DES MOINES — Today, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith released the following statement on the decision to not seek re-election for a second term as party chair:
At the beginning of this cycle, Iowa Democrats set ambitious goals for what our Party could accomplish in the 2020 election and we fell short of the most important task of electing Democrats to represent all Iowans.
We recruited amazing candidates who represented their districts, embraced new ways to reach voters when a global pandemic set in our state, and brought in a hundred thousand more registered voters into our Party. But Republicans — carried by the top of the ticket — were able to rebut our offense. I am so proud of the work we did to help Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win more votes than any presidential ticket in history. But we suffered losses in Iowa, as did Democrats across the country.
Despite the statewide results on Election Day, I continue to believe that the values of the Democratic Party are the values of Iowans. It is also clear that our Party must rebuild, retool, and reenergize moving forward. That said, I have decided not to seek re-election as Chair and I will continue to serve the Party until a new chair is elected in January 2021.
In 2022 we have an opportunity to defeat Governor Reynolds, elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, and win back congressional and legislative seats. I am committed to doing everything I can to make sure we accomplish those goals in my remaining term and alongside you in my personal capacity.
When I took on this honored position in February, I did so with a mission to serve as a bridge to the future. That time has come, and I will leave this post with optimism and renewed spirit for our Party’s work ahead.
Our next Party chair will find that the Iowa Democratic Party has a very strong foundation. Over the past 9 months, one of my top priorities has been to invest in long lasting structures that put our Party in a strong position to move forward. To that end, the IDP is coming off a record-setting fundraising year that ensures the Party has the resources to continue to build our organization, along with a dedicated and tireless state Party staff fighting to win in all 99 counties.
In 2020, Iowa Democrats built the largest grassroots infrastructure and most sophisticated voter contact programs in our Party’s history, including:
- An aggressive vote-by-mail and early vote turnout program that brought in a record number of early votes, including 117,567 more Democratic absentee ballots than Republicans.
- A cutting-edge ballot chase program that returned a historic 95% of requested Democratic ballots, compared to 93.6% in 2016 and 92% in 2012.
- Over 9 million voter contact attempts to Iowans, resulting in conversations with nearly 1 million Iowans in advance of Election Day.
- Historic levels of investment in digital engagement to boost turnout and benefit all Democrats running at every level of government.
- The most active group of campaign volunteers up-and-down the ballot since 2012.
- A commitment to full-time, year-round Constituency Engagement staff to ensure that we’re always organizing and bringing new Iowans into the Party.
- A robust voter protection team that overcame disenfranchisement efforts by Republicans and helped thousands of Iowans cast their ballots.
I’m proud of the work that so many dedicated staff and volunteers put into this election. And while we don’t have all of the answers now, it is my sincere hope that our Party can engage in meaningful conversations to listen with open minds, respect each other’s ideas, and work together to make sure that the lessons we learn turn into action for the next cycle. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve and work with some of the hardest working Democrats in the country to build a stronger Iowa Democratic Party.