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September 16, 2013 5:44 PM Bad Craziness in the Iowa GOP

By Ed Kilgore

When I was reading Blue Girl’s account of the Harkin Steak Fry this morning, I couldn’t help but contrast that with the bad craziness that seems to have seized the Republican Party in Iowa of late. No, I’m not talking about the long knives flourished in the bizarre tale of state senator Steve Sorenson and his alleged play-for-pay activities during the 2012 presidential nominating process. More recently, the Paulite state GOP party chair, A.J. Spiker (an indirect target of some of the hyperventilation over Sorenson) created an unbelievable furor by engineering a one-month delay in the date of the 2014 State Republican Convention. If you have a great deal of time on your hands, you can read an impassioned post on this saga penned by Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican. You’d think he was writing about the abolition of the Iowa Caucuses or a ban on consumption of corn dogs instead of a one-month change in the party calendar for a non-presidential year.

The backstory here is that Iowa Republicans nominate candidates by convention when none has received 35% of the vote in a primary. That’s a lively possibility for next year’s Senate race given a large and not terribly imposing field. The change in the convention date was immediately rumored to be part of a plot to allow time after the primary for Spiker and company to wire the event (as Paulites are famous for doing), perhaps on behalf of a candidacy by Spiker himself. That’s all it took for GOPers to go crazy and start firing rhetorical missiles at each other.

If that’s not enough intrigue, just yesterday Iowa Family Leader honcho and alleged Iowa Caucus Kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats has made it known he’s mulling a Senate race of his own, adding another jewel in the crown of his record of three unsuccessful statewide campaigns for office (or four if you count both his failed 2006 gubernatorial nomination campaign and then his failed general election campaign for lieutenant governor that year). Ol’ BVP isn’t an electoral world-beater, but he probably has enough juice to combine with other candidates to deny anyone else 35% and then go for broke in the aforementioned convention.

Democrat Bruce Braley, who enjoyed everyone’s support and esteem at the Steak Fry as Harkin’s designated successor and (so far) unopposed Democratic candidate, is probably enjoying the GOP follies immensely.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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