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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Resigns After Caucus Fiasco

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Iowa announced his resignation Wednesday following a week of turmoil in which results of the Feb. 3 Democratic caucuses are still in flux.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) — The chairman of the Democratic Party of Iowa announced his resignation Wednesday following a week of turmoil in which results of the Feb. 3 Democratic caucuses are still in flux.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said a statement Wednesday afternoon that he was resigning his position effective Saturday, when the party will elect a new chair at an emergency meeting.

Price acknowledged the party under his command failed on Feb. 3, and he accepted responsibility for the failure.

“The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night. As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party,” Price said.

“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.”

Results of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses at 1,678 precincts were expected to begin rolling in within a couple of hours of their completion, but no results were released until nearly 24 hours later, and even those were based on less than a third of the precincts. Now, more than a week later, final results are not complete as the party is still rechecking tabulation sheets.

Party officials blamed a faulty mobile phone app created for precinct leaders to send results to the party’s headquarters in Des Moines. Volunteers who were unable to use the app began calling in numbers, resulting in jammed phone lines and some being put on hold for as long as an hour.

Based on numbers tabulated thus far, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are in a virtual tie, followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Both Buttigieg and Sanders have asked for a “recanvass” of some Iowa precinct results, which is expected to be complete early next week.

Price said in his resignation statement that he has called for an independent review of the party’s failure to quickly report caucus results.

“While this process is just beginning, know that the [Iowa Democratic Party] is not the only party to blame for what happened last week,” Price said in the statement. “We worked collaboratively with our partners, our vendors, and the [Democratic National Committee] in this process, and I am confident the review will be able to determine exactly what went wrong, what went right, and how we can avoid this from ever happening again.”

And he praised the work that was done by the party’s staff.

“In the days following the caucuses, our staff worked under immense pressure to produce a complete report of results from the caucuses and was able to do so in 72 hours. Enduring threats to personal safety, taunts, and anger from people around the globe, our staff worked in a professional manner to produce a final result. I am incredibly proud of the work they did in those three days. These are people who are working hard towards our common goal of electing Democrats in November, and I deeply regret that these dedicated employees of our party had to endure such abuse.”

Price was elected chair of the Iowa Democratic Party in July of 2017 after serving as the party’s executive director. Before leading the state party, Price, a Durant, Iowa, native, headed Iowa’s largest LGBT advocacy group One Iowa, and had worked for former Iowa governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver. He was political director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Courthouse News Service reached out Wednesday to June Owens, first vice chair of the party’s central committee for a comment, but she did not immediately respond.

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