Longtime Iowa political operative Derek Eadon prevailed in a seven-candidate field to become the new chair of the Iowa Democratic Party on Saturday. After months of intense campaigning for the votes of the 50 SCC members, Eadon emerged as a consensus choice from portions of both the Clinton and Sanders factions.
Andy McGuire opened the meeting with words of thanks to the party activists and urged them to unify as they moved forward. That might be a much easier task now that Eadon is chair.
Throughout the campaigning process, former Bernie Sanders activists coalesced behind political staffer Blair Lawton, who was also endorsed by Sanders’ Our Revolution organization. Many who had backed Hillary Clinton in the caucus whipped votes for Mike Gronstal, the longtime Senate Majority Leader who lost his seat in the Republican wave. But efforts on both of those sides may have gotten too intense and divisive, worrying an SCC that was already exhausted from persistent rifts that remained from the Iowa Caucus.
“I was very proud to get support from people who caucused for Hillary Clinton, people who caucused for Bernie Sanders,” Eadon told reporters after the election. “Folks were frustrated with the way things have been going. The Democratic Party hasn’t really learned our lessons. And I think today’s vote shows that there is unity behind a candidate who is interested in moving forward and being very aggressive … We want to have a positive culture in this party where everyone has a seat at the table no matter what your value is. We’re being neutral in primaries moving forward … We want to avoid closed-door meetings, backroom politics.”
Eadon told reporters that he felt the Democrats’ national message in 2016 didn’t focus nearly enough on the economy, and was too heavily focused on being just anti-Trump.
“We give lots of reasons to vote against Republicans, but we need to give reasons to vote for Democrats,” he said.
Eadon hoped to direct the state party’s focus into a more aggressive way up at the Iowa Statehouse.
“We shouldn’t avoid a fight on the issues,” Eadon said in his speech to the SCC. “We should start it.”
Eadon first got involved in the Democratic Party during Iraq War protests when he was in college. He started as a canvasser for the party ten years ago and was one of the very first staffers hired for Barack Obama’s caucus campaign. He later ran Obama’s statewide operation in 2012 before starting up his own consulting firm, Bluprint Consulting. In that role he organized many issue-oriented campaigns, including NextGen Action. Now that he’s chair, he plans on dissolving Bluprint.
“Democrats tend to use jargon,” Eadon said of the problems with Democrats’ messaging. “We’re a party that uses terms like ‘allowable growth.’ We need to be able to particularly communicate to folks that this is something that affects you. When we’re talking about clean water, we’re talking about Kim Reynolds and Terry Branstad allowing companies to dump unlimited amounts of pollution into the water you drink.”
Democrats are voting for several other offices as well. Andrea Phillips won the 1st Vice Chair position in a five-way race. That job also becomes a voting member of the DNC. Phillips was an Iowa House candidate in Ankney this year who, despite losing her race, impressed many activists with her strong campaign.
Jordan Pope was voted in as the 2nd Vice Chair. June Owens was elected as 3rd Vice Chair. Don Ruby was reelected to the Secretary role, as was Ken Sagar as the party’s Treasurer.
by Pat Rynard