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Reynolds highlights fundraiser and Johnson County Republicans' plan for 2014

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | APRIL 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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In a packed convention center lined with white tables and small candles, the Johnson County Republicans celebrated their recent victory.

“It’s a new day in Johnson County," Deborah Thornton, the chairwoman of the Johnson County Republicans, said at the organization’s annual spaghetti dinner on April 12.

Highlighted by a visit from Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the approximately 150 attendees heard speakers describe how the party can continue to appeal to voters despite some criticism of past efforts.

Reynolds said the fallout of President Obama’s health-care plan was just one of the reasons she was optimistic about Republicans’ chances in 2014.

“Contrary to what you hear out there, we do not believe that the federal government can sustain the expansion of Medicare when you’re $17 trillion in debt, and you don’t have a balanced budget,” Reynolds said.

Former Johnson County GOP Chairman Bob Anderson agreed with Reynolds’ prediction, noting that the party will be further aided if Gov. Terry Branstad runs for re-election. Anderson said he believes the core values of the party can still appeal to a wide range of voters so long as the tone is welcoming to everyone.

“We need to make sure to project a welcoming message to everyone,” he said. “The lesson to be learned is we as Republicans define our message, not our opponents.”

Anderson’s comments come after the release of the Republican Growth and Opportunity Project, which was ordered by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to make recommendations and to provide an honest review of the 2012 elections.

The report made more than 200 recommendations to improve Republican outreach efforts, including reconsidering the party’s stance on same-sex marriage — which was rejected at a meeting this past weekend — as well as spending $10 million to support grass-roots outreach efforts to minorities.

Anderson said that while he believes the party’s current definition is a “strong core principle” of the party, but opposition to same-sex marriage does not mean Republicans should discriminate or deprive people of their equal rights.

Thornton pointed out some these critiques — including some leveled by Democrats — during her speech before the crowd pointing to Reynolds and Rep. Bobby Kauffman, R-Wilton, as examples of how the party can appeal to women and young people respectively.

“That’s another thing [Democrats] want to talk about the Republican Party, [that it] is the party of old folks … and we’re proving them wrong every single day,” she said. “We are the party of women, and we are the party of young people.”

Mike Carberry, the chairman of the Johnson County Democrats, said Thornton is missing the point, because “it’s not about people but the policy.”

“Just because you elected a woman and young people doesn’t mean your policies appeal to them,” he said.

A political expert said the while Democrats find greater support among women and young adults, Thornton pointing out the current representatives is a good start to beginning to push back against criticisms.

“It’s a start, at least … when you can say at least we’ve got people who are women,” said Tim Hagle, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa. “At least people won’t automatically just think there is one party [for women and youth].”


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