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Matthew N.

702 SW Coventry Circle
Ankeny, Iowa 50023

December 8, 2008

Dear Republican Leader:

Elections matter.

The fundamental truth of our democratic society is that elections matter. Elections determine who
makes the decision to send our sons and daughters into war. Elections determine whether our society
will have more freedom from the state, or less. Elections determine whether we will have leaders who
mandate policies that offend and intrude upon my family’s beliefs. Elections determine whether I will
have the freedom and resources to expand and grow my business.

Perhaps, more accurately put, winning elections matters.

I want to usher in an era where the Republican Party gets back in the business of winning elections;
and, winning elections without betraying our conservative principles.

It has been suggested by some that the problems plaguing the Republican Party of Iowa are beyond
repair. Nonsense. I refuse to sit on the sidelines and complain while watching my state – a state in
which I’ve chosen to raise my family and run my businesses – enter a downward spiral because the
political party representing my principles continues to lose elections.

After weeks of talking to Republican activists, elected officials, central committee members and donors
across the state, I am ready to pick up a rifle and stand a post. In that spirit, I write you today seeking
your support for my candidacy as the next chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.

To be certain, I am not a status quo candidate and these are not status quo times. Fresh, energetic and
passionate leadership is needed to advance the cause of Republicans in Iowa.

My candidacy is focused on the future. A future that wins back Terrace Hill. A future that places gavels in
the hands of Kraig Paulsen and Paul McKinley. A future that puts Dave Loebsack back in his liberal ivory
tower of academia and sends Bruce Braley back to chasing ambulances.

Let there be no mistake of the difficulty of the task at hand. This vision for the future first requires our
party and our candidates to regain the trust of our fellow Republicans and then the trust of Iowa voters.
Voters are hungry for accountability and principled leadership, so let’s be sure it is us, Republicans,
who serve it up to them.

Over the coming weeks, I look forward to a vigorous debate over who has the passion, energy,
experience, optimism, and results-oriented approach necessary to fundamentally transform the
Republican Party of Iowa into an electoral force.

I am confident that in Matt Strawn you will find a history of proven leadership, unmatched fundraising
ability, extensive communications experience, a pattern of electoral and business success, and a sense
of shared conservative values that you can proudly support.
Who is Matt Strawn?
I am a son of Iowa’s family farms, a fifth generation Iowan and Benton County native who after a career
in public service returned home to raise his family and begin building a business.

Even at a relatively young age, I consider myself incredibly blessed. I have a loving and supportive wife,
Erin, and two beautiful and healthy children in Nate (almost 4) and Katie (1 ½). I am a leader in a
successful and popular business. I have had the opportunity to serve the public and positively impact
policy among the highest levels of our government.

While detailed information regarding my background, experiences and history is attached, please allow
me to distill the relevant points:

 For nearly a decade, I have traveled the nation raising money to aid Republican
candidates and causes;
 I know how to build, fight and win races on Democrat turf;
 I have started and run successful businesses, including the popular Iowa Barnstormers
arena football club; and,
 I possess vast communications and media experience at the state and national level.

Electoral Philosophy: Power & Principle are not mutually exclusive notions
Like you, the Republican Party of today may not bear much resemblance to the Republican Party I

There is much discussion about deviating from, or watering down, Republican principles as a necessity
for electoral success. I honestly believe this debate misses a key point. You name a problem, be it a
social or economic ill, and I guarantee you there is a solution consistent with our party’s core beliefs.

The role of the Republican Party, along with its elected leaders, is to harness our collective talents to not
only craft sound policy consistent with those core beliefs, but then to also present it to the voting public
as a relevant solution to their everyday problems.

It is time for Republicans across Iowa to come out from the shadows and stand up for the principles that
make our party great. We are a party that believes in the individual and not the state. We are the party
that values human life. We are the party of freedom. We are the party of free enterprise – the freedom
to succeed as well as the freedom to fail.

Our next chairman must be able to reach these Republicans, wherever they may be found. Those who
share our beliefs and principles are found in every corner of Iowa, and our chairman must be able to
seamlessly move among all Republicans. From ice cream socials in church basements to working the
tailgate scene at Kinnick or Jack Trice stadiums to hanging out with the big shots at the country club to
complaining about the weather with farmers at the local coffee joint, it is imperative to engage
Republicans, period.
Guiding Principles for Rebuilding the Party
A prominent businessman once told me during a fundraising meeting, “There are three ways to
participate in the political process. You can run for office. You can volunteer your time. You can write a
check. Matt, I’m 80 years old, so here’s a check.”

While amusing, the story is also illustrative of the many ways these three principles intersect. All aspects
of a successful Republican Party of Iowa can be distilled to mechanics, messaging and money.

The best candidate with the best ideas in a race may not succeed if the party does not have the financial
resources to get that candidate’s message before the voters. Similarly, Republicans can build the
Cadillac of get-out-the-vote programs, but if our party only has enough resources for the used Kia on the
voter ID lot, we will all be coughing up exhaust as the labor union and trial lawyer funded Democrat
Rolls Royce blows by us.

