Key Iowan discusses defending Iowa Caucuses

DES MOINES — The Iowan who’s on the panel that will decide if Iowa’s Democratic Party Caucuses go first in 2024 says Iowa is key to winning the presidency.

Scott Brennan is a member of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws panel. It meets in early December to discuss which states vote first as the party picks its 2024 presidential nominee.

“We can’t let the Midwest become a Republican monolith,” he says. “…North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri — if they all turn red, we can’t elect Democratic presidents because the Electoral College math does not work.”

The Democratic Party’s presidential nominee has won the national popular vote in seven of the last eight elections and  Brennan said that’s a key part of the argument for keeping the traditional line-up of early voting in Iowa, then in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

“Why would you mess with success? Why risk it to satisfy some vague belief that we need to do something different when in fact we’ve won the popular vote time after time?” Brennan asks.

As the kick-off event of past presidential elections, Brennan says the Iowa Caucuses have given candidates a way to connect with rural, working class voters.

“You have to be able to talk to folks like folks in Iowa,” Brennan says.

The delayed results from the party’s 2020 Caucuses results put Iowa Democrats in what Brennan describes as “a bit of a pickle,” but he emphasizes the party is abandoning its complicated Caucus Night rules and will instead use a weeks’ long mail-in system to determine who wins the 2024 Caucuses.

“We needed to update the Caucuses,” Brennan says, “and this is a good way to do it.”

President Biden could be a wildcard as national party leaders gear up for a decision that may change the presidential nominating process. Biden, who says he intends to seek reelection, has not publicly said whether he favors changes.

“He is likely going to get some sort of challenge,” Brennan said. “He’s not going to just get a cake walk to the nomination, but we have not heard from the White House at all.”

If the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee recommends changes, it will then be up to the full Democratic National Committee to ratify the new plan in late February or early March. That would give the party less than a year to plan for a new system.

Brennan made his comments on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS.