IA-01, IA-03: Polls find Blum and Young below 50 percent

Republican Representatives Rod Blum and David Young have approval ratings below 40 percent and re-elect numbers below 50 percent, according to new surveys from Public Policy Polling.

The Patriot Majority Fund, a super-PAC that largely opposes GOP incumbents, commissioned polls in nine House districts around the country, including the two in Iowa that Democrats will target next year.

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Jeff Danielson rules out Congressional campaign in IA-01

State Senator Jeff Danielson has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s first Congressional district, he told KWWL’s Ron Steele on September 21.

“I’ll remain focused on the Cedar Valley and support the candidates and causes I care about.”

Danielson is a professional firefighter for the City of Cedar Falls. He says that important obligation and commitment, in addition to his obligations as a current Iowa State Senator, make very difficult, if not impossible, to run a successful campaign for U.S. Congress at this time.

Danielson had been considering the race for several months, with a view to pushing Iowa Democrats to ditch “canned messages” and “purity tests” in favor of issues with broad appeal: “keeping people safe,” “being fiscally responsible,” investing in education, providing access to health care, and “focusing on an economy that rewards work.”

Four Democrats are running against two-term Representative Rod Blum: State Representative Abby Finkenauer, Thomas Heckroth, George Ramsey III, and Courtney Rowe. I’m not aware of any others exploring this race. So far Finkenauer and Heckroth have more endorsements than the others in the field.

After the jump I’ve enclosed audio clips from recent stump speeches by Heckroth, Ramsey, Rowe, and a surrogate for Finkenauer. Bleeding Heartland previously posted the audio and transcript of Finkenauer’s remarks to a Democratic audience in Des Moines.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 159,852 active registered Democrats, 142,665 Republicans, and 188,949 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office. The district will be a top target for Democrats in Iowa and nationally. Last November, Blum ran about 5 points ahead of Donald Trump, who carried IA-01 with 48.7 percent of the vote, compared to 45.2 percent for Hillary Clinton.

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Nine ways Democrats can keep 2018 primaries from becoming destructive

More Democrats are running for Iowa’s statewide and federal offices than at any other time in at least four decades. I’m excited to watch so many strong candidates make their case to be elected governor, secretary of state, or to Congress in all three Republican-held U.S. House districts.

Contested primaries are mostly good for political parties, I believe. For too many election cycles, Iowa Democrats tended to coalesce around one candidate early on. A battle for the nomination forces contenders to work harder and sharpen the message. With more campaigns trying to identify supporters and get them to the polls, I expect a record-setting turnout for Iowa Democrats in June 2018.

The process will also drive more activists to attend next year’s precinct caucuses and county conventions, since conventions may be needed to select Democratic nominees for governor and in the third Congressional district, if no candidate receives 35 percent of the vote in the primary.

The only downside to a competitive primary is the risk that the campaign could become intensely negative, leaving some of the most engaged activists feeling angry and alienated from one another. Case in point: some people are still arguing about Hillary v. Bernie more than a year later.

Fortunately, Democrats can prevent that destructive dynamic from playing out.

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IA-01: Jeff Danielson on "raging incrementalism" and Iowa Democrats' culture problem

Iowa Democrats “need to have a good family fight about what the future of our party’s going to be” and ditch the “canned messages” used in too many losing campaigns, according to State Senator Jeff Danielson. Re-elected to a fourth term in the Iowa Senate last year, Danielson is the highest-profile Democrat still thinking about running in the first Congressional district, where four candidates are already challenging Representative Rod Blum and two others recently ruled out the race. He spoke to Bleeding Heartland this week about his plans and how Democrats can regain the trust of voters who increasingly see our party as out of touch.

Danielson’s critique of the Democratic establishment has much in common with points often raised by Iowans who supported Bernie Sanders for president. But his call for “raging incrementalism” and reaching across the aisle is quite different from the ambitious policy agenda typically viewed on the Sanders wing as the solution to the same problem.

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