An Outsider's Opinion on the Race for Iowa Democratic Party Chair

Highly-engaged Democratic volunteer nwfisch attended a January 10 meeting in Dubuque, where six candidates to lead the Iowa Democratic Party spoke to activists and answered questions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

As a teacher, I wouldn’t consider myself a political insider. I live a modest life and try my best to advocate for my students through politics. I’ve become more involved in the local party over the past year and I recently had the chance to hear six of the candidates running for chairperson of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Derek Eadon and Julie Stauch couldn’t make the event in Dubuque on January 10. While I endorse Kurt Meyer, I think all candidates offer a good vision of inclusiveness for the party, and the chair would be wise to gain support from all of their competitors.

The first person to speak was Blair Lawton. I was impressed with his commitment to organizing and his willingness to embrace President Obama as leader of the Democratic Party. I think he could provide useful perspectives on organizing that will ultimately benefit the party. As a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer, he also could be an appealing candidate for Democrats who favored Sanders.

Bob Krause was next, and he’s a very loyal party man. He addressed issues with the VAN, the voter activation network where data about voters is stored, and wanted to resolve those issues as well as making the party more inclusive. While I appreciate his willingess to run, I don’t think he fits the bill as leader of the Iowa Democrats.

Kurt Meyer I felt was the best candidate who incorporated the most in his platform. He has a natural charisma that makes his plans interesting and engaging. He addressed issues relating to VAN, local party building and organizing. I was shocked that he lost to Dr. Andy McGuire. Dr. McGuire came across as an elitist and I don’t think made the connections with rural voters that was needed. She did an admirable job.

I feel that Kurt could reach not only people like myself who live in urban areas, but also reach those lost rural voters and lost State House and Senate seats in the 2014-16 elections. The governors’ race is winnable in 2018 and we don’t have time to wait for on the job training from the party chair. We need a leader who understands the issues facing the party and has the best plans to implement them. He understands the limitations that he can’t micromanage every piece of the party’s operation, he will have to delegate to people in the field.

Mike Gronstal proposed a solid vision of the party and presented some reasons why Democrats lost in 2016. I appreciate Mike’s willingness to work, he knocked on 15,000 doors this year, however, right or wrong, the perception I get is that he is too “insidery” to make a meaningful change in the direction of the party. Mike is an honorable man, and a man who is a great asset for the party. He shouldn’t be dismissed or disparaged, and I am not trying to do so here. I think the party needs a leader who can lead but is willing to do different things to get things done. Mike is still a valuable asset and whoever the chair is would be wise to work closely with Mike and use his connections and ideas for good in rebuilding the party.

Sandy Dockendorff was next and used her experience in the party to her advantage. She again was very detail oriented and I feel would be a competent chair. She again stressed the importance of building relationships and making organizing more meaningful. While she is a valuable asset to the party, I think again, she comes across as too “insidery” to make the changes needed to better grow the party.

Kim Weaver appeared via Skype and provided great energy and background about how she outran Hillary Clinton in the Fourth Congressional District. I think right now the party chair would be too big of a role for her to take on, but I think she has connections and ideas about building the party. I would support her having a key role in party building, perhaps as vice-chair or chair of a committee.

When Democrats give up 20 seats in the State House by refusing to field a candidate, something needs to change. I believe Kurt Meyer has the most inclusive vision for the party and is the best candidate for the job, though all candidates running have talents that will benefit the party going forward. 2018 is fast approaching. We need a leader who will advocate for the Iowans struggling to get by, those who receive mental health services, and can be an effective person to reach people who feel the Democratic Party has left them. Kurt Meyer has my full support.

Top image: Photo by nwfisch of Blair Lawton, Kurt Meyer, Bob Krause, Mike Gronstal, and Sandy Dockendorff in Dubuque on January 10.

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