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Throwback Thursday: How Iowa women almost got the right to vote, years before the 19th Amendment

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 27, 2015 at 23:52:28 PM CDT

Yesterday was Women's Equality Day, marking the anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote in 1920 under the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Iowa nearly adopted a state-level woman-suffrage amendment on two occasions before that time. Inspired to learn more about those close calls, this week I read part of Louise Noun's 1969 book Strong-Minded Women: The Emergence of the Woman-Suffrage Movement in Iowa. The short version of what I learned is after the jump.

Spoiler alert: Republicans in the Bleeding Heartland community may enjoy this post more than Democrats.  

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Watching Your Tax Dollars Kum & Go: Iowa's Witless and Expensive Obsession with Capital Investment

by: daveswen

Thu Aug 27, 2015 at 14:14:24 PM CDT

(Thanks to ISU economist Dave Swenson for explaining why Iowans are not getting good value for our "economic development" dollars. These deals do not receive enough scrutiny. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Dave Swenson

We have been sold a bill of goods for much too long: local and state economic developers and their willing political enablers have convinced many of us that their earnest economic development efforts are responsible for the state’s economic vibrancy in recent years.  It is a canard that serves them, some in the business community, and various political fortunes well, but for the rest of us, their collective economic and political incompetence creates unjustifiable distortions in exactly who pays and who does not pay for public services.

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Perry campaign exposes Sam Clovis's hypocrisy

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 27, 2015 at 11:54:53 AM CDT

Officially, Rick Perry's presidential campaign wished Sam Clovis well after news broke that Clovis was stepping down as the former Texas governor's Iowa campaign chair.

Unofficially, Perry supporters made sure a large audience would learn that Donald Trump's biggest new Iowa fan is a raging hypocrite. Jennifer Jacobs has the story in today's Des Moines Register.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Swamp milkweed

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 21:56:11 PM CDT

A recent day trip to the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City drove home that I haven't visited enough restored prairies this summer. So many native plants are blooming along the walking paths near the visitor's center there. Cup plants are past their peak, but several kinds of goldenrods are coming on strong, and sawtooth sunflowers and stiff goldenrods are starting to bloom.

Hay fever sufferers, be warned: more and more giant ragweed plants are budding along central Iowa bike trails. Those are responsible for many of the seasonal allergies commonly blamed on goldenrods.

This week's featured plant is native to much of the U.S. and Canada. It thrives in a wide range of habitats: "open to partially shaded areas in floodplain forests, swamps, thickets, moist black soil prairies, low areas along rivers and ponds, seeps and fens, marshes, and drainage ditches." It also "grows easily in a home garden with average to moist soil." I took these photographs of Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in a butterfly garden next to a local school.

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

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Key Iowa Republican budget negotiators eager to leave Capitol

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

In the span of a few weeks, four Republicans who were heavily involved in shaping this year's state budget have made sure they won't be at the negotiating table during the Iowa legislature's 2016 session. First, Matt Hinch quit as Governor Terry Branstad's chief of staff. The weekly Business Record reported yesterday that Hinch "joined the Des Moines office of government affairs and lobbying group Cornerstone Government Affairs as a vice president."

Days after the Branstad administration announced Hinch's departure, Kraig Paulsen resigned as Iowa House speaker. He plans to be a back-bencher next year and will not seek re-election to the Iowa House in 2016. It's not yet clear whether he will remain an attorney for the Cedar Rapids-based trucking firm CRST International, or whether he will seek a different private-sector job.

Last Friday, Branstad's office announced that Jake Ketzner was leaving as the governor's legislative liaison. I've enclosed the full statement on the staff changes after the jump. Yesterday, the marketing and lobbying firm LS2group revealed that Ketzner will be their newest vice president, specializing in "campaign management, government affairs, and public affairs."

Finally, House Appropriations Committee Chair Chuck Soderberg told journalists yesterday that he will resign to take a leadership role in the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, a powerful interest group.

I can't blame these Republicans for not wanting to spin their wheels at the Capitol during next year's legislative session. Election years are not conducive to bipartisan deal-making in the best of times. Last month, possibly influenced by Hinch and Ketzner, Branstad poisoned the well with vetoes that erased most of the House GOP's budget concessions to Senate Democrats. Although Paulsen insisted he had negotiated in good faith, he and his top lieutenant Linda Upmeyer (the incoming House speaker) didn't lift a finger to override the governor's vetoes.

