AUDIO: The 2010 Iowa GOP state convention

It’s 9:58 a.m. and a man’s voice coming through the sound system is telling delegates to take their seats here in Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. Convention activities are set to commence at 10 a.m.  A battle looms over who the delegates at this convention will pick as the party’s lieutenant governor nominee:  the man who finished second in the June 8th GOP gubernatorial primary or the woman who the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee has picked.  UPDATE:  Kim Reynolds won 55.6 percent of the delegates’ votes, beating Bob Vander Plaats and winning the LG nomination.  (Listen to speeches, read more here.)

What follows is a live blog of the day.

The Branstad campaign has been handing out pink t-shirts, touting the Branstad/Reynolds ticket.  Branstad is Terry Branstad, the former four-term governor who’s seeking a fifth term in 2010.  Reynolds is Kim Reynolds, the state senator who Branstad has picked as a running mate.  If you don’t know, supporters of Bob Vander Plaats — Branstad’s rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination — intend to nominate BVP for LG. 

It’s 10 a.m. and Matt Strawn, the Iowa GOP chairman, has just gaveled the convention into order.  Folks are being asked to stand for the invocation.  RNC Committeeman Steve Scheffler gave a little speech first, saying the party needs to be united.  

“We pray that your people will rise up and be involved in the political process this year,” he prayed, then seemed to seek some innoculation for the masses that would prevent an all-out war over the lieutenant governor nomination.  “….Lord, today, be with our deliberations and, in spite of some of our minor differences, that we speak words of love and not hate and ugliness.” 

At 10:17 a.m. Senator Chuck Grassley comes on stage, as the song “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” is played. “We’re here, aren’t we, because we believe in the principles that made America…I want you to remember this about Chuck Grassley: I went to congress not to join the club, but to join the fight to preserve those principles,” he said to open and got applause.

Grassley said Americans had been “awakened” to the danger of Democratic control of congress. “I’m really excited about the prospects for Republicans,” Grassley said.  “…We know that freedom cannot be taken for granted.  Freedom must be defended and freedom must be protected….Patriots are saying, ‘Enough is enough.'”

“…The Democrats’ goal is clearly obvious to all of us.  Now, the battle enjoined is between the American people and the Democrats and I like those odds.

“Americans are stunned that the world’s greatest bastion of freedom now owns America’s largest auto company…largest insurance company….They’ve already taken over student loans.  (He mentioned health care system)…The Federal Reserve operates in secrecy and without accountability and, of course, all of this adds up to a complete and total assault on the, I guess you’d say, every sector of America’s free market system.”

Grassley talks about “history” and “our founders” and gets applause for his mention of “Biblical convictions.”

“That strong foundation will preserve America and without it, America will fail.  The original contract with the American people promised a limited government…It is not a living, evolving contract.  It is exactly the same…except when the American people from time to time might amend it.

“…I work for you, not the other way around,” Grassley said, and got applause.

“…Freedom and limited government are inseparable.  Freedom and personal responsibility go hand in hand.  Now we see what the president wants to do.  President Obama wants to Europeanize our economy and pile up debt like the country Greece.  In fact, we are…greasing a slippery slope to national debt default.”

“….Do we want to have every need provided by some government bureaucrat?  It’s pretty obvious that…we’re reaching a tipping point.  Two words I hear from people:  ‘I’m scared.’

“…The good news is you folks right here.  A liberal president with a teleprompter can’t sell European big govt to freedom loving Americans…When people get scared, they get motivated…They’re motivated to preserve what makes us unique as Americans.  The people deserve the truth about the fiscal hole we’re in….If you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

Grassley starts a litany of items he says Americans “deserve.” 

“They deserve border security.”   There’s a burst of applause and some people get to their feet to cheer.

“We don’t have to apologize about America to anybody,” Grassley says.  That gets even more applause and people get to their feet.

He talks about economic issues, gets muted applause.

“Of course, we don’t need a cap and trade policy that’s going to break our economy,” Grassley said.  There’s another burst of loud applause.

He continues: “There’s a lot of other things that the constitution says the federal govt ought to do, but most of it is:  just get out of the way.” This gets more applause.  His next declaration, though, gets a louder burst of applause.  “There’s one issue I have not mentioned,” he said. “…Above all, life must be defended.”  

