© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iowa Democrats say they're ready to make more changes to their caucuses in a bid to stay first

Attendees hold letters that read "CAUCUS" during a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Iowa earlier this month.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Attendees hold letters that read "CAUCUS" during a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg ahead of the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

"Our state law mandates that the parties hold caucuses at least eight days prior to any primary," Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said in a letter to the DNC making the case for Iowa Democrats to remain first-in-the-nation with its caucuses. "However, it is not prescriptive as to how those caucuses must be conducted."

The Iowa Democratic Party has submitted a letter to the Democratic National Committee asking for the Iowa caucuses to remain first-in-the-nation in the order of selecting a presidential candidate. The DNC has opened up the presidential nominating calendar and is asking states to apply to go early and make their case.

Earlier this year, members of the DNC Rules and Bylaws committee said they want to favor more competitive and diverse states and primaries elections instead of caucuses going forward. In 2020, Iowa's results were delayed for days because of a faulty smartphone app.

“We recognize that changes must be made in order to make the caucuses more straightforward and accessible,” said Des Moines attorney Scott Brennan, who serves on the DNC committee that sets the calendar. “We indicate in the letter that we are willing to make significant procedural changes.”

Brennan has served as Iowa Democratic Party Chair twice. He noted in a call to reporters Wednesday that members of the DNC committee that sets the calendar will meet virtually to discuss “evaluative criteria” on May 18.

The letter also points out that Iowa is easy for candidates to travel across and has relatively inexpensive media markets. The letter signed by current Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn says “Iowa also offers something else invaluable to the nominating process: a distributed population of urban, suburban, and rural Americans that is unique among the current pre-window states.”

Wilburn was with Brennan on Wednesday virtual press conference where he said he will “fight like hell for Iowa.”

A reporter asked Wilburn how he can still defend Iowa’s lack of diversity. Wilburn responded that Iowa is becoming more diverse and people of color are winning recent election.

“This past year with our local city council, school board and mayoral elections, there was a record number of people of color running for office,” Wilburn said. “The vast majority of them [won].”

Iowa Democrats will officially make their case to the national party next month. Republicans have not changed their calendarand potential presidential candidates have already begun testing the waters in Iowa in recent months.

Iowa has held the first-in-the-nation caucuses for the past 50 years and has been followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.