Rich Leopold becomes first Iowa Democratic candidate for governor

Vowing to be an outsider who can bring a “different kind of government” to Iowa, Rich Leopold just announced in a Facebook live appearance that he will run for governor as a Democrat in 2018. I enclose below his news release and a statement of “four cornerstones” that will guide his candidacy, along with a transcript of his comments on video. Leopold’s campaign website is here and his Facebook page is here.

A first-time candidate for office, Leopold stands apart from the “lobbyists, special interests, and the insider’s club that for far too long has run our government” and “is free from the generations of deal-making and permanent campaigning that has poisoned the capitol,” his “cornerstones” document declares.

Leopold has government experience at the local, state, and federal level. He served as Iowa Department of Natural Resources director during Chet Culver’s administration from 2007 to 2010, when he took a job with the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He later worked for the Dickinson County Conservation Board and since 2013 has been with the Polk County Conservation Board, where he is now director. (Disclosure: I joined the board of directors of the Iowa Environmental Council when Leopold was that non-profit’s executive director, shortly before he left to lead the DNR.)

Leopold also chairs the new Grow Iowa PAC, which raised about $10,000 last year and donated to eighteen Democratic candidates or committees.

No other Democrats have confirmed plans to run for governor, but outgoing Iowa Democratic Party chair Andy McGuire is widely expected to announce her candidacy early this year. If either wins the June 2018 primary, Leopold or McGuire would be the first Iowa nominee for governor since Roxanne Conlin in 1982 not to have held elected office.

Many politics-watchers expect at least one member of the Iowa House or Senate to seek the nomination as well, perhaps State Senator Liz Mathis or State Representative Todd Prichard.

UPDATE: State Senator Chaz Allen is also rumored to be considering the gubernatorial race. He or Prichard would have to give up their seats in the legislature in order to run for governor. Mathis was just re-elected to a four-year term, so could run for governor without leaving the Iowa Senate.

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A year's worth of guest posts, plus tips for guest authors

One of my blogging new year’s resolutions for 2016 was to publish more work by other authors, and I’m grateful to the many talented writers who helped me meet that goal. After the jump I’ve linked to all 140 guest posts published here last year.

I encourage readers to consider writing for this site in 2017. Guest authors can write about any political issue of local, state, or national importance. As you can see from the stories enclosed below, a wide range of topics and perspectives are welcome here.

Pieces can be short or long, funny or sad. You can write in a detached voice or let your emotions show.

Posts can analyze what happened or advocate for what should happen, either in terms of public policy or a political strategy for Democrats. Authors can share first-person accounts of campaign events or more personal reflections about public figures.

Guest authors do not need to e-mail a draft to me or ask permission to pursue a story idea. Just register for an account (using the “sign up” link near the upper right), log in, write a post, edit as needed, and hit “submit for review” when you are ready to publish. The piece will be “pending” until I approve it for publication, to prevent spammers from using the site to sell their wares. You can write under your own name or choose any pseudonym not already claimed by another Bleeding Heartland user. I do not reveal authors’ identity without their permission.

I also want to thank everyone who comments on posts here. If you’ve never participated that way, feel free to register for a user account and share your views. If you used to comment occasionally but have not done so lately, you may need to reset your password. Let me know if you have any problems registering for an account, logging in, or changing a password. My address is near the lower right-hand corner of this page.

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Iowa Senate Democrats give David Johnson seat on Natural Resources

Former Republican State Senator David Johnson will remain an independent during the Iowa legislature’s 2017 session, but he will not be entirely shut out of committee work. William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register this weekend that Democrats offered Johnson one of their positions on the Natural Resources Committee, recognizing his work on issues in that committee’s jurisdiction. In recent years, Johnson has been the leading Republican advocate for increasing conservation spending in the state budget as well as for raising the sales tax to fill the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

Johnson quit the Republican Party in June to protest the nomination of Donald Trump for president. He had occasionally found himself at odds with this GOP colleagues before then. For instance, he supported the unsuccessful Democratic effort to stop Medicaid privatization and later voted for a Democratic bill on stronger Medicaid oversight.

First elected to the Iowa House in 1998 and to the Senate in 2002, Johnson told Petroski he hasn’t decided whether to run for re-election in Senate district 1 next year. Zach Whiting, a staffer for U.S. Representative Steve King, announced in August that he will run in Johnson’s district, which is the GOP’s second-safest seat in the state. The latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office show Senate district 1 contains just 7,900 active registered Democrats, 21,374 Republicans, and 13,574 no-party voters. The five counties in the district voted for Trump by wide margins in November. The GOP nominee received 81.4 percent in Lyon, 78.8 percent in Osceola, 68.2 percent in Clay, 65.5 percent in Palo Alto, and 65.2 percent in Dickinson.

Despite having only one committee assignment for the coming legislative session, Johnson sounds content with his new independent status:

“I have made some votes in the past that I wasn’t comfortable with, and I don’t believe really represented the district that I am honored to represent,” Johnson told The Des Moines Register. “I am free now to really follow my conscience and my constituents. We always talk about how you should put your district first. Well, I can now because I represent everybody. I don’t represent Republicans here. That has created quite a furor among some Republican leaders, and that’s fine.”

According to legislative records cited by Petroski, an independent hasn’t served in the Iowa Senate since 1925 or in the Iowa House since 1972.

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Jalapeno Pepper, Hot Sauce and Gasoline Tart

Howard County Democratic Party chair Laura Hubka is ready to fight. Who’s with her? -promoted by desmoinesdem

Does everyone else feel like they are in a dream? Not a nice cream filled donut dream but a jalapeno pepper, hot sauce and gasoline filled tart, a terrifying joke of a dream. One where you feel like you know all the players and the places but something is just off. Totally ridiculous and confusing. Its like we all went to bed after way too much to drink and are having a really bad nightmare. Up is down, down is up.

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Are you tired of these motherfrackers? A first-person account from Standing Rock

Chris Laursen, an activist for many progressive causes and a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention, shares his story from Standing Rock. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Are you tired of these motherfrackers? I am!

I have just recently returned home from my second trip to Standing Rock. And now, after some decompression and much needed sleep I feel as though I need to pen some of my thoughts and experiences. Here it goes.

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Weekend open thread: Alarming ties between Trump and Russia edition

President-elect Donald Trump continues to assemble a cabinet full of people “who have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run.”

But arguably, the scariest news of the week was the political reaction to the Central Intelligence Agency assessment that it is “quite clear” Russia intervened in the U.S. elections with the goal of electing Trump.

Despite what one retired CIA officer described as a “blazing 10-alarm fire,” only four Republican senators have taken up the call for a bipartisan investigation of Russian interference in U.S. elections. For his part, Trump dismissed the CIA’s findings as “ridiculous,” while members of his transition team discredited the agency and leaked news that Trump will appoint a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin as secretary of state.

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