Dec 6, 2022 - Politics

Iowa treasurer: Disorganization sunk Democrats

A photo of Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner in 2015. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

The Iowa Democratic Party didn't do enough to help statewide candidates in last month's elections, outgoing state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald told Axios Monday.

Why it matters: Democrats last month lost all of Iowa's congressional seats and all but one statewide office — making it harder to argue that Iowa is a "purple state."

  • The election outcome was not favorable to Iowa's pitch to retain the nation's first-in-the-nation caucuses, former Iowa Democratic Party chairman Scott Brennan told Axios last week.

State of play: Fitzgerald took office in 1983 and is the longest-serving state treasurer in the nation.

  • He was defeated last month by Republican state Sen. Roby Smith in a 51% to 49% vote.

Zoom in: The losses can be credited to a combination of factors that include a well-organized GOP and Gov. Kim Reynolds' campaign that got Iowa Republicans fired up, Fitzgerald said.

  • The GOP's statewide candidates campaigned often together, gaining support through events and local publicity.

Meanwhile: Iowa Democrats didn’t have a strong get-out-the-vote campaign during the final weeks before the election.

  • And they missed valuable opportunities like not allowing statewide candidates to give in-person speeches at this year's Liberty and Justice Celebration, Fitzgerald said.

Of note: The gaffs weren't intentional but illustrate disorganization, Fitzgerald said.

  • State party officials did not return Axios' request for response Monday.

The big picture: Nationally, Democrats prevented a "red wave" that was projected prior to the November elections.

What’s next: Fitzgerald, 71, said he's not ready to retire but won’t likely run again for treasurer.

  • He plans to "give back in some meaningful way" but said his next steps will be decided after he leaves office at the end of this month.
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