He mentions Congressmen King & Latham, as well as the GOP candidates for congress in the second and third districts.

Next up, a Grassley endorsement of Branstad.  “We have a very, very big fiscal problem….This 12 years of Democrat leadership of this state…has brought this state to its fiscal knees and so Iowans deserve a governor that’sgoing to get us out of this hole and that is Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds.”

“This adds up to working as a team,” Grassley said.  “….Those candidates — I pray that every one of them have your support and they’re for sure going to have the support and committment of Barbara and me on the campaign trail.”

“…Electing Republicans is very, very important but we’re not here just to elect Republicans.  We’re here to reclaim America election by election, because we believe in freedom and we’re willing to fight for that freedom.”

That was the ending.  He didn’t say thanks or anything, just walked away from the lectern as the crowd stood to applaud. 

Congressman Tom Latham was next to speak.  He didn’t mention other Republican candidates by name.  He did begin by ridiculing the Democratic state convention.  “They were just barely able to get a quorum,” Latham said.

Latham joked about Democrats in congress.  “I work every day with a bunch of out-of-touch people,” Latham said.

Matt Strawn is recognized at 10:44 a.m. to speak.  He calls the Republican ticket the “strongest he’s seen in his lifetime.”  He mentions Branstad/Reynolds.

Strawn said the Iowa GOP is “standing on the doorstep of sweeping and transformational victories this November.”

“We’re going to send Governor Chet Culver packing,” he said.  “…He is no match for the Branstad/Reynolds team.”

“…Your Republican Party of Iowa is stronger than ever following a successful primary season,” Strawn said. 

Strawn talked about himself, the state central committee and the Iowa GOP staff.  “We said that we would remain neutral in the primaries.  We did,” Strawn said.  One male delegate near the center of the room openly/audibly scoffed at that.

Strawn closed by embracing the “comeback” theme Governor Branstad has been used.  Strawn said a comeback was coming for the state, “with Governor Branstad and Senator Reynolds leading the way.”

At 10:50 a.m., a motivational video began playing, with snippets of Reagan and Gingrich speaking.  At its conclusion, the convention chair is at the microphone, trying to rearrange the agenda, as credentialling apparently isn’t over. 

They’re now discussing an amendment to the RPI constitution, in anticipation of going from five down to four congressional districts.

Bob Vander Plaats is in the hall, over in the guest area.  He’s wearing a junior delegate badge that’s had the words “junior delegate” crossed out and the word “guest” handwritten on it. 

At 11:29 a.m. Congressman Steve King is introduced.

“This is like a huge family reunion,” King said to start.  “…You refresh me with the depths of your conviction.”

King got a standing ovation from most people with this:  “I”ve introduced legislation to repeal ObamaCare…Yes, we can do it.  I want to elect a president in 2012 who will take the oath of office with pen in hand…so he can sign the repeal.”

“Now (Democrats) have badly driven America off into the abyss of socialism,” King said, then switching to state issues, calling Governor Chet Culver, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy the “ruling troika” of the statehouse.

“They’re got to go,” King said of those Democrats.

King delivered a “unity” message.  “This is our year to pull together,” King said. “…We put on the same jersey today because we’re pulling together as a team….and we’ve looked at the people who’re really lined up against…We’re lining up as Repbulcians together against Democrats today.”

King decried the “infighting” he’s seen among Branstad and Vander Plaats supporters, asking the delegates to “abide by the decisions” of GOP Primary voters.

He called Branstad/Reynolds a “great ticket.”

“I’m pulling for it,” King said, urging delegates to turn their “focus” on defeating Culver.

“Kick Chet Culver out of Terrace Hill and put in Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds as lieutenant governor,” King said.

At 11:40 a.m., King was the person recognized to nominate Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor.  “She’s an outstanding pick for lieutenant governor,” King said at 11:43 a.m.

Kim Lehman seconded the nomination, calling Reynolds a “pro-life, pro-family woman.”

The convention chair asked: Are there any other nominations?

Rep. Dwayne Alons of Hull is recognized.  “At this point, I would like to place in nomination Bob Vander Plaats for lieutenant governor.”

There is applause.

“This nomination is not about one person, one man or one individual,” Alons said. “I believe I’m speaking for a grassroots effort.”

