America Votes

June 30, 2004--Rob Berntsen, who previously served Sen. John Edwards' Iowa caucus director, is state organizing director for America Votes.  Berntsen described his role as "like a traffic cop" to the loose coalition of about 20 groups.  He sought to make sure "all the groups are efficiently using their resources," whether canvassing, mail, volunteers or phone banks.  The coalition held its initial meeting at Iowa State Education Association on Feb. 23, 2004 with President Cecile Richards.  Thereafter there were monthly meetings, Berntsen sent regular e-mails to the group, and they held conference calls.  Berntsen noted  that the state Democratic party is very strong in Iowa, which he termed a blessing in disguise.  He said that "the party feels they are capable," and accordingly there were "some tensions" but these were eventually resolved.  He also made it clear that, "We're not allowed to coordinate with the party."

Copyright © 2004, 2005 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.