Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro says politicians from Michigan are "possessed" with jealousy over the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa’s Caucuses. "The people in Michigan, they are possessed with trying to figure out a way, ‘Let’s get Iowa out of this mix; let’s get New Hampshire out of this mix,’ and they are working every day, every minute to try to plead their case," Mauro says. "I thought if they would have been patient with the process, they’d have had a big role in this election."
Michigan lawmakers moved the date of the Michigan primary forward, prompting Democratic Party leaders to warn the state it would not have its delegates seated at the party’s national convention. All the Democratic presidential candidates except Hillary Clinton removed their names from the Michigan ballot and now there’s great debate about how Michigan’s votes should be counted in the race between Clinton and Barack Obama.
The Iowa Caucuses have been the kickoff event of presidential campaigns for over three decades and Mauro, who’s a Democrat, says with 2008 Caucus winner Barack Obama as Democratic Party’s likely nominee and John McCain as the Republican nominee, Iowa has a solid chance of remaining first in 2012. "I can travel the whole country, but it’s going to be the candidates who are going to make this decision because they’re going to take control of the party structure. On the Democratic side if that becomes Barack Obama, I think the people of Iowa can feel tremendously comfortable about what the status is going to be (of Iowa’s Caucuses)," Mauro says. "…John McCain has indicated…that he thinks the process is fine the way it is and they are the ones, I believe, who are going to make the final determination."
While state law specifies that Iowa’s Caucuses are to be held before any other state casts ballots in the presidential race, the two major political parties run the Caucuses. For example, Iowa Republicans cast a straw poll ballot while Democrats have a different process using "delegate strength" to determine who wins the Caucuses. Mauro’s office has no role in how the Caucuses are run, but he still gets questions from reporters around the globe. "We’re working hard from our standpoint in our office even though we aren’t day-to-day involved in the caucus process, we promote the caucus process as best we can. We go out and tell them why Iowa should continue to be first. We talk about retail politics and how it works in Iowa. We tell the stories of the Jimmy Carters. This year we had the story of Mike Huckabee. We talk about people have to come into this state and sit face-to-face…articulating their positions," Mauro says. "We’re able to sell it."
Mauro, by the way, endorsed Hillary Clinton in December, before the Caucuses and he predicts the Obama/Clinton race will end in early June, after all the states and territories have held their voting. Mauro is co-chair of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the group has a plan which calls for regional, rotating primaries and caucuses, while still allowing Iowa to hold the nation’s first caucuses and New Hampshire to hold the nation’s first primary. "Iowa Caucuses are great. They’re great for the state," Mauro says. "I had a chance to attend a forum at (Harvard) at the Kennedy Institute of Politics where they brought secretaries of state and journalists and scholars from all over the country to talk about the primary process and Iowa and New Hampshire, believe me, had targets on their back but at the end of the day, the general consensus was that Iowa is good."
Mauro made his comments on Iowa Public Television.