Social conservative Ginny Caligiuri launches IA-02 bid

Describing herself as a “pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-Israel, and pro-Constitution conservative,” Ginny Caligiuri made her quest for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s second Congressional district official today. Her candidacy was no secret; the former state director for the Congressional Prayer Caucus, National Governor’s Prayer Team, and US National Prayer Council had nominating papers out to be signed at the February 5 precinct caucuses and has been making the rounds at GOP county central committee meetings.

Bleeding Heartland profiled Caligiuri in January. You can keep up with her campaign online at, Facebook, or Twitter (at this writing, a protected account).

The announcement for Caligiuri’s kickoff event in Osceola on March 8 noted, “The 2nd District elected Donald Trump, and Ginny plans to help him accomplish what he was elected to do.” That line struck me as a subtle dig at Caligiuri’s competition in the GOP primary. Dr. Christopher Peters is a libertarian-minded Republican; as the IA-02 nominee, he announced in October 2016 that he would not vote for Trump.

I enclose below Caligiuri’s official bio and a map of Iowa’s Congressional districts. According to the latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office, the 24 counties contain 160,891 active registered Democrats, 141,798 Republicans, an 181,740 no-party voters.

The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball both rate this race as a likely Democratic hold for six-term Representative Dave Loebsack. For reasons discussed here, I think Republicans missed their best chance to defeat Loebsack by not targeting his district during the 2016 cycle. Trump carried the 24 counties in IA-02 by 49.1 percent to 45.0 percent, a huge swing from Barack Obama’s 55.8 percent to 42.7 percent margin over Mitt Romney in 2012.

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Four in five Iowans support citizenship for DREAMers

Eighty-one percent of Iowans consider it a “worthy goal” to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, according to the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. The same survey indicates that 65 percent of Iowans support a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants.

An estimated 800,000 DREAMers (including 2,681 Iowans) are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama enacted in 2012. Some 11 million immigrants are thought to be living in the U.S. without legal authorization, including about 40,000 in Iowa.

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Senate rejects 20-week abortion ban despite Iowans' support

A ban on almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy failed to advance in the U.S. Senate on January 29, as a motion to proceed with debating the bill gained only 51 votes, short of the 60 required under Senate rules. Three Democrats (Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia) voted for cloture on the misleadingly-named Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, joining most Senate Republicans, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted no, as did most of the Democratic caucus. Two Democrats facing potentially tough re-election campaigns this year–Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri–opposed the bill.

The U.S. House approved the same legislation in October on a mostly party-line vote of 237 to 189. Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) supported the legislation, while pro-choice Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed it.

Nineteen states already ban most abortions after 20 weeks; Iowa joined their ranks in May 2017. Most terminations at that stage of pregnancy happen either because the mother has a serious health problem or because of a severe (often unsurvivable) fetal anomaly. Five women who have faced those difficult circumstances allowed Bleeding Heartland to share their stories last year.

I enclose below statements from some of the Iowans in Congress and background on the bill, which uses a faulty premise as an excuse to restrict women’s ability to make decisions about their own medical care.

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Loebsack joins Republicans on vote ending shutdown

All Iowans in Congress approved a resolution today to fund the federal government through February 8, with a six-year extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. President Donald Trump signed the legislation this evening, ending the partial government shutdown after three days. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley were part of the bipartisan majority that approved the deal by 81 votes to 18 (two Republicans and sixteen Democrats opposed). The U.S. House vote was not quite as lopsided: 266 votes in favor (241 Republicans and 25 Democrats) and 150 against (six Republicans and 144 Democrats). Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all voted for the bill.

The lone Democrat in Iowa’s delegation, Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02), opposed last week’s short-term funding bill, saying “it is now past time for gimmicks that will only lead to another manufactured crisis in February. I remain prepared to stay in Washington and work until a long-term plan is in place.” Following today’s vote, he said in a statement enclosed in full below, “While I remain deeply skeptical that today’s agreement will actually lead to the change that is needed, it at least provides a framework to begin dealing with issues Iowans tell me they want addressed. I will support the effort in hopes that Congress can somehow do better.”

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Federal government shutting down: Iowa political reaction

Congress failed to agree on a spending deal before midnight on January 20, setting a federal government shutdown in motion for the first time since October 2013.

House Republicans had approved a four-week continuing spending resolution on January 18, which met one of the key Democratic demands (a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program). However, that bill did not include a fix for the DREAMers facing possible deportation after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ends on March 5. It passed on a mostly party-line vote, with support from Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted for short-term spending resolutions in December but drew the line this week, explaining in a written statement,

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