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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Bob Vander Plaats and FAMiLY Leader men: Pluck out thy right eye

After watching Iowa House Republicans advance an unconstitutional abortion ban, Matt Chapman has a “modest proposal.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Toward the end of the second “funnel” week, when most non-appropriations bills must be approved by one chamber and by a committee in the other chamber to remain viable, House Republicans amended a fetal body parts bill to ban almost all abortions in Iowa after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Selling fetal body parts is not legal or happening in Iowa. That issue was merely a distraction, a vehicle to advance the true Republican agenda: taking away women’s rights to control their own bodies.

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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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Incumbents retiring in two battleground GOP-held Iowa Senate districts

During the last week before the filing deadline, Republican State Senators Mark Chelgren and Rick Bertrand announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018. Iowa Senate districts 41 and 7 were already the best Democratic pickup opportunities on a difficult midterm election map. Of the 29 Republicans now serving in the upper chamber, only four–Chelgren, Bertrand, Dan Dawson, and Tom Greene–hold seats where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans (barely in Dawson’s district). Dawson and Greene won’t be up for re-election until 2020.

Winning an open seat is usually easier than defeating a legislative incumbent, and Bertrand’s retirement clearly improves Democratic chances in Senate district 7.

But Republicans have likely increased their odds of holding Senate district 41 by swapping out Chelgren for Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

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Home rule, the Iowa legislature, and your county board

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese sounds the alarm about a Republican bill that’s stayed mostly below the radar. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Iowa Senate is considering a bill that would force Iowa’s ten most populous counties (and only those ten) to use districts to elect supervisors. Not only that, but supervisors would be elected only by the people in those districts, not by everyone in the county. It’s called House File 2372, and it’s a bad idea. And I say this not just because I have a dog in this hunt.

The numbers say I’d stand a pretty good chance if I were to run for re-election, with or without the districts (no decisions on that yet, by the way, though at this point I don’t see why I wouldn’t). But the aim of the plan–which depending on who you ask is to get either more Republican or more rural representation on the board–is misguided at best, and foolish at worst. There is no legal way to create a majority rural (or majority Republican) district in #JoCo. Why? Because math.

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