Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

July 2009

I reviewed some of the important laws that went into effect on July 1.

I encouraged Bleeding Heartland readers to get to know Bob Krause, the first Democrat to announce plans to challenge Chuck Grassley in 2010.

Debate raged over whether Governor Culver should call the legislature into special session to amend the fiscal year 2009 budget. Culver said he was “very confident” the budget was balanced.

A video of Chuck Grassley went viral after he told a questioner at a town-hall meeting to “go work for the federal government” if he wanted a health insurance plan like the one Grassley enjoys.

Iowa’s smoking rate declined during the first year after the public smoking ban went into effect.

The Iowa Farm Bureau expressed confidence that the climate change bill would die in the Senate. It seems that they were right.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office advised the Iowa Department of Public Health that a married lesbian who gives birth cannot list her spouse on the child’s birth certificate.

After Christian Fong declared his candidacy for governor, I was struck by the way he borrowed from Barack Obama’s playbook. I still wonder whether Fong could have gotten any traction in the GOP primary if Terry Branstad had stayed out of the governor’s race.

The parent company of a firm that allegedly exploited mentally disabled workers claimed not to be subject to Iowa labor laws.

Chet Culver hired John Frew to be his new chief of staff and brought on Teresa Vilmain as a senior consultant to his re-election campaign. Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by The Iowa Republican blog found that Culver had decent approval and favorability ratings.

Iowa fully utilized federal stimulus funds aimed at extending unemployment benefits thanks to some steps taken during the 2009 legislative session.

The Government Accountability Office examined how 16 states were handling federal stimulus funds. Iowa got good marks for its “foundation of safeguards to help ensure the funds are being spent in the way that they were intended and to minimize the fraud, waste and abuse.”

The Des Moines Register reported on a Mount Vernon grocer’s lawsuit against the industry’s top two wholesalers, charging they had conspired to keep food prices artificially high.

A Dubuque assisted living center exploited a loophole in order to evade government regulations for care of the elderly.

Bill Northey confirmed that he will not run for governor in 2010, but will run for re-election as Iowa secretary of agriculture.

Health Care for America Now and the Iowa Citizen Action Network created a “job application” for Iowans wanting to take Chuck Grassley’s advice to “go work for the federal government” if they want good health insurance coverage.

A poll commissioned by The Iowa Republican blog showed Bob Vander Plaats with a commanding lead over other Republicans running for governor.

Strong investor interest and Iowa’s high credit rating drove down the interest rate for the I-JOBS bonds, reducing future repayment costs.

The Des Moines rumor mill said Terry Branstad was thinking about getting back into politics, but I was still skeptical.

A report named State Representative Kerry Burt among a group of parents who didn’t pay tuition fees to the University of Northern Iowa’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School.

John Whitaker resigned as state representative in Iowa House district 90 in order to take a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A bunch of teenagers got busted for underage drinking at the home of Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus.

Christian Fong found a politically-correct Republican way to advocate discrimination against same-sex couples while sounding respectful and inclusive.

Governor Culver set September 1 as the date for the special election in Iowa House district 90.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation started looking into allegations that State Representative Kerry Burt failed to pay $37,000 in tuition costs for his children.

State Representative Rod Roberts joined the Republican race for governor.

I compared Chet Culver’s and Terry Branstad’s records on state budgets and flood recovery. I still think a central event in Branstad’s tenure as governor was his 1994 Republican primary battle against then Congressman Fred Grandy.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy refused to reclassify marijuana as a medication doctors can prescribe, but voted to hold public hearings on the issue.

Democrats and Republicans selected candidates for the special election in Iowa House district 90.

CNBC named Iowa the fourth best state for doing business.

The I-JOBS board awarded the first grants for infrastructure projects amid controversy over how many jobs would be created.

Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell helped negotiate new language in the House health care reform bill to change Medicare reimbursements.

Central Iowa business Republicans continued to search for a new candidate to enter the gubernatorial race.

Governor Culver rode a train through eastern Iowa to promote the expansion of passenger rail. Meanwhile, Representative Tom Latham tried but failed to replace $3 billion in high-speed rail funds with more money for roads in a transportation appropriations bill.

The RNC ran radio ads against Leonard Boswell on health care.

