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Branstad insists on keeping administrative law judges "at-will," easier to fire

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 03, 2015 at 10:47:23 AM CDT

Not for the first time and probably not for the last time, Governor Terry Branstad dropped a lot of line-item vetoes late in the afternoon before a holiday weekend. Early news reports are understandably focusing on the vetoes of one-time funding for K-12 education and state universities, as well as language that would have kept mental health institutions in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant open. Bleeding Heartland has a post in progress about the fallout from those actions and others, including Branstad's decision to strike language that would have expanded child care assistance.

Democratic State Representative Sharon Steckman called attention to several other line-item vetoes that flew below the radar yesterday. One of them seems particularly important, as it could put the State of Iowa at odds with U.S. Department of Labor demands to "strengthen Iowa's compliance with Federal law" and keep administrative law judges "free from actual or perceived intimidation."

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Iowa Board of Medicine not ready to face reality on telemed abortion or court appeals process

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 02, 2015 at 15:35:07 PM CDT

Nearly two weeks ago, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the state ban on using telemedicine for abortion. The unanimous decision is the end of the line for a rule the Iowa Board of Medicine adopted in the absence of medical evidence.

Yet Governor Terry Branstad isn't the only person reluctant to take the Iowa Supreme Court's no, no, no, no, no, no for an answer. Tony Leys reported for the Des Moines Register on Tuesday, "The Iowa Board of Medicine has huddled three times with its lawyers since losing a key state Supreme Court case this month, but has not yet decided whether to appeal or accept the decision."

I don't know what's more surprising: that after three meetings, those attorneys still haven't persuaded board members to quit while they're behind, or that board members who didn't participate in making the unconstitutional rule are considering hitching their wagons to this cause.

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Big gains for Bernie Sanders in latest Q-poll of Iowa Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 02, 2015 at 09:59:56 AM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest survey of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers shows Senator Bernie Sanders cutting into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's lead. The front-runner is ahead by 52 percent to 33 percent, compared to 60 percent for Clinton and 15 percent for Sanders in the previous Iowa Q-poll, released in May. The memo, results, and questionnaire for the latest survey are here. Vice President Joe Biden, who is very unlikely to run for president again, placed third with 7 percent support. Rounding out the declared Democratic field, former Governor Martin O'Malley registered 3 percent, former Senator Jim Webb 1 percent, and former Senator Lincoln Chaffee did not even reach the 1 percent mark among Quinnipiac's respondents. Click here for more details on the sample and methodology. Live interviewers polled 761 likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers between June 20 and 29, producing a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The person who should be most worried about this poll is O'Malley. Sanders has firmly occupied the niche of progressive alternative to Clinton--not just in New Hampshire, where he is better-known as a neighboring state's senator, but across the country. I've seen speculation that O'Malley could position himself as a more electable alternative to Clinton than Sanders. But any Democrat concerned primarily about electability will probably vote or caucus for Clinton. Quinnipiac's Iowa Democratic respondents still view her positively: 85 percent favorable, 10 percent unfavorable. So Sanders isn't riding an anti-Hillary wave; rather, he has stronger appeal among liberals.

Any comments about the Democratic presidential race are welcome in this thread. Last weekend, I saw a fun example of the Iowa caucus-goer mentality when a local acquaintance on vacation in New England posted to Facebook photos from a Sanders rally she attended in New Hampshire.

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Polling for the Democratic Race - July 1

by: idiosynchronic

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 20:20:21 PM CDT

(If any other Bleeding Heartland readers were respondents for the same survey and have more details to share, please post a comment or contact me confidentially.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

From 515-512-4155. If you do a search in the right places it shows up as a residential DM/Windsor Heights number. I suspect someone is either volunteering with their own cell or working with a provided cell.

One of these days, I'm actually going to get the name of the polling firm doing the call. But for once, it's obviously local.

The caller actually confirmed my name.

