Iowa political parties push Jan. 21 caucus attendance

Both parties stress caucuses representation deciding-point

Rod Boshart
Published: January 9 2014 | 11:03 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:51 am in
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DES MOINES – Leaders of both major political parties in Iowa are making a concerted push to get Iowans to attend this month’s precinct caucuses in a non-presidential year.

Scott Brennan, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, made stops in Des Moines, Waterloo and Cedar on Thursday to tout the Jan. 21 events being held all around the state at 7 p.m. Likewise, A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party of Iowa, made a similar email plea last week.

“We all know how important the caucuses are to our communities, our state and our nation,” Brennan told a Statehouse news conference where reporters questioned whether his party faces an uphill task given that the mid-term election in a second presidential termhistorically has been a tough cycle for the party controlling the White House.

“History can be a guide but it’s not an absolute rule,” Brennan said.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a bad year (for Democrats),” he added. “In 2010, it felt like a bad year; 2014 does not have that feel, 2014 has a feel like we’re going to do quite well.”

Spiker, in his message to the party rank-and-file members, said 2014 will be a critical year for Republicans nationwide but “especially here in Iowa” where voters will decide open races in the U.S. Senate and two congressional districts – the 1st District in eastern Iowa and the 3rd District in central and southwest Iowa.

“Nothing is more important than making sure we have the infrastructure in place with precinct committee members to volunteer across the state,” Spiker said.

Leaders from both parties stressed that the caucuses are where they begin the process of formulating party platforms and issue positions, elect precinct leaders and delegates to county conventions in a “caucus to convention” process that decides representation at district and state conventions and the state central committee membership.

The delegate-selection process could carry extra weight this year if candidates seeking their respective party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, or other statewide offices do not receive at least 35 percent of the ballots cast in the June primary election – meaning state convention delegates will be deciding the candidates that appear on the November general election ballot.

“Don't forget, delegates to the district and state convention (who started out from their precinct caucuses) are the same people who nominated Steve King for Congress in 2002 and Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor in 2010,” Spiker said in his statement.

Brennan said Democrats will use the precinct caucuses as the starting point for building a grassroots organization the party hopes to use to grow its majority in the Iowa Senate, retake control of the Iowa House, sweep the statewide executive-branch offices and “finally unseating Terry Branstad once and for all.”

“The Republican Party has led our country down a path of intolerance, hostility and division,” Brennan said at his Statehouse news conference. “In November it will be made clear that Iowans have had enough of the Steve King and Terry Branstad way of governing – more gridlock, more division and more destruction for working men and women,” he said.

Iowans interested in attending a Republican precinct caucus on Jan. 21 can get more information at http://www.iowagop.org/2014-caucus-page/ while those interested in attending a Democratic precinct caucus can get more information on locations at thecaucuses.org.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@sourcemedia.net

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