Head of Iowa Democratic Party resigns after caucus results debacle

DES MOINES — The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party resigned his position on Wednesday as the organization grapples with the fallout of a botched caucus process that has left the party and state reeling.

“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,” Troy Price said in a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee.

Price, an Iowa native, worked as political director for Barack Obama’s 2012 Iowa campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Iowa campaign. He served as executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party before being elected its chair in July 2017 and reelected in 2018.

More than a week after the party’s Feb. 3 caucuses, final results from the night are still not available. Results from Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary have already been called and Democratic presidential campaigns have moved into Nevada and South Carolina.

Candidates have called for a recanvass of 143 precincts, including all in-state satellite precincts. The party also reviewed results from 95 precincts independent of the campaigns’ requests.

The Associated Press still has not called a winner in the race.

More:Iowa Democratic Party accepts recanvass requests of all precincts highlighted by Sanders, Buttigieg campaigns

Preliminary results show that former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a slim lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in state delegate equivalents, the traditional measure of success in Iowa. Sanders had more individual support at the caucus sites, a metric he aligned with a traditional primary election. 

The unprecedented delay in reporting follows an organizational collapse on caucus night. Problems with a new cellphone app used to report results were rampant; chaos enveloped a call center that should have acted as a fail-safe backup; and the data presented to the public even after days of “quality control” checks remained riddled with errors

More:Iowa caucus 2020: Inside the Iowa Democratic Party’s ‘boiler room,’ where ‘hell’ preceded the results catastrophe

“The challenges of reporting data and delays of publicizing the results were categorically unacceptable,” Price said in a news conference Friday afternoon. “Iowa Democrats demand better of us. Quite frankly, we demand better of ourselves.”

Price announced Democrats would commission an independent investigation of “what went right, what went wrong, from start to finish” with the entire caucus process.

Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, has taken to publicly criticizing the Iowa party’s handling of the caucuses. Though he said he takes some responsibility for the meltdown, he said he would “absolutely not” step down from his role.

“I’m frustrated. I’m mad as hell. Everybody is,” Perez said during a recent appearance on CNN. “And I think what we’re going to do at the end of this cycle … is have a further conversation about whether or not state parties should be running elections.”

With Perez among those leading the charge to review the presidential nominating process, calls to replace caucuses with primaries and remove Iowa from its coveted first-in-the-nation status have grown increasingly forceful.

Concerns over diversity and inclusion have risen to the forefront this caucus cycle as a presidential field that was at one point the most diverse in history has winnowed to a nearly all-white pool of candidates. The problems with this month’s results have shifted the focus back to Iowa’s arcane rules and complex process and will undoubtedly have repercussions for future election cycles.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at bpfann@dmreg.com or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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