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.
Democrats are out canvassing most weekends from here through the November election. Iowa Democratic candidates, please send me notices of your upcoming public events, fundraisers or volunteer opportunities if you would like me to include them on these calendars.
Details for some political and environmental events are after the jump. Please post a comment or e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you have something to add.
Seeing the announcement about Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith's picnic next weekend reminded me of the latest political rumor going around Des Moines: former third district Congressional candidate Dave Funk is expected to challenge Hockensmith in the next supervisor's race. I've seen no public confirmation of the rumor, though.
State Representative Wayne Ford announced today that he will not seek an eighth term in the Iowa House. He plans to "to devote more time to expand statewide, nationally, and internationally" the non-profit organization Urban Dreams, which he founded 25 years ago. After the jump I posted Ford's press release, which recounts some of his accomplishments. His work on a 2007 law requiring blood screenings for lead poisoning has benefited thousands of Iowa families and will spare many children from the many harmful effects of lead exposure, which may even emerge decades later.
Yesterday Ed Fallon alleged that Iowa Democratic Party officials were trying to keep Ford's retirement secret in order to avoid a competitive primary in House district 65. Candidates have until Friday to file nominating papers with the Secretary of State's office. The Democratic primary will in effect determine Ford's successor because of the district's strong partisan lean.
Ed and Lynn Fallon's I'M for Iowa organization sent out an e-mail blast today containing the following tidbit:
Monday, 1:00 - 4:00 pm, we talk about politics, and expose what appears to be a sneaky effort in the 65th House District in Des Moines to keep Wayne Ford's retirement a secret so party insiders can hand-pick a successor. We also talk about the Des Moines Register's love affair with Senator Grassley, Jonathan Narcisse's love affair with himself, and Iowa Senate Republicans' burning love for coal.
Tom Beaumont's latest piece on Chuck Grassley for the Des Moines Register was egregious. He depicted Grassley as an old-fashioned bipartisan hero instead of the disingenuous double-dealer he has become. But that's a topic for another post. I'm more interested in Fallon's take on Iowa House district 65, which covers a heavily Democratic area of Des Moines (map here).
Jason Hancock listened to today's radio show and wrote up the story for Iowa Independent. Fallon alleges that seven-term incumbent State Representative Wayne Ford has decided to retire, but is keeping his intentions secret so that there won't be a competitive Democratic primary in the district. Republicans have no chance of winning House district 65, but in a Democratic primary with multiple candidates, someone other than the party insiders' choice might win.
Hancock contacted the Iowa Democratic Party for a reaction and got this comment from communications director Ali Glisson:
"Whatever a member of the legislature decides to do, it is a personal decision that I will not speculate about," she said. "But, I can assure you that the Iowa Democratic Party is not something out of Bond movie. No 'cover up' is going on. We remain confident that the Iowa House will remain under Democratic control."
In high school debate we would have called that a "non-response." Did Fallon say the IDP was like something out of a Bond movie, or that they were "covering up" wrongdoing? No, he's saying they don't want to roll the dice on a competitive primary and would rather hand-pick someone to succeed Ford. And Fallon's allegation regarding House district 65 has nothing to do with whether the Democratic Party will retain an Iowa House majority. This is about who will determine Ford's successor, if he retires: voters or insiders. If Ford wants another term, he should say so. If not, he should give other Democrats time to start a campaign.
Whether or not Ford plans to retire this year, it wouldn't be a bad idea to for a progressive Democrat to collect 50 signatures (plus a few extra) in time to file nominating papers by this Friday. Community organizer Tyler Reedy won about 36 percent of the vote in his primary challenge against Ford in 2008. He worked hard in that campaign and deserves another shot if he is willing to run again.
Share any other suggestions or opinions in this thread.
UPDATE: Ford could have put this matter to rest by answering Dave Price's question about whether he plans to run again. Four days before the filing deadline, he refused to say. If he isn't running, he owes it to his Democratic constituents to give other potential candidates an opportunity to file for an open seat.
I didn't manage to compile calendars the past couple of weeks, but I wanted to get back on track today, because there are lots of newsworthy events happening in the coming week around Iowa.
I don't think I'll be able to make it to the DAWN's List reception honoring outstanding Iowa Democratic women tomorrow. I'd appreciate it if someone who attends would post a comment or a diary here about the reception.
Other notable events this week include a symposium in Des Moines about Iowa's 2008 floods, a sustainable communities conference in Dubuque, and a public workshop in Ankeny about competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Details on those and other happenings are after the jump.
Keep checking John Deeth's blog for news about statewide, Congressional and state legislative candidate filings, which continue through March 19.
I didn't have time to pull this together yesterday, but here's a late weekend open thread. Share whatever's on your mind.
(UPDATE: If you think you know American history, see how well you do on Charles Lemos' Presidents' Day trivia quiz. Each president is the correct answer to only one question.)
