# Iowa Caucuses



2022 election merits more concern than Iowa caucuses

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

Worse things could befall Iowa and the nation than the Iowa caucus losing its “first-in-the-nation” status in presidential election years.

For example, it might be worse if the state kept that status and was viewed as a bellwether in the 2024 election.

Let’s face it. Iowa has little left of the virtues that had the state press routinely boasting about Iowa being “the center of the political universe” when it came to January and February every four years.

For an art-becomes-life perspective, consider a 1947 movie that kind of foretold the story of the Iowa caucuses.

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Surprising myself, I favor keeping the Iowa caucuses

Marcia Rogers divides her time between Cedar Rapids and Hyde Park in Chicago. A version of this column was first published in the Carroll Times Herald.

This wasn’t the planned first article of a three-part series I was intending to write. 

After all, what would a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize journalist from the Philippines, or a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and The Atlantic contributor on Ukraine and Russia, along with a former U.S. president — or finally my supremely qualified seatmate — say that would completely upend my opinion going into today about something so very Iowan as the caucuses.

Why would anything these four shared in their remarks during Day 1 of “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference at the University of Chicago turn my world of thought on this topic upside down?

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Why I'm quitting the Iowa caucuses

John Deeth has volunteered for the Johnson County Democrats and been involved in caucus planning since 2004. He was the lead organizer for the Johnson County caucuses in 2016 and 2020. Deeth has also worked in the Johnson County Auditor’s Office since 1997.

I never set out to be The Caucus Organizer for the Johnson County Democrats. The role landed on me by accident in 2004. Nearly every experienced party activist was involved in a presidential campaign, and almost no one was doing the logistics work of finding rooms, recruiting chairs, stuffing packets, and getting training done. The skill set overlapped closely with my job at the county auditor’s office, so I stepped in to help. 

Each cycle, my role got bigger and bigger. By 2016 I was seen as the Person In Charge, a role I repeated in 2020 and again in the recent midterm caucuses.

But after a lot of struggling, I’ve decided it’s a role I won’t take on again.

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Rural county chair on some changes Iowa Democrats need

Brian Bruening chairs the Clayton County Democrats.

The Iowa Democratic Party is passing through dire straits right now. We have a lot of energetic folks stepping up to run (Iowa Senate candidates Austin Frerick, Todd Brady, Sarah Trone Garriott, and Deb VanderGaast, to name but a few), but I’m worried that the stampede of Democratic legislators heading for the exit heralds a self-fulfilling prophecy of November defeat. 

Ras Smith dropping out of the governor’s race after being unable to find serious funding this cycle, and then announcing he’s not seeking re-election to his House seat, should’ve been treated as a more ominous a sign than it was. Indeed it was a bellwether in January when former House Democratic leader Todd Prichard announced he was bowing out of the legislature.

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Lights out

Bleeding Heartland user “Bill from White Plains”: It’s been a good ride and a great deal of fun. But let’s be honest: nothing about this state warrants first-in-the-nation status. -promoted by Laura Belin

Oh, if only Ira Lacher’s February 25 piece, “Junk the caucuses? Extend neck. Cut.,” provided some nationally-significant basis on which the national powers-that-be could maintain Iowa as the first-in-the-nation state for choosing presidential candidates!

It does not.

That it does not, did not escape me. Yet, Mr. Lacher, offering no good reason, or any reason really, criticizes Jason Noble and Kevin Cooney for providing what he considers bad reasons for abandoning the Iowa caucuses.

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