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THIS WEEK: Will someone throw the Iowa caucuses a lifeline?

National Democrats say they'll decide by this Summer; Iowa Republicans say they'll be ready.

DES MOINES, Iowa — It's been two years since the world watched the Iowa Caucuses in wonder.

A night of Democratic faithful meeting together to pick a nominee for president in a first-in-the-nation event.

It was a night that didn't go as planned.

Remember Bernie Sanders campaigning before a crowd in New Hampshire after leaving Des Moines?

"For some reason, Iowa they're having a little bit of trouble counting votes," he said to snickers.

It's come to haunt the Iowa Caucuses two years later.

And there are reports New Jersey is pitching to be the nation's first Democratic contest.

"And as we look at our process, there will always be rumors about what the committee may or may not be considering," said Lorraine Miller, the co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee at the Party's winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

Miller says her committee will meet monthly, and even more often than that, to hammer out a plan by this summer to decide how delegates to the National Convention will be selected.

"We are committed to ensure our process reflects the values of our party," she said.

But does Iowa reflect the party's future?

The Hawkeye State could be stung if the first in the nation status is removed.

"Iowa I think would likely become a 'fly over' state if the caucuses didn't have that role," said Drake University political scientist Dr. Dennis Goldford on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens."

You can hear our entire interview with Drake University political scientist Dr. Dennis Goldford on THE CITIES PODCAST.

Goldford wrote the book on the spotlight that shines on Iowa every four years.

He said Iowa's moment of attention is bright, but short-lived.

"We're the center of the universe through caucus night and by the next night, certainly often by the next morning, we disappear into a political black hole for the next two years."

But what about Republicans?

"We're going to have 'first in the Nation' in the Republican Party barring any unforeseen problems that I'm not aware of right now with or without the Democrats," said Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufmann.

He says former president Donald Trump had assured him of the prominence of the Iowa Caucuses in the past.

"This isn't about Iowa.  This is about the Midwest having a voice."

Kaufmann has sympathy for former Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price who led the party during the 2020 caucuses and resigned after the delayed vote announcement that followed the often-maligned Iowa Caucus.

Kaufmann says Iowa Republicans and Democrats work hand in hand to hold the caucuses and said it was the Democratic National Committee that caused the problems.

"And let me tell you something: Iowa Democrats were ready.  It was the National Democrats that handed them that pile of you know what."

And now national Democrats are trying to turn a pile of "you know what" into a more representative and transparent delegate selection process for 2024.

"I want to assure you that the committee will hear and consider all suggestions on how we can improve our delegate selection process to best insure the process is fully representative of our values," Miller said.

And for Iowa's two major political parties, there's a lot riding on any upcoming changes.

"The Iowa Democratic Party and the Iowa Republican Party can't agree on whether the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West," Goldford said.

"The one thing they do agree upon is, for their purposes, the importance of the Iowa Caucuses."

You can watch "News  8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.

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