After the jump I've posted details on many events coming up this week. I hope to attend the screening of the "Big River" documentary in Des Moines on February 18. It's a sequel to the must-watch "King Corn," and the screening is a joint benefit for the Iowa Environmental Council and Practical Farmers of Iowa.
If you are a Democratic candidate in Iowa, please e-mail me your list of upcoming events so I can include them in these threads. (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com)
Oxfam America "is seeking Des Moines area volunteers to lend 5-8 hours of time per week to help them raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on global communities and encourage action to alleviate it." If you're interested, you need to contact them by February 15 (information below).
I noticed some job listings and other helpful information in the Iowa Environmental Council's electronic newsletter.
Value Chain Partnerships, an "Iowa-based network for food and agriculture working groups," has a new website: www.valuechains.org.
The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) is hiring "a Policy Advocate to work in our Des Moines office to promote clean energy, clean water and conservation projects in Iowa. [...] For more information, visit http://elpc.org/category/jobs#... or email Andrew Snow at email@example.com. Application Deadline is Jan. 30, 2010.
Plains Justice is hiring "a Resource Director who will report to the CEO and work co-operatively with the Board, attorneys and other staff and volunteers to raise, manage and evaluate effective use of financial resources. Demonstrated fundraising success required. [...] Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for detailed job description. No phone calls please."
There's a position open for an "Iowa Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator," who "will work in Spirit Lake, Iowa, to manage and coordinate the implementation of the objectives of a water quality conservation project and activities, conservation planning and application of practices, information and education and other related activities essential to the district and NRCS." Application Deadline: January 26, 2010. For a complete job description, salary, hiring requirements, and how to apply, go to http://cleanwateralliance.net/...
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is hiring someone to support its Upper Mississippi River project. "Successful candidates will have relevant academic training in the natural, agricultural or social sciences and experience in environmental advocacy. The position is located in Ames, Iowa. A strong commitment to natural resource conservation, environmental protection, and public health is essential. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to email@example.com. For more information and a job description visit http://www.ewg.org/jobs."
Calling high school seniors: Keep Iowa Beautiful is offering up to four $500 scholarships. "Students across Iowa enrolling in an Iowa college or university to major in community enhancement or environmental areas of study are eligible. Students can download the application on-line at http://www.keepiowabeautiful.c... Deadline for application: must be postmarked by February 1, 2010. Please contact the KIB office at 515-323-6507 with any questions."
Details about events coming up in the next ten days are after the jump.
This thread is for discussing anything on your mind this weekend.
There are Martin Luther King Jr. remembrances going on in many Iowa cities today and tomorrow; check your local news outlet for details. To mark King's birthday, Democratic Senate candidate Bob Krause pledged to develop "a comprehensive strategy for alleviating the Iowa incarceration disparity," in light of the fact that "Iowa has a per capita incarceration rate for blacks that is fourteen times the incarceration rate for whites."
Marian Riggs Gelb's Jan. 3 guest column ("Protect Iowa's Liquid Gems") calls for thank-you notes to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for designating a few streams in northeast Iowa for protection as "outstanding waters."
It was a nice suggestion. However, where do I write the note about letting the rest of the state's river systems be turned into open sewers by the farm and livestock interests and by towns that won't fix their sewage systems?
I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.
The governor's race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state's major events of the decade.
After the jump I've posted links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.
Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn't manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent's compilation of "Iowa's most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009," as well as that blog's review of "stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010."
There aren't many political events during the second half of December, but there's plenty going on during the next couple of weeks. Event details are after the jump. Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something I've left out.
If I can shake this cold I plan to attend the Culver-Judge holiday party this Saturday. Any other Bleeding Heartland readers going?
State Representative Chris Rants and Jonathan Narcisse have already started their debate series. You can view the schedule and download mp3s of the debates here.
I'm looking forward to the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner this weekend. It will be live-streamed for those who can't be there in person. The Iowa branch of Organizing for America is having a grand opening on Saturday as well, right before the JJ dinner.
Details for those and other events are after the jump. Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know if something I've left out.
Linn County Dems: Don't forget that November 24 is the special election in Iowa House district 33.
One more "save the date": the Culver-Judge campaign's holiday party will be on Saturday, December 5 at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm. Tickets are just $35 for an individual, $10 for students and $50 for a family. Call 515-244-5151 or go to www.chetculver.com for more information.
If you live within striking distance of Waterloo, you can catch Tom Vilsack at Representative Bruce Braley's fifth annual "Bruce, Blues and BBQ" party on Sunday (details below).
Anyone else planning to see Vice President Joe Biden at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner next weekend? I'd like to meet other members of the Bleeding Heartland community. You can buy tickets online at the Iowa Democratic Party's site.
Follow me after the jump for many more event details, and post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something I've left out.
