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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2013

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 13:18:54 PM CST

The Iowa legislature's 2013 session opened today. After the jump I've posted details on the Iowa Senate majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Senate committees. Where relevant, I've noted changes since last year. Click here for a similar post on the new Iowa House.

Democrats hold a 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber. The huge experience gap between the Iowa Senate caucuses is striking. Only seven of the 24 Republicans have served as lawmakers in either the House or Senate for more than four years, whereas 19 of the 26 Democrats have more than four years of legislative service. Click here for details on the tenure of all 50 Iowa senators.

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Democrats have failed to convey the importance of the Iowa Senate

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:41:11 AM CST

On one level, yesterday's special election in Iowa Senate district 22 was no surprise. One would expect a Republican victory in a district with a large GOP voter registration advantage, where Republicans spent far more money and only the Republican candidate ran television commercials.

On the other hand, the special election loss is a big red flag that Iowa Democrats have failed to communicate how crucial it is to hold their narrow Senate majority.

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Iowa Senate district 22 election day news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 17:13:57 PM CST

Voters in Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and about half of West Des Moines will elect a successor to State Senator Pat Ward today in Iowa Senate district 22. Ward's untimely death in October forced this special election between Republican Charles Schneider and Democrat Desmund Adams. Follow me after the jump for early vote numbers and news from the campaign trail.

UPDATE: Unofficial results from Polk County show Schneider won 2865 votes and Adams 2712 votes. The Dallas County precincts have not reported yet, but they are more Republican-leaning, so it's safe to say Schneider won this special election.

SECOND UPDATE: Schneider won by 5,371 votes to 4,117 (56.56 percent to 43.36 percent). Huge opportunity for Iowa Democrats lost here.  

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Huge experience gap between Iowa Senate Democrats and Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:55:00 AM CST

Democrats will hold a slim majority in the next Iowa Senate: most likely 26-24 or 27-23, depending on the outcome of one recount and one special election in December. But the experience gap between the two parties' caucuses is wider than I've ever seen, and perhaps unprecedented.

Only five Republicans who will serve in the next Iowa Senate have more than four years experience in the legislature's upper chamber. Most of the old hands aren't on the GOP leadership team. By comparison, eighteen Senate Democrats have held that office for more than four years. Thirteen of those have served in the upper chamber for at least a decade.

Many newcomers to the Iowa Senate have helped oversee public-sector budgets and programs as county supervisors, mayors, or members of city councils and school boards. Nevertheless, new legislators have a steep learning curve because state government is more complex than local government, and Iowa House and Senate members consider a wider range of issues during a typical legislative session. Whereas eleven Senate Democrats previously served in the Iowa House, only three sitting Republicans came to the Senate with that background. If the GOP had gained control of the upper chamber in this year's elections, they would have been forced to put quite a few rookies in charge of standing committees.

After the jump I've posted details on the tenure of all incoming Iowa Senate members, indicating members of each party's leadership team and past service in the Iowa House.

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Charles Schneider is the GOP candidate in Iowa Senate district 22

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 10:50:00 AM CST

West Des Moines City Council member Charles Schneider will face Democrat Desmund Adams in the December 11 special election to fill Iowa Senate district 22. Six Republicans sought the nomination at a special district convention last night: Schneider, former West Des Moines School Board president John Ward (the widower of Senator Pat Ward), Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena, longtime GOP activist Connie Schmett, high school teacher Greg Hudson, and former Waukee City Council member Isaiah McGee, who now works for the Iowa Department of Education. About 60 Republican delegates from the district elected Schneider on the second ballot using a convoluted procedure for allocating votes to each candidate. McGee placed second, Ward third.

Senate district 22 covers the Des Moines suburbs of Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and parts of West Des Moines. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that 12,633 registered Democrats, 17,184 Republicans, and 15,097 no-party voters live in the district. Those totals do not include any voters who registered on election day.

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Where things stand in the Iowa Senate races

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:51:34 AM CST

Democrats are assured of maintaining their majority in the Iowa Senate, with one race headed for a recount and another to be decided in a December 11 special election.
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Four strategies for interest group Iowa legislative endorsements

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 07:47:54 AM CST

Many candidates for the Iowa House and Senate tout endorsements by outside groups in their campaign communications. Some of those groups pay for direct mail, phone calls, or even advertising supporting their endorsed candidates.

