After weeks of controversy following the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, today said he will step down from his role with the party at the end of next week.
Strawn, who has served as the GOP chairman in the first-in-the-nation caucus state since 2009, announced his resignation in a statement. “It is only because the Iowa GOP has returned as a strong and relevant voice in Iowa politics that I am now able to evaluate all the competing priorities in my personal, business and political life."
He added, "The party is strong and has the resources in place for victory in November. Now is the time to transition to new leadership."
Strawn's resignation is effective Friday, Feb. 10.
Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the caucus by a mere eight votes during the wee hours of the morning on caucus night. After the certified results came in nearly two weeks later, Rick Santorum pulled ahead of Romney by 34 votes.
The Iowa GOP was also never able to account for all 1,774 precincts –- 8 precinct votes could not be tabulated because the Form Es were not collected.
On Jan. 19, the Iowa GOP sent out a press release congratulating both Santorum and Romney on their performance in Iowa, but did not declare a winner despite Santorum being ahead by 34 votes.
The Santorum campaign and supporters were unhappy with the lack of official word declaring their candidate the winner.
Later that day, however, Strawn went on an Iowa radio station and began to change his tone on the subject -- and leaned towards saying Santorum was the winner.
This switch brought additional criticisms of the chairman as well –- and confusion nationally as to who was the true winner in Iowa.
The Iowa GOP was forced to send a press release on Jan. 20 stating: "In order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results released Jan. 18 by the Republican Party of Iowa, Chairman Matthew Strawn and the State Central Committee declared Senator Rick Santorum the winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucus."
But many in Iowa are sad to see Strawn step down.
"For three years, Matt's focus on fundraising and voter registration was unparalleled. Because of him, the Iowa GOP is better prepared to go in to the 2012 elections,” State Central Committee member Tim Moran told NBC News. "I wish him well as he prepares for the next stage of his life"
The Governor of Iowa also thanked the Chairman for his dedication to the state.
“I want to thank Matt Strawn for his three years of leadership at the Republican Party of Iowa. Matt took over at a time when the party was in desperate shape, and rebuilt it precinct-by-precinct, putting it in the strongest position in years,” Gov. Terry Branstad said in a written statement. “Matt’s leadership will be missed, but I am confident a smooth transition will take place at the Republican Party of Iowa and we will continue our party’s successes this November.”
The State Central Committee will be tasked with electing Strawn’s replacement. The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for Feb. 11.