The chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa says the current statehouse squabble over a tax bill has unified his party. Party chairman Matt Straw says the G.O.P. plans to focus on fiscal issues in the 2010 election.
"Right now, you look at some of these legislative Democrats that won by the skin of their teeth in 2008 and 2006. They won by running on a platform of fiscal responsibility. They (ran) on cutting taxes," Strawn says. "But you know what? They haven’t done that when they got in charge."
Democrats who control the legislature’s agenda plan to bring up their tax plan for debate on Tuesday or Wednesday. Strawn is among those hoping the debate takes place on Wednesday, which is April 15th — deadline day for taxes.
"When Republicans act like Republicans — when we talk the fiscal responsibility game and we act on it — that’s how we win a majority in this state," Strawn says.
Strawn is the guest on tonight’s "Iowa Press" program on Iowa Public Television. During this morning’s taping of the program, Strawn did not criticize Democratic Governor Chet Culver for his lack of support for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Instead, Strawn criticized the timing of Culver’s statement on gay marriage.
"Everybody in this state had an opinion on that ruling within five seconds of it hitting the news wire except our governor. He puts out a two-sentence statement, talking about it being a complicated issue that he has to, you know, talk to his advisors about," Strawn said. "That’s not leadership and our people see that and Iowans see that, not just Republicans."
Three of the seven justices on the Iowa Supreme Court will have their names on the 2010 ballot in a retention election. While some Republicans unhappy with the court’s gay marriage ruling have started to encourage Iowans to vote those three justices off the court, Strawn said it is too early to tell whether the Republican Party will join an effort to vote those justices off the court.
"When we make those campaign decisions, you know, those are made, you know, based on the resources you have available at the time and, you know, right now we’re about a year and a half out so, you know, we don’t know where the resources will go for out statewide constitutional officers or even a potential constitutional convention or retention of justices," Strawn said. "And keep in mind, those are nonpartisan positions."
The names of Iowa judges and justices on the state’s highest courts go on the ballot periodically for a "retention election," but the judges do not list a party affiliation.
While Strawn criticized Governor Culver for consulting with the attorney general and other advisors before issuing a statement on the gay marriage ruling four days after that ruling was handed down, Strawn suggests he’s taking his time with the decision on whether the party will ask voters to support a constitutional convention as a means of getting a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Iowa.
"I don’t think any decision has been made by proponents of banning same-sex marriages in Iowa because I think the discussion has just started on what the various pros and cons are of pushing for that. That’s why the party has not made any decision. I mean, we’re hearing from our activists. We’re hearing from our legislative leaders. We want to make sure we exhaust every other possible avenue first," Strawn said. "…I don’t make decisions immediately out of hand. I think you have to think about things first, and listen to your constituencies."
Strawn was elected Iowa G.O.P. chairman earlier this year. Strawn, who is co-owner of the Iowa Barnstormers, lives in Ankeny.