The company we keep matters.
I’ve heard it many times before… “you are who you roll with.”
And when there is biblical teaching that can be applied as well, it is best to pay attention… “bad company corrupts good morals.”
There are a few people in the Iowa political world who I would never align with in a primary. Ever.
As in, if my wife were running and she was being supported by these folks, I’d pull for someone else.
Not everyone has the same “priorities.” Not everyone shares common “non-negotiables.”
I get that.
But when nearly every person in Iowa politics who isn’t considered a conservative all support the same candidate, what would anyone with a lick of common sense think?
Enter Doug Gross, the former Republican nominee for governor in Iowa.
Here is what Gross told the New York Times during the 2012 cycle.
“We look like Camp Christian out here. If Iowa becomes some extraneous right-wing outpost, you have to question whether it is going to be a good place to vet your presidential candidates.”
Gross was a cheerleader for which Republican nominee for President?
You guessed it, Mitt Romney. (fight the gag reflex now)
Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District is deep red because of its Christian conservative values. So ask yourself a couple of questions:
*Is it respectful of the Christian faith to frame that statement that way?
*Are the words of Gross something you’d expect someone who respects true believers to say?
*Is Iowa not a good place to vet presidential candidates because it is like “Camp Christian?”
I don’t care who says it and how they say it – if they’re saying it as an analyst or if they’re saying it as an individual – it is 100 percent disrespectful to the Christian faith community.
Gross, by the way, is the same person who penned a piece in the Des Moines Register titled “Trump would be a disaster for Iowa.”
Next on our list is David Kochel. This guy is bad news.
Personal story…in 2013, I messaged Kochel after reading a story in which he said there comes a time for Republicans to support homosexual marriage.
I told Kochel I’d never in a million years follow a Party that supports homosexual marriage and would instead encourage other Christians to follow the Bible rather than the GOP.
Kochel said he’d outwork me and be more persuasive. He said it was fortunate that an increasing number of Republicans support civil marriage for homosexuals.
I told him I really didn’t care about what the majority of Iowans thought on this fundamental issue. He trumpeted more and more evangelicals were agreeing with him.
This was in 2013.
He has been a vocal supporter of homosexual marriage for years – long before Barack Obama and Joe Biden embraced the idea.
Kochel also exhibited strong disdain for social conservatives in Iowa – including Bob Vander Plaats, who at the time was leading the charge against activist judges who instituted homosexual marriage in Iowa.
There is no doubt that Kochel, like Gross, holds much animosity when it comes to Christian conservatives who cling to their Bibles.
Kochel is as entrenched as it gets when it comes to the Iowa Republican establishment. He worked with Terry Branstad. He worked with Kim Reynolds. He worked with Joni Ernst.
And he often backs the favored moderate Republican in the Presidential field – Romney (2008 & 2012) and Jeb Bush (2016).
He also holds an incredible dislike for the Christian pizza chain Pizza Ranch as well as Congressman Steve King.
Kochel also called Trump “treasonous.”
Make no mistake. I am not suggesting Kochel is bad at what he does, he’s just horribly flawed in what he believes.
And he has enormous influence within the GOP establishment in Iowa.
While we’re at it, let’s look at former Gov. Terry Branstad. Nobody can question his popularity. One doesn’t become the longest-serving governor in U.S. history by accident.
But consider Branstad’s former lieutenant governor, Joy Corning. Corning was one of the first prominent Iowa Republicans to support homosexual marriage in Iowa. She also supported abortion.
It was Branstad, mind you, who signed legislation creating Iowa’s lottery in 1985.
Branstad said he did not pick Bob Vander Plaats to be his lieutenant governor in 2010 because he did not want the GOP’s position on marriage to be the position of his ticket’s candidacy.
Branstad said he didn’t know what the Republican platform said about marriage and he didn’t care.
Branstad refused to sign an executive order overturning the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision on marriage.
Now, Branstad said, he supports LGBT rights and he has hosted Pride events as ambassador in Beijing.
He, too, typically supports moderate Republican candidates. While Iowa Democrats may refer to Branstad as conservative, Politico referred to him as a “longtime moderate.”
That’s only three people, and while I could go on, if you’re not considering these facts, you won’t consider additional ones.
Let’s just say there are a lot of ties between the Iowa GOP establishment, the 2008 Iowa Romney team and Randy Feenstra’s congressional campaign.
Feenstra himself served on The Commonwealth PAC Iowa Advisory Committee, which was created by Romney and announced on June 17, 2006.
Many of these folks have never galvanized support behind a Christian conservative champion. In fact, as has been highlighted, they quite often attacked, mocked and ridiculed them.
Yet they all support Feenstra.
What must this mean?
That’s a question I hope every Republican primary voter in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District asks themselves before voting.
Because this coalition that has lined up against Congressman Steve King and behind Randy Feenstra hasn’t happened by coincidence. It is no accident.
***And for those who want to point out that the featured photo for this story is from 2012, yes. But this is the only photo I’ve seen with Feenstra, Branstad and Kochel together. Three pretty main subjects of this story. Romney has always been a moderate Republican at best — signing the nation’s first same-sex marriage license in history, instituting $50 copay taxpayer-funded abortions and putting in place RomneyCare prior to ObamaCare.***