Troy Price, Iowa Democratic Party Leader, Resigns Over Caucus Debacle
DES MOINES — Troy Price, the beleaguered chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, resigned on Wednesday, a week after overseeing the chaotic Iowa caucuses that embarrassed the state and national party and left Democrats open to accusations of incompetence by President Trump’s re-election campaign.
The Iowa Democratic Party failed to report any results from its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses on Feb. 3 until the next afternoon. When it did report results, they were filled with errors. Even once the Iowa Democratic Party released what it said were full results, errors remained in the tabulations, and the campaigns of the two victors, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senator Bernie Sanders, have both asked for a partial recanvass of the results.
Mr. Price, 39, has been the public face of the Iowa caucus debacle, as he has struggled to offer reassuring explanations about the integrity of the caucus reporting process and final results.
“While it is my desire to stay in this role and see this process through to completion, I do believe it is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult,” Mr. Price wrote in a letter to party officials. “Therefore, I will resign as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party effective upon the election of my replacement.” The party said its State Central Committee would elect an interim chair on Saturday.
While he acknowledged that the failure of the reporting process “was simply unacceptable,” Mr. Price sought to put the best possible light on the events of the past nine days.
“By all accounts, the precinct and satellite caucus meetings themselves went well,” he wrote.“In the days following the caucuses, our staff worked under immense pressure to produce a complete report of results from the caucuses and was able to do so in 72 hours. Enduring threats to personal safety, taunts and anger from people around the globe, our staff worked in a professional manner to produce a final result.”
The Democratic National Committee and some Iowa Democratic Party leaders have pointed fingers at Mr. Price for not doing more to ensure that changes to the caucus process this year, such as the use of a new results-reporting app, were fully tested and clear to the precinct leaders and many others involved in running the process.
In a conference call with his central committee two days after the caucuses, Mr. Price was pressed by two members over the appearance of cronyism because of his friendships, dating to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, with a senior adviser to Mr. Buttigieg who is married to the founder of the company that developed the caucus app. (The New York Times was provided with a call-in number for the call.)
“We have seen the pictures of you, Troy, with app developers and people with the Buttigieg campaign, and that’s concerning,” said Holly Brown, a committee member. She told Mr. Price he should not be involved in a planned post-mortem of what went wrong. “We’d like to have you removed from this,” she said.
Judy Downs, the executive director of the Polk County Democrats — who is not on the State Central Committee — said in an interview that she had been worried about the appearance of cronyism. “Some of the decisions just made it really hard to defend against accusations of cronyism, or conspiracy, frankly,” she said.
Sean Bagniewski, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Polk County, which includes Des Moines, said the coziness between state party leaders, vendors and candidates did not originate under Mr. Price. “I think it’s been this way for quite some time,” he said. “It’s kind of like the little families that control petroleum countries. You’ve got access to resources that everybody wants, and you kind of become your own little kingdom of consultants and advisers.”
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