IA-Gov: Read the messages Fred Hubbell is testing with Iowa Democrats

Are Iowa Democrats more likely to support a successful businessman who is not a politician? Are they sympathetic to the argument that a self-funding candidate for governor is less susceptible to influence by special interests? Are they more impressed by private- or public-sector jobs Fred Hubbell has held, or by his charitable giving to causes like Planned Parenthood?

A recent survey of Democratic voters appears to be the Hubbell campaign’s first attempt to answer those and other questions.

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Weekend open thread: Bye bye Bannon

Steve Bannon’s position as chief White House strategist appeared to be secure this week after President Donald Trump doubled down on framing “both sides” as equally at fault for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville. But after a couple of ill-advised interviews with the New York Times and the American Prospect, Bannon was dumped on a Friday afternoon, like several Trump associates gone before him. Among other things, the president apparently didn’t appreciate Bannon’s habit of taking credit for his election victory.

Representative Steve King told the New York Times earlier in the week that conservatives would be “crushed” if Bannon were ousted. On August 17, he lamented to Philip Rucker of the Washington Post, “With Steve Bannon gone, what’s left of the conservative core in the West Wing?”

King didn’t elaborate on what conservatives admired in Bannon, but he has never espoused the “economic populist” agenda of higher taxes on the rich or tearing up trade agreements. Rather, Bannon and Republicans like King share a delight in exploiting racial and ethnic resentments for political gain.

I am inclined to agree with Sarah Kendzior: “Bannon may be just as useful for Trump outside the White House as he was within it–perhaps more so.” Bannon himself told Bloomberg reporter Joshua Green, “I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.” (Green wrote the book Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.)

Another sign Trump has not repudiated Bannon’s views: white supremacist allies Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka remain the president’s senior policy adviser and deputy assistant, respectively.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. The funniest political story I read this week was by John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade for Politico, detailing the “agonizing, 8-page memo” of instructions for staffers charged with driving GOP Representative Todd Rokita of Indiana. I’ve heard some good stories from Iowans who have chauffeured candidates or elected officials, but nothing approaching that level of high-maintenance behavior.

UPDATE: Added below more comments from Bannon and Trump.

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IA-03: Austin Frerick welcomes fight with the Koch Brothers

Austin Frerick is building his Congressional campaign around the case against economic concentration, which he has called “the fundamental issue of our time.” His opening shot was a Des Moines Register guest column last month. In that piece, Frerick called for the federal government to block the proposed Monsanto-Bayer merger and break up “Big Ag corporations” that command near-monopoly power, “limiting farmers’ choices and making the products they need even more expensive.”

Frerick’s column provoked a response in the Register by the head of a conservative think tank, who defended the Monsanto-Bayer merger and questioned Frerick’s “political motivations.” At last week’s Iowa Wing Ding event and in a statement released today, the Democrat embraced this fight with “a right-wing organization” funded by the Koch Brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

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Iowa scientists warn humidity rising due to climate change

“Uncomfortable humidity, water‐logged spring soils, extreme rain events, mold, and mosquitoes are all expected to become more prevalent in Iowa due to a rarely discussed impact of climate change: increased humidity,” 190 scientists at academic institutions warned last week. In the sixth annual Iowa Climate Statement, science faculty and researchers from 39 colleges and universities noted that “Increases in humidity have been measured across the Midwest and in Iowa across all seasons and at all long‐term monitoring stations.”

High levels of humidity create hazardous conditions for Iowa workers and sensitive populations through the danger of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Allergic rhinitis and asthma are worsened by heightened exposures to mold and dust mite allergens in humid environments. There also is evidence for increased aggression and societal violence associated with hot, humid weather.

For Iowa agriculture, increased warm‐season humidity leads to increased rainfall, extreme rain events, water‐logged soils during planting season, soil erosion, and runoff of chemicals to waterways. Rising humidity also leads to longer dew periods and higher moisture conditions that elevate costs of drying grain and increase populations of many pests and pathogens harmful to both growing plants and stored grain. Increased nighttime temperatures coupled with humidity causes stress to crops, livestock and pets and, in extreme cases, heat stress can cause loss of life.

I enclose below the full text of this year’s Iowa Climate Statement, with references, along with the news release highlighting key findings. You can view the names and academic affiliations all who signed here.

P.S.-The Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa, which has coordinated the release of the Climate Impact Statement, is set to lose much of its funding in 2022. This spring, Republican legislators approved and Governor Terry Branstad signed into law a bill eliminating a small tax on investor-owned utilities, which has supported the CGRER and the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University for 25 years.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Ironweed (Prairie ironweed)

You don’t need to venture into a high-quality habitat to find today’s featured plant. Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) can thrive on disturbed ground and is a common sight along Iowa roads in July and August. I took about half the enclosed pictures on a restored prairie in Dallas County and most of the others after pulling over to take a closer look at ironweed growing near the shoulder of Iowa Highway 44.

Sometimes known as prairie ironweed, common ironweed, smooth ironweed, or western ironweed, this species is native to about half the U.S., including all of the upper Midwest and plains states.

At the Iowa State Fair yesterday, I chatted with a reader who enjoys my occasional wildflower posts on Twitter @desmoinesdem. Check out this thread for pictures of more than two dozen wildflowers you might find see around Iowa in early August. Here are a few plants I recently found blooming along a wooded trail. This past weekend, I briefly escaped from the Charlottesville ugliness with a thread spotlighting red, white, or blue American wildflowers.

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