The Iowa GOP and Iowa Democratic Party agreed to hold the 2010 caucuses on Saturday, January 23 at 1 pm. I still think the caucus system needs serious reform.

Reports emerged that State Representative Kerry Burt dropped the governor’s name in an effort to avoid a drunk-driving arrest.

Paul McKinley complained about Democrats blocking his time-wasting “state sovereignty resolution.”

The Iowa Pharmacy Association filed a disclosure report on its February legislative reception five months late.

I dodged a teachable moment when Fred Phelps brought his Westboro Baptist Church clan to protest Jewish sites in central Iowa.

August 2009

Terry Branstad told the Des Moines Register that he was “not ruling out” running for governor in 2010.

The state Environmental Protection Commission considered new rules that would limit public input during the permit approval process for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Christian Fong announced ten campus coordinators to help attract the youth vote.

The Iowa GOP outsourced the House district 90 special election campaign to Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Family Policy Center.

The National Republican Congressional Committee included Leonard Boswell (IA-03) on its list of 70 Democratic-held districts to be targeted in 2010.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement discovered numerous late-filing disclosure violations by lobbyist groups during the 2009 legislative session, indicating that the Iowa legislature is unable or unwilling to enforce its own rules.

Iowa Republicans grew increasingly worried that Chuck Grassley might help Democrats pass health care reform, but I knew he wasn’t working to improve the bill or its chances of passing.

The Senate confirmed Leach for that position in August.

I concluded that Iowa atheists have amazing power to make other people act like idiots.

I agreed with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement about the need to stop subsidizing factory farms and overproduction of meat. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack denied the pork industry’s request to buy excess pork in August but allocated money for that purpose later in the year.

Chris Rants bashed the Power Fund and missed the point.

Chuck Grassley played the “pull the plug on grandma” card.

Bleeding Heartland user blueback reminded us of the tv ads corporations funded through the Iowa Leadership Council in 2008. The ads targeted several Iowa House Democrats.

Iowa got the highest marks in the Work Loss Data Institute’s 2009 state report cards on workers’ compensation.

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat attended a Tom Harkin health care forum and declared, “Now I understand why war happens.”

Leonard Boswell was vague about what he considered essential elements of a health care reform bill.

Republican Stephen Burgmeier’s first tv ad in the House district 90 campaign focused on Governor Chet Culver and the I-JOBS state bonding initiative. The ad repeated the usual misleading Republican talking points against the I-JOBS borrowing.

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat posted some ideas on how to “defeat the health care forum bullies”.

Bleeding Heartland user hei posted a first-person account from one of Representative Dave Loebsack’s town-hall meetings.

The Iowa Democratic Party ran a tv ad in House district 90 focusing on how Republican candidate Stephen Burgmeier voted to raise his pay as a county supervisor four times in six years.

Guest poster Senate Guru advocated drafting Bruce Braley to run against Chuck Grassley, an idea I opposed.

Christian Fong promised that if elected governor, he would balance the budget every year without touching Iowa’s reserve fund, prompting this post on the purpose of rainy day funds and the danger of cutting spending too deeply during a recession.

As some Senate Democrats floated regional health insurance co-operatives as an alternative to the public option, the New York Times noted that health insurance co-ops had already failed in Iowa.

Paul McKinley didn’t even go through the motions of campaigning for governor.

The Republican Party and its candidate Stephen Burgmeier decided to downplay social issues during the special election campaign in House district 90, prompting an angry social conservative to run as a third-party campaign. A second social conservative also joined the race, and the two fringe candidates received more than 200 votes in the special election, which the Democrat won by 107 votes.

Iowa’s budget picture continued to look bleak, with spending cuts increasingly likely to keep the current-year budget in balance.

Bob Vander Plaats bizarrely advocated taking Iowa out of the federal government-run Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission voted unanimously “to formally support the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision allowing gay marriage, and to formally oppose any constitutional amendment that would overturn the decision.”

State Representative Kerry Burt received a fine and a year of probation after pleading guilty to drunk driving.

Rumors continued to circulate about a high-profile Democrat joining the race against Chuck Grassley.

Bleeding Heartland user iowavoter posted a first-hand account of a Grassley town-hall meeting.

