Iowa Democrats postpone county conventions; No changes at legislature

UPDATE: The Iowa legislature on March 16 suspended the 2020 session for at least 30 days. The Iowa Democratic Party sent guidance to county chairs the State Central Committee on March 23 on conducting county conventions “using an absentee system.” I’ve enclosed that document at the end of this post.

The Iowa Democratic Party is postponing county conventions scheduled for March 21 “to a future date to be determined,” the party announced today.

But for now, leaders of the Iowa legislature have no plans to pause activities at the state Capitol. They should reconsider.

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Deep dive on Iowa Democratic Party's vote to certify 2020 caucus results

The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted on February 29 to certify the 2020 Iowa caucuses, as published on the party’s official results page.

In most election cycles, that vote would be a formality. But about a third of those who participated in today’s meeting opposed certifying, due to questions about the accuracy of reported numbers in some precincts that were not part of the recanvass or recount requested by the Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns. They wanted the IDP to further review and if necessary correct results for certain precincts.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from a contentious debate and a list of SCC members who voted for or against certifying.

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Iowa Democrats should not certify inaccurate caucus results

UPDATE: The State Central Committee voted 26 to 14 on February 29 to certify results with no further corrections. This post discusses the debate and vote over certifying in depth.

The Iowa Democratic Party has updated official results from the February 3 caucuses again, following a recount of 23 precincts specified by the Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg campaigns. The recount didn’t change the projected allocation of Iowa’s national delegates: fourteen for Buttigieg, twelve for Sanders, eight for Elizabeth Warren, six for Joe Biden, and one for Amy Klobuchar.

Revised delegate allocations in nineteen precincts left Buttigieg “ahead” of Sanders by 562.954 state delegate equivalents to 562.021, a small fraction of 1 percent of all delegates. It would be more meaningful to say Sanders and Buttigieg in effect tied on the delegate count, while Sanders had the largest number of supporters attending precinct caucuses.

Unfortunately, the recount didn’t address all the inaccuracies in the official results. Some of the errors scattered around the state affected neither Buttigieg nor Sanders. The Iowa Democratic Party has taken no steps to correct those mistakes, nor has it responded to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated questions about them.

Meanwhile, Zach Montellaro and Holly Otterbein reported for Politico on February 27 that the Sanders campaign will object to the revisions, on the grounds that Buttigieg should not have been able to ask for recounts of precincts where he was shortchanged.

Someone in this party needs to insist on accuracy for its own sake. Before some sixty members of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee certify the caucus results at their February 29 meeting, they should insist on a broader review of the problems.

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Three ways Mark Smith can restore faith in the Iowa Democratic Party

The Iowa Democratic Party released revised Iowa caucus results on the evening of February 18, following a recanvass of 79 precincts. Recanvass administrators changed delegate allocations in 26 precincts where the precinct chair did not properly apply the party’s rules on February 3, and revised results in three precincts after spotting data entry errors.

The adjustments shrank Pete Buttigieg’s delegate lead over Bernie Sanders to “almost nothing,” a Sanders news release declared: 563.207 state delegate equivalents to 563.127, to be precise. The Sanders campaign will request a recount in several precincts where results were not adjusted during the recanvass.

While the work of tabulating the Iowa caucus numbers nears its end, the work of restoring confidence in the process is just beginning. Events of the past few weeks exposed serious flaws in the party’s operations.

After being chosen to succeed Troy Price as state party chair on February 15, State Representative Mark Smith told reporters, “Priority number one is to get out across the state and to talk to everyday Iowans and restore the faith in the Iowa Democratic Party.” A few places he could start:

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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.

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Troy Price resigning; who will replace him as Iowa Democratic Party chair?

UPDATE: The State Central Committee elected Mark Smith on the first ballot. Three other candidates were nominated: Joe Henry, Bob Krause, and Gabriel De La Cerda.

Troy Price will soon step down as Iowa Democratic Party state chair, he informed some 60 members of the party’s State Central Committee on February 12.

In that letter (enclosed in full below), Price apologized for “unacceptable” problems with reporting the Iowa caucus results, adding that “Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night. I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party.” He expressed a “desire to stay” on the job but recognized “it is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult.”

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