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Iowa Democrats seek to keep caucus the 1st presidential test

May 4, 2022 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Democrats began making their case on Wednesday for why their national party should stick with the Iowa caucus as the first step in its presidential nominating process, promising to make changes in response to criticism of past events, including to make it more inclusive.

The state party submitted a letter of intent to the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, and officials expressed optimism even while acknowledging that they face skepticism from many national party leaders.

Many national Democrats have long questioned why Iowa and New Hampshire — both largely rural states with overwhelmingly white populations — should begin the nomination process.

The Democratic National Committee in April decided to stop automatically allowing Iowa to hold the first presidential tilt. Instead, the DNC invited interested states to apply to go first. Those applications will be narrowed to a few finalists that will be allowed to give in-person presentations in June.

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Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said Iowa Democrats are willing to change the caucus format to be more inclusive and accessible.

“We intend to simplify the process so that it is easy to understand and offers more options for participation. Such planned changes can only serve to expand an already-engaged electorate,” he wrote in a letter to the DNC committee.

The new criteria for selecting early states could make it difficult for Iowa to win. Priority is placed on diversity, competitiveness and feasibility — whether the event can be pulled off seamlessly.

Iowa is more than 90% white and hasn’t been competitive for Democrats in recent years. The feasibility of its caucus process also has been called into question since the 2020 Democratic caucus ended in chaos, with no winner declared on caucus night because of problems tabulating results.

Republicans, who control the Legislature and most statewide offices in Iowa, have already committed to allowing the state’s caucus to remain first in their presidential contest.