State Central Committee members of the Iowa Democratic Party meet tomorrow to choose a new state chair for the next election cycle. Four candidates are seeking the job: Dr. Andy McGuire, Kurt Meyer, Jim Mowrer, and Tim Tracy. The competition itself is a welcome change from the Iowa Democratic Party’s standard operating procedure. For as long as I can remember, the State Central Committee has never considered multiple candidates for state chair. Members have merely rubber-stamped the choice of Senator Tom Harkin or the Democratic governor at the time.
Bleeding Heartland asked each of the candidates to make their best case for becoming the next Iowa Democratic leader. Some party insiders have also shared e-mail correspondence sent to State Central Committee members on behalf of one or the other candidates. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, Attorney General Tom Miller, Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and former Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03) are among those who endorsed McGuire. Former Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach has urged party leaders to pick Mowrer.
After the jump I’ve enclosed the arguments for choosing McGuire, Meyer, Mowrer, or Tracy (listed in alphabetical order). I don’t know any of them well, but I’ve met each of them and think highly of all. If I were on the State Central Committee, I would lean toward Meyer. The party needs a full-time chair, rather than a leader who would have to juggle those duties with another job. Moreover, I think choosing another Des Moines insider with the strongest connections to VIPs and major donors sends a “business as usual” message. Bleeding Heartland 2laneIA raised another concern about McGuire: she is a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton for president. It would be healthier for the Iowa caucuses if party leaders remained neutral before a nominee is determined. Although I don’t expect any strong competition for Clinton here, I wouldn’t want other potential candidates to fear the state party will stack the deck against them.
We need the state Democratic leader to focus on building the party up at the county level. All of the candidates talked about that in their presentations to the State Central Committee. But Meyer has done the most work in the trenches, organizing and motivating activists in several northern Iowa counties. That work contributed to Mitchell County being the whitest county in the U.S. to vote for Barack Obama (and Howard County the fifth-whitest to favor Obama over Mitt Romney), as well as to State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm’s narrow victory over Republican Senator Merlin Bartz in 2012. Without Wilhelm, there’s no Iowa Senate majority. Mowrer and McGuire have strong records on fundraising too, but I don’t see fundraising as the most urgent task for the Iowa Democratic Party right now.Continue Reading...