Iowa Senate district 30 primary: Waylon Brown vs. Doug Campbell

Two Iowa state senators and six state representatives face competition for their party’s nomination in the June 4 primary. The most intriguing match-up is unfolding in Senate district 30.

Two-term Republican State Senator Waylon Brown has a huge financial advantage and the backing of powerful interest groups. His opponent Doug Campbell, a retired pharmacist and former Mason City school board member, is running a low-budget campaign powered by grassroots outrage over a proposed CO2 pipeline.

The outcome should signal whether the controversy over property rights in rural Iowa is salient enough in GOP circles to overcome the advantages of incumbency. If Campbell prevails, Senate Republicans may feel pressure to consider eminent domain legislation in 2025, after blocking all such bills in the Commerce Committee for the last several years.

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Leadership, integrity make Lanon Baccam right choice on June 4

Mitch Henry chairs the Iowa Unity Coalition.

As the campaign for Iowa’s third U.S. House district gains momentum, Lanon Baccam emerges as a beacon of hope for progress and a brighter future.

With a proven track record of dedication to public service, Lanon Baccam embodies the values and principles that will lead our nation forward. Lanon is a veteran who served eight years in the U.S. Army and Iowa National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004. He has never forgotten his fellow veterans and has dedicated his life to helping them. 

Throughout his career, Lanon Baccam has shown an unwavering commitment to addressing the pressing issues facing our communities. Following his military service, Lanon served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture under former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. There, he worked to support veterans, expand pathways to jobs in the agriculture industry, and promote training and entrepreneurship opportunities for veterans transitioning to careers in agriculture.

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Remembering the Iowa soldiers killed in wartime

Former President Donald Trump marked Memorial Day on May 27 by ranting on his social media platform about “the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great County,” the “Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge in New York,” and “the N.Y. State Wacko Judge,” among others.

In contrast, Iowa politicians from both parties embraced the spirit of the holiday originally known as Decoration Day by honoring Americans who died during military service. Governor Kim Reynolds attended Memorial Day events at the Iowa Gold Star Museum in Johnston and Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Adel.

In that spirit, Bleeding Heartland remembers the Iowans killed in military conflicts, from before statehood to the current decade.

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Iowa politicians should leave the kids alone

Ed Tibbetts, a longtime reporter and editor in the Quad-Cities, is the publisher of the Along the Mississippi newsletter, where this article first appeared. Find more of his work at

In some parts of Iowa, road signs greet visitors with our new state slogan: “Iowa, Freedom to Flourish.”

Some Republican lawmakers obviously don’t get the concept.

U.S. Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson and State Representative Taylor Collins have all been wringing their hands recently over trips that some students and staff from Muscatine High School took to China.

China apparently paid the costs, according to a recent article in the right-wing British newspaper, the Daily Mail, and that has triggered the Iowa Republicans. Now, there’s talk of stopping these visits.

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Memorial Day: A dystopian view of the future

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

It’s a cloudy day as I sit outside. I am intently reading To Kill a Mockingbird, which I quickly put down as our new neighbor walks by and waves to me. He’s wearing a red MAGA hat with a red, white and blue t-shirt. I would say it is for Memorial Day, but the attire is a common theme in the neighborhood. American and Trump flags both align the houses up and down the street like it’s getting ready for a parade or a Trump rally. But the election is over, and the news reports said it was the widest margin of victory for a presidential candidate in U.S. history.

The year is 2029.

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FAQ: Education Savings Accounts and private school tuition in Iowa

Jason Fontana is a doctoral candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University. Jennifer Jennings is Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and the Director of the Education Research Section. Fontana and Jennings are conducting a multi-year research project on the impacts of Education Savings Accounts.

Frequently asked questions about “The Effect of Taxpayer-Funded Education Savings Accounts on Private School Tuition: Evidence from Iowa,” a working paper by Jason Fontana and Jennifer Jennings, published at Brown University’s Annenberg Institute in April 2024.

1) What questions does this study answer?

This study asks if Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which are taxpayer funds to help pay for private school, caused Iowa private schools to raise tuition prices in the 2023-24 school year.

2) How does this study answer those questions?

The study compares tuition prices in Iowa, where ESAs were available in 2023-24, to Nebraska, which will adopt ESAs starting in 2024-25. Since Iowa and Nebraska are similar in many ways, comparing them helps show the impact of ESAs. It also looks at how tuition changed in different grades to see if prices increased more when all students were eligible.

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Justice's distress signal should distress us all

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and can be reached at

Here is a tidbit from my years as a newspaper reporter and editor:

I never voted in a primary election, never attended the Iowa caucuses, never stuck a candidate’s sign in my yard, never had a bumper sticker on my car, never signed a petition, never donated to a campaign.

