Matt Strawn

Today, Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn submitted his resignation effective February 10th. It is no secret that I have been critical of Strawn’s (and the party’s) handling of the caucuses. But as I said in my pevious post I have twice voted for Matt Strawn as RPI chairman and he continues to have my support.

Matt Strawn brought a new kind of campaign to the RPI chaimanship. He went directly to the grassroots with his message and won them over. He came in when the party was in disarray. When the Democrats held Terrace Hill and both houses of the legislature, Matt played a very visible role along with our Senate and House leaders in communicating the GOP message and being the face of the party. One had to wonder whether previous chairmen even talked to legislative leaders.

Under Matt’s leadership we have taken back the Iowa House and Terrace Hill and grown the number of registered Republicans. The party’s fiscal house has been righted. We have held a successful straw poll and (at least) one successful caucus. Matt has been an excellent spokesman for the party and now that we have a Republican governor he has evolved into a role outside of the limelight gracefully.

Some have criticized Matt for being ambitious. It is no secret that Matt will someday run for higher office in Iowa. Frankly, I have always considered Matt’s ambition to be a good thing. Party chairmanship has often been seen as a last stop before retirement for an aging politician. Matt brought an incredible energy to the position and if anything his ambition fueled his energy and gave him an extra reason to succeed.

It is unfortunate that the 2012 caucus is the last chapter in Matt’s tenure at RPI. The Strawn era at RPI has been one of treendous growth and progress. I started hearing from people around the state that RPI was back — a sentiment I had not heard in a long time.

I don’t know if Matt reads this blog, but Matt, if you do … when you take that next step in Iowa politics … count me in. I want to be on that team.

Santorum is the winner (and the Republican Party of Iowa is the loser)

I should start with some disclaimers:

  1. I am on the State Central Committtee of the Republican Party of Iowa.
  2. I endorsed Romney in the 2008 caucus.
  3. I did not publicly endorse any candidate in 2012.
  4. I did not vote for Romney in the 2012 caucus.
  5. I got into a heated discussion with Santorum at a small gathering in 2011.
  6. At the 2011 Linn County Republican Christmas Party I told Santorum that he had my support.
  7. I only voiced my support for Santorum to personal friends and family who asked.
  8. I have twice voted for Matt Strawn as RPI chairman, I think he has done a great job and he continues to have my support.
  9. I do not speak for the Republican Party of Iowa.
  10. I am posting from Toronto this week.

Before I comment I wanted to let all of you who are reading this post know where I am coming from. I think the party has handled  this entire affair badly. Perhaps as an SCC member I have not been diligent enough in providing oversight along with the rest of the board. We simply did what boards do, we elected leadership that we trusted and they hired a highly skilled professional staff and we did not micromanage the leadership or the staff.

Until today I thought the 2012 Iowa Caucuses were a resounding success. We had a record turnout and the excitement for our candidates was incredible. I chaired my precincct and we had a more than 50% increase over our 2008 attendance. So why do I thing the Republican Party of Iowa is the loser in all this? There are several reasons.

First, let me say that I did not think the inconclusiveness of the caucus night results were an issue. I have chaired many caucuses and I know how the process works. With over 1700 precincts staffed by volunteers it is inevitable that there will be some error. However, the system of allowing campaigns to observer the vote count and the process of determining the certified results based on the form E’s should have taken care of any issues.

Here are the problems as I see them:

1) When Edward True indicated that there were problems with his precincts results, KCCI repoted,

A spokeswoman with the Iowa Republican Party said True is not a precinct captain and he’s not a county chairperson so he has no business talking about election results. She also said the party would not be giving interviews about possible discrepancies until the caucus vote is certified.

Mr True was a campaign representative. He had every right to observe the count and his role the party allows such observer in order to be transparent and provide for integrity in the system. To suggest that he was some how out of line was irresponsible and harmful. The party should have thanked Mr True and then announced that it was standard procedure to review all of the form E’s before announcing certified results and that such errors would be resolved in the certification process.

2) After a party spokeswoman said the party would have no further comment, our chairman, Matt Strawn did have a statement. He said:

… Iowa GOP officials have been in contact with Appanoose County Republican officials tonight and do not have any reason to believe the final, certified results of Appanoose County will change the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

What? I thought the party was not going to have any further comment. Worse with the vote so close, how could anyone make the assertion that the Appanoose County results would not change the outcome, before the certified results were tabulated? Immediately people began suggesting that the party was acting to preserve a Romeney win.

3) How did RPI get scooped by the Des Moines Register on the certified results? Jennifer Jacob’s piece, dated January 19th at 4:00am went out hours before the chairmans comments (and incidently before the SC heard about the results as well). The article has the detailed certified results not just the leaked totals.

4) The certified results for 1766 of 1774 precincts show Rick Santorum the winner. Adding in the uncertified results of the remaining 8 precincts still shows Santorum ad the winner. Our party needs to declare Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucus. Failure to do so only further encourages the conspiracy theorists to believe that the fix is in for Romney.

I am not overly concerned that the certified results differ from the caucus results. I understand the process well enough to see how that could happen. The bigger porblm is how the party has handled the controversy. At nearly every step we have handled this poorly. Iowa Republicans deserve better.

*** UPDATE ***

As reported on the RPI Chairman Matt Strawn has publicly declared Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa Caucuses.