Twilight of the Iowa GOP's Liberty era (updated)

Time for a discussion thread on news that broke over the weekend: A.J. Spiker will step down early as chair of the Republican Party of Iowa in order to serve as an adviser to U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s political action committee. I’ve posted the Iowa GOP’s official announcement after the jump. It puts a positive spin on Spiker’s tenure, which began after Matt Strawn was forced out early over the 2012 Iowa caucus vote-counting debacle. Spiker’s critics have complained of poor fundraising and an insufficient focus on party unity and electing Republican candidates.

Spiker was a leading supporter of Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns in Iowa and benefited from the “Paulinista” dominance during the 2012 county, district, and state GOP conventions. However, Ron Paul loyalists were unable to repeat that performance at this year’s county conventions on March 8. In fact, some high-profile Paulinistas weren’t even able to win district convention delegate slots.

David Fischer, another prominent figure in the “Liberty” camp, stepped down as state party co-chair earlier this year. Danny Carroll, a former Iowa House Republican and unsuccessful candidate to lead the state party in 2009, won a very close State Central Committee election to succeed Fischer in that role.

Longtime social conservative activist Steve Scheffler made a deal with the Liberty crowd in the summer of 2012 to retain his position as Republican National Committeeman. He told the Des Moines Register that he expects “a huge turnover” on the Iowa GOP’s State Central Committee after district conventions on April 26. Scheffler would like to see Carroll serve as the Iowa GOP’s interim leader until new State Central Committee members begin their terms this summer.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. P.S.- Some observers believe Spiker’s departure will spell doom for the Ames Straw Poll. I suspect the Iowa GOP will still organize some kind of candidate forum a few months before the Iowa caucuses, perhaps even a fundraiser. But new party leaders will likely be swayed by Governor Terry Branstad and other straw poll critics in planning that event next year.

UPDATE: Speaking to a conservative breakfast club on March 12, Danny Carroll confirmed that he will run for party chair this month and again after the new State Central Committee members are selected. He told Radio Iowa he’d like to see the straw poll continue, while making sure tickets are not overpriced and candidates are not charged “exorbitant rent for space at the venue.”

Iowa GOP Facebook status, posted March 8:

Chairman Spiker Stepping Down

Meeting Scheduled to Elect State Party Officers

DES MOINES, Iowa- On Friday, March 7th, in a letter sent to members of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, Chairman A.J. Spiker announced he was stepping down from his role as Chairman of the party effective upon election of a new State Chairman. In the letter mailed Friday afternoon, Spiker announced that elections for a new Chairman would take place during the State Central Committee’s quarterly business meeting on March 29th.

Spiker served as a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee from April 2010 until he was elected State Chairman in February 2012. Spiker was then re-elected in January 2013. Spiker leaves the Republican Party of Iowa with more than $300,000 cash on hand, zero debt and with a voter registration advantage for Republicans over the Iowa Democratic Party.

Details for the Chairman election are as follows:

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 at 11:00am at the Republican Party Headquarters at 621 E. 9th St. Des Moines, IA 50309.

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