Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price will step down as the head of the state party, he announced this afternoon. His departure will come after the intense criticism of the delayed results from last week’s Iowa Caucus, which still are not fully final as campaigns and the party work through a recanvass process of precincts with questioned results.
“The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night,” Price wrote in a letter to state central committee members, referencing the results. “As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party. While it is my desire to stay in this role and see this process through to completion, I do believe it is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult.”
Price’s resignation will not take effect until after the SCC elects a new interim chair this Saturday. It is not yet clear who all may try to run for that interim position or as the next chair. [Update: former House Democratic Leader Mark Smith is running for chair.]
The state party took a good measure of the blame in the chaos from caucus night. Though the reporting app was undermined by coding problems, the IDP’s backup systems quickly fell apart as well. Numerous media reports have outlined the dysfunction and lack of preparation in the state party’s boiler room as volunteers and staff attempted to field results over the phone from precinct chairs.
While DNC Chair Tom Perez repeatedly threw the state party under the bus in national media interviews before finally pulling back and taking some responsibility himself on Monday, Price continued to refer to the DNC as a partner in the process and didn’t malign the national operation.
“Our paramount goal must remain to elect Democrats at all levels of office that will bring the voice of the people to our government,” Price wrote. “In spite of the challenges these last few days, I leave knowing that the party is in a strong position to move forward. Thousands of new Democrats joined our party through our caucus process. The Iowa Democratic Party currently has more money than ever before at this point in an election cycle.”
While many local activists and SCC members remained fond of Price, who ran a relatively drama-free and effective state party operation until caucus night, it was clear that his position there was untenable. Even had he wanted to stay after this, it is unlikely the donor community would have had faith in the state party.
The goal now for the next chair is to begin rebuilding trust in the IDP, as well as to quickly prepare the party for an incredibly important general election, one in which all four congressional districts, the U.S. Senate seat and the Iowa House will be highly competitive.
Unlike after the 2016 caucus, when Democratic voters themselves were burned out after a divisive, messy caucus process, most reported positive experiences in their precincts this year with a better-organized operation. The reporting disaster burned Iowa badly in the national media and with Democrats around the country, but Iowa activists may be eager to regroup and ensure the state party is fully functional for 2020.
Price himself took over the party in mid-2017 after the resignation of its previous chair over health reasons. During the 2018 cycle, Democrats won two congressional seats, flipped the state auditor’s office and gained significant ground in the Iowa House.
by Pat Rynard