DES MOINES — Their state party leader is keeping hope alive as Iowa Democrats wait — much longer, now — to hear whether they will retain their enviable position as the first state to cast its preference for presidential candidates every four years.
National party leaders recently announced they will delay until after the November’s elections an announcement on a new presidential nominating calendar.
Iowa, which has been first in the nation since 1972, could get moved down the pecking order.
“We’re still in this fight, and we will continue this,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said Thursday during a virtual news conference. “I’m committed to fighting for Iowa to maintain its position on the nominating calendar.”
Wilburn said nothing has been decided by the national Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. In the meantime he will continue to make Iowa’s case.
“When I became chairman, we started this process, the word was Iowa’s done. I can’t speculate as to what the (national committee) members think, but no decision has been made. No calendar has been presented to the committee,” Wilburn said.
The national Democrats’ committee originally planned to make its recommendations this week for a new, early-voting schedule that will feature up to five states.
But last week, national party leaders announced that decision will be delayed until after the election so the party can focus on its candidates’ campaigns.
That pushes the new nominating calendar decision out at least another three months.
“My focus and our focus is on electing Iowa Democrats. We’re going to continue to press for that (early voting) waiver, and just continue to fight to maintain our position on the nominating calendar,” Wilburn said.
Iowa is among 16 states and Puerto Rico vying to be included in Democrats’ early presidential nominating window ahead of Super Tuesday in early March 2024.
The rules committee voted in April to reopen the presidential nominating window, forcing all interested states — including the early-nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to apply for a spot.
The move came after the current lineup of early-nominating states — led by the largely rural and predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire — came under increasing fire for a lack of diversity many Democrats say doesn’t represent the party’s true strength.
And it follows a chaotic 2020 caucus night for Iowa Democrats when a smartphone app — meant to make reporting results easier — failed. As a result, the official Democratic caucus results were not reported for several weeks.
The DNC is considering factors like diversity, electoral competitiveness and logistical feasibility in making its decision.
Of the 3,041 Iowans with felony convictions who re-registered and voted in 2020, 30% registered as Republicans, 29% registered as Democrats, and 38% registered as no-party voters, according to state data.
Iowa Republicans jumped to former President Donald Trump’s defense after the FBI’s search for documents as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida estate.