It is the job of the Iowa GOP’s State Central Committee to help Republicans defeat Democrats. Period. That is their primary task. However, one new member of the committee is publicly refusing to help the likely GOP presidential nominee. Over the past few days, Jamie Johnson declared his distaste for Mitt Romney on WHO Radio and in a national news publication.
“I don’t care for Mitt Romney,” Johnson said on Simon Conway’s radio program last week. “Everyone who knows me knows that I do not care for Governor Mitt Romney. That is a personal perspective that I have.”
Jamie Johnson was the state coalitions director for Rick Santorum’s campaign. Santorum has a meeting scheduled with Mitt Romney on Friday. An endorsement is likely to follow. Another of Jamie Johnson’s former bosses recently became Romney’s national coalitions director. Mike Biundo was the national campaign manager for Rick Santorum. However, Biundo and Santorum’s support of Romney is not enough to sway Johnson to change his opinion of the former Massachusetts governor.
“I am personally not going to help Mitt Romney with his presidential aspirations, because I do not support him personally,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner. “My conscience will not let me help him.”
Jamie Johnson’s trepidation in supporting Romney is shared by a lot of evangelicals in Iowa. While his conscientious objection is understandable, his conscience should have also prevented him from running for the State Central Committee. At the very least, Johnson should have informed the 4th District delegates of his stance before they voted for him. Several delegates tell TheIowaRepublican.com that during his convention speech, Johnson made no mention of not supporting Romney.
“But this is one of the reasons why I was elected to the State Central Committee, because I was seen as somebody who believed in certain convictions and I would not waver from them,” Johnson said on WHO Radio.
That is debatable. Johnson finished fourth in the balloting at the 4th District Convention. Only five votes separated him from the fifth place finisher. Had delegates been informed of his refusal to support the likely GOP nominee, Johnson might have lost some votes and therefore would not have been elected to the SCC.
Jamie Johnson took his anti-Romney stance a step further when contacted by TheIowaRepublican.com. Not only will he not campaign for or support Mitt Romney, he refuses to say whether or not he plans to vote for Romney in the November general election.
“In elections, it has always been my policy to not discuss the personal choice that I make in the privacy of the voting booth,” Johnson said. “However, I assure you that I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that Steve King defeats Christie Vilsack, that Republican capture the Iowa Senate, and the Republicans strengthen their majority in the Iowa House of Representatives.”
There are some significant problems with Johnson’s statements. First, “the privacy of the voting booth” no longer applies to Jamie Johnson, because he is no longer a private citizen. He gave up that right when he ran for the SCC. Jamie Johnson is now a publicly elected official of the Republican Party of Iowa. It is his duty to represent all of the Republicans in the state, especially in the 4th Congressional District.
Mitt Romney had plenty of support in the 4th District during the Iowa Caucus. He placed second there, with more than 6,500 votes. Romney won four of the district’s 39 counties. Even in Jamie Johnson’ s home county, Webster, Mitt Romney placed a close second, finishing 24 votes behind Santorum. Jamie Johnson is ignoring the will of those 6,500 Republicans he represents, as well as the thousands who do plan to vote for Romney in November.
Despite his proclamations to help the other Republican candidates in Iowa, Jamie Johnson is doing the opposite. By refusing to support the candidate at the top of the ticket, Johnson harms all the Republicans on the ballot. Presidential elections are the primary force that drives voters to the booth every four years. Jamie Johnson’s words could actually suppress the Republican vote.
When an Iowa GOP official publicly declares he won’t support the Republican nominee for president, Iowa Republicans might be less inclined to support the nominee. Consequently, if Republicans see no need to vote in the presidential election, they are less likely to vote at all. That means Congressman Steve King and Republicans running for the Iowa House and Iowa Senate suffer.
Additionally, the Republican Party of Iowa needs help from the Republican National Committee in this election year. The RNC provides funding, voter lists, personnel and various other resources to key states. When RNC officials see an increasingly hostile State Central Committee, they are less likely to allocate resources here. That harms every single Republican on the ticket.
Iowa is a major swing state. Although we possess only six electoral votes, those votes could be the difference between winning and losing the presidential election. Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky told 4th District Democrats that the Obama campaign plans to blanket the state with reelection offices. The Democratic Party will pour tremendous resources into the state to help Obama, and every Democrat on the ticket. The Democrats are likely rejoicing about Jamie Johnson’s words. He is helping them, while hurting Iowa Republicans.
Another role of the State Central Committee is to help protect Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation status. Again, Johnson’s words are doing the opposite. Our chances of voting first next time are tenuous at best. When our SCC has people who publicly refuse to support the GOP nominee, RNC officials have a much stronger case for removing Iowa’s prestigious status.
“The role of our Republican leadership, whether it be a county chair or a state central committee member, is to get our entire Republican ticket elected,” said State Central Committee member Tim Moran, who also represents the 4th District. “If an incoming member of our committee wants to advertise their unwillingness to campaign for any of our candidates and advocate for the re-election of Barack Obama, then I think they need to reconsider their ability to do the job they were elected to perform.”
RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker, National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and National Committeewoman Kim Lehman refused to sign a pledge to support Mitt Romney during the RNC meetings in Arizona two weeks ago. However, each of them has promised to support the eventual GOP nominee. In that vein, their stance is right. Jamie Johnson’s is wrong. If he refuses to support the GOP presidential nominee, Johnson should reconsider if he truly belongs on the State Central Committee.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com