[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

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.
- desmoinesdem
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2015
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2015
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- Absentee ballot numbers
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 12
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 29
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 8
- House district 15
- House district 25
- House district 26
- House district 28
- House district 30
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 40
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 63
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 82
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99

Advanced Search

Paid Advertising

Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.
Leonard Boswell

Weekend open thread: Neal Smith memories edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 10:12:16 AM CDT

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

The Polk County Democrats' spring awards dinner on Friday night exceeded all expectations. Hordes of journalists showed up to cover speeches by former U.S. Senator Jim Webb and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. I enjoyed both speeches and have posts in progress on their messages. C-SPAN put up video of both speeches here.

You had to be there to experience the evening's other high points. Beautiful videos honored the memories of veterans who died overseas and three legendary local Democratic supporters who passed away during the past year (including Paulee Lipsman). Tireless Urbandale volunteer and letter-to-the-editor writer Rick Smith was recognized for his activism. Before Webb and O'Malley spoke, Iowa Democrats honored Representative Neal Smith, who represented Polk County in Congress from 1959 to 1985. Unfortunately, Smith couldn't be present, having suffered a minor injury last week. He sent a letter to be read on his behalf, while former Senator Tom Harkin shared memories by videotape and Representative Leonard Boswell told the crowd a few of his favorite stories about Smith. After the jump I've listed six new things I learned on Friday about the longest-serving member of the U.S. House in Iowa history.

In 2012, Smith sat down with Polk County Democratic Party Chair Tom Henderson to reflect on his life and long political career. Those videos are well worth your time: part 1 and part 2.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 385 words in story)

The case for each candidate for Iowa Democratic Party chair

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 16, 2015 at 11:36:07 AM CST

State Central Committee members of the Iowa Democratic Party meet tomorrow to choose a new state chair for the next election cycle. Four candidates are seeking the job: Dr. Andy McGuire, Kurt Meyer, Jim Mowrer, and Tim Tracy. The competition itself is a welcome change from the Iowa Democratic Party's standard operating procedure. For as long as I can remember, the State Central Committee has never considered multiple candidates for state chair. Members have merely rubber-stamped the choice of Senator Tom Harkin or the Democratic governor at the time.

Bleeding Heartland asked each of the candidates to make their best case for becoming the next Iowa Democratic leader. Some party insiders have also shared e-mail correspondence sent to State Central Committee members on behalf of one or the other candidates. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, Attorney General Tom Miller, Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and former Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03) are among those who endorsed McGuire. Former Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach has urged party leaders to pick Mowrer.

After the jump I've enclosed the arguments for choosing McGuire, Meyer, Mowrer, or Tracy (listed in alphabetical order). I don't know any of them well, but I've met each of them and think highly of all. If I were on the State Central Committee, I would lean toward Meyer. The party needs a full-time chair, rather than a leader who would have to juggle those duties with another job. Moreover, I think choosing another Des Moines insider with the strongest connections to VIPs and major donors sends a "business as usual" message. Bleeding Heartland 2laneIA raised another concern about McGuire: she is a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton for president. It would be healthier for the Iowa caucuses if party leaders remained neutral before a nominee is determined. Although I don't expect any strong competition for Clinton here, I wouldn't want other potential candidates to fear the state party will stack the deck against them.

We need the state Democratic leader to focus on building the party up at the county level. All of the candidates talked about that in their presentations to the State Central Committee. But Meyer has done the most work in the trenches, organizing and motivating activists in several northern Iowa counties. That work contributed to Mitchell County being the whitest county in the U.S. to vote for Barack Obama (and Howard County the fifth-whitest to favor Obama over Mitt Romney), as well as to State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm's narrow victory over Republican Senator Merlin Bartz in 2012. Without Wilhelm, there's no Iowa Senate majority. Mowrer and McGuire have strong records on fundraising too, but I don't see fundraising as the most urgent task for the Iowa Democratic Party right now.

