CORONAVIRUS

Iowa Democrats postpone March 21 county conventions due to coronavirus

#x201c;I Voted Today#x201d; stickers are seen on a table at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City for voters on Tuesda
“I Voted Today” stickers are seen on a table at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City for voters on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Iowa Democrat Party is postponing its county conventions after making the “determination that the spreading coronavirus poses a risk that outweighs a temporary delay in moving the caucus-to-convention process forward,” Chairman Mark Smith said today.

“This is not an easy decision, but we believe it is the right decision,” Smith said in announcing that conventions scheduled for March 21 will be postponed indefinitely due to concerns about coronavirus.

As of this time, district and state convention planning will proceed as scheduled. Four congressional district conventions are planned April 25 and the state convention is scheduled June 13.

Republicans are planning their 99 county conventions March 14.

“After consulting with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor’s office, we have decided to move forward and hold our county conventions this Saturday,” said Aaron Britt, spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa. “Of course, the health and safety of Iowans is of the utmost importance. We strongly advise any Iowan who isn’t feeling well to stay home, and we will be in contact with county chairs to provide guidance for their events.”

By design, Smith said, the Democratic caucus-to-convention gatherings are “built around a sense of community, and throughout every step, we have worked to ensure the process is safe and accessible for every Iowan.”

“Iowa Democrats should not have to choose between democratic participation and remaining in good health,” he said. Concerns for the well-being of delegates and other attending the conventions including thousands of volunteers and the public must come first, Smith said.

“It is in Democratic spirit that we will work together to find solutions,” Smith said. “Rest assured: Iowa will be heard at the DNC convention” July 13-16 in Milwaukee.

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

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