Special election coming in Iowa Senate district 3

Bill Anderson will soon resign from the Iowa Senate and from U.S. Representative Steve King’s district office to become executive director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, he told the Sioux City Journal‘s Bret Hayworth today. “I want to do something else and broaden my horizons,” he explained. He will officially step down in time for Governor Kim Reynolds to set a special election before the legislature reconvenes in January.

Ordinarily, a young lawmaker wouldn’t resign in the middle of his second term, soon after his party gained majority status. But Anderson didn’t seem like the happiest camper at the statehouse. For reasons that remain unclear, he supported an amendment opposed by leadership, which would have made the workers’ compensation bill Anderson had introduced slightly less bad for people suffering shoulder injuries.

He also missed quite a few votes during this year’s legislative session. Those factors may have prompted Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix to remove Anderson as Commerce Committee chair in May. (Neither Anderson nor Senate leaders ever responded to my requests for comment.)

Iowa Senate district 3 covers most of Plymouth County and a large area of Woodbury County, including neighborhoods on the south side of Sioux City. I enclose a detailed map below. Though anything can happen in a low-turnout special election, the GOP will be heavily favored to hold this seat, where voters favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 68.12 percent to 27.32 percent last November. According to the latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office, Senate district 3 contains just 8,741 active registered Democrats, 17,635 Republicans, and 13,035 no-party voters.

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All four Iowans approve Harvey aid, debt ceiling deal in House

The U.S. House easily approved legislation on Friday to keep the Federal Emergency Management Agency from running out of Hurricane Harvey disaster relief money over the weekend. The same bill included a short-term debt ceiling hike and language to fund the federal government through December 8.

I was surprised to see all four of Iowa’s House members in the yes column (roll call). Both of our senators had voted against the Harvey aid package in the upper chamber. I expected Representative Steve King (IA-04) and possibly Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) to follow suit.

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Grassley, Ernst vote against Harvey aid/debt ceiling package

With only a few days left before the Federal Emergency Management Agency runs out of disaster relief funds, the U.S. Senate approved $15.25 billion in funding for those affected by Hurricane Harvey today. Eighty senators voted for the legislation, even though GOP lawmakers were said to be “furious” when President Donald Trump agreed yesterday to a Democratic proposal linking Harvey aid to a short-term debt ceiling hike and language to fund the federal government through December 8.

Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were among the seventeen Republican senators who voted against today’s bill (roll call). In a statement enclosed in full below, Ernst said she supported a “clean” Hurricane Harvey relief bill, like the one U.S. House members approved on September 6 by 419 votes to 3. All four Iowans supported that bill: Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04), and Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02).

Carefully avoiding direct criticism of Trump, Ernst added in her statement, “Unfortunately a final deal was cut and while it includes initial relief funding, it also raises the debt limit and kicks the can down the road once again on our overall government spending levels. This is not the right way to legislate, and quite frankly, it is exactly what the American people are sick and tired of.”

I assume Grassley opposed the Harvey aid bill for similar reasons. At this writing, his office has not released a statement; I will update this post as needed with any public comment.

The Senate bill goes back to the House, where Democratic support is assured but a large number of Republicans will bolt over the debt ceiling hike and short-term spending resolution. I’ll be surprised if King or Blum votes for the bill; Young could go either way. UPDATE: All four Iowans voted for the revised bill in the U.S. House. I posted statements from King and Blum here.

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Paul Dahl becomes third Democratic candidate in IA-04

Paul Elliott Dahl announced his candidacy for Iowa’s fourth Congressional district yesterday, describing himself as “a progressive populist wanting to serve Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives with integrity, industry, and innovation.” A resident of Webster City, Dahl is a transit bus driver in Hamilton County. His previous work experience includes some adjunct teaching and fifteen years as either a librarian or library director. He promised to focus his Congressional campaign on seven issues: agriculture, campaign finance reform, education, environment, government spending, health care, and Social Security.

In the past month, J.D. Scholten and Leann Jacobsen launched their own campaigns against Representative Steve King. I asked Dahl about any previous election experience or Democratic Party activism, as well as why he decided to run for Congress, rather than for some other office where there aren’t already two Democrats running. (Dahl lives in Iowa House district 48, represented by Republican Rob Bacon.)

He replied via e-mail that he sought the Democratic nomination in what was then Iowa’s fifth Congressional district in 1994, when he was living in Humboldt County and working as a United Methodist pastor. He grew up in Black Hawk County, where his father was a United Auto Workers official and “quite active in Democratic politics.” Dahl sees himself having a fundraising advantage over the competition, since the counties where he has lived have a larger combined population than the counties where Jacobsen and Scholten are now based.

Ties to larger-population counties don’t automatically translate into campaign contributions. I would be surprised if Dahl is competitive with the other Democrats running against King on this front. Scholten has connections through sports all over the fourth district, and former candidate Kim Weaver has helped him raise money through her large e-mail list of supporters. Jacobsen has extensive business experience and is a past president of Technology Association Iowa. We’ll see when the campaigns file their third-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission in October.

I’ve posted more background on Dahl below. You can find his campaign on the web at Dahlforthehouse.net, or on Facebook.

UPDATE: I didn’t remember that Dahl ran for governor in 2013, and he didn’t mention that short-lived campaign. John Deeth wrote about it at the time. Dahl didn’t qualify for the 2014 primary ballot.

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Weekend open thread: Bye bye Bannon

Steve Bannon’s position as chief White House strategist appeared to be secure this week after President Donald Trump doubled down on framing “both sides” as equally at fault for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville. But after a couple of ill-advised interviews with the New York Times and the American Prospect, Bannon was dumped on a Friday afternoon, like several Trump associates gone before him. Among other things, the president apparently didn’t appreciate Bannon’s habit of taking credit for his election victory.

Representative Steve King told the New York Times earlier in the week that conservatives would be “crushed” if Bannon were ousted. On August 17, he lamented to Philip Rucker of the Washington Post, “With Steve Bannon gone, what’s left of the conservative core in the West Wing?”

King didn’t elaborate on what conservatives admired in Bannon, but he has never espoused the “economic populist” agenda of higher taxes on the rich or tearing up trade agreements. Rather, Bannon and Republicans like King share a delight in exploiting racial and ethnic resentments for political gain.

I am inclined to agree with Sarah Kendzior: “Bannon may be just as useful for Trump outside the White House as he was within it–perhaps more so.” Bannon himself told Bloomberg reporter Joshua Green, “I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.” (Green wrote the book Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.)

Another sign Trump has not repudiated Bannon’s views: white supremacist allies Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka remain the president’s senior policy adviser and deputy assistant, respectively.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. The funniest political story I read this week was by John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade for Politico, detailing the “agonizing, 8-page memo” of instructions for staffers charged with driving GOP Representative Todd Rokita of Indiana. I’ve heard some good stories from Iowans who have chauffeured candidates or elected officials, but nothing approaching that level of high-maintenance behavior.

UPDATE: Added below more comments from Bannon and Trump.

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