Newly-elected House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow told a conservative audience in Urbandale today, "I'm not as skeptical about next year as maybe some are. I think there's a lot of good things that we can get done [in the legislature]," Rod Boshart reported.

That makes one of us. Seeing Hinch, Paulsen, Ketzner, and Soderberg vote with their feet reinforces my belief that next year's legislative session will mostly be a waste of many people's time and energy.

P.S.- Some grade A political framing was on display in the governor's press release enclosed below: "During the 2015 session, Ketzner worked across party lines to secure bipartisan support for historic infrastructure investment that an economic development study called a prerequisite for economic development in Iowa." In other words, he helped persuade lawmakers to increase the gasoline tax. Ketzner's official bio at LS2goup likewise speaks of his work "across party lines to secure bipartisan support for significant transportation and broadband infrastructure investments."

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Iowa's Medicaid privatization raising more red flags

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

The Branstad administration has justified its "Medicaid Modernization Initiative" with optimistic projections about more "efficient, coordinated and high quality healthcare" and greater "accountability in health care coordination," delivered at a savings to taxpayers.

Jason Clayworth shared a less encouraging perspective in the August 21 Des Moines Register: all four private insurance companies now negotiating contracts to manage Medicaid in Iowa have "faced serious charges of fraud or mismanagement" related to serving Medicaid recipients in other states. Some of those violations led to "hundreds of millions of dollars in fines" against the insurers.  

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Chuck Soderberg's retirement creates opportunities for upwardly-mobile Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 25, 2015 at 15:35:00 PM CDT

Bret Hayworth reported for the Sioux City Journal today that State Representative Chuck Soderberg will soon resign in order to become general manager for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives in Des Moines. He has worked for the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative in Le Mars for more than 35 years.

First elected to the statehouse in 2004, Soderberg chaired the House Commerce Committee for two years beginning in 2011 and has led the powerful Appropriations Committee since January 2013. No doubt quite a few members of the Iowa House GOP caucus would love to take on that role next year. Given the atmosphere of distrust that Governor Terry Branstad exacerbated by blowing apart this year's spending compromises, I expect little constructive work to happen during the 2016 legislative session. But passing a budget is one thing lawmakers can't leave town without doing, so the next person to do Soderberg's job will exert considerable influence.

Surely Speaker Linda Upmeyer will give the Appropriations chair to someone with more experience than current vice chair Ken Rizer, who is in the middle of his first legislative term.

Soderberg's retirement also opens up Iowa House district 5, covering all of Plymouth County and some rural areas of Woodbury County. I enclose a detailed map after the jump. This seat isn't realistically within reach for Democrats; Mitt Romney carried 65.9 percent of the presidential vote here in 2012, and Joni Ernst won 71.2 percent of the 2014 votes for U.S. Senate. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office show that House district 5 contains 3,820 active registered Democrats, 8,988 Republicans, and 6,659 no-party voters.

A safe legislative seat will be tempting for many ambitious Republicans in Plymouth or Woodbury County. The GOP district nominating convention, likely to happen sometime in September, should be highly competitive.

This thread is for any speculation about Soderberg's successor on the House Appropriations Committee or as the lawmaker representing House district 5.

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Sam Clovis quits as Rick Perry's Iowa chair: Where will he land? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 25, 2015 at 06:55:00 AM CDT

Former U.S. Senate and state treasurer candidate Sam Clovis has quit as Iowa chair of Texas Governor Rick Perry's presidential campaign, Catherine Lucey reported for the Associated Press yesterday. An influential figure for social conservatives, Clovis backed Rick Santorum before the 2012 caucuses but ruled him out early this year. When he signed on with the Perry campaign in June, Clovis told the Washington Post that he had seriously considered Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and business leaders Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump. Yesterday Philip Rucker quoted Clovis as saying he will pick a new candidate soon.

My money's on Cruz, for several reasons.

UPDATE: The joke's on me! I thought Clovis sincerely believed in conservative principles, but he signed on as Trump's national co-chairman. More details are at the end of this post. Just for fun, I included comments Clovis made when endorsing Santorum on 2011. He must have changed his criteria for candidates, because the standards he listed four years ago don't apply to Trump in any way, shape, or form.

