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Friday, December 22, 2006

Nevada - Caucus Envy?!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You probably read this story.

  • "The Nevada Democratic Party announced that it is hiring two Iowa Democratic veterans to run the Nevada 2008 presidential caucus. Jean Hessburg who was executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party in 2002 and 2004 elections will organize Nevada's Democratic caucus which will be held in early 2007. Jayson Sime who was Iowa's Democratic Party field and canvass director in 2004 will be the assistant to Hessburg. The Nevada Democratic presidential caucus will now be the No. 2 only five days after Iowa for the 2008 presidential marathon."
Iowa's caucuses have been so important precisely because they have been the first event in the American race for the White House. Since they became important in the 1970's, other states have been eying the first place in what can only be called "caucus envy" - Freud may have written about this but I'm not sure! It is a deep psychological sense of inadequacy at not being "as big" as the Iowa caucuses in giving presidential contenders visibility and the big "mo" - MOMENTUM!

Now comes late breaking word that New Jersey is also suffering from this condition. It goes more or less like this:

  • TRENTON, N.J. --New Jersey lawmakers have approved a plan that would move the state near the front of the presidential primary lineup in a bid to give the Garden State more influence in selecting candidates. Proponents of the move say it's needed because presidential candidates often visit New Jersey to raise money but don't court votes because the state's primary has been scheduled well after races were decided. The state Senate voted 33-5 to move the state's presidential primary to the first Tuesday in February.
Here is another spin on this:
  • "New Jersey will move from the back of the line almost all the way to the front. What had been the last presidential primary in the nation will now be held Feb. 5, 2008 - behind only the Iowa caucus (Jan. 14), Nevada caucus (Jan. 19), New Hampshire primary (Jan. 22) and South Carolina primary (Jan. 29). The Garden State joins what will be a new "Super Tuesday," as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah also are planning to hold primaries on the first Tuesday in February."

Now pay close attention here because this is where Freud comes into the picture:

  • "New Jersey lawmakers last year voted to hold the presidential primary in late February, but had to move it even earlier as other states kept rushing their primaries toward the front. The move recognizes the long-standing resentment [one could say sense of inadequacy and helplessness] among voters that New Jersey was little more than a bystander when it came to choosing presidential candidates."
In Iowa we understand that being first means Iowa is always looking over its shoulders because someone is coming fast from behind.

We also understand that the Iowa caucuses have been an opportunity for little known candidates with very little money to test their message and personal political skills and style. "Retail politics", going from voter to voter rather than from TV Media Market to TV Media Market, has been a very useful process in the winnowing of candidates. A huge ragional or national primary would probably eliminate the lesser known and poorly funded aspirants to the White House.

How long can this last? Not foreover but Iowa has had a good run and done a great service to US democracy.

Iowa Political Caucus Exhibit! Excellent!

New major Iowa State Historical Museum project announced for 2007:
Museum to be information headquarters, media center and issues forum for Iowa Caucuses

State Historical Society of Iowa
600 E. Locust Street
Des Moines, Iowa

Contact: Jeff Morgan, 515-281-3858December 21, 2006

DES MOINES The State Historical Museum today announced it is developing a new major project that will transform 9,000 square-feet of display space into an information headquarters, media center and issues forum for the Iowa Caucuses.

Caucus Iowa, scheduled to open in Fall 2007, will offer a first-hand look at Iowas first-in-the-nation caucuses how they work, why they work, how they affect candidates and their campaigns, and how they differ from every other step to the White House.

The project will also serve as a caucus training headquarters for world-wide media and provide an issues forum where campaign organizations, presidential candidates and the public can host events, deliver speeches and hold other activities.

Iowa's traditional first-in-the-nation caucuses focus the eyes of the nation and world on the state every four years, said Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Intensive media scrutiny showcases all aspects of Iowa life, promoting the state, its people and resources in a manner that is unrivaled by any other single event. This project will define and explain the caucus method from a historical sense and create specific environments to experience this unique political process firsthand. It will be a rare opportunity to demystify citizen-democracy at work and celebrate it as a viable and necessary step in our presidential process.

With its emphasis on technology and electronics, the project will tell the story of the Iowa caucuses their rise to national significance in the 1970s, coffee shop campaigning, living room politics and the impact severe winter weather, special interest groups and the media have on them. The project will also track the whereabouts of 2008 presidential candidates as they campaign throughout the state. Iowans play a unique role in the nations presidential election process, Walker said.

The Iowa Caucuses set the stage for the rest of the nation by winnowing the field of candidates for the White House. Historically, the caucuses offer only three tickets out of Iowa, meaning candidates have to finish in the top three to have any realistic chance of continuing their campaigns. We believe this project will help to secure Iowas first-in-the-nation status, promote Iowa to national and international audiences and, most importantly, showcase citizen-democracy to increase participation in the caucus process.

Museum staff is working with a Caucus Advisory Board co-chaired by Gordon Fischer and Steve Roberts, both of Des Moines. The advisory board also includes:

Eric Branstad, Republican Party of Iowa
Dennis Goldford, Drake University professor
J Fink, Oskaloosa teacher
James Flansburg, former political writer for The Des Moines Register
Jason Follett, SHSI Board Member
Millie Frese, Marshalltown teacher
Teri Goodmann, Dubuque democrat
Wayne Haskovec, Hudson teacher
Gary Overla, Perry teacher
Matthew Schaefer, Hoover Museum, West Branch
Steffen Schmidt, Iowa State University professor, co-author of book "Issues in Iowa Politics"
Peverill Squire, University of Iowa professor
Tim Walch, SHSI Board Member
Hugh Winebrenner, author of book on Iowa Caucuses

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and is a trustee of Iowas historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowas past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowas historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.

Visit or call 515-281-5111 for more information.