I'M for Iowa made the announcement today in a mass e-mail:
For too long, Iowa's airwaves have been dominated by Rush Limbaugh, Jan Mickelson, Steve Deace, Glen Beck and Michael Savage. Well, we have great news: times are changing!
Beginning Monday, September 21st, we will host our own talk show from 7:00 - 8:00 pm, Monday through Thursday on 98.3 WOW-FM. It's called "THE FALLON FORUM" and can be heard from Fort Dodge to Chariton, from Grinnell to Carroll, and can be live-streamed at http://www.983wowfm.com. We hope you'll tune in, and you can join the conversation at (515) 312-0983.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for those of us concerned about pressing economic, social and environmental issues. We want to offer true "talk" radio, as opposed to the "shock" radio dished-up by those on the far right. In fact, THE FALLON FORUM replaces some of the airtime currently given to Michael Savage, the guy who recently recommended making "the construction of mosques illegal in America, and the speaking of English only in the streets of the United States the law."
We'll kick off the show on Monday with Dolores Huerta. Dolores helped found the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. At 79, she remains an energetic, outspoken advocate for many important causes, including marriage equality.
On Tuesday, we'll dig into Iowa politics.
Zach Mannheimer with The Subjective Theatre Company joins us on Wednesday to discuss the merger of the artistic and corporate worlds. We anticipate a spirited exchange on the new sculpture garden set to open in downtown Des Moines.
On Thursday, we want to hear your thoughts on America's historic health care debate . . . providing you keep it civil and based on fact. We'll pull the plug on any caller who insists the legislation before Congress pulls the plug on grandma.
Thanks, and we hope you can join us on the show next week!
This weekend is packed with good events for Iowa progressives. If you love books, make your way to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale in the 4-H building at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Admission is free; the sale is open from 9-9 Friday and Saturday and from 9-6 Sunday and Monday. The sale offers great deals on books, DVDs, prints, comics, and music, especially on Sunday, when everything is half-price, and on Monday, when everything left is 25 cents.
Organized labor doesn't have a lot to celebrate right now, with more job losses in the manufacturing sector and unemployment rising across the country (though Iowa's unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average). The Iowa Policy Project finds that "the state of working Iowa" is not good. As in the previous recession, we are losing jobs with good benefits as wages stagnate for the people who still have jobs. We now rank 32nd in terms of median wages, and lower incomes mean less money for consumers to spend at other businesses. Click here for the full report, which also explains that "policy makers could do more to make work pay for low- and moderate-income working families and to insist upon job-quality requirements in economic development strategies."
Iowa hasn't adopted most of organized labor's key legislative priorities in recent years, in part because of the "six-pack" of Iowa House Democrats that blocked those bills. On the plus side, Curt Hanson's victory in the House district 90 special election means we haven't lost any ground on this front. We only need to persuade one or two "six-pack members" (or defeat them in Democratic primaries) to find the 51st vote for "prevailing wage," for instance.
Food advice for the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 13-23: The best deal on lemonade is at the honey producers' booth in the ag building. The best ice cream is in the Bauder's truck, not far from the ag building. Don't miss popcorn with real butter.
If you're looking for something useful to do in August, I've got lots of event details after the jump.
Who else is looking forward to the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 13-23?
If you're looking for something useful to do in August, I've got lots of event details after the jump. As always, post a comment or send an e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you know of something I've left out. You can volunteer for Curt Hanson's campaign in Iowa House district 90 any weekend this month.
Political activity slows down during the summer, especially in an off-year, but there's still plenty for progressives to do. Event details are after the jump. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of other events I've left out.
If you live near southeast Iowa, please consider volunteering for Curt Hanson, Democratic candidate for the September 1 special election in Iowa House district 90. UPDATE: Senator Tom Harkin is headlining a fundraiser for Hanson on Saturday, Augsut 1. Details below.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers during the Iowa State Fair (August 13-23):
The Iowa DNR River Programs will be at the Iowa State Fair this year and requests your help to staff our booth at the DNR building. We will have a River Programs staff person there the whole time, but our space is much larger this year. Because of the large number of visitors who pass through the building, any help we can get is greatly appreciated. We are asking for a 5 hour shift from each volunteer. You may sign up for more than one shift if you'd like. The morning shift will be from 9:00 to 2:00 and the afternoon shift will be from 2:00 to 7:00. What you get: A River Programs Volunteer Cap and a ticket to the fair the day you volunteer, and the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference.
Please respond by email or phone with your desired shift(s) and availability Thursday, August 13th through Sunday August 23rd to John Wenck, IDNR River programs outreach coordinator, John.Wenck@dnr.iowa.gov, 515-281-8969 or 515-491-9881.
Chris Bowers wondered yesterday at Open Left why advocates of legislation to address global warming (the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act) aren't playing hardball with Democrats who are watering down and threatening to block this bill.