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Solution to Planned Parenthood Video Thing

by: Mike Draper

Mon Aug 24, 2015 at 16:18:19 PM CDT

(A modest proposal to apply the probably unconstitutional logic behind Iowa's "ag gag" law to undercover videos targeting a leading provider of affordable health care to women. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Can we please treat women's health like industrial agriculture?

The latest attack on Planned Parenthood came in the form of an edited video, secretly taped, claiming to "expose" the practice of selling "baby parts." But if Planned Parenthood had been a factory farm, that video wouldn't have happened, because that video would have been illegal to make!

Since that video, Iowa governor Terry Branstad, like the internet, has been shocked! Outraged! He joined the "Truth Exposed" rally and called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. Though no federal or state money goes to abortions, Branstad wanted to look into all money going to Planned Parenthood because he wants "to protect the interest of the taxpayers."

Ironically, Branstad applauds an undercover video from a state that was an early "Ag Gag" law adopter, a law that essentially prevents videotaping industrial agriculture facilities in America. Violators could be charged with a Class D Felony, "Animal Facility Interference."  

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Iowa won't have to repay HAVA funds used for voter fraud investigations

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 24, 2015 at 13:11:34 PM CDT

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has determined that spending $240,000 on criminal investigations of voter fraud in Iowa was an "allowable, allocable and reasonable" use of federal Help America Vote Act funds, Ryan Foley reported for the Associated Press today. I enclose the commission's two-page memorandum of August 13 after the jump (hat tip to Foley). A spokesman for the commission told the AP "he wasn't aware of other states using HAVA funding for similar investigations."

Former Secretary of State Matt Schultz made battling voter fraud a major theme of his four years in office. The full-time investigator, pulled from other work at the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations, turned up a few examples of improper registration and voting but no evidence of any large-scale voter fraud problem. Democratic State Senator Tom Courtney was among the leading critics of Schultz's use of HAVA funds for that purpose. In October 2012, he requested state and federal audits of the matter. Deputy State Auditor Warren Jenkins announced in December 2013 that his office's review could not determine whether criminal investigations were a proper or improper use of HAVA funds. He advised the Secretary of State's Office to "have a plan in place" in case Iowa needed to repay the money to the federal government later.

The commission's ruling is a lucky break for Schultz, who was elected Madison County attorney last November after losing the GOP primary in the third Congressional district. He's keeping busy now as state chair for Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. When Schultz seeks higher office again, he can claim he was vindicated in using federal funds to investigate fraud.

For those wondering why it took federal officials so long to consider Iowa's use of HAVA money: because Senate Republicans refused to confirm President Barack Obama's nominees, the Election Assistance Commission didn't have the necessary quorum to take any official actions from 2010 until January of this year, when three new commissioners were sworn in. Senators had confirmed them during the December 2014 lame-duck session of Congress as part of a large bloc of nominees approved by unanimous consent.

UPDATE: Added below a statement from Courtney urging Secretary of State Paul Pate "to formally pledge not to use federal funds for any future voter purge effort" and to make clear "that Iowa is no longer one of the states where election officials use tax dollars to suppress voter turnout."

SECOND UPDATE: Schultz told the AP, "This was always about improving the administration of elections." Rita Bettis, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, called it "truly troublesome for our national democracy" that Schultz's "model of voter intimidation can now be exported to other states ahead of the 2016 General Election."

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Longer summer break for Iowa kids, but with less lake swimming

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 24, 2015 at 11:51:41 AM CDT

Thousands of Iowa children went back to school today, having enjoyed an extra week or two of vacation thanks to a new state law preventing K-12 school districts from beginning the academic year before August 23. In response to lobbying from the tourism industry, most state lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad sought to block local school administrators from starting in early or mid-August. However, as economist Dave Swenson explained here, "there is no evidence that early start dates interfere in any meaningful sense with the Iowa State Fair or with any other tourism activity in Iowa."

If only the governor and most of our state legislators were as tuned in to how dirty water hurts Iowa tourism.  

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Weekend open thread: Iowa State Fair heckling edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 23, 2015 at 12:34:24 PM CDT

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

Saturday was the final day for politicians to speak at the Des Moines Register's Iowa State Fair "soapbox." You can view all of this year's videos here. Heckling was the running theme from yesterday's appearances. O.Kay Henderson summarized the incidents at Radio Iowa.

