Iowa G.O.P chair the guest on tonight’s Iowa Press

Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, is the guest on this week's edition of "Iowa Press" on Iowa Public Television.  It airs tonight at 7:30 p.m.  Here's the Radio Iowa story, focused on Strawn's comments on tax policy & gay marriage.

I asked Strawn about U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley who's been in the news on the gay marriage issue.  (Grassley, as you may have read, told The Des Moines Register he had to think a while before issuing a definitive statement about whether he supports an amendment to the state constitution which would ban gay marriage. "You better ask me in a month, after I've had a chance to think," Grassley told the paper's Thomas Beaumont.)

Here's the Iowa Press exchange with Strawn on Grassley:

Henderson:  "You mentioned frustrations.  There are some within your own party who are frustrated with Senator Chuck Grassley.  In fact, he was not elected to be a delegate to the national convention for the first time in a long while.  Does he have serious problems in the party?"

Strawn:  "No."

Henderson:  "Why not?"

Strawn: "I haven't seen it.  Again, I've been statewide.  I've been in front of, oh goodness, I would say almost a dozen to two dozen central committee meetings.  We've done seven 'Listen and Learn' forums across the state.  Not once have I had a single Republican activist or county leader approach me with a concern about Senator Grassley."

If Strawn hasn't heard grumbling about Grassley, those of us who cover politics in Iowa have.  Bill Salier, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002 who has a young family and does not plan to seek office anytime soon, summed up the sentiments in an interview today.

"Clearly, Grassley is not the same conservative that he was when he originally ran,"Salier told me by phone. "The voting population looks at it and thinks it's the same Grassley…and he's not. He isn't even close to the same conservative again and if it takes you a month to find your opinion on whether or not there should be an amendment (to ban gay marriage), you know, as far as I'm concerned, don't run for reelection because this is not what I'm looking for out of a United States senator. Just come back to your farm."

Do you think he'll face a primary?

"There is a certain amount of angst for folks when they look at running against somebody who is an icon in Iowa, having been there so long and, you know, he wins by tremendous percentages in the general," Salier replied. "But if anybody was ever vulnerable to a primary who is an icon, itwould be Chuck Grassley now…People become more and more and more incensed the more they start to pay attention to how far he has drifted."

Do you think what he said on gay marriage will be a tipping point?

"It should be," Salier said. "If you're not willing to stand up against a runaway judiciary, if you're not willing to stand up for the republic, at least be willing to stand up for the principles that you hear when you're in church on Sunday. If you're not willing to and it takes you a month to figure these things out, then perhaps it's time that you go back, put your two lawn mowers together and drive around in circles."

That last bit would be a reference to a Grassley 2004 campaign ad which featured Grassley's riding lawn mower.  Grassley took two walking lawn mowers and welded them onto the rider so he could cut a wider swath of lawn when he mows at home on the farm outside New Hartford.

On the day the Iowa Supreme Court ruling was issued, Senator Grassley issued a statement which you can read below.

“I support traditional marriage.  I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton. It defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and prevents states from being forced to honor the decisions of other state courts.   I also voted twice in 2006, in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor, for a joint resolution that would have amended the federal Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.  Now, to change what’s happened with the Iowa Supreme Court decision, the state legislature would have to take action.” –U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

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About O.Kay Henderson

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