For all the public buzz over the race for Iowa Republican Party chair, the corresponding contest has been extremely quiet. Iowa Democratic Party chair Scott Brennan has announced he's stepping down, with his replacement to be elected Jan. 31. But Iowa's lefty blogs aren't buzzing the way the rightosphere is over next weekend's hotly contested GOP chair race.
The same dynamic has happened in the national party chair races. Republicans, suffering from the navel-gazing divisions of defeat, are in a heated six-way race for national chair. Meanwhile, over the weekend, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was smoothly eased in at the DNC to replace Howard Dean, with but a nod from the president-elect.
Maybe it's because the party chair seems to matter less when you control the White House, Congress, and the state government trifecta. And maybe it's because when you're in power, the opinions of those in power matter.
In Iowa, that means Governor Culver and Senator Harkin. They'll have strong opinions, and for most of the election cycle they'll be otherwise busy. Culver will be focused on the re-election and Harkin, fresh off re-elect, will be busier in Washington with a friendly Administration.
One of the names in the mix is Patty Judge, which would take the IDP the route it went in the Vilsack era, with the lieutenant governor serving as party chair. But Sally Pederson didn't move in as party chair until after the re-election, and there's an inherent conflict as IDP interests and Culver-Judge interests may not always be identical.
Other names in the mix have included Becky Greenwald and former Mike Blouin running mate and leading Hillary backer Andrea McGuire. Either would be a solid fundraiser and spokesperson.. But if Greenwald wants to take another shot at Latham, she's out, and McGuire's unlikely to get support from the governor.
One thing that seems likely: this will be figured out ahead of time and presented as a fait accompli, without the campaign web sites and public debates that we've seen in the Republican race. The grassroots influence, if any, will be less on the name and more on the direction.
Since nothing's more grassroots than the blogs, and it's my job to say crazy things, here's my thoughts on the goals of the next IDP chair: