Unity or Control?

Guest contribution by Dusty Juhl.  Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Liberty Iowa.

At the close of this year’s Iowa GOP State Convention, the members of the Republican State Central Committee (SCC) who were elected at District Conventions in April officially assumed their new roles. The SCC essentially serves as the Board of Directors for the state party. They held their first meeting right after the end of the Convention, during which time the new board made plans to hold an election for new leadership, including the Chairman and Co-Chairman positions, on Saturday, June 28th at 1:00 PM at RPI Headquarters in Des Moines.

Many Republican activists have contacted their Republican State Central Committee representatives in support of the current Chairman, Danny Carroll. The former party Chairman, A.J. Spiker, stepped down at the end of March. Danny Carroll was elected to serve out the remainder of Spiker’s term, which expires in January of 2015. The terms of the Chairman and Co-Chairman are to begin in January of odd-numbered years following the General Election, and are to last for two years. No party chair in recent memory has both started AND ended their term at the appointed time.

Earlier this year, there was a proposed amendment to the RPI Constitution to hold the election of the Chairman and Co-Chairman at the State Convention. The measure failed. Ironically, many of the most vocal opponents of such a move are now the most outspoken advocates of replacing the current Chairman and Co-Chairman in the middle of the General Election cycle.

There are two things the Republican Party of Iowa desperately needs right now: stability and unity. The circular firing squad is preparing to kill off both of those this weekend.

One of the members of the Polk County GOP Central Committee contacted Polk County Co-Chair and member of the State Central Committee, Sherill Whisenand, about the upcoming meeting. What follows is her response:

“I take my role on the SCC seriously and have responded to every email and phone call along the way on this issue–and will continue to be open to any and all communication. 

[Redacted], I am going to vote for a new state Chairman and Co-Chairman.  

Danny Carroll is an ethical, decent and honest man.  No one on the current or past SCC will dispute that.  That is something we can all agree upon. 

But this is not about the man.  It is about what is best for the Republican Party of Iowa. As I write this, the Republican Party of Iowa has no staff.  The Executive Director is gone.  The Organization Director resigned effective this coming Friday, June 27.  The interns include two young people who actively illegally and with malicious intent distributed flyers, etc. at the District Convention (at the request of highers up) to ask delegates to not vote for the current SCC.  When confronted, Danny Carroll said he was “comfortable” that that issue had been addressed–yet, they remain in place at RPI.  By his own admission at the April SCC meeting, Danny said the statewide fundraiser netted $2,000.00.  We are broke.  How in the world can a Party of the calibre and stature of the Republican Party of Iowa legitimize itself with the inability to have a healthy bank balance in an election year–to raise funds, awareness and accomplish the Get Out The Vote efforts?

How do all those who do not want Danny Carroll removed square with the premise that as part of the RPI Leadership for the past two years, nothing seems to have been accomplished.  What has happened?  The Exec Director alienated most of the county leadership, the organization of our conventions (including last week’s state convention) resulted in our Platform tabloids arriving after the event–and the phones aren’t answered on a regular basis at the RPI Headquarters.  

While I will be the first to state that not everything I have listed above is on the doorstep of Danny Carroll as Chairman for two months–he has been in leadership for two years.  Others have asked, “Why can’t this committee just work with him and help him to do the job?”  While a lofty point, how would that look and how would that be accomplished?  

I won’t hide behind the obvious, “He/They serve at the pleasure of the SCC.”  I agree. That answer, while true, is no reason to ask for new leadership.  

How do we square the fact that Danny Carroll, as a lobbyist for the Family Leader, openly and emphatically and publicly stated (with media and cameras in tow) that he would never ever support Governor Terry E. Branstad–the titular head of the Republican Party of Iowa?  While Danny Carroll has repeatedly stated he was sorry for those remarks and has attempted to “make amends,” I still have reservations.  I do not know what is in Danny Carroll’s heart, regarding our Governor, but I take him at his word.  Which was true?  In 2010, when he said, “I will never support….” or now, in 2014, when he said he is “sorry….”  

