Nov 28, 2022 - Politics

Iowa gears up for this week's caucus calendar fight

Illustration of a first shaking itself at the state of Iowa with a vote being vast in the middle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The fate of Iowa's first-in-the-nation Democratic caucuses hinges largely on a vote this week from a panel of the national party.

  • Some of its members have voiced support in upending its calendar system.

Why it matters: Iowa's 50-year reign of going first — a significant influence in the presidential nominating process — may come to an end.

  • State delegates told Axios they will argue that the change would harm both Iowa and the national party.

Catch up fast: Iowa's role as a presidential testing ground began as "an accident of history" thanks to state legislation that set a May deadline for them.

State of play: The Democratic National Committee (DNC) in March circulated a proposal that would set the 2024 nominating calendar based on factors that would likely exclude Iowa, the Washington Post reported.

  • Diversity, competitiveness in the general election and the ability to administer a fair process are the criteria.
  • The DNC delayed calendar decisions expected last summer to focus on midterm elections, Politico reported.

Of note: Democrats this month lost all of Iowa Congressional seats and all but one statewide office.

  • The losses include longtime Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.

What's happening: The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee meets this week in Washington, D.C.

  • The full DNC is expected to finalize calendar decisions in early 2023.

What they're saying: A specific proposal and the committee's process to decide caucus calendar recommendations remains "wildly unclear," Scott Brennan, a former Iowa Party Chairman and a member of the panel told Axios Sunday.

  • This month's election losses are not favorable to Iowa's caucus pitch, Brennan said.

The other side: Republicans have already made Iowa first in the 2024 process, where campaigning for president is already underway.

  • Democrats would be at a disadvantage if Iowa’s role is minimized, state Democratic Chairperson Ross Wilburn told Axios last week

The intrigue: Republicans will hold their Iowa caucus as early as Halloween 2023 if the DNC pushes another caucus ahead of Iowa's, state party chairperson Jeff Kaufmann told NBC News this month.

  • "I'm telling you right now, they don't want to play chicken with me," warned Kaufmann, the head of a national GOP committee that oversees its presidential calendar.

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