There's More... :: (10 Comments, 4503 words in story)

Veterans Day links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 21:16:43 PM CST

November 11 was first celebrated as "Armistice Day" in 1919 and became a national holiday in 1926. Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954. Any thoughts about military service or veterans issues are welcome in this thread.

Earlier this year, the Iowa legislature approved several bills supporting Governor Terry Branstad's Home Base Iowa Initiative. Some details are after the jump. Branstad himself is a veteran, and he tapped former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell to co-chair the initiative.

The decline of veterans in Congress continues. Thirty years ago, about a third of the members of Congress had military experience. But only 81 of the 435 newly-elected members of the House of Representatives and thirteen of the 100 U.S. Senators have served or are serving in the U.S. military. No one in Iowa's incoming U.S. House delegation has served in the military, although several have veterans in their immediate families. Outgoing U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is a veteran, and his successor, Joni Ernst, is a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

Seven of the 50 people who will serve in the Iowa Senate next year have military experience: Democrats Jeff Danielson, Tom Courtney, Dick Dearden, Bill Dotzler, and Wally Horn, and Republicans Bill Anderson and Jason Schultz (just elected to the Senate for the first time after several terms in the state House).

Of the 100 people just elected to the Iowa House, nineteen have military experience. The Republican veterans who were just re-elected are Dwayne Alons, Stan Gustafson, John Landon, Dave Maxwell, Kraig Paulsen, Sandy Salmon, Quentin Stanerson, Guy Vander Linden, Matt Windschitl, and Dave Heaton. Five Republican veterans were just elected to the Iowa House for the first time: Darrel Branhagen, Ken Rizer, Zach Nunn, John Wills, and Steve Holt. Four House Democrats who are veterans were just re-elected too: Dennis Cohoon, Jerry Kearns, Todd Prichard, and Brian Meyer. Retiring House Republicans Steve Olson and Tom Shaw are also veterans, as is retiring House Democrat Roger Thomas.

Many Iowa lawmakers have immediate family members who either served in the military or are doing active duty.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 234 words in story)

IA-03: Appel hits back on latest attack ad

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 09:51:00 AM CDT

Over the weekend, Staci Appel's Congressional campaign released a new television commercial responding to Republican claims that she is weak on fighting terrorists. I've enclosed the video and transcript after the jump. From a statement accompanying the ad release:

"Our campaign is not going to stand by and let David Young's Washington cronies play politics with national security in a desperate attempt to save his sagging campaign," said Appel Campaign Manager Ben Miller. "David Young should join former Congressman Boswell, veterans across the 3rd district and others in renouncing this ridiculous and over-the-top idea that an Iowa mother of six thinks terrorists should have passports."

Obviously, David Young will do no such thing. He must be grateful that while his campaign suspends its own advertising (presumably for lack of funds), the National Republican Congressional Committee has picked up the slack. Their charge has occupied the media space for nearly a week, putting Appel on the defensive. Every spot she runs responding to the NRCC's charge represents air time she can't spend promoting her own positive message.

Research on the media's role in "agenda-setting" and "priming" suggests that when there is extensive news coverage on a particular topic, the public may be more likely to evaluate candidates in that context. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner Appel can get back to talking about bread and butter economic issues, the better. I understand the need to respond to a false charge, but she needs voters to make up their minds based on domestic policy issues that play to Young's weaknesses.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 202 words in story)

IA-03: Republicans try oldest trick in the book against Staci Appel

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 14:42:37 PM CDT

UPDATE: Appel's response ad is here.

For decades, Republicans have tried to win elections by painting Democrats--especially Democratic women--as soft on crime or weak on national defense. So no one should be surprised by the smear at the heart of the National Republican Congressional Committee's latest attack on Staci Appel in Iowa's third district. Taking out of context comments Appel made during her first debate with David Young, the NRCC is claiming Appel supports "passports for terrorists."

