Iowa Democrats choose state lawmaker to lead their party

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Democratic Party chose a state representative from Ames to lead the party as it works to retain its spot as the nation's first caucus in presidential elections.

Rep. Ross Wilburn was elected Saturday to replace outgoing chairman and former state Rep. Mark Smith who decided not to seek a second term.

Wilburn said he will work with national party officials to try and keep Iowa's traditional role as the first caucus in the country. Some national officials have suggested changing that and moving away from caucuses in favor of primaries after Iowa Democrats had problems that delayed the results of their presidential nominating contest for days during the 2020 election.

The Associated Press opted not to call a winner in last February's Democratic caucuses because of lingering concerns about whether the results as reported by the party were fully accurate.

Wilburn, who is the first Black Iowan to lead either major state party, said he would focus on diversity and inclusion as he works to strengthen the Democratic Party across the state, according to the Des Moines Register.

Wilburn plans to continue serving in the legislature, but he will resign from his current job at Iowa State University to focus on his role with the party.