November 1, 2014

Scott Brennan returns as Iowa Democratic Party chairman

The Iowa Democratic Party has an “interim” leader.

Tyler Olson, a state representative from Cedar Rapids, was elected party chair last December but he resigned this week, as he’s considering a run for governor or for congress. The party’s state central committee elected Scott Brennan as interim chairman this morning.

“Since I’ve been in this role before and am currently serving on the DNC, I was happy to pick up the reigns if for nothing more than for a short time period to make sure that the party keeps moving forward,” Brennan said this morning during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.

Brennan would not speculate about the duration of his “interim” role and whether he intends to serve through the 2014 election, but he did mention the Iowa Democratic Party’s state central committee is scheduled to meet again this August.

Brennan, a 50-year-old lawyer from Des Moines, served as his party’s chairman for the 2008 elections and was asked by party leaders to return.

“I talked to my family about it. We’ve been through it once and they said: ‘How bad could it be?'” Brennan said, laughing, “so I’m back.”

Olson had hired a new executive director for the party and Brennan indicated he has no plans to make staffing changes. One of his focuses will be fundraising.

“The fundraising actually’s been going very well,” Brennan said. “…The party’s in good shape and we want it to be even stronger so that we can accomplish what are some very big goals for 2014.”

There will be a nationally watched U.S. Senate race in 2014, as Iowa Senator Tom Harkin announced he would not seek reelection next year. The other major statewide race will likely feature Republican Terry Branstad seeking an unprecedented sixth term as governor. There will be races for other statewide elected officials like the attorney general, ag secretary, secretary of state, state treasurer and state auditor, plus an open congressional race in the first district as Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley is running for the U.S. Senate.

Brennan said one of his first calls this weekend will be to Iowa Republican Party chairman A.J. Spiker, to ensure the lines of communication are open about efforts to secure the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa’s Caucuses.

“While we can argue about many things and disagree about many things, Iowa’s place in the presidential process is something that the Republicans and the Democrats absolutely agree upon in this state,” Brennan told Radio Iowa.

Brennan is a 1985 graduate of Grinnell College who served as an aide to Senator Tom Harkin in Washington, D.C. before returning to Iowa for law school. He graduated from the University of Iowa Law School in 1993. Brennan is now a senior shareholder in one of the state’s largest law firms.