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Secretary of State says GOP chair “misleading” about proper timing of state convention

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State is disputing statements the chairman of the Iowa GOP has been making about Iowa election law.

Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker says the party must hold its state convention in July rather than June because the results of the June primary won’t be officially certified until then. It’s an issue because there are a handful of candidates running to be the Republican Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate, but if no one wins with at least 35 percent of the vote, the nominee will have to be selected at a statewide convention.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, the state’s commissioner of elections, today said there’s no state law that prohibits either Democrats or Republicans from holding a special nominating convention in June.

“If a party chooses to have their state convention in July, for whatever reason they want, they can do so, but don’t use an excuse of the secretary of state’s office because there’s precedent for holding state conventions in June and clearly state law doesn’t prohibit it,” Schultz told Radio Iowa.

Republican Congressman Steve King was nominated at just such an event in June of 2002 and Republican Governor Terry Branstad has said for as long as he can remember state conventions have been held in June.

The secretary of state suggested in a written statement issued early this afternoon that it “is not only misleading, but it is false” for Spiker to say what he has about the proper timing of the state convention.

“It’s a strong response to make sure that people understand that you can’t use the secretary of state’s office as an excuse,” Schultz told Radio Iowa this afternoon. “If you’re going to move your convention to a different date, that’s fine — but don’t use the secretary of state and the State of Iowa as an excuse for doing it.”

Several members of the Iowa GOP’s state central committee were absent when the vote was taken to move the convention from June to July. Some committee members have publicly stated they would change their vote on the matter, but Spiker announced on Thursday he would not call for another vote. If enough committee members strike an alliance, they could override Spiker’s wishes.