Update on new leadership for Iowa Republicans

Iowa Senate Republicans voted out Ron Wieck as minority leader on Tuesday. New leader Paul McKinley of Chariton promised "to rebuild this party from the ground up."

Wieck, of Sioux City, was selected for the job by Senate Republicans in 2007 after Sen. Mary Lundby of Marion chose to step down from the leadership role. He will continue to serve in his District 27 seat.

McKinley, former owner of the textile company Neely Manufacturing, stressed that all Republicans will continue to work together. Senate Republicans will focus on being a spending watchdog for the state, retaining Iowa’s pro-business economy, providing tax relief and advocating for smaller government, he said.

Last week Iowa House Republicans picked Kraig Paulsen to replace Chris Rants as minority leader.

No consensus candidate seems to be emerging to take on the unenviable job of rebuilding the divided Republican Party of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register’s David Yepsen wrote in his latest column,

Republicans are looking for a new state party chairman. The challenge for the party is to find a chair who is acceptable to social conservatives but who can raise money from more moderate business types. The new leader must look good on TV and execute a management turnaround, all while working for a board of directors that too often squabbles and micromanages.

Good luck. Polk County chairman Ted Sporer is running, but he may be too hot and scrappy for some. His critics say the Polk County GOP organization he heads isn’t impressive. He says it’s better than when he started.

Former state Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell is also mentioned. He’s a smart, well-liked guy but may be too much of a social conservative for a party that needs to broaden its appeal. Carroll’s also lost two consecutive legislative races.

Another former state representative, Bill Dix of Shell Rock, gets mentioned but may be more interested in another run for office someday.

If you’re wondering why anyone would consider Sporer “too hot and scrappy,” read his take on the Tom Harkin/Christopher Reed debate.

Appearing on Iowa Public Television the weekend after the election, Republican moderate and former gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross described his dream candidate:

Gross: Well, I can think of 1964 we had a debacle, the Goldwater debacle and Johnson won in a landslide.  The democrats took over the governorship in both houses of the legislature.  And then we brought in a young Des Moines attorney by the name of Bob Ray to run the party as a guy that understood the importance of communication, appealing to all factions of the party and worked his tail off to help rebuild the organization.  That’s the kind of person we need as party chair again.  What we don’t need is someone whose is ideologically pure on one side or the other, that’s not what we should have.

Yepsen: Have you got some names?

Gross: Do I have some names?  I’m looking for Bob Ray’s sons but he only has daughters but the daughters would be alright too.

Feel that inclusion, Republican ladies?

Even if Bob Ray had a son, I doubt a pro-choice moderate who welcomed increased foreign immigration to this state would have a prayer of winning a leadership contest in today’s GOP.

Here’s a tip for conservatives, though: Governor Ray was just about the only Republican my mother ever voted for.

For more speculation on a possible new leader for the Iowa GOP, read this post or this post at the Krusty Konservative blog. Check out the comments too. The conservatives sure are angry.

  • There's a big difference between the House and Senate

    Senate Republicans moved to the right with their choice.  Paul McKinley led a group that walked out of the caucus when they elected Mary Lundby as minority leader.  In contrast, House Republicans picked Kraig Paulsen, who is a centrist.  

    That is more evidence that Iowa Republicans don’t know which way to turn.

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