1) Am l likely to participate in the Caucuses? How likely am I to vote. (Likely)

2) Which Caucus? (D)

3) How well do I know the candidates? (all)

4) Whom are you likely to support? (Bernie)

5) Let me read to you this statement - pollster reads a hellaciously long quote from Sanders' stump that aggressively summarizes his campaign. Are you still going to support Sen. Sanders? (hell, yes)

6) Why don't you support Clinton? (Because she doesn't give statements like what you just read)

6) Could you support Hillary Clinton (yes)

7) What would it take to support Hillary Clinton? (Sanders to leave the race)

6) Are you conservative, liberl, or moderate? (liberal)

7) And asks me my birth year. End of call.

I almost questioned if it was a push poll from the Clinton campaign with that long quote, but I think the Clinton campign or close supporter is getting really nervous about Sanders' support.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Oswego tea (scarlet bee balm, red bergamot)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 22:08:53 PM CDT

Since last week's featured wildflower was so unobtrusive, I'm going to the other extreme today with one of the showiest wildflowers around. The bright red flowers, not often seen in natural Iowa habitats, are also appropriate for July 4 week. Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Swallowtail butterflies feed on the nectar.

Technically, Oswego tea (Mondarda didyma), also known as scarlet bee balm or red bergamot, is not an Iowa wildflower. Although the Natural Resources Conservation Service website shows Iowa within the native range for this plant, the Illinois Wildflowers website describes the plant as "native to the Northeastern states, but its original range did not extend as far to the west as Illinois." Likewise, Sylvan Runkel and Alvin Bull write in Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands that oswego tea is indigenous to the eastern U.S. and "has escaped from garden plantings in our area. Its beautiful crimson flower may brighten woodlands in late summer."

Oswego tea is closely related to Horsemint (bee balm, wild bergamot), a native plant common throughout Iowa along roadsides, pastures or woodland edges. Both plants have flowerheads that are a cluster of tube-shaped flowers without scent. However, the leaves of horsemint and oswego tea have a "minty aroma."

Lately I've noticed the first American bellflowers blooming along central Iowa bike trails. That's one of my favorite summer wildflowers. I don't have any recent photos of bellflowers, but at the end of this post I included two shots of summer fruit growing in the wild.

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

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Judy Bradshaw to lead Iowa Law Enforcement Academy

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 17:43:54 PM CDT

Former Des Moines Police Department chief Judy Bradshaw will be the new director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Governor Terry Branstad announced yesterday. Bradshaw has been assistant director at the academy since last October. Before that, she broke several glass ceilings in Des Moines as the Police Department's "first female lieutenant, captain, major and police chief." When she started at the department in 1980, the only two women working there "both had filed harassment charges."

I don't understand why Branstad renominated Arlen Ciechanowski as director of the Law Enforcement Academy despite disturbing accounts over the last few years of a hostile environment for female staff and cadets. Fortunately, the Iowa Senate declined to confirm Ciechanowski during this year's legislative session, prompting the director to retire and forcing Branstad to look for a replacement. Bradshaw will be much better positioned to change the culture.

Bradshaw said yesterday that her new position will allow her to share her experience and "perspective in what I think is good police work." I've enclosed more background on her career after the jump. She should have no trouble during the Iowa Senate confirmation process.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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New Q-poll finds smaller lead for Scott Walker in Iowa caucus field

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 13:10:00 PM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers shows a smaller lead for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and a half-dozen candidates fighting for second place in a field of sixteen candidate. Click here for the polling memo and here for more on the methodology and polling sample. The statistical margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percent for this live interviewer survey of 666 likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers between June 20 and 29. Walker still has a statistically significant lead with 18 percent of respondents naming him as their first choice. The rest of the field is clustered at 10 percent or lower, but there is a semblance of a top tier, comprised of Ben Carson and Donald Trump (10 percent each), Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (9 percent each), Jeb Bush (8 percent), and Marco Rubio (7 percent).

