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IA-01

One pro-choice Democratic woman's question for EMILY's List

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 31, 2015 at 13:18:12 PM CDT

Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon was the first Congressional candidate endorsed this cycle by the influential political action committee EMILY's List. The PAC's mission is straightforward: "We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office." EMILY's List did not get involved in the 2014 primary to represent Iowa's first district, in which three of the five candidates were pro-choice women. But the PAC's leaders have signaled they will fight to help Vernon win the IA-01 nomination in 2016.

As in the last election cycle, Vernon's main competition for the right to face Republican Rod Blum will be former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy. Even before Murphy officially entered the race last week, EMILY's List took the first shot at the 2014 Democratic nominee. Cristinia Crippes reported for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on July 20,

"Pat Murphy cannot be trusted to stand up for women and families across Iowa -- just look at his long record of trying to restrict women's access to health care and put politics in the middle of decisions that should be left between women and their doctors," Emily's List press secretary Rachel Thomas said in a statement.

On July 29, EMILY's List fleshed out that case with a graphic I've enclosed below, highlighting Murphy's "pro-life" votes and statements between 1996 and 2007.

This lifelong Democrat and third-generation supporter of reproductive rights in Iowa has one question for the EMILY's List strategists: Do you really want to go there?

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IA-01: "Middle Class Fighter" Pat Murphy is in

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 23, 2015 at 12:59:45 PM CDT

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy made his second Congressional campaign official this morning. In the shortest YouTube candidate announcement video I've ever seen (just fourteen seconds long), Murphy declared, "The truck's up and running...and so am I." A press release announced, "Middle Class Fighter to Take on [GOP incumbent Rod] Blum," and a e-mail to supporters fleshed out Murphy's case. Excerpt:

Teri and I discussed this race long and hard and the bottom line is that middle class Iowans deserve to have a voice in Congress, somebody who knows the struggles they face, and will fight for them.  I've done that my whole life, because that's who I am.  And there's no other candidate running - from either party - who has been on the right side of these fights from day one.

From raising the minimum wage and teacher pay, passing equal pay for women, to protecting women's health care and all Iowan's civil rights.  That's my record.  Fighting for progressive Iowa values is in my blood, with your help, it's exactly what I'll do in Congress.

Murphy's campaign is on the web at Pat Murphy for Congress, on Facebook here, and Twitter here. (His old campaign website is no longer functional.)

I enclose below the candidate's full e-mail to supporters, as well as excerpts from the press release. It points to Murphy's lead in a recent internal poll of Democrats in IA-01 and recalls his outright victory in the 2014 primary, despite being outspent by some of his four opponents. The press release also notes that in the general election, Murphy outperformed both U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Braley and the gubernatorial ticket of Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon. Vernon has been considered the front-runner for the 2016 primary in IA-01, on the strength of early fundraising and endorsements from Iowa-based and Washington Democrats. Gary Kroeger is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Former U.S. Representative Dave Nagle is backing Murphy for Congress again, as is the Blue America PAC, which supports progressive candidates in Democratic primaries as well as against Republicans in general elections. Murphy dominated the labor union endorsements before the 2014 primary. I'll be interested to see whether Vernon picks up more labor support this cycle. So far, she has the backing of Teamsters Local 238, the "largest Teamster Local headquartered in the state of Iowa," and the  Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council, which supported her during the 2014 primary. UPDATE: Added below a Vernon campaign press release "welcoming" Murphy to the race and listing her key endorsers. They include several Iowa House Democrats who served in the legislature while Murphy was speaker from 2007 through 2010. SECOND UPDATE: Added Kroeger's statement below.

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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 16, 2015 at 15:17:30 PM CDT

Congressional candidates were required to file quarterly campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission by the end of July 15. Three of Iowa's four incumbents have no declared challengers yet, so most of the action was in the first district, where Monica Vernon's filing removed all doubt that Washington, DC Democrats want her to face first-term Representative Rod Blum, considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

Follow me after the jump for details from all of the Iowans' FEC reports. As happened during the first quarter, one would-be Congressional challenger out-raised each of the four incumbents for the reporting period.

