DES MOINES, Iowa – “Shocking.” “Stunning.” “Wow.” David Young has heard all of those descriptions after his unexpected win in Iowa’s Third Congressional District convention Saturday. But he wouldn’t have had the chance if a new proposal would have been in place.
Young finished a distant fifth in the six-person field on primary night. No candidate earned the necessary minimum 35% support in that contest, so that forced the race to convention. At convention 513 delegates decided the winner, after an all-day, five round battle where the candidate with the fewest votes got eliminated each round. Young ended the day victorious.
Following the win, State Senator Brad Zaun, an Urbandale Republican, proposed changing the rules on how races are decided. Zaun finished second to Young in the convention. He had the most votes on primary night and led every round of voting on convention balloting, except for the last one that Young won.
Zaun wants a runoff system instead of convention. If no one wins on primary night, the top two candidates would face off in a runoff election, under Zaun’s plan.
Monday, Governor Terry Branstad said changing to a runoff “might be worth considering.” He said, “This is our law and this is the system we presently have. But a number of states have gone to a runoff.”
The governor did praise Young for his win, though, and said Young won, in part, because he ran a clean election and didn’t attack other Republican candidates.
Before Saturday’s convention, Iowa hadn’t needed a convention to choose a nominee for Congress since 2002. That is when Steve King, a state senator at the time, won the nomination for Iowa’s 5th Congressional District. That district no longer exists because of redistricting based on Iowa’s stagnant population.