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Dvorsky re-elected head of Iowa Dems

BY SAM LANE | DECEMBER 06, 2010 7:20 AM

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Sue Dvorsky, a long-time political activist and former Iowa City School District teacher, has been re-elected as the head of the Iowa Democratic Party despite a disappointing midterm election for Democrats.

Her re-election has drawn favorable remarks from local Democratic politicians, who lauded her work for Iowa's middle class.

State Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said Dvorsky's re-election is "great news."

"No one represents middle class families better than Sue Dvorsky," he said, and she "understands what we need to do in the state of Iowa."

Dvorsky, a Coralville resident whose husband, Bob Dvorsky, is the Democratic state senator for that district, took the position in June when then-head Michael Kiernan stepped down because of medical reasons. She will serve in the post through 2012, according to a press release from the party.

She was well-known for her leading role in Obama's campaigning in Iowa in 2007 and 2008, but her re-election comes on the heels of the party's significant losses in the most recent midterm election.

Dvorsky said the key for the party in the coming year will be providing the necessary resources to state Sen. Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, the Senate majority leader, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, the incoming House minority leader. She said they'll focus on developing a network of activists statewide in anticipation of the 2012 elections.

"I like politics," Dvorsky said. "I like the relationships of it. I like talking to people. It's a huge honor and privilege to do what you like and have people want you to do it."

Dvorsky, a native of Barrington, Ill., came to the UI for her undergraduate education and gained a degree in special education. She then stayed at the UI to receive a master's in the same subject.

During her time in Iowa City, she was an active member in the Iowa Education Association, where, she said, a common slogan was, "Every decision that affects education is a political decision."

The role of a state's party head can vary based on what's needed in a given campaign, said UI political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle.

Hagle said officials can be a "more visible, leader-type person" or, as was the case with Iowa Republican Party head Matt Strawn, the leaders can be more behind-the-scenes.

"In some respects, [Dvorsky] might have been, as an activist, fairly ideological [in the last election]," Hagle said. "That maybe wasn't the best approach."

As for the focus of each party in Iowa for the 2012 election, Hagle said Democrats will need to work on finding some common ground and ways to be consistent with things on which Iowa voters are keen, which would be the economy, not social issues.

As long as the economy continues to struggle, he said, Republicans will have to focus on trimming the budget.

Natalie Ginty, the head of the UI College Republicans, agreed with Hagle, saying Republicans will have to focus on the economy, the essence of their 2010 promises.

Ginty also said she's not at all surprised Dvorsky was re-elected.

"She's very involved in the party," Ginty said. "She knows a lot of people."


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