Iowa Democratic Party chair to resign after Caucus reporting mess
DES MOINES — Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price Wednesday night said he’s resigning so the party can have a “fresh start.”
“We’re about to start this recanvas process and I got to a point where I believed it was a good opportunity for me to exit so that the process could move forward with new leadership and make sure the outcome of that process is not in question,” Price said in a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.
Price’s resignation will become effective when the party’s governing board meets this Saturday and elects a replacement.
The results of the February 3, 2020 Iowa Democratic Party Caucuses are still not final. On Sunday, party officials will begin a recanvas of 143 precincts and satellite caucuses at the request of Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns — to check the accuracy of results.
“I am truly sorry for what happened on Caucus Night, but I want folks to also know that doesn’t change what this party is all about,” Price said. “This is a party that no matter what happens, no matter how many licks we take, we always get back up and we always get back to work.”
Last week, Price told reporters he intended to stay on as chair until the Caucus counting had reached its conclusion. This evening, Price told Radio Iowa staying on became untenable.
“There have been some folks spreading stuff out there and what I wanted to do is make sure that we have the ability to have a fresh start here at the party,” Price said, “…and get the party focused on our core mission, which is electing Democrats in November.”
During his brief interview with Radio Iowa, Price described the Caucus counting operation as “a partnership” between the Iowa Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee. Price also said it was the Iowa Democratic Party that signed the contract with the developer of the smartphone app that failed spectacularly in reporting results.
“I had not worked with (app developer) Shadow before. The party had not worked with Shadow before and that was the width and breadth of it,” Price said. “I know there’s been a lot stuff spread on Facebook and Twitter and the social media the last few days, a lot of stuff that’s inaccurate, a lot of stuff that’s hurtful and a lot of stuff that has been hurtful not only to me personally but, quite frankly, to our staff here.”
In his resignation letter, Price said the party’s staff has been under immense pressure and has endured threats to their personal safety, taunts and anger from people around the globe.
“We did these Caucuses with the highest integrity possible,” Price said. “We stayed completely neutral in this process and have stayed neutral in this process and whatever you see on Facebook — people shouldn’t believe.”
State Representative Mark Smith of Marshalltown, the former House Minority Leader, has announced via Twitter that he is running to replace Price “to restore confidence in our party and bring the proven leadership needed to turn Iowa blue in 2020.”
Smith announced in September of 2019 that he would not seek re-election in 2020.
Price’s resignation letter is below.
Dear Members of the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee,
Serving as Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party has been one of the greatest honors of my life.
When I took over this party, we were still reeling from a bruising 2016 election cycle. Many people locally and across the country believed that Democrats in Iowa were dead, and that we would never see victories again.
Over the course of 2017 and 2018, I was so proud to work with the members of our state central committee, our county chairs, activists, and volunteers to build real momentum across the state. In the end, we proved the naysayers wrong by flipping seven seats in the Iowa House, winning three statewide seats, and winning three of four congressional seats – sending the first women from Iowa to the House in the process.
While we could have rested on our laurels, we got back to work. Over the last 15 months, Democrats across the state came together to build out our 2020 caucuses. Our amazing staff fanned out across the state to build infrastructure in all 99 counties – even in places where local parties had gone dormant or didn’t exist at all. We worked to implement sweeping changes to our process that increased accessibility and participation for Iowans across the state and the globe.
By all accounts, the precinct and satellite caucus meetings themselves went well. Over the last week, we have received positive feedback on these meetings – how smoothly they ran, how the new procedures helped to make the night move more quickly and efficiently, and how more Democrats of all backgrounds came together united in the goal of defeating Donald Trump and electing new leadership for our country.
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. 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, what went right, and how we can avoid this from ever happening again.
In the days following the caucuses, our staff worked under immense pressure to produce a complete report of results from the caucuses and was able to do so in 72 hours. Enduring threats to personal safety, taunts, and anger from people around the globe, our staff worked in a professional manner to produce a final result. I am incredibly proud of the work they did in those three days. These are people who are working hard towards our common goal of electing Democrats in November, and I deeply regret that these dedicated employees of our party had to endure such abuse.
The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night. As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party.
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.
Therefore, I will resign as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party effective upon the election of my replacement.
I will be calling for an emergency meeting of the State Central Committee on Saturday at 1pm to elect an interim chair. Whomever is elected will oversee the completion of the recanvass and recount process and begin the process of healing our party.
Our paramount goal must remain to elect Democrats at all levels of office that will bring the voice of the people to our government.
In spite of the challenges these last few days, I leave knowing that the party is in a strong position to move forward. Thousands of new Democrats joined our party through our caucus process. The Iowa Democratic Party currently has more money than ever before at this point in an election cycle. The infrastructure built through these last few months will allow us to build an organization that will turn Iowa Blue in November. And Iowa still has the best elected officials, candidates, volunteers, and activists of anywhere in the country.
Leadership requires tough decisions, and this is one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. Throughout my tenure as chair, I have always said I would do what is in the best interest of the party. With my decision, I hope the party can regain the trust of those we lost and turn our attention to what is most important – winning in November.
Chair, Iowa Democratic Party
CC: Don Ruby, IDP Secretary
Chairman Price’s resignation is effective immediately following the election of an interim chair this Saturday, February 15, at a meeting of the State Central Committee.