A defining feature of Iowa campaigns in 2006 was the constant presence of 2008 Presidential hopefuls. While traveling the state in support of our ticket, they could actively recruiting activists, elected officials, and staff.
Mitt Romney was king amongst the “non-candidates” in 2006, attending more events for more candidates than anyone else.
At one such fundraiser in Burlington for Congressman Jim Leach, I was cornered by David Kochel and Gentry Collins.
I won’t forget what Kochel said. “You could do a lot more than this.” He called it a Campaign in a Box. We would use our calling crew to drive turnout for events which I would plan and execute. This would give the campaign we signed up for a huge advantage by holding events from which they could build their organization of county chairs and precinct captains. This would culminate in the largest event of all, the Iowa Straw Poll. Putting the people on the bus would be just like putting the butts in seats at a State Party dinner.
This was shortly after Bill Dix’s primary loss. And it was the first time ANYONE had painted a bigger picture for me, had pulled back the curtain to say there’s a bigger world out there and you are good enough to be in it.
It was the first time my head peaked up over the wall of Iowa politics, to see a tiny little glimpse of what CampaignHQ could eventually become.
So while it’s a little embarrassing in retrospect to say I was too head down, too buried in house party after house party, every night giving out nametags in a different town, to see this was not the mountaintop. I’m glad David Kochel did.
On Election Night in 2006, Jim Nussle lost the race for Governor to Chet Culver. Jim Leach lost to Dave Loebsack. And Republicans lost control of the Iowa House.
And I signed up with Mitt Romney right before Thanksgiving. Campaign Headquarters was born.