During my tenure on the State Central Committee, I have come to understand that the single most important job an SCC member has is to elect a chairman for the Republican Party of Iowa. The party chairman appoints the Executive Director with the approval of the SCC. In the day to day life of the party, the SCC acts primarily as a board of directors, leaving the operation to the chairman and staff. The SCC is not typically involved in event planning, selecting speakers, press releases or other staff hires. In a year when we do not hold Terrace Hill, the chairman’s role is even more important, being viewed by those in the party and those outside as the public face of the Iowa GOP. The chairman is also our third representative to the Republican National Committee and plays an important role in maintaining Iowa’s First in the Nation Caucus.
Historically, the election of an RPI chairman has been conducted in secret, in smokey back rooms. It used to be done in such a way that no one outside the SCC knew who was running and even SCC members did not really know the result of the vote. Before I was on the SCC, the vote was taken in secret and the Vauditor (State Auditor David Vaudt) was asked to count the votes and announce the winner. The SCC would then move to declare the vote unanimous after the fact. When I ran for SCC I vowed that all of that would change, and it did. The 2008 Chairman’s race was unlike any other. At one point there were as many as eight declared candidates. Several candidates made direct appeals to the GOP rank and file. RPI held a public forum for candidates and a large number of supporters turned out for the vote. The vote was still by secret ballot but the results were made public immediately.
When Matt Strawn resigned, the SCC felt that it was important to select his replacement and get the new team up and running quickly. It was a unique situation and I hope it does not become a precedent. I hope we once again have an open and robust process with input from the grassroots of our party. So, if you want to have input in this process, lobby your SCC members (contact information here) or attend the December 8th or January 5th SCC meetings at RPI headquarters. We need to hear from you.
I just received official notice of the January 5th State Central meeting and the election of officers. (Chairman, Cochairman, Treasurer and Secretary) As of now, current chairman A.J. Spiker has not declared whether he will be seeking re-election. Cochairman Bill Schickel has indicated that he is a candidate for chairman. I have been on the receiving end of some quiet inquiries but no one else has made an announcement.