Mark Smith elected interim chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, promises big wins

Rep. Mark Smith — Iowa House of Representatives official photo

Mark Smith was elected interim chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) on Saturday. Smith, who has represented the Marshalltown area in the Iowa House of Representatives since 2001, will serve through the November general election.

Smith replaces Troy Price, who announced his resignation on Wednesday, Feb. 12, apologizing for the failures that plagued the reporting of results from the Feb. 3 caucus. Smith was selected by the IDP State Central Committee on the first ballot.

“Our Party is proud and strong because of our values, and we are committed to restoring trust to carry out those values from river to river,” Smith said in a written statement released by the IDP on Saturday.

Smith was one of four people who applied for the interim post, along with Gabriel de la Cerda, Joe Henry and Bob Krause. Of all the candidates, Smith was the only one that’s won an election in the last 20 years.

In 2014, de la Cerda ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd District in 2014, and Henry was a candidate for the Des Moines City Council. Krause served in the Iowa House from 1973 to 1978. In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for Iowa treasurer. Twenty years later, Krause was elected to the school board of the Waterloo Community School District, but only served three years. Krause also ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010, losing to Roxanne Conlin, who was defeated by Sen. Chuck Grassley in that year’s general election.

Smith served as House minority leader from 2013 to 2018, stepping down after the Democrats failed to win a majority in the House, despite a large voter turnout that helped the party win two Congressional seats and as many open seats because of a wave of Republican retirements.

The Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the Iowa House, while the Democrats have 47.

Smith announced in September he would not be seeking another term in the Iowa House, saying he was “retiring from public life.” The 68-year-old said he wanted to spend more time with his family and travel with his wife, Karen.

Smith said on Saturday he would serve part-time as chair at first, but will devote his whole attention to the job after the legislative session ends.

“Have no doubt: we will beat Donald Trump, send Senator Ernst and Steve King packing, and win back our legislature this November — and we will do so more united than ever,” Smith said in his statement Saturday. “That is my commitment as Chair to Iowa Democrats.”

The IDP State Central Committee will meet after the November general election to select a new chair.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated Smith was only candidate for interim chair who had been elected to pubic office in the last 40 years, instead of the last 20 years. That was incorrect, as it omitted Bob Krause winning a school board election in the late 1990s.

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