Strangers in a strange land: GA politicos at the Iowa Caucus, part one

Iowa Capitol photo from flickr photostream of Gov. Branstad

Facebook and Twitter tell me that a number of Georgia politicos have gone to Iowa to work the caucus on behalf of presidential candidates. Gingrich seems to be the major beneficiary of people who are being told they talk funny by Iowa residents receiving volunteer calls. I thought this would be an interesting way to cover events in Iowa while keeping our focus on Georgia politics. I hope to have more of these today and tomorrow. Any readers who are in Iowa are welcome to contact me at todd [at] toddrehm [dot] com.

William McKeen, best known here as the head coach for Peach Pundit’s Fantasy Football Champion GOPLayers, is a student at Oglethorpe University and will work at the Capitol this session for State Rep. Sharon Cooper, who also happens to be in Iowa. William is currently phone banking and has been doing door-to-door literature drops and talking with Iowans face-to-face. Today started at 15 degrees with 40 mph gusts and will top out at 28 degrees. So waving signs from 7:30 AM to 9 AM today was quite chilly.

McKeen found himself in Georgia after having volunteered for Gingrich in Georgia, primarily in Cobb County, where Cooper chairs the Gingrich local organization. “We were at a lunch event with Newt, when he said, ‘we’d love to have some of you folks come up to Iowa.’ Next thing I knew I was raising my hand and was headed to spend time in Iowa in January.”

McKeen said that sign-waving in Iowa has led to his development of what he calls the “one finger pol” where “thumbs-up means your good, and the other option is recorded as ‘no’.”

“Phone-banking one day I reached a little girl, whose parents have been receiving numerous calls from politicians. She asked who I was calling for and said she didn’t know who Newt Gingrich was. She asked what he looked like, and I said, ‘he looks kind of like a teddy bear.’ She told her parents ‘mom, dad, we have to vote for Newt Gingrich because he looks like a teddy bear.’”

“The biggest shock was the complete lack of sweet tea. I’d been outside the south before, but had never been where they simply said, ‘we don’t have that,’” said McKeen.

Iowa has only correctly predicted the winner of the Republican nomination three times since 1976, according to McKeen.

Thanks to William McKeen for taking a few minutes on a frigid Iowa morning to speak with me.

If you’re just not getting enough political coverage of Iowa, I suggest heading over to The Washington Post’s list of the top state-based political blogs, and checking out their recommendations for Iowa. WaPo has also recently released their list of top Iowa political tweeters.

3 comments

  1. Howard Roark says:

    Our family went on a wild west vacation in 2004 (Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado). There was no sweet tea for 11 days.

    The night before we flew out of SLC, leaving the most beautiful land I had ever seen, my wife was lamenting that there was no real sweet tea to be had in the west.

    I looked in the yellow pages to find the only Cracker Barrel in SLC. Upon calling I asked if they had real sweet tea. The reply was yes. I also asked if they served grits. With a second answer of yes I drove my clan 50 minutes to get my wife a glass of sweet tea.

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