All other candidates are at 5 percent or below: Mike Huckabee and "don't know/didn't answer" (5 percent each), Rick Perry and Rick Santorum (4 percent each), Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal (3 percent each), John Kasich (2 percent), and Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie (1 percent each). George Pataki did not register even 1 percent support.

A poll like this exposes the absurdity of television networks restricting debates to the top ten candidates in a field of sixteen (fourteen declared already, with Walker and Kasich planning to announce later this month). The GOP presidential field is what you might call a "right royal mess."  

After the jump I've posted highlights on the favorability numbers from the latest Q-poll. Any comments about the Republican caucuses are welcome in this thread. Last Friday, Jennifer Jacobs published an interesting Des Moines Register story about possible changes to the Iowa GOP's rules for "binding" its delegates to presidential candidates before the 2016 Republican National Convention.

P.S.- Retail politics are important in Iowa, but Christie's poor favorability ratings in this poll and others show that coming here often (nine times in the last three years alone, plus several visits in 2011 and 2012) won't necessarily endear a candidate to Iowa Republicans.  

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Why is Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey blocking a liberal blogger? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 08:27:33 AM CDT

UPDATE: This morning Secretary Northey unblocked me and said the blocking had been unintentional. Glad to hear it.

Pulling together some links for a future post about how Iowans have responded to a new Environmental Protection Agency clean water rule, I checked Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey's Twitter feed yesterday and saw this:

 photo Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.51.05 PM_zpswyu83i3v.png

Northey may be the first Iowa Republican elected official to block me. Certainly he is the only statewide official ever to do so. A guy who is likely to run for governor in a couple of years might want to grow a thicker skin.

UPDATE: I learned this morning that I am unable to view Iowa House Judiciary Committee Chair Chip Baltimore's Twitter feed. That was not the case a few months ago. He may have deleted that account; the old @ChipBaltimoreIA feed has no new tweets since 2013. I haven't mentioned Baltimore at Bleeding Heartland in a while, but in April I did tweet a link to an unflattering story about him.

SECOND UPDATE: It seems Baltimore deleted that @chipbaltimore Twitter account.

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Pat Murphy would enter this IA-01 primary as the underdog

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 14:15:05 PM CDT

Both Iowa Starting Line and Roll Call are reporting today that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy is likely to run for Congress again in the first district. Murphy won the five-way 2014 primary with just under 37 percent of the vote.

Other Iowa Democrats have lost their first U.S. House race before winning a seat in Congress on the second try, including legends Neal Smith, Tom Harkin, and Berkley Bedell. Still, I am skeptical that northeast Iowa Democrats will want to give Murphy another shot at beating Republican Rod Blum.

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Iowa Congressional voting catch-up thread: Defense, trade, Medicare, chemicals, and power plants

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 23:51:38 PM CDT

While Congress is on recess until after July 4, it's time to catch up on an unusually busy few weeks in June for U.S. House members. Bleeding Heartland previously covered how Iowa's representatives voted on the failed and successful attempts to pass trade promotion authority, repeal of country-of-origin labeling requirements for meat, a bill to eliminate a tax on medical devices, and the Intelligence Authorization Act.

Follow me after the jump to find out how Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) voted on the latest defense budget bill, more trade-related policies, and legislation dealing with chemical safety, Medicare cost controls, and regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Iowa's representatives also voted last week on a matter relating to the growing national controversy over Confederate symbols.

Something you don't see often when looking through Congressional roll calls: three of Iowa's four House members crossed party lines more than once during the floor debate on the defense budget.

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Weekend open thread: Hostile environments

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 28, 2015 at 13:17:27 PM CDT

I was planning to compile presidential candidate reactions to this week's two big U.S. Supreme Court decisions for the weekend thread, but this disturbing feature for the Kansas City Star derailed my plans. Jason Hancock and Steve Kraske report on a pervasive hostile work environment for women at the Missouri Capitol. I've posted a few excerpts below, but you need to click through and read the whole piece, which explores the toxic culture fueling the harassment and lack of accountability.