Background and details are after the jump, along with the latest ads from both sides. Politico's "Morning Score" reported on September 18 that David Young's campaign has "gone dark"--not airing any television commercials--for the time being. It's not clear whether the Young campaign is running short of funds or simply taking a break while the NRCC does the heavy lifting. Typically candidates will run positive ads while outside groups run attacks. The NRCC already has a positive spot running about Young as well as the misleading ad they've launched against Appel.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1733 words in story)

Iowa legislative news roundup: dead and alive after the second funnel

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 13:59:29 PM CDT

The Iowa legislature's second "funnel" deadline passed late last week. To remain eligible for debate during the remainder of this year's session, most legislation needed to have passed one chamber as well as a committee in the other chamber. There are a few exceptions to the rule, namely appropriations bills and some tax measures. Rod Boshart listed the most significant "dead" and "alive" bills for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The Iowa House Republican staff compiled a more comprehensive list of "second funnel survivors," including bill summaries. The Iowa Senate Democratic staff highlighted the most important bills passed by the Senate that died in the House.

After the jump I've enclosed more links and some analysis on bills that died as well as those still under consideration. From my perspective, the most surprising casualty of the funnel was a bill to extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children (see the "safety and crime" section below).

Any comments on pending legislation in the Iowa House or Senate are welcome in this thread.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2010 words in story)

Branstad names Leonard Boswell to Iowa Transportation Commission

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CST

Yesterday Governor Terry Branstad appointed former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell to the Iowa Transportation Commission. Boswell will replace former Iowa Senator Tom Rielly, whom the governor named to the commission in 2013. According to the press release I've posted after the jump, Rielly "resigned from the commission due to a business-related conflict of interest."

Boswell served in the Iowa Senate during much of Branstad's previous tenure as governor. During this year's Condition of the State address, Branstad recognized Boswell for his work co-chairing the governor's "Home Base Iowa" initiative to attract more veterans to Iowa.

While serving in Congress, Boswell rightly called attention to the poor condition of many roads and bridges across the state and in the Des Moines metro area. From my perspective, he was too eager to support some new road construction projects that were potentially harmful and not justified by traffic flows. But without question, he is knowledgeable about Iowa's infrastructure needs and qualified to serve on the transportation commission.

I'll be curious to see whether Iowa Senate Republicans put up a fight against Boswell. To be confirmed, he will need support not only from the 26 Senate Democrats but also from at least eight of the upper chamber's 24 Republicans. Last year, Republicans resisted confirming their former Democratic colleague Tom Rielly to the transportation commission, prompting Branstad to withdraw the nomination during the legislative session and appoint Rielly on an interim basis after lawmakers had adjourned for the year.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 244 words in story)

Highlights from Branstad's 2014 Condition of the State address

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 12:47:35 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad delivered his annual "Condition of the State" address to Iowa lawmakers this morning. By Branstad's standards, it was not a partisan speech. He drew several standing ovations from legislators in both parties, and it's easy to imagine the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate embracing most of the policies he advocated. In fact, immediately after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told Iowa Public Television's Dean Borg that he "didn't hear anything" he disagreed with. Gronstal did get in a quick jab at the governor, though, pointing out that Branstad hailed "predictability" for the state budget, which is what statehouse Democrats are seeking for school districts. During the last two years, House Republicans and Branstad have refused to comply with Iowa law requiring the legislature to set allowable growth levels for K-12 school districts a year in advance.

Highlights from the governor's speech are after the jump. Click here to read the full text, as prepared. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Stylistic note: for a guy who's been in politics as long as Branstad has, he keeps his eyes glued to his script a lot. Experienced public speakers typically make more eye contact with the audience.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 675 words in story)

IA-Gov: Leonard Boswell, 14 legislators endorse Jack Hatch (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 19:55:00 PM CDT

State Senator Jack Hatch's campaign released a list of prominent Iowa endorsers today, including eight-term U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell, eight Iowa Senate Democrats (Dennis Black, Joe Bolkcom, Tom Courtney, Dick Dearden, Matt McCoy, Steve Sodders, Joe Seng, and Rich Taylor), and six Iowa House Democrats (Ako Abdul-Samad, Marti Anderson, John Forbes, Ruth Ann Gaines, Bruce Hunger, and Frank Wood). Several of those lawmakers stood with Hatch during his statewide tour last month to announce his candidacy. Others had not taken a public stand in the governor's race before today, to my knowledge.