Whether the issue is global warming or increasing the minimum wage, making college more affordable or expanding health care to every American, Leonard Boswell is on the frontlines of these issues.
Truthfully, Boswell has never been out in front on global warming. He voted for George Bush's awful energy bill in 2005, filled with subsidies for fossil-fuel polluters. He came late to support the Safe Climate Act in the last Congress, signing on as a co-sponsor only in December 2007, after learning that Ed Fallon was planning a primary challenge.
But that's water under the bridge. The much more serious problem is Boswell's threat to vote down Waxman-Markey, which for all its flaws is still the best climate change bill ever to have a chance of passing Congress.
Al Gore has said global warming is one of the great moral issues of our time. It's time for him and other prominent environmental advocates to lean on the House Democrats who are undermining Waxman-Markey.
On a related note, Ed and Lynn Fallon's organization I'M for Iowa sent a press release on June 16 criticizing Boswell for "failing Iowans" on climate change legislation. In a separate e-mail to supporters, the Fallons challenged Boswell to "do what Al Gore would do" and support the American Clean Energy and Security Act. I've posted both the press release and the e-mail message from I'M for Iowa after the jump.
UPDATE: Boswell's spokesman Mark Daley responded with a statement explaining several areas of concern with Waxman-Markey despite Boswell's "ardent support for climate change legislation." (Let me know if you've seen evidence of this "ardent support" during the past 14 years.) I've posted the statement after the jump.
If we want to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from current levels, then utilities that currently rely on fossil fuels may need to do more. Boswell says this is a bias against consumers in the midwest and that the allowances for utilities should be based on "historical emissions". I am sorry that midwestern utility companies have not been more farsighted about getting away from fossil fuels, but I don't understand how Boswell's approach gets us to the solution we need, which is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
Speaking more generally, no one claims the Waxman-Markey bill is ideal. I could argue that a carbon tax approach would be better than cap-and-trade, but a carbon tax isn't politically viable, so here we are. I could complain about two dozen compromises that have already been made to satisfy this or that corporate or regional interest. Ultimately, the threat global warming poses to the planet is too great to let any one group derail the whole Waxman-Markey project, as Boswell is apparently willing to do if he doesn't get his way about USDA jurisdiction. Someone who continually bragged about Al Gore's endorsement during last year's primary should be able to see the bigger picture here.
According to a letter I received last weekend, Ed and Lynn Fallon of I'M for Iowa are already meeting with potential progressive challengers in some House districts. I've posted the full text of the letter after the jump. I share their disappointment with what the Democratic "trifecta" has accomplished since the 2006 elections.
Good opportunities for primary challengers include districts that are relatively safe for Democrats in the general election. That points to "six-pack" members Huser (House district 42), Brian Quirk (district 15) and Doris Kelley (district 20).
Challenging the rest of the group is somewhat more risky. McKinley Bailey (district 9), Larry Marek (district 89) and Dolores Mertz (district 8) represent marginal districts. In fact, first-termer Marek will probably be the most endangered Democratic House incumbent next year. Bailey beat back a strong challenge from Republicans to win a second term by a fairly healthy margin in 2008, but according to this report by Iowa Independent's Jason Hancock, some House Democrats have been "quietly concerned" that he might consider switching parties.
Mertz is a longtime incumbent in a very conservative district. In the unlikely event that a progressive challenger defeated her, Republicans would almost certainly pick up the seat. On the other hand, a smaller Democratic House caucus without Mertz would be an improvement over a larger caucus with Mertz, in my opinion. As chair of the House Agriculture Committee, she blocks any decent bill in sight, and she will be the Republicans' biggest Democratic ally in the fight to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling in Varnum v Brien.
Two big questions come to mind. First, will organized labor put money and/or foot soldiers into serious Democratic primary races? Earlier this year, Ken Sagar of the Iowa AFL-CIO didn't rule out supporting competitors to Democrats who are unfriendly to labor.
I look forward to reading your comments on whether it's worth taking on any House Democratic incumbents next year, and if so, which ones. The Fallons' letter laying out the case for primary challenges is after the jump.
There's a lot going on, especially this weekend in the Des Moines area. I've posted event details after the jump, but please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of anything I've left out.
If $2,500 is burning a hole in your wallet, you can meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today (Saturday) at the fundraising luncheon for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at Roxanne Conlin's house in Des Moines. Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell are co-hosting the event. I am not giving to the DCCC until they graduate Boswell from the "Frontline" program for vulnerable incumbents. He is not threatened in 2010 and should pay his DCCC dues like the other safe Democratic incumbents.
I was amused by the boilerplate Republican cheap shot regarding Pelosi's visit:
Republican Party of Iowa Executive Director Jeff Boeyink said he's surprised any Iowa congressional Democrats would want to appear with her. [...]
"We don't think her values are Iowa values," Boeyink said.