Iowa Democratic chair steps down due to health

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Citing a “painful but non-lethal ailment,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Derek Eadon has announced his resignation.

Eadon, 33, who defeated six candidates for the party leadership post back in January, revealed his health condition in an email to party leaders Wednesday night.

“In recent months, I have been dealing with health issues, and missing too much time on the job,” Eadon wrote. His decision follows a diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia, which requires that he begin radiation therapy.

Trigeminal Neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. Even mild stimulation of the face, such as brushing teeth or putting on makeup, can trigger a jolt of excruciating pain, according to www.MayoClinic.org.

“Very shortly I will be back on my feet and knocking doors for Democrats,” Eadon said, but said that it’s important that the party chair “can dedicate all of his or her time to this effort, and it is clear that I am not able to.”

First Vice Chairwoman Andrea Phillips of Ankeny will serve as temporary chairwoman until Eadon’s successor is elected at the July 22 State Central Committee meeting.

Eadon was in Cedar Rapids for a “community conversation” with Democrats ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally June 21. Following Democrats losses at the state and national levels in the 2016 elections, he said party leaders needed to engage the rank-and-file.

“One of the reasons I’m here today is because we need to listen more,” he said. Democratic state legislators “did a fantastic job of not only doing listening in their own districts, but also going to the districts of some of the folks represented by Republicans.”

He predicted 2018 will be an “outstanding” election for Democrats. The new chair will inherit a “great team, a solid amount of cash on hand, and fantastic candidates.”

A 2006 University of Iowa graduate, Eadon worked as a field organizer for the IDP and joined Barack Obama’s campaign in 2007. After the 2008 election, he was on the inaugural committee and later joined Organizing for America before returning to the party in 2010 as the coordinated campaign director. He was Obama’s Iowa state director for the 2012 campaign.

In 2013, he joined LS2 Group, a public affairs and consulting firm in Des Moines. Later that year, he founded Bluprint Strategies, a Des Moines political consulting firm. Clients included Monica Vernon, the Latino Political Network and Attorney General Tom Miller.

Also in 2013, Eadon — “President Barack Obama’s man in Iowa” — was named one of the top 500 influencers by Campaigns and Elections magazine.

He and his wife, Melissa, have two children.

Eadon is the second IDP chairman to resign for health reasons in recent years. Michael Kiernan resigned in June 2010 when he discovered that a non-cancerous tumor was wrapped around his salivary gland. Kiernan, who served two terms on the Des Moines City Council member from 2004-10, is seeking to return to the council this fall.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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