I never did understand why State Senator Jerry Behn joined the Republican race for governor.

Christian Fong started running a statewide radio ad that made false claims about the I-JOBS bonding program as well as an ill-advised promise to “end the use of taxpayer money to fund lobbyists.”

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat shared a personal story that fuels his commitment to health care reform.

Guest poster dopper0189 cross-posted a diary from Swing State Project on the concept of “Party Brand Index” applied to Iowa. published a disappointing “he said she said” piece on the story instead of investigating whether the ad’s claims were true.

Anonymous hit pieces attacking Terry Branstad from the right popped up on Des Moines windshields and on YouTube.

Francis Thicke praised legislation in Illinois aimed at increasing local food production.

Steve King finally ruled out running for governor in 2010.

I chose not to attend an Organizing for America rally on health care reform.

Bleeding Heartland user iowademocrat, an early Obama supporter, lost patience with the president: “I refuse to work for his version of health care reform when he has no clear goal other than to pass something – anything – that may get through Congress, regardless of content.”

Senator Ted Kennedy passed away, and his friend John Culver (former U.S. Senator, father of Chet Culver) made memorable remarks at the funeral.

The special election campaign in Iowa House district 90 heated up. The National Organization for Marriage spent heavily on television ads to help elect the Republican Burgmeier. Interest groups supporting Curt Hanson relied primarily on the ground game.

Fred Hubbell quickly quashed speculation that he might run against Chuck Grassley next year.

September 2009

Curt Hanson’s narrow victory in the Iowa House district 90 special election was a pleasant surprise. When will Iowa Republicans learn how to run an absentee ballot drive?

I-JOBS grants were announced for 16 public shelters.

Survey USA found record low approval numbers for Chet Culver and Chuck Grassley.

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a report on how quickly states are turning around stimulus road funds, and Iowa scored quite well.

Attempts by marriage equality opponents to spin the House district 90 election as a success amused me.

I never believed the rumors that social conservatives were considering a primary challenge against Chuck Grassley.

The Iowa Policy Project concluded that “the state of working Iowa” is not good.

The year’s school board elections brought no big upsets. I gave readers five reasons to vote in school board elections.

I discussed revised House race ratings by Larry Sabato, which put Iowa’s second and third Congressional districts in the “likely Democratic” column.

Francis Thicke announced plans to run for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in 2010 and responded to Republican name-calling.

Environment Iowa estimated that strong energy efficiency policies would create more than 6,000 jobs in Iowa while saving the average family $282 per year.

Chet Culver hired Andrew Roos to run his re-election campaign and Jesse Harris as deputy campaign manager.

Christian Fong claimed Culver hadn’t done enough on flood relief, which struck me as odd since Fong (like fellow Republicans) opposed the I-JOBS infrastructure state bonding program. I-JOBS included $45 million in flood recovery funds for Linn County and about $100 million to help rebuild the University of Iowa campus.

Bob Vander Plaats promised not to balance his ticket with a less-conservative running mate.

Several Republican candidates for governor spoke at the Iowa Family Policy Center’s fall event, but Terry Branstad was a no-show.

Tom Harkin held his annual steak fry, featuring Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Harkin promised that health care reform containing a public option would pass by Christmas.

Jan Bauer, Sandy Opstvedt and Michael Kiernan gained new posts at the Democratic National Committee.

The Iowa Department of Transportation was developing new guidelines on passenger transportation. Meanwhile, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization moved toward adopting a 25-year plan that, if completed, would increase vehicle miles traveled in our region by 33 percent.

I was disturbed by the failure of any prominent Republican to denounce political rhetoric of armed rebellion.

Ed and Lynn Fallon got a radio show on 98.3 FM in Des Moines.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll showed Culver’s approval rating at 50 percent, down for the year but still in net positive territory. Terry Branstad had higher favorability ratings, but respondents were mixed on whether he should run for governor again.

The same poll indicated that Iowans are not eager to overturn marriage equality.

I was impressed by Dubuque’s commitment to being a “sustainable city.”

