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Dems Mull Iowa Caucus Date

This story was written by Dean Treftz, The Daily Iowan
Iowa's uncertain and closely watched Democratic caucus date may become clear after the upcoming weekend.

On Oct. 28, Scott Brennan will advise the Democratic State Central Committee to move the caucuses to Jan. 3, Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Carrie Giddins said on Thursday.

Brennan will announce his recommendation to the Iowa Democratic committee during an 8 p.m. conference call in which the committee will vote to make a decision to move the caucuses from Jan. 14. If Iowa Democrats move their caucuses, the decision will be reviewed by the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee next month, a DNC spokesman said.

Iowa's Democrats have been under increasing scrutiny since Oct. 16, when the Republican Party of Iowa voted to move its caucuses to Jan. 3. New Hampshire has yet to change the date of its primary from Jan. 22 as many suspect it will.

"If the chairman makes a recommendation, I'm fairly certain it will be followed," said Richard Machacek, a Democratic committee member and representative to the DNC.

Both county and state logistics, along with planning concerns from campaigns, helped compel Democrats to start making the decision to move, Machacek said.

As for the DNC's review, "We anticipate getting a waiver," he said.

Though Brennan will only recommend Jan. 3, it is likely the party's central committee members will follow it.

"Right now, I'm not seeing or hearing enough reason not to accept [Jan. 3]", said fellow committee member Jean Pardee of Clinton. "Unless there are additional arguments - which I'm open to listening to - it looks like the third is our best choice."

Audrey Linville, a central committee member from Davenport, said she was glad to see the decision have a set date.

"It looks like the Democratic Party really doesn't know what it's doing," she said.

Linville said that she will make her decision on Oct. 28 after listening to discussion on the call and will likely vote with the consensus.

"I wanted [Jan.] 14, myself," she added.

If the party changes its caucus date, Democratic county party officials will have to rebook their venues, which are now booked for Jan. 14.

Johnson County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Flaherty said he wasn't worried about scheduling a possible date. Flaherty, also a state central committee member, will be on the conference call the night of Oct. 28.

The announcement came after weeks of behind-closed-door talks between, Iowa Democratic officials - including Gov. Chet Culver and U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin - Iowa Republicans, the DNC, and New Hampshire officials.

"We knew they were leaning [toward Jan. 3], but nothing was for sure," said Republican Party of Iowa's Executive Director Chuck Laudner.

Holding both caucuses on the same date simplifies the logistics of setting up the contests, Laudner said.

"A few months ago it was looking like it was going to be a madhouse," Laudner said. "I think everything is settling down now."

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