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Johnson County parties discuss plans for 2014 election after Rand Paul visit

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | MAY 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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While the 2014 midterm elections are more than a year away, both of Johnson County parties’ weekend events offered a small preview of what local Republicans and Democrats hope will lead them to victory.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., spoke at the Johnson County Republican’s “Breakfast of Champions” on May 11, while county Democrats spent the night honoring long-term party members.

Paul used his weekend appearances — including the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner on May 10 — to elaborate on his message of growing the party’s base, although some raised speculation about Paul’s intentions for the 2016 presidential race.

“I will tell you what you need to think through as Republicans, because you will have your own primaries for your Senate race, someday for a presidential race,” Paul said. “You need to think about who you want to win your primary — your best candidate. You also have to think about they have to run in another election.”

Seventy-eight Johnson County Republicans ate their breakfast as Paul expanded on Republicans’ inability to win the White House, along with touching on the possible pitfalls in the primary process — something he himself had to survive to reach the U.S. Senate in 2010.

“What you want are candidates who represent what you stand for but can also talk to people who don’t yet understand that,” he said. “We need to be able to talk to those in the middle, on the other side, people who don’t look like us, people who don’t wear the same clothes — until we get to that, you may be getting great candidates in your primaries, but you’re not going to be able to win your fall.”

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Tyler Olson said Paul was an interesting choice to lead off Republicans’ “inclusion tour,” given some of his policy stances. He further believes Democrats with their own caucus ambitions will travel to Iowa in the coming years as well.

“It’s interesting that Sen. Paul is leading off the 2016 presidential search and push for inclusion, given this is the same guy who said he would vote against the Civil Rights Act,” Olson said.

Olson also said the party is reaching out to neighborhood team leaders from President Obama’s re-election campaign to develop an infrastructure of party support for 2014. These efforts, along with numerous party events across the state, will seek to solidify the structure for candidates who make it past the primaries.

Olson said the large attendance at the Johnson County Democrats’ Hall of Fame dinner and other events show the party has the momentum it needs approaching 2014.

“We have a great base for the party to start from, and at events I go to around the state, the rooms are always full,” he said. “Even though Barack Obama will not be on the ballot, the issues that were a part of 2012 will be.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said the general trend in American elections where the party of the president suffers a lower turnout was an issue he wanted Democrats to be particularly aware of — especially after the Republican wave of 2010.

“There aren’t many things in political science that are science and that are laws, and that’s one of them, folks,” he said to the crowd. “That happens because there isn’t as much enthusiasm when the president isn’t on the ballot, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

One political expert noted generally the party of the president does lose ground in midterm elections, but there are exceptions to the trend. However, how 2014 plays out will ultimately be up to the major issues both parties carry to the voters. Though right now, he believes Republicans are poised for a small victory.

“I think in 2014 you will see some movement toward the Republicans, although not very big, because of the big gains in 2010,” said Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science.


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