URBANDALE – Republican Party of Iowa co-chairman Danny Carroll of Grinnell said Wednesday he wants to step in as the party’s top leader later this month when the state central committee chooses a successor for outgoing GOP chairman A.J. Spiker.
“I’m going to run for chairman of the party,” Carroll, a former legislator from Grinnell, told about 70 people at a Westside Conservative Club breakfast.
Carroll told reporters after the event he was “reasonably confident” he would emerge as the party leader when the central committee meets March 29 to select a chairman, and he hoped to hold the position through the 2014 election cycle even though a new central committee will be seated during this year’s convention process.
The top GOP post in Iowa became open when Spiker announced last weekend is he stepping down later this month to take a job in Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s political organization.
If he becomes the state GOP leader, he said he would stay in some capacity with the Family Leader, but he would end a contract relationship whereby he current lobbies for the Pleasant Hill-based conservative Christian organization on legislative issues at the Statehouse.
“I would not continue as a lobbyist. That would be too much of a conflict,” he said.
Carroll said he would like to shift the party’s focus from a defensive position caused by “gossip mill” infighting to an offensive posture that will rally the party’s base and attract independents in the critical 2014 election cycle.
“We could stop gossiping and we could stop saying mean things about other people, particularly other Republicans,” Carroll said in response to a Polk County GOP women’s question about how the party can bridge the “fractions and factions” within the party.
“Perhaps the state leadership in the Republican Party could shut down the gossip mill a little bit and not look for people to blame,” he added.
Carroll said his focus would be on issues and ideas that unite Republicans, noting that “sometimes when you go to a family reunion, there are some things that you just don’t talk about but you still love each other.”
The former Iowa House member said the party could face two significant responsibilities after the June 3 primary in overseeing special conventions if a GOP candidate in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race or the 3rd District congressional contest fail to garner the 35 percent majority needed to secure the party’s nominations.
“That’s a big deal to me because that will demonstrate how we handle things in Iowa and makes our argument for first-in-the-nation caucus,” he said. “People will be watching how we do business.”
Carroll also would emphasize get-out-the-vote efforts and fundraising, noting that he supports continuing the party’s Iowa Straw Poll in Ames – a position that puts him at odds with Gov. Terry Branstad, who no longer supports it. He said he would support some constraints to make sure the Straw Poll “doesn’t get too out of bounds” by charging candidates exorbitant rent for space at the event and setting ticket prices too high.
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