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Thoughts on the primary polls in IA-01, IA-02, and IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 10:30:22 AM CDT

Loras College in Dubuque released its first-ever set of polls on Iowa Congressional primaries this week. Click here for the polling memo and here (pdf) for further details, including the full questionnaires.

After the jump I've posted my thoughts on what these polls tell us about the front-runners (or lack thereof) in each primary. Unfortunately, a big methodological flaw makes it more difficult to interpret the results.

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IA-01: First-quarter fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 12:18:31 PM CDT

Since the last quarterly fundraising reports came in, the Republican primary race in Iowa's open first Congressional district has settled into a predictable win for Rod Blum. The Democratic primary is still highly competitive, though, with all five candidates in a position to run a district-wide race before June 3.  
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Monica Vernon's Latest Ad is Everything That is Wrong with Politics

by: everettbrowniv

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 15:20:40 PM CDT

I’ve lived in Cedar Rapids since high school (I attended the same high school at the same time of Monica’s daughters). Anyone who knows Cedar Rapids is fully aware that there are parts of town that have been depressed for many years. We know the neighborhoods on the southeast side of town that have been plagued with high crime rates and poverty. The folks in these neighborhoods who are working hard jobs for low wages are in the throes of an epic and unfortunate struggle.

I recently saw an ad released by Monica Vernon’s campaign that began with the narrator claiming Monica Vernon “understands the struggle.”  From what I know about Monica, she comes from a wealthy home, was the previous owner of a successful business, is married to a well-to-do attorney, and lives a stone’s throw from the country club.

My question to Monica Vernon is simple: what exactly do you know about the struggle? I came from extraordinarily humble beginnings, where you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a country club membership let alone a home right next to one. I’d like to know where Monica Vernon’s struggle experience originated.

Monica’s ad is everything that is wrong with politics because it is willfully dishonest and leads people to believe that she has experience with real struggles, and had to work doubly hard just to get by, and raise her daughters largely on her own. This is the sort of thing that cheapens our politics and Iowans deserve better.

In my opinion, Monica’s largest struggle will come after she loses this Primary and must decide whether or not to remain in the Democratic Party, or revert back to the Republican Party, where she undoubtedly is more comfortable. 

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Weekend open thread: Liberty movement missing in action edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:30:00 AM CDT

Here's your weekend open thread: all topics welcome.

I'd like to hear views from the Bleeding Heartland community on a question that's been on my mind lately, as the "Liberty" movement ceases to be the dominant force in the Republican Party of Iowa. Why haven't more people from the large contingent of Ron Paul/Rand Paul admirers stepped up to run in this year's Iowa Republican primaries?

Despite plenty of speculation, no one associated with Ron Paul's presidential campaign went for Iowa's first open U.S. Senate seat in 40 years. Why not? This opportunity won't come around again soon, not with Senator Chuck Grassley already planning to seek a seventh term in 2016. Did fundraising concerns or some other factor keep Drew Ivers, David Fischer, or others from believing they could run a strong Senate campaign?

In Iowa's open third Congressional district, none of the six Republican candidates publicly endorsed Ron Paul for president, as far as I know. Nor did any of the three Republicans running against Representative Dave Loebsack in IA-02.

Iowa's most prominent "Liberty" candidate is Rod Blum in the open first Congressional district. There are a few Paulinistas running in GOP primaries for the Iowa House and Senate, but not as many as I would have expected, given the Liberty movement's takeover of the Iowa GOP apparatus in 2012.

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Rick Santorum not ready to back Sam Clovis in IA-Sen race (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:00:00 AM CDT

Politics ain't beanbag. As a talk radio host with a sizable conservative audience in northwest Iowa, Sam Clovis must have been a valuable ally for former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum during the 2012 Iowa caucus campaign. Clovis has explicitly modeled his U.S. Senate campaign on Santorum's grassroots effort. But speaking to Iowa reporters yesterday, Santorum indicated that for now, he is staying out of the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

"I have a very, very good friend who's in the race - Sam Clovis who's a terrific guy, is a good friend and someone who was a great support of mine, you know, Sam's a #1, top-flight kind of guy," Santorum says. "Right now I have sort of not gotten engaged in that race. I may."

But Santorum said he is being selective about his endorsements because, he said, "the more you do, the less effective you are."

