Hello, again, my fellow Republicans! Probably due for a change, I found Nikki Haley.

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Jan.14, 2024 – I’m baaaaaaaaack!

You may have read my column a week ago in which I endorsed Nikki Haley, the former two-term South Carolina governor and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, for president this year. 

I endorse her in the campaign for the Republican Party nomination, which starts Monday night with the Iowa Caucuses.

Nikki Haley, arriving at a campaign event in Indianola on Jan. 6. 

I plan to stick with her all the way to victory in November’s general election. With one caveat: In the unlikely event that 81-year-old President Joe Biden, a Democrat, should decide not to seek re-election, I reserve the right to vote for the Democratic nominee if that person is someone I favor.

Meantime, I have rejoined the Republican Party.  I made a visit Thursday to the Greene County auditor’s office here in Jefferson, and changed my voter registration – again.

Let’s see.  I was a Democrat through my younger years.  I was never actively involved in Democratic politics then, except to vote.  That was primarily because in my 26 years with the Des Moines Register, the newspaper rightly had an ethics code forbidding news employees being active participants or advocates in campaigns.

By 1999, things were changing.  I had resigned from the Register.  I was very concerned with the number of abortions in Iowa. And I was very inspired by the presidential campaign of Lamar Alexander, the two-term Republican governor of Tennessee.  Both of us are graduates of Vanderbilt University, where each of us served as editor-in-chief of the Vanderbilt Hustler student newspaper.

I traveled the state with Alexander, and with the campaign’s state chairperson former Gov. Terry Branstad.  Despite our best efforts, we got rolled by the bandwagon of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who went on to the presidency.

I continued being actively involved in the Greene County Republican Party for more than a decade, including serving on the county Central Committee and as a delegate to county, district and state conventions.

But in 2012, I stirred up a hornet’s nest when I endorsed the Congressional campaign of former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, a Democrat who’d been a good friend of mine for 30 years.  She was challenging the Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King in northwest Iowa. The Greene County Republican leaders said I couldn’t do that without resigning from the Central Committee.  I at first refused to resign, but calmed down and did resign early on the evening when they were going to vote me off the committee.

I spent that summer and fall traveling the district as a volunteer and speaker with the Vilsack campaign.

For the next two years, I was mostly registered as a “No Party” voter, except for a brief registration as a Libertarian – in solidarity with Greene County newcomer Thomas Laehn. He’d become a friend, was running for County Attorney, and was elected as a Libertarian.

By 2016, I was a Democrat again, and remained one until Thursday.

My anti-abortion view has made it uncomfortable for me sometimes in the Democratic Party.

But there are a couple of ideas I’ve embraced in politics that have served me very well over my six decades of participation.  One is that I’m not, and never have been, a single-issue voter.  Another is that the people with whom I disagree on political issues are not my enemies, they’re just my opponents – and there’s no reason we can’t be friends.  Or even married.

My wife Mary Riche is a lifelong feminist and active Democrat activist, one who is strongly pro-choice on the abortion issue and has been a leader with Planned Parenthood and now with the physicians who founded Iowans for Health Liberty.  She has a resume that includes years of work on issues seeking equality and equity for women.  I fully support her doing all she does.

We’ve both got deep roots in politics.  In fact, we met for the first time 50 years ago when she was press secretary for a Democrat running for governor and I was a young reporter for the Register spending a couple days covering that campaign. We’d been friends ever since, although we never had a romantic thought about each other until 18 months ago.

So, what does she think of my latest political switcheroo?

You’ll have to ask her.  She tells me she will speak publicly, with lots to say about our differences on the issue of a woman’s individual freedom to make reproductive decisions and on the presidential contest if I remain a Republican.  Until then, she has refused to speak publicly about our differences on choice and my decision to change parties, other than to respond to her friends, tongue in cheek, that “she went to bed with a Democrat last Saturday and woke up with a Republican on Sunday morning.”

What I really hope is that all Iowans are putting as much time, research and consideration into making their choices for president as I have.

I also hope that despite the miserable weather, there is a huge turnout for the Iowa Caucuses on Monday night, especially for the Republican caucuses where all the action is right now.

And please consider a vote for Nikki Haley.  In my view, she’s been the most “presidential” of all the candidates we’ve seen in Iowa this cycle.  I believe she’s the future.

In fact, I’ve been named the Haley campaign’s chairperson for Jefferson Precinct One, which is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at the Greene County Elementary School.  I’ve volunteered to speak in support of her candidacy. 

There may be some of my fellow Republicans there who’ll look on me as the bastard showing up at the family reunion.  But I’ll like ’em anyway.

You can comment on this column below or write the columnist directly by email at chuck@offenburger.com.

2 thoughts on “Hello, again, my fellow Republicans! Probably due for a change, I found Nikki Haley.

  1. I have been a supporter of Haley since she resigned as Ambassador to the UN. The reasoning for my support is that she has the necessary leadership experience having served as the Governor of South Carolina. I think every presidential candidate should have such an executive background. Being a senator (Biden) just does not cut it in my world. I do see some leadership qualities in Trump with the knowledge that he has gained as a businessman. Yet, his style is so callous that I cannot support him at this time. It would be great if Haley becomes our first female President and her age(generation) is a positive. Good luck in your efforts on her behalf.

    • City - Bella Vista
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