By: Brian McLain
Observers and press filled the small union hall in anticipation of learning the direction that Iowa Democratic Party was going to take. A little more than two months after the crushing defeat of November, many new faces were looking for a new direction, and they had a good variety to choose from. The tension in the room was stifling at times. The infighting among different ideological factions, a continuation from the very contentious primary season, had helped to build such an atmosphere. But there was also a great deal of excitement and hope that filled the room.
The nominations were taken from the floor. Each of seven candidates was given an opportunity to speak, and each made a passionate pitch to how they would move the party forward. There was an audible shift in the room when Derek Eadon declared that he would be a fighting champion for the party. “We shouldn’t avoid a fight on the issues. We should start it,” Eadon said to a favorable reaction.
Listen to speeches of all candidates here
When all candidates had said their piece, instructions were given on how the ballots were to be cast. At a previous State Central Committee meeting, member Holly Herbert made a motion to use a ranked-choice voting method to choose the next chair. The method called for a single ballot, in which voters would rank their preferred candidate from one to seven. From there, ballot counters would whittle away candidates until one obtained a clear majority of the vote. The motion was seconded and passed, meeting both support and protest along ideological lines.
The voting method may have made all the difference in the outcome. Information later obtained from observers of the count stated that long time establishment figure, Mike Gronstal, was the winner of the first ballot count, but had not obtained a clear majority. As candidates were removed from consideration through subsequent counts, Gronstal had dropped to second place, and Eadon obtained a clear majority.
Of those who were elected to executive positions, the only incumbents that managed to retain were Don Ruby, Secretary, and Ken Sagar, Treasurer. Progressive Caucus Chair, Jason Frerichs echoed the sentiments of many Progressives on the State Central Committee, saying he was “excited about the future of the IDP”.
Eadon (33) is seen as someone that will help promote and push forward a more Progressive agenda and forge new relationships with younger voters. Along with the election of former State House candidate, Andrea Phillips (42), as First Vice Chair, Jordan Pope (19) as Second Vice Chair, and June Owens (45) as Third Vice Chair many are optimistic for the first time since the crushing defeat Democrats suffered in November. While tension between ideological factions is still present in the party, the air is not near as thick with it as it was just a few days ago. The atmosphere feels far more energized and optimistic than it has since July.
Eadon said we should start the fight on the issues. Well, put us in coach, because we’re ready.
Let’s go pick a fight.