Iowa Democrats elect Rep. Ross Wilburn as party chair

The Ames representative will lead the party in the wake of a disappointing election and a murky future for the Iowa caucuses.


The Daily Iowan; Photo by Ben Smith

Gubernatorial candidate Ross Wilburn speaks during the Johnson County Democrats BBQ at the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. Multiple gubernatorial candidates spoke at the event as well as guest speaker Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

Caleb McCullough, Managing Editor

Iowa Democrats elected state Rep. Ross WIlburn, D-Ames, as the chair of the state party on Saturday.

Wilburn will replace Mark Smith, a former state representative who held the position for less than a year and chose not to run for reelection. Smith was elected to replace former chair Troy Price, who resigned after a caucus process riddled with errors and inaccuracies left the state without a clear winner of the presidential caucuses for days in February of 2020.

Wilburn represents Iowa’s 46th District in the state House of Representatives, which includes Ames, and is a former mayor of Iowa City. He is the first Black chair of either major party committee in Iowa.

Wilburn takes the helm of the party as it tries to recover from a blistering loss in the November elections. Two U.S. House seats were flipped by Republicans and several Democrats lost seats in the Iowa House.

“I’m excited to get to work and lead Iowa Democrats for the next two years. With President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris, and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison at the top, Democrats are going to work tirelessly to bring people together, speak the truth, and build a more just society. We have aggressive plans to reinvigorate our party from the ground up and connect with more Iowans in communities small and large,” Wilburn wrote in a press release from the Iowa Democratic Party.

Iowa Democrats are also reckoning with the state’s status as the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest, and top national Democrats are weighing whether to cut the tradition. Calls to remove Iowa’s spot on the calendar were reinvigorated because of the issues with the process in 2020, and the caucuses have been called inaccessible and not representative of the national Democratic party.

Smith praised Wilburn in a press release, and said the new slate of leaders would invigorate the party.

“Chair Wilburn’s career of public service and dedication to making sure everyone has a seat at the table is rooted in the principles of our party. I know Chair Wilburn will continue to build our bench with compassion and inclusion to elect Democrats from Terrace Hill to Washington DC who will be a voice for working families and equality,” Smith wrote.



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