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Rick Santorum to headline Iowa GOP event

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, will be the featured speaker when the Republican Party of Iowa brings its “Chairman’s Series” to Cedar Rapids later this month.

Matt Strawn, chairman of the RPI made the announcement Tuesday while taking note of President Barack Obama‘s official foray into the 2012 presidential election a day earlier.

“President Obama’s re-election announcement should be a warning shot for all Iowa Republicans that the 2012 election has begun in earnest,” Strawn said in a prepared statement.

“In 2010, our county parties demonstrated the power of grassroots organizing by out-performing our Democratic counterparts in voter contacts and delivering huge Republican gains at every level of government. The Linn County Victory Office was a prime example, running one of the most highly organized and efficient voter turnout operations.”

A key strategic change for Iowa Republicans in the lead-up to the 2010 general elections was a renewed interest of early voting. In prior election cycles, the RPI game plans had all but abandoned the practice of encouraging voters to cast their ballots in advance of election day, which led to several close races ultimately won by Democratic candidates once absentee ballots were counted.

Although absentee ballot returns continue to favor Democrats in Iowa, Republicans did manage to narrow the gap in 2010.

In February Strawn announced his “Chairman’s Series” in February, which has been designed to offer a year-long selection of national speakers in hopes of continuing GOP momentum into the 2012 cycle. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour served as the first speaker in the series on March 15 in the Quad Cities. At each stop, the national figures are joined by local and regional elected officials.

The event featuring Santorum will be held at the Cedar Rapids Clarion on the evening of April 26.

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