State Representative Tyler Olson is stepping down as Iowa Democratic Party chair. Scott Brennan, an attorney who served as party chair during the 2007/2008 cycle, will step in. Click here for background on Brennan. I’ve posted the IDP’s press release after the jump.
Many Democrats expect Olson to announce a candidacy for governor soon, although he hasn’t ruled out running for the open first Congressional district seat. Olson said recently that he would need to resign as party chair if he decided to run for anything other than the Iowa House in 2014. In retrospect, IDP State Central Committee members should have considered whether it was wise to elect a new party chair in January who had not ruled out running for governor. But for reasons I don’t understand, the Iowa Democratic Party leadership is only comfortable with Soviet-style elections, rubber-stamping the choice of the candidate who will be at the top of the ticket. One of these years, central committee members should allow a more open discussion when it’s time to elect a party leader. Meaning no offense toward Brennan, who is capable by all accounts, I believe Democrats could benefit from allowing multiple candidates to present plans for growing the party organization, improving communication, GOTV, and so on.
Assuming he runs for higher office, Olson will leave a safe Democratic Iowa House seat open in 2014. House district 65, covering a large area in Cedar Rapids east of I-380, contains 9,535 registered Democrats, 4,909 Republicans, and 7,296 no-party voters as of June 2013.
UPDATE: Speaking to Radio Iowa, Olson said he is unlikely to run for the Iowa House in 2014. He will decide on a Congressional or gubernatorial campaign in the next few weeks.
Iowa Democratic Party press release, June 11:
State Central Committee to meet Saturday to select Interim Chair
DES MOINES – Today, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rep. Tyler Olson sent a letter to the Democratic State Central Committee announcing his resignation as chair. Citing an interest in running for a broader office in 2014, Olson said that it is in the best interest of the Party for him to step down and take the time he needs to determine his next step rather than let those conversations affect the work of the IDP.
Olson’s resignation will become effective upon the selection of an interim chair, which will take place Saturday morning during a special meeting of the State Central Committee. Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan is expected to run for the position.
Below is the resignation letter from Chair Tyler Olson to the State Central Committee:
Dear IDP State Central Committee,
The Iowa Democratic Party is strong thanks to your leadership, guidance and insight.
The team we put together has been very successful. We surpassed our fundraising goal every month, sold out the Hall of Fame Dinner and added to our down payment for next year’s coordinated campaign. We continued our work to strengthen the Democratic Party at the local level and have already reached out to over 100 folks who organized their neighborhoods in 2012. We also launched the Blue Guard, a new effort to engage young Iowans and develop the next generation of leaders in our party and state.
I am honored and humbled by the confidence Sen. Tom Harkin, as well as Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, had in me by supporting my candidacy to be chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. When Senator Harkin announced he would not run for re-election in 2014 I was struck by his comments about the time being right for a fresh perspective. Secretary Tom Vilsack recently reaffirmed this sentiment when he said it was time for a new generation of leaders to help move the state forward.
Senator Harkin’s decision to not seek re-election changed the landscape. I am proud of the Iowa Democratic Party’s strong position and it is time for me to determine how I can best serve Iowans through a conversation that is not possible as chair of the IDP. I will immediately end my duties as chair and ask this letter of resignation be effective upon the election of my successor.
As I told folks from Shenandoah to Davenport, Sioux City to Dubuque, St. Ansgar to Cedar Rapids and points in between, I am very optimistic about 2014 and the future of our great state. There is great opportunity in front of us with new leadership that understands the changing nature of our economy and world.