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IA-01: Poll commissioned by Pat Murphy shows him leading Monica Vernon

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 15, 2015 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

While many establishment Democrats favor Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon to take on Representative Rod Blum, the 2014 Democratic nominee Pat Murphy has revealed one reason he is said to be leaning toward running for Congress again. Erin Murphy reported yesterday,

Murphy outpolled Vernon, 43 percent to 34 percent, in a survey of 350 likely Democratic primary voters conducted last week in Iowa's 1st Congressional District and released Tuesday by Murphy. Gary Kroeger was chosen by 12 percent of respondents.

The poll was conducted by Myers Research, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm that Murphy also solicited during his 2014 campaign.

I wouldn't read too much into partial results from an internal poll taken nearly a year before the Democratic primary, but as a general rule, I think competitive primaries help eventual nominees more than they hurt. If Murphy believes he can make a strong case for a second chance against Blum, let the Democratic voters in the first district decide, rather than leaving the choice to elected officials in Iowa or Washington.

Any comments related to the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added below a Murphy for Iowa press release about this poll. The July 15 statement says Murphy will "make a final decision about a 2016 campaign next week." The attached polling memo says Murphy's advantage over Vernon grows to 51 percent to 40 percent in a two-candidate race, and that Murphy leads among women as well as men in the sample.

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IA-01: The Democratic establishment wants Pat Murphy to stay out

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 11, 2015 at 18:54:53 PM CDT

Sources in northeast Iowa continue to report that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy plans to announce a new campaign in the first Congressional district soon, despite signals that prominent Democrats in Iowa and Washington want Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon to be the 2016 nominee against first-term Republican Rod Blum.
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Pat Murphy would enter this IA-01 primary as the underdog (updated)

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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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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House rebuffs Obama on trade bill; how the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 12, 2015 at 16:15:02 PM CDT

A rare visit to Capitol Hill by President Barack Obama wasn't enough to bring House Democrats on board with a crucial companion bill for "fast-track" trade authority today. The House rejected the trade adjustment assistance bill by a surprisingly wide margin of 126 to 302 (roll call). A few minutes later, House members narrowly approved the other part of the trade legislation by 219 votes to 211 (roll call). However, the fast-track package can't reach Obama's desk without both parts clearing the lower chamber. David Dayen explained the significance of the votes well at Salon. I've enclosed excerpts from his analysis below, but you should click through to read the whole piece. Dayen lays out several possible next steps for Congressional leaders who support giving Obama fast-track authority, with a view to approving a new Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Splitting the trade bill into two House votes was a gambit to let the trade adjustment assistance language pass with primarily Democratic support, while the fast-track language passed with primarily Republican support. As Dayen describes, the concept has worked for decades but didn't pan out today. Only 40 Democrats fell in line with Obama, while 144 voted against the trade adjustment assistance provisions, including Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02). Representative Steve King (IA-04) also voted against the trade adjustment assistance language, even as Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) were among the 86 Republicans to vote yes. All three Iowa Republicans were in the yes column on the subsequent vote for the fast-track language. Loebsack again voted no, as did all but 28 House Democrats. After the jump I've enclosed Blum's statement; I will update as needed with comments from the other Iowans in Congress.

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both supported the fast-track trade bill the U.S. Senate approved last month by 62 votes to 37 (roll call). They have consistently supported trade promotion authority for the president. In that Senate vote, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham voted for fast-track, while Rand Paul voted no, along with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

In case you missed it, I highly recommend State Representative Chuck Isenhart's warning that the "Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could threaten our ability to enforce state laws." Conservatives as well as progressives have reason to fear that outcome.

UPDATE: Added below more Iowa political reaction to these votes. House leaders will bring the trade adjustment assistance legislation up for another vote next week.

SECOND UPDATE: Added a statement from Monica Vernon, one of Blum's three Democratic challengers in IA-01. She opposes fast-track legislation.

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IA-01: Rod Blum a top target for EMILY's List

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 01, 2015 at 15:24:02 PM CDT

First-term Representative Rod Blum will be one of the top targets next year for EMILY's List, the political action committee supporting pro-choice Democratic women announced today.  
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IA-01: Ravi Patel to benefit from Iowa's first candidate-specific super-PAC?

