Washington (CNN) - Iowa GOP chairman Matthew Strawn, coming off a dominant election cycle for Republicans in the Hawkeye State, told CNN Thursday he will seek a second term as the party's leader.
The move positions Strawn as a central player in the 2012 Republican presidential nominating fight, which is slated to kick off in Feb. 2012 with Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. Barring an unusually strong challenge from a libertarian or Tea Party-affiliated candidate, which seems unlikely given his winning record, Strawn appears all but certain to win a second term in January.
In 2010, Republicans re-captured the Iowa governorship for the first time in 12 years, won the majority in the state House, picked up six seats in the state Senate and protected every incumbent federal and state officeholder on the ballot.
Strawn has won plaudits from party activists in the state for his professionalism and was immediately endorsed by Gov.-elect Terry Branstad, who called Strawn an "articulate and energetic leader for our party."
It remains unclear who will lead the GOP in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two other states playing a key role in the nominating process. New Hampshire GOP Chairman John Sununu announced this week that he will not seek another term, and South Carolina GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd made the same decision last month.
New Hampshire Republicans will tap a new leader in January, while their South Carolina counterparts will do so in May.