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June 27th, 2014

RPI Regime Change: The Weekly Roundup

As expected, the decision by the newly seated Republican State Central Committee to hold a new election for the chairman and co-chairman positions on Saturday has created tension among many Republican activists.

For those Republicans who participated in the caucus to convention process with a desire to completely overhaul the personalities that have controlled the Republican apparatus in Iowa for the past couple of years, the call for a new chairman and co-chairman merely represents the final act of a three-part strategy that began with the precinct caucuses in January.

For those unhappy about the coming ouster of current Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Danny Carroll and Co-Chair Gopal Krishna, the act of electing a new chairman wreaks of hypocrisy since those who now control the levers of power inside of the Republican Party of Iowa have preached unity for months.  They view the pending ouster of Carroll as a move to silence social conservatives in party politics.  These individuals are doing all they can in the days before the vote to get people worked up over Carroll’s imminent removal from office.

Here are some quick points on what will transpire at tomorrow’s State Central Committee meeting.

1. Despite what some people will say, the ouster of Carroll really has nothing to do with him.  The ultimate goal of those now in control of the party was always regime change, and Carroll just happens to be the chairman.  Remember, when this all started in January, A.J. Spiker was chairman, not Carroll.  Just because Spiker resigned in order to take a paycheck from Rand Paul’s PAC never meant the call to change the leadership of the party was going to end.

2. The newly seated committee feels that that a change in leadership is necessary to fulfill the promise they made to delegates when they ran for office.  They feel justified in making this change because they were given a clear mandate from district delegates when they went 16 for 16 in central committee elections in April.

3. Electing a new chairman now is about restoring some sense of trust with donors who have declined to contribute to the party in recent years.  Unlike the previous committee which was focused more on ideology, this committee is also focused on winning elections in November and making the party relevant in the upcoming general election, and to do that, they need to be able to raise significant money.

4. It was no secret that the new committee would want to elect its own chairman, yet Carroll volunteered for the job.  Since then, he has dug in his heels and told the new committee that he’s not going to quietly step aside. That’s not necessarily a mindset that was going to win over some of the members of the committee.

5. Multiple sources told me that Carroll would resign the chairmanship of the party so long as the party would employ him as a religious outreach coordinator.  It’s not a bad idea, but Carroll’s relationship with the new committee isn’t one that allows much negotiating.  Instead of a last-minute deal, this should have been something that he talked to the new members of the committee about before they took control following the state convention.  It’s easy to understand why many on the committee would view a deal like that as rewarding bad behavior.

I still think it’s a bad idea.

While I understand the reasoning behind the new committee’s desire to elect its own chair, I fear that the costs could outweigh the benefits.  Carroll supporters are fighting mad.  Some are comparing what is happening with Carroll to the run off election in Mississippi.  Now, I think that’s a stretch, but face it, it’s easy to see how social conservative could be feeling like they are getting the short end of the stick.

This is a time when the party should be uniting around its candidates going into the general election campaign.  Yet, once again it’s the tug-of-war over control of the Republican Party of Iowa that is front page news, pitting Republicans against Republicans.  How unfortunate.

Somewhere David Fischer and A.J. Spiker are laughing.

Fischer and Spiker are the masterminds of the latest spat between Republicans, and they are enjoying every second of it.  Carroll would never be chairman today if Fischer and Spiker didn’t methodically resign their positions to create an opening for him to first get elected as co-chair and a month later become the chairman.

Not only do they enjoy watching the party bicker over Carroll, but it also helps them politically.  How did the Paul faction of the party get its start in Iowa?  By playing the role of the victim.  First it was the Iowa Christian Coalition and Iowans for Tax Relief not allowing Ron Paul to speak in 2008.  Then it was the moderates of the party wanting to shove Mitt Romney down our throats.  Now it’s that Branstad hates social conservatives.

This is a prefect scenario for Fischer and Spiker to get social conservatives to sign on to Rand Paul’s campaign.  They will deny it, and A.J. will surely email me, but he and Fischer created this mess.  They should just own it.

Some people just love to fight.

It doesn’t really matter what the new committee does, some people are simply prepared to fight their every move.  Think about some of the loudest critics of what will likely transpire on Saturday – they have made a living by attacking Governor Branstad and everything about the Republican Party they despise.  Face it, some people will never be happy because then they wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

Chair election following a state convention sets a bad precedent for the future

When the Republican State Central Committee votes to oust Carroll and Krishna on Saturday, it will establish a new precedent that could be problematic for the party in the future.  The bylaws state that leadership elections are to be held at the first meeting following the biennial general election.  However, the bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa clearly explain that the Chair and Co-Chair serve at the pleasure of the committee, which means they can be voted out of office if and when the committee decides that new leadership is necessary.

Even though the new committee is well within their rights to hold a new leadership election on Saturday, it will establish a new precedent that a newly elected state central committee is well within its rights to elect a new chairman following the conclusion of the state convention.  It puts a chairman elected in January of the off year in a precarious position.  If he or she want’s to fulfill his or her entire term, it invites the chairman to take an active role in helping to elect friendly and supportive committee members.  All that does is create more infighting, distrust, and political maneuvering on the committee.

I’ve never liked the idea of electing new leadership for the party at the state convention because instead of focusing on the general election, a new party chair will instead focus on hiring a new staff and getting up to speed with everything that leading the party involves.

I feel bad for Carroll.

I think those who are trying to paint Danny Carroll as a bad party chair are wrong.  Now, I don’t agree with everything he’s done, and I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but he did oversee a smooth state convention and special nominating convention.  Sure there was some turbulence along the way, like tabloids not being delivered on time and the location fiasco for the Third District nominating convention, but those things were minor, and I’m not sure if they are the fault of a chairman.

Carroll was destined to fail as Iowa GOP chairman because he was never allowed to hire his own staff, and it’s impossible to raise money when everyone and their brother knows your going to get the boot once the new State Central Committee is seated.  Again, I think Carroll was foolish to take the job in the first place, but his critics sound foolish when they attack him given that he was never given a chance.

There is no reason to beat this guy up on his way out.  Instead of being kicked on his way out the door, it would be wise for the committee to thank him for his service to the party.  Hopefully they can do something nicer than the certificate of thanks I received from the Republican Party of Iowa when I was shown the door after a leadership change.

The Anti-Endorsement of Branstad.

I’ve heard a number of people say that Danny needs to be replaced because you can’t have a chairman who said he would never support the governor in the general election.  I dug around in the archives and found the video.  Frankly, it’s not really that bad.  And do you really think the Democrats are going to attack Branstad because Carroll thinks he’s not strong enough on the issue of marriage.  Wake up, it’s not going to be an issue in the general election.

Be careful what you wish for.

I kind of view the Republican Party like I view leaders in congress.  Everyone wants the title, but once you have it, you become an easy target for all that’s wrong with the party.  Turning the party around will take a lot more than just electing new leadership.  Just because there is a new chair, co-chair, and staff doesn’t mean the money will just start to flow.

On a much happier note…

Today is the 60th wedding Anniversary of Paul and Merlene Whisenand.  Between them, Paul and Merlene supported various GOP candidates through service to the Story County Central Committee, volunteering for campaigns and being the only house on the main road in Kelley to feature GOP candidate signs.  They are the parents of Mary and Sherill Whisenand.  Congratulations.  Perhaps they could provide Iowa Republicans with some advice on long-term commitment and compromise. 🙂

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, 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 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, 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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