Romney first GOP candidate to open Sioux City office
By Bret Hayworth
Journal staff writer
SIOUX CITY -- When former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opens his presidential campaign office today in Sioux City, he will become the first Republican to create a local public office for staffers to work voters for their support.Meanwhile, all six of the top-polling Democratic presidential candidates have had city offices up and running for months. The list includes downtown offices for Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, near northside locations for Bill Richardson and Barack Obama and one in the Morningside area for Joe Biden.On Monday, as young staffers were setting up the office, Romney's Iowa campaign manager, Gentry Collins, touted the addition as highlighting the importance of Northwest Iowa to Romney.
Collins noted Romney has campaigned 10 days, involving 30 events, in Northwest Iowa in 2007."The impact that Northwest Iowa has on the nomination contest cannot be overlooked, and we certainly aren't overlooking it," Collins said.He added that "Northwest Iowa represents the base of our party," and there's no place "where the Republican values are more alive and well.""Romney has made such a large investment in Iowa," Woodbury County Republican Party chairman Kevin Alons said.Romney created his main Iowa office in Urbandale in March, with the Sioux City office the second. Another will be set up later this week in Bettendorf, Collins said.
Other GOP candidates with at least one campaign office in Iowa include Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo.In office placement decisions, Collins said there's "a different paradigm on the Democratic side than on the Republican side." He noted Obama has 35 offices in the Hawkeye State; he opened his first one in February."We think that to run a caucus campaign in the Iowa tradition, it has to be a grassroots organization built up of Iowans," said Obama's Iowa spokesman, Tommy Vietor. "We feel like if we have an office in a number of places across the state, that gives Iowans ownership in the campaign. It makes it a grassroots effort of Iowans reaching out to other Iowans. We think that is how you do well in Iowa."Alons said Democrats seem to be putting more effort into winning the Iowa caucuses, since it's a more competitive race.
He said such Republican candidates as John McCain,
Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson see Iowa as "locked up" for Romney, so they're
devoting resources of money, people and, yes, offices to other places "where
they are more in play."
"It would be great if they had headquarters here," Alons said, but as the Jan. 3 caucus date approaches, he doesn't expect other Republican offices to open.The Democratic candidates' offices are in places that have turned over frequently on the market, and Biden's is in a former ice cream shop. Joe Krage, a Realtor with United Real Estate Solutions, said officeseekers want low rent payments, a highly visible location and a short lease, preferably six months. Most of the offices opened midsummer and have leases set to expire in January."I'd say anything more than $1,000 a month is more than they are willing to spend. If you can give them a low price and throw in a couple desks, they jump all over it," Krage said.Bret Hayworth may be reached at (712) 293.4203 or firstname.lastname@example.org