Candidate for the Iowa State Legislature and UI alum Zach Wahls speaks to Iowa City residents during the off season gubernatorial Democratic caucuses at Iowa City-West High School on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Representatives for candidates such as Fred Hubbell, Nate Boulton, John Norris, and Deidre Dejear were in attendance. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa democrats brave weather aiming to oust Republican-majority trifecta for the next year

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Support for Democratic gubernatorial candidates is divided at off-year caucuses, for which an impressive number of Democrats braved the weather to be politically active.

By Sarah Watson

Sarah-e-watson@uiowa.edu

More than 100 Democrats trekked through the barely plowed snow in an effort to be politically active at Monday evening’s off-year caucuses at Iowa City West High, 2901 Melrose Ave.

A two-door Fiat spun its wheels in the snow-covered parking lot of West High, where six precincts met for the off-year Democratic caucuses to decide delegates for the party conventions in June, among other party business.

With a gubernatorial race in November, Democratic primary in June, and hotly contested bills topping headlines from the Republican-majority Legislature, Democrats at the caucus were eager to show their support for the current minority party.

“I’ve been to off-year precinct caucuses where there were four of five people sitting around one table,” said site coordinator Peter Hansen, 78.

This year, an average of about 20 people per precinct gathered in classrooms throughout the school.

In the West High Democratic caucuses, support was divided among the gubernatorial candidates, with speeches given in support of nearly all seven.

The Democrats running are Nate Boulton,  Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, Andy McGuire, Jon Neiderbach, John Norris, and Ross Wilburn.

There’s a chance if a candidate doesn’t receive 35 percent majority in the primaries held in June, a Democratic candidate could be decided at the state convention.

“We need to stand united as a Democratic Party,” said John Deeth in a speech before people broke off to caucus. He iterated that the Democrats’ most important goal was to put more Democrats in state offices instead of dividing among several candidates.

Zach Wahls, a Democratic senatorial candidate for Iowa District 37, with includes Coralville, made an appearance and a short speech at the caucuses, welcoming everyone there and making a quick shout out to his campaign.

He made no endorsement for the gubernatorial race.

“I’m still getting my sense of who the candidates are,” he said. “Four right candidates that are in that top tier, Fred, Cathy, John Norris, and Nate Boulton, Andy McGuire is 5. We’ve got a great field, and I’m still trying to figure out which one I like the most.

“That we have so many people here with the road conditions is nothing short of incredible.”

Iowa City West student Nina Elkadi, 18, will vote for the first time this year. With millions of dollars in funding cuts looming for public universities, she said, support for funding for public education is her No. 1 priority in a candidate.

For Solomon Furious Worlds, 22, he said one issue he wished he would see more of the Democratic candidates talking about was race relations. He cited that although there is a small percentage of African Americans in Iowa, they make up a majority of the prison system.

“It’s an issue that the gubernatorial candidates are not talking about enough for my taste,” he said.

He said other issues important to him are public-education funding and water quality.

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