Local election officials will canvass the results of Tuesday's primary election early next week, a move that will trigger a special convention to pick a Republican candidate in western Iowa's 5th District.
Iowa Republican Party spokeswoman Marlys Popsma said party leaders want to wait until the canvass makes the results of the election official, though a high-stakes and intense lobbying campaign was underway even before the polls closed Tuesday.
The meeting is almost certain to be held June 29 at Denison High School, and will include delegates elected to the 5th District GOP convention earlier this year. Those delegates also attend the state convention planned for June 22 in Cedar Rapids.
The convention is required because none of the four Republican candidates in the 5th District got the 35 percent of the vote needed to claim the nomination.
Sen. Steve King, or Kiron, led the field with 31 percent, followed by House Speaker Brent Siegrist and Sen. John Redwine, of Sioux City, with 24 percent. Council Bluffs businessman Jeff Ballenger got 21 percent.
There are 559 district delegates, but it's unclear how many actually will show up. To claim the nomination, a candidate must get a majority vote of delegates who show up.
Popsma said lawyers are reviewing the rules which were adopted for the initial convention to determine details of voting procedures.
There's an intense, behind-the-scenes lobbying effort underway by backers of all four candidates, but the early betting was that King has the edge. He can argue that he got the most votes on Tuesday, but a more telling argument is that he's the most conservative candidate in the field.
Republican activists who take the trouble to get elected as convention delegates tend to be significantly more conservative than other Republicans.
The nomination is being hotly contested because of the partisan makeup of the district, which has 55,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Whoever claims the Republican nomination is virtually certain to be elected to Congress in the fall.
At the same time, Secretary of State Chet Culver released his count of voter turnout in the primary election. Republicans, with statewide primary fights both for governor and the U.S. Senate, saw 195,302 voters show up for their primary.
Democrats did not have a contested statewide primary, but 81,230 cast their votes for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, whose name was on the ballot although he faced no primary opposition.
There were 1.8 million voters eligible to cast ballots in the primary election.