Remembering Senator Tom Slater

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for “policies that support children and strengthen families.” He posted this reflection on Facebook following the passing of his friend, a former legislator and founder of the State Public Policy Group. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Thanks to Facebook friends Angie Slater, Mark Lambert, Jodi Tomlonovic, Tom Jochum, Christopher Slater, and I am sure others for their reflections on Tom Slater, who died on St. Patrick’s Day after a life much longer and enriching than 72 calendar years.

To add to these reflections, I first met and talked with Tom over thirty-five years ago, in 1981. He was a state senator and I was a lowly state representative, trying to figure out whether I should run for re-election to the House or go to, in Don Avenson’s view, the moribund and dreaded Senate. I contacted Senator Slater, the closest thing to a Young Turk the Senate had, to seek advice. Tom took me out to lunch – at one of the greasiest of greasy spoons I thought could exist, which made Iowa State Fair food seem health-giving.

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Senate confirms Iowa DHS director with four votes to spare

The Iowa Senate confirmed Jerry Foxhoven as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services in an unusually close vote on March 21.

Most of Governor Kim Reynolds’ appointees have won unanimous confirmation, as has typically been the case in Iowa for many years. Foxhoven’s nomination was controversial because of how privatized Medicaid has been managed, along with several tragedies involving abused children. Senate Democrats asked to defer consideration on the DHS director last month “until we can fully assess his leadership.”

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Iowa Senate district 25 preview: Tracy Freese vs. Annette Sweeney

Voters in Iowa Senate district 25 will elect a successor to disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix on April 10. The special election campaign is happening on a compressed timetable because the vacancy arose during the Iowa legislature’s session. Dix should have faced pressure to resign last year over his many missteps in handling sexual harassment in the Senate GOP caucus. Instead, he stepped down unexpectedly last week after publication of a video and photographs showing him “in a romantic relationship” with a lobbyist.

Local Democrats nominated Tracy Freese for the special election on March 17. Sweeney won the GOP nomination three days later. The former Republican lawmaker will be heavily favored on April 10 and in the November election for a full four-year term. However, if Freese keeps it closer than expected, the special election may provide a snapshot of high Democratic voter engagement, like the recent over performance by Todd Wendt in Iowa Senate district 3 and Rita DeJong in Iowa House district 6.

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Dems contesting far more Iowa House, Senate seats than in 2010 or 2014

Democrats are fielding a nearly full slate of Iowa House and Senate candidates this year, leaving far fewer GOP-held seats unchallenged than in the last two midterm elections.

The improvement is particularly noticeable in the Iowa House, where Republicans have an unusually large number of open seats to defend. Twelve of the 59 GOP state representatives are retiring, and a thirteenth seat (House district 43) is open due to Majority Leader Chris Hagenow’s move to safer Republican territory in Dallas County.

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