ERIN MURPHY: Ex-Democratic chair waits for review of Iowa caucus failures

ERIN MURPHY: Ex-Democratic chair waits for review of Iowa caucus failures


Troy Price sounded like a man with vindication in his future.

I interviewed Price, the outgoing Iowa Democratic Party chairman, this past week after he announced his intention to resign. Price resigned in the wake of the state party’s inability to report complete results of the Feb. 3 presidential precinct caucuses in a timely fashion. A technological error in a computer program designed for the caucuses left the state party scrambling to tally results, which were not completed until three days after the caucuses.

Two things stuck out to me during that interview.

One, Price said he received no pressure from Iowa Democrats — elected officials or leaders within the state party — to resign. The decision was purely his own, Price said, and he made it because he believed it was in the best interest of the party. Price said he believes his resignation will make it easier for Iowa Democrats to complete the caucus review process and move forward.

The other moment that stood out was when I asked Price if he felt he was being unfairly blamed for the issues that the state party had to deal with on caucus night and in the days that followed.

"You know, as chair of the party, I bear responsibility for any of the failures that occurred from the Iowa Democratic Party," Price said. "I will remind you that this is a team effort. We work in close partnership with our tech partners. We work in close partnership with (national Democratic Party). As far as what went wrong, that will come out in the course of the review that our central committee is beginning, and we’ll just wait to see what that report actually shows."

That sounded to me like a man who is confident that once all the dirty caucus laundry is aired, he will come out smelling like a clean sheet.

We should find out eventually what went wrong and what missteps took place, particularly regarding the app that has received so much attention: how and why it was chosen, whether it was properly tested and why it faltered on caucus night. The state party plans to review and report on that process, and journalists will be looking into it as well.

Indeed, Yahoo News on Thursday reported the Democratic National Committee had "extensive oversight over the development of the technology."

The report cited a copy of the contract and internal correspondence.

The report also revealed internal emails from DNC officials that showed leadership requesting access to the app.

In other words, while the national party has in some ways attempted to distance itself from the Iowa caucus reporting mess, the contract with the results reporting app’s developer, Shadow Inc., shows the national party had ample opportunity to provide oversight and catch potential issues.

A DNC spokesperson told Yahoo News the national party requested the access "solely for the purpose of doing security testing."

Continued journalistic prodding and the state party review will reveal more, and hopefully sooner than later we will have a full picture of what led to the issues that popped up on caucus night.

For now, Price sounds like a man who is deeply upset and troubled by what happened because of the damage it has done to his party, but who is also comfortable with whatever revelations might come.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for the Journal's Des Moines Bureau. His email address is Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.


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