DES MOINES — Iowa Republicans in 2016 picked Ted Cruz to be the party’s presidential candidate.
Now state Republican Party leaders are calling on the U.S. senator to stand down from his stonewalling of an Iowan’s nomination to a federal agriculture post.
The Republican Party of Iowa’s leadership committee Monday sent Cruz a letter asking the Texas Republican to stop blocking the nomination of Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey to a position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Northey has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the position, but Cruz has blocked the nomination in the Senate.
Cruz has said he has no objection to Northey, but is blocking his nomination because of federal ethanol regulations that provide a boon to Iowa’s agricultural economy. Cruz said the regulations are harming oil refineries.
Cruz won the 2016 Iowa caucuses. It was one of the few states not won by Trump, the eventual Republican nominee and general election winner. Cruz earned 27 percent of the GOP caucus vote to Trump’s 24 percent.
Now Iowa Republicans — at least their state leaders — are expressing frustration with Cruz.
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The letter, which was dated Monday — and signed by Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann and paired with a resolution that was unanimously approved by the 16-member state central committee — asks Cruz to withdraw his hold, praises Northey and cautions Cruz that his actions are upsetting Iowa Republicans, including some who supported him in the caucuses.
“We understand that you have given your justification for this hold and claim that this move is not political. But your action is harmful to Iowans and our agricultural industry at large, and accomplishes nothing other than it allows you to secure a personal political victory in an election year,” the letter reads.
“Secretary Northey is incredibly well qualified for this post, and the delay in the nomination has caused Iowans from all over the political spectrum — but particularly your former supporters — to become frustrated with your actions.”
The resolution says Cruz, should he “wish to remain in good standing with Iowa Republicans,” should release his hold on Northey to “end the political points he is attempting to gain in an election year.”
Cruz’s office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Cruz in November wrote to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds that he has placed a hold on Northey’s nomination until he can secure a meeting with President Trump to discuss the ethanol regulations.
“Our goal in requesting this meeting is simple: to bring together diverse interests in an effort to come together and fid a mutually beneficial outcome that will help both Iowa corn growers as well as protect blue-collar refinery jobs that are at risk in too many states across our great nation,” Cruz wrote in his letter to Reynolds.
Other Iowa Republican leaders have pressed Cruz to end his objection to Northey’s nomination, including his fellow U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, as well as Reynolds.