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Rand Paul's Iowa Guru Builds Talking Teddy Bears

Can Steve Grubbs and his tech-savvy ways help him build Iowa caucus turnout for the Kentucky senator?
Steve Grubbs, chief executive officer of Victory Enterprises, stands for a photograph in the printing facility of his second business, VictoryStore.com, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. Grubbs, a former Iowa state legislator and veteran of Iowa presidential politics, recently signed on as an advisor to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's political action committee, RAND PAC.

Steve Grubbs, chief executive officer of Victory Enterprises, stands for a photograph in the printing facility of his second business, VictoryStore.com, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. Grubbs, a former Iowa state legislator and veteran of Iowa presidential politics, recently signed on as an advisor to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's political action committee, RAND PAC.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Steve Grubbs, an Iowa businessman and political strategist, has been a player in his state's Republican caucuses for two decades—mostly, as a losing player. In 2012, he worked for Herman Cain. In 2008, it was Tommy Thompson. In 2000, he worked for Steve Forbes. In fact, his last Iowa caucuses winner was Bob Dole, in 1996—the most conventional candidate of the bunch.

It’s a quixotic record, creative and idiosyncratic, and one that puts principle above conventionally determined considerations of viability—which is why it makes perfect sense that prospective 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul has hired him as a top Iowa strategist and technology consultant. Paul and Grubbs didn’t decide to work together to burnish their records. They’re both visionaries, political imagineers. For both, winning is not the only thing—it’s what you win. “A lot of strategists will look at the polls and go with the frontrunner,” Grubbs said. “I’ve always been a risk-taker.” And as many members of Rand Paul's national network are meeting Wednesday for a closed-door summit at a Washington hotel, Grubb has an important place in the circle.