Monday, January 11, 2010

RPI Chairman Strawn Revs Republicans with Talk of Solutions, Leadership

Delivers Keynote Speech at Annual GOP Legislative Breakfast

Des Moines, IA – Republican Party of Iowa State Chairman Matt Strawn today took the fight to Governor Culver and majority statehouse Democrats as he repeatedly stressed the need for new leadership at the annual GOP Legislative Kick-off Breakfast.

Chairman Strawn delivered the keynote speech to Republican legislators, staff, other elected leaders, candidates and supporters. In that speech, he discussed a favorable political and issues environment for the Iowa GOP, candidate recruitment successes and recapped the Republicans’ Real Solutions for Iowa’s Families issue agenda.

To watch Chairman Strawn’s remarks, go to

His remarks as prepared for delivery are included below.

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621 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50309

*Remarks to the 2010 Republican Legislative Kick-off Breakfast
Chairman Matthew N. Strawn
Republican Party of Iowa
Monday, January 11, 2010
(*remarks as prepared)

Good morning.

Today, we stand 364 days removed from the last Republican legislative kick-off breakfast, and let me tell you, I like the feel of this one a lot better. I can stand here today and confidently tell you that I believe this state is 295 days from a transformational election.
The political landscape nationally and in Iowa has changed dramatically since we last got together. Iowans, both on the national and the state level, have gotten a taste of what one-party Democrat rule tastes like … and suffice to say, I don’t think they are going back for seconds.

Here in Iowa, I certainly don’t need to state the obvious, but I will. Governor Chet Culver is one of the most vulnerable incumbent governors in the United States. Period. Despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television advertising over a year before the election, he has failed to improve his standing in the eyes of Iowans. Poll after poll documents that Iowans are unhappy with his performance as Governor and are prepared to go in a new direction.

Furthermore, it isn’t just Republicans who are saying this. Highly respected and veteran political commentators are placing Governor Culver on their lists of most vulnerable incumbents, and just last week, the Washington Post’s noted political guru, Chris Cillizza, included Culver on his political losers list, openly speculating whether he would follow the path chosen by so many other national Democrats and just retire instead of face electoral defeat.

The momentum isn’t just on paper and in the eyes of political prognosticators. You can see it in the candidates stepping up to run for office as Republicans here in Iowa. You can feel it as your travel the state, as I have, hitting nearly 70 counties last year alone. You can feel it in the room today. For those of you working up at the Capitol, talk to me at the end of the first week once you’ve had a chance to interact with legislators from both parties – I’m pretty confident where you’ll find the optimism.

Iowa Republicans’ optimism isn’t limited to the Governor’s race where we clearly have Chet Culver on the run and on the defensive, but it’s remarkably clear, when looking at other races here in Iowa, that there is one party on offense and there is one party that is not only on the defensive, but even struggling to recruit top-tier candidates in key races.
Taking a brief look at the political landscape, we start with Congress. First, Republicans have our senior senator, Chuck Grassley, leading our ticket. As always, Senator Grassley is hard at work – I believe even hitting 21 counties in the next couple of days – and has his well-oiled political machine ready for battle against a liberal, out-of-touch opponent who could literally fund her own campaign with one signature on a personal check. Meanwhile, the Democrats have yet to find top-tier challengers to both Tom Latham and Steve King as Republicans prepare to mount significant challenges to all three of Iowa’s Democrat congressional incumbents. In fact, right here in the Third District, many national commentators are starting to downgrade Leonard Boswell’s chances for re-election and question whether he, too, should even stand for re-election.

Statewide recruiting has also been a boon for Iowa Republicans. If it’s recruiting momentum you’re looking for, look no further than our incredible slate of candidates lining up to run for the down-ballot statewide offices. We have great candidates competing in primaries for the offices of Secretary of State and State Treasurer, while again, the Democrats are struggling to find legitimate candidates against our very strong and talented Republican Ag Secretary Bill Northey and State Auditor Dave Vaudt.

Lastly, is the Iowa Legislature, which has already been touched upon by Senator McKinley and Leader Paulsen. We are very optimistic about our candidates and prospects for a GOP majority under the golden dome.

Great candidates who have the resources to compete are only one reason Republicans are optimistic heading into 2010. Another reason is the issue environment facing our candidates and Democrat incumbents.

While the theme of this breakfast is the kick-off of the 2010 legislative session, make no mistake about it, when every one of those incumbent Democrat legislators, who are up for re-election this November, walks into the House or Senate chamber, they enter with the political albatross of Governor Chet Culver squarely around their neck.

