State law at odds with DNC’s decision to strip Iowa’s first-in-nation caucus

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 8:01 AM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Iowa Democrats will have to decide whether to comply with Iowa law in holding the first-in-the-nation caucus, or comply with the Democratic National Committee, which decided to strip Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status.

Iowa code requires the state to hold caucuses “not later than the fourth Monday in February of each even-numbered year.” It also requires Iowa to hold its caucuses “at least eight days earlier” than any other state’s nominating process.

However, a DNC committee voted to strip Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status last week, in favor of giving the top spot to South Carolina.

“We’re in a bit of a limbo,” Scott Brennan, the only Iowan on the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, told KCCI. “We have a state law that says that we will go first.”

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee have promised to punish any state that breaks their rules by going earlier than they’re supposed to, by taking away half their delegates to the national convention.

“Any candidate that violates that rule and puts their name on the ballot or campaigns in a state that goes outside the window receives no pledged delegates or delegate votes from that state,” said Graham Wilson, general counsel to the DNC.

Iowa Democrats have promised to follow state law, saying they have to comply with Iowa state legal requirements.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and the Republican-controlled state legislature are unlikely to change the law because they remain committed to keeping Iowa first.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said Iowa’s Attorney General Elect, Republican Brenna Bird, could sue Iowa Democrats for breaking the law if they choose not to hold first-in-the-nation caucuses.

In 1996, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office released a statement on whether the state could legally require state parties to change the dates of their caucuses to comply with state law.

“We believe that a court likely would rule that applying section 43.4 to require the Party to move its caucuses at this time is unconstitutional,” the opinion found.

At this time, it remains unclear if Bird holds the same opinion.