Too many women working at the Iowa statehouse have had similar experiences. I've heard some appalling stories in private communications, and no, it's not a partisan problem. My impression is that over the last 15 to 20 years, the work environment at the Capitol in Des Moines has improved, and sexual harassment is no longer as prevalent for Iowa legislative staffers as it is in Jefferson City, Missouri. That said, if even half of what Kirsten Anderson alleged in court filings is true, the culture at the Iowa statehouse is far from where it needs to be.

For a politically-engaged young person starting a career, there can hardly be a more exciting job than working in a state legislature. I feel physically ill thinking of how many women have had powerful men ruin these potentially enriching experiences. Harassment can cause severe emotional trauma. One former Missouri legislative staffer told the Kansas City Star, "The best thing that ever happened to me was getting another job and leaving that building." Hardly any of the perpetrators faced real consequences for their unethical (and in some cases illegal) conduct toward female interns or legislative employees.

Speaking of hostile environments, many social conservatives appear to be hunkering down in a siege mentality following Friday's Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. I am continually baffled to see how opinion leaders on the Christian right are so eager to view themselves as persecuted minorities. No church will be forced to officiate or recognize a same-sex marriage, any more than the Catholic Church has been forced to marry people who had civil divorces over the last five decades.

Some of the over-the-top reactions to the marriage ruling are laughable. But when you think about it, how unhealthy to convince yourself and your followers that religious Americans are now "vulnerable." Christian martyrdom is still a tragic reality in some parts of the world, but fomenting paranoid ideas about the fate of American conservatives doesn't benefit anyone. Check that: I can see how some people and corporations could profit from spreading fear that Christians are about to be persecuted on a mass scale and "Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country."

Having spent most of my life in metro areas where my fellow Jews made up less than 1 percent of the population, I've wondered what it would have been like to live in a larger Jewish community as a child. But one huge plus about growing up in Iowa was learning at an early age that the whole world wasn't ever going to validate my religious perspective, nor did I need the mass culture to approve and promote my beliefs. I encourage disappointed social conservatives to learn that life lesson sooner rather than later.

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Iowa reaction to Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 27, 2015 at 06:42:23 AM CDT

In a 5-4 decision announced Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states and ordered state governments to recognize same-sex marriages performed anywhere in the country. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges, joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer. Each of the dissenting justices wrote a separate opinion; all are available in this pdf file after Kennedy's opinion. Amy Howe explained the majority opinion in "Plain English" while Lyle Denniston posted a brief analysis.

Follow me after the jump for Iowa reaction on both sides of the marriage debate. Two years ago, Bleeding Heartland compiled Iowa politicians' comments on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor, which struck down the federal ban on same-sex marriages but left state bans intact.

As a group, Iowa Democratic politicians are more enthusiastic and less cautious about welcoming marriage equality now than was the case in 2009, when the Iowa Supreme Court struck down our state's Defense of Marriage Act. Many Iowa Republicans called for elected officials to overturn the 2009 Varnum v Brien ruling by passing a constitutional amendment, but reacting to the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling, few in the Iowa GOP sounded hopeful that there was any chance to reinstate state bans on same-sex marriage.

I will update this post as needed.  

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Branstad not ready to face reality on telemed abortion or court appeals process

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 26, 2015 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

A unanimous Supreme Court ruling against your position is usually a sign that your legal arguments lack merit. But Governor Terry Branstad hasn't learned that lesson from his administration being on the wrong end of not one, not two, but three unanimous Iowa Supreme Court rulings.

