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Campaigning for Conventions

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Candidates have been campaigning for months, but theres still a chance that the race wont be over after the June 3rd primary. In Iowa, a candidate needs more than 35% of the vote to win their partys nomination. If that doesnt happen, then it goes to a party convention to make the decision.

Neither party has needed a convention for a congressional race since 2002, when Steve King won the 5th District Race at convention. Before then, there was a nearly 40 year gap. People on both sides of the aisle say once its in the delegates hands, anything can happen.

"People are participating in the process set up by the constitution that encourages citizens to get involved, said Linn County Republican Chair Cindy Golding.

It all starts with party delegates. Theyre regular people who are generally more informed than your normal voter, and go through a long process of party meetings just to become a delegate. Even the people who are part of the process say thats both good and bad.

"People who are active in the party probably know more than people who just listen to commercials, said Democratic Delegate Sara Riley.

"When you allow the parties to let the party activists, a small group of people who don't do anything else on Saturdays but go to political conventions, decide who those two people are going to be, you end up with a Congress like the one you have now, said Republican Delegate Brent Oleson.

For better or worse, its in the delegates hands if the primary cant produce a candidate with more than 35% of the vote.

"35-percent becomes the threshold so that you don't have fringe candidates being able to get elected when you have several good candidates who might be able to divide the vote up, said Linn County Democratic Chair Bret Nilles.

The craziness starts at the convention. First candidates have to be nominated, meaning someone who wasn't even on the ballot in the primary can suddenly enter the race.

Then the delegates vote, eliminating the candidate who gets the fewest tallies until someone has more than 50% of the delegates behind them."

"With five candidates you probably run into three potential ballots in terms of selecting a nominee, said Nilles.

Both parties say theyd much rather not go to convention, but voter turnout is the issue. They say higher turnout wouldnt make the unpredictable conventions necessary. This year both will be held on June 14th.
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