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October 14th, 2009

Who Will Fill Boeyink’s Role at RPI?

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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77352114ET003_iowa_gopWith Jeff Boeyink’s departure as the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa, RPI Chairman Matt Strawn now has a difficult task in finding a replacement with just a little over a year to until Election Day. To date, the hiring of Boeyink has been one of Strawn’s best accomplishments. Having run the day-to-day operations of Iowans for Tax Relief before joining RPI, Boeyink brought extensive knowledge about how a political institution should run.

While working for a state political party is often thankless work, Strawn and Boeyink were able to make a number of significant organizational changes in the seven months they worked side-by-side. Their biggest accomplishment was breaking ties with a third party vendor who handled all of the state party’s accounting services. Bringing the accounting responsibilities in-house was long overdue. Not only did the move save a tremendous amount of money, but it also allowed RPI leadership to have a better grasp on the financial situation on a day-to-day basis.

While one could easily take Chairman Strawn’s 100 day plan and point out numerous things that have not been implemented, his plan was aggressive, and it’s easy to get pulled into hundreds of different directions when working at a political party. To his credit, Matt Strawn has made significant changes to the state party during his time as Chairman, but there is still plenty of work yet to be done.

One of the most critical areas that still needs attention is reducing the Democrats’ voter registration advantage. Iowa Republicans need to capitalize on the current political climate and begin an effort to register new Republicans in advance of next year’s elections. Following the 2008 elections, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by 110,416. That number has dropped to 105,447 in October, but Iowa Republicans must take more aggressive action to cut into the Democrats’. This is something which RPI can partner with all Republican candidates and county central committees to accomplish.

Before Chairman Strawn can focus on voter registration drives and other campaign plans, he must focus on finding a replacement for Jeff Boeyink. The following are a few names that could possibly end up being in the mix. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, so please do not be offended if you are not listed below. If you know of someone that would be good fit, please feel free to post that information in the comment section.

1. Matt Strawn. Yes, I know he is already the Chairman of the Party, but I think this is an option worth exploring. Matt breaks the mold of typical party chairmen. He’s young, aggressive, and relatively new to the Iowa political scene. Strawn has a very accomplished political resume of his own. Strawn was recruited to manage Sen. John McCain’s Iowa caucus campaign in the spring of 2007. McCain ran low on money and gutted his Iowa operations, including Strawn, before the Iowa Straw Poll. It’s not his fault his time with McCain didn’t work out, but his short time with the McCain campaign shows what people think of his political abilities. Before coming back to Iowa, Strawn served as Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-Michigan) top advisor and Chief of Staff.

Strawn processes everything that a party chairman looks for in an executive director, so it’s something he should at least consider. This option would have a number of advantages. First, it might allow RPI to eliminate the salary allotment for the Chairman position if he was filling both roles. Second, it would eliminate the time it will take for a new executive director to get up to speed with the staff, procedures, and state central committee. Third, it would guarantee continuity within the office and staff.

This wouldn’t be the first time Iowa Republicans had someone serve as executive director and chairman. Gentry Collins basically held both roles during the 2004 election cycle. Back then, Chairman Chuck Larson was deployed to Iraq. In his absence, Collins took on an expanded roll. The only obstacle with this option is whether or not Strawn can devote the hours demanded of an executive director.

2. Matt Gronewald. Gronewald is currently the Director of the House Majority Fund, a position that he has held for two election cycles. Before Chairman Strawn selected Jeff Boeyink to be his executive director, many thought that the position would go to Gronewald.

The advantages Gronewald brings are a close working relationship with house Republicans and knowledge of the building, staff and procedures. The only problem with promoting Gronewald is that it creates another key opening within the Republican Party. Another drawback would be that Gronewald was passed over to run the day-to-day campaign operations in the special election in House District 90. It’s doubtful that the powers that be would let someone run the daily operations of the state party, but not a State House campaign.

3. Tim Albrecht. The newly married Albrecht has an extensive history of working to elect Iowa Republicans. Currently Albrecht serves as the communications director of the American Future Fund, one of the largest conservative third advocacy groups in the country. Before that, Albrecht served on Mitt Romeny’s communications team for his 2008 presidential campaign and has served as the Director of the House Majority Fund, Communications Director for House Republicans, as well working for a number of other campaigns.

Albrecht would bring extensive communication skills to the position, and he has good relationships with Republican leaders and legislators. If he doesn’t land at the Republican Party, it’s likely the Branstad campaign will be after him to run their communications department.

4. Chad Olsen. This name will probably surprise many, but Olsen deserves serious consideration. Olsen served as Tommy Thompson’s campaign manager in 2008 and was the Political Director for Steve Forbes in 2000. In addition to that, Olsen has worked on a number of presidential, congressional and gubernatorial campaigns. Olsen also worked at RPI for a short time in 2007 and 2008.

If you are looking for an executive director who is an administrator like Boeyink was, Olsen would be a good fit. In addition to being detailed oriented, Olsen has a knack for hiring and developing good young field staffers, which is something the Republican Party always needs to do.

5. Out-of-State Person. The other option is for Chairman Strawn to bring in an out-of-state operative who will focus on voter turnout efforts. This was done recently when Ray Hoffmann hired Cullen Sheehan to be his executive director in the 2006 election cycle. Sheehan was from Minnesota. Sometimes out-of-state staffers are beneficial during hotly contested gubernatorial primaries. Campaigns may see an out-of-state executive director as being a more fair arbiter than someone who has personal connections with certain campaigns.

The comment section is open. What are your thoughts?


About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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