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Iowa GOP

Key Iowa Republican budget negotiators eager to leave Capitol

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

In the span of a few weeks, four Republicans who were heavily involved in shaping this year's state budget have made sure they won't be at the negotiating table during the Iowa legislature's 2016 session. First, Matt Hinch quit as Governor Terry Branstad's chief of staff. The weekly Business Record reported yesterday that Hinch "joined the Des Moines office of government affairs and lobbying group Cornerstone Government Affairs as a vice president."

Days after the Branstad administration announced Hinch's departure, Kraig Paulsen resigned as Iowa House speaker. He plans to be a back-bencher next year and will not seek re-election to the Iowa House in 2016. It's not yet clear whether he will remain an attorney for the Cedar Rapids-based trucking firm CRST International, or whether he will seek a different private-sector job.

Last Friday, Branstad's office announced that Jake Ketzner was leaving as the governor's legislative liaison. I've enclosed the full statement on the staff changes after the jump. Yesterday, the marketing and lobbying firm LS2group revealed that Ketzner will be their newest vice president, specializing in "campaign management, government affairs, and public affairs."

Finally, House Appropriations Committee Chair Chuck Soderberg told journalists yesterday that he will resign to take a leadership role in the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, a powerful interest group.

I can't blame these Republicans for not wanting to spin their wheels at the Capitol during next year's legislative session. Election years are not conducive to bipartisan deal-making in the best of times. Last month, possibly influenced by Hinch and Ketzner, Branstad poisoned the well with vetoes that erased most of the House GOP's budget concessions to Senate Democrats. Although Paulsen insisted he had negotiated in good faith, he and his top lieutenant Linda Upmeyer (the incoming House speaker) didn't lift a finger to override the governor's vetoes.

Newly-elected House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow told a conservative audience in Urbandale today, "I'm not as skeptical about next year as maybe some are. I think there's a lot of good things that we can get done [in the legislature]," Rod Boshart reported.

That makes one of us. Seeing Hinch, Paulsen, Ketzner, and Soderberg vote with their feet reinforces my belief that next year's legislative session will mostly be a waste of many people's time and energy.

P.S.- Some grade A political framing was on display in the governor's press release enclosed below: "During the 2015 session, Ketzner worked across party lines to secure bipartisan support for historic infrastructure investment that an economic development study called a prerequisite for economic development in Iowa." In other words, he helped persuade lawmakers to increase the gasoline tax. Ketzner's official bio at LS2goup likewise speaks of his work "across party lines to secure bipartisan support for significant transportation and broadband infrastructure investments."

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Linda Upmeyer will be first woman Iowa House speaker; Chris Hagenow to be majority leader

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 18:59:16 PM CDT

Iowa House Republicans chose Linda Upmeyer to replace Kraig Paulsen as House speaker today. First elected to the legislature in 2002, Upmeyer has served as majority leader since 2011. House leaders did not release details on today's vote. State Representative Josh Byrnes was the only other candidate to seek the speaker's post, despite rumors that one or more other Republicans were sounding out colleagues about the race. All credit to Byrnes for putting himself out there against the party establishment favorite. That takes guts.

O.Kay Henderson posted highlights from Upmeyer's remarks to reporters today, as well as the audio clip. Not known for showing a lot of emotions in public, Upmeyer's voice broke as she talked about her late father, Del Stromer, who served as House speaker during the 1980s. She doesn't sound inclined to change much about how Paulsen was running the lower chamber, but joked, "I use more words than Speaker Paulsen, and I will try to curb that temptation going forward."

Chris Hagenow will move up from majority whip to replace Upmeyer as majority leader, and Joel Fry will move from an assistant majority leader position to majority whip. Matt Windschitl will continue to serve as House speaker pro-tem. Hagenow told reporters that no one else sought the majority leader post. Bobby Kaufmann ran for majority whip.

Henderson quoted Byrnes as saying,

"I feel like I'm in that movie, Groundhog Day....It's the same leadership in the House, the same leadership in the Senate. It's the same governor and the parameters just feel like they're just set and we can't move from them. We need new ideas. We need new energy, we need to be able to accept other people's concepts and infuse those in and I hope that, you know, she can do that."

