# Iowa Caucuses



Rita Hart has her work cut out for her

Seventh in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2022 state and federal elections.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee elected Rita Hart as the next party chair on January 28 by 34 votes to fourteen for Brittany Ruland and one for Bob Krause.

Hart promised to focus “squarely on helping our party begin winning elections again,” and had submitted a detailed plan (enclosed in full below) to make that happen. She touted her experience as a former state senator who had won two races in a district Donald Trump carried, raised $5 million as a 2020 Congressional candidate, and outperformed Joe Biden by more than Iowa’s other three Democrats running for U.S. House that year.

When outlining her vision for Iowa Democrats, Hart acknowledged, “We cannot fix everything in one two-year cycle. We need to be realistic about what can be achieved in two-year and four-year time frames.”

She and the rest of the state party’s new leadership team—first vice chair Gregory Christensen, secretary Paula Martinez, and treasurer Samantha Groark—take over as the Iowa Democratic Party is at its lowest ebb in decades. The party has no representation in either chamber of Congress for the first time since 1956, no representation in the U.S. House for the first time since 1996, only one statewide elected official for the first time since 1982, and its smallest contingents in the Iowa House and Senate since the 1960s.

A quick review of the most pressing problems:

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Let's not surrender a piece of Iowa

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and has been connected to public schools for 38 years. He taught for eleven years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association Regional Director for 27 years until retiring.

For decades, small town Iowans were enthralled with 6-on-6 high school girls’ basketball, a game mostly played in towns with no stoplights. It was quaint. It was unique. It was fun to watch.

I was a fan.

The 6-on-6 game focused a spotlight on Iowa when many from the coasts couldn’t find the state on a map. We didn’t have mountains, or oceans, but we had a unique game that sparked national interest.

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How Iowa Democrats can follow state law and DNC rules

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.

As Iowa Democratic Party leaders struggle through the denial stage of the grieving process, they are clinging to a state law that supposedly privileges Iowa’s historic first place on the presidential nomination calendar.

In an email sent to party activists on the evening of December 1, soon after President Joe Biden announced his support for a Democratic nomination calendar that does not include Iowa among the early states, party chair Ross WIlburn wrote:

Our state law requires us to hold a caucus before the last Tuesday in February, and before any other contest. When we submit our delegate selection plan to the Rules and Bylaws Committee early next year, we will adhere to the State of Iowa’s legal requirements, and address compliance with DNC rules in subsequent meetings and hearings.

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Don't lose sight of what's important, Iowa Democrats

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

Judging from the furrowed brows and dire predictions in Iowa, you might have thought a national Democratic Party committee had voted to eliminate motherhood and apple pie last week.

Actually, what the committee eliminated was Iowa’s first-in-the-nation spot for the Democratic precinct caucuses, a coveted kick-off role for Iowans in the party’s presidential nomination process every four years since 1972.

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Musings from a first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus critic

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

The pending end of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses will no doubt set off long nights of reminiscences covering a half-century among the state’s political/media intelligentsia. But I will step forward with a claim that is not to be challenged.

I was the first-in-the-nation critic of the Iowa caucuses. It happened entirely by accident.

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How Iowa Democrats could have saved the caucuses

Anyone who was paying attention has seen this day coming for years.

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on December 2 for a new presidential nominating calendar, leaving Iowa out of the coveted early group. Though the Iowa Democratic Party will hold precinct caucuses in early 2024, as state law requires, we will no longer have presidential candidates campaigning around the state.

Some activists are already focused on adapting to life without being first-in-the-nation. I applaud their pragmatic mindset and welcome guest commentaries about how to rebuild the party without the money and national media spotlight we have enjoyed during presidential campaigns for decades.

But first, let’s acknowledge what some Democrats gloss over as they fondly recall the good times or grouse about President Joe Biden’s “complete kick in the teeth.”

Iowa Democratic leaders might have avoided this outcome if they had addressed problems with the caucus system a long time ago.

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