Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Resigns

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn released this statement on his resignation:

Strawn to Depart as Iowa GOP Chairman
Des Moines, IA – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today announced he will be stepping down as the state’s top Iowa GOP party official, effective Friday, February 10. Strawn has served as chairman of the Iowa GOP since January 2009. The Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee will be charged with setting the date to elect Strawn’s successor.

Strawn shared his announcement with Iowa Republicans in the following video message. Please click image to view:

The prepared text of Strawn’s message to Iowa Republicans follows below:
January 31, 2012
Dear Iowa Republican:
In December 2008, when I campaigned to serve as your Chairman, my top goal was to make the Iowa GOP a relevant force again in Iowa politics by ushering in an era where the Republican Party returned to winning elections without betraying our conservative principles.
Over the past three plus years, we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We witnessed sweeping Republican electoral victories at all levels. We saw an explosion in new Republican voters with an unprecedented 34 consecutive months of Iowa GOP voter registration gains. We kept the Iowa Caucuses First-in-the-Nation. We broke fundraising records, hosted the largest Republican presidential caucus in history, and for the first-time ever, the Iowa GOP co-hosted three nationally televised presidential debates that were watched by millions. Most importantly, Iowa Republicans accomplished all this and more working together as a team.
Simply put, your Iowa GOP is better off than it was four years ago thanks to outstanding team work. Your Iowa GOP is a relevant force again in Iowa politics. Your Iowa GOP is winning elections with leaders who are advancing our principled agenda. Your Iowa GOP is in a position to re-elect our members of Congress, win an Iowa Senate majority, and make Iowa’s six electoral votes the national battleground in the 2012 presidential campaign.
While the election wins, fundraising successes and media appearances are the aspects of being Chairman that gain the most attention, the most rewarding aspect of my service was the opportunity to travel our state and get to know the people of Iowa. The strength of the rebuilt Iowa GOP rests in the hands of the thousands of committed volunteer activists who give their time, treasure and talents to make Iowa a better place by working to elect public servants who share our values and principles.
The Iowa GOP designs its position of Chairman to be volunteer in nature. But over the past three years I have treated the privilege of serving as your Chairman as a full-time calling. There’s no question the job of rebuilding our party was a huge one, and one to which I committed every minute that was necessary to succeed.
It is only because the Iowa GOP has returned as a strong and relevant voice in Iowa politics that I am now able to evaluate all the competing priorities in my personal, business and political life. The party is strong and has the resources in place for victory in November. Now is the time to transition to new leadership.
Effective February 10, I will be ending my service as your Chairman. For this fifth generation Iowan and Benton County farm kid, serving as your Chairman has been an honor, a privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime.
To victory,

Matthew N. Strawn

Monday, January 30, 2012

Iowa Republican Party Chairman

Updated: Expect this announcement from Strawn this morning

Two Iowa Republican sources tell me they expect Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn to resign soon. Strawn has been under siege from critics ever since the January 3rd Iowa Caucuses. In the early morning hours January 4th, Strawn declared Mitt Romney the winner of the caucuses, despite the fact Romney only lead the count by just 8 votes. Critics questioned how Strawn could make that declaration when he knew the party's official certification process would follow 2 weeks later and frequently that process finds discrepancies in the final count. Although in previous years, the attention was never this focused because the results were never this close.

Days later, word surfaced from a caucus goer in Appanoose County in southern Iowa that the results reported in his precinct weren't correct and the 20 vote total error would actually put Rick Santorum ahead of Romney. Strawn sent out a statement that said the allegations wouldn't change the outcome of the winner. The statement said in part:

“Out of respect to the candidates involved, party officials will not respond to every rumor, innuendo or allegation during the two week process.

That 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.”

That statement only infuriated Santorum supporters even more. Then, two weeks later, Strawn decided to give the certified results early to the Des Moines Register, the day before the party said it would release the results. In that story, Strawn seemed to maintain the caucuses had no winner or two winners, depending on how you phrase it. Essentially, there was a tie between Romney and Santorum. If it were possible to anger Santorum supporters even more, Strawn had just done it. They questioned how it was possible for Strawn to declare Romney the winner when he was up by 8 votes, but Strawn refused to say Santorum was the winner when the count showed him up by 20 votes? The next day Strawn held a brief availability with reporters at party headquarters. He declared, under pressure from Republican activists, that Santorum was indeed the winner. However, because of all the confusion, I asked how the media should report this: who won the 2012 caucuses? Strawn responded that that's a question for the media and the pundits to answer.

