Thursday, January 8, 2009

Closing Arguments

One month ago, I announced my candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. Since that time, I have logged thousands of miles traveling our great state – meeting with party leaders, elected officials and grassroots activists – listening to their ideas on moving our party forward.

These travels have left me energized about the future. Republicans across the state are fired up, ready to fight for our shared values, and have party leadership eager to make the clear distinction between our party and the liberal majority that seeks greater control over your lives and your pocketbook.

My experience in professional sports has taught me that success does not come by the work of one, but many, working together as a team.

I want to be your Chairman so I can lead and inspire our Republican team and get us back in the business of winning elections – and winning those elections without betraying our conservative principles.

To my many supporters, I cannot thank you enough for your confidence. To our state central committee members and Republicans across Iowa, I’m not just asking for your support on Saturday … I’m asking for your trust … your trust that I can provide the leadership to return conservative and principled government back to the people of Iowa.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Last Call for Pizza & Dubuque Recap

The tenth and final stop on the Pizza & Politics tour is tonight in Council Bluffs. Please join us at 6:30 pm at the Pizza King, located at 1101 North Broadway.

Pizza & Politics Tale of the Tape
Cities Visited: Mason City, Davenport, Burlington, West Des Moines, Orange City, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Dubuque
Miles Traveled: 1,917

Dubuque Pizza & Politics Wrap-Up

Wow … what a night. The crowd of GOP activists and leaders at The Shot Tower numbered over 25 and again, left me energized about the future of our party. There is no doubt that our Republican friends in Northeast Iowa are fired up, ready to take the fight to the Democrats, and start reclaiming local legislative seats that have been lost in recent election cycles.

I first want to thank State Rep. Steve Lukan from New Vienna for both his introduction and his enthusiastic endorsement. Steve is one of our party’s rising stars and key to the Republican renewal in NE Iowa. I also want to thank former state central committee members Rose Kramer and Dan Nicholson for their warm welcome and introductions to the past, current and future leadership of the Dubuque County GOP.

Discussion centered largely on communication. In a part of the state where Democrats enjoy a comfortable registration edge, how Republicans and our candidates communicate with the voters is paramount to both winning the trust – and the vote – of Iowans.

As I wrote in my Letter of Principles:

There is much discussion about deviating from, or watering down, Republican principles as a necessity for electoral success. I honestly believe this debate misses a key point. You name a problem, be it a social or economic ill, and I guarantee you there is a solution consistent with our party’s core beliefs.

The role of the Republican Party, along with its elected leaders, is to harness our collective talents to not only craft sound policy consistent with those core beliefs, but then to also present it to the voting public as a relevant solution to their everyday problems.

While message does matter, I also write, so too does the messenger:

Recruiting quality, authentic candidates with those core beliefs is certainly the responsibility of the party, but so is ensuring our candidates and party leaders have the ability to relate to voters with sound, conservative solutions that are relevant to the problems of the day.

I look forward to working with our elected leadership to put these principles into practice. Now, off to Council Bluffs.

Monday, January 5, 2009

RPI Forum & More Pizza and Politics

The Pizza & Politics tour makes its way tonight to Northeast Iowa. Please join us in Dubuque at 6:30 pm at The Shot Tower at 290 Locust Street.

Pizza & Politics Tale of the Tape
Cities Visited: Mason City, Davenport, Burlington, West Des Moines, Orange City, Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls
Miles Traveled: 1,511
Winter Storm Warnings: 2
Pizzas Consumed: I don’t want to know

RPI Candidate Forum

Saturday’s RPI Chair Forum has been extensively covered by both mainstream media outlets and the conservative Iowa blogosphere, so I wanted to offer a few quick takeaways from Saturday’s forum before I jump into the car and head to Dubuque

Transparency. I have stressed repeatedly throughout my public campaign for chair that all Republicans have a vested interest in the leadership of our party. Kudos to the State Central Committee for providing a very public platform for Iowa Republicans to meet, question, and interact with all the candidates for chair. Ours is a party that believes in an honest and open government that is accountable to the people and it is refreshing to see our party “walk the walk” in applying these principles to the selection of our next leader.

Enthusiasm. I have frequently commented during my Pizza & Politics tour how impressed I am with the number of Republican activists who are eager to engage in our party’s renewal. Saturday was no different as over 100 people turned out for the forum. This optimism, energy and passion among activists at all levels will be a key ingredient as we build toward our 2010 electoral successes.

Civility. While SCC member Bill Schickel referenced Reagan’s 11th Commandment during his introductory remarks, it was encouraging and illustrative that at no point during the forum did it need be invoked.

The six of us set the tone for moving the party forward by focusing on the tasks crucial to building the organizational, financial and communicative structure for battling the Democrat majority and its “more government cures all ills” ideology. Over the past year, our party has seen a hard-fought GOP presidential caucus, a competitive primary for the US Senate and the Second Congressional District, as well as numerous state legislative primaries. With those battles in the rear-view mirror, it is imperative we continue to look ahead as RPI and its Chairman will be at the tip of the spear from day one in aggressively communicating to Iowa’s voters that conservative, results-oriented solutions empowering private enterprise and the family are sorely needed in Des Moines and Congress.

