Good news, bad news from Iowa House district 6

Republican Jacob Bossman won today’s special election in Iowa House district 6 by 2,152 votes to 1,712 for Rita DeJong (55 percent to 44 percent), according to unofficial results. The results are disappointing, since Democratic candidate Todd Wendt carried this half of Iowa Senate district 3 just five weeks ago, and a small army of volunteers put in untold hours on GOTV for DeJong.

It’s not all bad news, though.

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Fred Hubbell, Nate Boulton up on tv ahead of Iowa caucuses

For the first time in Iowa history, multiple gubernatorial candidates are airing television commercials four and a half months before the primary. Fred Hubbell’s campaign launched its fourth statewide tv ad last week, while the first spot for Democratic rival Nate Boulton hits the screens today in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets. UPDATE: Cathy Glasson has placed a television ad buy too. Iowa Starting Line reported today that committees affiliated with the Service Employees International Union have donated $1,819,931 to Glasson’s campaign already.

The new Hubbell ad references the themes of his campaign’s first three spots: support for Planned Parenthood, mental health funding, and better economic development practices. (Bleeding Heartland published those videos here, here, and here.) Boulton’s commercial highlights his role leading the opposition to Republican efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights during last year’s legislative session. Scroll down for details on both ads.

Hubbell has been on the air for months, having raised well over $1 million since last summer. Boulton’s campaign war chest is likely to be substantially smaller–we’ll know for sure when all the 2017 finance reports are published later this week. While candidates normally conserve their cash to use on television and radio spots closer to the primary, Boulton has good reason to spend some money now.

The Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses are coming up on Monday, February 5. Caucus-goers will elect county convention delegates, who in turn will select district and state delegates at county conventions on March 24. With seven Democrats running for governor, state convention delegates may end up selecting the nominee on June 16, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary.

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Republicans running scared in Iowa House district 6 (updated)

The Republican Party of Iowa is spending heavily to defend Iowa House district 6, where voters will choose a successor to State Representative Jim Carlin on January 16. The Iowa GOP did not intervene to support Carlin before last month’s special election for Senate district 3, considered safe Republican territory. Carlin won that race by a little less than 10 percent. Amazingly, the Democratic candidate gained more votes in the half of the district that Carlin has represented in the Iowa House.

Campaign finance reports (here and here) show the state GOP has spent more than $118,000, mostly on television and radio commercials in the Sioux City market and direct mail to residents of House district 6. I enclose below the positive television commercial about Republican candidate Jacob Bossman and several direct mail pieces attacking Democratic nominee Rita DeJong.

The tv spot relies heavily on an image of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley with his longtime staffer. Grassley headlined a rally to support Bossman on January 13, but the party didn’t have to pay his travel expenses. The senator is passing through western Iowa on the federal government’s dime as part of his annual 99-county tour. UPDATE: A reader notes the “rally” was moved from a room that would hold 250 people to the lobby, so the few dozen attendees would appear to fill up the venue.

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"Make America America again": photos, highlights from Iowa Democrats' fall gala

Everyone could have guessed Alec Baldwin would get Iowa Democrats laughing with jokes at President Donald Trump’s expense.

But who would have predicted the serious part of the actor’s speech would evoke an even stronger response from the crowd?

Follow me after the jump for audio and highlights from Baldwin’s remarks and those of the seven Democratic candidates for governor, along with Stefanie Running‘s photographs from a memorable evening in Des Moines.

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A former Iowa Democratic lawmaker's message to candidates in rural areas

Former State Representative John Whitaker is the executive director of Rural Forward, an organization formed last month to promote progressive solutions for communities of all sizes, as well as to help Democrats organize in rural areas and demonstrate that rural areas matter. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In 2002, I won my legislative district (Iowa House district 90) by only 55 votes. I had a difficult time raising the funds I needed, even though I was serving my third term as a Van Buren County supervisor, and district 90 was then held by a Democrat who was retiring.

Sometime during that first legislative session, a lobbyist who had served in the legislature (as a Democrat) told me the reason that out of district funders were not interested in my race was because a Democrat should not win that seat. The district had 16 percent more registered Republicans than Democrats. It didn’t matter that the district had one of the widest swing factors in the state or that the Democrats had held it for three terms.

When I left the legislature in 2009 to become state executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, Curt Hanson held House district 90 in a hard-fought special election. Hanson was re-elected four times in a district that since the last census has been House district 82, covering slightly different territory. After Hanson passed away this summer, Democrat Phil Miller won a special election here, even though President Donald Trump had carried the district in 2016.

That is a lot of history, but it is important because it proves a point: Democrats can win in rural areas!

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