Thursday, March 05, 2015

Johnson County Dems Don't Really Caucus, Do Elect Officers

The "off year caucus" is one of the odder things Iowa Democrats do. The off-year caucus is NOT the caucus in the gubernatorial non-presidential year. That's a caucus.

The off-year caucus is the meeting in the ODD numbered years. In practice, it's a slightly bigger county central committee meeting, with a little more crowd building.

Johnson County Democrats usually build a crowd by combining the off year caucus with officer elections, and about 50 folks showed up Thursday night. We got a little presidential politicking on the side.

Martha Hedburg will lead the JCDems through the 2016 caucuses and general election. She takes over from Gerene Denning, who served a one-year term (taking over when Mike Carberry stepped down to run for supervisor). Denning stays on board as the finance chair.

Elections were uncontentious - we've had some doozies in the past - as everyone was unopposed. A few new faces, a few old faces in new roles. 

Jim Tate takes over from Hedburg as first vice chair (what my Republican readers would call "co-chair" ans usually the point person for GOTV). Steven Damm, previously secretary, is now second vice chair, traditionally the parade commander job. Mike Jesse is the new secretary and Karla Smith is in charge of publicity.  Peter Hansen remains treasurer, and I was re-elected to whatever I do. (Which this year means a lot of the caucus logistics.)

Not all the jobs get elected on the same cycle. Dennis and Robin Roseman hold over as platform chairs, and Melva Hughes remains affirmative action chair. The parliamentarian is appointed by the chair, but Tom Larkin is staying in that role.

With less than a year before the real caucuses, presidential politics were on everyone's mind. Worth noting: An announcement today that Martin O'Malley will be at Cedar County's off year caucus event on the 21st. This is what people running in the Iowa caucuses are expected to do.

Beth Ann Farvour, an organizer for the Run Warren Run effort, was the only representative of any campaign or pseudo-campaign on hand. "We're showing (Warren) she has the support out here in the early states," Farvour said. Many in the crowd jotted down the location of a Tuesday night "community action" meeting in Iowa City.

In Johnson County, at least, Democrats are eager for a competitive caucus. "We were told who was going to be the nominee in 2008," said Supervisor Rod Sullivan, a very early Obama backer in 2007, "and we picked someone else." (Trivia: In late 2007, the five then-supervisors were backing five different presidential candidates. Bill Richardson was the odd candidate out.)

"The best thing that ever happened to me was a primary," State Senator Kevin Kinney told the crowd.

Despite the active Ready For Hillary effort and yesterday's high profile (and good call) hire of Vilsack hand Matt Paul to manage Clinton's caucus effort, no one was on hand to advocate for Clinton. Maybe more surprising: no one for the active local Bernie Sanders group was in attendance. (The core of the local Sanders supporters have a strained relationship with the official Democratic Party, dating back to the Dick Gephardt-Paul Simon fight of 1988. No. I'm not kidding. It's a good story, but too big a tangent to go into now.)

Kinney and fellow Senator Bob Dvorsky gave a long legislative update with lots of Q and A. (Today was the first big "funnel" day when legislation dies. As if on cue, Minority Leader Bill Dix was tweeting out all the legislation he couldn't pass thanks to Kevin Kinney taking over Sandy Greiner's seat. Think Scott Walker, only meaner.)  Joe Bolkcom was home battling a nasty cold, and the House delegation was still in Des Moines.

All five county supervisors were also on hand. (Janet Lyness made sure they didn't break the open meetings law, and I was on standby to take minutes just in case.) The Board passed next year's budget this morning, though Rettig said state property tax "reform" made the job harder. And new guy Carberry said he's gotten the same advice from all four colleagues: "just vote like I do & you'll be OK."

And in what may be a first, no one showed up with any resolutions to pass.  Our reputation may be permanently damaged.

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