Last week, the court ruled with no dissenting justices that Iowa's ban on using telemedicine to provide abortion services is unconstitutional. Three of the justices who concurred in the decision are Branstad appointees (Chief Justice Mark Cady and Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman). Two of them--Waterman and Mansfield--have demonstrated in previous cases that they are reluctant to substitute their judgment for that of executive branch bodies responsible for rulemaking. Yet Branstad not only rejects the reasoning underlying the telemedicine ruling, but also refuses to accept legal experts' determination that his administration cannot appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

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Supreme Court saves health insurance subsidies for 6 million Americans (and 40,000 Iowans)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 16:10:00 PM CDT

Some 40,000 Iowans will continue to receive federal subsidies for purchasing health insurance, thanks to a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court opinion announced today. Plaintiffs in King v Burwell had argued that Congress intended for subsidies to be available only to Americans who purchased health insurance through state-run exchanges. Chief Justice John Roberts rejected that interpretation in his opinion (pdf), joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Amy Howe explained the ruling in "plain English" at the SCOTUS blog, where Lyle Denniston wrote a separate analysis of the opinion.

Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia accused his colleagues of changing "usual rules of statutory interpretation for the sake of the Affordable Care Act," as the Supreme Court majority did (in his view) when it upheld the individual mandate to purchase health insurance in 2012.

A ruling for the plaintiffs in King v Burwell would not only have threatened health care access for roughly 6.4 million people who receive subsidies for health insurance purchased through the federal website Healthcare.gov. It could have caused cascading effects such as sharp premium increases for millions of Americans who do not qualify for subsidies but would nevertheless have been priced out of the health insurance market. In theory, Congress could have fixed the problem with a one-paragraph bill clarifying that people who buy insurance through the federal exchange qualified for subsidies, but most House and Senate Republicans appeared unwilling to go that route.

Today's Supreme Court decision removes the only remaining threat to federal health insurance subsidies for eligible Iowans. Last month, several insurance companies applied to offer policies for 2016 to Iowans through the exchange. Only one provider did so for 2015, and if that company had pulled out of Iowa, health insurance subsidies would not have been available to anyone in our state for next year.

UPDATE: Added Iowa political reaction below. Note that several of the Republican statements renew a vow to repeal and replace "Obamacare." Though destroying the system created by the 2010 health care reform law was transparently the goal of the King v Burwell plaintiffs, their lawyers maintained the charade that the lawsuit was only about getting the Obama administration to follow the Affordable Care Act.

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Congress passes "fast-track" trade promotion authority: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 07:14:58 AM CDT

Less than two weeks after an embarrassing defeat for President Barack Obama's trade agenda, a trade promotion authority bill is headed to the president's desk. The trade promotion authority legislation, often called "fast-track" or TPA,

will allow the White House to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The Senate will not be able to filibuster them, and lawmakers will not have the power to amend them.

The expedited process, which lasts until 2018 and can be extended until 2021, greatly increases Obama's chances of concluding negotiations on the TPP [12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership], which is a top goal of the president's.

Follow me after the jump for details on how the Iowans in Congress voted on the latest trade-related bills. Bleeding Heartland covered the Iowans' legislative maneuvering in late May and early June here. For background and context, I highly recommend David Dayen's article for The American Prospect magazine, which covers the modern history of trade negotiations and how fast-track emerged some 40 years ago. Dayen also explores "the political transfer of power, away from Congress and into a potent but relatively obscure executive branch office: the United States Trade Representative (USTR)."

I also enclose below some Iowa reaction to the latest Congressional voting on trade. Representative Steve King (IA-04) highlighted one angle I hadn't heard before, claiming victory because new language allegedly will prevent the president from negotiating provisions on climate change or immigration in trade agreements. UPDATE: Those provisions may not stay in the related bill King is counting on. More on that below.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Common black snakeroot

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 24, 2015 at 16:19:09 PM CDT

Today's featured native plant is a perennial that "can be used as a ground cover in shaded areas," but I doubt anyone in the Bleeding Heartland community will seek it out for a garden or flower bed. Common black snakeroot (Sanicula odorata), known in some sources by the common name Clustered black snakeroot and/or the Latin name Sanicula gregaria, has flowers so unobtrusive they can be difficult to see. Clusters of them develop into burs, which stick to clothing, shoes, and pets. White avens plants use the same effective, if annoying, seed dispersal method, but the black snakeroot flowers are not as eye-catching as white avens.