I have zero sympathy for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whom protesters repeatedly interrupted to demand more Democratic presidential debates. Wasserman-Schultz had nothing new to say on the soapbox--certainly nothing as newsworthy as the DNC's asinine policy limiting the presidential candidates to only six sanctioned debates, with the threat of exclusion if they participate in any unsanctioned ones. The DNC's position serves no public interest whatsoever. It only creates the appearance of the party establishment putting a thumb on the scale for current front-runner Hillary Clinton. All Democrats, including Clinton, could benefit from starting the debates before October. In sharp contrast to the Donald Trump freak show dominating the other side's discourse, Democrats have five (perhaps soon to be six) candidates who can talk intelligently about policy.

A group of protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals provided some drama by storming the soapbox while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was taking questions. Tactics like those make PETA one of the most ineffective advocacy organizations I've seen. Christie deserves criticism for vetoing a New Jersey ban on gestation crates for sows, which passed with massive bipartisan support. But PETA only managed to generate sympathy for the governor. He came up with a great line after law enforcement pulled the animal rights activists off-stage:

"I have to tell you the truth when something like that happens and I'm here in Iowa, man, I feel right at home. It feels like I'm back in Jersey for a couple of minutes, so thank you, Iowa, for doing that," Christie said to cheers from the crowd.

On the other hand, a little heckling that doesn't go over the top can throw a candidate off his or her game. The best example was the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member who got Mitt Romney to say, "Corporations are people, my friend," at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. Democrats across the country eagerly made use of Romney's gaffe. Within a matter of weeks, though, Iowa CCI members' heckling of Senator Chuck Grassley at a town-hall in Carroll drew criticism from Iowa Democratic Party leaders for going too far.

Politically engaged people tend to have strong feelings about what kinds of protests are appropriate. Pat Rynard used unusually harsh language to condemn the activists who disrupted Wasserman-Schultz's speech. John Deeth has long expressed contempt for Iowa CCI's "counterproductive" tactics. Though I've never heckled a politician at a public event, my take on what I viewed as the Iowa Democratic Party's "hippie-punching" of Iowa CCI generated one of the most heated comment threads in Bleeding Heartland's eight-year history.

When, if ever, do you think heckling is a justified and/or effective political tactic?

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Jeb's super-PAC can raise more than $100 million but can't use Photoshop properly (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 22, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM CDT

The Right to Rise super-PAC supporting Jeb Bush for president had raised $103 million as of June 30, about two-thirds as much as the main super-PAC backing Mitt Romney raised during the entire 2012 election cycle.

With so much money at their disposal, the super-PAC's leaders should have been able to buy a higher-quality product than the first Right to Rise direct mail piece, which hit Iowa mailboxes late this week.

I've enclosed below pictures an acquaintance posted on Facebook, adding that her 8-year-old asked, "What does 'Why Jeb?' mean? And why does that man have two different hands?"

UPDATE: Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for Right to Rise released the original photo of Bush (hat tip to Politico). The photoshop fail was not lightening Bush's left hand, cast in shadow in the original. Hoping to change the subject, Lindsay added a dig at Hillary Clinton: "Not deleting it from our servers."

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Fallout from state's selection of companies to manage Medicaid for half a million Iowans

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 21, 2015 at 12:49:37 PM CDT

On Monday, the Iowa Department of Human Services announced the four private insurance companies selected to manage care for almost all of the 560,000 Iowans on Medicaid. Pending successful contract negotiations, Amerigroup Iowa, AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, and WellCare of Iowa will start managing care for Iowans on January 1, 2016. It's too early to say how the change will affect medical services. Speaking to the Des Moines Register, Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan expressed concern "that people will fall through the cracks" and said she hopes Iowans will contact state lawmakers "if problems develop" under the new system.

Some losers have emerged from the process already: namely, two companies now managing care for some Iowans on Medicaid, which were not selected to continue in that role next year. Follow me after the jump for background on the Medicaid privatization plan and the fallout from the Iowa DHS not choosing Magellan Health Inc and Meridian Health Plan as managed care organizations for 2016.  

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WHO Radio host Jan Mickelson stands by illegal and illogical immigration plan

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 21, 2015 at 07:37:24 AM CDT

When life imitates The Onion: a talk radio host with one of Iowa's largest listening audiences believes he has devised the perfect method to drive away immigrants living here without authorization. All we need to do is "put up some signs" warning that after a certain date, people "who cannot demonstrate their legal status" will "become property of the State of Iowa," forced to do labor on behalf of the state.

