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Martin O'Malley: Presidential candidate? Maybe. Clinton rival? No way.

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 14:45:00 PM CDT

It makes perfect sense for potential Democratic presidential candidates to visit Iowa, meeting activists and keeping their options open. That doesn't mean any of them would run against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Case in point: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Having keynoted the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention last month, he's coming here again this weekend, headlining events for State Senator Rita Hart and state Senate candidate Kevin Kinney on Saturday, then Council Bluffs and Sioux City events for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch on Sunday. Politico's Maggie Halberman notes that O'Malley "has said he's exploring a 2016 presidential run." A Des Moines Register headline writer termed him a "possible rival" to Clinton. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post speculated, "O'Malley is term limited out as governor at the end of this year and undoubtedly thinks a credible run for president might bolster his chances of a spot in a Clinton Administration."

I just don't see it. Laying the groundwork for a potential campaign is not the same thing as preparing to embark on a suicide mission. O'Malley doesn't come across as a guy like Senator Bernie Sanders, who knows he will never be president but might run to shine a light on issues important to him. O'Malley goes way back with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He stuck with Hillary for president even after Barack Obama dominated the 2008 Maryland primary. From where I'm sitting, CNN's Dan Merica had it exactly right when he described O'Malley as an "understudy," "angling to be the person who could step in" if Clinton does not run for president for whatever reason. Maryland's term limits for governors make 2016 an ideal time for O'Malley to run for president, but he's only 51 years old--young enough to wait until 2020 or 2024 if necessary.

Meanwhile, I hope all of this weekend's events are successful, because Hatch, Hart, and Kinney are very worth supporting.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Hart's re-election bid in Senate district 49 is a must-hold for Democrats. Kinney's running in the open Senate district 39, and if he wins, it would virtually guarantee a Democratic majority in the state legislature's upper chamber for the next two years.

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Hopeless lawsuit only adds to Cedar Rapids' opportunity costs

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:07:30 AM CDT

Cedar Rapids movers and shakers should be pursuing alternative plans for a prime downtown location rejected for a casino license in April. Instead, city leaders have vowed to find a legislative path to their casino dream. Now a former Linn County attorney hopes a court will throw out the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's decision. Rick Smith reports for the Cedar Rapids Gazette,

[Eugene] Kopecky filed a lawsuit this week in Linn County District Court against the commission and the four of five commission members who voted April 17 to deny a state gaming license to casino investor group Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC.

Kopecky, who has practiced law in Cedar Rapids since 1966, said Thursday that his lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment. He said he wants the court to instruct the commission on the state's gaming law in a way that would require the commission to revisit the Cedar Rapids casino application and grant a state gaming license.

Kopecky said the state's gaming law requires voters in a county to approve gaming before a casino is permitted to operate. [...]

He said state law doesn't give the state commission the ability to deny a casino license in one county based on a license in another county, he said.

The fact that voters must approve a plan before a casino can be licensed does not imply that the commission must approve every application for a casino license where a referendum has passed. The Racing and Gaming Commission has denied some two dozen gambling licenses in its 30-year history. There is ample precedent for the commission denying a license based on concerns a new casino would largely cannibalize from existing ones. I've seen no evidence that state legislators thought commissioners were exceeding their authority in those cases. I'm not an attorney, but I would be shocked if a court agreed with Kopecky's interpretation of Iowa statute.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett commented yesterday that he supports the lawsuit. For his part, Kopecky "said his lawsuit could take more than two years to make its way through the Iowa court system if a decision in Linn County District Court is appealed."

What a shame to waste so much time on a Hail-Mary pass, when Cedar Rapids could be considering other development plans for the downtown space. Richard Florida, a leading expert on urban land use, has written that "urbanists across the ideological spectrum are unanimous" about one thing: "building casinos, especially in an already thriving downtown, is a truly terrible idea."  

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Five good reads on Ronald Reagan and race-based appeals

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 21:42:35 PM CDT

Republicans have been long been masters at demanding that prominent Democrats apologize for some obscure person's offensive comment. Today the Black Hawk County Republicans used this tried and true technique to score a story by the Des Moines Register's chief politics reporter. In a now-deleted post on the Black Hawk County Democrats' Facebook page, a volunteer shared a graphic comparing Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Among other things, the graphic described Reagan as a "white supremacist."