Iowa's influential political action committees and advocacy groups have very different ways of getting involved in the state legislative campaign. Follow me after the jump for examples of four distinct strategies.

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Iowa House district 43: Chris Hagenow is worried

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 06:50:00 AM CDT

In a sure sign that Republicans consider House district 43 competitive, State Representative Chris Hagenow's campaign is spending tens of thousands of dollars on television commercials attacking his Democratic challenger Susan Judkins. The ads repeat several messages a Republican push-poll used against Judkins earlier this fall. My transcript and description of the commercial is after the jump. Bleeding Heartland previewed the House district 43 race here.
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Republicans push-polling for Hagenow in Iowa House district 43

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:47:59 AM CDT

A push-polling campaign with live telephone interviewers is underway in Iowa House district 43, where two-term Republican State Representative Chris Hagenow faces Democrat Susan Judkins. Following my own advice, I took detailed notes on last night's call.

UPDATE: I am hearing reports of similar push-polls against John Forbes, Democratic candidate in House district 40, and John Phoenix, Democratic candidate in House district 38. If you have received these calls or push-polls targeting other Democratic House candidates, please let me know: desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com. If you get one of these calls, take notes if possible, and don't be afraid to ask the caller to repeat the question.

SECOND UPDATE: Mark Blumenthal explained the difference between a real opinion survey and a push-poll on his Mystery Pollster blog. Whereas a real poll is designed to collect data from respondents and measure opinions, a push-poll is all about spreading negative information about a political opponent to as many people as possible, under the deceptive guise of conducting a survey.

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Obama pushes early voting, but only for himself

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:15:00 AM CDT

Getting out the vote early was a major theme of President Barack Obama's campaign rallies in Urbandale and Sioux City yesterday. Democratic candidates for other offices need a strong early vote as well, but there's no sign the president is concerned about electing Democrats up and down the ticket.
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First look at the Obama and Romney ground games in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 06:45:00 AM CDT

At this time four years ago, Barack Obama's campaign had about 30 field offices up and running in Iowa, compared to six offices for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Obama's campaign has had eight Iowa field offices open this summer and is rolling out another 26 offices around Iowa this weekend. So far, Mitt Romney's campaign has ten Iowa field offices, in addition to the unified Republican headquarters in Urbandale.

After the jump, I compare the field office locations for each presidential campaign, grouped by Iowa Congressional district. Where relevant, I've also noted competitive Iowa House and Senate districts near the Obama and Romney field offices, although I doubt either presidential campaign will do much for down-ticket Democratic or Republican candidates.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Red, white and blue edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 18:05:00 PM CDT

Happy 4th of July to the Bleeding Heartland community! I am celebrating the occasion with photos of red, white, and blue Iowa wildflowers. Click "there's more" to view oswego tea, white snakeroot, and blue vervain.

The heat has been oppressive across Iowa lately. This afternoon I felt sorry for everyone in the Windsor Heights July 4 parade, including Representative Tom Latham, Representative Leonard Boswell, State Representative Chris Hagenow, his Democratic challenger Susan Judkins, and Democratic Iowa Senate candidate Desmund Adams.

I hope everyone stays safe and hydrated, and I am thinking of the veterans for whom today is a difficult holiday.

This is an open thread.

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Iowa primary election day links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 07:57:27 AM CDT

Polls are now open in Iowa's primary elections across the state and will close at 9 pm.

Any comments about Iowa races for Congress, state legislative, or county offices are welcome in this thread. I've posted lots of links after the jump to get the conversation going. I also extended the deadline for entering the primary election prediction contest.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2012 Iowa primary election prediction contest

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 31, 2012 at 06:55:00 AM CDT

Iowa primary elections are coming up next Tuesday, so it's time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. A dozen questions are after the jump. There are so many competitive Iowa House and Senate primaries that it was difficult for me to choose. I tried to achieve some geographical balance and cover different types of primaries (open-seat races vs. challenges to incumbents, safe seats for one party vs. swing districts).

To enter the contest, post your predictions as comments in this thread before 7 am 6 pm on June 5. Predictions submitted by e-mail will not be considered. It's ok to change your mind, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before the deadline.

No money's at stake here, just bragging rights. This isn't like "The Price is Right"; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low. Even if you have no idea, please try to take a guess on every question.

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Weekend open thread: Candidate filing deadline edition

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 20:26:59 PM CDT

I'm posting the weekend thread early, because the filing period for primary election candidates in Iowa closed this afternoon. The Secretary of State's Office posted the full list of candidates here (pdf). John Deeth has been covering the filing on a daily basis all month at his blog. Some highlights from races I'm watching are after the jump.

