Krusty Konservative: ‘No-Pay’ Straw Poll symptom of bigger problems

Krust Konservative Logo 2Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Iowa Statesman.


By Krusty Konservative
Dictator of the Iowa Blogosphere


Having now sat through enough Iowa political campaigns to run one myself (not that I am), we’re already to the point in the game where it’s time to once again separate the wheat from the chaff – the contenders from the pretenders – in the all-important 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

So, let’s get started.


There Ain’t No Such Thing …

If you think the “no pay to play” option is going to save the Iowa Straw Poll, you’re nuts. It’s more of a last-gasp effort to keep a 40-year-old model relevant in the age of 24-hour news and instant information via social media.

Steve Scheffler still needs to get his expenses covered, and if Rand Paul isn’t going to drop $30,000 on primo parking at The Iowa State Center, then who’s going to cover the budget gap? Yeah, that’s right. The RPI is going to the same revenue source they turned to in order to pay for nice, shiny new rest areas along I-80 and I-35.

For those of you who went to Cedar Rapids public schools, that means YOU.

In the past, you could just go and see the candidates, sample their food, and even pick up some cool swag, and if you decided you actually wanted to cast a vote for one of them (and they weren’t already willing to drop the money for you), you could spend the $25 to vote. Now, you don’t even get a peek at the Rick Santorum’s cookies unless you drop the $25 in advance (the price goes up the closer you get to the day of the event).


Prepare for a Train Wreck

Once the list of possible Iowa Straw Poll locations was announced, it was pretty much a sure bet that the beleaguered Iowa Ag Expo would get the nod. A quarter of the State Central Committee (at the time) had direct ties to Boone, and one is actually on the governing board of the quasi-public expo.

So, at the time, I put the odds on the Straw Poll not being held in Boone around the same as Steve Scheffler missing an episode of “Dancing With the Stars.” Compared to the beautiful, green (and well-treed) Iowa State University campus, the Iowa Ag Expo is a desert wasteland. There will be little respite from the Iowa heat and humidity, or any weather for that matter.

It’s not like August weather in Iowa is calm. So, can you imagine what will happen when all those people who dropped their money early to go rub elbows with the political elitists find out there’s no refund policy?

I mean, it’s not like a weather cancellation has happened at the Iowa Ag Expo before.

Oh, wait.


Caucus Envy

Another problem feeding into the overall issue with the Iowa Straw Poll is that caucus envy and the ever-growing desire to remove Iowa from its first-in-the-nation status has turned into full-blown paranoia for the RPI. So, now we seem to have one major event after another, beginning with Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit this past January.

As a result, the Iowa Straw Poll in August really isn’t the first test of organizational strength for these campaigns – it’s just a sign of how much money these campaigns feel comfortable spending to “buy votes” that they should be spending on campaign publicity. You know you aren’t living until you get a daily email telling you how a certain candidate is killing it against Hillary Clinton in the latest poll.


The Education Deal

Late last week, educrat Art Staed spilled the beans on the latest Republican surrender to Mike Gronstal, saying a deal was on the table that would end the stalemate on allowable growth for education. My sources say the fix is pretty much in, so expect the vote to come up very soon.

Democrats will claim they got their compromise over on Republicans, because the deal gives schools the direct state funding they promised. Republicans will claim they got their way because – using semantics – the deal calls for the GOP’s allowable growth percentage, plus one-time cash to make up the difference in state funding.

Local school districts who were already mad about the Democrats’ compromise offer will feel even more screwed over when they realize their spending authority will only match the Republicans’ offer. So, everyone wins and everyone loses. Especially Iowa’s public school taxpayers, who, ironically enough, are everyone.

•  •  •

Herschel Krustofski is the pseudonym for the anonymous author of Krusty Konservative, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the Iowa blogosphere. If you have a suggestion for his contributions to The Iowa Statesman, write to him at