Jennifer Jacobs' story leads with a Republican press release and includes an apology from the chair of the Black Hawk County Democrats for this "unfortunate" and "unacceptable" post. However, nowhere does Jacobs hint at why anyone would think to apply this label to Reagan in the first place. Maybe she's playing dumb, or maybe she's too young to remember.

Sad to say, the U.S. has had more than a handful of white supremacist presidents. I don't think Reagan was one of them. But I recommend the following reads on his use of racially charged language to win support for his political agenda.

Ian Haney-Lopez provides a good overview of how Reagan "used coded racial appeals to galvanize white voters."

During the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan traveled to Philadelphia, Mississippi, site of the most notorious murders of the civil rights movement, to deliver this speech declaring his support for "states' rights." (full transcript) As Bob Herbert wrote many years later, "Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans - they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew."

David Love chronicles Reagan's "troubling legacy" on race. Not only did he oppose the Voting Rights Act of 1965, during the 1980 campaign he criticized that law as "humiliating to the South."

In 1981, Reagan White House aide Lee Atwater gave a remarkably frank interview about the GOP's "Southern strategy." He described how overtly racist political rhetoric evolved into conservative slogans about busing or economic policies that hurt black people more than whites.

Peter Dreier reminds us that Reagan's "indifference to urban problems was legendary" and notes that his administration "failed to prosecute or sanction banks that violated the Community Reinvestment Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in lending."

On a related note, Reagan's riff about "welfare queens" is perhaps the most famous example of how he used racial code words. Josh Levin published a fascinating profile of the con artist who inspired that part of Reagan's stump speech.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Wild petunia, plus May apple with fruit

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 20:22:00 PM CDT

This week's featured flower resembles a common garden planting, but wild petunia (Ruellia humilis) is native to much of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. In Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie, Sylvan Runkel and Dean Roosa note that this plant can grow "in a variety of habitats, from open woodlands to moist prairies to sand plains." According to Iowa naturalist Leland Searles, the petunias often grown in gardens are in the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and have alternate leaves. Wild petunia is a member of the acanthus family (Acanthaceae) and has opposite leaves.

Also known as hairy wild petunia, this plant isn't hard to grow in a garden, according to the Illinois Wildflowers website. A related species called smooth wild petunia has similar blossoms but smooth leaves.

I've posted below several pictures of wild petunia blooming, along with a couple of flowers I hope the Bleeding Heartland community will help me identify. As a bonus, I included a shot of fruit growing on May apples, also known as umbrella plants. May apples are one of my favorite spring wildflowers, but deer or other wildlife tend to eat all the fruit from the plants closest to my corner of Windsor Heights. I was lucky to find a stand of untouched May apples a couple of weeks ago while hunting for black raspberries. Supposedly you can make preserves from ripe May apple fruit, but I've never tried it, nor have I tried eating the fruit raw. This blogger found out the hard way that the seeds are toxic.

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More Iowa political reaction over unaccompanied immigrant children (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 20:49:39 PM CDT

As new reports indicate that Iowa families are caring for more than 100 unaccompanied immigrant children who have entered the U.S. illegally during the past year, Governor Terry Branstad stands by his cold shoulder to the kids, while leading Iowa Democrats have called for a more welcoming stance.

I enclose below some recent news and commentary about how Iowans should react to the humanitarian crisis.

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Lots of links on potential 2016 Iowa caucus candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 14:16:13 PM CDT

It's been a while since Bleeding Heartland dedicated a thread to the potential 2016 presidential candidates. Please share any comments related to the next Iowa caucus campaign in this thread. Lots of links on various Democratic and Republican contenders are after the jump.
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Obama executive order bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM CDT

President Barack Obama signed an executive order today that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Labor Secretary Tom Perez explained,

My colleagues in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs have enforced the government's nondiscrimination laws for federal contractors for years. Their work ensures that contractors and subcontractors doing business with the government don't use taxpayer money to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. With this executive order, it will also include America's LGBT workers.

