Around midnight on the night of the Iowa Caucus a staffer with Mitt Romney's campaign conceded to Rick Santorum's campaign. Half an hour later, that early concession was called off. Something was up. The numbers didn't match. Romney's campaign caught the mistake because they had set up their own shadow vote counting operation to backstop the Iowa state GOP's process. Heading up that operation was a Colorado political operative, a national pro with Centennial State roots.
One of the closest primary elections in modern history came down on the side of Mitt Romney due to superior organization and near-perfect attention to detail by Colorado's own Rich Beeson.
Essentially, it all boiled down to a crucial half-hour, but it was due to the organization that Team Romney had set up in the state, and the shadow counting operation the campaign had installed at various precincts to back-stop the Republican Party of Iowa's own count.
There was a war room overseeing it all, run by national political director Rich Beeson and his lead Iowa operative David Kochel, at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, upstairs from the candidate's election night party.
The vote from two precincts in Story County had been reported wrong, the results of which turned the race from a Santorum win to a Romney victory. The Romney campaign caught the discrepancy due to their vote counting operation manned by supporters stationed at all 1774 precincts in Iowa, an operation overseen by Beeson since joining the Romney campaign early in 2011.
The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs has the full story, minute-by-minute, here. For political junkies and operatives, it's a must read tutorial on the importance of organization and precision in politics.
Beeson is not a name you see appearing in the paper often. He's not the forward face of the campaign. As Political Director, he's the guy in the back of the room making sure that everything gets done, as Hugh Hewitt described Beeson on his radio show recently.
In fact, you haven't seen Beeson mentioned much at all in the press related to the Romney campaign until recently, when he did a round of media interviews about the Romney campaign political operation, including an interview with The Huffington Post's Jon Ward that caught our eye.
The interview is definitely worth a read. In it, Beeson sketches out the Romney campaign's master plan to getting a majority of Republican National Convention delegates, from Iowa all the way to the convention in Tampa.
From the interview:
"We don't have state offices. We've got organizations. We learned our lesson in 2008," Beeson said of the big-spending Romney campaign four years ago. "We're not trying to be IBM. It's much more of a mobile and flexible operation, where we can get people into states very quickly. But still, we have working groups in just about every state, folks on the ground and organizations and kitchen cabinets."
…Beeson, a former Republican National Committee operative, is the man charged with overseeing the machine that Romney plans to ride to victory. He knows the road ahead like an experienced kayaker knows every twist and turn of a formidable river. Ask Beeson how, say, Washington state awards its delegates, and Beeson rattles off the fact that the state has a March 3 caucus but its 43 delegates are not committed, or "bound," until later in the year at the state convention.
Colorado has proved to be a major birthing ground of high profile national political operatives.
Should Mitt Romney win the GOP nomination, Colorado will be responsible for both of the general election political directors, as Obama named Denver's Katherine Archuleta as his National Political Director.
There must be something in the water here.
(Photo Credit: National Journal)