Matt Strawn stepped down early from his job as chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, but he will be immersed in this November’s down-ticket elections as Iowa chair of the 527 group GOPAC.
Then Delaware Governor Pete du Pont created GOPAC in the late 1970s to support GOP candidates for state and local offices. Newt Gingrich raised the organization’s profile during the 1980s. Many Republicans, including Rick Santorum, have credited GOPAC’s candidate training with helping them win seats in Congress and state legislatures. The GOPAC tapes created under Gingrich’s leadership have been added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry because of their role in “shaping political discourse.” The 527 group raised and spent more than $9 million during the last presidential election year.
Current GOPAC Chair Frank Donatelli announced today that his group tapped Strawn in recognition of his “monumental work in rebuilding and revitalizing the Iowa GOP.”
Many of GOPAC’s activities in Iowa will build on Strawn’s experience as its Iowa team will be heavily organizational in nature, including, but not limited to, candidate training, voter registration and issue identification efforts aimed at increasing the Republican ranks in the Iowa House and Senate and across Iowa’s county-level offices, Donatelli said.
Strawn indicated that a personal focus will be outreach to groups of Iowans who may not necessarily consider themselves Republicans.
Iowa is one of just seven states GOPAC leaders will focus on this year.
The group is targeting Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania (house chambers in play) and in Iowa and Nevada (senate chambers in play), a spokeswoman said today. And it’s supporting Republicans in the Wisconsin recall election in June. […]
GOPAC launched a voter registration drive last week with online ads in Iowa, Colorado and Nevada as part of an initiative of the GOPAC Education Fund – a 501(c)4 affiliate organization.
Democrats hold a 26 to 24 edge in the Senate, and Republicans have many paths to winning a majority. Twenty-six Iowa Senate seats will be on the ballot this year: all the even-numbered districts plus Senate district 49, where there is no incumbent. Republican candidates have no Democratic opponents in districts 2 (Randy Feenstra), 10 (primary between Jake Chapman and Matthew Mardesen), 12 (Joni Ernst), 20 (Brad Zaun), 40 (Ken Rozenboom). Republican candidates will be favored in districts 22 (primary between Pat Ward and Jeff Mullen) and 24 (Jerry Behn).
The most endangered Republican Senate incumbents are in district 26 (Merlin Bartz) and in district 46 (winner of primary between Jim Hahn and Shawn Hamerlinck). Tim Kapucian may also face a strong challenge from the winner of the three-way Democratic primary in district 38.
To their credit, Republicans recruited candidates for every Senate race. Democrats will be heavily favored to hold districts 16 (Dick Dearden), 18 (Janet Petersen), 42 (primaries on both sides), 44 (Tom Courtney), and 50 (Pam Jochum).
The most endangered Democratic incumbents are in districts 26 (Mary Jo Wilhelm vs Bartz), 30 (Jeff Danielson vs Matt Reisetter), 32 (Brian Schoenjahn vs Elliott Henderson), 34 (Liz Mathis vs Randi Shannon), and 36 (Steve Sodders vs the winner of a GOP primary). The GOP failed to recruit a strong candidate against Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal in district 8, but tons of outside money will flow into that race anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised to see GOPAC involved.
Both parties will target the open Senate districts 14 (primaries on both sides), 28 (John Beard vs Mike Breitbach), 48 (Nate Willems vs winner of GOP primary) and 49 (winner of Democratic primary vs Andrew Naeve). The Republican winners of competitive primaries in districts 4 and 6 will be favored to win the general election, but Democratic candidates are running active campaigns there.
Although few observers think Republicans are in great danger of losing their 60-40 Iowa House majority this year, a heck of a lot of House districts could become competitive, and my hunch is that Strawn will focus on quite a few of them. For instance, I expect GOPAC to actively support first-term State Representative Walt Rogers in House district 60. Rogers attended GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2012 earlier this year.
Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.