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CEDAR RAPIDS - Iowa Democrats plan to elect a new state party leader in January despite arguments there is a need to act sooner.
'We have a very urgent crisis on our hands,” Mike Carberry of Iowa City said during a nearly two-hour conference call with other members of the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee Thursday night. He called for electing a new chairperson in December so leadership is in place before the Iowa Legislature convenes Jan. 9.
As a result of the Nov. 8 election, Republicans are to be in control of both the Iowa House and Senate 'and they have an agenda to destroy what we have gained” during the time Democrats controlled the Senate, Carberry said.
Although Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro of Cedar Rapids agreed there likely will be votes in the first week of the session 'that will impact my members greatly,” she favored taking more time to ensure the party picked the right chair.
'Most countries have elections in six weeks,” Carberry countered, arguing that a month is plenty of time before Dec. 17 for candidates to meet with committee members and present white papers on their plans for the party.
His argument did not prevail. The committee plans to meet to hear from candidates for party chair Dec. 17 and again in January at a date to be determined to make a decision. It's possible, that meeting could be before the Legislature gavels in.
At least three people have announced interest in succeeding Chairwoman Andy McGuire, who doesn't plan to seek another term. They are Kim Weaver of Sheldon, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Steve King, Central Committee member Sandy Dockendorff of Danville and Blair Lawton of West Des Moines. There's speculation there are likely to be others.
Much of the Thursday night discussion dealt with whether committee members would be allowed to participate and vote via phone. Some members are concerned that weather could prevent them from attending meetings in December and January.
Others argued they were elected to show up for meetings and participating by phone is the textbook example of 'phoning it in.”
Marcia Fulton of Creston downplayed the threat of bad weather keeping committee members from meetings.
'Come on Iowans. We get places,” she said.
Marcos Rubenstein of Dubuque, who proposed participation by phone to accommodate people with disabilities, as well as those who may have weather concerns, said 'phone presence is presence in this day and age.”
The committee voted to allow members to participate in the January meeting via phone.
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