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Republicans to keep Iowa atop the presidential nominating calendar

John Pemble
IPR file

The Republican National Committee voted unanimously Thursday to keep Iowa’s traditional first spot in the presidential nominating calendar at a meeting in Memphis.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said she was excited to continue to welcome presidential candidates to Iowa. She said the state has proven its ability to lead the contests over the years.

“We truly have perfected the art of retail politics with town hall meetings where farmers and families and main street business owners get to drive the conversation,” she said in a press call on Thursday.

The vote comes as the Democratic National Committee's opening spot in the presidential nominating calendar is in question. The DNC Rules and Bylaws committeevoted Wednesday to require states to make a case for why they should have their contests ahead of Super Tuesday.

Now, states interested in being at the beginning of the calendar will submit an application in early June. The committee will take demographic diversity into account — something advocates for changing the calendarhave criticized Iowa and New Hampshire for having a lack of.

John Pemble
IPR file
Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann said he believes Iowa deserves to the first slot in the presidential nominating calendar for both parties.

Chairman of the RNC presidential nominating process committee Jeff Kaufmann said he believes Iowa still deserves the opening spot for both parties. He said he doesn’t think the DNC’s concerns over lack of diversity in Iowa hold water.

“If the national party doesn't let the Iowa Democrats go first, they can spin it all they want, but they're sending a message that would be a ridiculous message to send to Middle America,” he said.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said in a statement to IPR that the state party will “absolutely be applying to be in the early window.”

Kaufmann, who is chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, said he believes the state will be stronger if both parties sit atop the calendar, and he predicted they would face “all kinds of problems” if the DNC voted for a different state to open the contests.

He said he was happy to see Iowa’s leading spot recognized by the Republican party, and he hoped the Democratic party would follow suit.

“Our little state is not going to be a flyover country in 2024 or 2023 or even this year,” he said. "And I’m really proud that our citizens are gonna get a chance to show the world, again, exactly what we can do in starting out this process.”

Kendall was Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA until Jan. 20, 2023.
Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.