Iowa Republicans need to keep their guard up, but a Republican National Committeeman thinks the state’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses are safe.
“You never say never, but at least for now” Iowa’s lead-off position in the nomination process is secure, Steve Scheffler said Thursday from an RNC meeting in Boston.
There had been speculation that national committee members – from both parties – might use recent allegations of a state senator switching allegiances in the final days of the 2012 caucus campaign in exchange for money as a reason to knock Iowa out of its coveted position.
However, Scheffler said he hasn’t heard a word about the allegations against Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo, at the GOP gathering.
“Nothing came up about Iowa retaining our first-in-the-nation caucuses. That wasn’t even a topic of conversation,” he said.
Several people, most of them Democrats, have called on Sorenson to resign in order to protect the integrity of the Iowa caucuses from further “pay-to-play” accusations.
Sorenson was campaign director for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann in December 2011. He quit and endorsed Texas Rep. Ron Paul. TheIowaRepublican.com reported that Sorenson jumped ship in exchange for money, an accusation the Bachmann campaign made within hours of the switcheroo.
In addition to the allegations that party leaders sell their endorsements, the Iowa GOP suffered a self-inflicted black eye when it announced incorrect results on caucus night. Mitt Romney was crowned the winner after a record turnout, but two weeks later, after an audit of the results, Rick Santorum declared the winner.
If anyone was going to try to take the first-in-the-nation status from Iowa they would have to go through the Rules Committee that Scheffler sits on. He’s not heard or seen any such effort.
“I’ve talked to a ton of people and not one single person has talked about it or brought it up at all,” Scheffler said. “That doesn’t mean it won’t come up in the future, but I didn’t hear anything today.”
Any change in the nomination process would have to be approved by a 75 percent majority of the RNC’s 126 member Rules Committee.
“That’s pretty tough,” Scheffler said.
Overall, he said, the mood of the RNC members is positive. That was helped by an upbeat speech from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of several Republicans mentioned as a possible 2016 nominee.
“He may not be my first choice for president, but he actually gave a pretty darned good speech,” Scheffler said.
Republicans realize they have a lot of work to do, he added, “but there is a plan in place, so by the time we get to 2016 we’ll be ready to roll.”
Comments: (319 398-8375; firstname.lastname@example.org