May 21, 2024

Democratic Party finds camaraderie at a time when growth is needed

Republican voters still the majority in Jasper County, leading to a re-focused message

Gabe Bahrenfuse plays bags during the Jasper County Democratic Party's tailgate event on Sept. 10 at Quarry Springs Park in Colfax.

Jasper County was at one time a Democratic stronghold, but the political shift the past few years has matched that of the state, turning the region into a deep red. The local Democratic Party is aware of this, and with new leadership both in-house and at the state level they have hopes to re-build their message.

Alexandra Cleverley, chair of the Jasper County Democratic Party, remarked at a recent tailgate event that there was more people who showed up than expected, some of which were new faces. Which was a sign to Cleverley that the word is getting out about the party and more people are willing to participate.

The Democratic Party has had some disappointments in the past; so much so that Cleverley feels party members got winded and knocked out by the “loudness over on the other side.” Others are also unhappy with the Republican Party, she said, which may signal that this is the time for the Democrats to learn and grow.

“I think this is a good point where things can progress and have us grow even bigger and have more people out in the communities,” said Cleverley, who was elected chair of the local party in February. “…It’s been a wonderful experience and I love working with everybody out in the community.”

While the tailgate and bags tournament served as a way to build camaraderie within the party, it also gave members a chance to reflect. The pep talk and appearance from Rita Hart, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, certainly helped in that regard, giving the local folks a much-needed boost.

“Take a look at your skills and your talents and your abilities. Take a look at that. What is it that you can do that you can contribute to the Democratic Party that you’ve never done before,” Hart said. “…There are all kinds of ways to raise money or create interest into what Democrats are doing.”

For Cleverley, the ideas and suggestions pitched by Hart did not go unheard and will ultimately help the local party, which is still supporting candidates for local races for the upcoming election but will likely amp up statehouse candidate efforts within this next year. Democrats are still the underdogs at this point.

According to the latest voter registration totals posted by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, registered Republicans in Jasper County outnumber Democrats by about 1,764 voters. In total, there are 7,234 active registered Republicans and 5,470 active registered Democrats in Jasper County.

“The biggest thing is Democrats need to work on is their messaging, getting their points across in a different way,” Cleverley said. “…I think the role of the Democratic Party is making a comeback. They have new leadership and a brand new team. With time, we’ll be able to ramp up and do amazing things.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.