You mean, less effective like endorsing State Representative Walt Rogers for Congress, only to see Rogers bail out of the IA-01 primary?

Santorum was in town yesterday to raise money for Secretary of State Matt Schultz's Congressional campaign in IA-03. I wasn't surprised when Santorum backed Schultz, but arguably, Clovis did a lot more to promote Santorum's presidential aspirations than Schultz with his 11th hour endorsement. For sure Clovis was more influential than Rogers during the Iowa caucus campaign.

Unfortunately for Clovis, money talks, and he hasn't raised enough of it to run an effective statewide Senate campaign. How tough to be blown off by Santorum, though. As a consolation prize, Clovis got the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum yesterday. I wonder how many rank and file Iowa Republicans remember Schlafly, a conservative icon of the 1970s and 1980s.

UPDATE: David Bossie's group Citizens United just endorsed Clovis as "the only full-spectrum conservative" in the IA-Sen race.

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NRCC picks Rod Blum in IA-01, not playing favorites in IA-02 or IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 16:03:18 PM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its latest batch of candidates for the "Young Guns" program today. Dubuque-based business owner Rod Blum, one of three GOP candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district, is among 50 Republicans on the bottom rung, called "on the radar." Candidates who meet certain benchmarks for fundraising and campaign organization have a chance to move up to "contender" status and perhaps eventually to "young gun" level, which entails more direct support from the NRCC.

During the 2012 primary in IA-01, the NRCC favored establishment candidate Ben Lange over Blum. At this point, Blum is the obvious favorite to win the GOP nomination, with State Representative Walt Rogers out of the race and the other contenders way behind Blum financially.

Last year, the NRCC put IA-02 on its long list of targets and indicated that it was ready to defend Tom Latham in IA-03. None of the three registered GOP candidates in IA-02 or the six registered candidates in the open IA-03 are on the NRCC's radar yet. Depending on fundraising, the winner of the IA-03 primary has a strong chance to become a "contender" or a "young gun" by this fall. The NRCC will almost surely spend money to defend that seat. I am skeptical that IA-02 will become a serious target for Republicans, though.

Any comments about Iowa's Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

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What could go wrong? Iowa House legalizes silencers (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:54:36 AM CST

Most gun-related bills failed to make it through in the Iowa legislature's first "funnel" last week. The list of proposals that are dead for this year included efforts to restrict access to firearms (such as Senate File 2179 to close the gun show loophole) and several bills aimed at making guns more available: House File 384 to authorize possession of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns; House File 169/Senate File 251 to allow Iowans with permits to carry concealed weapons on school grounds; House File 172 to allow school employees to carry guns in school; and House File 2012 to allow children as young as 12 to possess handguns.

The trouble is, many incumbents don't want to face the gun lobby's wrath in an election year. Many lawmakers want to have something to brag about when pro-gun activists compile scorecards and endorsement lists. Such concerns prompted Iowa House and Senate leaders to revive and eventually pass a 2010 bill to make it easier for Iowans to carry concealed weapons.

I believe the same dynamic prompted Iowa House members to vote overwhelmingly yesterday to legalize firearm suppressors, better known as "silencers" popular for many decades among snipers and assassins.

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Walt Rogers exits IA-01 race, will seek third term in Iowa House district 60

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 18:39:26 PM CST

I didn't see this coming, but perhaps I should have, given his less than stellar fourth quarter fundraising report: State Representative Walt Rogers is ending his Congressional campaign in Iowa's first district. Instead, he will seek re-election to Iowa House district 60. His official statement is after the jump.

Rogers has long been considered a rising star in the Iowa House Republican caucus. He won re-election in 2012 despite President Barack Obama carrying his district by a narrow margin. He hired campaign staffers while his Congressional bid was still in the exploratory phase and quickly gained support from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and several state lawmakers. But he faced a tough race against Rod Blum in the GOP primary. In addition to almost winning the Republican nomination in IA-01 in 2012, Blum had support from activists on the party's "Liberty" wing and a financial advantage over Rogers at the end of 2013.

Even if Rogers won the IA-01 primary, he would face an uphill battle in a Congressional district with 158,970 active registered Democrats, 133,746 Republicans, and 192,496 no-party voters as of February 2014.

Returning to the Iowa legislature looks like a safer bet for Rogers. I have not yet heard of a Democratic candidate in House district 60. I posted a district map below, along with the latest voter registration numbers.