I've posted the Hatch campaign's press release after the jump. Boswell and several of the endorsers cited Hatch's experience and record of legislative accomplishments, themes I expect to hear repeatedly during the next eight months. Hatch's main Democratic primary competition, State Representative Tyler Olson, has support from more than two dozen state lawmakers but doesn't have nearly as much legislative experience. Nor is he known for doing the heavy lifting on many bills that have become law.

This comment from Senator Tom Courtney jumped out at me from today's press release: "Anyone can floor manage a bill passed out of another chamber or sign on as a co-sponsor to an existing bill, but Jack has shown real leadership throughout his time in public service - creating new ideas, finding allies, drafting legislation, and fighting to see it succeed in the legislative process." I read that as a subtle swipe at Olson, because his major legislative accomplishment was floor-managing the public smoking ban in 2008--a cause initially pushed by other legislators, including Janet Petersen and Staci Appel. Highlighting Hatch's "new ideas" is also an implicit rebuttal to Olson's promise to provide "fresh leadership" for the next 30 years.

Any comments about the governor's race are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: Added details below on the Hatch campaign's steering committee.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 561 words in story)

IA-Sen: Previewing Braley's case to Iowa voters

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 14:05:00 PM CDT

Representative Bruce Braley's campaign for the U.S. Senate has steadily rolled out endorsements this month. Eight labor unions have backed Braley's Senate bid so far, joined today by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.

Since Braley lacks any competition in the Democratic primary, these endorsements aren't newsworthy at face value. However, a closer look at the announcements points to five major themes the Braley campaign will highlight over the next 19 months.

UPDATE: Added a sixth theme below.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2186 words in story)

Iraq War 10th anniversary links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 16:32:00 PM CDT

Ten years ago, President George W. Bush made the disastrous mistake of taking this country to war against Iraq. I've posted some links about the costs and casualties of war after the jump.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread. I appreciate the work and commitment of those who tried to derail the speeding train toward invasion, and of those who protested the war after it began. I did nothing to stop the war in Iraq--just sat in a rocking chair cradling a new baby, feeling horrified while watching the news on television.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1847 words in story)

Iowa Congressional voting on the environment: Not a pretty picture

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:55:00 AM CST

The future of Iowa's Congressional representation is not encouraging, judging from the latest League of Conservation Voters' scorecard.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1662 words in story)

IA-Sen: Loebsack endorses Braley (updated with Boswell)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:41:34 PM CST

The Iowa Democratic establishment continues to consolidate around Representative Bruce Braley for the open U.S. Senate seat. Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) posted on his Facebook page this morning,

Bruce, I'm in.

I'm proud to endorse Bruce Braley. We need someone in the U.S. Senate who'll continue Tom Harkin's legacy of fighting to strengthen the middle class and speaking out for those who don't have a voice. I'm pleased to stand with him.

Looking forward to seeing you tonight at the Red, White, and Blue dinner!

We need someone who will continue Harkin's legacy of speaking some unpopular truths, such as pointing out that a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget "would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and many other crucial programs" the middle class rely on. Sadly, we won't hear that message from either Braley or Loebsack in the years to come.

UPDATE: Added the Braley for Iowa press release below.

SECOND UPDATE: Former Representative Leonard Boswell chimed in with his endorsement on January 18. I've posted it below. He praised Braley as "a tireless advocate for Iowa's veterans." That was a strong theme in Braley's latest re-election campaign.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 583 words in story)

IA-03: Democrats recruiting whom? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:20:00 AM CST

The well-informed Shira Toeplitz reported this week at Roll Call that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have a challenger to ten-term Republican Representative Tom Latham in Iowa's third Congressional district.

