IA-03: Democrat Anna Ryon is thinking about it

Anna Ryon, an attorney with the Office of Consumer Advocate, may run for Congress in Iowa’s third district next year, she announced on Facebook today. She has launched a possible campaign website and is recruiting volunteers to join her e-mail list for updates and “action alerts” on when to call members of Congress. She is not raising money “until I make a final decision” on a Congressional campaign.

Yesterday Ryon uploaded to YouTube a video of her remarks in May 2015 before the Bishop and Cabinet of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church. Ryon “was invited to be part of that meeting to share my story of being a queer woman in the UMC, and in particular the hurtful response from the church when my ex-wife and I got married.” Instead, she shared the story of her father, a United Methodist minister who was gay and took his own life in 1999.

I enclose below Ryon’s bio from her new website. She is on Twitter @annakryon and on Facebook. Her “deep dive” about Adams County became one of the most popular Bleeding Heartland posts of 2016.

Current U.S. Representative David Young defeated Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer by 53.4 percent to 39.7 percent in 2016. Young performed substantially better than Donald Trump, who carried the third district by 48.5 percent to 45.0 percent over Hillary Clinton. Outside groups spent more than $7.4 million on the Young-Mowrer race. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee confirmed this week that IA-03 will be on its target list again in 2018.

One of Mowrer’s 2016 primary opponents, Mike Sherzan, has turned up at a number of local Democratic events lately, including the January 21 State Central Committee meeting of the Iowa Democratic Party, which attracted a large crowd because of the state chair election.

The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 167,453 active registered Democrats, 177,457 Republicans, and 166,620 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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IA-01: Democrat Courtney Rowe may challenge Rod Blum

Cedar Rapids-based engineer Courtney Rowe may run for Congress against Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district, she confirmed to Bleeding Heartland today. Rowe has been an active Democrat locally and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to last year’s Linn County, first district, and state conventions, as well as an alternate to the Democratic National Convention. She has volunteered her time on church missions, as a mentor for middle-school students, and as an officer for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Rowe described her background and motivation for considering a Congressional bid in a document I enclose below. She has not yet created an exploratory committee but plans to launch a campaign website sometime next month, both to present some of her policy ideas and to create an interactive format for voters to weigh in on the issues.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 166,338 active registered Democrats, 146,164 Republicans, and 191,340 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. The largest-population counties are Linn (the Cedar Rapids metro area), Black Hawk (Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro), and Dubuque, a traditional Democratic stronghold that is also Blum’s home base, where Democrats underperformed badly in 2016.

Blum was considered one of the most vulnerable U.S. House members in the country going into the 2016 election cycle, and many Iowa Democrats believed his narrow victory over Pat Murphy in 2014 had been a fluke. However, the Freedom Caucus member defeated Monica Vernon by a larger margin of 53.7 percent to 46.1 percent. Blum ran about five points ahead of Donald Trump, who carried the IA-01 counties by 48.7 percent to 45.2 percent. That was a massive swing from Barack Obama’s double-digit advantage in this part of Iowa in 2012.

Although I haven’t yet heard of any other Democrats thinking seriously about challenging Blum, I expect a competitive 2018 primary. Any comments about the race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its first target list on January 30. IA-01 and IA-03 are among those 33 Republican-held House seats.

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Tom or Ted? You Decide

Gary Kroeger looks at the proposed “First Amendment Defense Act,” which “may very well be the most frightening oxymoron of all time.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

What does it mean to be free in America? I believe it means that in the United States of America, no citizen will be denied services, opportunities, benefits, goods, transactions, acquisitions, access or mobility on the basis of their race, creed (religion), color, or gender. In fact, if there were distinctions to determine the extent of such rights, based on any physical or spiritual difference, then “American Freedom” would become meaningless.

This is not a state to state issue, either. There cannot be one definition for the qualifications of civil rights in one state that differs from another. American citizens can pass freely with a full complement of rights and expect the full protection of federal law. How could that be argued?

Yet it is. It is in legislation that is being re-introduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. And with a supportive Republican Congress and the blessings of President Trump, the First Amendment Defense Act could pass.

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A look at Jefferson County, Iowa

A former southeast Iowa resident shares insight into an unusual rural county, where Trump supporters campaigned on a unique message. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Given the increasing attention being paid to the continuing decline of rural Iowa, Jefferson County is an interesting absurdity among these conversations and the 2016 presidential election.

Jefferson County, population 16,843, is a mesh of traditional rural Iowa and a hot pot coalition of Transcendental Meditation followers from around the globe. Fairfield, the county seat, is more than 60 miles to the nearest urban center and stands out as the rare rural Iowa community that has gained population in recent years: a 4 percent population increase between 2010-2014, according to a questionable census report. (Questionable because a portion of the census’s reported increase in residents may be international students who took classes in Fairfield, but live in other states for the majority of their student/work visa.)

Fairfield is also known for its progressive views on organic farming and green energy, as well as residents’ higher than average educational attainment and religious diversity. Given those facts, Jefferson County should have been an easy win for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton coalition in 2016. As it has been reliably, other than in 2000, when the Natural Law Party’s John Hagelin won 15 percent of the vote, shifting the county from the Al Gore to the George Bush column. Instead, Clinton lost Jefferson County to Donald Trump by 38 votes.

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A year's worth of guest posts, plus tips for guest authors

One of my blogging new year’s resolutions for 2016 was to publish more work by other authors, and I’m grateful to the many talented writers who helped me meet that goal. After the jump I’ve linked to all 140 guest posts published here last year.

I encourage readers to consider writing for this site in 2017. Guest authors can write about any political issue of local, state, or national importance. As you can see from the stories enclosed below, a wide range of topics and perspectives are welcome here.

Pieces can be short or long, funny or sad. You can write in a detached voice or let your emotions show.

Posts can analyze what happened or advocate for what should happen, either in terms of public policy or a political strategy for Democrats. Authors can share first-person accounts of campaign events or more personal reflections about public figures.

Guest authors do not need to e-mail a draft to me or ask permission to pursue a story idea. Just register for an account (using the “sign up” link near the upper right), log in, write a post, edit as needed, and hit “submit for review” when you are ready to publish. The piece will be “pending” until I approve it for publication, to prevent spammers from using the site to sell their wares. You can write under your own name or choose any pseudonym not already claimed by another Bleeding Heartland user. I do not reveal authors’ identity without their permission.

I also want to thank everyone who comments on posts here. If you’ve never participated that way, feel free to register for a user account and share your views. If you used to comment occasionally but have not done so lately, you may need to reset your password. Let me know if you have any problems registering for an account, logging in, or changing a password. My address is near the lower right-hand corner of this page.

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