Nine ways Democrats can keep 2018 primaries from becoming destructive

More Democrats are running for Iowa’s statewide and federal offices than at any other time in at least four decades. I’m excited to watch so many strong candidates make their case to be elected governor, secretary of state, or to Congress in all three Republican-held U.S. House districts.

Contested primaries are mostly good for political parties, I believe. For too many election cycles, Iowa Democrats tended to coalesce around one candidate early on. A battle for the nomination forces contenders to work harder and sharpen the message. With more campaigns trying to identify supporters and get them to the polls, I expect a record-setting turnout for Iowa Democrats in June 2018.

The process will also drive more activists to attend next year’s precinct caucuses and county conventions, since conventions may be needed to select Democratic nominees for governor and in the third Congressional district, if no candidate receives 35 percent of the vote in the primary.

The only downside to a competitive primary is the risk that the campaign could become intensely negative, leaving some of the most engaged activists feeling angry and alienated from one another. Case in point: some people are still arguing about Hillary v. Bernie more than a year later.

Fortunately, Democrats can prevent that destructive dynamic from playing out.

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IA-01: Jeff Danielson on "raging incrementalism" and Iowa Democrats' culture problem

Iowa Democrats “need to have a good family fight about what the future of our party’s going to be” and ditch the “canned messages” used in too many losing campaigns, according to State Senator Jeff Danielson. Re-elected to a fourth term in the Iowa Senate last year, Danielson is the highest-profile Democrat still thinking about running in the first Congressional district, where four candidates are already challenging Representative Rod Blum and two others recently ruled out the race. He spoke to Bleeding Heartland this week about his plans and how Democrats can regain the trust of voters who increasingly see our party as out of touch.

Danielson’s critique of the Democratic establishment has much in common with points often raised by Iowans who supported Bernie Sanders for president. But his call for “raging incrementalism” and reaching across the aisle is quite different from the ambitious policy agenda typically viewed on the Sanders wing as the solution to the same problem.

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Abby Finkenauer "welcomes" Thomas Heckroth to IA-01 race with cheap shot

Thomas Heckroth joined the field of Democratic challengers to Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first Congressional district yesterday, calling for policies that “start investing in people” to create an “economy that values work more than wealth.”

Heckroth has been considering the race for several months. On his first day as a candidate, he stopped in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Waverly, talking about his vision and criticizing Blum’s votes for the Republican health care bill and for rolling back key financial reforms in the law known as Dodd-Frank.

Before Heckroth launched his website and released an announcement video, Iowa political reporters heard he was running for Congress from an Abby Finkenauer press release, which portrayed her newest primary rival as not Iowan enough.

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