We still need to go further. Passage of federal legislation to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity would mean that all workers across the country would enjoy these protections. But with Congress failing to lead on this issue, the president is taking the initiative as part of this Year of Action.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the U.S. Senate last fall with bipartisan support but is going nowhere in the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

Justin Sink noted in his report for The Hill that the president still wants Congress to pass that bill, although "some gay and civil rights groups have abandoned ENDA over concerns stemming from the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision." After the jump I've posted more background on that aspect of today's news. While the Hobby Lobby ruling ostensibly was limited to a religious exemption from the contraception mandate in the 2010 health care reform law, it's likely to have more far-reaching effects.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I'll update this post if needed with Iowa political reaction.

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Weekend open thread: Walking the talk edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 08:01:34 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

State Representative Chuck Isenhart, the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Environmental Protection Committee, has installed solar panels on his Dubuque home as a personal step to address climate change. Details are after the jump. Solar power has a reputation for being expensive to install, but technological advances and policy changes have reduced the payback time for many home and business owners. Isenhart expects to save money in the long-term. A bill approved during this year's legislative session improved Iowa's tax incentives for solar in several ways.

The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, begins its northern route in Rock Valley today. Good luck to everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community planning to do all or part of RAGBRAI. Last week's weather would have been absolutely perfect; I hope the high temperatures will mostly stay below 90 this week. In its recent feature on "33 useful tips for newbies" to the experience, I found it strange that the Register focused so much on the drinking culture. Carl Voss, a Des Moines bicycling advocate and veteran of 36 RAGBRAIs, unloaded on what he called "sophomoric drivel" in an angry letter to the editor. Excerpt:

Granted, alcohol attracts some riders and non-riders among the more than 10,000 RAGBRAI participants. It happens. But trust me, that isn't the way most participants enjoy RAGBRAI, Iowa and our communities.

Now, flip to the RAGBRAI website, where RAGBRAI (and therefore the Register) includes among the "Top 10 Recommendations for Rider Safety": Do NOT drink alcohol and ride. [...]

Publishing crap like this in your news columns will turn me off to RAGBRAI and the Register.

Another letter to the editor, which I've posted after the jump, focused on the large number of puppy mills near this year's RAGBRAI route. The Iowa legislature passed a bill in 2010 that was designed to reduce abuses at puppy mills, but unfortunately Iowa still has some bad actors in the industry. Adopting a pet from a shelter such as the Animal Rescue League has so many advantages. If your heart is set on a purebred animal, at least visit the breeder's facility before buying a pet.

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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup, with a few surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 13:24:37 PM CDT

With all four U.S. House districts in Iowa targeted by one or both parties this year, and competitive primaries happening in three of the four races, I was eager to see where the nominees stood at the end of the second quarter.

Highlights from the Federal Election Commission filings are after the jump. After lackluster fundraising the last three quarters, six-term Representative Steve King finally managed to out-raise his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, but to my surprise, Mowrer retained a big advantage over King in cash on hand as of June 30.  

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Yellow jewelweed (Pale touch-me-not)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 22:57:41 PM CDT

Dry and unseasonably cool weather has made this a perfect week to get out and see summer wildflowers. One of my summer favorites, American bellflower, is prevalent along most of the wooded trails in central Iowa. Dozens of prairie flower species are in bloom, and you can find many in small city plantings (for instance, around Gray's Lake in Des Moines and on nearby trails) if you don't have time to get to a native or restored prairie.

This week's featured native plant thrives in wooded areas where the ground is moist, and prefers partial sun. Yellow jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) is also commonly known as pale touch-me-not or pale jewelweed. It's reportedly less common than orange jewelweed, a closely related plant. For centuries, various Native American tribes used jewelweed to soothe itches from poison ivy rashes, mosquito bites, and hives. I know hikers who swear by it. Conveniently, the plant often grows near poison ivy and stinging nettle, legendary skin irritants. This post on Nature Labs explains how to use jewelweed and includes more detail on its medicinal properties.

