Weekend open thread: Accountability

Senator Chuck Grassley hit a new low last week in running interference for the White House on the Trump/Russia investigation. After leaders of the private research firm Fusion GPS called on Congressional Republicans “to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony” about the so-called Steele dossier, Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham wrote to the Department of Justice and the FBI “urging an investigation into Christopher Steele.” Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein was not consulted about the referral, which she accurately characterized as “another effort to deflect attention from what should be the committee’s top priority: determining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice.”

Here in Iowa, the Department of Human Services recently acknowledged that privatizing Medicaid “will save the state 80 percent less money this fiscal year than originally predicted,” Tony Leys reported for the Des Moines Register. The Branstad/Reynolds administration has claimed since 2015 that shifting care for one-sixth of Iowans to private companies would result in big savings for the state. Officials were never able to show the math underlying those estimates. Staff for Governor Kim Reynolds and the DHS now portray the miscalculation as an honest mistake, which a more “comprehensive methodology” will correct. The governor would have been wiser to pull the plug on this disaster last year.

Forthcoming Bleeding Heartland posts will address those failures in more depth. But now it’s time to hold myself accountable for the 17 Iowa politics predictions I made at the beginning of 2017. Did I improve on my showing of seven right, two half-right, and seven wrong out of my 16 predictions for 2016?

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Independent bids for Iowa governor are a waste of time

Brent Roske has ended his independent candidacy for Iowa governor, explaining in a December 26 Facebook post that he will be “stepping back into the media world” soon.

At least one other gubernatorial candidate, Gary Siegwarth, is trying to qualify for the general election ballot as an independent. Like Roske, he has little chance of moving the ball forward on the issues that are driving his candidacy.

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Breaking down Todd Wendt's stunning over performance in Senate district 3

Josh Hughes is a Drake University undergraduate and vice president of the I-35 school board. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On Tuesday night, Republican State Representative Jim Carlin won a special election for Iowa Senate District 3 by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. The district became open when Senator Bill Anderson resigned to take a new job midway through his term. Democrats nominated former Le Mars School District superintendent and son of a longtime Siouxland legislator, Todd Wendt. Despite not quite making it over the finish line, Todd Wendt massively over performed every Democrat in this area in recent memory.

How big of a deal was Wendt’s over performance? In the words of former Vice President Biden, it’s a “BFD,” and big enough that it’s sufficiently distracted me from studying for my final exams this week. So in the spirit of extended analysis of a local election, I have maps, spreadsheets, and a whole Twitter thread on the topic. Get your snorkels kids, it’s time for a deep dive into local elections.

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John Norris for a better future

Scott County activist Emilene Leone joined the statewide steering committee for John Norris last month. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in competitive Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I am strongly endorsing John Norris for Iowa governor, and I encourage all concerned parents here in Iowa to do the same. John Norris is the best choice to protect Iowa’s future for our children.

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Kim Reynolds should have made one clean break from Terry Branstad

Governor Kim Reynolds made a strategic error by not distinguishing herself from her predecessor in any meaningful way, judging by the new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom.

Changing course on even one high-profile policy could have demonstrated strong critical thinking and leadership skills. Instead, Reynolds is in effect running for a seventh Terry Branstad term. Unfortunately for her, Iowans are inclined to think it’s “time for someone new” in the governor’s office.

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