According to Byrnes, rank-and-file legislators are upset with missed deadlines, as the legislature has failed to set state school aid levels on time and met for weeks past its scheduled adjournment date. Byrnes also said Iowans are soured by the hyper-partisanship they see from statehouse politicians. [...]

Upmeyer told reporters she'll address the concerns Brynes raised.

"We never should be comfortable with where we're at," Upmeyer said. "We always should be striving for innovation and to do things smarter and better and so I absolutely applaud that."

No need for a lot of innovation here, Madam Speaker: just accept reasonable compromises instead of refusing to budge from your initial negotiating position, and approve school funding bills on time, as happened for a decade and a half before Iowa House Republicans decided to stop following state law a few years back.

After the jump I've enclosed official comments on the House leadership election from the Republican Party of Iowa and House Minority Leader Mark Smith, as well as a Facebook status update Byrnes posted after today's vote.

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Throwback Thursday: Curt Hanson's crucial Iowa House special election victory

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 13, 2015 at 21:00:00 PM CDT

Today is State Representative Curt Hanson's birthday. Six years ago at this time, he was in the thick of the first state legislative campaign following the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage equality. Hanson's win in a highly competitive House district was probably the second most important special election in recent Iowa history (after Liz Mathis's victory in November 2011, which protected the Democratic Iowa Senate majority).

Kicking off an occasional "throwback Thursday" series, Bleeding Heartland takes a look at Hanson's first campaign for the Iowa House.

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Update on the race to replace Kraig Paulsen as Iowa House speaker

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 12, 2015 at 09:57:12 AM CDT

Iowa House Republicans will meet in Des Moines on August 20 to choose a new speaker, Erin Murphy reported earlier this week. Outgoing Speaker Kraig Paulsen surprised mtost Iowa politics watchers when he announced last week that he will step down from leadership before next year's legislative session and will not seek re-election to the Iowa House in 2016.

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and State Representative Josh Byrnes quickly let it be known that they will run for speaker. The rumor mill expects another House Republican to seek the position, but to my knowledge, no one has gone public with that ambition. Several House members have not responded to my request for comment, including Representative Peter Cownie, who was rumored to be interested in the speaker's post two years ago. I've heard rumblings about Representative Guy Vander Linden, but speaking by phone on August 10, he told me, "I don't intend to run for speaker. I don't feel prepared to run for speaker." He said he undecided on whom he will support to replace Paulsen but inclined to back Upmeyer, because "continuity is important."

House Majority Whip Chris Hagenow is supporting Upmeyer for speaker and formally announced on Monday that he will seek the post of majority leader. Current House Speaker Pro-Tem Matt Windschitl is also backing Upmeyer and does not appear interested in moving up to majority leader.

According to the Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich, over the weekend WHO talk radio host Simon Conway referred to State Representative Walt Rogers (currently one of four assistant majority leaders) as "quite probably the next majority leader" of the Iowa House. However, Rogers told me he will not run for majority leader, because he's "having fun and working hard" with Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. Rogers was an early Santorum endorser during the last election cycle, and Santorum in turn supported Rogers' short-lived Congressional campaign.

Rogers declined to comment when I asked whether he will support Upmeyer for speaker.

As for whether Vander Linden might run for majority leader, he told me, "I haven't given it any serious consideration," adding, "I would give a politician's 'Never say never.'"

Governor Terry Branstad is wisely staying out of the speaker's race.

Spin your own scenarios in this thread, and please contact me if you know of another House Republican actively seeking the post of speaker or majority leader.  

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Joni Ernst confirms she won't endorse before the Iowa caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 08:40:04 AM CDT

The first Republican presidential debates did not affect U.S. Senator Joni Ernst's plans to remain neutral before the 2016 Iowa caucuses.  
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Preview of the coming Iowa House Republican leadership battle

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 06, 2015 at 10:02:24 AM CDT

Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election in 2016 and will step down from leadership before next year's legislative session. His surprise move kicks off what will be the most competitive leadership election within the House Republican caucus since colleagues elected Paulsen minority leader shortly after the 2008 general election.

