In 2017, the Iowa State Legislature will start a new session, with Republicans in control of both chambers of the Iowa Legislature as well as the governor’s office, leading many in the Democratic Party to ponder ways to reboot before heading into the 2018 midterm elections. A December forum for Iowa Democratic Party chair candidates hosted by The Political Party and Grand View Democrats focused on efforts to recover from the 2016 losses, including working to bring more diverse, younger voices into the party.
The forum, which was attended by seven of the eight chair candidates, aimed to make the traditional party process of selecting a state chair more transparent and offered people a chance to meet the candidates and discuss the future direction of the party. Following the event, The Political Party released an endorsement of Kurt Meyer, a long-time Democratic party activist who served as the chairman of the Tri-County Democrats in north-central Iowa.
“His plan for the IDP is exactly what is needed to move the Party towards future electoral success by building a deeper, more diverse and progressive bench of candidates with ample supply of millennials,” the group noted in a press release announcing its endorsement last week.
In addition to Meyer, chair candidates include Sandy Dockendorff, Derek Eadon, Mike Gronstal, Bob Krause, Blair Lawton, Julie Stauch and Kim Weaver. All but Gronstal, the former Iowa State Senate majority leader, were able to attend the forum. A video of the forum discussion is available on The Political Party’s Facebook page.
In its endorsement, the group praised Meyer’s commitment to the party and to progressive causes, including work as a local party chair and involvement with past campaigns. It also highlighted his stated plans to build the party following the 2016 losses.
“Meyer emphasizes working with activists in communities throughout Iowa, because a partnership mentality is what will truly enable the IDP to build local capacity and form lasting relationships that will serve Iowans well not only during presidential election cycles, but in mid-term and off-year cycles as well,” the group said in the release. “Given that the Democratic Party is still feeling the impact of a hotly contested presidential primary that pitted Sanders supporters against Clintonites, Meyer’s emphasis on unity and partnership is crucial for the Party’s future success.”
The Political Party also labeled Derek Eadon and Kim Weaver as “worthy of strong consideration.” They highlighted Eadon’s thoughts on engaging younger, more diverse Iowans in the political process.
“The future of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement will largely depend upon party leaders channeling the anger and hurt felt after the election of Donald Trump into direct action and support for progressive policies and candidates,” the group noted. “That this will happen is certainly not a given — in fact, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done.”
They also praised Weaver’s campaign against longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King. Although she lost to King on Nov. 8 — earning 38.6 percent of the vote to his 61 percent — she was praised for her message-centered campaign that focused on issues outside the goal of ousting King.
“Weaver is a compelling voice for the Democratic Party, presenting herself as not afraid to go her own way when she believes she is right,” the group said in the release.
The Political Party launched earlier this year with events in Des Moines and Iowa City that featured TED-style talks on issues affecting Iowa Millennials. The initial goal of the group was to engage young people in politics in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Post-election, the group plans to continue hosting political events to identify and support progressive candidates.