Party leaders meet with Brown and Black Forums of America on racism, caucuses

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By Katie Akin, Iowa Capital Dispatch

The chairs of the Iowa Democratic and Republican Parties met to discuss threats against Chair Ross Wilburn and the Iowa caucuses. (Photo courtesy of Iowa GOP)

Iowa’s Democratic and Republican party leaders met last week with the Brown and Black Forums of America to discuss Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses and a series of racist threats against Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn.

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Wayne Ford and Mary Campos, co-chairs of the Iowa-based Brown and Black Forums of America, said in a statement that they “condemn in the strongest way possible the recent threats against Chair Wilburn.”

In October, an anonymous person called and emailed racist threats to Wilburn following a critical column about former President Donald Trump. Wilburn said Tuesday that the investigation into the incident is ongoing, and he hopes to get a formal update soon.

“This is just the latest in a long pattern of racist actions against political activists of color in Iowa,” Ford and Campos said. “In the spirit of unity, we stand with political leaders across party lines who discourage these deplorable activities.”

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Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann has also condemned the threats.

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Both Wilburn and Kaufmann also advocated for the Iowa Caucuses to remain first in the nominating calendar. The caucus faced significant criticism last year after Democrats had issues with a new reporting system. Plus, critics of the process have argued for decades that Iowa is not diverse enough to serve as an indicator from the rest of the country.

The party chairs spoke with the co-chairs of the Brown and Black Forums about Iowa’s place on the calendar in last week’s meeting.

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“Work on the 2024 Presidential Caucuses has already begun, and just as I have done with 6 other Democrat Party chairs, I am pleased to stand arm-in-arm with Chair Wilburn to preserve the Iowa Caucuses,” Kaufmann said.

Campos and Ford did not say in their Tuesday statement whether they supported keeping the Iowa Caucus first, and a representative for the Forums did not respond to a request for clarification. But the duo has been addressing the critics for years. In a 2004 Demoracy Now! Interview, Ford said the minorities in Iowa “have the same symbolic issues as other minorities around the country.”

“Although we are the fifth whitest state in America, me and Mary have always said that we need to showcase minorities and let the country know that we have a similar problem, and these presidential candidates need to deal with these problems,” Ford said in 2004.

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