To round this out, [Redacted], the Republican Party of Iowa (and for me, in Polk County), is large enough for all of us to work together but this is about the future.  The issues.  The past does not dictate the future–but it is a strong indicator of what is to come.  There has been back-biting, divisiveness, in-fighting, public-fighting and issues unresolved.  And through it all, there is no staff, no money, no ship steering, and quite unfortunately, for  Danny Carroll, not much confidence in any of this changing in the coming months.  

Thank you for writing. Thank you for listening.  This has not been an easy ride or a black-and-white decision, [Redacted].  I have prayed about it, sought guidance and counsel and still, at the end of the day, am resolved that new leadership is and will be needed at the Republican Party of Iowa if we are to start winning elections.  As Bob Vander Plaats is known to say, “The Party that wins the elections, has the say.”  If we don’t win, we don’t “do”–and I am convinced that even those on the other side of the issue want to see a stronger Republican Party of Iowa.  

Thank you.” 

What she fails to mention is that the Polk County GOP Finance Committee Chairman has been actively telling people not to donate to RPI. I don’t doubt that some people sat on their wallets when new leadership took over, but I’m just as certain that new wallets were opened. It’s one thing to decide whether or not to make a personal donation. It’s another thing as an active member and leader in the largest county Republican party in the state to actively campaign against donating to the Iowa GOP.

The head of the Republican Party of Iowa is Chairman Danny Carroll, NOT Terry Branstad. The party should run candidates, and hold them accountable. Candidates and elected officials should NOT run the party.

With regard to convention organization, there was a move to change the date of the state convention, which would have provided the time necessary to get tabloids printed and mailed, and allowed enough time to schedule the 3rd District Nominating Convention the night before the State Convention – but it was shot down after a statewide uproar. I could say that someone predicted the difficulties that arose in the timeframe between the Primary and the State Convention, but I wouldn’t want anyone to take to the airwaves about it.

In an effort to raise money for the party, the former Executive Director wanted to know the Primary results in the Republican race for U.S. Senate, in case that race needed to be decided at the state convention. In that event, he wanted to allow candidates to purchase advertisements in the tabloid. The tabloids went to the printer on Wednesday following the primary, started being mailed on Thursday, and were delivered by USPS as “Bulk Mail”, meaning whenever they got to it. As a result, many people did not receive their tabloids in time for the State Convention.

However, we live in the age of the Internet. RPI did (finally) post the tabloid to their website, but didn’t post anything about it to Facebook or Twitter. RPI and the GOP need to be drug kicking and screaming into the digital age. The 2012 Obama campaign, in a remarkable accomplishment, had Digital Directors in all 57 states.

I do not know Danny Carroll personally, and I do not intend to expend much energy in order to save his job. The party is bigger than one man, and I believe his opportunity to keep the role of Chairman was lost at the District Conventions in April. After only two months as party chair, you certainly cannot lay all the ills of the party at Danny’s feet. Despite the cries of “Unity” from the members of the new State Central Committee, the move to replace Danny is less about unity, and more about control. The cries for unity only happened when they were in the minority.

Now, they own it.

Sadly, to many now serving on the State Central Committee, the only things that matter now are money and winning. What exactly does “winning” look like in their minds? Without the stability and the unity that the party needs, the money may roll in, but winning may remain beyond their reach.

If you think money can buy an election, tell that to Mark Jacobs or Eric Cantor.




Dusty Juhl is a lifelong Iowan. Born and raised in Atlantic, he now resides in Ames since graduating from Iowa State University in 2001 with a double major in Mathematics and Management Information Systems. He is the State Coordinator for Campaign for Liberty in Iowa, an active member of the Story County GOP, and was a Delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. He currently works as a software quality assurance analyst in West Des Moines.

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