When Scott Conroy went to Iowa recently to report on the premiere of The Undefeated , he noticed that the effort put forth by Organize4Palin on the ground had been much broader than previously reported. While still in Iowa, Conroy tweeted:
“A LOT of good intel here on the below-the-surface Palin organizing in Iowa. Wow.”
Knowing a good, unreported story when he sees one, Conroy published an article over at Real Clear Politics this evening, devoted to all of the hard that Organize4Palin has been doing to lay the foundation for Governor Palin, if she decides to seek the GOP nomination for 2012. He writes:
Although Organize4Palin purports to have active chapters in over 30 states, the backbone of its operation is in Iowa, where Palin would likely have to win the caucuses in order to remain a viable candidate, if she were to enter the race.
When Singleton first visited the state in August 2010 — with a vague notion of planting seeds for Palin ahead of the caucuses that were still a year-and-a-half away — he was so unfamiliar with the political environment here that he had to Google “election AND Iowa” before plotting his initial moves ahead of the midterms that November. Almost a year later, Singleton is no longer a political novice.
“I’ve probably met with 1,000 people in this state in one-on-one meetings or a couple people at a time,” he said. “The one-on-one meetings and the two- and three-people meetings are the heart and soul of what we’re doing, and believe me, the other guys don’t do that. They take a radically different approach.”
With just a short time to prepare the event, Singleton showed off the reach of his Iowa rolodex as he took the lead in cultivating an invitation list that resulted in nearly 1,000 Iowans attending the barbeque outside the Pella Opera House. The crowd included local residents and rank-and-file Palin supporters, who mingled with a few prominent state Republicans, including 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and Secretary of State Matt Schultz.
Schultz told RCP that he received his invitation only the day before the event from Richard Rogers, who identified himself as the Organize4Palin regional director for Polk and Story counties.
“When I’ve been around the state at different events, I’ve seen different volunteers for Organize4Palin where they’ve set up booths and have tried to get people interested,” Schultz said. “I thought the event was very well organized. I was impressed with how Governor Palin stayed around and met with a lot of people and didn’t just come and leave. . . . I enjoyed the movie and my impression of her increased as a result.”
“We’re not experienced political operatives, although we’re certainly getting experience,” Singleton told me. “There are things you can’t do if you don’t have a campaign. We see the other candidates, and they have money and structure. So we’re not trying to be a campaign — we’re not authorized to be one — but what we can do, we’re doing quite well. We’re developing really substantive relationships across the state.”
Singleton and McCormick may be the chief out-of-state amateur operatives in Iowa on Palin’s behalf, but they are not alone. Their efforts are bolstered by a substantial network of state residents whom they have signed up to help in their endeavors. No one would reveal just how many Organize4Palin volunteers are on the ground in Iowa, but several sources told RCP that the group has had a presence in the vast majority of the state’s 99 counties.
Myrna Beeber, a 68-year-old registered nurse from Guthrie County in west-central Iowa, first met Singleton at a Palin book signing in Des Moines late last year and has been actively organizing on her behalf since March.
Beeber now speaks the language of a campaign operative and paints a picture of an organization that may be lacking in political experience but nonetheless has a structure in place that is as impressive as the passion of its members.
“I’m a regional director, so I have nine counties that I work with,” says Beeber. “I go to their central committee meetings, I speak with people, and I tell them what we’re doing. I get cards filled out. We’re building a database of people, and whether they’re supporters or not is irrelevant, and I’ll tell you why I say that: If you’re acquainted with Sarah Palin at all, she’s a magnet. When she hits the ground in Iowa, it’s going to be a tornado, and everyone will be drawn to her.”
Madison County GOP Chairman Joe Van Ginkel, who attended the film premiere in Pella at Singleton’s invitation, said that he is officially neutral in the race but would likely back Palin if she were to get in. Like Rogers, Van Ginkel has been impressed with the scope of Organize4Palin’s reach in the state.
“The funny thing is she hasn’t declared, but they’re set up better than anybody,” he said.
You can read the whole article here.