I have attached a detailed 100-Day Action Plan containing many of the specifics that I see as critical to
rebuilding the party. In this introductory letter, I would also like to share my general philosophy on a
few key points to provide you a better understanding of my vision for the party.

• Message Matters, but So Does the Messenger

I do not subscribe to the oft-cited theory that Republicans simply need to “change their brand”
within the eyes of the electorate. To equate the principles of the Republican Party to that of
toothpaste or deodorant -- as merely a “brand” to be repaired is as intellectually lazy at it is
offensive to the very principles and ideals we share as Republicans.

Having some degree of authority on the subject as a businessman and marketer who helped
successfully “brand” the return of the Iowa Barnstormers and professional football to Iowa, there is
a difference, and we as a party must understand this difference.

Voters are not buying a product. They want to believe in someone, be part of a movement. Voters
crave authenticity. They can almost smell it on a candidate. Voters do not even need to share all the
same beliefs of a candidate - the very fact that a voter knows a candidate has a set of core beliefs
that will guide their decisions in office is often enough to win the voter’s support.

Recruiting quality, authentic candidates with those core beliefs is certainly the responsibility of the
party, but so is ensuring our candidates and party leaders have the ability to relate to voters with
sound, conservative solutions that are relevant to the problems of the day.

• Closing the Technology Gap: The Medium is the Message

Both nationally and here in Iowa, Republicans have been woefully inadequate in embracing new
communication technologies. As Marshall McLuhan famously observed over four decades ago, “The
medium is the message,” meaning, among other things, that the medium influences how the
message is received.

The medium used to communicate often says as much to the public as the very message we are
attempting to convey. Unfortunately for Republicans, this is but one factor that helps account for
Barack Obama’s more than two-to-one advantage among voters aged 18-35.
When Republicans ignore communications tools, we are telling the voters who value those tools
that we cannot relate to them … or even worse, do not want to relate to them. How can a political
party relate to a voting demographic (in this instance the youth and young professional vote) when
it refuses to speak their language?

Technological advances are delivering new communications tools -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
and mobile messaging, to name a few. The failure of a political party to fully utilize these new media
tools is as outdated as using carbon paper instead of the color copier.

Social networking media offers two added benefits for Republicans. One, they are free, or relatively
inexpensive. Two, they allow for direct communication with the voters free from any
“interpretation” by the leftist filter of the so-called mainstream media.

• Winning Elections
While many political strategists choose to equate politics with war using enlightened quotes
from ancient military strategist Sun Tzu to explain their philosophy for winning elections, I prefer
something a little closer to my Benton County roots. For those of you unfamiliar with the
cinematic masterpiece that is Road House, Dalton’s character is a mysterious bar bouncer trying
to clean-up a corrupt rural town.

“All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent.
Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. And three, be nice. I want you to be nice until
it's time to not be nice.” – Dalton, Road House (1989)

All campaigns can be won by applying these three broad principles. First, a fog of war surrounds
every campaign and it is the prepared campaign that is able to keep a cool head in a time of
crisis and stick to the game plan for success. Congressman Tom Latham’s 2008 campaign is a
perfect illustration of this principle. Despite drawing an apparent second-tier challenger,
Congressman Latham never once underestimated his opponent in terms of his fundraising and
campaign infrastructure activities. Thus, once the unexpected hit in late September, an
unprecedented Wall Street meltdown, Congressman Latham was prepared, stuck to the game
plan and was comfortably reelected.

Second, take the fight to the Democrats. A campaign should never allow an opponent to set the
terms of the debate. Republicans should identify and own the issues on which the election will
be won or lost. Always be proactive. Always take the fight to the opponent. Take it outside.

The third part is where we Republicans need to improve. We have the first part of the “Dalton
Principle” down pat in that we are nice. We believe everyone plays fairly on Election Day. While
probably true in the overwhelmingly majority of precincts throughout the state, there are just
too many anecdotal examples coming in from GOP county chairs and Election Day volunteers
where this is not the case. In a state where approximately 1,600 votes statewide is all that
separates us from an Iowa State House GOP majority, the Republican Party of Iowa must equip
its county leadership, Election Day lawyers, and poll workers with all the necessary resources so
they can know the law and fight back when slick, out-of-town lawyers try to intimidate them. Be
nice until it’s time to not be nice.
• Fundraising Philosophy
It is time the party stopped looking at our candidates and country parties as a source of funds and
start raising the resources necessary to build up and directly fund our candidates and county

My personal fundraising connections are deep and extend well beyond the borders of Iowa having
served as the chief of staff to the Finance Chairman of the National Republican Congressional
Committee at a time when we raised $135 million in individual contributions while also securing a
battleground congressional district by raising nearly $2 million per cycle.

