Washington (CNN) – Iowa's Republican Party Chairman predicted Wednesday that the likely entrance of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich into the presidential race will trigger a more aggressive phase of the 2012 Republican primary campaign.
Gingrich is expected to enter a presidential exploratory phase Thursday during a visit to his native Georgia.
"A lot of the activity that's been happening under the radar, you're going to see out in the open in fairly short order," Matt Strawn told CNN during a visit to Washington.
"Once the first domino falls with formation of a campaign, whether it's Newt Gingrich or whether its someone else, I think you'll see in fairly rapid fashion activity scaling up," he said. "I can only speak to Iowa, but I imagine in the other states as well."
Strawn downplayed chatter that some potential Republican contenders might take a pass on competing in Iowa because of the powerful role social conservatives play in the caucuses.
He noted that the sizeable field of potential candidates has logged more hours in Iowa than in New Hampshire or South Carolina, and said he is "not aware of a single campaign that is planning to skip Iowa."
But Strawn nevertheless issued a blunt warning to candidates who might be considering such a strategy.
"That would be a very, very risky decision for a campaign to make," he said.
"I think Iowa returns to its swing state status on the electoral map, and a candidate that wants to be successful in the general election, actually being elected president, is going to need Iowa," he added. "But if you don't have a presence during the caucuses, it makes it very difficult to make Iowa very competitive in the general."
Strawn expressed optimism that states like Florida and Minnesota - which may hold early primaries and caucuses in violation of the 2012 calendar sanctioned by both national parties - would move the dates of their contests to allow Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to keep their coveted leadoff position in the nominating process.
All four are tentatively scheduled for February of next year, but other states are threatening to hold their contests in January.
If other states refuse to budge, Strawn said, the date of the Iowa caucuses "is going to be as early as it has to be."
"I don't think its any secret that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina have historically worked together, and we are in communication, and we will do what is necessary to maintain our proper and rightful role in the process," he said.