Linda Upmeyer, a seven-term incumbent who has served as majority leader since 2011, immediately confirmed that she will run for speaker. She would be the first woman to lead the Iowa House, and to my knowledge, the first child of an Iowa legislative leader to follow a parent in that role. Upmeyer's father Del Stromer was House speaker for part of the 1980s.

She won't get Paulsen's job without a fight, though.  

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Where are they now? Mariannette Miller-Meeks edition

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 03, 2015 at 11:24:45 AM CDT

GOP county leaders in the second Congressional district elected Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks to the Republican Party of Iowa's State Central Committee on August 1, the Iowa GOP announced in a press release. An Army veteran and ophthalmologist, Miller-Meeks was the Republican challenger to Representative Dave Loebsack in IA-02 three times: in 2008, 2010, and 2014. She also served as director of the Iowa Department of Public Health in Governor Terry Branstad's administration from January 2011 to January 2014, when she stepped down in preparation for her third Congressional campaign. She currently lives in Ottumwa.

Although Miller-Meeks was not able to unseat Loebsack, she left a lasting mark on Iowa politics in at least one way. I am convinced that her coattails in the Ottumwa area pulled Mark Chelgren over the line in his 2010 Iowa Senate race against Democratic incumbent Keith Kreiman. Chelgren won that election by ten votes in a district considered so heavily Democratic that neither party spent any serious money there. Don't get me started on how Chelgren managed to win re-election last November. Democrats should have been able to get Iowa Senate district 41 back. Chelgren may be the GOP nominee against Loebsack in IA-02 next year.

The Iowa GOP just opened a field office in Ottumwa, signaling that Republicans view that part of southeast Iowa as fertile ground. Thanks in part to a strong history of organized labor at area factories, Ottumwa has traditionally supported Democratic candidates. In fact, Wapello County was one of just five Iowa counties to vote for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election as well as one of just four counties to vote for Bonnie Campbell in her 1994 gubernatorial race against Terry Branstad.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

State Senator Jason Schultz has a strange view of treachery

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 11, 2015 at 09:56:23 AM CDT

State Senator Jason Schultz weighed in last night on the controversy over Confederate flag displays: "I'm now convinced the whole Confederate flag issue is simply about progressives teaching the establishment R's how to jump through hoops."

During our ensuing dialogue, Schultz revealed the level of nuanced thinking and temperate choice of words one would expect from a Ted Cruz endorser.  

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Republicans, this is how to talk about the Confederate flag

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 07, 2015 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

While too many Republicans of national stature "tread carefully" in commenting on displays of the Confederate flag, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann provided a clinic this week on how to talk about the issue.
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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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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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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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Bye bye, Iowa straw poll

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 12, 2015 at 09:45:00 AM CDT

The Iowa GOP's State Central Committee voted this morning to cancel what has traditionally been a major event of the Republican caucus campaign. The straw poll will not be held in Boone this August after all. Despite efforts to change some features of the event to reduce the cost of participating to candidates, lack of interest from several top-tier Republican contenders forced the party's hand. Today's vote was unanimous, reflecting broad recognition that the straw poll might need to be sacrificed for the sake of the Iowa caucuses. Or as Governor Terry Branstad said more than a year and a half ago, the straw poll "has outlived its usefulness."

The next big "cattle call" for Republican presidential candidates in Iowa will be the Family Leadership Summit in Ames on July 18. Bob Vander Plaats' FAMiLY Leader organizes that event, which gives candidates a chance to address a large group of social conservatives without the risk of a poor showing in a straw poll. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Senator Marco Rubio were not planning to participate in the Iowa GOP's Boone event but have already confirmed their attendance at the Family Leadership Summit. Others who will be in Ames on July 18 include Dr. Ben Carson, former Senator Rick Santorum, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senator Ted Cruz. Santorum, Cruz, and Jindal all spoke at last year's Family Leadership Summit too, as did former Texas Governor Rick Perry (not yet confirmed for this year). Bleeding Heartland user natewithglasses wrote an entertaining post about last summer's event.

