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Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
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Daniel Lundby

More fallout from Steve King's comments on DREAMers

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 13:17:20 PM CDT

Representative Steve King's assertion that there are 100 drug mules for every "DREAMer" who's a valedictorian continues to reverberate across the country. National television networks and blogs have chewed over the story, and many politicians have condemned King's statement, including House Speaker John Boehner.

King stands by his comments and claims that the intense criticism proves he has "won the debate" over immigration policy. Yet a new poll of residents in Iowa's fourth Congressional district suggests that King is out of step even with his own constituents.

Follow me after the jump for details on that poll and a roundup of reaction to King's words about undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children.

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Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:26:39 AM CDT

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I've incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

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Last-minute Iowa legislative scramble is nothing to brag about

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:30:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Senate wrapped up its work for the year shortly after midnight on May 23, and Iowa House members adjourned about 11 hours later. Lawmakers in both parties have been congratulating themselves for compromising on some big issues that ended in stalemate the previous two years. Rod Boshart compiled an excellent list of what the legislature did and didn't approve during 2013.

We all can appreciate the desire to finish a big project before a holiday weekend, and since legislators stopped receiving per diem payments weeks ago, they understandably wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible. However, I found it disturbing that votes were held before most lawmakers, let alone members of the public, had time to digest final conference committee deals on education reform, an alternative to Medicaid expansion, property taxes, and the health and human services budget. Transparency isn't just a buzzword. Had journalists and advocacy groups been able to look over the last-minute compromises, people might have discovered problematic language or even simple drafting errors, which could produce unintended consequences after Governor Terry Branstad signs these bills into law.

I have a lot of questions about the final education reform bill and the plan to provide health insurance to low-income Iowans, particularly those earning between 101 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level. I also need more time to sort through the budget numbers and final changes to the standings bill. After the holiday weekend Bleeding Heartland will examine the important results of the legislative session in more detail. For now, I've posted after the jump details on who voted for and against the major bills approved this week.

UPDATE: In the May 24 edition of the On Iowa Politics podcast, statehouse reporters Mike Wiser and James Lynch discussed how the big issues came together "behind closed doors," with no public scrutiny or oversight. Lynch commented that to his knowledge, the conference committee named to resolve the impasse over Medicaid expansion never formally met, except perhaps for one organizational meeting. Lynch recounted one occasion when Iowa House Republican Dave Heaton was briefing journalists about the health care talks, and the journalists asked when that happened, since there hadn't been any public notices of conference committee meetings. According to Lynch, Heaton replied, "We're not having meetings, but we're meeting." Senate President Pam Jochum said that negotiations between Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan and House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer produced the "key to Iowa's health care compromise." Notably, Upmeyer didn't have a prominent role in passing the House health insurance plan, nor was she named to the conference committee assigned to merge the House and Senate proposals.

Speaking to journalists on May 22, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Jochum weren't able to answer a specific question about compromise wording reached regarding Medicaid coverage of abortions. That was no minor issue--it was the last sticking point holding up approval of the health and human services budget. In effect, Gronstal told journalists, you can see the wording after the final bill is published.

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Republican Ken Rizer will challenge Daniel Lundby in Iowa House district 68

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 09, 2013 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

One of the ten closest Iowa legislative races last year was in House district 68, where Democrat Daniel Lundby defeated two-term State Representative Nick Wagner by 117 votes, 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent. I've been expecting Wagner to attempt a political comeback in 2014, as Governor Terry Branstad recently withdrew his nomination to serve on the Iowa Utilities Board.

If Wagner attempts to return to the statehouse, he will need to get through a GOP primary first, because yesterday Ken Rizer announced his campaign in House district 68. I've posted background on Rizer and Lundby after the jump, along with a district map and the latest voter registration totals.

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Another Iowa legislative victory for Big Ag

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:49:00 AM CDT

Factory farm advocates failed in 2009 to circumvent the Iowa DNR's rulemaking on applying manure over frozen and snow-covered ground. Then they failed in 2010 to win passage of a bill designed to weaken Iowa's newly-adopted regulations on manure storage and application.

But this year, the Iowa Pork Producers Association succeeded in convincing state lawmakers to relax requirements for CAFO operators to be able to store their own manure properly. All they had to do was dress up their effort as an attempt to help families with aspiring young farmers.

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IA-Sen: Most Democratic state legislators endorse Braley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 10:10:00 AM CDT

Representative Bruce Braley's campaign for U.S. Senate rolled out its largest batch of endorsements today: 71 state legislators. All 26 Iowa Senate Democrats plus 45 of the 47 Iowa House Democrats are named in the press release I've posted after the jump. For some reason, Iowa House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy are not in this group. Murphy is running for the first Congressional district seat Braley is vacating.

Earlier this week, Braley's campaign announced that it raised more than $1 million during the first quarter. That is a solid number, and I'll be interested to see how the numbers break own (contributions from individuals vs PACs, for instance). Bleeding Heartland will publish a detailed roundup of Iowa Congressional fundraising after all the candidates have filed their reports with the Federal Election Commission. Those reports are due April 15.

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Iowa House votes to relax manure storage rules for CAFOs (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

In an ideal world, evidence that more than half of Midwest rivers and streams can't support aquatic life would inspire policy-makers to clean up our waterways. Rivers that are suitable for swimming, fishing, and other recreation can be a huge economic engine for Iowa communities.

We live in Iowa, where most of our lawmakers take the Patty Judge view: "Iowa is an agricultural state and anyone who doesn't like it can leave in any of four directions."