When Sue and I married, she got something more in the deal than my sparkling personality. She knew she could not have any yard signs, because people driving past our home would not know which part of the yard was for her opinions and which was for mine. To eliminate any confusion, there were no yard signs. Period.

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At long last, Iowa acts on non-medical prescription switching

Kali White VanBaale is an Iowa-based novelist, creative writing professor, and mental health care advocate. Find more of her work at (where this essay first appeared) and     

This month, Governor Kim Reynolds signed several critical pieces of mental health care legislation, including House File 626, “an Act relating to continuity of care and non-medical prescription switching by health carriers, health benefit plans, and utilization review organizations.” This legislation has a long, contentious history at the Iowa capitol.

Why was this bill important enough to lobby for it year after year with no success? What exactly is non-medical switching?

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Ohio spiderwort

Diane Porter of Fairfield first published this post on My Gaia, an email newsletter “about getting to know nature” and “giving her a helping hand in our own backyards.” Diane also maintains the Birdwatching Dot Com website and bird blog.

Ohio Spiderworts (Tradescantia ohiensis) wake me up when I look out the window. Although only a few flowers are open at a time, the bright golden anthers play against their color-opposite purple petals. My eyes shimmer.

It’s a morning-only vision. Around noon the flowers close up tight. As if to say, “Come back tomorrow.” For the rest of the day, spiderworts are simply green, easy to overlook.

But next sunrise, a fresh crop of purple-petaled blossoms opens. From the center of each flower, slender columns reach up. These are the reproductive parts of the flowers.

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Hiding in plain sight

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

Imagine, for a moment, you have fallen on hard times. You’ve lost your job, you’re being evicted or foreclosed, and you have nowhere to go. However, your parents, who built a rich, prosperous life out of their meager immigrant beginnings, invite you to stay with them, for as long as you like. And you breathe a welcome sigh of relief—you’re not going to have to sleep on the street!

But little by little, you discover some excruciating and unsettling facts about the people who are beckoning you home.

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Does character no longer count in the state of Character Counts?

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere. 

Character once counted in Iowa Republican politics. We could take pride in Governor Bob Ray, U.S. Representative Jim Leach, and the early U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. They led with integrity. They willingly crossed the aisle to achieve bipartisan goals. They served as role models for our children, standing up for democracy, truth, and accountability. Our state enjoyed a reputation in public administration circles as a “good government” jurisdiction.

Donald Trump has upended all this. He is the antithesis of character. He’s the skunk at the church picnic. He lies incessantly, bullies, commits fraud and adultery, sexually assaults women, mocks wounded veterans, and cheats contractors. He’s a racist. He puts his attempt to overthrow a free and fair election at the center of his campaign. Donald Trump is everything we don’t want our children to be.

In this historic moment, Iowa’s representatives in Washington—Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Zach Nunn, and Randy Feenstra—are failing the character test.

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One vetoed bill exposed four big flaws in Iowa legislature's work

Transparency advocates found something to celebrate in Governor Kim Reynolds’ final bill signings on May 17. The governor rejected House File 2539—her only veto of the Iowa legislature’s 2024 session—due to language that would have created an “enormous loophole” in the open meetings law, experts inside and outside state government warned.

Drafting a better bill to strengthen penalties for open meetings violations should be easy, if Iowa lawmakers return to the topic in 2025.

But fixing the process that allowed such a poorly-worded bill to reach the governor’s desk would be a tall order. Because while House File 2539 suffered a unique fate, its journey through the legislature illustrated broader problems with how the GOP-controlled House and Senate do business.

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New Iowa law flouts U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause

Rick Morain is the former publisher and owner of the Jefferson Herald, for which he writes a regular column.

Where does your primary loyalty lie: as a citizen of America, or as a citizen of Iowa?

Probably seems like a meaningless question. But around the nation, more and more states these days are enacting laws in opposition to those of the federal government, placing the loyalty question front and center. And a growing number of U.S. residents are declaring a preference to honor their state laws above those of the United States.


In terms of settled law, there’s no real dispute: federal law outranks state law. The U.S. Constitution leaves no doubt. Article VI, Clause 2 (the “Supremacy Clause”), reads as follows:

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Christian Nationalism poses a grave threat to America

Rev. Cathy F. Young of Waterloo is a retired pastor in the Presbyterian Church. The following is an abbreviated version of a sermon about Christian Nationalism.

My father, who served as a Naval officer in the South Pacific, shared fascinating World War II stories with me. With ensuing history classes I became troubled by America’s slow response to Hitler’s atrocities in Europe and incredulous that Christians in Germany blindly followed their deranged dictator.

While pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, I took a course titled Christianity and the Holocaust. I learned that Hitler’s strategy to build loyalty and support within German churches was masterful. He encouraged kids in his German youth organizations to get their families to attend Sunday worship with them. Church attendance skyrocketed; pastors were thrilled. Eventually, Germany’s government rule and religion became one.

