Iowa GOP tentatively sets caucuses for Jan. 3

AP News
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Posted: Oct 07, 2011 1:30 PM
Iowa GOP tentatively sets caucuses for Jan. 3

Iowa Republicans have tentatively decided to hold the state's leadoff presidential caucuses on Jan. 3 and Democrats will follow suit, party leaders said Friday.

Drew Ivers, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, said that panel held a telephone conference late Thursday to map out plans for the caucus calendar.

"We had a pretty strong consensus that the date should be Jan. 3 and the chairman should make that public on Monday," Ivers said in a telephone interview.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn plans to spend the weekend talking with his counterparts in New Hampshire to coordinate the date of the lead-off caucuses in Iowa and the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire.

Strawn said there was a strong consensus on the governing board that the caucuses needed be held in January and not move into the holiday season.

Iowa is changing its date after Nevada decided to hold its caucuses in mid-January.

"The broad direction I was given by my executive committee was to do everything in my power to hold the caucuses in January, but also continuing to work with our friends in New Hampshire," said Strawn. "Every four years Iowa and New Hampshire are attacked by other states that are very jealous of the opportunity we have to start the presidential nominating process."

Strawn declined to confirm specifically that Jan. 3 was the date settled on, though Ivers made it clear that was the decision.

"It's also important that we play a role in bringing sanity to this process," said Strawn. "We want to make sure this is a process that begins in January."

Iowa Democratic Chair Sue Dvorsky said Democrats "absolutely" would hold their caucuses on the same day, even though they don't have a nomination contest.

"While we don't have a nominating contest what we have is the necessity of organizing Democrats across the state," said Dvorsky. While they fight about most issues, Republicans and Democrats traditionally work together to help keep Iowa's caucuses first in the nation."

Strawn said it is crucial that Iowa and New Hampshire coordinate closely in setting their dates. Iowa holds the first caucus, while New Hampshire has the first primary.

"It's so very important not only to work in a bipartisan fashion here in Iowa, it's important that we're cooperating with New Hampshire," said Strawn.

Typically, the New Hampshire primary is held eight days after the Iowa caucuses, but the rush from other states to move to the beginning of the process has condensed that. In the last election cycle, Strawn noted that was condensed to five days.

"That was a scenario that worked very well for both parties and both states four years ago and can provide some guidance on how to proceed," said Strawn.

Strawn and Dvorsky spoke during a taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program, which airs over the weekend.