Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Iowa Democrats are in a deep hole, controlling only 20 of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 41 of 100 in the House. On the plus side, strong candidate recruitment and a wave of Republican retirements are giving Democrats plenty of opportunities to pick up House seats. (The 2018 Iowa Senate map is less promising.)

Raising money can be challenging for leaders of a minority party, who don’t call the shots on legislation. Furthermore, Iowa Republicans have a natural advantage, since the policies they promote are often tailored to suit wealthy individuals or corporate interest groups. While money doesn’t always determine campaign outcomes, quite a few Democratic lawmakers and challengers lost in 2016 after being massively outspent on television commercials and direct mail (see here, here, and here for examples).

Yet the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.

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Republicans hope money will bail out lazy Peter Cownie in Iowa House district 42

Some Iowa statehouse Republicans are more extreme, more ignorant, more unhinged, more dishonest, or more mean-spirited than Peter Cownie.

But few lawmakers make less effort than Cownie to demonstrate that they deserve to be in a position of power.

A television commercial in heavy rotation on Des Moines stations doesn’t name even one legislative accomplishment from Cownie’s eight years in the Iowa House, including two years leading the State Government Committee and two as Commerce Committee chair. Cownie has rarely if ever knocked doors to talk to his constituents in West Des Moines. He doesn’t show up at many local public forums. He doesn’t consistently answer e-mails. He doesn’t follow through on some of his promises.

Recent campaign disclosure forms show the Iowa GOP has spent more than $300,000 on tv ads promoting Cownie or trashing his Democratic challenger, my friend Claire Celsi. Tens of thousands more went toward direct mail to benefit Cownie’s campaign.

Why did Republicans hit the panic button?

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Five reasons Chris Hagenow is worried about winning Iowa House district 43

The Republican Party has spent more than $400,000 defending Iowa House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow’s seat in the Des Moines suburbs, which he held by only 23 votes in the last presidential election cycle. Most of the money has bought television commercials, beginning six weeks ago and continuing in heavy rotation to the end.

Hagenow led with a ludicrous spot portraying himself as some kind of champion for education funding and the preschool program he voted to eliminate. He moved to a deceptive hit piece against Democratic challenger Jennifer Konfrst, followed by an ad touting his role in making EpiPens more widely available for kids. A second negative spot was a narrowly-focused attack on a tax lien Konfrst resolved many years ago–the height of hypocrisy, since Republican leaders were simultaneously funding the campaign of a House candidate with a much larger, still unpaid federal tax liability. In the last few days, local television stations have been running Hagenow’s initial positive ad, which misrepresents his record on education funding.

Hagenow is running scared, for good reason.

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Iowa GOP spends big money promoting House candidate with unpaid federal taxes

Fighting for his political life in a district that’s trending away from him, Iowa House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow has approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign spending on television commercials. Two spots have trashed his Democratic challenger Jennifer Konfrst over accounting errors that led to some overdue taxes. The first Hagenow hit piece was blatantly false. The second ad, now in heavy rotation on Des Moines stations, is more narrowly focused on a tax lien put on Konfrst’s home more than a decade ago.

Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann portrayed Konfrst as unfit to serve because she made a mistake calculating child care expenses. After hiding from early media inquiries about his commercial, Hagenow defended the ad last week, telling the Des Moines Register, “One of the biggest jobs we deal with (in the Legislature) is spending taxpayers’ dollars […] And our focus has always been to handle that as responsibly as possible.”

So why did House Republican leaders give their blessing for the Iowa GOP to spend more than $93,000 promoting Shannon Lundgren, a House candidate with a much larger federal tax liability that “remains unpaid”?

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The Medical Cannabis Debate in Dallas County, Iowa

Erin Miller shares her family’s experience with a rare medical condition at the Abram Mayhem blog. You can find her past contributions to Bleeding Heartland here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

This blog is specifically regarding medical cannabis and what happened during the recent debate in Iowa House district 19 between State Representative Ralph Watts and his opponent, Bryce Smith. Please watch the enclosed video first, then read the following story.

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