The chairman of the Iowa GOP says a new push from national party leaders to get rid of caucus contests during the presidential campaign does not mean the end for Iowa’s Caucuses.
On Monday, the chairman of the Republican National Committee unveiled a 97-page plan for improving the party’s prospects in future elections. It would allow Iowa’s Caucuses to remain first-in-the-nation, followed by New Hampshire’s Primary, Nevada’s Caucuses and the South Carolina Primary. The plan does call for discouraging other states from holding caucuses and conventions, in favor of voting in primaries.
Iowa Republican Party chairman A.J. Spiker doesn’t think this is the beginning of the end of caucuses in Iowa or in any other state for that matter.
“They’ve had a long tradition in the party, going back before primaries existed in the Republican Party,” Spiker told Radio Iowa, “so I don’t expect that the caucuses will be done away with.”
Other parts of the GOP’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” call for scheduling presidential primaries earlier in the year. All but Iowa and the three other “early” states would be grouped into four regional primaries. Spiker said those changes are a tough sell.
“I think there is a danger to both going strictly to primaries and also to shortening the calendar in a substantial way,” Spiker said. “And then there’s also a danger of regional primaries becoming a situation where only a well-funded candidate or someone with a high name ID could be competitive.”
Spiker and others suggest the proposed changes set up a confrontation inside the party between the “establishment” types who finance campaigns and the grassroots “base” of the party.
“Both want to maximize their voice,” Spiker said. “Currently it’s a very divided voice because you have both primaries and caucuses. They’re sort of scattered in such a way that the money doesn’t have a big upper hand and the grassroots doesn’t have a big upper hand either.”
These changes would have to be ratified by 75 percent of the members of the Republican National Committee if they are to happen.
“A pretty hefty lift,” Spiker said.
The proposed changes in the presidential selection process will be discussed at the April meeting of the Republican National Committee. Spiker is a member of the committee and he predicts the proposals will fail to win the panel’s backing.