Iowa SOS says Iowa GOP chair’s assertions on convention timing “false”

“…not only misleading, it is false.” — Matt Schultz, Iowa Secretary of State

Strong words in a strong statement this afternoon from Matt Schultz, Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State.  He’s responding to statements A.J. Spiker, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, made yesterday in a letter explaining his (Spiker’s) decision not to schedule a vote to undo the moving of the GOP’s state convention to July.  Republican Governor Terry Branstad, Senator Chuck Grassley and all five announced candidates for the U.S. Senate want the convention moved back to June, when it has been held in the past.

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State and State Commissioner of Elections, Matt Schultz, issued the following statement today regarding the timing of political party conventions and nominations for ballot vacancies:

“As Secretary of State and State Commissioner of Elections for the State of Iowa, it is my duty to make sure that Iowans understand the election process, including their duties and rights under the law.

In response to questions raised by members of the public, it is necessary for me to clarify the timing of a special nominating convention, which becomes necessary when a federal or state candidate does not receive a minimum of 35% of the vote in a primary election.

There is no law that prohibits the Iowa Democratic or Republican parties from holding a special nominating convention prior to the final certification of the primary election by the State Board of Canvassers.

In fact, the Iowa Code is silent as to when a special nominating convention may begin, but it is clear that the convention must be held and the names of nominees submitted in writing to the Secretary of State before 5:00 PM on the 81st day prior to the General Election.  The only requirement with regard to timing is for both the ballot vacancy and the special nominating convention to occur prior to the filing deadline. 

As Secretary of State it has always been my position to err on the side of inclusion when it comes to ballot access. Based on this principle, I included Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson on the ballot when his nomination was challenged.  My decision was upheld by the district court.

That is why under the authority granted to me by Iowa Code section 43.73, I will certify the names of any federal or state candidates nominated by the political parties prior to the certification of the election results as long as all other statutory requirements are met.  This same authority has been upheld in the past by the Supreme Court of Iowa in Zellmer v. Smith.

Therefore, no political party should use the excuse of the final date of the statewide canvass to determine the date of its special nominating convention.  Furthermore, to state that it is necessary to hold a special nominating convention after the conclusion of the state canvass is not only misleading, it is false.”


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About O.Kay Henderson

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