IDP chair resigns; no word yet whether Olson’s running for gov or congress

UPDATE:  chatted briefly with Tyler Olson via phone; story’s here.

State Representative Tyler Olson, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, was elected chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party in late January – on the same day Senator Tom Harkin made the announcement that he would not seek reelection in 2014.  Given the shuffle since then, with Bruce Braley running for the US Senate seat rather than reelection to the US House, Olson has been pondering a bid for congress as well as a run for governor.
Today Olson announced he’s resigning as party chairman.  The last paragraph of his resignation letter reads like it’s from a candidate running for statewide office.  Read the party press release & Olson’s letter below:

State Central Committee to meet Saturday to select Interim Chair
 
DES MOINES – Today, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rep. Tyler Olson sent a letter to the Democratic State Central Committee announcing his resignation as chair.  Citing an interest in running for a broader office in 2014, Olson said that it is in the best interest of the Party for him to step down and take the time he needs to determine his next step rather than let those conversations affect the work of the IDP.
 
Olson’s resignation will become effective upon the selection of an interim chair, which will take place Saturday morning during a special meeting of the State Central Committee.  Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan is expected to run for the position.
 
Below is the resignation letter from Chair Tyler Olson to the State Central Committee:
 
Dear IDP State Central Committee,
 
The Iowa Democratic Party is strong thanks to your leadership, guidance and insight.
 
The team we put together has been very successful. We surpassed our fundraising goal every month, sold out the Hall of Fame Dinner and added to our down payment for next year’s coordinated campaign. We continued our work to strengthen the Democratic Party at the local level and have already reached out to over 100 folks who organized their neighborhoods in 2012. We also launched the Blue Guard, a new effort to engage young Iowans and develop the next generation of leaders in our party and state.
 
I am honored and humbled by the confidence Sen. Tom Harkin, as well as Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, had in me by supporting my candidacy to be chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. When Senator Harkin announced he would not run for re-election in 2014 I was struck by his comments about the time being right for a fresh perspective. Secretary Tom Vilsack recently reaffirmed this sentiment when he said it was time for a new generation of leaders to help move the state forward.
 
Senator Harkin’s decision to not seek re-election changed the landscape. I am proud of the Iowa Democratic Party’s strong position and it is time for me to determine how I can best serve Iowans through a conversation that is not possible as chair of the IDP. I will immediately end my duties as chair and ask this letter of resignation be effective upon the election of my successor.
 
As I told folks from Shenandoah to Davenport, Sioux City to Dubuque, St. Ansgar to Cedar Rapids and points in between, I am very optimistic about 2014 and the future of our great state. There is great opportunity in front of us with new leadership that understands the changing nature of our economy and world.  

State Senator Jack Hatch, the Des Moines Democrat who has been (sort of already) running for governor, issued a statement:

CEDAR RAPIDS – Campaigning in Cedar Rapids Tuesday, Senator Jack Hatch released the following statement on Representative Tyler Olson’s resignation as Iowa Democratic Party chair:

“I supported Rep. Olson’s efforts to become Iowa Democratic Party chair four months ago.  I’ll be among many Iowa Democrats who are disappointed to see him leave a position in which he was a good fit and showed real promise. 

“I’ve worked well with Rep. Olson in the legislature, and we worked together after the floods of 2008 in the private sector as my company rebuilt and redeveloped in affected parts of Cedar Rapids. 

“Rep. Olson is a sincere public servant. Iowa Democrats will miss the eagerness and optimism he brought to the chair role.” 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.