I consider Blum overwhelmingly favored to beat Steve Rathje in the IA-01 primary now. Although I don't agree with Blum about many things, I admire his campaign work ethic and discipline. he has now scared off two Republicans with much stronger establishment connections. I believe Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen chickened out of this race because he was afraid he would lose the primary. Blum had already started making a case against Paulsen.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that just last month, former U.S. Representative and gubernatorial nominee Jim Nussle had endorsed Rogers in the GOP primary. He really did look like the preferred establishment candidate. I also forgot to mention that Marshalltown-based attorney Gail Boliver joined the Republican field in December. It's hard for me to see a social moderate and fiscal conservative winning a GOP primary, especially since Blum has been campaigning across the district for more than a year now.

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IA-01: Is the Democratic primary Pat Murphy's to lose?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 09:26:05 AM CST

By some measures, the race for the Democratic nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district looks wide open. All five candidates have raised enough money to run credible campaigns. None are rookie candidates: four have been elected multiple times to either local government or the state legislature, and the fifth has prior experience running for Congress.  

For various reasons, I've long felt that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy was best positioned to win the Democratic nomination, whether it's decided in the June 3 primary or at an IA-01 district convention (if no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the primary votes).

Last week Murphy's campaign released partial results from an internal poll showing a "commanding lead" against his four Democratic rivals. I've enclosed the polling memo below, along with a few thoughts on its findings and the dynamic in this race going forward.

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Mid-week open thread: Stimulus anniversary edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 19:57:00 PM CST

What's on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? Here's an open thread: all topics welcome.

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the federal stimulus) into law. Bleeding Heartland has long held that the stimulus mitigated the impact of the "Great Recession," in part because the package saved Iowa and other states from enacting deep cuts in public services and . The stimulus had flaws, stemming primarily from the president aiming too low on the size of the package and concessions made to win a handful of conservative votes in Congress.

After the jump I've posted more links on the recovery act's impact.

P.S. - The dumbest thing I've read this week was Kevin Hall's comment for The Iowa Republican blog about former State Senator Swati Dandekar, a candidate for Congress in the first district. "Swati Dandekar is obviously an intelligent and accomplished woman. However, she speaks in broken English and I don't think that translates very well to a wide electorate." Reality: Dandekar's English is very fluent. Having a noticeable accent is different from not speaking a language well. I would like to hear Hall try to talk in a non-native language.  

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IA-01 4Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CST

Last week I never got around to posting highlights from the year-end Federal Election Commission reports for candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district. Better late than never.

On the Democratic side, the money race remains highly competitive; all five candidates entered the election year with more than $100,000 to spend before the primary. The Republican race in IA-01 provided another reminder that establishment support does not necessarily translate into strong fundraising.  

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Iowa House votes to ban "telemedicine" abortions (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 12:26:15 PM CST

Although Iowa House Republicans sought to restrict abortion rights after regaining the majority in the lower chamber in 2011, anti-choice bills were never a high priority for leadership. In fact, House leaders sometimes put the brakes on conservative efforts to bring anti-abortion legislation to the floor. During the 2013 legislative session, not a single bill restricting abortions even made it out of a committee in the Republican-controlled Iowa House.

House leaders must have gotten some flack from their caucus or outside advocacy groups, because even though restricting abortion isn't a top agenda item for House Speaker Kraig Paulsen or Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, they made sure to move an anti-abortion bill quickly during this year's session. Yesterday the Iowa House approved House File 2175, which would ban the use of telecommunications technology for the purpose of terminating a pregnancy. (A similar bill died in the funnel last year.)

Follow me after the jump for background and details on the roll call.

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2014 State of the Union discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 19:48:27 PM CST

President Barack Obama addresses both houses of Congress tonight. The big policy news will be a new executive order requiring federal contractors to pay workers hourly wages of at least $10.10. The move could affect hundreds of thousands of workers. Last year the president proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, but Senator Tom Harkin and other liberal Democrats argued for raising the wage to $10.10. Obama indicated his support for that wage level in November.

I will update this post later with highlights from tonight's speech and reaction from Iowa's Congressional delegation. Meanwhile, this thread is for any comments about the substance or the politics of the State of the Union address.

