- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Republican Party of Iowa worked hard to show an image of unity at its state convention over the weekend, but at least one new board member of the party’s central committee supported by Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday the board plans to boot out the current state party chairman.

“I do think that we will have a new chair and co-chair. Who, I don’t know exactly - it’s open for nominations and that kind of thing,” said Trudy Caviness, a central committee board member from Ottumwa. She said newly elected board members this year feel a different direction is needed and plan to vote on June 28 to remove former state Sen. Danny Carroll, a Christian conservative who has been state party chairman since March.

Carroll said he was told Saturday night after the convention that the committee had enough votes to call a special meeting to elect a new chairman. They first will have to vote to remove Carroll if he doesn’t resign, and he indicated he will not.

“I’m not trying to be confrontational. I feel like I have to stay the course. I’m not one to give up or quit,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve done anything since becoming chairman that would require me to resign.”

The move frustrates some in the party.

“I have no idea where we’re going, to be honest with you. It seems like a train wreck all the time,” said Susan Geddes, of Indianola, a social conservative who said the party needs someone who can connect with the many factions within the party.

“The party is so fractured, I don’t know if that person even exists,” she said.

The party has seen dissention since the 2012 presidential election, when a group of supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and his libertarian views of smaller government, fewer taxes and individual liberty captured several seats and leadership positions on the state central committee board. They pushed against the GOP establishment and religious conservatives who had strongly influenced the board previously.

However, many grumbled that the party lacked a unified vision and adequate fundraising. The party elected new board members earlier this year and at the state convention Saturday with the support of Branstad, who wants the party unified to protect Iowa’s status as the first state in the nation to test presidential candidates at its caucuses.

“A fresh start is maybe where we need to look right now,” Caviness said. “I think that a majority of the people who voted for a new central committee wants us get about our business, which is helping elect Republicans and maintain the first-in-the-nation status Iowans are very proud of.”

For former central committee member David Fischer, it’s simple.

“I just want less government,” said Fischer, who was Ron Paul’s Iowa campaign co-chairman and a former central committee member who left the board in 2012.

He said Carroll does not deserve to be unseated and the new board members appear to want a committee that favors the status quo.

Branstad said Monday he’s focusing on November elections and isn’t going to be distracted by issues that should be left to the central committee.

“I think it’s up to the party to decide what makes sense. I’m focused on 2014, and I’m going to keep that focus on 2014,” he said. “We have new leadership. We have new members of committee, and I have great confidence that they will make a thoughtful choice.”

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