Democrats Differ On Caucus Breakouts – One Caucus Site’s Story

It was, for the most part, the Cathy Glasson party last night at the Meredith Middle School caucus location in Des Moines. Although many caucus goers chose not to outwardly show support for a gubernatorial candidate, Glasson’s volunteers were well-organized, nor shy about their support for her.

Glasson’s volunteers in each of the three precincts Starting Line attended at this caucus location all elected to join preference groups, seeming well-versed on the guidelines regarding the process. This process, although, wasn’t terribly popular in Des Moines’ Precinct 15.

32 adults and one soon-to-be 18-year-old sat in a small classroom, grouped together by candidate. Supporters of Glasson advocated for preference groups from the very beginning of the precinct caucus, jumping the gun on the agenda provided by the Polk County Democrats.

When it finally came time for preference groups, the Glasson supporters in the room, which totaled to five, amounted to the minimum required to create such a group. The group nominated one delegate. The remaining caucus members, 28 people in all, chose to stay in an uncommitted camp, electing seven delegates. Kimberly Boggus, who identified herself as a longtime party member and resident of the district, argued in favor of keeping the rest of the precinct uncommitted.

“I would go undecided because out of this room, you are not bound to support any candidate, because there might be candidates who drop out,” Boggus said.

This was a contentious moment in the precinct, as some Glasson supporters in the room were expecting more time to persuade undecideds to caucus for the candidate, while Boggus and other uncommitted caucus-goers wanted to move on with the agenda.

Meanwhile, next door in Des Moines’ Precinct 16, an uncommitted group seemed to be nonexistent. The entire room was split into three preference groups: Hubbell, Glasson and Norris.

Finally, down the hall was Des Moines’ Precinct 39. It was a packed room, with a significant chunk of the people in this precinct sporting Norris stickers.

The caucus is great for electing delegates to the county convention and proclaiming support for gubernatorial candidates via preference groups. It’s also a prime opportunity for the party to build up their base and rally — not only for the Democrats on the ballot this fall, but the platform points they have been pushing statewide.

Senator Janet Petersen, who represents District 18, had a chance to address the entire Meredith gymnasium of attendees before the group split up by precinct. Petersen attacked what she said was a failed Republican plan for the state, listing things like cuts on university funding and the privatization of Medicaid.

Because of this, Petersen said, to much applause, that “Over the past few years, I’ve never been more proud to be a Democrat.”

Chair of the Polk County Democrats Sean Bagniewski said although they were worried about the weather, turnout wasn’t too terribly impacted at this location.

“Turnout was just what we were expecting, or if not more of what we were expecting tonight. I think that was great,” Bagniewski said. “And then just countywide, it was well organized.”

For county Democrats, Monday night’s caucus turns into Tuesday morning’s county convention planning. “That’s what I’m looking forward to,” Bagniewski said.

One additional aspect of the caucus deals with platform planks and proposals that get sent on up through the process to eventually be debated on whether to include in the state party’s platform. Suggestions in Precinct 15 included:

  • Removing the role of money from elections
  • Supporting making FCC rules statutory instead over regulatory, citing companies like Tribune (now Tronc) and Sinclair gaining too much market share of media distribution
  • Disallowing the state to pay for “partisan staff,” citing the GOP’s sexual harassment lawsuit paid with tax dollars


by Jake Bullington
Posted 2/6/18

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