WHO Radio's Jan Mickelson elaborated on his idea Wednesday in an interview with Media Matters. It's a remarkable read.

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Linda Upmeyer will be first woman Iowa House speaker; Chris Hagenow to be majority leader

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 18:59:16 PM CDT

Iowa House Republicans chose Linda Upmeyer to replace Kraig Paulsen as House speaker today. First elected to the legislature in 2002, Upmeyer has served as majority leader since 2011. House leaders did not release details on today's vote. State Representative Josh Byrnes was the only other candidate to seek the speaker's post, despite rumors that one or more other Republicans were sounding out colleagues about the race. All credit to Byrnes for putting himself out there against the party establishment favorite. That takes guts.

O.Kay Henderson posted highlights from Upmeyer's remarks to reporters today, as well as the audio clip. Not known for showing a lot of emotions in public, Upmeyer's voice broke as she talked about her late father, Del Stromer, who served as House speaker during the 1980s. She doesn't sound inclined to change much about how Paulsen was running the lower chamber, but joked, "I use more words than Speaker Paulsen, and I will try to curb that temptation going forward."

Chris Hagenow will move up from majority whip to replace Upmeyer as majority leader, and Joel Fry will move from an assistant majority leader position to majority whip. Matt Windschitl will continue to serve as House speaker pro-tem. Hagenow told reporters that no one else sought the majority leader post. Bobby Kaufmann ran for majority whip.

Henderson quoted Byrnes as saying,

"I feel like I'm in that movie, Groundhog Day....It's the same leadership in the House, the same leadership in the Senate. It's the same governor and the parameters just feel like they're just set and we can't move from them. We need new ideas. We need new energy, we need to be able to accept other people's concepts and infuse those in and I hope that, you know, she can do that."

According to Byrnes, rank-and-file legislators are upset with missed deadlines, as the legislature has failed to set state school aid levels on time and met for weeks past its scheduled adjournment date. Byrnes also said Iowans are soured by the hyper-partisanship they see from statehouse politicians. [...]

Upmeyer told reporters she'll address the concerns Brynes raised.

"We never should be comfortable with where we're at," Upmeyer said. "We always should be striving for innovation and to do things smarter and better and so I absolutely applaud that."

No need for a lot of innovation here, Madam Speaker: just accept reasonable compromises instead of refusing to budge from your initial negotiating position, and approve school funding bills on time, as happened for a decade and a half before Iowa House Republicans decided to stop following state law a few years back.

After the jump I've enclosed official comments on the House leadership election from the Republican Party of Iowa and House Minority Leader Mark Smith, as well as a Facebook status update Byrnes posted after today's vote.

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Some big 2008 Obama supporters on new list of Iowa Women for Hillary

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 11:19:29 AM CDT

Today Hillary Clinton's campaign released names of "nearly 200 women from all of Iowa's 99 counties including nearly two dozen State Legislators, County Chairs and local elected officials" who support Clinton's presidential bid. I've enclosed the full list after the jump. Many of these women also backed Clinton for president before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, such as former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, former State Senator Staci Appel, and Ruth Harkin.

Nine women currently serving in the Iowa House are on the Iowa Women for Hillary list: State Representatives Marti Anderson, Timi Brown-Powers, Abby Finkenauer, Ruth Ann Gaines, Vicki Lensing, Mary Mascher, Jo Oldson, Sally Stutsman, and Phyllis Thede. Lensing and Mascher were among 21 state lawmakers who backed Clinton before the 2008 caucuses. Oldson was also in the legislature then; to my knowledge, she did not endorse a candidate before the 2008 caucuses. I am seeking confirmation and will update as needed.

The others were not in the state legislature in 2007, but Anderson and then Johnson County Supervisor Stutsman were high-profile supporters of Clinton's campaign. Thede and Gaines were county leaders for Obama. I don't know whether Finkenauer and Brown-Powers were active volunteers for any of the presidential campaigns that year. UPDATE: Brown-Powers told me that she caucused for Obama but was not active in the campaign.

Two current Iowa Senate Democrats are on the new Iowa Women for Hillary list: Janet Petersen backed Obama in 2007, as a member of the Iowa House. Liz Mathis was not a state lawmaker that year, and I am not aware of her publicly endorsing a candidate.

