A State Central Committee member's thoughts on Troy Price resigning

Shawn Harmsen represents the second Congressional district on the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee and chaired the February 3 caucus in Iowa City precinct 6, where a little more than 500 people participated. He first posted these thoughts on Facebook on February 12. The views expressed are his own and do not represent the SCC or any of its other members. -promoted by Laura Belin

Some will be cheering today’s news. I am not one of those people. My opinion may not be popular or fashionable right now, but it is an opinion formed through years of firsthand observations and secondhand reports.

Most of the world sees what went wrong after the caucuses were over. I do not want to minimize that. That matters, and I take it very seriously. More than you probably know. It was a heartbreaking and horrible week. On so many levels. Crushing.

But I also want to point out that for the vast majority of the Iowans who caucused, it was a very good experience. Myself included. When I left my caucus site, before I had a chance to hear the news, I was more optimistic than I have been since well before November of 2016. Caucusing with my neighbors did that.

In fact, one of my neighbors stopped me in the store today and told me how well he thought it went and how he left the room feeling really good and energized.

My stepmom told me two days ago that this year was her first caucus, she loved it, and hopes to do it again and wants to get more involved with her county party where she lives.

The fact is, the caucus part actually did what they were supposed to do for Iowans who caucused. It’s really rare to talk to anyone who didn’t think it was much better than 2016.

People outside the rooms like the one where my neighbors and I caucused didn’t see that. Nor do they care.

But I was there and I saw it.

And I have been there and seen the enormous effort behind the last couple years, and the man who spearheaded that effort. I saw Troy Price lead this party from a crushing 2016 with passion and faith to flipping Iowa House districts and clawing back U.S. House seats. I saw the enormous work statewide with organizing and support. I saw him at major events and small town spaghetti suppers, and showing up with his A game at all of the above.

We may well look back on Troy Price’s resignation as state party chair and feel it was necessary. We may well look back and see it wasn’t. The State Central Committee is working on how we get our answers and answers we can trust. Stay tuned.

Regardless, we should recognize now and in the future the passion, dedication, and excellence Troy put into his job as state party chair for the past several years.

Whatever else we feel about the last ten days, we would be lesser people if we ignore that work and sacrifice made on our behalf and to our benefit.

Whatever else you might think about today’s news, I guarantee you this is good news for Iowa’s Republicans. That also should tell you something.

But, done is done, and we have to move on. Every day I see more bad news from Des Moines, I am reminded that those same Iowa Republicans are going to hurt me and my family a hell of a lot more, and in ways a hell of a lot more real, than the harm it caused my family that there was a delay in the rest of the nation getting results.

So we still have a lot of work to do, and a lot of fighting to do.

And as we move past last week, we are still far better situated to win those fights because of the last years of Troy’s leadership. Whatever else comes of our upcoming inquiry into last week, I want to say thank you to Troy for that.

Troy Price, please know you still have my respect and gratitude.

Top image: Panoramic view of the Iowa City precinct 6 caucus at Mercer Park Gym and Aquatic Center on February 3, 2020. Photo provided by Shawn Harmsen and published with permission.

Maintenance Notice - As of November 14, 2023 we are still seeing issues with replying to comments...Thanks for your patience, this will be restored.

  • Yes, outsiders do pay attention and do care - how it looks out here

    “People outside the rooms like the one where my neighbors and I caucused didn’t see that. Nor do they care.”

    Shawn, I am outside the state and checking in with BH regularly to read insights such as yours. I very much do care about the on-the-ground experience vs. what is widely –but sometimes incompletely– reported in national/international press. I am glad to hear that Troy Price did much good work for the Democrats in Iowa.

    I am grateful to Iowa for taking steps to increase transparency of the caucus and found that people I talked to have found that aspect of the caucus encouraging, even though it was at the request of a candidate. Looking at polls and voter registration stats for Iowa and the rest of the US, it seems that there are many who distrust government, elected officials’ and do not want to join our political parties. Transparency can only help inspire confidence and participation at a time when our highest leader is projecting cynicism and contempt for our rule of law.

    In my experience, it is the people with frontline election experience who have the most nuanced understanding of how elections do and don’t work and those who also have integrity can inspire trust and confidence both in volunteers, state voters, and the larger public.

    I hope either the interim chair has the ability to hit the ground running on this point, or enlist as a surrogate someone who is a seasoned election hand.

    I wonder if the overall perception may improve.as Iowa is compared to how other primaries and caucuses are run..

    We have not yet seen Nevada (which reportedly has made a recent decision to add new electronic wrinkles in place of the Shadows original app).

    An added complication to resolving issues by changing personnel is that Michael Bloomberg reportedly is hiring as many campaign operatives as possible and paying them at higher than market rates. One report says that local and state campaigns reportedly are having trouble finding and keeping qualified staff, and this will impact the ability of Democrats to run credible and competitive state and local contests.

    I hope that Iowa caucus participants at any level will continue to weigh in on their side of the story. Just because the national media is focused elsewhere doesn’t mean that people aren’t actively seeking information where they can find it. Well reasoned insights and well reported information have a pretty good chancet to be discovered and shared and thus reach an audience without a corporate intermediary. I would say areas might not be well understood outside Iowa caucus goers are how the math was designed and why designed as it was (does it flatten amount of alignment differences between candidates?), whether caucus chairs indeed found it difficult or easy to employ, how the “candidate can’t lose any support after the first alignment” works or didn’t work, why total caucus goer votes seemed higher than caucus attendee counts at times.