The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


January 20, 2014

Both parties gear up for caucuses

DES MOINES — While there has been little fanfare, the 2014 Iowa political calendar effectively begins Tuesday night at the precinct caucuses for both parties.

These organizing meetings — which kick off a series of party events, culminating with the state conventions in June — tend to mostly attract loyalists in non-presidential election years. But party leaders are urging Iowa residents to participate, insisting that coming out on a chilly January night really does matter this year and beyond.

“For us, this is our team, these are the folks that we are going to rely on in 2014 to get us across the finish line,” said Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Troy Price. “These are the folks that help us carry out the presidential caucus in 2016. We want to see a robust group of folks that will represent our party.”

The caucuses begin a process of building a volunteer base that sets the tone for the elections in 2014 and starts organizing in advance of the 2016 presidential election in the early-voting state of Iowa. The attendees at these events select people who will serve in county-level party roles and they hold the first round of voting for delegates for the 2014 district and state conventions. And they vote on issues to be included in the official party platforms.

Attendance is expected to be much lower than in presidential years. Republicans had more than 120,000 attend the 2012 caucuses, when there was an open primary, and more than 200,000 Democrats participated in the 2008 caucuses, the last time there was an open Democratic presidential primary.

Party leaders declined to predict turnout but said it would be nowhere near those numbers. That means the caucuses for the 1,688 precincts will be consolidated into fewer locations this year, with many precincts gathering at single locations — like a high school — before breaking into smaller groups for discussions and votes.

While non-presidential caucuses are more procedural and designed for building the party ranks, there is some political intrigue building this year around this process.

Most importantly, some of the people who come out Tuesday could end up playing a key role in deciding contested 2014 primary elections. If no one gets 35 percent of the vote in a June 3 primary election, then the candidate is selected by party delegates at district or state conventions. The process for becoming one of those delegates begins Tuesday and continues at the county conventions in March.

Several races could end up being decided at a convention this year, most notably the Republican Senate primary, where six candidates are vying for the nomination. The Republican primary for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Latham is also growing crowded and there are competitive GOP and Democratic primaries for the congressional seat open because U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley is running for Senate.

“If you want to have a say in a potential convention campaign then you need to be involved next Tuesday and be involved in the delegate selection process,” said Iowa GOP Party Chairman AJ Spiker.

In 2002, U.S. Rep. Steve King became the Republican nominee for his congressional district through a convention selection process.

Some candidates are trying to make sure they are enlisting sympathetic people to participate Tuesday night. Republican Senate candidate Sam Clovis, said his campaign was actively encouraging people to participate, though he stressed that no one showing up Tuesday would be obligated to support a particular candidate down the line.

“I think for any candidate, what really is the process is to make sure you have a good ground game and ID as many people as you can so they do get into the caucuses,” Clovis said. “This isn’t the end of the game, in fact it’s just the start.”

Another effort underway going into Tuesday is a push by some veteran Republicans, like Gov. Terry Branstad, to grow the number of people who participate on the GOP side. There is rising concern in the so-called establishment wing of the party that evangelicals, tea party supporters and libertarians have taken over the GOP party apparatus and have alienated more pragmatic voters. Branstad’s allies fear that this shift creates a perception that the Iowa caucuses are optional for some presidential candidates and hope that expanding the rank and file numbers could pave the way for a mainstream candidate to win in 2016.

“An engaged and strong party with a vibrant headquarters is essential to winning elections in the off year and the ability of the party to raise money and be in a strong position in 2014 will carry on into the next cycle... as we look to select the nominees for president,” said Republican consultant David Kochel, who has been critical of the current party leadership.

Spiker, a supporter of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, dismissed talk that there was conflict within the party, saying there are “always going to be disagreements.”


Text Only
  • Iowa State says data breach could affect thousands

    The Social Security numbers of nearly 30,000 people who enrolled at Iowa State University over a 17-year period were exposed in a data breach, school officials announced Tuesday.

    Five information technology servers on the Ames campus were hacked, and those servers contained the Social Security numbers of people who took certain classes at the school between 1995 and 2012, ISU officials said in a news release. There is no evidence that any of the personal files were accessed, the school said, and the records didn't contain student financial information.

    April 22, 2014

  • Iowa woman arrested after child falls from window

    A Manchester woman has been arrested after her toddler fell from a second-story apartment window.

    The Manchester Police Department says 27-year-old Stacy Neuhaus was arrested Monday in Iowa City. She faces charges of child endangerment. Court records do not list an attorney.

    April 22, 2014

  • House rejects Senate plan to reopen juvenile home

    The Iowa House has rejected a Senate amendment to the health and human services budget that would have reopened the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. The House action Tuesday morning sends the bill to a conference committee where members of both parties will work out the differences in the bill.

    The Senate Monday evening passed it along party lines with only Democratic support. The Republican-led House rejected it on a voice vote only.

    April 22, 2014

  • Bill proposes new state hiring, firing practices

    The Senate Government Oversight Committee is proposing a bill that would make sweeping changes in some state government practices.

    The bill would make all personnel settlement agreements subject to review by the attorney general, prohibits confidentiality provisions, and posts all agreements on a state website.

    April 22, 2014

  • Session continues but expense payments stop

    Iowa lawmakers have work to complete before adjournment, but they'll be finishing up without daily payments for their expenses.

    The session has no specific end date, but Tuesday, the 100th day of the session, marks the last day lawmakers will receive their per diem payments. Pages will be sent home and Capitol staff will be reduced, but lawmakers must stick around to wrap up budget bills and finish work on other measures.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fort Madison plans big increase in sewer rates FORT MADISON (AP) -- Sewer rates are going to soar in Fort Madison as the southeast Iowa city makes required changes to its sewer system. The Daily Democrat reports the City Council last week approved a 27 percent rate increase, effective June 1. Cou

    April 22, 2014

  • Des Moines police identify teen killed by train

    Des Moines police have identified a teenager who died while trying to climb aboard a slow-moving freight train.

    Police announced Monday that 18-year-old Phillip Tyshawn Simmons died in the early morning accident.

    Officers were called to a crossing on the city's east side at 1:18 a.m. and determined that a teen had been waiting with friends at a rail crossing. The teen tried to climb onto the train, possibly to cross to the other side.

    April 21, 2014

  • State auditor investigating secret settlements

    Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman said Monday she is conducting an audit of confidential, secret employee settlements that have troubled Gov. Terry Branstad's administration for more than a month.

    State Sen. Jack Hatch, a Democrat who's running for governor, asked Mosiman on April 8 for an audit.

    Mosiman responded in a letter, saying she began to review the settlement agreements the day after her office learned of them in March. She also said her office is working to identify anything improper or inappropriate, and she'll issue a public report when the investigation ends.

    April 21, 2014

  • USDA establishes rural business investment program

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday a new $150 million program designed to provide investment capital to help small agriculture-related business in rural areas with cash needed to expand.

    Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in Cedar Rapids the formation of the first Rural Business Investment Company, a for-profit firm licensed by the USDA to invest in businesses that otherwise might not have the capital to increase business opportunities.

    April 21, 2014

  • Field of Dreams Debate still simmers over site of 'Field of Dreams'

    DYERSVILLE (AP) -- A quarter-century after "Field of Dreams" debuted in movie theaters, the northeastern Iowa farm where it was filmed remains at the center of simmering debates. The film, which premiered in Iowa 25 years ago Sunday, turned the land

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

Clinton Herald Photos

Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.


Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

     View Results
AP Video
Featured Comment
Front page
Featured Ads
Local Radar
Blue Zones Project

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Front page