Alons suggested a Branstad/Vander Plaats ticket would unite the 41 percent of Primary voters who cast a ballot for Vander Plaats with the 50 percent who voted for Branstad.  “That would be the quickest and easiest way to get total unity,” Alons said. “…I believe that we should not be surprised there’s a grassroots effort to draft a nominee because Governor Branstad was drafted himself…so I think we are looking at a similar situation right now.”

Alons spoke about President Lincoln’s cabinet, then continued: “I believe (Vander Plaats will) be a spokesman that will directly talk to issues that Gvoernor Branstad needs to hear.”

Will Johnson from Dubuque County, the second district congressional candidate who lost the Primary, seconded the BVP nomination.  “This is a way to unify the party after a very divisive primary, so let’s do this,” Johnson said.

Another nomination from Linda Harrington nominated Rod Roberts and there was a second.

Roberts was first to speak.  “On June 8th, the voters made their decision and Terry Branstad won the nomination for governor….and as such it is his prerogative to choose his running mate….so I endorse Kim Reynolds,” Robert said.  “…I respectfully decline the nomination.”

Reynolds was next to speak.  She began by thanking King and Lehman, the people who nominated her, and she thanked Roberts for his endorsement.

“It has been an incredible couple of days,” she said, a reference to Thursday, the day Branstad introduced her as his pick for LG

She began a litany of issues.  “I am pro-traditional marriage,” she said, to applause.

She advocated for a series of constitutional amendments, including one which would limit state spending to 99 percent of state tax revenue.

Reynolds also said she supports a change in the way judges in Iowa are appointed. (That’s related to the gay marriage issue.)

“I sponsored legislation to require a two-thirds, super majority vote by this legislation prior to any new state borrowing,” she said, to applause.

She talked about being county treasurer in Clarke County.

Reynolds said she was “most proud” of being a wife, mother and grandmother.

“I’m running for a brighter future for all of our families…One that embodies the Iowa spirit.  I stand here today and I humbly ask for your support and your vote.  This is a position that I will proudly hold and, if you know me, you have my word that I will work every day…(to enact our) shared conservative values.”

Vander Plaats was third to speak.

“Thank you, thank you so much.  I started this journey a long time ago…and for you people who welcomed me to your community and championed our causes…I sincerely say thank you.

“I had a couple of objectives.  I wanted to end politics as usual once and for all.  Two is I wanted to unite this Republican Party,” he said. 

A few people near the media area started heckling, laughing loudly at this point.  “You’re doing it,” one of them yelled.

Vander Plaats said he wanted to help “lead on conservative principles.” 

He mentioned the June Primary.  “I understand what happened on June 8 and I fully understand and respect Governor Branstad’s ability to recommend (Reynolds), but ladies and gentlemen it would be disingenous to (campaign as I did) and then ignore the voice of the people.

“….This is not a poisition that I longed, desired to be in today…We need to bring this party together…I accept the nomination,” BVP said, to applause. “And I would ask you the delegates to let your voice be heard in how you believe we should unite this party and move forward for victory in 2010.”

Speeches over. The process will take 25 minutes, according to the convention chair.  “Be patient.  Lunch will hold,” the convention chair told the delegates.

It takes a “simple” majority to win the party’s nomination.  That would be 50 percent plus one.  For those of you just tuning in, this is a battle between a faction of social conservatives in the Iowa Republican Party and the party “establishment” types who recruited former Governor Terry Branstad who served from January, 1983 to January, 1999 to run for a fifth term.

It’s 1:09 p.m. and they’re still voting, counting, whatever.  They’re now having some of the people who would have given luncheon speeches speak.

First is Brad Zaun, the GOP’s third district congressional candidate.  “I’m here to put Congressman Boswell into retirement,” Zaun said.  “The reason why I’m running is because…I don’t trust what’s going on…I’m running because of my five kids.”

Zaun talked about how his Republican Primary competitors have “come together” and endorsed his candidacy.  (I guess that’s a hint, hit at BVP.)  Zaun said: “I’m going to get a sofa that folds up into a bed and I’m going to sleep in my office” if elected.

Zaun said his three non-negotiables are faith, family and “my word.”  He offered a few credos, such as “always wear the same hat size.” Zaun said he faces a “big task” in November.  “I will not let you down,” he said. 