The caucuses got ripped in headlines across the country. Craig Robinson, the founder of the conservative website, www.theiowarepublican.com, became the first voice I heard calling for Strawn's resignation. Robinson used to serve as the party's political director. He didn't necessarily blame Strawn for reporting problems in 8 of the state's 1,774 precincts. He blamed Strawn for prematurely declaring a winner, then changing that to a tie and then having to say Santorum won.

I asked Governor Terry Branstad last week whether Strawn should remain as chair. He praised the record turnout and the job Strawn did in such a close race. When pressed, he did acknowledge "mistakes". But he refused to say Strawn should step down.

Now, it appears, according to 2 Iowa Republicans, Strawn will, indeed, resign as activists worry the confusion and embarrassment of the conflicting caucus winner declarations will only fuel those in other states who no longer want to see Iowa's caucuses lead off the presidential nominating process.

Strawn did not respond to messages left for him late Monday night.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bachman Leaving WHO-HD

Big Changes: If you read the Des Moines Register this morning, then you heard the news about the news: John Bachmann will retire from WHO-HD in November. John has been a fixture around this place as much as the carpet. We just don't spill coffee on him as often. Here's the best part of the announcement today...John is retiring but we still get 10 more months of him. I'll save most of my thoughts for his actual retirement after 25 years here and 40 years in broadcasting.

But John's interview with the newspaper gives you some insight as to what we see from him every day. Watch the video interview. It's very personal and very honest. You might be surprised how candid John is. But it's very revealing about the great man he is. And, yes, as you can tell, John has been a very important man to me during my career here. John is a big reason I am still here. He knows how frustration once nearly convinced me to leave Des Moines, but John's wisdom kept me here. I have 3 caucuses and too many memorable other stories to count. But most importantly I have a wife and, now, a son here...everything not possible had John told me what a mistake if would have been to move away. Thanks, John. More to come...

Friday, January 27, 2012

13 pound baby

I can hardly wait for this...this weekend, Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines introduces us to a baby who weighs more than 13 pounds. 13 pounds! I found a story about a 16-pounder born in Texas last year. The story says a Canadian woman once gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 23 pounds. How is that even possible? And that poor mom!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CNN Debate

Another Debate: I had a root canal, and I'm hopped up on Vicodin. But here go my thoughts on tonight's debate anyway!

Glad the live audience is back. Yes, sometimes the audience can get a little too rowdy and the candidates can pander to it. But it's much better when the audience is involved.

Newt Gingrich attacked the moderator. Again. I think the first time, it backfired. Wolf Blitzer came right back at him, not with anything person. Just the facts. Gingrich has ripped Mitt Romney a zillion times for his taxes. Blitzer tried to ask about it and eventually got Gingrich to have to answer it. Evil Elite Media 1, Gingrich 0.

I'm not sure how Gingrich spins this night as a win. He's probably had the best debates collectively compared to the rest of the field. But tonight wasn't one of them.

Romney stayed aggressive on Gingrich and finally seemed to be able to handle questions on his wealth. The guy is crazy rich and has been for years. Why his staff hadn't better prepared him for these questions is beyond me. I mean, he did run 4 years ago. Didn't someone see this coming as a potential issues. Having said that, Romney should have done himself some good over the course of the night.

Rick Santorum found a way to get involved in the middle of things despite getting placed by debate organizers "on the wing", his familiar debate position. His continued back and forth with Romney on Massachusetts' health care mandate could have scored him some points with voters. Although, Santorum may still have bigger issues, again, convincing people he can win. He is way back in Florida and from what CNN said in the post-debate, he isn't running tv ads in Florida. So that's a tough combination to have a good primary night on Tuesday.

I often have a tough time figuring out Ron Paul's performances in debates. His anti-war talk puts him at odds with so many Republicans. There wasn't a lot of focus on war in this debate.

Since this debate happened in Florida, I'm surprised they didn't talk more about social security and Medicare reform.

Props to moderator, Wolf Blitzer. He stood up to Gingrich without looking like a blowhard. But he also wisely kept silent at times letting Gingrich and Romney and then Romney and Santorum have extended conversations back and forth. I really like those exchanges. I think they can offer a lot of viewers.

O.K., that's it. Time for another dose of pain-killers!