Incidentally, the common name "touch-me-not" doesn't mean plants in this family are harmful to touch. Rather, the name was inspired by "the sensitive triggering of seeds from the ripe capsule," which tends to explode when touched.  

After the jump I've enclosed several photos of yellow jewelweed, growing along a stretch of the Windsor Heights bike trail. Although I've walked or ridden my bicycle by the spot literally hundreds of times in the last dozen years, I never noticed this plant growing there until this summer--which should come in handy, now that the mosquitoes are out in force.

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No welcome mat from Terry Branstad for unaccompanied immigrant children

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 13:46:09 PM CDT

For two days I've been trying to find the words to react to Governor Terry Branstad slamming the door on unaccompanied and undocumented immigrant children who are staying in crowded facilities near the U.S. southern border. Since last fall, at least 50,000 children are estimated to have entered the country via Mexico from various countries of origin, mainly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The Obama administration has asked governors to help house the kids. During his Monday press briefing, Branstad made clear he doesn't want any of the children sent to Iowa.

It's not that I expected Branstad to welcome any of these kids. This is a guy who demagogued on illegal immigration during his last campaign and disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows undocumented children to be educated in public schools. Still, for those of us old enough to remember Governor Bob Ray welcoming refugees from Asia to Iowa during the 1970s, it's dispiriting to hear Branstad trot out tired excuses and talking points. He wants "empathy for these kids" but doesn't want to "send the signal to send these children to America illegally." As if these children deliberately broke the law. As if families in desperate circumstances, trying to save their kids from murderous gangs in central America, would be influenced by "signals" from generous Iowans.

I have nothing profound to say, I just find it depressing to hear the governor cite some charitable work by his wife as an excuse not to do anything to alleviate a humanitarian crisis. After the jump I've posted some news clips on the story, along with a call to action from the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- What a disgrace for WHO-TV to allow reporter Aaron Brilbeck to file a story referring to human beings as "illegals" in the headline and the lede. Where were the newsroom editors? I expect that kind of language in a press release from Representative Steve King's office, not from a reputable media organization.

P.P.S.- Philip Brasher, formerly of the Des Moines Register, filed an excellent feature for Roll Call about "The Other Side of the Border."

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Change in Iowa Medicaid policy hasn't reduced abortion access

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 20:43:35 PM CDT

A year after Iowa law changed to require the governor to approve all Medicaid reimbursements for abortions, the new policy does not appear to have limited low-income women's access to abortions in cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother's life or severe fetal abnormality.

On the other hand, the policy has in effect ended Medicaid coverage of abortion in Iowa, which was already among the most restrictive states in this area.  

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IA-03: Zaun's out but two "Liberty" candidates are in

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:39:09 AM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, State Senator Brad Zaun confirmed on the July 10 edition of Simon Conway's radio show that he will not leave the Republican Party or run for Congress as an independent in Iowa's third district. I had a feeling Zaun was just seeking attention or fishing for compliments with his July 4 Facebook post about friends "encouraging me to switch to an Independent." He told Conway, "I basically just put out a provocative post [...] I didn't commit myself one way or the other and of course it exploded."

Zaun's third term in the Iowa Senate expires in 2016. He has reportedly been telling people he does not plan to seek re-election to the state legislature again. Zaun left his party's Iowa Senate leadership team shortly after Republicans failed to regain a majority in the 2012 election.

Meanwhile, at least two conservative third-party candidates are running in IA-03 this year. Ed Wright received the Libertarian Party of Iowa's nomination in June. His campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Council Bluffs native Bryan Jack Holder officially announced his campaign in March as a Republican, but he did not qualify for the GOP primary ballot. Last month he confirmed on Conway's radio show that he will file to run for Congress as an independent.

After the jump I've posted some background information on Wright and Holder from their respective campaign websites. Neither candidate will raise enough money to reach voters district-wide through traditional campaign methods. However, these advocates for restoring freedom and the Constitution could influence the outcome if the race between Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young is close. In 2010, two little-known conservative candidates in Iowa's first district gained more votes combined than Representative Bruce Braley's winning margin against Republican Ben Lange.

