Pat Grassley will chair the Iowa House Appropriations Committee

Five-term State Representative Pat Grassley announced on Twitter this morning that he will chair the Iowa House Appropriations Committee. The previous chair, Chuck Soderberg, retired from the legislature last month. I don’t know who else lobbied Speaker-Select Linda Upmeyer for this prize committee assignment, but I will update this post if I learn more.

The grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Pat Grassley was first elected to the Iowa House in 2006. He chaired the House Economic Growth and Rebuild Iowa committee in 2011 and 2012 and has chaired the House Agriculture Committee since the 2013 legislative session. He represents a safe Republican district covering Grundy County and parts of Hardin and Butler counties. Grassley’s most competitive re-election bid was the 2012 Republican primary in House district 50, after redistricting pitted him against then-colleague, State Representative Annette Sweeney.

Many Iowa politics watchers expect Grassley to run for secretary of agriculture in 2018, assuming the current incumbent Bill Northey seeks the Republican nomination for governor.

OCTOBER UPDATE: Upmeyer selected three-term State Representative Lee Hein to chair the House Agriculture Committee for the 2016 legislative session. Hein had previously been one of four assistant majority leaders.  

Third-party and independent candidates in Iowa's 2014 elections

The filing period for general election candidates in Iowa closed last Friday, so it’s a good time to review where candidates not representing either the Democratic or Republican Party are running for office. The full candidate list is on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website (pdf(. After the jump I discuss all the federal, statewide, and state legislative races including at least one independent or minor-party candidate. Where possible, I’ve linked to campaign websites, so you can learn more about the candidates and their priorities.

Rarely has any Iowa election been affected by an independent or third-party candidate on the ballot. Arguably, the most recent case may have been the 2010 election in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Final results showed that Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley defeated Republican challenger Ben Lange by 4,209 votes, while conservative candidates Rob Petsche and Jason Faulkner drew 4,087 votes and 2,092 votes, respectively.

Any comments about Iowa’s 2014 elections are welcome in this thread.

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Iowa State Fair tips and speaking schedule for state and federal candidates

The Iowa State Fair opened a few minutes ago and runs through August 17. I’m a big fan of the event, and after the jump, I’ve posted some of my favorite tips for enjoying the fair, along with the schedule for candidate appearances at the Des Moines Register’s "soapbox" on the Grand Concourse. The Register will live-stream speeches by candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, as well as a few nationally known politicians from out of state.

The fair has almost endless free entertainment, but bring cash with you anyway, because the State Fair board had to backtrack on plans to eliminate cash purchases for food. Instead, vendors have been encouraged to accept credit and debit cards. I suspect most will stick with a cash-only system.  

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IA-Gov: Terry Branstad has primary challenger, Jack Hatch does not

Governor Terry Branstad’s Republican challenger, Tom Hoefling, has qualified for the primary ballot after submitting his nominating petitions on March 14, the final day. I don’t see any way Hoefling could win a primary, but it will be interesting to see how large the conservative protest vote is against Branstad. GOP turnout should be larger than usual on June 3, because of competitive primaries for the U.S. Senate seat and the first, second, and third Congressional districts.

Last night the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicated that Jonathan Narcisse filed papers to run for governor as a Democrat. However, his petitions must not have had enough valid signatures, because his name does not appear on the full candidate list (pdf). The other long-shot Democratic hopeful, Paul Dahl, apparently never filed petitions. That leaves State Senator Jack Hatch as the lone Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

In other statewide candidate news, no Republicans stepped up to run against Attorney General Tom Miller or State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. By this time in 2010, Brenna Findley was already campaigning around the state against Miller, and two Republicans were running for treasurer.

As expected, Sherrie Taha is the Democratic candidate for secretary of agriculture; she will face GOP incumbent Bill Northey. Jon Neiderbach is the Democratic candidate for state auditor; he will face GOP incumbent Mary Mosiman, whom Branstad appointed last year. The secretary of state’s race pits Democrat Brad Anderson against Republican Paul Pate. 2010 Libertarian nominee Jake Porter also plans to register for the ballot this summer.

Sherrie Taha's case for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner Sherrie Taha announced her candidacy for Iowa secretary of agriculture last month and has been appearing at Democratic events around the state in recent weeks. Her campaign is on Facebook here. To my knowledge, there isn’t a campaign website yet.

Taha’s central message is simple: “A healthy Iowa begins with healthy soil.” Protecting that soil will reduce input costs for farmers while producing cleaner water in Iowa and downstream. That basic truth seems to be lost on the incumbent Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Despite evidence that Iowa’s world-class topsoil, a non-renewable resource, is “floating away” at an alarming rate, Northey has resisted any regulation aimed at reducing runoff into waterways. Instead, Northey promotes voluntary efforts, which may not be applied where they are most needed to keep topsoil in place. The incumbent also opposes any numeric standards which would indicate whether the state’s strategy to reduce water pollution from farms is working.

Taha will have an uphill battle against Northey, who was narrowly elected in 2006 and easily re-elected in 2010. The incumbent will have strong financial backing from interest groups that profit from current conventional agricultural practices. A far larger group of Iowans would benefit from Taha’s plan to do more to protect farmland and clean water. After the jump I’ve posted the introductory piece of literature from her campaign, which highlights her priorities and provides a short bio.

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Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I’ve posted some highlights after the jump. The “news” of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn’t the most interesting part of his speech.

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