desmoinesdem

Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Iowa Democrats are in a deep hole, controlling only 20 of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 41 of 100 in the House. On the plus side, strong candidate recruitment and a wave of Republican retirements are giving Democrats plenty of opportunities to pick up House seats. (The 2018 Iowa Senate map is less promising.)

Raising money can be challenging for leaders of a minority party, who don’t call the shots on legislation. Furthermore, Iowa Republicans have a natural advantage, since the policies they promote are often tailored to suit wealthy individuals or corporate interest groups. While money doesn’t always determine campaign outcomes, quite a few Democratic lawmakers and challengers lost in 2016 after being massively outspent on television commercials and direct mail (see here, here, and here for examples).

Yet the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.

Continue Reading...

When Iowa's Republicans overturned rule on gun checks for mentally ill

After yet another mass murder involving an assault weapon made national news, Senator Chuck Grassley told reporters on February 15, “we have not done a very good job of making sure that people that have mental reasons for not being able to handle a gun getting their name into the FBI files and we need to concentrate on that.” Similarly, Senator Joni Ernst said today that the U.S. needs more “focus” on mental illness, not gun control. (Not that she has any ideas on how to address that problem.)

The talking point is bogus, because people with mental illness aren’t more likely than others to commit violent crimes, and mental illness isn’t any more prevalent in the U.S. than in other countries that experience far fewer mass shootings.

But let’s leave that aside for the moment. A year ago, all of Iowa’s Republicans in Congress voted with their GOP colleagues to overturn “a sensible Obama administration rule designed to stop people with severe mental problems from buying guns.”

Continue Reading...

Four Senate immigration bills fail: How Grassley and Ernst voted

With less that three weeks remaining until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program expires, the U.S. Senate voted today on four immigration proposals. Three of them contained language to protect “DREAMers,” who were brought to this country without authorization as children. No proposal received the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. The only bill to fall short of 50 votes was Senator Chuck Grassley’s legislation, modeled on President Donald Trump’s demands.

Iowa’s senators have talked a good game about the DREAMers, but today Grassley and Joni Ernst rejected bipartisan plans in order to be rubber stamps for the president and immigration hard-liners.

Continue Reading...

Martin O'Malley keeping the focus on other Democrats, for now

“Are you excited to have someone to rally around to send to Des Moines?” former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley asked a packed room in Clive at the February 12 kickoff for Kenan Judge‘s candidacy in Iowa House district 44. The past and probably future presidential candidate said nothing about his own record during his brief remarks. Later, he explained why he will devote much of 2018 to campaigning for other Democrats.

Continue Reading...
View More...