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Supreme Court ruling will speed up small solar projects in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 11:42:57 AM CDT

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday affirmed a lower court ruling that will make it easier for small-scale solar projects to move forward in Iowa. The up-front cost of installing solar panels has long been a barrier to unlocking Iowa's huge potential to generate solar power. Now municipalities, home or business owners will be able to have solar panels installed through a "third-party power purchase agreement," whereby they pay for the electricity generated after installation.

Follow me after the jump for background on this case, key points from the majority ruling, and reaction to the decision. Advocates for solar power in Iowa and elsewhere are enthusiastic about the potential for more small-scale renewable energy projects (sometimes called "distributed generation"). Utility companies are warning that the ruling will drive up electricity costs.  

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Weekend open thread, with Iowa medical marijuana links

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 13, 2014 at 08:36:13 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Among the new Iowa laws that took effect at the beginning of the current fiscal year on July 1, the act legalizing the use of cannabis oil for certain seizure disorders drew the most media attention. Senate File 2360 (full text) passed the Iowa House and Senate during the final hours of the 2014 legislative session. This week the Iowa Department of Public Health released draft rules on how Iowans can gain legal access to this drug derivative for medical purposes. This page on the Iowa DPH website contains details on how to obtain a "Cannabidiol Registration Card." Eligible Iowans will be able to pick up cards through their county's Iowa Department of Transportation office, because DOT offices are more accessible for many people.

During negotiations with Iowa House Republican leaders and staff from Governor Terry Branstad's office, the scope of Senate File 2360 was narrowed to cover only the use of cannabis oil (not marijuana in any smokeable form), and only for seizure disorders, meaning that roughly a few hundred Iowa families will benefit from the new law. But a criminal trial verdict that made headlines this week may spur future efforts to help the thousands of Iowans who seek to use marijuana to treat chronic or terminal health conditions. A Scott County jury convicted Benton Mackenzie, along with his wife and son, of drug charges for growing marijuana plants. Mackenzie's elderly parents are due to stand trial soon for allowing the plants to be grown on their property. The presiding judge didn't allow Mackenzie's attorneys to tell jurors he was growing the drugs to treat a rare cancer, because medical marijuana is not legal in Iowa.

Quad-City Times reporter Brian Wellner covered the Mackenzie case and discussed it on Iowa Public Radio this week. After the jump I've posted excerpts from a few news reports on the verdict. I agree completely with State Senator Joe Bolkcom, the leading advocate for medical marijuana in Iowa, who called the decision to prosecute Mackenzie and his family members a "waste of taxpayer money."  

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Iowa Supreme Court rejects Farm Bureau's effort to nullify clean water rules (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 18:08:12 PM CDT

In a 4-3 split decision, the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed today a Polk County District Court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit seeking to nullify new state water quality rules.

The environmental community and groups representing big agribusiness have closely watched this case for years, because the "antidegradation" rules are an important step toward bringing Iowa into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. Had this lawsuit succeeded, no strong water quality rules would have seen the light of day for the forseeable future in Iowa, because Governor Terry Branstad has packed the State Environmental Protection Commission with advocates for agribusiness.

Follow me after the jump for more background on the case and details about today's decision.

UPDATE: Added reaction from the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Environmental Council below. If there's a more hypocritical statewide organization than the Farm Bureau, I can't think what it could be.

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All four Iowa Congressional districts to be targeted races in 2014

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 15:12:59 PM CDT

All four Iowa Congressional districts are being targeted by at least one of the major-party committees focused on U.S. House races. This week the National Republican Congressional Committee moved three Iowa candidates to the top tier of its "Young Guns" program: Rod Blum (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and David Young (IA-03). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee moved IA-03 nominee Staci Appel to the top tier of the "Red to Blue" program in March and elevated Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Jim Mowrer (IA-04) to that status shortly after the June 3 primary.

So far the DCCC does not appear concerned about four-term Representative Dave Loebsack's race against Miller-Meeks, whom he defeated by a large margin in 2008 and a narrow margin in 2010. In contrast to the last election cycle, Loebsack has not been added to this year's "Frontline" program for vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Likewise, the NRCC has not put six-term incumbent Steve King in its "Patriot" program for vulnerable Republican House members, despite the fact that Mowrer has out-raised King for the last three fundraising quarters.

