Republican Leadership Council, a group started by former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman. 

Here is a portion of that Politico story:

"That is an organization that created itself for the purpose of eliminating a very important part of the Republican Party and its family values,” said Iowa Committeewoman Kim Lehman, who supports South Carolina Republican Party Chair Katon Dawson’s campaign. “Michael Steele crossed over a serious line.”

“In that field, the only one that would be my number six out of six choice would be Michael Steele,” said Iowa Committeeman Steve Scheffler, citing Steele’s “past deep involvement with the Republican Leadership Council.”

“They partnered with groups like Planned Parenthood,” said Scheffler, who joined Lehman in endorsing Dawson. “In my view, you don’t lend your name to a group if you don’t agree with them.”

This is the news release issued by the Republican Party of Iowa after Steele was elected:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Iowa's three voting members of the Republican National Committee released the following statements upon the election of former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele as RNC chairman.     
National Committeeman Steve Scheffler:
"It is a new day. I am thrilled that our newly elected national party chairman, Michael Steele, is going to lead us to once again becoming the majority party–based on enunciating our winning conservative message, a 50 state strategy, and perfecting our technological and fundraising prowess."

National Committeewoman Kim Lehman:
"With sincere honor, I support and congratulate Chairman Steele.  I look forward to working with him in the defense of families, our liberties and the security of our country.  Chairman Steele has committed, with great clairity, his ability to bring this party back to its greatness, which transcends politics."

The question now is will Steele be inclined to tinker with the 2012 calendar and dethrone Iowa's Caucuses as the first event in the presidential nominating process?  Will Steele be more or less inclined — based on Lehman and Scheffler's support of South Carolina's Katon Dawson in the race for RNC chair – to listen to Iowa Republicans?

Moments after his election as party chairman, Steele told RNC members the following (a statement being evaluated by conservatives): "We're going to say to friend and foe alike, we want you to be a part of us. And to those of you who will obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."

The other factor to consider:  Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis competed against Steele for the post of RNC chair and when he dropped out after the fifth round of voting, he did not endorse either of the two remaining candidates (Steele and Dawson). Michigan, as you may know, has long sought to displace Iowa as the lead-off contest in the presidential campaign season.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.