Iowa Republicans Face Unpredictable Convention for Coveted House Seat

by Emily Cahn, Roll Call
June 6, 2014

In Iowa, a rare and unpredictable convention will pick the Republican nominee in one of the country’s most competitive House districts — and the results could determine whether Republicans hold the seat in 2014.

None of the six Republican candidates received the 35 percent necessary to win the nomination outright in the 3rd District. Instead, the nomination fight continues at a June 21 convention, in which hundreds of party activists select the nominee.

It’s a process that has only happened twice in 50 years. The last time was in 2002, when now-Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, won the nomination.

“Any one of them could win legitimately,” said Doug Gross, a former chief of staff to Gov. Terry E. Branstad and a 3rd District convention delegate. “Anybody who tells you they can handicap that race is smarter than anyone around or is lying — one of the two. No one knows what is actually going to happen.”

Although the convention is unpredictable, some GOP operatives in the Hawkeye State said the process gives them a second chance to avoid state Sen. Brad Zaun as their nominee. Zaun finished first with 25 percent in Tuesday’s primary, among a field of six candidates.

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