© 2020 Iowa Public Radio
IPR20012_Website_Header_Option2_NewsNavy.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Political News

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price Resigns Following Caucus Fiasco

Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, addresses reporters in Des Moines to explain the delay in releasing the initial results of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.
Grant Gerlock
/
IPR

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price has announced he will resign from his post. The announcement Wednesday comes in the wake of a historic caucus night fiasco, in which the party’s results reporting system was hamstrung by a series of critical failures. Results in the first-in-nation contest were delayed for days, and were riddled with errors when they were ultimately released, renewing calls for the state to lose its privileged status in the presidential nominating contest.

In a letter to members of the IDP’s State Central Committee Wednesday afternoon, Price said he would resign as chair as soon as a replacement is elected, saying his presence has become something of an obstacle for Iowa Democrats hoping to move past what happened February 3rd.

“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 letter reads in part.

He called his time leading the Iowa Democrats as “one of the greatest honors of my life”, and he recognized the organizing efforts of staffers and volunteers in past cycles and in this one, noting that “by all accounts” last week’s Democratic caucuses “went well.”

But he acknowledged the state party’s caucus night reporting system was a “failure.”

“However, there is no doubt that the process of reporting results did not work. It was simply unacceptable. It is why I called for an independent review of the decisions and processes that lead to this failure,” Price wrote.

"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." - IDP Chair Troy Price

Under Price’s leadership, the IDP opted to use a brand-new and largely untested smartphone app to transmit results from the state’s more than 1,700 precincts to party headquarters. The app was plagued with technical issues in the days and hours leading up to caucus night, with precinct leaders complaining to party staffers that they couldn’t download or log in to the app.

On caucus night, caucus chairs across the state abandoned the app and tried to call their results in over a party hotline, which quickly became overwhelmed with calls, including pranks.

The fiasco meant results were delayed for days, and candidates moved on to the New Hampshire primary without a full picture of what happened. When results were released, they were riddled with errors and inconsistencies, to the extent that the Associated Press still has not been able to declare an official winner.

In an interview with Iowa Public Radio and NPR in January, Price took questions about the party’s caucus night app and its contingency plans, but he repeatedly declined to offer specific details on what stress tests and security audits had been done and what backups were in place.

“Our commitment to making sure that this process is secure, making sure this process…the results are accurate, making sure that everyone has a good experience is…has been our paramount goals this year. And I think folks will see that on caucus night,” Price told IPR and NPR in January.

The caucus night fiasco has turned Iowa’s process into something of a national laughingstock, and calls from critics to put an end to the caucuses and the state’s privileged status have seemed as loud as ever.

In his letter sent Wednesday, Price said IDP staff members continued to work under “immense pressure” in the wake of February 3rd, “[e]nduring threats to personal safety, taunts and anger from people around the globe.” He also said that the IDP shouldn’t be the only one to bear the blame.

“While this [independent review] process is just beginning, know that the IDP is not the only party to blame for what happened last week. We worked collaboratively with our partners, our vendors, and the DNC in this process, and I am confident the review will be able to determine exactly what went wrong, what went right, and how we can avoid this from ever happening again,” he wrote.

"While this process is just beginning, know that the IDP is not the only party to blame for what happened last week. We worked collaboratively with our partners, our vendors, and the DNC in this process, and I am confident the review will be able to determine exactly what went wrong." - IDP Chair Troy Price

Following the announcement, other Iowa Democrats took to social media to share their reactions.

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand, the only non-incumbent Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, thanked Price in a message posted on Twitter.

“I want the world to remember @troyprice’s time as chair in a historic manner. Troy made so many groups that didn’t feel they had a voice in the past, heard. I’m lucky Troy was the chair when I put my name on the ballot. I wish you all the best in what comes next, friend,” Sand wrote in a tweet.

Sean Bagniewski, chair of the Polk County Democrats, has been outspoken in recent days about what he described as  “staggering errors” and “serious issues” with the IDP’s caucus night system, and has outlined specific questions he feels party leadership has yet to answer. But on Wednesday afternoon, he also shared a message of support for Price.

“I started working with @troyprice 15 years ago in Governor Vilsack’s office. He was one of the first people there that I could call a friend. His intelligence and passion means his future is still bright. Eager to see his next move to help make Iowa better,” Bagniewski tweeted.

According to Price’s letter, there will be an emergency meeting of the State Central Committee this Saturday, where members will elect an interim chair. Price says that individual will oversee the completion of the recanvass process and any recounts that may be requested and will “begin the process of healing our party.”