I enclose below several pictures of common black snakeroot, which is prevalent in and near wooded areas throughout much of North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

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

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Steve King, Joni Ernst donating campaign contributions from white supremacist leader

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 24, 2015 at 15:00:00 PM CDT

Representative Steve King and Senator Joni Ernst joined the long list of Republicans who announced plans this week to reject or donate campaign contributions from a white supremacist leader based in Texas. Earl Holt is the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens. That group's publications inspired the racist beliefs of Dylann Roof, who allegedly shot and killed nine people and injured others at last week's attack in a historic black church.

Holt donated $1,000 to King's 2012 re-election campaign and $1,500 to the Republican's 2014 campaign in Iowa's fourth Congressional district. On June 22, King posted this statement on his campaign website:

King for Congress will be donating the amount of past donations received from Earl Holt, President of the Council for Conservative Citizens, to both the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund and to the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Our prayers are with the families and friends of those affected by this tragedy.

Also on Monday, Ernst announced on Simon Conway's WHO Radio show that she will donate $1,000 (the amount Holt donated to her U.S. Senate campaign) to the Charleston church. I didn't see any statement on her Facebook page or campaign website, which at this writing consists only of a landing page seeking contact information and donations from supporters.

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Ravi Patel exits IA-01 Democratic primary

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 24, 2015 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

Ravi Patel announced yesterday that he is no longer running for Congress in Iowa's first district. I enclose below the full statement from the Patel for Iowa website, which says "it has become clear" that a "tough battle for the Democratic primary nomination" would "have diverted energy and resources that should be directed at changing the course of our nation." Patel added that he will be able to have more influence on "public life in Northeast Iowa [...] through the private sector." He will offer full refunds to campaign contributors, who donated more than half a million dollars during the first quarter of this year alone.

I have no idea what prompted Patel's decision. The stated reason makes no sense, as "it has been clear" for months that Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon was the front-runner in this primary, and that she would also raise significant campaign funds. Factor in Patel's youth and the fact that he has mostly lived in IA-02, and there was never any reason for him to think winning the primary wouldn't be a "tough battle." Backers were allegedly getting ready to launch a super-PAC to support his candidacy, a move without precedent in this state.

Before we assume Patel still has a future in Iowa politics, let's wait to learn more about why he quit this race. Pat Rynard cited a Dubuque Telegraph-Herald article from a few days ago, which showed that Patel "didn't have much of an answer on some basic issues Congress would face, including the Renewable Fuel Standard and dealing with ISIS." I find it hard to imagine any highly-motivated candidate would drop out because of some bad press nearly a year before the primary. Rynard speculated that Patel made a "mature" decision to end a candidacy with a low probability of success. If so, good for him, but count me among the cynics waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Patel's exit leaves Vernon and Gary Kroeger as the only declared Democratic candidates in IA-01. Vernon will be heavily favored. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar, who finished third behind Pat Murphy and Vernon in the 2014 primary to represent IA-01, is considering a repeat bid here. Winning the Democratic nomination would be an uphill battle for Dandekar for various reasons.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. IA-01 Representative Rod Blum is widely considered to be one of the most vulnerable Congressional incumbents.

UPDATE: Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) endorsed Vernon on June 24: "She has proven that she is committed to improving the lives of Iowa's working families. I look forward to having her in Congress along side of me, fighting for the people of Iowa." Loebsack lived and worked in Linn County (now the most populous in IA-01) for most of his adult life and represented the county in Congress from 2007 through 2012, when it was part of the second district.

Added below statements from Vernon and Kroeger on Patel dropping out.