Not every candidate named to the "Young Guns" or "Red to Blue" program will receive the same level of financial assistance. I expect the DCCC and NRCC to spend more money in IA-03, generally considered the only "tossup" race in Iowa, than in the other three districts combined.

Any comments about this year's Iowa Congressional races are welcome in this thread. After the jump I've posted the latest voter registration totals for all four districts. Those numbers explain in part why various forecasters have categorized the seats in IA-01 and IA-02 as leaning or likely Democratic, while Republicans are favored to hold IA-04.

Next week, federal candidates must file financial reports for the second quarter. I'll be particularly interested to see how much Murphy, Young, and Miller-Meeks were able to raise between the June 3 primary and the end of the quarter. Although Young had to spend heavily and loan his own campaign $250,000 to get through the GOP primary, I expect his connections to Senator Chuck Grassley's network and multitudes of career lobbyists and Congressional staffers will allow him to keep pace with Appel, who has raised a lot of money and didn't have to spend much in her uncontested Democratic primary. I'm skeptical that Blum will be able to match Murphy in IA-01, even though Murphy wasn't the strongest fundraiser in the Democratic field there. I also wonder whether we'll see signs of King taking Mowrer's challenge more seriously than he has up to now.  

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: White avens and black raspberries

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 21:59:30 PM CDT

This week, Bleeding Heartland features two native plants that are hallmarks of early summer in Iowa woodlands. Both are members of the rose family, and both are frequently found along woodland edges, stream banks or fence rows. They prefer dappled sunlight rather than full sun or deep shade.

Follow me after the jump for pictures of white avens and black raspberries. The white avens are blooming all over the place now. Raspberry shrubs flower in the late spring but produce their ripened fruit around late June or early July.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

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Report highlights immigrants' impact on Iowa economy

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 09:05:00 AM CDT

A detailed analysis by the Iowa Policy Project shows that immigrants contribute substantially "to Iowa's economy both as workers and employers," and could contribute more "if immigration reform were to make work authorization or a path to citizenship possible" for some undocumented Iowa residents. You can read the full report by Heather Gibney and Peter Fisher here (pdf). I've enclosed excerpts from the executive summary after the jump.

One key finding is that contrary to the image fostered by some politicians, undocumented immigrants are not a drain on state or federal budgets. They generate significant revenue for public assistance programs, from which they cannot benefit. Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) is notorious for his demagoguery against "illegals," but sadly many other Iowa Republican elected officials, including Governor Terry Branstad, have promoted myths about undocumented immigrants taking state benefits.

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Iowa Supreme Court's first landmark ruling is 175 years old

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 17:04:29 PM CDT

While checking for new Iowa Supreme Court rulings, I saw on the court's official website that July 4 marked an important anniversary in Iowa judicial history. On that date in 1839, the territorial high court handed down its first ruling, which is still one of its most noteworthy opinions. "In the Matter of Ralph," the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a slave-owner from Missouri could not enforce a contract that would have required his former slave Ralph to return from Iowa to servitude. Writing for the court, Chief Justice Charles Mason acknowledged Ralph's monetary debt but held that "no man in this territory can be reduced to slavery"

and that Montgomery had lost his right over Ralph in Iowa. The justices wrote, "When, in seeking to accomplish his object, he illegally restrains a human being of his liberty, it is proper that the laws, which should extend equal protection to men of all colors and conditions, should exert their remedial interposition. We think, therefore, that [Ralph] should be discharged from all custody and constraint, and be permitted to go free while he remains under the protection of our laws."

The Iowa Supreme Court's current Chief Justice Mark Cady has hailed the importance of that ruling, which "declared equality for all people, regardless of skin color, in a very powerful way."

Amazingly, just 53 years ago today, civil rights activist John Lewis (now a member of Congress from Georgia) was released from prison after being jailed for more than a month. His "crime" had been to use a "white" restroom in the state of Mississippi.  

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- Newton Independent (Peter Hussmann)
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Tom Harkin (U.S. Senator)
- Bruce Braley (IA-01)
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
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