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Troy Price answered media questions in the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 7, 2020. Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images

Iowa's first-caucus status was a target by those who wanted to butt ahead of Iowa long before the botched 2020 event, Troy Price, the former Iowa Democratic Party chairman who resigned under pressure, told Axios on Monday. That included some people from within Democratic circles, he said.

Driving the news: Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Iowa's first-in-the-nation status is "unacceptable" in an explosive new interview published Sunday by the New York Times.

  • In response: “Everything could have gone swimmingly in the 2020 caucuses and we’d still be having this fight," Price said.

Why it matters: Iowa politicians from both parties are fighting hard to retain the state’s place as first in line.

  • Losing it would erode Iowa’s political influence and cost the state millions of dollars in future revenue generated from holding the first event.

Flashback: The Feb. 3, 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses were marred by technological glitches associated with an app that was to be used by roughly 1,700 precincts. And it was made worse by internet trolls who disrupted a reporting hotline.

  • Dozens of errors were discovered in the initial results reported by the party.
  • The final results showing Pete Buttigieg as the winner didn’t come out until days later.
  • Price resigned nine days later, on Feb. 12.

The problems fueled longtime arguments that Iowa is not representative of the nation, that its process is arcane, and that the state should no longer hold the first caucuses.

The other side: Price has not spoken much publicly since his resignation. His recent interviews — including one this month with BuzzFeed — give context about how the caucuses meltdown occurred, and the fight to do away with the process altogether:

  • Delays: Concerns about cybersecurity prompted the Democratic National Committee to add extra security to a reporting app a few days before the caucuses. That measure contained glitches that led to the delays in announcing final results, Price told Jason.
  • A target from the top: Soon after last year's caucuses, Perez said that it was time to resume discussion about getting “out of the business of running caucuses," the Buzzfeed article revealed. Price cited that comment as evidence of a long-running desire to shuffle caucus order.

What’s next: Members of Iowa’s political parties are both preparing for a challenge to maintain the state’s caucus status in 2024. Final decisions by the RNC and DNC aren't expected for months.

An Axios special event Thursday includes interviews from Sen. Chuck Grassley and State Rep. Ross Wilburn (D), who replaced Price as Iowa's Democratic chairman. Sign up here.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

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Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.