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Bernie Sanders beefing up Iowa campaign staff

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 23, 2015 at 18:25:28 PM CDT

Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign announced several key Iowa hires yesterday. Robert Becker will be state director, having filled the same role on Bill Richardson's 2008 Iowa caucus campaign. Becker also worked on Bill Bradley's Iowa staff before the 2000 Iowa caucuses. Three organizers who are joining Sanders' campaign as regional field directors did the same work earlier this year on behalf of the effort to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president. Brendan Summers will serve as caucus director for Sanders in Iowa; he worked for the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2008 election cycle. After the jump I've enclosed a statement from the Sanders campaign with more background on all the new staffers.

Pete D'Alessandro has been coordinating the Sanders campaign in Iowa since mid-May. Earlier this month, the Sanders campaign tapped Blair Lawton as political director for Iowa. Most recently, Lawton headed the "Run Warren Run" effort here. Justin Huck will be field director for Sanders in Iowa, having previously done that job for the League of Conservation Voters in this state. Tara Thobe will serve as Sanders' statewide operations director.

Ed Tibbetts reported for the Quad-City Times, "The [Sanders] campaign has said it plans to have about two dozen staffers on the ground sometime this summer." Hillary Clinton's campaign has had more staff than that working in Iowa since April. She can be proud of her campaign's innovative digital organizing strategy and her staffers' persistence in trying to obtain signed supporter cards. During Clinton's recent appearance at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, at least six or eight Clinton campaign workers approached me and others nearby, supporter cards in hand--starting from the first few minutes we were standing in line outside and continuing inside the room, before and after Clinton's speech.

Clinton should be ashamed, however, that her campaign will exploit 100 unpaid interns in Iowa this summer. These volunteer "fellows" will work full-time for free, knowing that may be their best chance of obtaining paid work for the campaign in the fall and winter. Democrats who criticize the use of unpaid interns in the business world shouldn't replicate that model, especially since Clinton is likely to report many millions of dollars raised for her presidential bid during the second quarter of this year. It's not right, and if I were working for Sanders, I would make sure Iowa liberals and labor Democrats know about the arrangement.  

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How the Iowans voted on the latest House repeal of an "Obamacare" tax

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 22, 2015 at 19:14:06 PM CDT

Late last week, the U.S. House voted yet again to repeal a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, which was part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Effective lobbying by medical device manufacturers has repeatedly put this legislation on the GOP Congressional agenda, even though those manufacturers profited from other provisions in the health care reform law.

Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) was among the 46 House Democrats who joined all the Republicans present to pass the "Protect Medical Innovation Act" by 280 votes to 140 (roll call). Loebsack voted for a similar bill in 2012 but not for repealing the same tax in September 2013, when Republicans were trying to defund Obamacare as a condition for approving further federal government spending. In recent years, Loebsack has voted against most of the several dozen House bills to repeal all or part of health care reform, with a few notable exceptions.

Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) supported the latest medical device tax repeal bill. Fellow Republican Steve King (IA-04) missed the June 18 vote, but we know where he stands. He has supported any and all efforts to scrap Obamacare, including rescinding this very tax in 2012 and 2013.

Next time the Iowans in the U.S. House claim to care about the deficit, remember that this bill would reduce federal revenues by nearly $25 billion over ten years without any spending cuts to offset the lost revenue.

The White House has warned that President Barack Obama would veto this bill, since it grants "a large tax break to profitable corporations" that are gaining new customers, thanks to health care reform. Bleeding Heartland user Jon Muller explained the economics here and exposed the "pure rent-seeking behavior" of an industry that "wants the fruits of ACA, but does not wish to put anything back on the table to make it happen."

Another must-read on this issue is Matt Gardner's post for the Tax Justice blog from earlier this year: "Big Medical Device Makers Decry Device Tax While Dodging Billions by Offshoring Profits." I've enclosed excerpts below but encourage you to click through to read Gardner's whole piece.

UPDATE: Added below David Young's press release about this vote.

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