I figured that before too long, Democrats would float some possible candidates for IA-03 in 2014. I didn't figure that the leading recruit would be someone I'd never heard of.

There's More... :: (47 Comments, 888 words in story)

Boswell dropping defamation case against Fallon

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 15:26:42 PM CST

Representative Leonard Boswell is dropping his defamation lawsuit against his 2008 Democratic primary challenger Ed Fallon, both sides confirmed today.  
There's More... :: (6 Comments, 177 words in story)

Long weekend open thread, with inauguration and MLK links

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:15:00 AM CST

What's on your mind this long weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. I posted some links below to get a conversation going.

UPDATE: Scroll down for excerpts from the inaugural speech and some reaction from Iowa political figures.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 3021 words in story)

Year-end Congressional scramble discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:20:00 AM CST

Members of Congress are in Washington today trying to make last-minute deals to avoid supposedly dire consequences on January 1. So far it appears likely that some kind of one-year extension of current farm policies will pass in order to avoid a huge price spike for milk and problems for agricultural producers. UPDATE: A nine-month farm bill extension was added to the fiscal cliff bill.

Lots of plans are floating around to deal with the so-called "fiscal cliff": Bush income tax cuts (last extended for two years in December 2010) are set to expire, along with lower payroll tax and estate tax rates. Meanwhile, various budget cuts are due to go into effect in January, including a "sequester" of federal spending on defense and other programs but also lower Medicare payments to doctors. At this point, I would be surprised if we don't go over the cliff, and I agree with Senator Tom Harkin that no deal is better than a bad deal.

I will update this post throughout the day and evening with news on Congressional voting. After the jump I've enclosed some links on the latest proposals floating around the Capitol. Tremendous hypocrisy is on display. If deficit hawks believed their own propaganda, they would embrace higher taxes and lower spending to solve this supposedly dire threat to the U.S. economy. UPDATE: More news is below.

There's More... :: (10 Comments, 3948 words in story)

Grassley yes, Harkin no on five more years of warrantless wiretapping

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 12:50:00 PM CST

The U.S. Senate voted today to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for five more years, allowing "electronic eavesdropping" without a warrant to continue in the U.S. and abroad. President Barack Obama (who at one time opposed the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping policy) will sign the bill sometime before the end of December 31. Follow me after the jump for details on the Senate voting, including how Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley voted on various amendments.

When the U.S. House approved this bill in September, four of the five Iowans voted yes: Democrats Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) and Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Democrat Bruce Braley (IA-01) was among 118 House members to oppose the bill.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1164 words in story)

Iowa Congressional voting roundup: Defense bill and budget cuts

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 20:23:19 PM CST

Iowa's five representatives all voted no intended to vote no as the U.S. House approved the conference committee report on the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act today. UPDATE: Steve King meant to vote no but mistakenly voted yes. Details below.

The Iowans split on party lines over a bill designed to replace the "sequester" scheduled for early next year with deep spending cuts in non-defense domestic programs.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders retreated from a planned vote on House Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B" to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the calendar year.

Follow me after the jump for details on all of the above.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3416 words in story)

Obama willing to trade big Social Security cuts for token tax hikes

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:20:00 AM CST

After reportedly ruling out an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, President Barack Obama has offered House Speaker John Boehner a new deal to avoid a combination of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to go into effect at year-end.

Obama's latest offer involves painful Social Security cuts for the poor and middle class but tax increases only for people who won't notice the difference, because they make more than $400,000 per year. This kind of bargain is exactly what Senator Tom Harkin has been warning against when he's said "no deal is better than a bad deal."  

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 665 words in story)
Next >>

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Blog For Iowa
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowa Starting Line
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
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

Powered by: SoapBlox