Fortunately for the throngs of national reporters covering the presidential candidates, it's not too long a drive from Cedar Rapids (where at least four Democratic presidential candidates will appear on July 17) to Ames for the FAMiLY Leader's event the next day.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. P.S. The demise of the straw poll is terrible news for the Central Iowa Expo venue in Boone, which has never been profitable and remains in deep financial trouble, with few events scheduled.

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Democratic, Republican parties taking steps to avoid another Iowa caucus reporting fiasco

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 10, 2015 at 11:30:49 AM CDT

The Iowa Democratic Party and Republican Party of Iowa jointly shared good news last week: "The 2016 Iowa caucus results will be delivered via a new, mobile-enabled, cloud-based platform that will allow for accurate, efficient and secure reporting on caucus night." After the jump I've enclosed the full statement, including more details on the technology.

Iowa politics watchers will be able to download apps that "will support each party's unique caucus process." The Iowa GOP collects paper ballots (of a sort) at precinct caucuses and releases statewide totals for caucus-goers who listed each presidential candidate as their first choice. The Iowa Democratic Party does not reveal how many caucus-goers preferred each presidential candidate, either as a first choice or after supporters of non-viable candidates realign. Rather, Democratic caucus results will show the number of county convention delegates (later converted to state delegate equivalents) for each candidate. Bleeding Heartland has previously described the sometimes complicated math for allocating county delegates.

Regardless of political affiliation, all Iowans will benefit from a smooth and accurate release of caucus results. The vote-counting fiasco from the 2012 Republican caucuses ended Matt Strawn's tenure as Iowa GOP chair. A repeat could jeopardize Iowa's place in the presidential nominating calendar, and it's easy to imagine a narrow margin of victory for whoever emerges from this year's crowded Republican field.

Although the 2016 Democratic caucuses are not likely to be as competitive, it's still valuable to remove any grounds to question the accuracy of the reporting. Some Democratic old-timers still suspect that party bosses manipulated the release of the 1988 caucus results to deny victory to Senator Paul Simon of Illinois.  

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Straw poll disaster shaping up for Iowa GOP (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 28, 2015 at 12:28:56 PM CDT

The August straw poll is traditionally the most-watched "cattle call" before the Iowa Republican caucuses and an important state GOP fundraiser.

Responding to criticism of past straw polls, the Republican Party of Iowa revamped this year's plans, hoping to encourage broad participation. However, signs point to most of the top-tier presidential candidates opting out.

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Weekend open thread: Des Moines pride and GOP clown car edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 17, 2015 at 10:57:51 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

According to Gallup's latest well-being survey of people in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, residents of the Des Moines metro area "are the most likely to say they are proud of their community," with some 76.5 percent of central Iowa respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with a statement about community pride. Gallup's write-up noted a correlation between that sentiment and feeling "safe and secure." A remarkable 85.7 percent of Des Moines area respondents said they "always feel safe and secure," a higher level than in any other metro area Gallup surveyed.

Washington Post reporter Philip Bump speculated, "The two proudest cities are in Iowa and S.C., because people love being fawned over by politicians." I really don't think so.

In the past few years, at least three dozen lists measuring quality of life or economic factors have put the Des Moines area in the top five or ten communities nationwide. Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has raved about some of the amenities our metro has to offer. Having lived in a couple of great American cities and a couple of great European cities, I moved back to the Des Moines area for the long haul. Although I am way more politically engaged than the average person, I wouldn't factor presidential candidate visits into a decision on where to raise my children.

Speaking of being fawned over by politicians, eleven declared or potential contenders for the presidency spoke at the Iowa GOP's Lincoln Dinner last night. Three declared candidates missed the event (former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz), as did at least a couple of others who are considering the presidential race (Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie). A dozen or more candidates will likely crowd the stage at GOP primary debates. My thoughts about the Lincoln Dinner speakers are coming in a future post. Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson wrote a good piece for the Washington Post on Republican insiders' growing anxiety about their large presidential field. Their sources included a heavyweight hated by many Iowa conservatives:

We're in a danger zone," said Doug Gross, a top Republican establishment figure in Iowa. "When the party poobahs put this process together, they thought they could telescope this to get us a nominee who could appeal to a broad cross-section of people. What we've got instead is a confederation of a lot of candidates who aren't standing out - and in order to stand out, you need to scream the loudest."