On a related note, I hope Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is right about the president refusing to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

UPDATE: Click here for the full transcript of the president's speech, as prepared. I've added some Iowa reaction after the jump.

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Off-year Iowa caucus discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 21:00:00 PM CST

Who attended their Democratic or Republican precinct caucuses tonight? I was at Indian Hills Junior High School, where Democrats and Republicans from Windsor Heights, Clive, and some parts of West Des Moines gathered. Not surprisingly, turnout was low on the Democratic side, with light snow and temperatures in the teens shortly before 7 pm. Approximately 60 people total showed up from the eight or nine precincts at our location. A representative from Staci Appel's campaign addressed Democrats at our caucus, as did a gubernatorial candidate I'd never heard of: Zachary Newbrough of West Des Moines. His key issues include improving education, mental health reform, embracing diversity in Iowa, and smokers' rights (although he didn't mention the last one at the caucus).

I didn't sit in on the Republican caucuses, but I walked by their rooms after they broke into precincts from Windsor Heights and Clive. By my count, each precinct had approximately 15-20 participants. Although the weather was bad today, I expected more Republicans to come out tonight, given that Governor Terry Branstad's campaign and several GOP candidates were said to be mobilizing supporters. Branstad's team wants to make sure the state convention backs Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor, and the Republican nominations for IA-03 and U.S. Senate may be decided at conventions if no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote.

Any comments about the off-year caucuses are welcome in this thread. I'd particularly like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers on caucus turnout in the first Congressional district, where the Democratic and Republican nominations could conceivably go to conventions.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Democratic legislators, AFSCME leader sue Branstad over closing juvenile home

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 11:15:00 AM CST

Four Democratic state legislators and the leader of Iowa's largest public employee union filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to block Governor Terry Branstad's administration from closing the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo (Tama County) this month. Joining AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan are gubernatorial candidate Senator Jack Hatch, Senator Steve Sodders (whose district includes Toledo), Iowa House Minority Leader Mark Smith, and former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy. The lawsuit alleges that it is unconstitutional for Branstad to close the home after signing into law budget appropriations for operating the home in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. An official statement from the plaintiffs is after the jump, along with a brief summary provided by Sodders.

When Iowa Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer announced in December that the Iowa Juvenile Home would be closed after all the resident girls were relocated, he said the "difficult decision" was in the best interests of the girls who had lived there. Yesterday Governor Branstad also cited the interests of "those kids who've been mistreated and abused and not gotten their education."

Over the past year, the Des Moines Register's Clark Kauffman has documented outrageous practices at the Iowa Juvenile Home, including long placements in isolated cells. In October, a task force appointed by Branstad recommended reforms for the facility. The lawsuit alleges that at the governor's direction, DHS Director Palmer disregarded the task force's recommendations and will unlawfully use funds appropriated for the Juvenile Home for other purposes.

In 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court found that Branstad had improperly used his line-item veto power to change how state funds were allocated. This case is somewhat different but poses similar constitutional questions.

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IA-01: Paul Pate opts out, citing family reasons

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 14:55:00 PM CST

Former Iowa Secretary of State and State Senator Paul Pate confirmed today that he will not run for Congress in the open first district. Speaking to James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Pate said the race was "very winnable" but would take him too far away from family.

The U.S. House race, which would involve a GOP primary in June 2014, would be long, Pate said. "It's every two years so it never lets up, it's a swing district, so whether you're Democrat or Republican you'll be battling every time."

Right now, Pate's more interested in "watching my grandchildren, taking them to music class or [dance] or gymnastics."

"I want to watch them grow up. It only happens once and I want to be there," he said.

Pate's family circumstances haven't changed since he indicated in September that he was leaning toward running for Congress. The main difference is that State Representative Walt Rogers joined the Republican field. Lynch reported,

Pate didn't endorse Rogers, but said "whether he's the guy or he inspires the others to get off their tails and go out and do it, I'm hopeful it changes the picture for Republican side in a positive way."

With former State Representative Renee Schulte also passing on the IA-01 race, the Republican field appears to be set. Rogers will have the most establishment support, business owner Rod Blum will draw strength from the "Liberty" crowd, and I don't know what Steve Rathje's constituency is supposed to be.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Should Iowa adopt run-off elections for primaries? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 11:35:00 AM CST

Governor Terry Branstad suggested at his regular weekly press conference this morning that he is open to changing state law to provide for run-off elections where no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in a primary. Under current law, a Democratic or Republican special nominating convention is required if no candidate hits the 35 percent threshold in the primary for a state or federal office. You can listen to the audio from Branstad's press conference at Radio Iowa. He starts talking about this issue around the 16-minute mark.

