GOP leaders say 'soul-searching' in order after confusion over Iowa caucus results

Panel appointed to review caucus procedures

Cedar Rapids Republican David Chung thinks his party’s precinct caucuses worked well despite initial problems identifying the winner.

“It was an amazingly close contest,” Chung said, about the Jan. 3 contest that initially showed Mitt Romney winning by eight votes. Two weeks later, certified – although still incomplete – results showed Rick Santorum ahead by 34 votes.

That makes Chung, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee, think some “soul-searching” is in order.

“We don’t want to just rest on our laurels, but look at where we can improve,” he said.

Chung and Kathy Pearson, also a Linn County Republican, have been named to a 17-percent Iowa Caucus Review Committee appointed by Chairman A.J. Spiker “to bring back recommendations that will build upon the most open and transparent presidential preference process in the country.”

“We want to make sure we maintain the integrity of the caucuses,” Pearson said.

RPI Co-Chair Bill Schickel of Mason City, who will chair the panel, said the members will “review what went right and what went wrong.”

“We will fix what went wrong and promote what went right,” he said.

The committee’s first meeting will be 10 a.m. April 26 in Des Moines. Future meetings will be held in other communities across the state.

“Although this will be a review of the Republican caucuses, we will be acting in consultation with our colleagues in the Democrat Party,” Schickel said.  “Having open, honest and transparent caucuses is in the interest of all Iowans.”

The caucuses are important to Iowans in both the Republican and Democratic parties, Chung said, and Iowa plays a critical role in the presidential nomination process.

Chung noted other states are “jealous” that Iowa’s precinct caucuses are the first stop on the nomination trail. He hopes the review will prevent other states from using the initial confusion about the caucus outcome to challenge Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.

Committee members will be assigned to sub-committees on public relations, operations and training. A research subcommittee will gather data and background information for the committee.

The committee and each of the sub-committees will be asking for ideas and suggestions from experts and ordinary citizens alike throughout the state and nation, Schickel said.

In addition to Schickel, Pearson and Chung, committee members are: Co-Chair Mary Mosiman, Story County; Executive Director Chad Olsen, Guthrie County; Republican National Committee members Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman, and Wes Enos, David Oman  and David Fischer, all of Polk County; Gwen Ecklund, Crawford County; Steve Grubbs  and Judy Davidson, Scott County; Randy Erickson, Buena Vista County; Rev. Jamie Johnson, Webster County; Richard Schwarm, Winnebago County; Sen. Nancy Boettger, Shelby County.

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