Guest Columnists

Iowa caucuses continue to earn their 'first-in-the-nation' status

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, addresses a Statehouse news conference Monday announcing plans for upcoming Brown & Black forums in Des Moines for both Republican and Democratic 2016 presidential candidates. Also participating in Monday’s announcement were (left to right) Gov. Terry Branstad, Brown & Black Forum co-founders Wayne Ford and Mary Campos, Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, and Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. (Rod Boshart, The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, addresses a Statehouse news conference Monday announcing plans for upcoming Brown & Black forums in Des Moines for both Republican and Democratic 2016 presidential candidates. Also participating in Monday’s announcement were (left to right) Gov. Terry Branstad, Brown & Black Forum co-founders Wayne Ford and Mary Campos, Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, and Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. (Rod Boshart, The Gazette)

As the chairs of the Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party, respectively, there is not much that we agree on.

But when it comes to the Iowa caucuses, we stand united. Every four years, we hear the same old refrain from caucus detractors seeking to undermine our role in the presidential nominating process. As many people are aware, the topic was broached just last week. But our response to these calls remains the same: Iowans will join together and prove to the country why we deserve to be first.

We’ve earned our first-in-the-nation status for nearly 50 years, and we’ll earn it again, because:

1. The Iowa caucuses are one of the nation’s great democratic traditions. Every four years, presidential candidates come to Iowa first to make their case directly to Iowans as to why he or she is the best person to be our next president. The caucuses represent grass-roots politics at its finest. Iowans don’t put a premium on name ID or fundraising numbers — we put a premium on ideas. We meet with presidential candidates all over Iowa — multiple times even — at coffee shops, football games, backyards and more to talk about the future of our nation. We take the time to learn about each candidate’s background, study their policy proposals and ask spirited questions in order to vet each candidate thoroughly. In an age of elections too often dominated by big money and flashy TV ads, the Iowa caucuses serve as a unique antidote.

2. We take this job seriously. The hard work that Iowans put in during the caucus process is recognized across the aisle. Iowa prides itself on taking a candidate’s full measure on policy. Candidates tell us every day how much they enjoy coming to Iowa and appreciate the thoughtful questions asked of them. Iowans’ passion and commitment have cemented our place as the first-in-the-nation caucus state, and made us the place presidential candidates go to prove their viability on a national stage.

3. We’ve never stopped innovating and improving. As Iowa State party chairs, it is our job to ensure we run exciting, organized and quality caucuses on Feb. 1. That means we are constantly looking for ways to improve upon old processes, while maintaining what makes the caucuses so special.

The Iowa Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Iowa teamed up with Microsoft on a new reporting app for the Iowa caucuses that will enable results to be delivered quickly, securely and accurately. The new app, powered by Microsoft technology, is a major upgrade over previous reporting systems. In 2016, Iowa will be on the forefront of election technology, leading the nation in how election results are collected and tabulated.

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Our joint partnership with Microsoft is just one example of how we are pushing to improve the caucus process. You can count on us to lead the way in preserving our first-in-the-nation status, working hand-in-hand as we fight to make the caucuses as innovative and inclusive as possible. We will do our part, and we know the hundreds of thousands of Iowans who caucus on Feb. 1 will continue to do theirs. We all look forward to showing the nation again in 2016 why Iowa is first in the nation.

• Jeff Kaufmann is chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. Andy McGuire is chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. Comments: chairman@iowagop.org; amcguire@iowademocrats.org

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