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 28, 2015 at 09:15:00 AM CDT

Pat Rynard broke an interesting story today at Iowa Starting Line: a super-PAC is being created to support Ravi Patel's campaign in Iowa's first Congressional district. Patel is one of three declared Democratic candidates seeking to challenge Representative Rod Blum. He has already raised a shocking amount of money for a first-time candidate--more than half a million dollars by the end of March. That haul included funds from some 80 people who maxed out to Patel's campaign for the general election as well as for the primary. Congressional campaigns can't spend more than $2,700 from any individual donor before the 2016 primary, but a super-PAC could collect and spend as much as anyone wants to donate, anytime.

Rynard quotes Patel adviser Norm Sterzenbach (a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party) as saying, "There is already one Super PAC operating in this race. EMILY's List came out early with their support of Monica Vernon and we fully expect them to run a considerable independent campaign on her behalf." Yes and no.

EMILY's List did endorse Vernon early. Technically, that group is a regular political action committee, not a super-PAC. The Women Vote! super-PAC is associated with EMILY's List, and it spent quite a bit of money during the last election cycle, but mostly not on expenditures for women in competitive Democratic primaries for U.S. House seats. It remains to be seen how much money EMILY's List will put behind Vernon; I would guess not nearly as much as a super-PAC would spend for Patel or against his rivals. EMILY's List gave $10,000 directly to Staci Appel's 2014 campaign in IA-03 and bundled another $233,283 in contributions to Appel, who had no competition in her primary.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. P.S.- If Rynard's sources are correct, Jeff Link will lead the super-PAC for Patel.  

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Iowans split on party lines over 20-week abortion ban

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 14, 2015 at 13:50:00 PM CDT

Yesterday the U.S. House passed by 242 votes to 184 (roll call) a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. House GOP leaders originally planned to pass this legislation around the anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling in January, but pulled the bill from the floor "following a revolt from female members who objected to language regarding exceptions for rape." Sarah Ferris and Cristina Marcos reported for The Hill yesterday that the bill "requires a 48-hour waiting period, informed consent forms and mandatory counseling for victims of rape and sexual assault before abortions." The latest version "eliminates a requirement for rape victims to go to the police, though it did not change a controversial provision that allows victims of incest to receive an abortion only if they are under 18 years old."

Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all voted for the 20-week abortion ban, while Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted against it. Iowa's House members split along the same party lines regarding another anti-abortion bill that passed earlier this year, as well as a resolution that would "overturn the District of Columbia's law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on reproductive health choices."

I haven't seen any comments from Blum, Loebsack, Young, or King on yesterday's votes, but I'll update this post as needed. UPDATE: Added a statement from Blum.After the jump I've enclosed comments from Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire, an e-mail blast Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign sent regarding the vote, and a statement from the pro-choice PAC EMILY's List, which has endorsed Monica Vernon in the Democratic primary to challenge Blum.

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House passes first 2016 spending bills: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 05, 2015 at 06:53:47 AM CDT

Catching up on Congressional news, last week the U.S. House approved a joint Republican framework setting top-line numbers for the federal budget as well as the first two spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Along the way, House members considered amendments covering a wide range of issues, from regulations on incandescent light bulbs to "prevailing wage" rules for federal construction projects to medical marijuana advice for Americans who receive their health care through the Veterans Administration.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest votes by Iowa Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04).

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IA-01, IA-03: Poll finds so-so ratings for Rod Blum and David Young

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 01, 2015 at 16:35:00 PM CDT

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) as "one-term wonders." Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa survey will encourage them:

Rod Blum has a 31/31 favorability rating in his district, with a 38% plurality having no opinion one way or the other. David Young is worse off with a 24/35 favorability rating and 41% having no opinion about him. Both of these folks' fate will probably be up to which way the political winds are blowing next fall.

Full results from the PPP poll are here. The margin of error for subsamples in a single Congressional district will be larger than for the full sample of 1,219 Iowa voters surveyed between April 23 and 26.

Three Democrats have entered the race in IA-01: Monica Vernon, Ravi Patel, and Gary Kroeger. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar is considering a challenge here too. The district is the most Democratic-leaning in Iowa. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, IA-01 contains 154,096 active registered Democrats, 133,458 Republicans, and 189,153 no-party voters.

No Democrats have announced candidacies in IA-03. Several are considering the race, including State Senator Matt McCoy. Former State Senate candidate Desmund Adams has been touring the district talking with Democratic activists over the last couple of months. At this writing, IA-03 contains 150,975 active registered Democrats, 162,894 Republicans, and 160,498 no-party voters.

