Longtime Iowa political staffer Troy Price was elected by the party’s state central committee this morning in Des Moines to take the reigns of the Iowa Democratic Party through the 2018 election. He will fill out the remaining term of Derek Eadon, who resigned the post in June for health reasons. Price won out over Julie Stauch and Bob Krause. Andrea Phillips, who will now go back to being the party’s 1st Vice Chair, had been filling in as the acting chair for the past four weeks.
Price has a long resume in Iowa politics. He was the executive director of the party in the 2014 cycle, ran One Iowa, worked on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns and worked in the Vilsack and Culver administrations.
“Our party is ready to get to work,” Price told the crowd of 50-some SCC members in the room and on a conference call. “We’re only going to be able to get to work if our party is working well. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say that’s been the case over the last couple cycles. We’ve lost the trust of the people who we’re trying to help … Let’s face it: the coordinated campaign hasn’t been working for a couple cycles, so let’s fix it … I’m running for chair because I’m tired of seeing the party languish and I want to get this party going, and get it going right away.”
Price will serve as a full-time chair with a salary.
When Eadon’s unexpected departure was announced, many within the party worried that it would set off yet another divisive, intra-party fight that could distract from the Fairfield special election and messaging against Kim Reynolds. But that never materialized, and the sort of raucous public debates and intense, behind-the-scenes maneuverings didn’t play out in the same way they did during the last IDP chair race, when seven candidates competed.
No one from the Bernie Sanders crowd ended up getting in the race, despite some early talk about Northern Iowa activist Laura Hubka considering it. So the two serious contenders were Price and Stauch, both with deep ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign (Stauch was in Clinton’s announcement video and Price was her political director for the Iowa Caucus). Rather than the race focusing on divisions from the 2016 primary, it mostly revolved around the two candidates’ experience and vision for the party going forward.
Thanks to his past roles in working with key activists, allied groups and party leaders, there’s optimism that Price will be able to quickly get disparate factions and allies working together. The 2018 elections are seen as a do-or-die moment for the Democratic Party in Iowa, considering the complete Republican takeover in the last election. Defeating Reynolds for the governor’s office is the top priority, and will need a unified, competent and functioning state party to pull off.
The chair position for Iowa Democrats has been a volatile one in past years, almost taking on a “Defense Against The Dark Arts professor” reputation of late. Tyler Olson was chosen in 2013, only to leave after half a year for a gubernatorial run that was soon abandoned. Andy McGuire eked out a close win over Kurt Meyer in 2015, but Iowa Caucus controversies during her time only seemed to undermine her current gubernatorial run, rather than providing a boost. Eadon was only in the role for about five months before new health issues complicated his ability to continue on. Perhaps Price’s chairmanship will be less eventful.
by Pat Rynard