Dear Scott Walker: They Don't Play Nice in Iowa


The Iowa caucus is 306 days away (that’s $300 million to Jeb Bush), with a presidential batting average of .142.  They’d be cut from any freshman high school team.  Yet being first hands them an outsized media presence, and the g-O-p is nothing if not Old and steeped in tradition.

As long as the tradition benefits the consultants who have for decades promoted their own outsized paychecks and influence.

Sean Davis wrote in The Federalist:

So to recap: Iowa has voted for a Republican presidential nominee in November exactly once in the last 30 years (in 2004), and Iowa Republicans have nominated the next president exactly once in the last 30 years (in 2000). This is not exactly the kind of batting average you expect from your leadoff hitter.

Consider Dee Stewart, a political consultant and former Iowa Republican executive director the last time Iowa picked a winner: 2000.  He told The Hill back in December,

“I see no reason why Gov. Jeb Bush won’t be very competitive, just as his brother was in 1999 and 2000,” said Dee Stewart, who was the Republican Party’s executive director during those caucuses. “He has an impressive record, he’s regarded by those he worked with and for whom he governed as a solid conservative.”

And now, Jeff Kaufmann, current chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, gets to call the shots for Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign, demanding Liz Mair’s head before 24 hours passed after Walker retained her.  From The New York Times:

“It’s obvious she doesn’t have a clue what Iowa’s all about,” Mr. Kaufmann said. “I find her to be shallow and ignorant,” he added, “and I’ll tell you, if I was Governor Walker, I’d send her her walking papers.”

Why was Kaufmann so quick to condemn Mair (who, by the way, goes back to 2008 working with Walker)?  For no other reason than she questions Iowa’s outsized influence in presidential politics.

During a forum for 2016 hopefuls in Iowa in January, where Mr. Walker gave a breakout speech, Ms. Mair tweeted, “In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys.”

A minute later, she wrote, “The sooner we remove Iowa’s frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be.”

The Iowa party claimed they opposed Mair because of her style.

“We play nice in Iowa,” said Sherill Whisenand, a co-chairwoman of the Republican Party in Polk County, who read about Ms. Mair’s tweets in The Des Moines Register on Tuesday. “That’s like slapping someone down who’s in your home.”

But it’s not her style, it’s her message they oppose.  Iowa wants to play king maker, but all they seem to do is a lot of mud bogging for candidates they don’t particularly like.

Who don’t they like?

For starters, anyone who dares diminish Iowa’s influence.  After that, anyone who criticizes policies that are bad for corn farmers (mandates and subsidies).  Liz Mair had the unfortunate combination to be on both lists, and Scott Walker bowed to media pressure within his party—a man who has stood up to death threats from union bosses caved to corn farmers with a chip on their shoulder.

Lessons learned:  (1)  the blowback on Iowa after this won’t go away quickly, and maybe in the next cycle things won’t be so easy in the Hawkeye state.  (2)  Scott Walker needs to take his throne of skulls and apply it to his own party.

They really don’t play nice in Iowa, and it only gets uglier from there.  Maybe Gov. Walker should consider re-hiring Liz Mair, because she seems to be a woman unafraid of taking a few “friendly” skulls when necessary.