Any comments about Iowa's Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

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Iowa Congressional 1Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 18:21:19 PM CDT

First-quarter financial reports are up for all U.S. House candidates at the Federal Election Commission's notoriously user-unfriendly website.

The big news came from IA-01, where a newcomer to campaigning pulled in one of the biggest single-quarter hauls by a non-incumbent in Iowa history. To my knowledge, the only Iowa challenger who has raised more for a U.S. House race in one quarter than Ravi Patel just did was former First Lady Christie Vilsack in her 2012 marquee race against Representative Steve King. I believe that King is the only Iowa incumbent who has raised more than half a million dollars for a U.S. House race in one quarter; he did it twice during that re-election campaign against Vilsack in a redrawn IA-04.

Follow me after the jump for highlights on fundraising in all four Iowa districts. Bonus points if you can guess which former Iowa Congressional candidate is still carrying debt from two campaigns ago.  

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Gary Kroeger claiming progressive niche in IA-01 Democratic primary

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 18:20:00 PM CDT

Gary Kroeger launched his campaign in Iowa's first Congressional district a few minutes ago in Cedar Falls. His full official statement is after the jump, but here's the "elevator statement" for his candidacy:

I am an unapologetic progressive, lifelong progressive and a proud lifelong Democrat. Many recognize the need for a new kind of leader in Washington yet rely on the same pool and the same candidate profile, while expecting to get different results. [...]

As this primary moves forward it will become very clear that I am not a country club democrat.  I am a middle-class, progressive Democrat, and I'm running to represent our shared progressive Iowa Values in Congress.

That sounds like a direct challenge to Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who was a registered Republican until 2009. Several well-known progressive Iowa Democrats have already endorsed her, along with the pro-choice PAC EMILY's List. But Vernon's Republican roots and business-friendly image were an issue for some voters in the 2014 primary to represent IA-01.

Kroeger's campaign logo includes the words PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT FOR CONGRESS, and his campaign website and Facebook page prominently feature the candidate's policy stands.

The third declared candidate in next year's IA-01 Democratic primary is Ravi Patel, who has reportedly raised more than $525,000 since launching his campaign in February. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar, the third-placed candidate in the 2014 primary (behind Pat Murphy and Vernon) is also considering this race.

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Ted Cruz's first tv ad, plus highlights from his latest Iowa trip

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 14:07:21 PM CDT

On Easter Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz became the first presidential candidate this cycle to run a television commercial. The video and transcript are after the jump, along with highlights from Cruz's events in Sioux City, Dubuque, Durango, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines on April 1 and 2.

Nothing I've seen or heard from Cruz lately changes my view that he will crash and burn in the Iowa caucuses.

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Rod Blum and Steve King voted against Medicare reimbursement deal

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 09:44:53 AM CDT

A rare event happened on Thursday, as the U.S. House approved by a large bipartisan majority a bill changing a major entitlement program. Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01) and Steve King (IA-04) were among those who opposed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.
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IA-01: EMILY's List backing Monica Vernon

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 27, 2015 at 09:40:30 AM CDT

A leading political action committee for pro-choice Democratic women has endorsed Monica Vernon in Iowa's first Congressional district. EMILY's List announced their support today in a statement I've posted after the jump. The PAC didn't endorse any of the three women who sought the IA-01 nomination in 2014, but donated $10,000 and bundled another $233,283 to Staci Appel's campaign in IA-03.

Vernon finished second in the 2014 primary and is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination this cycle. However, she may not be the only pro-choice woman in this race. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar, who finished third in last year's primary, is considering another Congressional bid.

Please share any comments about the IA-01 campaign in this thread.

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Swati Dandekar considering another campaign in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 10, 2015 at 16:22:05 PM CDT

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar appears to be leaning toward another run for Congress in Iowa's first district, Richard Springer reported for the India West newspaper yesterday. Follow me after the jump for first thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses Dandekar would take into a second Congressional campaign.  
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Pass the popcorn: Rod Blum's former aide to run as an independent in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 21:10:00 PM CDT

James Lynch has a scoop tonight: a former field director for Representative Rod Blum's 2014 campaign plans to run as an independent candidate in Iowa's first district next year.
There's More... :: (19 Comments, 365 words in story)
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