Weekend open thread: New Iowa Democratic Party leadership edition

Following a less acrimonious campaign than what unfolded in December and January, the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted yesterday for Troy Price to lead the party through 2018. Price brings a lot of relevant experience to the job. He worked in the Vilsack and Culver administrations and led the LGBT advocacy organization One Iowa during the 2010 election campaign, when conservatives targeted Iowa Supreme Court justices and other supporters of marriage equality. Later, he served as political director for Organizing for Iowa, was the Iowa Democratic Party’s executive director during the 2014 election cycle, and was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign before the 2016 caucuses.

Sentiment against Price was brewing in some private Facebook groups near the beginning of this short campaign for a new statewide party leader. Some activists distrusted him because he had worked for Clinton’s operation and was running Todd Prichard’s gubernatorial campaign until a couple of weeks ago. Those feelings didn’t gain steam, partly because unlike the last time, there was no “Bernie” candidate for state party chair this go around. Also, Price reached out personally to central committee members, and a few activists with clout vouched for him privately and publicly. Robert Becker, who ran the Sanders campaign in Iowa, posted on Friday that Price would be an “outstanding” chair. Jon Neiderbach, the only gubernatorial candidate who was a public supporter of Sanders for president, didn’t endorse anyone to lead the party but said he was confident Price would be even-handed if elected.

I was disappointed to learn that some prominent labor union leaders and supporters conducted a whispering campaign against Julie Stauch, Price’s main rival in this race. The backstory here is a mystery to me; I’ve known Stauch for more than 20 years and never seen any sign that she isn’t staunchly pro-labor. Unions are a powerful constituency within the Iowa Democratic Party, providing financial support and sometimes endorsements that influence primaries. It would be helpful for labor leaders to stick to the case for their preferred candidate, instead of making up reasons not to support someone else. More than a few state central committee members were turned off by the negative campaigning against Stauch, who handled the situation with class.

CORRECTION: It was more than a whispering campaign. A reader pointed me to this public thread in which Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro said, “Labor is with Troy, we have no time to waste,” and AFSMCE’s longtime President Danny Homan added, “The only hope for the IDP is Troy Price.” Pressed on their reasoning, Wawro and Homan both mentioned Price being at the Capitol during debates over key anti-labor legislation this year–as if Iowa Democrats who were not physically at the statehouse on those days don’t share the same views. That kind of litmus test won’t be helpful as Price tries to build bridges between different party factions.

I enclose below more links on the State Central Committee meeting and Price’s top priorities as state chair.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Readers who want to help select the Democratic nominee for governor should block out Monday, February 5, 2018 on your calendars. The precinct caucuses held that evening will select delegates to county conventions, which on March 24 will select delegates to the district and state conventions. If no gubernatorial candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in next year’s primary, the state convention delegates will choose a nominee on June 16. John Deeth has more to say on next year’s caucus-to-convention process.

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Iowa House censored video of public hearing on voter ID bill

The topic at hand was supposed to be Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert announcing that he may run for Iowa secretary of state in 2018. In a March 19 press release, Weipert said, “I’ve been meeting with auditors of both parties across the state, and there’s wide agreement we need new leadership in the Secretary of State’s Office. […] We should be helping people vote, not making it harder.” Auditors are the top election administrators in Iowa’s 99 counties. Weipert has been an outspoken critic of Secretary of State Paul Pate’s proposal to enact new voter ID and signature verification requirements. The Republican-controlled Iowa House approved a version of Pate’s bill earlier this month.

Weipert has argued voter ID would disenfranchise some voters and create long lines at polling places. While working on a post about his possible challenge to Pate, I intended to include footage from the Johnson County auditor’s remarks at the March 6 public hearing on House File 516. I’d watched the whole hearing online. However, I couldn’t find Weipert anywhere in the video the Iowa House of Representatives posted on YouTube and on the legislature’s website.

Upon closer examination, I realized the official record of that hearing omitted the testimony of sixteen people, including Weipert.

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Difficulty and danger for transgender Iowa voters

One Iowa explains why the Republican voter ID bill would threaten voting rights for transgender Iowans. -promoted by desmoinesdem

House File 516, a bill that will make photo identification a requirement for voters at the polls, is on the Iowa House floor for debate today. This bill may seem innocuous on the surface, but in fact disenfranchises many Iowa voters like people of color, people with disabilities, elderly people, and many others in the name of solving a problem (supposed voter fraud) that does not exist. Many of those people are also part of the LGBTQ community, and at One Iowa, we’re appalled that this bill would make it more difficult for them to take part in our democracy and exercise their right to vote.

Another group of voters who will face unique challenges because of this policy are transgender Iowans. Requiring a photo ID at the polls will cultivate an environment that will not only make it difficult for many transgender Iowans to vote, but potentially dangerous as well.

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Iowa’s Outdated Medicaid Ban Fails Transgender Iowans

Thanks to One Iowa executive director Donna Red Wing for explaining a little-known problem for transgender Iowans. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Amerigroup, one of Iowa’s private Medicaid providers, agreed last month to cover gender-affirming surgery for Andrew Evans, a transgender Iowa man and client of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

While we are happy Evans will receive the surgery he needs, we realize that it means only one thing: Evans’ surgery will be covered. The Medicaid provider refused to acknowledge the medical necessity of the surgery, instead agreeing to coverage in order to “amicably resolve” the situation. In plain English, they didn’t want to tangle with the ACLU.

Exclusions for transgender surgery and other trans-related health care continue. Iowa’s Medicaid ban on transition-related surgeries remains.

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