89 Animals Rescued in Iowa

Disgusting: Pet lovers find our story this week on what happened to 88 dogs and 1 cat in Sac County, Iowa, gross and sad. Channel 13's Andy Fales did a story on this last night. The animals look pitiful. Groomers are working today to try to clean them up. Authorities say they were kept in tiny, filthy cages and their fur was matted with their own waste. It's one of those stories that makes you have to look away. But it also makes you wonder how this happened? Is this a puppy mill breeder who cared about making money instead of taking care of the animals? Is it someone who got in over his head taking care of animals? Is it something else? No matter the reason, and let's hope we find the real reason behind this soon as the criminal investigation continues, we should be glad someone went to the authorities after discovering the dogs' conditions. Who knows what would have happened to the animals? The Animal Rescue League needs help in the animals' recovery. The organization told us it needs high quality, high protein food, especially since some of the dogs are pregnant.

Here's the latest release from Sac County. It's brief but it's all we have so far:


This is Andy's story on what we hope will be a better, healthier future for the dogs:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Iowa Congressional Race Gets National Attention

King vs. First Lady: The Sioux City Journal's Bret Hayworth has a piece today about the expected showdown between 5-term western Iowa Congressman Steve King and former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. His article said this congressional race "will undoubtedly be the preeminent political race in Iowa in 2012.

I agree this has the potential to be a heck of a fight, especially if Vilsack continues her strong fundraising and if the national Dems back her with some serious cash. But let's not forget about the other major clash in the state: 9-term Republican Congressman Tom Latham and 8-term Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell. It seems to me this race might get even more attention since it features two current members of congress battling because restricting took away one of Iowa's seats. Latham had the choice to run against King in the newly configured districts, retire or move into Boswell's 3rd district. So he opted for a move.

Latham told me he and his wife have bought a townhouse in Clive, so he now has an official residence in his new district. He said they haven't sold their house in Ames.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Post-Iowa, Post-Debate Questions

Questions, Questions: OK, so where are we? The Iowa Caucuses are finished. Well, we think they are at least. The Republican presidential candidates debated twice in less than 12 hours this weekend. Whose idea was that? I'm left with questions.

Mitt Romney doesn't seem to have an answer that sticks about why he didn't run for re-election as governor of Massachusetts. Why not? Bad poll numbers convinced him he couldn't win? He already had his sights on running for president? And if he claims he wasn't already thinking about that, then why did he spend nearly two-thirds of his final year OUTSIDE Massachusetts when he was supposed to be serving the people of Massachusetts? Now, there's also that comment that he's known what it's like to fear getting a pink slip. Waiting to hear the story on that fear from the multi-multi millionaire.

Newt Gingrich called Romney a liar. Now, he complains about Romney's "pious baloney". How long can Gingrich continue to claim to run a positive campaign? Let's be honest, nearly everyone goes negative. Voters hate it. But it works. So, Mr. Speaker, aren't your words showing you are going negative?

Rick Perry is still running for president. He "reassessed" after getting thumped in the Iowa Caucuses. But the reassessment was apparently short-lived. He went for a run the next morning and then announced he would continue his run for the White House. But what is his path to victory? He looks like he will get throttled in New Hampshire. So he is banking on South Carolina. The odds aren't in his favor. Is he finished with another bad finish there?

Ron Paul continues to alienate some traditional Republicans during the debates. His 3rd place finish in Iowa surely couldn't have been fulfilling, although he nearly doubled his turnout from 4 years ago. If he fails to finish in the top 2 in New Hampshire, then he will hear even louder doubts that he can win the nomination. Third party run again, Dr.? Having said that, Paul can raise dough and his supporters are as dedicated as they come, so it's hard to see why he would quit even if he doesn't find a top 2 finish somewhere soon.

Rick Santorum's sweater vest continues on. The national media are all over him now after rarely mentioning him before. Doesn't he need at least a strong top 3 finish in New Hampshire to show his Iowa showing is for real? Granted, if Perry does little in South Carolina, then maybe Santorum becomes the obvious, unanimous choice for the social conservatives. So maybe New Hampshire's placing could get over hyped. But still...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Iowa or New Hampshire?

Northern nonsense: O.K., I've heard over and over again how Iowans don't know anything about picking a president. Yes, Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Caucuses and didn't become president. But I don't recall Pat Buchanan winning either, right New Hampshirites (is that what you call yourselves?)

Here's my piece to set the record straight:

Richie Cunningham?

Thanks, I think?--My phone and email have been blowing up since last night because of the feature story the Washington Post's Ned Martel did on my wife and me covering the Iowa Caucuses. Our families and friends got a kick out of it, of course. But what's this bit with calling me a "Richie Cunningham motormouth"?

Here's the link to the article: