Iowa GOP split on who to endorse for 2012

(Image: Flickr Creative Commons/Stefano Brivio)

Endorsement of a candidate can often excite voters, especially Republicans and social conservatives as they try to find the candidate who best speaks to their values and can take over the White House next year.

However, in a year when the Republican party is trying to unite, endorsements can backfire the effort, some Republican State Central Committee members believe.

Four members of the Iowa Republican State Central Committee are backing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the media-dubbed “intellectual grandfather of the tea party” movement, which has picked up momentum since 2008 when high profile tea party leader former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ran as the vice presidential nominee with the more moderate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz).

Dr. Drew Ivers serves as chairman of Paul’s Iowa campaign. Also endorsing Paul are Committee members Jeremiah Johnson, David Fischer and A.J. Spiker, who is vice-chairman of the campaign. Paul has also drawn state legislative endorsements from social conservatives Reps. Glen Massie (R-Des Moines) and Kim Pearson (R-Pleasant Hill).

“Congressman Paul’s voting record is true to the U.S. Constitution, and he understands that human life and individual liberty come to us from our Creator, not from government,” Spiker, who identified himself as a Constitutionalist, rather than a tea party activist or a social conservative, said. “His limited government principles are unmatched by any other candidate.”

Committee members are allowed to freely endorse or work for any candidate of their pleasing, but must fully disclose to the committee their campaign positions, if they hold any.

Former Iowa Rep. Jim Kurtenbach stepped down from his position with the state party to focus on former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty‘s campaign. Committee member Wes Enos has also said he will recuse himself from Committee voting pertaining to his candidate of choice.

Still, some are biding their time before giving their investment to a potential president.

Iowa GOP Treasurer Craig Williams has yet to back a candidate — and will not do so until the Iowa Caucuses early next year.

“For me personally, the best way to assure fairness in the process is to remain as neutral as possible in that process right up until caucus day,” Williams told The Iowa Independent. Once the caucus arrives, he intends to “become an opinionated Iowan with the full right to speak on behalf of my favorite candidate and try to persuade my neighbors and friends to support hat candidate as well, but not until then.”

And though he stayed mum on his preference for 2012 thus far, Williams gave his stamp of approval on the wide range of GOP candidates, “any one of whom I would gladly take over [President] Barack Obama.”

Chelle Adkins will also wait until the caucuses to announce an endorsement.

Other committee members are against the idea of endorsing entirely, including Republican State Central Committeeman Steve Scheffler. Scheffler is also the president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition (formerly known as the Iowa Christian Alliance) and on the Republican National Committee.

“You never say never (to endorsing a candidate), but I haven’t and I won’t (endorse anyone),” Scheffler said. “If there’s an endorsed candidate so contrary to the core values of our party’s platform, it does not motivate the base and is not a good idea.”

Fellow member John Ortega simply said, “I just think it’s wrong” to endorse any candidate. Once a candidate has been nominated to square off against Obama, Ortega said, “then I will happily give that person my full support.”

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