Living in Society

Iowa Caucus – 2022

The late Bob Handley signing nominating petitions at the 2010 Democratic caucus.

When the alarm to take my pill went off at 7 p.m., 263 accounts had logged in to the 2022 Iowa Democratic virtual caucus in Johnson County. Some accounts had multiple household members named or in video feeds that were shown. Throughout the main part of the caucus, the number wavered between 290 and 300. It was a reasonable turnout given the persistence of the coronavirus pandemic combined with a more general lack of interest in party politics.

It was nice to walk upstairs to retire when it finished instead of driving half an hour from some godforsaken corner of the county while watching for deer crossings and drunken drivers. My takeaway is as some long-time legislators and officials step back from public office, not enough new names were on the roster of attendees. Democrats have a tough row to hoe in the midterms. When don’t we in Iowa? We chose Richard Nixon instead of John F. Kennedy for Pete’s sake.

Last Obama Campaign Rally, Des Moines 2012.

The main business of the caucus was twofold: learn who is running for office and elect folks to do party work going forward. I self nominated to be a delegate or alternate to the county convention. I also self nominated to be an alternate central committee member. I hope the two central committee members we chose in 2020 sought re-election, although I didn’t see their names on the roster of attendees. No committee work for me this year.

The single person I recognized from my precinct had contacted me earlier in the day for our traditional pre-caucus chat. Our main relationship is related to county politics and we both have opinions about what is going on. We began working together on campaigns in 2004 and attended Barack Obama’s last political rally in Des Moines together, just before election day in 2012.

Elle Wyant and Kevin Kinney at the Feb. 7, 2022 Iowa County caucus in Marengo.

A slideshow displayed on a shared screen while we waited for caucus to begin. One slide showed State Senator Kevin Kinney is running for re-election in the new District 46. Elle Wyant had a slide as well. She is running for House District 91 in her first-ever run for political office. She gave a one-minute speech in her allotted time. These Republican districts will be tough to win for any Democrat. Best of luck to the two candidates.

Five U.S. Senate candidates had slides on the presentation, although my only question in this race is whether retired Admiral Michael Franken will win the June primary. It is between him and Abby Finkenauer, although Dr. Glenn Hurst is actively campaigning. Franken, Hurst and Satro Narayan gave one-minute speeches at our caucus. Until the primary, I’m keeping my activism powder dry in the U.S. Senate race.

I dialed in early and the caucus ended shortly after 8 p.m. Much less of a time commitment than attending an in-person event. I liked that aspect of it. Democrats have to get organized in an election year and the caucus format serves this purpose. We now have the framework from caucus to the election, a timeline upon which to hang our plans.

Off we go!