It is Governor Culver’s failed leadership – as well as their own – that is the story heading into this legislative session and election year. Just think about the record of failed leadership that Governor Culver and Democrat legislators will be taking to the voters:

1. A $1 billion budget deficit largely caused by passing, and signing into law, the largest budget in Iowa’s history in 2009;
2. A bonding scheme that places nearly $1 billion dollars of debt on this state’s children;
3. Near certain local property tax increases solely due to Democrat overspending in Des Moines;
4. Attempting to raise taxes on over half a million Iowans by repealing federal deductibility;
5. At a time of record unemployment and over 110,000 Iowans out of work, attempting to pass the most anti-small business labor agenda in Iowa history; and,
6. Failing to give Iowans the right to vote for ourselves, via constitutional amendment, on protecting marriage.

So, put yourself in the shoes of the Democrat legislators today, how confident would you feel about taking that record to your constituents? If you’re Representative Larry Marek talking with the fellas over coffee in Kalona … how do you look your constituents in the eye and explain that your Party just put their children and grandchildren into debt so Chet Culver and Patty Judge can tour the state and cut a few ribbons. If you’re Senator Bill Heckroth walking down main street in Waverly, how can you look your struggling small business owners in the eye and explain that your Party doesn’t have the will to make tough spending decisions, so THEIR property taxes will be going up.

Folks, I can guarantee that this is a record that Iowa voters will have burned into their consciousness when they go to the polls next November; but, it is also important that Republicans understand that winning the trust, and the votes, of Iowans means we must also share our solutions for improving the lives of Iowa’s families. And that is exactly what we have done.

Over the past six months, Republicans have been talking about our principled solutions as part of the Real Solutions for Iowa’s Families agenda. In August, along with Senator Kettering and Representative Scott Raecker, we unveiled a series of common sense budget reform measures. In September, Senator Kim Reynolds and Reps. Mike May and Jodi Tymeson showcased GOP public education reforms. Later that month, Iowa Republicans Senator David Johnson and House GOP Whip Linda Upmeyer toured the state promoting state-level and market-based health care reforms. Later in the year, Senator Reynolds and Representative Doug Struyk proposed a series of open government reforms to make state government more transparent to taxpayers; while, Reps. Chris Hagenow and Matt Windschitl talked about fighting back against judicial activism by giving Iowans the right to vote on marriage via a constitutional amendment. Last, but certainly not least, has been Iowa Republicans laser focus on the economy and job creation.

Quite frankly, when it comes to talking about job creation and the economy, the distinction between the parties is crystal clear. First, as a guy who makes his living as a job-creator and entrepreneur in the private sector, I know that it isn’t people like Mike Gronstal and Pat Murphy, who have collectively served nearly half a century in the legislature, that create jobs. It is Iowans. It’s Iowans with an idea and either putting their own capital, blood, sweat and tears into that idea – or finding others who believe in them and invest their time and treasure. It is the Iowa small business owner that creates two-thirds of the jobs in this state and it is the Iowa small business owner that will be the catalyst to driving our state out of this economic downturn.

In the face of a punishing labor agenda, backdoor tax increases by pushing the burden to property tax payers and school districts, it is time for those who share and advocate for free market principles and free enterprise to stand with those who stand up for them.

The most important vote a legislator makes is the first one, for Speaker, for Majority Leader. No matter where a Democrat legislator stands on issues like prevailing wage, eliminating right-to-work, or gutting workers comp policy through doctor-shopping, the only vote that matters when it comes to improving the lives of Iowans and those who create jobs for Iowans, is the first vote.

And you know when you change the people making that first vote – all of a sudden we can start putting this state back to work, opening Iowa for business, for entrepreneurial capital and spirit to flourish without the specter of tax increases or a hostile regulatory environment.

This only happens with a Speaker Paulsen or a Majority Leader McKinley. Why? Not because they had to be lobbied to take free market positions, but because it’s something they, and all legislative Republicans, already believe.

Now, is the time to make this happen. As I close, I want everybody to think about why they first became involved in politics. Whether it was as a College Republican or later in life because of some catalyst in your business or in your family that motivated you to get involved, what was that fire that got you started initially?

Today, we stand 295 days from electing a majority that will move Iowa forward. We need everyone in this room to find that fire again, because we can do it. Let’s make sure that next year we have Speaker Paulsen, Senate Majority Leader McKinley and a Republican in the governor’s office.

Thank you.