Caucus Night in Big Grove

Off-Year Caucus
Off-Year Caucus

SOLON— If not careful, I will get sucked into partisan politics again. It’s physics. The general lack of interest in partisan politics, combined with party work needing to be done, creates a vacuum that sucks all willing volunteers into the chambers of events.

There is the Democratic county convention (March 8), the district convention (April 26) and the state convention (June 21), to organize and attend. In our precinct, there were seven caucus goers, and we elected one of two central committee members. We all know how much work is involved in being on the central committee, and for most of us, we have been there and done that, resulting in a position remained unfilled. I agreed to be on the committee on committees, mainly interested in the work of preparing for the county convention. All other committee slots went unfilled. Par for the course among experienced caucus goers in our rural part of the county.

A big part of the work at the caucus is signing the nominating petitions. There were more than 20 of them from federal, state-wide and local candidates. Bruce Braley is running to replace U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Dave Loebsack is running for re-election to a fifth term in the U.S. Congress without a primary opponent, Jack Hatch was the only Democratic candidate for governor with nominating petitions, and it seemed that all of the state-wide offices had candidates. At the local level, county attorney Janet Lyness had a nominating petition for re-election, and four supervisor candidates had thrown their hats into the ring: Mike Carberry, Lisa Green-Douglas, Gerry Kuhl and incumbent Janelle Rettig.

David Johnson of West Branch, who is running for state representative in House District 73, spoke to the caucus cluster of five precincts. I spoke on behalf of supervisor candidate Mike Carberry. We were the only two speakers for candidates.

This year there were only three resolutions, so the most painful part of the caucuses went quickly. I made a motion to accept all resolutions. It was seconded, but during the discussion someone asked that they all be read. What was on our minds was support for the locked out CWA workers at South Slope Cooperative Communications in North Liberty, setting a minimum Social Security benefit of $1,000 per month, and bringing electronic cigarettes under the same regulatory umbrella as tobacco products. What little discussion there was was useful and brief. My motion passed.

Because of the caucuses, the Iowa legislature was not in session. I ran into both my state senator and state representative by chance in the district before arriving at the caucus. Naturally I covered an issue with each of them. Dump trucking more than one issue during a chance meeting diminishes chances of anything being heard, so I picked carefully. I had an email response from my state representative before I went to bed. They are both people committed to making Iowa a better place to live, and I enjoy working with them, even though I don’t always agree with them.

When I arrived home, a buddy called me and said he had been elected to the Republican party’s county central committee. His resolution to repeal the Patriot Act was accepted without discussion. He indicated the dynamic was the governor’s supporters were trying to limit the influence of the Ron Paul wing of the party, presumably to get out of the pickle they found themselves in during the 2012 cycle, and to prevent a challenge to lieutenant governor Kim Reynolds at their state convention. He offered to collaborate on shaking up both parties’ establishment, and I made a note.

After our conversation I made a post on twitter about the second district Republican congressional candidates, and eventually identified there may be three Republican primary candidates for the seat, state representative Mark Lofgren, third time candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Some Dude Matthew Waldren.

What I failed to mention is among the mostly grey-haired caucus goers are a lot of long time friends. Getting a chance to socialize with them was the best part of the evening.

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