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Iowa State Daily

Story County Democrats discuss party’s national standing at caucus

Cal+Halliburton%2C+an+attendee+at+the+2024+Story+County+Democratic+Caucus.+greets+with+Iowa+State+District+25+Senator+Herman+Quirmbach+at+Ames+High+School+on+Jan.+15%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Cal Halliburton, an attendee at the 2024 Story County Democratic Caucus. greets with Iowa State District 25 Senator Herman Quirmbach at Ames High School on Jan. 15, 2023.

To maintain some semblance of its former first-in-the-nation status, the Iowa Democratic Caucus took place at 7 p.m. Monday at Ames High School. 

While Republican precincts in Iowa began the process of nominating a candidate Monday, Democrats used the day to “elect unbound delegates and alternate delegates to county conventions, elect county central committee members and discuss platform resolutions,” according to the Iowa Democratic Party’s website.

Phyllis Schrag, an attendee at the 2024 Story County Democratic Caucus at Ames High School on Jan. 15, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

Early in March, the Iowa Democratic Party will make public the results of presidential preference cards that were mailed, allowing South Carolina to caucus first.

The 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus caused a stir within the Democratic National Committee when results were postponed for six days due to a problem with a vote-tallying mobile app. President Joe Biden asked the party to amend its caucus ordering so that it more accurately reflected party support from minority voters due to concerns about technical issues and the state’s relevance to the Democratic National Convention.

Some Democrats are worried about their party because of these concerns, while others are not as concerned. 

Herman Quirmbach, the Iowa State senator for District 25 talks with other Democrats at the 2024 Story County Democratic Caucus at Ames High School on Jan. 15, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

“Some people thought it made our party a disgrace, and I don’t think that at all. We had our turn to go first for a long time, so it’s okay,” Democratic caucus attendee David Brenner said.

Phyllis Schrag, another meeting participant, thinks similarly. 

“It doesn’t matter to me a lot, and to those that it does matter, they have to get over it,” Schrag said.

Even in the absence of a caucus, members of the Democratic Party are deeply committed to their party, as Schrag describes. 

“It is my civic duty to vote, and I came to the caucus, to become more informed, to show solidarity of other people, and I want my voice to be heard,” Schrag said.

These “business meetings” take place after the Democratic caucus, addressing inter-party decisions and using popular vote to make decisions within each county. 

“Some of these meetings are done in a flash, but with controversy, it can be endless and go on for hours,” Cal Halliburton, who has attended these meetings for years, said.

The meeting featured Democratic speakers who delivered messages encouraging Story County Democrats to get out in the community and vote. Following that, each precinct met to determine specific roles and responsibilities in their respective districts.

Attendees at the 2024 Story County Democratic Caucus at Ames High School on Jan. 15, 2023 (Tyler Coe)

The business side of the meeting focused on how to unify the party and bring in more votes, rather than arguing about internal party controversies. Almost everyone who spoke with the Iowa State Daily said they planned to vote for Biden in their mail-in caucus.

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