Yesterday the Iowa House approved a bill to relax manure storage regulations for large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). All of the House Republicans and two-thirds of the Democrats supported this bad legislation. Details on the bill and the House vote are below.

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New jobs for former lawmakers and another term for Regent Craig Lang

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:50:00 AM CST

Governor Terry Branstad announced a long list of appointees to state boards and commissions today. I've posted the full press release after the jump, along with background on some of the most newsworthy nominations. The governor tapped several former state lawmakers or candidates for the legislature, as well as his younger son, Marcus Branstad.
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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2013

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:15:00 AM CST

The Iowa House will begin its 2013 session next Monday with 53 Republicans, 46 Democrats and one seat to be filled in a special election on January 22.

After the jump I've posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I've noted changes since last year's legislative session.

Some non-political Iowa House trivia: three state representatives have the surname Olson (not counting Democrat Jo Oldson). There are two Millers, two Taylors, and two Smiths, one from each party in every case. David is most common first name: the new cohort contains three Daves and two Davids. Four state representatives have the first name Mark, four are called Daniel (three go by Dan) and four were given the name Robert (two Robs, one Bob, and a Bobby). Four women are named Mary (one goes by Mary Ann), and two are named Linda. There are two men each named Greg, Chuck, John, Kevin, Pat, Bruce, Tom, and Chris, and there would have been two Brians if Brian Quirk had not resigned shortly after winning re-election. Oddly, no current Iowa House member is named Mike or Michael.

JANUARY 28 UPDATE: Democrat Todd Prichard won the special election in House district 52, bringing the number of Todds in the Iowa House to two. I've added his committee assignments below. Republicans maintain a 53-47 majority.

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A closer look at the Iowa counties Obama and Romney won

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:20:00 AM CST

Preliminary results from the Iowa Secretary of State's website show that President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in Iowa by 807,146 votes to 720,323 (51.89 percent to 46.31 percent) amid record participation of 1,555,570 voters statewide.

As expected, the president won a plurality of the vote in fewer Iowa counties this year than in 2008, but he did pick up one county that was a big surprise for me. Some thoughts about the presidential vote in Iowa are after the jump, along with maps showing which counties Obama, Romney, and John McCain carried. You can find vote totals for every county on the Iowa Secretary of State's website.

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Huge day for marriage equality in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:25:00 AM CST

Supporters of LGBT equality are celebrating yesterday's votes for same-sex marriage rights in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, as well as Minnesotans rejecting a constitutional amendment designed to restrict marriage rights to heterosexuals.

The election also slammed the door on any prospect of overturning marriage equality in Iowa.

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First look at the Obama and Romney ground games in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 06:45:00 AM CDT

At this time four years ago, Barack Obama's campaign had about 30 field offices up and running in Iowa, compared to six offices for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Obama's campaign has had eight Iowa field offices open this summer and is rolling out another 26 offices around Iowa this weekend. So far, Mitt Romney's campaign has ten Iowa field offices, in addition to the unified Republican headquarters in Urbandale.

After the jump, I compare the field office locations for each presidential campaign, grouped by Iowa Congressional district. Where relevant, I've also noted competitive Iowa House and Senate districts near the Obama and Romney field offices, although I doubt either presidential campaign will do much for down-ticket Democratic or Republican candidates.

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First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 06:15:00 AM CDT

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I've posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

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Daniel Lundby will run for Iowa House district 68

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:14:43 AM CDT

The son of one of Linn County's most influential Republicans during the past three decades will run for the Iowa House as a Democrat in 2012. Daniel Lundby on July 5 launched his campaign in the new Iowa House district 68. This swing district covers most of Marion (a suburb of Cedar Rapids) and some rural areas of Linn County, including the small towns of Ely and Bertram. As of April 2011, the new House district 68 contained 6,834 registered Democrats, 6,290 Republicans and 7,871 no-party voters.

Lundby's Republican opponent will be Iowa House Local Government Committee Chairman Nick Wagner. He has represented current district 36, covering suburban and rural parts of Linn County, since winning an open-seat race in 2008.

Lundby's first campaign press release refers repeatedly to his late mother, Mary Lundby. She was co-chair of the Linn County Republican Party before being elected to the Iowa House in 1986. After four terms as a state representative, she won several terms in the Iowa Senate, where she was among the more moderate Republicans. During the final weeks of the 2006 legislative session, she surprised most Iowa politics-watchers by ousting Stew Iverson as Senate Republican leader. She stepped down from the Senate in order to run for Linn County supervisor, but she dropped out of that race for health reasons. She died of cancer in early 2009.

Daniel Lundby's message to Linn County voters will be that today's Republican Party no longer shares his mother's values. From yesterday's campaign press release:

"My mother believed in a common sense approach to solving problems through partisan politics.  I want to bring that common sense back to the Iowa House.  My mother also strongly cared about children in Iowa and wanted them to get the best education possible.  Unfortunately, the needs of our young people now seem less important with the Republicans insisting on zero percent growth for local schools and education cuts to state universities.  None of which my mother would approve of.  Nor would she support cutting programs that protect our natural resources and our environment.  She would definitely not support attempts to deny equal rights to any Iowan.  Being my mother's son, I want the chance to continue her work for a better Iowa."

The comment about "equal rights" alludes to the fact that Mary Lundby was one of four Iowa Senate Republicans to vote against a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004. That amendment failed by a single vote in the upper chamber. Had it passed, the Varnum v Brien lawsuit challenging Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act probably would never have been filed.

I've posted a detailed map of the new House district 68 after the jump, along with the full text of Lundby's campaign announcement.

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