Iowa GOP chair says Harkin, Vilsack need to defend their party’s Caucuses

DES MOINES — The chairman of the Iowa Republican Party says two well-known Iowans in the Democratic Party need to speak out to keep their party’s Caucuses first-in-the-nation.

Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann says former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack have national clout and they need to use it.

“Stand up and help,” Kaufmann says. “Where in the world is Vilsack? Where in the world is Harkin?”

The Rrepublican National Committee has voted to have the Iowa Caucuses kick off the GOP’s presidential nominating process in 2024, but a group of national Democrats will meet next week to consider other state’s vying to go first in their party’s process.

“This is ridiculous that we don’t have a current secretary of ag advocating for us in the most vociferous way,” Kaufmann says.

A former Iowa Democratic Party chairman says Vilsack’s role as U.S. Ag Secretary restricts his political activities and Harkin doesn’t want to detract from his bipartisan work through the Harkin Institute. Iowa Democrats face what appears to be an uphill battle to keep their caucuses first in the nation and Kaufmann says he’s willing to do what he can to change those odds.

“Maybe my head’s in the clouds here,” Kaufmann says, “but I’m not ready to give up on it yet.”

If the Democratic National Committee decides to schedule presidential primaries in another state before Iowa’s Democratic Party Caucuses, Kaufmann vows to do whatever it takes to ensure both parties’ caucuses are held on the same day — and are first.

“We will back the Iowa Caucuses up as far as we need to back them up in order to be first,” Kaufmann says. “By golly, we’ll have our Caucuses on Halloween if we have to.”

In 2008 and 2012, other states rescheduled their primaries to try to leapfrog the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation Primary — so Iowa Republicans and Democrats held their Caucuses on January 3rd.