Speaking of people who stand out by screaming loudly, Representative Steve King posted a picture of himself yesterday with Dick and Betty Odgaard, who (in his words) were "targeted by LGBT activists/litigated out of 1man/1woman wedding business." False. Here's what really happened after the Odgaards refused to let a gay couple rent the Görtz Haus in Grimes for a wedding.  

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

While Iowa GOP levels playing field for underdogs, DNC gives them extra burden

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 07, 2015 at 13:25:14 PM CDT

Democrats in Iowa and nationally have been worried all year that a more competitive GOP presidential campaign will boost Republican organizing and enthusiasm going into the 2016 general election.

Yet this week, while the Iowa GOP announced plans to help long-shot presidential candidates be heard on equal footing, the Democratic National Committee sharply limited opportunities for voters to compare the whole presidential field side by side.  

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Weekend open thread: Tamara Scott ignorance edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 19, 2015 at 13:22:22 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

I just caught up on some recent remarks by Iowa's Republican National Committeewoman Tamara Scott. In addition to representing Iowa on the RNC, Scott lobbies the state legislature on behalf of Bob Vander Plaats' FAMiLY Leader organization and leads the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America, an influential group on the religious right. She was speaking at the FAMiLY Leader's southeast regional summit on April 9, an event four potential GOP presidential candidates attended. Scott used the Wiccan invocation that stirred controversy in the Iowa House to make a case for more public expressions of Christianity, including teaching the country's dominant religion in public schools. (Scott has frequently advocated school prayer and alleged that various societal problems stem from removing Christian prayers from public schools during the 1970s.) Miranda Blue covered the FAMiLY Leader regional summit speech for Right Wing Watch; some excerpts are after the jump. For video of all speeches from the regional summit, click here.

I am continually struck by how clueless social conservatives are about the separation of church and state. Though Scott does not acknowledge this legal reality, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from promoting any specific religious viewpoint. Every time a prominent Republican demands more government expressions and endorsements of Christianity, they are driving away Jews and probably members of other minority religious groups too, not to mention the growing number of Americans who do not identify with any religion.

In a fantastic column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Lynda Waddington offers her own Christian perspective on Scott's prayer for a storm to disrupt the Wiccan invocation. I've enclosed excerpts below, but you should click through to read the whole piece. All I can say is, that Cabot witch sure demonstrated some amazing powers.

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Stop pretending Donald Trump is a real presidential candidate

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 22:40:00 PM CDT

Donald Trump spent today in central Iowa, hanging out with Iowa House and Senate members at the state Capitol and speaking to college students in Indianola. I don't care how many "advisers" Trump hires here, and I don't care how many hints he drops about running for president (see video from his press conference). This guy is a publicity hound, not a serious candidate. His name recognition is sky-high, yet he drew support from only 1 percent of respondents in the last Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Republicans by Selzer & Co.

Reading Brianne Pfannenstiel's Des Moines Register story on Trump's event at Simpson College, it's clear the would-be candidate can't answer basic policy questions without turning the conversation back to himself. According to WHO-TV's report, Trump provided few policy details in Indianola. Anyone can promise to "end ObamaCare and replace it with something terrific," and promise to end America's debt crisis while increasing military spending. Show us the money.

The most interesting thing about Trump's pseudo-campaign is that the billionaire was able to hire Chuck Laudner. A legend on the Iowa GOP's social conservative wing, Laudner used to work for Representative Steve King, was active in the 2010 campaign against retaining three Iowa Supreme Court justices, ran Rick Santorum's 2012 Iowa caucuses effort, then led the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Sam Clovis. I wouldn't have pegged him for a Trump guy.

Speaking of Santorum, he's in Iowa again this week. But Laudner's decision to join Trump of all people is another sign that Santorum has little chance to repeat his strong Iowa caucus showing.  

Discuss :: (5 Comments)
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Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
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