Normally, merely being a Republican Senator from any state in the nation would all but assure said Senator of getting a spot on his or her state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in September. But not if you are Charles Grassley of Iowa and your state party has been taken over by right-wing zealots who are upset about your investigation into potential financial improprieties at several high-profile televangelist ministries:
Evangelical Christians in Iowa, dominant in the state’s Republican Party, have denied Sen. Charles E. Grassley his request for a place on the state’s delegation to this summer’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.
Mr. Grassley may attend the party’s Sept. 1-4 nominating convention in St. Paul, but not as a voting delegate.
With a majority of nine out of 17 members on the Iowa Republican central committee, religious conservatives made Iowa Christian Alliance President Steve Scheffler chairman of Iowa’s 40-member delegation in a vote immediately after their state party convention July 12.
“The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues,” the just-ousted Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts told The Washington Times. “It hurts John McCain’s chances to win this state.”
Other party officials said money for the party is drying up because of past mismanagement and current religious dominance, which has turned traditional Republican politics upside down.
“It’s pretty well controlled now by the Christian Alliance,” Mr. Roberts said. “If somebody came to me and wanted to be a delegate to the national party convention, I used to say, ‘Talk to the state party chairman or to Grassley.’ Now it’s very simple. You go to the Christian Alliance, and they determine who is a delegate, and you have to do exactly as they say.”
In recent weeks, religious activists replaced Mr. Roberts as the national Republican committeeman and also replaced the national committeewoman with pro-life advocates who also oppose gay marriage.
Barring Mr. Grassley from voting-delegate status is seen as a blow to him as the senior Republican official in the state, who normally might have led the convention’s delegation.
Mr. Grassley had said “yes” when asked by Iowa Republican Chairman Stewart Iverson if he wanted to be a voting delegate to the national convention, Mr. Iverson said.
Political observers in Iowa saw the move against Mr. Grassley as retribution for his having tangled with evangelical pastors in his state. He initiated a Senate Finance Committee investigation of six televangelists for conspicuous personal spending.