First look at possible new Iowa Democratic Party leaders

Derek Eadon announced this morning that he resigning as Iowa Democratic Party state chair, having recently been diagnosed with “Trigeminal Neuralgia, a painful but non-lethal ailment that requires radiation procedures over the summer.” I enclose below the full text of an e-mail Eadon sent to Iowa Democratic Party county chairs and State Central Committee members.

About fifty State Central Committee members will elect Eadon’s successor on July 22. I have reached out to the other seven Democrats who ran for state party chair in January.

So far Julie Stauch has confirmed that she is thinking about another bid. You can read her vision for rebuilding the party here. UPDATE: Stauch announced her candidacy on July 2.

I am running for the Chair role because I want to empower our team, break down barriers, and raise the money to run a strong coordinated campaign. I know that together we can turn Iowa Blue.

The Iowa Democratic Party is a team of talented people with leaders at every level committed to our success. I’m committed to respecting and recognizing the value of each role and each person on this team, where ever they are working across the state. I’m committed to acknowledging and respecting the roles of our many allies who help us in every way – whether financially, with boots on the ground, or through raising their voices in support of our Democratic values.

We have an incredible opportunity in 2018. We will succeed if we work together. We will succeed if we are each invested in the role in front of us. We will succeed if we respect the work of each other.
Each one of you – whether on the State Central Committee or a County Party Chair or a precinct captain, or someone who takes time to make phone calls every week – you are critical to ensuring we remain committed to our relationships with one another. We each must commit to working together.

As I said at the top, I am running for the Chair role because I want to empower our team, break down barriers, and raise the money to run a strong coordinated campaign. I commit to each of you that I will do my part. Together we can turn Iowa Blue.

Kurt Meyer commented,

I think the IDP would benefit significantly from leadership in that role. And such a person would PROBABLY have relevant experience and a record of success in previous endeavors. Lastly, our next leader must hit the ground running… no real opportunity for OJT [on the job training] since 2018 will be here very soon.

Here’s the vision Meyer outlined last year and the case he made to party leaders in early 2015, when he was runner-up to Andy McGuire on the third ballot.

Blair Lawton and Kim Weaver told me today that they do not intend to run for party chair again. Lawton is “happy in my current position,” organizing Democrats in the first Congressional district with a view to defeating U.S. Representative Rod Blum. Weaver recently withdrew from the fourth Congressional district race, in part because she plans to spend more time taking care of her ailing mother in Des Moines.

I will update as needed if I hear from Sandy Dockendorff, Mike Gronstal, or Bob Krause, the remaining candidates in the last IDP leadership contest.

State Central Committee member Laura Hubka is seriously considering a run for state party chair as well, she told me. Hubka endorsed Meyer in the last leadership contest. With Lawton ruling out a repeat bid, Hubka could become a consensus candidate for SCC members who favored Bernie Sanders in the 2016 caucuses. UPDATE: Hubka e-mailed SCC members on July 2 to say, “I have decided against running for chair. I am currently exploring candidates.” At the end of this post, I’ve added her Facebook announcement.

UPDATE: Dockendorff responded,

I would only consider it if I knew there was strong support for me to do so.

At the moment, I am currently responding to process questions from folks across the state and helping to prepare for the nominating convention tomorrow in HD82.

I wish Derek a speedy recovery and wish him well in all future endeavors.

I will discuss the chair election with my family and other Central Committee members in the coming days and make a decision based on that input.

I do think the issues and concerns I expressed in the last run up to the Chair election persist and the new Chair will need to be able to step up to numerous challenges immediately.

State Representative Curt Hanson passed away earlier this month, forcing a special election in Iowa House district 82 that has been scheduled for August 8.

UPDATE: On June 30 Dockendorff posted on Facebook that she will not be a candidate for party chair and will remain neutral in the coming election.

SECOND UPDATE: Bill Brauch, a State Central Committee member who chairs the third Congressional district Democrats, confirmed that he will seek the position.

I have been making calls to SCC members this afternoon to let them know I am running. I believe my skills in leading people and in seeking progressive change are needed now. I am so sorry Derek had to resign. He’s a great guy and I hope he recovers quickly and completely.

Last year, Brauch contributed this commentary to Bleeding Heartland with ideas for rebuilding the party.