This is an open thread; all topics welcome.

UPDATE: Gotta agree with Senator Chuck Grassley: the History Channel is useless.

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Weekend open thread: 2012 Iowa county conventions edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 17:38:35 PM CST

The Iowa Democratic Party and Republican Party of Iowa held county conventions today. After the jump I've posted some notes on where Iowa politicians and candidates spent the day, and which Democrats addressed the Polk County Democratic convention. I left the convention during the lunch break, because delegates had finished most of the day's business, including all work on the platform. However, the Polk County Republican convention was still going strong at this writing (around 5 pm).

This is an open thread; all topics welcome, especially county convention stories from today or years past.

Rick Santorum destroyed the competition in today's Kansas caucuses, winning 52 percent of the vote to 21 percent for Mitt Romney, 14 percent for Newt Gingrich and 13 percent for Ron Paul. Romney swept the delegates at stake yesterday and today in the Guam and Northern Marianas Islands caucuses. Romney also won the Wyoming caucuses and most of the delegates from the Virgin Islands.

BONUS POTENTIAL FLAMEWAR TOPIC: Kevin Drum makes a counter-intuitive case: Return of the Jedi is the best Star Wars movie, especially if you take out the 10 minutes of horrific Ewok sequences. Thoughts?

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Pat Ward confirms re-election bid in Iowa Senate district 22

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 10:58:13 AM CST

It's been years since a pro-choice moderate Republican represented any Iowa House and Senate district in the Des Moines suburbs. In this June's GOP primary in Senate district 22, we'll find out whether a mainstream Republican stands a chance against a loud voice on the party's social conservative wing.
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Competitive GOP primary coming in Iowa Senate district 22

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

Two-term State Senator Pat Ward will face at least one Republican primary challenger in the new Iowa Senate district 22, covering Waukee, Clive, Windsor Heights and part of West Des Moines. The lead pastor at a large Waukee church announced his candidacy yesterday.
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Weekend open thread: Digesting the Iowa map

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:22:45 AM CDT

Iowa legislators from both parties seem ready to approve the redistricting plan offered by the Legislative Services Agency on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, whose Council Bluffs district barely changed, encouraged colleagues  to take a "cold, hard look" at the map, since the second offering "may not be as good." Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley's weekly e-mail blast spoke favorably about the redistricting process. Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, who was thrown into House district 8 with two other Republican representatives, said, "The next map might be something less desirable." The Associated Press reported that "one of the potential rivals is retiring and the other laying plans to run for the senate." House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy described the map as a "a wash, with good and bad on both sides."

Two factors are pushing lawmakers to accept the plan. First,

[Democratic legislative staffer Ron] Parker noted that 27 House members and 14 senators are paired under the proposed map. He says that's about half the number tossed together the last two times the Legislature approved districts.

In 1991, 50 House members and 20 senators were paired and those numbers were 39 and 25 when lawmakers drew new lines in 2001.  

Parker said Friday that many Republicans and Democrats assume there could be even more pairings if lawmakers reject the initial proposed map.  

Second, Bleeding Heartland user ragbrai08 pointed out Thursday that the extremely low population variance between the Congressional districts leaves both parties "in the dark for the second map" and without credible ways to assert that the plan violates Iowa Code:

The LSA has taken away the option of playing the odds. There are maps with smaller pop dev, but with questionable compactness. The LSA can choose to go with a higher pop dev based on this. How do you play it? Do they go down or up? And which pattern is most likely to be chosen?

The difference between this and 2001 is that the first map last time had multiple credible options with lower pop devs. Based on pattern analysis, you could go and plead what you considered important based on arguments fitted to the Iowa Code.

If yesterday had been like 2001, the first map would have had a mean deviation of 155 persons. Instead they went low, real low. [...]

If the LSA had put out a first map with a mean pop dev comparable to 2001 (after adjusting for larger districts), you would have had the opportunity to argue about what represents IA better: regionalized vs balanced, for example. By offering up a map right on the edge, that has largely been rendered moot.

I'm assuming rational actors are involved. You always have to ask the question, what are the odds of my situation improving? If you can't answer that (and it is very difficult here), bird in the hand applies.

