DES MOINES — Troy Price will resign as Iowa Democratic Party chairman, he announced Wednesday, nine days after the party was unable to report its presidential precinct caucus results in a timely fashion due to a technological malfunction.
Price announced his resignation in a letter sent Wednesday to the state party’s leadership committee.
Price called for an emergency meeting of the party’s State Central Committee for Saturday afternoon to elect an interim chairperson.
“The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night. As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party,” Price wrote. “While it is my desire to stay in this role and see this process through to completion, I do believe it is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult.”
In a phone interview, Price said the decision to resign was his own, that he faced no pressure from Democratic state leaders or party officials. And while he acknowledged he has faced severe criticism since the night of the caucuses, Price said none of that criticism has come from within Iowa Democratic leadership.
Myriad issues with a new computer program designed for the caucuses caused a delay in the state party reporting the February 3 caucus results. The complete results were not finished until three days after the caucuses, and questions remain about potentially incorrect results at dozens of precincts.
The delayed results once again sparked a national debate about caucuses and Iowa’s role as the leadoff state in the U.S. presidential nominating process.
Price promised an independent investigation into what went awry with the caucus results. In his resignation letter, he said the interim chairperson will oversee the investigation, as well as a recanvass and potential recount as requested by two of the presidential campaigns.
“While this process is just beginning, know that the IDP is not the only party to blame for what happened last week,” Price wrote. “We worked collaboratively with our partners, our vendors, and the (national Democratic Party) in this process, and I am confident the review will be able to determine exactly what went wrong, what went right, and how we can avoid this from ever happening again.”
In his resignation letter, Price wrote that in the days following the caucuses, state party staff worked “under immense pressure” to produce complete results and were subject to “threats to personal safety, taunts, and anger from people around the globe.”
During the phone interview, Price said his colleagues were saddened by the news of his resignation.
“I really can’t speak for what everyone said, but obviously folks were sad about my departure. And quite frankly I’m sad to be leaving them,” Price said. “This is one of the hardest-working teams I have ever worked with in politics. And I can tell you even when stuff went south last week, this team banded together, this team came together and worked tirelessly through the night for several nights and several days to make sure that we can get a complete listing of the results.
“This team is amazing, and I am very honored that I had the chance to get to work with such an outstanding group of people.”
Price became state party chairman in 2017. Previously he also served as the state party’s executive director, and has worked for Democratic Iowa governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, and lieutenant governors Patty Judge and Sally Pederson, and on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
In 2018, Price oversaw a mixed bag of midterm election results for Iowa Democrats. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne defeated Republican incumbents and became the first women elected to the U.S. House from Iowa, giving Democrats three of the state’s four seats. But while Democrats made some gains at the statehouse, Republicans won the governor’s race and maintained majorities in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature, sustaining their unobstructed control of the state lawmaking process.
“Leadership requires tough decisions, and this is one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make,” Price wrote. “Throughout my tenure as chair, I have always said I would do what is in the best interest of the party. With my decision, I hope the party can regain the trust of those we lost and turn our attention to what is most important — winning in November.”
Some prominent Iowa Democrats expressed support for Price on social media on Wednesday.
“I want the world to remember (Price’s) time as chair in a historic manner. Troy made so many groups that didn’t feel they had a voice in the past, heard. I’m lucky Troy was the chair when I put my name on the ballot. I wish you all the best in what comes next, friend,” Rob Sand, the Democratic state auditor, wrote in a tweet.
Sue Dvorsky, a former state party chairwoman, wrote in a tweet that she considers Price “a dear friend, colleague, and deeply good human.”
“Anyone who knows him, knows that of course he put the good of the (state party) ahead of himself. He always has. Thankful for his service, and I’ll have his back always,” Dvorsky wrote.
Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats, wrote in a tweet, “I started working with (Price) 15 years ago in Governor Vilsack’s office. He was one of the first people there that I could call a friend. His intelligence and passion means his future is still bright. Eager to see his next move to help make Iowa better.”
Mark Smith, a state legislator from Marshalltown and a former Iowa House Minority Leader, announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he intends to run for state party chairman.
Also Wednesday, the state party said it accepted recanvass requests from the Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders campaigns.
The Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns highlighted what they believe could be errors in the caucus results reported in a combined 143 precincts out of the more than 1,700 statewide.
The party said on Friday it will inform the campaigns the costs and timeline associated with a recanvass, after which the campaigns will have 24 hours to make a final decision on whether to proceed.
If the campaigns choose to proceed, the recanvass will start on Sunday and last for two days, the state party said. Per party rules, the canvass would be conducted by appointed personnel under the supervision and direction of the state party’s leadership committee, and each campaign would be allowed two representatives to observe.
A recanvass is not open to the public or media, the state party said.
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