Brauch made the nominating speech for Gronstal at the SCC meeting in January, so I assume this news means Gronstal is no longer interested in leading the state party. Representatives of Iowa’s largest public employee union (AFSCME) and the Iowa State Education Association supported Gronstal in that contest, so labor support is presumably up for grabs now.

THIRD UPDATE: Pat Rynard wrote at Iowa Starting Line that many Democrats are suggesting that State Representative Chris Hall of Sioux City would be a good party leader. Hall has said he may run for higher office next year, rather than for a fifth term in the Iowa House. As the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Hall has been one of the most outspoken critics of Republican budget policies.

Rynard added,

And it sounds like Matt Paul is seriously considering a run for chair. He was a longtime Tom Vilsack aide who worked in the governor’s office and at USDA. Paul ran Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Caucus campaign in 2016 and would bring significant experience running large operations as well as a full phone book of useful contacts around the country.

E-mail Derek Eadon sent to Iowa Democratic Party county chairs and State Central Committee members on June 29:

Today, with a heavy heart, I am announcing that I am resigning as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

It has been an honor to serve as the Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. In recent months, I have been dealing with health issues, and missing too much time on the job. Recently I have been diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a painful but non-lethal ailment that requires radiation procedures over the summer. Very shortly I will be back on my feet and knocking doors for Democrats. It is important that this party has a chair that can dedicate all of their time to this effort, and it is clear that I am not able to.

This is going to be a fantastic election for Iowa Democrats, and who ever takes over as Chair will be inheriting a great team, a solid amount of cash on hand, and fantastic candidates. I look forward to being helpful to the party in this transition, and most importantly wish everyone the best of luck. Thank you to the State Central Committee and other Democrats across the state for putting their support in me. The last five months have shown me just how strong this party is. I will be taking some much needed time off, and I am excited to see what Democrats can do this election.

I wanted you to hear this from me first. Trigeminal Neuralgia is a neurological disorder that causes intense pain, but can be fixed with surgery and radiation. In recent months, I have missed too many meetings and calls to make this work. I had gone months during the 2016 election without any complications, but this March, the ailment became worse and has hit a tipping point in the last month. It is also looking like there would be some time off in coming months that needed to be taken for treatment. I am very disappointed and apologize for the inconvenience to you all. Ultimately I think the right step is to try to get a new chair in as quickly as possible.

We will be issuing a press release this morning.

I have also called for a special SCC meeting to occur on July 22nd for the purpose of electing a new chair. Until then, Vice Chair Andrea Phillips will be assuming the duties of chair to assist with Hall of Fame prep and other responsibilities.

I will be fine, as will the party. We are going to win in 2018 and thank you all for what you do.

Thank you,

JULY 2 UPDATE: Excerpts from Hubka’s Facebook status update announcing her decision not to run for state party chair.

Taking on an unsurmountable job that will be the responsibility of the Iowa Democratic party chair is beyond my current skill set.

I don’t have the connections that are needed to currently bring in the amount of cash the party needs. We all know that money in the politics is what makes it seem dirty and unobtainable for the regular working person. I guess it doesn’t just ” seem ” that way it really is. It’s not like I haven’t raised [money] before. And I was ready willing and able to sit in that chair in Des Moines and make the contacts and phone calls that are needed. It doesn’t scare me. But I don’t feel that we have that kind of time

We can’t turn our backs on the fact that we need to raise money for the party. We’re going up against a lot of well-funded donors from the right. ones that want to make sure they continue to keep their tax breaks and can continue to avaid paying a real living wage to the people that create/sell and buy their products. They like to make sure that there’s a steep divide.

They want to make sure that you will always continue to want to pay less. As long as you’re making little money they can get away with paying their workers less and sending their jobs overseas “to save you money” by selling them cheaper here. It makes the consumer happy to buy cheaply. It’s a game. It always has been and it will continue to be as long as we sit on our hands.

There are other skill sets I do not have either. And I will continue to work on those over the next two years.

I will continue to look at those people who are running as they announce their candidacy. I want truth and compassion. I want a strong will and a “no backing down” attitude.
We have a lot of problems here at the Iowa Democratic party. And we can’t afford to wait one more minute.

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  • snakebit

    Iowa Dems just don’t seem to be able to catch a break. Potentially winnable special election and we miss the filing deadline. We’re already off to a slow start in 2017, and now we have to go through another leadership change. It just seems like it is always something (and don’t even get me started on the ongoing Sanders-Clinton relitigating.)