Tim Coonan, director of government relations for the Iowa statewide, said getting Gingrich on the agenda came through the work of the association’s Rural Power campaign. “Our members repeatedly engaged him around Iowa, which demonstrated the electric cooperative presence in the state. We made contact with his campaign here in Des Moines and got our annual meeting on his calendar,” Coonan said.
Gingrich spoke to about 500 electric co-op representatives about his views on electric power in the United States and his vision for the future, which includes all forms of baseload power. Coonan said he also spoke more broadly about his priorities and took questions from the audience.
Coonan said Gingrich’s presence brought national media attention to the Iowa meeting. “National news crews from two major networks and Fox News in addition to Politico and a number of national print media outlets covered the story,” Coonan said. “It elevated the visibility of RECs and gave us a chance to deliver our message on a national stage, as well as an opportunity to talk to local press about our issues.”
Coonan said he hopes other states are able to capitalize on the attention Iowa rural electric cooperatives have received from national campaigns and media outlets. “We are very proud of the work our advocates have done in getting our issues in front of these candidates.”
The Iowa Caucus is the first and noteably one of the more significant for presidential candidates. It will be held Jan. 3, 2012.