By Philip Kiely
In Jan. of this year, the Iowa Democratic Party elected their new chair, Derek Eadon. The recent elect stresses accessibility and inclusiveness as his focus for 2018.
“We have thousands of Iowans who feel like they need to act, and they don’t feel like the Democratic Party is an outlet for them to act. People are not skipping our events because they are apathetic. They are skipping our events and not participating because they see no reason to go,” Eadon wrote in a post on Bleeding Heartland, an Iowa politically progressive community blog in Dec. 2016.
Eadon proposes to fix this by revitalizing grassroots activism within the democratic party with a focus on community. Specifically, he wants more small, local events where people begin to take direct action rather than sitting in meetings.
“We need to have smaller, social events where people can learn about politics, candidates and most of all learn about the other great Democrats that live in their area,” Eadon wrote.
Eadon emphasizes respect as a quality that could differentiate the democratic party in Iowa. He says that a party culture that values everyone’s contributions is essential to creating that respect.
“We can embrace our differences, we can tailor our tactics to the community we are in, and we can develop the next generation of volunteer organizers and Democratic leaders … If we can’t treat each other with respect as Democrats, how does that make us different than folks we are working against?,” Eadon wrote.
Eadon’s emphasis on inclusion and change allowed him to beat out more experienced candidates such as Mike Gronstal, the former Iowa Senate Majority leader, who lost his seat in the Iowa Senate in the 2016 election.
“We can do better,” Eadon promised in the headline of his blog post.
Eadon has worked in Iowa Politics for over a decade. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in political science, he became a field organizer in the Cedar Rapids area. He took a position early in Obama’s first campaign, and worked his way up to state director of Obama for America for Obama’s reelection. Before Eadon’s election as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, he ran BluPrint Strategies, a political consulting firm, which he promised to close down in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
The voting members of the State Central Committee elect the state’s democratic party chair. The chair is responsible for coordinating campaign efforts in local, state and national campaigns across Iowa. Eadon, who has never held public office himself, will move away from organizing individual campaigns and towards unifying the democratic party platform and ensuring a cohesive message.
Eadon’s first priority will be reorganizing for the 2018 election. Currently, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office are all Republican. In 2018, the governor’s office, 25 state senate seats, all 100 state representative seats, all four US representative seats and thousands of local positions will be on ballots across the state. Eadon will support and coordinate fundraising, advertising, and volunteer efforts for many of these campaigns, working closely with campaign managers and candidates.