THE RURAL RENAISSANCE of the IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
(January 27th, 2023) It’s good to talk to people. As I make the telephone rounds, the topic that comes up most – along with the Steering/Executive Committee discussion the woeful state of our rural Democratic party in this state. IT’s down so far (you could see it coming), that some counties really do not have a county party organization anymore.
So what can we do to rebuild our rural county parties? The answer is “LOTS!” But why should we waste sparse Democratic resources to do so? It’s not a waste – even if we did not win a single new legislative seat or county auditor position.
And why is that? Though so do not realize how impactful the rural collapse is – a couple of hard Just look at our state-wide and Congressional losses. Mike Fitzgerald, Tom Miller and Cindy Axne all lost by counts in the range of plus or minus 2000 votes. Had just the 30 or so empty legislative rural candidate vacancies been filled, all three of our losing state-wide incumbents would surely have won. This is because each candidate on the ballot, even if they do not campaign at all, will likely bring in a few hundred votes to the state-wide ticket. And accepting the bleed is not a good option since the atrophy gets worse. When Sioux County, population 36,000 can deliver the same state-wide margin of victory as Polk County, population 212,000 you can see the cascading effect of benign neglect. So . . . .
Here is my plan for our Rural Renaissance.
A FIRST-IN-THE-NATION PRESIDENTIAL STRAW POLL – DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES. Yes, DNC has hurt us so badly that the partial or complete loss of delegates is not worth cowering for. We need to maintain parity visibility with the GOP on Caucus night, and this is the way to do it. Rural areas that are down and out politically NEED the early caucus to get candidate signatures, to fill the central committee, and to acquire the names of potential volunteers to work for candidates.
TWO CHICKENS IN VERY POT AND A CANDIDATE FOR EVERY POSITION. I propose that a Full Ballot Committee be instituted in every county and that it’s work begin as soon as possible. Standing should be as a permanent standing committee like Rules or Platform. The FBC would survey incumbents on their intentions and encourage potential candidates eartly enough to make a difference. The FBC will also be charged with endorsements (if any) for off-year school board & city races. NO MORE GIVEAWAYS TO THE GOP.
TECHNOLOGY ASSISTANCE FOR LOCAL CANDIDATES AND LOCAL FUNDRAISING. Many county parties are so small that they do not have the volunteers to do much beyond emails to the Central Committee and may be a Facebook page, if that. But for $1500, the state can acquire emails for all registered Democrats and Independents that have them. Caucuses that have their own extensive email files, like the Latinx Caucus, can also incorporate their lists by county breakdown to maximize impact. It is a low cost strategy to set up county files of these emails and send them out on a county by county basis for local campaigns and fundraisers with copy provided by the county, or even handing files off to the county. Act Blue Buttons the Counties may have acquired could easily be linked to the system. Going through the privately owned VAN is not a real option to do this because individual counties & candidates are charged significant amounts just to use it. An alternative should be sought out.
RURAL ISSUE CHATTER. A problem for rural counties without legislators is that there is no one to shoot down the GOP wild assertions. A low cost way to respond to this is a One-Call-Speakers-Bureau composed of volunteers (retired legislators, defeated legislative candidates, friendly lobbyists, etc who are willing to speak at rural fundraisers and Central Committees. A great opportunity for young people.
MORE MULTI-COUNTY FUNDRAISERS. Multi-County associations have been around at least since Tri-County was formed a decade or so ago, and they seem to help. More hands spread the work. Here is where a small cash incentive to state-up multi-counties might make the fields bloom.
GET-OUT-THE VOTE SUPPORT. Early on, the SCC should commit to a newsprint-style production of a flyer for state-wide and Congressional Candidates, It should be designed for a county-level stuffer, and should be made available proportionately to counties around August when some counties begin their door-to-door operations. This will save costs for rural counties and also Congressional and State-Wide Candidates.
AS A FARM BOY, I HAVE A HEART TO SOLVE THE CRISIS OF THE RURAL PARTS OF THE PARTY. IF YOU HAVE MORE GREAT IDEAS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!
Bob Krause, Candidate for IDP Chair