State Representatives Cindy Winckler and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell endorsed Clinton as Iowa House members in 2007 but have not done so this year. I am seeking comment from both on whether they have picked a different candidate, are undecided, or plan not to endorse before the 2016 caucuses.

Like Gaines and Thede, several other women on today's press release were among the Obama campaign's county leaders in 2007, such as Peggy Bramman (Delaware County), Clara Oleson (Cedar County), and Debbie Gitchell and Jan Bauer (Story County).

I got a kick out of seeing Bauer's name, because earlier this year, she told the Washington Post that she was "waiting to see how aggressively pursued I am" before picking a candidate. Bleeding Heartland cited that comment as an unfortunate example of prairie prima donna behavior, which hurts the Iowa caucuses.

The best-known onetime John Edwards supporter on the new Women for Hillary list is Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. attorney and Democratic nominee for governor and U.S. Senate. She came out for Clinton a few months ago.

Two other prominent Iowa women who weren't on today's press release are worth noting as once-dedicated Obama supporters backing Clinton for president in 2016. Jackie Norris was an early Obama campaign staffer in 2007 and ran Obama's 2008 general election campaign in Iowa. Early last year, she showed up for the "Ready for Hillary" super PAC's first event in this state. Former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky announced in June that she will be helping Clinton's campaign build support for next year's caucuses.

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"Deez Nuts": Best Iowa teenager's political prank ever

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 09:29:08 AM CDT

No Iowa teenagers have ever made a more important political statement than siblings John and Mary Beth Tinker, who refused to remove anti-war black armbands and took their fight for freedom of expression in Des Moines public schools all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As for political pranks, it will be hard for anyone to top Brady Olson of Wallingford (Emmet County), who established a presidential campaign for his alter ego "Deez Nuts" and helped it go viral.  

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Spotted bee balm (Spotted horsemint)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 22:37:54 PM CDT

Mid-summer wildflowers are giving way to those that bloom in late summer. I am still seeing some American bellflower, jewelweed, and white snakeroot flowering along central Iowa bike trails, but more common evening primrose, wingstem, and goldenrods have been blooming lately.

Today's featured plant is in the Monarda genus of the mint family. Many mints are of European origin, but Monarda plants are native to North America, including Monarda punctata. Better known as spotted bee balm or spotted horsemint, Monarda punctata is related to horsemint (wild bergamot, or bee balm), which I see much more often along bike trails, as well as to the bright red Oswego tea. Spotted bee balm doesn't grow as tall as those relatives; plants can range from six inches to three feet in height. The Illinois Wildflowers and Minnesota Wildflowers websites contain botanically accurate descriptions of the leaves and flowers. The plants attract many pollinators and grow easily in gardens. The Minnesota Wildflowers site notes, "Crushed leaves and seedheads both green and dried give off a wonderful pungent odor and which I've...loved as a potpourri."

Several pictures of spotted bee balm are after the jump. I took all of the photographs just off the Windsor Heights bike trail, in the large patch of native plants growing behind the Iowa Department of Natural Resources building on Hickman. Thanks to Bleeding Heartland user zborinka, who was one of the people to identify this plant for me.

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

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Hillary Clinton vows to reshuffle "stacked" deck in new Iowa tv ad

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

Hillary Clinton's campaign announced today that a third television commercial will be added to the mix in an extensive five-week advertising buy in Iowa and New Hampshire. Bleeding Heartland covered the first two Clinton ads here. After the jump I've enclosed the video of the new commercial, along with an annotated transcript.

The Clinton campaign's press release noted, "The ad's message echoes a major theme of Clinton's campaign. In a key policy speech delivered last month in New York, Clinton declared that increasing middle-class incomes was the defining economic challenge of our time, and would be her chief pursuit as president." You can watch clips from that speech here or read a summary of its proposals here. Eduardo Porter concluded that several of Clinton's ideas "have a solid track record of research on their side," but the package would not be enough to compensate for social insurance policies that put the U.S. "behind the community of advanced nations in building a society that could cope with the harsh new global economy."

Clinton used similar language about the deck being stacked against working Americans during her speech to last Friday's Wing Ding in Clear Lake. Click here to read the full transcript of that speech.

The new commercial strikes me as another strong effort, but I still feel that if a campaign has $2 million to spend on tv ads in August before the election year, they should be paying their full-time interns. Incidentally, I was impressed by the passionate, committed Clinton "fellows" I met before the Wing Ding.

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- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
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