All the candidates bring different life experiences and skills to the RPI, but after this weekend there should be no doubt by anyone that all my colleagues competing to lead the Iowa GOP have the best interests of the party in their hearts. Many excellent thoughts were shared not just by the candidates, but by those activists in attendance. I am confident following next Saturday’s vote all Republicans are ready to move forward – together - in creating a Republican Party of Iowa that is a relevant force in delivering GOP victories at all levels throughout Iowa.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hold onto your Wallet

I have commented during my campaign that a primary motivation for seeking the RPI chairmanship is: one, I’m tired of Republicans losing elections; and two, the results of those electoral losses are policies increasingly hostile to my business and my family.

And now, as if I needed additional motivation, this little nugget was splashed on the front page of my morning newspaper, “Plan would give Iowa cities the power to tax income.”

The practical and political impact of this plan should raise a red flag with every Iowa taxpayer and Republican.

The Practical. I would be the first to agree that Iowa needs fundamental and comprehensive tax reform, but the notion that this reform can be initiated by a tax increase - during a recession no less - borders on delusional.

As a business owner who interacts on a daily basis with both Iowa’s largest corporations and many small business owners, I am witness to the difficult decisions being made regarding reduced budgets for 2009. Every company, regardless of size, is not only trimming the fat but in many instances, cutting to the bone due to economic uncertainty. Why Iowa’s municipalities fail to acknowledge this reality is beyond me. Simply put, House Leader Kraig Paulsen nailed it by saying this is “an outrageous proposal.”

The Political. This proposal is political cover for Democrat legislators and Governor Culver. Numerous Democrat legislators campaigned, and won, on an anti-tax platform, while Culver himself is now saying tax increases have no place in the 2009 legislative session.

This policy is designed as a legislative slight-of-hand to allow those legislators and Culver to support higher taxes without having to vote for, or sign into law, a direct tax increase. Pretty clever, huh? Just watch, these legislators will attempt to claim with a straight face that a vote for this proposal is a vote that merely provides local municipalities the power to tax, not mandate that they do so.

Our Republican leaders must call them on this and drive this debate in the eyes of the voting public. Republican leaders at all levels must aggressively define this vote as a vote for higher taxes and hold those tax-increasing legislators accountable at the ballot box. A vote for this plan is a vote for higher taxes. Period. End of discussion.

I look forward to an honest and vigorous debate over tax and spending policy in Iowa, but first things first, at a minimum the debate must be honest.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

RPI Chair Forum Canceled

Good morning.

I have received word that the RPI Chair Candidate Forum scheduled for today is canceled due to the ice storm and deteriorating road conditions here in central Iowa.

While my ongoing Pizza & Politics tour has afforded me the opportunity to talk with many of our Republican activists around the state, if you were planning to attend the forum and wanted to ask any questions regarding my vision for the Iowa GOP, please drop me an email at After all, by the sound of the weather forecast, I will be at home in front of the computer for most of the day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What’s Past is Prologue

In today’s WSJ, former RNC Chairman and current MS Gov. Haley Barbour draws upon his own experiences in taking over the RNC following the 1992 elections as a roadmap for the challenges facing the GOP today.

Of particular note to Iowa Republicans should be the four-point plan employed by Barbour that was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the successful 1994 midterm elections. While unintentional, my philosophy for rebuilding the Iowa GOP outlined in the December 8 Letter of Principles is strikingly similar in construct to Gov. Barbour’s then-four-point plan for rebuilding the RNC.

These four points, as applied to the Iowa GOP in my Letter of Principles, include:

1. Rebuild from the ground up, not the top down. This is precisely the point of my ongoing Pizza & Politics tour of Iowa – that our grassroots activists, county chairs, and local officials are the source of our party’s energy, ideas, and future.

2. Expand RPI’s small contributor financial base. I have frequently noted that our party has become overly reliant on a few larger donors, which is why I have identified numerous innovative fundraising programs that will involve Republicans of all means, ages and geographic locations.

3. Immediately embrace new political communication technology. I have written and demonstrated extensively during this campaign that an immediate embrace of new media would be a hallmark of my tenure as RPI Chairman.

4. Convince voters Republicans have fresh ideas -- specifically, ideas that translate conservative philosophies into policies that address contemporary problems. In my Letter of Principles, I describe this as follows: “The role of the Republican Party, along with its elected leaders, is to harness our collective talents to not only craft sound policy consistent with those core beliefs, but then to also present it to the voting public as a relevant solution to their everyday problems.”

As they say in the investing world, past performance is no guarantee of future returns; however, the four-point plan that served Barbour and the national GOP so well in 1994 is certainly a worthy roadmap to follow as Iowa Republicans rebuild and prepare for 2010.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008