Whether selling fifty-yard indoor football or the principles of the Republican Party and its
candidates, people want to know their investment is going to yield dividends. In business, that
means customers. In politics, that means voters. Having an identifiable two-year Republican
“business plan” for how RPI is going to get back in the business of winning elections is an absolute
imperative to give donors of all levels the confidence to once again start contributing to the
Republican Party of Iowa.

Maintaining and growing the major donor base with a tangible business plan is undoubtedly
important, but I fear our party has become overly reliant on a few larger donors while doing little to
cultivate the future financial leaders of our party. As noted in my 100-Day Action Plan, I would
immediately create a Future Leaders Program within the structure of the party that will have a
specific function of identifying and cultivating tomorrow’s major donors today.

Despite what the Des Moines Register and the liberal elites would have you believe, the sun does
not rise and set solely on the city of Des Moines. Republicans across the state deserve fun,
entertaining fundraising events with interesting guests, and we, as party leaders should be happy
help them open their wallets in the process. Expanding the fundraising event structure to regions of
the state will grow our party’s coffers, and be a key ingredient to energize our volunteers and

Creating fundraising events that donors and prospective donors want to attend, out of desire - not
obligation - will be a top priority. Using my varied and extensive relationships in the fields of politics,
entertainment and business, I will aggressively work to attract the best and most interesting guests
to our state.

This is just scratching the surface of what can be done to dramatically increase the revenues coming
into the RPI coffers. The poor economy should not be used as a crutch or excuse for poor
fundraising. Even in the worst of times, strong leadership provided with fresh, creative and
innovative fundraising initiatives will be successful.

• Volunteer & Activist Recognition

If money is the “mother’s milk” of politics, then volunteers are certainly its backbone. Treating
volunteers and activists with respect and appreciation would be a hallmark of my chairmanship.

Volunteering is hard, and even dangerous, work. Just ask my nearly four-year-old son, Nate, who has
already learned that politics is “blood sport.” While my family was door-knocking in West Des
Moines this fall for now Representative-elect Chris Hagenow, we had an altercation. Not with the
overzealous Obama volunteer we encountered, but rather, with a patch of uneven sidewalk that left
my little man with a bloodied nose and a scuffed up face -- a badge of honor he still proudly wore
four days later when Chris won his seat by 141 votes.

We all have our stories about the weeks spent living off the Maid-Rites that were across the street
from the Jasper County GOP office in 2004 and ignoring the “Beware of Dog” signs that resulted in
literally running for my life during a day of door-knocking in Tama. Our volunteers and activists are
often the unsung heroes of campaigns. My 100-Day Action Plan describes certain volunteer and
activist recognition programs that I would immediately create. We need to instill a permanent
culture of volunteer and activist appreciation throughout the party. As part of this culture, the party
leadership must make sure that out-of-state guests who come into Iowa to work during our
caucuses and campaigns have a clear understanding of how Republican volunteers in Iowa should be

The Listen, Learn and Lead Tour: Communicating Directly with County Chairs and Activists

Given my business world background, I know what it’s like to meet a bottom line and to have a board of
directors assess your performance. This is a good thing. It instills accountability. I also believe it is
imperative for state central committee members and statewide Republican leaders to have a chairman
who sets identifiable goals for measuring progress and accountability. I am submitting a detailed 100-
Day RPI Action Plan outlining those very goals.

My experiences in professional sports also taught me that that it would be awfully difficult, actually
impossible, to win a game with just a quarterback on the field or just a single coach on the sideline. If we
are to win as Republicans, we must do so as a team.

This is why I will also be directly reaching out to Republicans across the state. As Republicans, we share
the ideology that Washington, DC and Des Moines are not the sole source of wisdom when it comes to
public policy, and to our party. Our grassroots activists, county chairs, and local officials are on the
frontlines everyday and are an untapped resource of ideas for rebuilding our party. I want to tap into
this resource, which is why I will be hosting forums before the January 10 vote to personally receive
input and ideas about moving our party forward.

I will soon share a formal schedule for the “Listen, Learn and Lead Tour,” but plan to include a statewide
conference call with all GOP County Chairs and Elected Officials; a statewide telephone townhall
meeting with GOP grassroots activists; and, a series of at least one Pizza & Politics town hall forum in
each of Iowa’s five congressional districts.

In conclusion

I close by saluting your service to your party, your state and your nation.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat
and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no
effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great
enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the
end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring
greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor
-- Theodore Roosevelt, Paris, France, April 23, 1910

As a member of the State Central Committee, you are in the arena. You are making a difference.

Let us go forward, together, and I am confident we will know in the end “the triumph of high

Now, let’s get to work.

Warm regards,

Matthew N. Strawn


Cc: Members, Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee

The Honorable Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Tom Latham, U.S. Congress
The Honorable Steve King, U.S. Congress
The Honorable David A. Vaudt, Auditor, State of Iowa
The Honorable Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture, State of Iowa
The Honorable Paul McKinley, Republican Leader, Iowa Senate
The Honorable Kraig Paulsen, Republican Leader, Iowa House