Changes may be coming to the way Democrats choose a presidential nominee, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said Sunday.
Perez spoke to Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Much of the conversation revolved around the Iowa caucuses, where a failure in the app and system used to tally the votes left candidates wondering for days who actually won the first-in-the-nation presidential contest.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the apparent leader with a narrow margin over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side. President Donald Trump stormed to victory in the GOP contest.
“Iowa was a mess. I think we can agree on that,” Tapper said as he began the interview, asking Perez whether the caucus system had come to the end of the line.
In Iowa, caucuses are run at the local level by volunteers.
The host went on to ask Perez if he thought the DNC should instead have state officials running the process.
“Well, I do think it needs to be state election officials running elections,” Perez said. He noted that the party had been trying to winnow down the number of caucus states.
“And, as you correctly pointed out, one of the conversations we had after the 2016 election, in addition to the superdelegate reform to return power to the people, is we incentivized states to go from caucuses to primaries. There were 14 states four years ago that held caucuses. Seven of them are now primary states. Iowa chose to keep their caucus status,” he said.
“I’m frustrated. I’m mad as hell. Everybody is.”
After Perez listed the number of things he thought Democrats were good at, Tapper asked “But not running elections itself?”
“Right,” the DNC chair replied.
Perez noted that changing the caucus system would require states to do away with the caucuses themselves.
Tapper then asked if Iowa would suffer as a result of the mistakes made last week.
“Is Iowa about to lose their first-in-the-nation caucus status? I mean, it’s not difficult to imagine South Carolina, New Hampshire, other states that are out of the process, Illinois, for example, the governor there is making a big pitch saying, ‘Iowa, you lost your chance. You screwed up. It’s time for another state to take over.’ Is that possibly going to happen?” Tapper said.
“Well, that’s the conversation that will absolutely happen after this election cycle,” Perez said.
He insisted that the DNC had tried to avert any problem in Iowa by working with state Democrats.
“They wanted to do a virtual caucus, Jake, where people could actually vote where it’s going to be over the telephone. And we said no because we had cybersecurity concerns. The now-infamous app, they actually used an app in 2016 to conduct the tallies. They weren’t voting with it, but they used an app in 2016. And they did their own [request for proposals] to select a vendor. And the question we asked was, have you pressure-tested it? Have you pressure-tested it?” he said.
Perez said he will resist calls from Democrats such as Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to resign and insisted the overall results from Iowa can be trusted.
“This is about who gets the most national delegates to the convention. And the 90, 95 precincts that they’re looking at right now, the range of delegate allocation — again, 41 delegates — is unlikely to be affected by these problems that were uncovered,” he said.
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