Assuming this plan becomes law, some incumbents will have hard choices to make. John Deeth collected news here about legislators making arrangements to avoid elections against each other. My current State Senator Pat Ward is ready to move to a different part of the Des Moines suburbs to run in the new Senate district 22 instead of against Democratic Senator Matt McCoy in the new district 21. She may have competition in the Republican primary, because former WHO talk radio personality Steve Deace lives in what would be district 22 and sounds interested. Shortly after leaving WHO this year, Deace indicated that he would consider running for the Iowa Senate.

In other Iowa news, today is the second anniversary of the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling, which struck down the state's Defense of Marriage Act. Gronstal blocked a vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn that ruling in the state Senate this year and will do so next year too. If Republicans gain control of the upper chamber in the 2012 elections, they would need to pass a marriage amendment in the legislature in 2013, hold both chambers in 2014, and pass the amendment again in 2015 in order to get the measure on a statewide ballot in November 2016.

The most depressing news I've seen this weekend relates to the ongoing disaster in Japan. The death toll from last month's earthquake and tsunami could exceed 16,000.  Authorities don't have a solid plan for disposing of radioactive water used to cool reactors and spent fuel pools at Japan's Fukushima nuclear facility. Now some of the radioactive water is leaking into the ocean, and the early attempts to stop the leaking have failed.

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

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Drive-time host Deace quits leading Iowa talk radio station

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 22:13:51 PM CST

Steve Deace has resigned from WHO-AM radio, and February 11 will be his last broadcast of "Deace in the Afternoon," station manager Van Harden informed employees today.

Harden told employees of WHO-AM in Des Moines that Deace said he and his family had been talking about resigning for some time, and "finally felt lead to make a change."

"While he does not have another position to which he is going, he has had the ear and interest of many politicians and political campaigns seeking his strategic advice, and he says there is a possibility he may be doing some consulting," the e-mail said. "While this came as a surprise to us, we at WHO, and Steve, want all to know this is a very friendly parting, so much so that Steve says he may be  able to make himself available occasionally to do some fill-in work for us if needed."

Des Moines Cityview weekly published a good feature on Deace last year, chronicling his competitive nature, the evolution of his Christian faith and his path from sports reporting to hosting a political talk show. Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican blog credits Deace with helping Mike Huckabee "crush" Mitt Romney in counties that make up the WHO listening area. Similarly, Deace's loud and frequent support for Bob Vander Plaats boosted the candidate's showing against Terry Branstad in central Iowa during last year's GOP gubernatorial primary. (I have to believe Branstad will be relieved to hear Deace is going off the air.)

Two weeks ago, Deace decided at the last minute to seek the position of Polk County Republican chair. According to Robinson, Deace posted on Facebook yesterday "that his next campaign might be for Republican National Committeeman or the State Senate." The talk show host has been and remains a vocal critic of Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley (for instance: "Introducing the Paul McKinley Award for gutless, dishonest, and ineffective leadership!"). Iowa's current elected Republican National Committeeman is Steve Scheffler, the head of the Iowa Christian Alliance whom Deace has called the "least trustworthy & most gutless person in Iowa politics."

I wonder whom WHO will put in the drive-time slot and whether the new host will rival morning host Jan Mickelson in the outrageous comments department. One thing is certain: whoever gets the job will be wooed relentlessly by Republican presidential hopefuls. WHO has a large conservative listening audience.

UPDATE: A press release announcing Deace's departure is after the jump. He says he hopes to publish a book this year, and he isn't ruling out politics or a return to broadcasting someday. He and his wife plan to stay in Iowa: "We look forward to seeing how we will have the privilege to fear God, tell the truth and make money in the future."

The news release says Deace lives in West Des Moines, so if he runs for the state Senate he presumably would face Pat Ward in a GOP primary, depending on what the new map looks like.

SECOND UPDATE: Deace on Twitter: "Just in case you were wondering, almost nothing in the Iowa Republican.com piece about my departure is true, except the spelling of my name."

THIRD UPDATE: In this video, Deace talks about his reasons for leaving WHO and emphasizes that his split with the radio station was amicable. He also says that although it wasn't an easy decision, he knows it was the right one, and he has "slept like a Calvinist at night" since he and his wife decided to pursue new challenges. After saying he felt he needed to take a chance and try something different at this point in his life, Deace added (around the 5:45 mark of the video), "I think a lot of guys, regardless of whether or not you agree with my belief system, you know, if you pee standing up like I do, I think you probably understand what I'm talking about."

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