At 1:25 p.m. — drum roll please.  “The moment you’ve been waiting for,” according to the convention chair.

There are 1349 delegates, according to the chairman of the credentials committee.  Um, I guess no announcement yet; stop that drum roll.  They’re still counting.  Dave Jamison, the GOP nominee for state treasurer, is recognized and is speaking. He told a pretty good joke about computers.

Jamison says something nice about “my friend, Kim Reynolds” and tells the delegates he expects she’ll be the LG nominee.   He talks about draft horses and “pulling together” in the same direction as Republicans.  “Together, we can put Iowa first,” he concludes.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT:  “You have all been so patient and so gracious,” the convention chair says.  “I have before me now the report….and I’m pleased to announce that with 749 votes…55.6 percent…Senator Kim Reynolds is our lieutenant governor nominee.”

A brief video is played and Reynolds comes on stage.  “They told me slow and steady…and that’s really tough for me to do and I go about 95 miles an hour all the time….My fellow Republicans, I am humbled to stand before you today.  It is with a great joy in my heart that I gratefully accept your nomination,” she said.

Delegates are walking out as she speaks.  “Iowa needs Terry Bransatd.  We need a true leader back in the governor’s office,” she said, to applause.

She talked about being “grounded” by her family.  “Their belief in me…has given me the courage to risk failure…I want to tahnk each and every one of you for proudly wearing the colors of a Republicans,” she said.  “We really have significant work to do in the next four months.  There is nothing more important than sending Chet Culver into retirement and sending an honest conservative to Terrace Hill.”

She talks briefly about the Iowa economy, education, the state budget.  “And you know what?  What is Chet Culver’s legacy?  He spent too much.  He taxes too much.  He borrowed too much and he has got to go,” she said, to applause.

That became a mantra.  “He has got to go!” she said.  “We can do better.  Iowans deserve better and we will do better.”

Reynolds said it was an “easy decision” to accept Branstad’s invitation to be his running mate. “You absolutely cannot spend five minutes around Governor Branstad without getting caught up in his enthusiasm.”

She made no mention of Bob Vander Plaats.  “Please join with us, walk with us.  Our best days are ahead of us and together as Republicans we will lead the way.  Thank you and God bless,” she said in conclusion.

One of those songs from Glee is playing.  Terry Branstad comes on stage.

“Wow, thank you very much,” Branstad said. “It’s an exciting day.”

Branstad referenced the process of selecting a lieutenant governor, saying Iowa Democrats two weeks ago had changed their party process to avoid the kind of vote Iowa Republicans just took.

“We in the Republican Psarty have an open, honest, transpent process and that’s the kind of govt we’re going to get,” Branstad said.

Branstad started a mantra about openness and he criticized Culver for the film office scandal and for “gagging” the state’s long-term care ombudsman.  “What an opportunity we have,” Branstad said. “This year, 2010, the American people have seen what happens when you turn government over to the Democrats.” 

Branstad touts the “team” of Republicans running for statewide office:  State Auditor Dave Vaudt; Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey; GOP secretary of state nominee Matt Schultz; GOP state treasurer nominee Dave Jamison; and GOP attorney general nominee Brenna Findley.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody with more enthusiasm,” Branstad said of Reynolds, telling a story about something Reynolds did when she was county treasurer & he was governor in the 1990s.

“We are enthusiastic about the opportunities for Republicans to win in 2010,” Branstad said. 

While Reynolds didn’t mention Vander Plaats, Branstad mentioned his Primary foes (but not by name).

“Election campaigns are about choices.  We had some excellent candidates that ran and I know some people are disappointed that their choice didn’t win the election, but at the end of the day we’re all Republicans.  We need to come together.  We need to support this ticket because the future of our state is at stake and I sincerely ask for your support and your help,” Branstad said.

He made a last pitch for the Republican “team.”

“I’ll tell you, I’ve been in a lot of election campaigns.  So far, my record is 11-o.  I’m a very competitive person.  With your help, we can make that 12-0 in November,” Branstad said.

He ended soon after that.  No sign of Vander Plaats in the room.  Delegates leave for lunch next door.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Iowa Cynic says

    The creepy three-time loser or the one with two OWIs as a grown woman… Decisions decisions…