At least seven GOP candidates are running for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat, with more considering, and five Democrats are running in the first Congressional district. I would not rule out a clear winner emerging in both contests next June, but I also would not be surprised to see a convention decide at least one nomination, especially in the Senate race.

Eleven states, mostly in the South, currently provide for run-off elections in come primaries. Historically, the system has been seen as a way to prevent African-American candidates from winning primaries in the former Confederacy, although that may be a myth. I can see the case for holding a run-off election between the top two vote-getters in a crowded primary, rather than letting a small number of party insiders choose the nominee at a convention.

Share your own thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: I did not realize that Republican Party of Iowa Chair A.J. Spiker had his own reform ideas for the system. Details are after the jump.

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IA-01: Paul Pate passing on Republican primary?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 11:55:00 AM CST

Nearly two months ago, former Iowa Secretary of State and State Senator Paul Pate told the Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Iowa Republican blog that he was planning to run for Congress in the open first district. The campaign kickoff expected in late September still hasn't happened, and Kevin Hall wrote over the weekend, "My clandestine, ubiquitous informants tell me the former Iowa secretary of state has opted not to run for Congress next year ..."

I am seeking comment from Pate and will update this post if he clarifies whether he is still considering a Congressional campaign. In my opinion, Pate could be a strong general election candidate but would likely struggle in a GOP primary. The three Republicans who are already running in IA-01 (Rod Blum, State Representative Walt Rogers, and Steve Rathje) are all more conservative than Pate.

Assuming Pate opts out, the field is likely set. It will be interesting to see Blum duke it out with Rogers. (Although Rathje is from Linn County, the largest in IA-01, I don't expect him to have the capacity to run a strong district-wide campaign next spring.) Dubuque-based Blum is favored by the "Liberty" crowd and performed surprisingly well in the 2012 primary against Ben Lange. Rogers hails from more populous Black Hawk County, is a stronger fundraiser, and has more support from Republican elected officials.

The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate that IA-01 contains 162,089 active registered Democrats, 136,128 Republicans, and 194,633 no-party voters.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Exclusive: Renee Schulte not running in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:50:00 AM CST

Former State Representative Renee Schulte of Cedar Rapids has decided against running for Congress in Iowa's first district, she confirmed by telephone this morning. She said it's "the right time to stay and continue to work" on implementing the mental health reform that was one of her key priorities as a state lawmaker. Schulte is helping to write new administrative rules as a consultant for the Mental Health Division of the Iowa Department of Human Services. Her contract runs through December.

Schulte added that while considering a Congressional bid, she was "not excited by the gridlock and lack of solutions at the federal level" and determined that she can "get more accomplished here" in Iowa. Who can argue after watching the government shutdown unfold last month?

Three candidates are already seeking the GOP nomination in IA-01: Cedar Rapids-based businessman Steve Rathje, Dubuque-based businessman Rod Blum, and State Representative Walt Rogers of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. One other Linn County candidate, former State Senator and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, is expected to join the race as well.

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Fighting to End Discrimination: Demand Action on ENDA

by: PatMurphyforIowa

Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:39:14 AM CST

(Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest diaries by Democratic candidates. Here's a list of Iowa House members who voted for this bill in 2007. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

It may surprise many that in 2013, in some places in America, you can still be fired from your job simply because of who you are or who you love. But it's true. And because of dysfunction and backwards thinking in Washington, that injustice may continue.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate overcame a procedural hurdle and set up a crucial vote to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) later this week - 17 years after it was first introduced. In an era when the two parties agree on nothing, to have both Democrats and Republicans voting yes on ENDA in the Senate should send a message that we all agree it's time for this injustice to end. But incredibly, Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans vowed to continue the fight against what's right.

Five years ago, we passed a very similar law in Iowa, and it is time the rest of the country caught up. Believe me, I know the process can be messy, but I offer this look back on how we passed the civil rights expansion in 2007 as proof that our shared faith in the right to equality is a powerful thing, and the fight is worth it.

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