Chaos created by a lack of timely reported caucus results demonstrated something that was voiced on the trail in Iowa for months: unity among the Democrats.
Friendship in the 2020 Democratic race proved to extend beyond camaraderie on the trail, as different former campaigns and politicos came together in a time of party vulnerability. After the reporting system broke down on Monday night, an all-call went out for help from the IDP, answered by former presidential candidates’ staff, Iowa elected officials, congressional campaign staff and others.
“I think that’s the beauty of this all, is Iowa comes together in times of need. And I think they have plenty of volunteers and so it’s whatever the leadership needs, I think the folks are here to help,” said J.D. Scholten, the Democrat running for Steve King’s seat in the U.S. Senate. “I think it was a great reaction to the difficulty of what’s happened.”
Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand and Senate Leader Janet Petersen were in the Iowa Democratic Party call center until the very early hours of the morning, while Cindy Axne’s campaign staff went over to help man the phones —many not leaving until close to 2 a.m. Also in the room was Tim Gannon, the secretary of agriculture candidate from 2018.
Axne campaign staff and others were working to track down activists and county chairs to find results that hadn’t come in yet. The local volunteers they reached on the phone were reportedly happy to help despite being called at very late hours.
A large number of former Cory Booker staffers were quickly activated, and former staff for Beto O’Rourke and top endorsers for Kamala Harris sat by each other to take calls. Former campaign staff that knew activists in specific counties around the state that hadn’t checked in offered to touch base with their contacts to track down results.
The next morning, volunteers were deployed throughout the state to chase down precinct chairs and collect results packets.
A Scholten staffer in Mason City, another in Sioux City and his campaign manager drove all around the district to pick up results.
Scholten said that at probably about 1 a.m. Monday night, after realizing the confusion, he tweeted out that his campaign could offer help to the IDP. He got a quick response back from a party official and the next morning sent his staff around the state—to counties like Woodberry, Plymouth, Sac and others in rural areas.
It’s notable that when the party was in need, all these different campaigns came together, Scholten said.
“I think in all of this, you take away the app, you take away the reporting process, the caucuses were as smooth as they ever have been,” Scholten said. “They’re more inclusive than they ever have been. The folks here in Iowa all got behind it. So it’s just really sad that the national narrative won’t represent that.”
by Isabella Murray