The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party announced his resignation today in an emotional meeting with reporters. Michael Kiernan says a personal health issue made him decided to step down. “I noticed in late January, a lump below my right ear,” Kiernan explained, “after a battery of tests I have been diagnosed with a tumor in the deep lobe of my saliva gland. I will be treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals.”
The 35-year-old Kiernan says he won’t know his long-term prognosis until he has more treatment. “It’s a road that I have to now get on to find out exactly, I don’t know all the details, I know that it will require surgery. I have had several positive signs that it is not cancer, but until they do the surgery, I will not know for sure,” Kiernan says.
A number of high-level staff members have left the governor’s office and his campaign operation in recent months. His chief of staff, campaign manager, communications director and press secretary have all left within the past two months. Kiernan says that’s why he decided to go against the governor’s advice and reveal the nature of his illness.
“Because of the speculation of the people (who) have left the campaign for various in the past…another person stepping aside without an explanation, just couldn’t happen,” Kiernan said. He says he understands the nature of politics, but says “people are quick to judge without the facts much of the time.”
Kiernan says he would rather stay in the fight, but has to step down to focus on his family and personal health. He says it has been a “great honor” to lead the Democratic Party. Kiernan’s successor will be chosen Thursday evening.
Kiernan was elected to the position in February of 2009. Kiernan ran Governor Culver’s campaign for Secretary of State before serving two terms as an at-large Councilman in Des Moines. He was born and raised in Madison County, Iowa, and is married to WHO-TV anchor Erin Kiernan.
Listen to Michael Kiernan’s entire remarks here:
Kiernan news conference 5:46 MP3