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Trapped in the Political Upside Down

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and has been connected to Iowa’s public schools for 38 years. He taught for eleven years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association regional director for 27 years until retiring. He can be reached at  

Starting in 2016, Netflix streamed Stranger Things, a horror, science fiction series set in a small Indiana town with tweens and teens as main characters. In its four seasons, the audience travels to the “Upside Down,” an alternate universe where bizarre replaces normal.

It’s fun fiction.

But in real life, we have veered into the “Political Upside Down.”

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Live-streaming government meetings should be the norm

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and can be reached at

You don’t often hear anyone extol the benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I did a few weeks ago—when I stood before the Storm Lake Kiwanis club and talked about government transparency in Iowa.

I did not wade into the debate over masks, social distancing or vaccinations. It was a polite audience, but I was not silly enough to needlessly venture onto that thin ice.

What I said about the pandemic was this: State and local governments embraced, even if grudgingly, the benefits of live-streaming their board meetings during the pandemic so the public could watch from wherever they were.

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Iowa Senate Majority leader being treated for brain tumor

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver is undergoing radiation therapy for a brain tumor, he announced in a May 17 news release. He said his condition was diagnosed after the Iowa legislature adjourned for the year in April, adding that he is “responding well to the initial treatments.”

Whitver said he will continue to serve in the legislature and as majority leader. Senate GOP staff did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s questions about where Whitver is receiving medical care, or the expected time frame of the treatment plan.

Many elected officials from both parties—including Governor Kim Reynolds, Attorney General Brenna Bird, State Auditor Rob Sand, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum, and House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst—expressed prayers and well wishes for Whitver’s health in statements sent to news organizations or posted on social media.

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Holocaust education in Iowa schools should paint the full picture

Henry Jay Karp is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanuel in Davenport, Iowa, which he served from 1985 to 2017. He is the co-founder and co-convener of One Human Family QCA, a social justice organization.

Governor Kim Reynolds came to Beit Shalom, the home of the Quad Cities Jewish community, on May 15 to sign House File 2545, a bill containing controversial new social studies curriculum requirements.

Why Beit Shalom? Because the bill requires Iowa schools to teach Holocaust education, following the model of Illinois, which has required it for several years.

Though members of the Quad Cities Jewish community are divided about the policies of the governor and the Republican-controlled legislature, we do stand united on the issue of Holocaust education in our schools. According to FBI statistics for the past several years, more than 50 percent of religion-based acts of hate in the U.S. targeted the Jewish community, more than all the other faith groups put together. Since the atrocities of the Hamas attack on Israeli communities on October 7, 2023, the number of antisemitic attacks in the U.S. has more than tripled.

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Brenna Bird and RAGA are masters of projection

“What I saw in that courtroom today is a travesty,” Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird told reporters in New York City on May 13. She was speaking outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump is being tried for allegedly “falsifying business records to conceal hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.”

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) organized the trip and paid for Bird’s travel to Manhattan, a spokesperson for Bird’s campaign told reporters after the attorney general declined to answer that question directly.

Ed Tibbetts highlighted Bird’s disrespect for the legal system when she declared the case “a scam and a sham.” Dave Busiek ridiculed Bird’s hypocrisy after she denounced the prosecution’s witness Michael Cohen (“a perjurer, disbarred, convicted of lying”) “without any apparent sense of irony that she’s appearing on behalf of Donald Trump, who lies as easily and frequently as the rest of us breathe.”

It’s also worth noting that Trump loyalists like Bird and RAGA have no room to point fingers about political prosecutions or “election interference.”

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Spring at Margo Frankel Woods

Spring wildflowers are exploding, Iowa’s longest drought in decades is abating, and Bleeding Heartland’s wildflowers series returns today for its thirteenth year.

As grateful as I am for the rain, the warm, wet spring weather is boosting some invasive plants as well as native ones. I’ve pulled up enough garlic mustard over the past couple of weeks to fill several garbage bags, but I’ve hardly made a dent in the wooded area closest to our Windsor Heights home. Something blooming out there is triggering my spring allergies as well.

Emily Bredthauer gave me permission to publish a selection of photos she took in April and May at Margo Frankel Woods State Park in Polk County. I’m always excited to share images of a plant I’ve never seen before, and Emily was fortunate to find some naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora), an unusual parasitic plant shown above, and in a few pictures below.

Please let me know if you would like to write a guest post for this series, either featuring one kind of plant or a selection of wildflowers seen in one location. This Iowa wildflower Wednesday archive is alphabetized by common name of the plant. Last year I compiled links to previous posts featuring many plants encountered during visits to parks, prairies, natural areas, or trails.

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