# Ross Wilburn



Iowa Democrats demand Arab, Climate caucuses be seated on governing body

Brian McLain chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus.

In a letter finalized on January 14, several Democratic leaders called for a special meeting to challenge the refusal to seat the Iowa Democratic Party’s two newest constituency caucuses on the State Central Committee.

According to a letter from outgoing state party chair Ross Wilburn, the Iowa Democratic Party’s attorney and co-chairs of the Rules and Nominations Committee Co-Chairs “all reached the same conclusion”: there is no legal mechanism for the Arab-American Caucus and Climate Change & Environmental Caucus to elect representatives to the State Central Committee.

However, the State Convention of 2022, which is the party’s supreme governing body, officially recognized both new constituency caucuses last July. In the interest of transparency, these leaders have chosen to make this letter publicly available.

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2023

The Iowa House opened its 2023 session on January 9 with 64 Republicans and 36 Democrats, a four-seat gain for the GOP compared to last year.

Thirty-eight representatives (24 Republicans and fourteen Democrats) were just elected to the chamber for the first time in November. Two Republicans previously held other legislative offices: Craig Johnson served one and a half terms in the Iowa Senate, and David Young served two terms in Congress.

The House members include 71 men and 29 women (sixteen Democrats and thirteen Republicans), down from 31 women who served for the last two years. The record for women’s representation in the Iowa House was 34 female lawmakers in 2019.

Six African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Jerome Amos, Jr., Ruth Ann Gaines, Mary Madison, and Ross Wilburn, and Republican Eddie Andrews) serve in the legislature’s lower chamber. As Abdul-Samad began his seventeenth year at the capitol, he surpassed Helen Miller as Iowa’s longest-serving Black state legislator.

Republican Mark Cisneros was the first Latino elected to the Iowa legislature in 2020, and Democrat Adam Zabner is now the second Latino serving in the chamber. Republican Henry Stone became only the second Asian American to serve in the House after the 2020 election, and Democrat Megan Srinivas was also elected in November. The other 92 state representatives are white.

Democrat Elinor Levin is the only out LGBTQ member of the Iowa House. She and Zabner are also the first Jews to serve in the chamber for more than three decades. Abdul-Samad is the only Muslim member of the House, and Srinivas is Hindu.

I’ve posted details below on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes since last year’s session. The biggest change is that House Speaker Pat Grassley created an Education Reform Committee to consider the governor’s school voucher plan and other controversial education bills. The House also eliminated the Information Technology Committee.

Some non-political trivia: the 100 Iowa House members include two with the surname Meyer (a Democrat and a Republican) and two Thompsons and a Thomson (all Republicans). As for popular first names, there are four men named David or Dave, four named Thomas or Tom, three Roberts (a Robert, a Bob, and a Bobby), three Brians, three men named Michael (two go by Mike), a Jon and two Johns, two named Charles (a Chuck and a Charley), and two men each named Jeff, Ken, Steve, Matt, Austin, and Josh or Joshua. There are also two Elizabeths (one goes by Beth), an Ann and an Anne, and two women each named Heather, Megan, and Shannon. As recently as 2020, four women named Mary served in the Iowa House, but just one was sworn in this week.

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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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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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