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Thayer: How to change the Johnson County Republican party

BY GUEST COLUMN | NOVEMBER 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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Seriously, why do people in Johnson County give money to the Johnson County Republican Central Committee?

Though it is a core mission of the central committee, the members haven’t successfully recruited anyone for several elections. People who have run for office in Johnson County under the Republican banner have done so via their personal decision to run, not because they were recruited, sought out, and groomed by the central committee.

Look at its track record. The Johnson County Central Committee cannot honestly claim credit for helping anyone get elected to office.  

Party activist numbers at the local level have been stagnant for years. Sure, it gets a bump in participation around election time, but now that the election is over, central-committee participation will decline. To be fair, that’s typical; participation ebbs and flows around elections, but the local party should always see at least some growth post-election, and the Johnson County Republican Central Committee does not. The same core group will remain, and new growth will be virtually nonexistent. Perhaps the committee will gain one, but another regular will stop being active. There’s no real growth, only turnover.

So in three primary functions of a party central committee: recruit candidates for office, provide tools to get those candidates elected, and grow the party locally. The Johnson County Republican Central Committee continues to fail. It demonstrates a track record of failure election after election. Don’t take my word for it, check out the county Auditor’s Office website. Election year after election year, Johnson County Democrats are elected to office overwhelmingly, not Republicans.

Granted, Republicans are outnumbered nearly 3-to-1 in this county, but not just because Iowa City is a liberal college town. In large part it’s because the Johnson County Republican Central Committee fails to achieve.

I contend that some in the central committee leadership circle are content with continuing to fail; to them, the monthly meetings are just a social gathering, but that’s a story for another day. 

So now that we’ve identified the problems, what are the solutions?

Stop listening to core members who make up the executive committee. Their advice and stances are counterproductive to local party success — look at the track record. It’s abysmal.

Stop giving money to the central committee as long as current leadership remains in power. If you want to donate money, give it to individual candidates for office directly — there really is no need for a middleman here. In fact, I’ll take it a step further. Giving money to the central committee amounts to flushing money down the toilet. It doesn’t produce a darn thing. Another outstanding alternative is to consider giving to the College Republicans. They actually get things done; they are fresh minds with fresh ideas, and they outwork the central committee. They flat-out do more to promote Republican ideals around here than the central committee does. Think about that. 

As long as the current circle of leadership in the Johnson County Republican Central Committee wants to treat politics as a monthly social club gathering, they don’t deserve money from outside their circle. Let them self-fund their little social club. You get nothing for your money, and the social club doesn’t produce anything. 

Mike Thayer
Coralville resident


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