Lights out

Bleeding Heartland user “Bill from White Plains”: It’s been a good ride and a great deal of fun. But let’s be honest: nothing about this state warrants first-in-the-nation status. -promoted by Laura Belin

Oh, if only Ira Lacher’s February 25 piece, “Junk the caucuses? Extend neck. Cut.,” provided some nationally-significant basis on which the national powers-that-be could maintain Iowa as the first-in-the-nation state for choosing presidential candidates!

It does not.

That it does not, did not escape me. Yet, Mr. Lacher, offering no good reason, or any reason really, criticizes Jason Noble and Kevin Cooney for providing what he considers bad reasons for abandoning the Iowa caucuses.

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Iowa: The burned-over caucus state

James Larew: Seasoned local citizens, steeped in historical knowledge and aware of the cultural sensitivities of their own neighborhoods, once played significant, anchoring roles in Iowa caucus campaigns. They seldom do so anymore. -promoted by Laura Belin

Starting nearly a half-century ago, in 1972, and continuing for every presidential election year, thereafter, our state—initially, colored deep-red, more recently taking on a purplish hue—has hosted waves of intense political campaigning.

In the first waves of every presidential election cycle, large casts of candidates and their campaign entourages have competed ferociously in our sometimes-troubled democratic experiments called the “Iowa caucuses.”

Then, nine months later, general election campaigns have ended in hard-fought, expensive, exhausting efforts aimed to capture our state’s meager six electoral college votes.

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Junk the caucuses? Extend neck. Cut.

Ira Lacher makes the case that the Iowa caucuses are too important for Democrats to do without. -promoted by Laura Belin

Kill the Iowa caucuses? Really, Jason Noble and Kevin Cooney?

Yes, the 2020 edition of the quadrennial Iowa Winter State Fair was a worldwide embarrassment, at least on the Democratic side, due to poor results reporting, stacked atop tremulous party management, training, and supervision. (Don’t look so smug, Republicans; you’ve had your kaukus kerfuffles too.)

But the arguments published recently in the Des Moines Register by those otherwise well-regarded gentlemen, who have been close to the process, as journalists and then (for Noble) as a Democratic Party insider, are far less convincing than the Pepsi Challenge.

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Iowa caucuses again undergo scrutiny

Herb Strentz reviews some of the demographic and political issues that threaten Iowa’s future role in the presidential nominating process. -promoted by Laura Belin

No doubt about it. Iowans benefit from the every-four-years caucuses on our preferences for candidates for the Office of President of the United States. (If you visit the Oval Office replica at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, President Harry S Truman will tell you the presidency is “the most important governmental office in the history of the world.”)

Iowa likely leads the nation on a per capita basis in terms of how many of us get a good look at those seeking that “most important office….”

But there have long been questions about whether the nation benefits from Iowa being a crucial step for those seeking to be president.

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Historic new leadership for Iowa Democrats

For the first time, a person of color will lead one of Iowa’s major political parties. The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee on January 23 chose Ross Wilburn to serve as state party chair for the coming election cycle. Wilburn won on the first ballot in a field of four candidates after Brett Copeland withdrew his candidacy during the committee’s meeting.

The two candidates with a strong base of support among the 50-plus State Central Committee members were Wilburn, who received just under 65 percent of the votes, and Jodi Clemens, who received 33 percent. Clemens is a former Iowa House candidate and former staffer on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign as well as Kimberly Graham’s 2020 U.S. Senate campaign. At last year’s state convention, she was elected to represent Iowa on the Democratic National Committee. She will continue in that role.

Wilburn has represented Iowa House district 46, covering part of Ames, since September 2019 and will keep serving in the state legislature. However, in order to focus his full-time efforts on leading the Democratic Party, he will quit his other job as diversity officer and associate director for community economic development at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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Best of Bleeding Heartland's original reporting in 2020

My primary goal in running this website is to provide Iowa political news and analysis that’s not available anywhere else. I’m proud of what Bleeding Heartland accomplished in 2020 and want to highlight some of the investigative reporting and accountability journalism published first or exclusively here.

A forthcoming post will review the site’s most popular pieces from 2020, which included many I worked hardest on or most enjoyed writing.

As always, I’m grateful for readers whose appetite for this kind of reporting keeps me going.

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