Iowa Republican Party chairman A.J. Spiker shocked fellow Republicans in the Hawkeye State by announcing over the weekend that he would be stepping down from his leadership post to join Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s political organization.
As Paul gears up for a likely 2016 presidential campaign, Spiker — who co-chaired the Ron Paul presidential campaign efforts in Iowa during the 2012 primary — will serve as a political adviser to RAND PAC.
Spiker’s hiring demonstrates that Paul, who says he won’t officially decide on a White House run until later this year, is actively preparing for a presidential campaign.
Top Paul political aide Doug Stafford officially announced the hiring Monday.
“We are pleased that A. J. will be joining us, his experience in Iowa and across the nation will be vital,” Stafford said. “His ability to work with the grassroots is unmatched and we welcome him to the team.”
The Daily Caller briefly caught up with Spiker by phone on Monday to discuss his new move. Here is a lightly-edited version of that conversation.
TheDC: Take me behind the scenes of how you decided to leave the Iowa GOP and officially team up with Rand Paul?
Spiker: I can’t remember the exact day, but this is something Doug Stafford and Sen. Paul and I had discussed a while back. I think it was a week or ten days ago that Doug called and told me they wanted me to be part of their team. I told them I’d be happy to talk to my wife about it, and decided that it was a good decision for our family.
TheDC: How do you envision your new role with Paul?
Spiker: I think you’ll see me involved in both Iowa and nationally in some of their PAC activity. But some of that role has yet to be defined.
TheDC: Will this be your full-time job?
Spiker: I’ll be doing other things as well. I sell real estate in Ames. And this will give me an opportunity to get a little bit more involved back with community, family, church. A little bit more time at kids’ soccer games too. It just gives me a little bit more flexibility than chairing the state party.
TheDC: Your clashes with the establishment factions of the state party have been well-documented. Did that contribute to your decision to leave?
Spiker: It wasn’t connected at all to any disagreements I’ve had. The governor and I had disagreed over the future of the straw poll, which is a pretty minor disagreement. If you talk to a lot of Republicans in Iowa, you’ll get varying opinions. I think the media might have blown that out of proportion compared to what the governor and I actually had for disagreements on it. That’s something we talked about regularly. I had a good working relationship with the governor and just recently, we helped with their re-election launch for his historic sixth term as governor of Iowa. And Sen. Grassley served as my honorary state finance chair, and [RNC chairman] Reince Priebus and I had a very good working relationship too.
TheDC: What kind of support do you see for Paul in Iowa today?
Spiker: I think people are hungry for the party that’s looking towards the future. The party needs that energy and excitement that comes with people who are interested in talking about civil liberties, people who are interested in talking about the government listening to your phone calls. Those are issues that really resonate with a lot of young people. And I think that’s where Sen. Paul can crack into a huge constituency of people under 40. And if you look at how Barack Obama won the White House, a lot of his vote came from younger people. And Sen. Paul has done probably a better job than anyone at reaching out at issues that younger voters care about.