Monday, September 23, 2013

One Date, One Caucus

Celebrating but still in shock here at Deeth Blog world HQ.

In a surprising mid-course correction, the Iowa Republican state central committee moved the 2014 caucuses to Tuesday, January 21, restoring the longstanding Iowa tradition that the two major parties caucus at the same date and time.

Earlier this year, without consulting the Democrats, the Republicans had chosen Saturday, January 25. Democrats objected to the Saturday date. An experiment with Saturday in 2010 had led to low attendance and complaints from the Jewish community. Here's my past post on the issue of separate dates. The fundamental problem: the only effective tool the parties had for keeping people from attending both caucuses was the simultaneous timing.

The two dates issue languished quietly for several months until Republicans voted to move their state convention into July. The thinking was that because of the possibility that the U.S. Senate primary may be inconclusive with no candidate winning the required 35%, the convention had to be delayed until after the state canvass of votes from the June primary.

The convention delay angered many Republican activists, both rank and file and elected officials. The main concern: a delayed convention would mean a delayed start to the fall campaign against Bruce Braley. Then the Republican Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, said very publicly that there was no reason the convention had to wait till after the state canvass. After that, GOP leadership got the ball rolling on moving the convention back to June.

The convention date move was made rather easily this evening. But while that issue was on the table, the caucus date issue was thrown into the mix. Public attention started to focus on the separate dates once it became clear that the Republican state central committee was meeting to reconsider the convention date.

I'll admit I was pessimistic about the chances. My backstage conversations with activists on both sides had me convinced that neither the Republicans, or failing that the Democrats, were willing to budge. 

In the end, the caucus date dominated tonight's discussion. The main objection came from Scott County, which had already done the work of booking rooms for Saturday January 25th. (I've done, and re-done  that work before, and I tip the beret in salute to the Scott County Republicans for being ahead of the game.) And If I remember right, in presidential years we've set the caucus date late and the caucus date itself has been earlier.

The return to a common date is good for Iowa's integrity, good for our constant efforts to stay First In The Nation. A sincere Thank You to the Iowa Republicans for doing the right thing.


Statement on Republican Party of Iowa’s Change in Caucus Date

DES MOINES – Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan issued the following statement on the Republican Party of Iowa’s decision to move the January caucus date:

“Iowa Democrats thank the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee for honoring the long held tradition of having both party’s caucuses on the same night.  The caucuses are a time where neighbors of all backgrounds come together to discuss the important issues facing our state and nation.  Tonight’s action by the RPI ensures that Iowa’s caucuses are fair, open and accessible to everyone, and I look forward to working with Chairman Spiker on not only ensuring that the 2014 caucuses are a success, but that the Iowa caucuses remain first in the nation.”

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