Spencer native a Republican delegate
When the Republican National Convention convenes on Monday, Spencer native Jeff Taylor will be among those representing Iowa, thanks in part to Clay County connections.
After 27 years outside of the state, Taylor returned to Iowa to become the political science professor at Dordt College in Sioux Center. While representing Sioux County at the Iowa Republican Convention, Taylor was nominated by Clay County GOP Chair Kris Thiessen.
"I had met her once before," Taylor said. "My mom, Judy, who's active in the party there, knew Kris. I asked her if she would help send a native of Clay County to the Republican National Convention."
Taylor was one of seven nominees and finished in the top three to clinch his seat at the RNC. Iowa's 28 delegates include three from each of the four congressional districts, 13 at-large delegates, the Iowa State Republican Party chair, the national committee man and national committee women.
"I realize it's an honor," Taylor said. "There are many people every year that would appreciate and be excited about going. ... I'll try to bring the values that reflect our district and behave in a professional, friendly kind of way."
Taylor's interest in politics goes back to his junior high years in Spencer when he said Dr. Harry and Helen Rasdal took him under their wing.
"Both were political mentors for me, teaching me the ropes of what local politics are about," Taylor said. "We talked a lot about the issues and campaigns. They helped me get interested and involved in politics."
Taylor was a junior delegate at the Iowa Republican Convention in 1976, the same year Harry Rasdal was the vice chairman of the Iowa delegation.
Both considered themselves Reagan conservatives, which put them in the minority.
Looking back on that year, Taylor compares those dynamics to the current situation in the Iowa Republican Party.
"The dividing lines in the '70s were somewhat similar to today: establishment versus the anti-establishment or populist wing," Taylor said. "Even among the anti-establishment, there are differences in foreign policy and other areas."
Taylor remains in the anti-establishment group as a Ron Paul supporter.
"At this point I'm planning to vote for Ron Paul," Taylor said. In some ways, it's kind of a moot point. ... Those of us planning to vote for Paul are doing so as a tribute to the principles he pointed out during the campaign."
While some speculate the Republican party is fractured, Taylor suggests, "Among grass roots supporters, it's less divided than some think."
In addition to voting, Taylor will participate in fundraisers and listen to speeches by Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio and others.
He's planning to bring the experience back to his students in northwest Iowa.
"Hopefully I'll be able to make use of my experience at the RNC so I can give more of a background to my students," Taylor said. "That's another reason I wanted to go."