How Iowa could have lost three Supreme Court justices in 2016

Remember how awful you felt on November 9, 2016, as you started to grasp what we were up against following the most devastating Iowa election in decades?

Would you believe the results could have been even worse?

Imagine Governor Terry Branstad appointing three right-wingers to the Iowa Supreme Court. It could have happened if conservative groups had targeted Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Brent Appel, and Justice Daryl Hecht with the resources and fervor they had applied against three justices in 2010.

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13 questions to ask at the public hearing on voter ID rules

This afternoon’s public hearing at the Iowa Secretary of State’s office probably will not lead to any substantial revisions in the administrative rules proposed to implement Iowa’s new election law. While the bill was working its way through the legislature, neither Secretary of State Paul Pate nor Republican lawmakers acknowledged research from other states, indicating voter ID and signature verification requirements would suppress voting by some eligible citizens, especially in certain groups.

Nevertheless, the record from today’s hearing could become important in potential future court rulings on the law.

Gerry Hebert, one of the country’s top experts on voting rights law, told an audience in Des Moines last week that testimony at public hearings has sometimes been useful in litigation on other states’ voting restrictions. Speaking to Bleeding Heartland after that event, Hebert offered more specific suggestions on questions that would be helpful for citizens to ask today.

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Voter suppression is the issue

Adam Kenworthy shines a spotlight on two upcoming events focused on the threat to voting rights. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Washington Post editorial board on August 19 declared voter suppression the civil rights issue of this era. The Post’s article directly relates to the violence and hatred that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia and to President Donald Trump’s repeated statements and actions to excuse and empower white supremacists. One key aspect of those efforts is the president’s phony “election integrity” commission, headed by Kris Kobach.

In order to understand the magnitude of the current drive to suppress votes, we must recognize that such policies, while still heavily relying on and drawing from the tactics of racial oppression, are now motivated by one distinguishing factor: party.

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IA-Gov: Highlights from Cathy Glasson's campaign launch

Cathy Glasson became the seventh declared Democratic candidate for governor this week, emphasizing her commitment to a $15 minimum wage, expanded workers’ rights, single-payer health care, and stronger efforts to clean up Iowa waterways. A nurse and president of SEIU Local 199, Glasson hired staff months ago and has kept up a busy schedule while exploring the race, speaking at or attending more than 100 events around the state. Bleeding Heartland covered two versions of her stump speech here and here.

I enclose below news from Glasson’s rollout, including endorsements from Iowa environmental activists and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. You can keep up with Glasson through her campaign’s website, Twitter feed, or Facebook page.

The field of Democratic challengers to Governor Kim Reynolds is likely complete. In alphabetical order, the other candidates are:

Nate Boulton (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Fred Hubbell (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Andy McGuire (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Jon Neiderbach (website, Twitter, Facebook)
John Norris (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Ross Wilburn (website, Twitter, Facebook)

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"We can do better": Deidre DeJear's case for secretary of state

Iowa Democrats are set to have their first competitive primary for secretary of state since 1998. Deidre DeJear launched her campaign last month on the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, to symbolize her commitment to increasing voter participation.

DeJear spoke to Bleeding Heartland at length about her candidacy, and I’ve posted highlights from that interview after the jump, along with the audio and full transcript of her remarks to a Democratic audience in Grinnell. You can follow her campaign on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

DeJear’s approach to the race is markedly different from that of Jim Mowrer, the other Democrat in the field. Mowrer came out swinging against Secretary of State Paul Pate, vowing “to say no to making it harder and more expensive to vote” and highlighting the failure to count nearly 6,000 votes in Dallas County last November. In contrast, DeJear says little about Pate in her campaign materials and stump speech. She didn’t bring up the Dallas County debacle in our interview either.

Pate is very unpopular among Democratic activists since pushing for new restrictions on voting that will create barriers for certain populations. Nor is the secretary of state well-liked by county auditors, some of whom have already endorsed Mowrer. I suspect many 2018 primary voters will be drawn to a candidate willing to take the fight to Pate, relentlessly.

On the other hand, DeJear’s more aspirational, positive message should resonate with Democrats who prefer candidates to talk about what they are for, not what they’re against. I look forward to following this race.

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