Iowa Department of Economic Development director Mike Tramontina resigned as news broke of major problems with Iowa’s state film tax credit. Within days, Governor Culver fired the manager of the Iowa Film Office and named Fred Hubbell interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

Republican State Representative Kent Sorenson announced that he will challenge State Senator Staci Appel next year instead of running for re-election in House district 74. The campaign in Iowa Senate district 37 will be a race to watch, but I think Appel has a good chance to win re-election. Side note: Appel’s husband, Brent Appel, is one of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who struck down our Defense of Marriage Act in the Varnum v Brien case.

Steve King decided same-sex marriage would lead to a “socialist society.”

Rasmussen released an Iowa poll showing Chet Culver trailing Terry Branstad by 20 points and Bob Vander Plaats by 4 points.

The film tax credit scandal continued to make the news.

Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan prominsed that a high-profile recruit would give Chuck Grassley “the race of his life” in 2010.

President Obama nominated Stephanie Rose and Nick Klinefeldt for the U.S. attorney positions in Iowa’s northern and southern districts.

Asked about the Congressional vote he most regrets, Steve King said he couldn’t think of any and pivoted to bragging about what he considers his “best vote”: against the $1.5 billion aid package for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The growing questions surrounding Strategic Vision made me wonder whether their 2007 Iowa polls were fabricated.

In the wake of the film tax credit fiasco, I discussed some other bad bills that passed the Iowa legislature with little or no opposition.

Bleeding Heartland user American007 went home for Centerville’s pancake day and shook Bob Vander Plaats’ hand.

October 2009

Bleeding Heartland user BJazz sized up strong Democratic prospects for holding the Iowa Senate and concluded that “marriage equality is here to stay.”

Francis Thicke argued that “we need to look beyond corn for biofuels.”

Iowa Independent and ProPublica reported on high-end travel Representative Tom Latham enjoyed on the dime of his For America’s Republican Majority PAC.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said legislators see few benefits from the film tax credit.

I remembered Pope John Paul II’s visit to Iowa 30 years ago.

With Terry Branstad looking increasingly likely to run for governor, I examined whether he might choose pro-choice former State Representative Libby Jacobs as his running mate.

Francis Thicke, Democratic candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture, praised U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for becoming a champion for local foods.

Terry Branstad formed an exploratory committee for his gubernatorial campaign, shaking up the Republican field.

The Iowa Democratic Party responded that “some things should stay in the past.”

I discussed the most likely lines of attack Branstad will face during the GOP primary.

Governor Culver ordered a 10 percent cut in fiscal year 2010 spending, and more details about the cuts emerged later in the month.

The Draft Branstad PAC, which is really a 527 group, apparently violated election law by advocating for Branstad after he filed paperwork forming an exploratory committee.

I wondered whether Iowa Republicans would seek out Sarah Palin’s endorsement next year.

Dubuque conservative businessman Rod Blum announced plans to run against Bruce Braley in Iowa’s first Congressional district (D+5).

Reverend Keith Ratliff, the head of the NAACP in Iowa and Nebraska, endorsed Bob Vander Plaats for governor.

I noted that by failing to pass campaign contribution limits during the past three years, Iowa’s Democratic leaders enabled what is likely to be huge fundraising by Terry Branstad.

I was saddened to learn that State Representative Mark Kuhn won’t seek re-election in Iowa House district 14.

Terry Branstad filed paperwork to explore a gubernatorial campaign and hired Iowa GOP Executive Director Jeff Boeyink as his campaign manager.

The Community Food Security Coalition held its annual conference in Des Moines for the first time ever, which inspired this post advocating that Governor Culver bring back the Iowa Food Policy Council.

On Blog Action Day I linked to a list of Iowa-based non-profit organizations helping to fight global warming.

Research 2000 polled Iowa for Daily Kos and found Chet Culver slightly trailing Terry Branstad but crushing Chris Rants and Bob Vander Plaats. The same poll showed Chuck Grassley barely above 50 percent against Christie Vilsack, Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen.

Terry Branstad announced plans to “fully explore” a gubernatorial bid and started hiring staff, as Chet Culver launched the first television commercial of his re-election campaign.

The same week that Steve King joined the right-wing crusade against White House “safe schools” official Kevin Jennings, Mike Denklau became the first Democrat to announce plans to run against King in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district in 2010.

Christian Fong was the most prominent speaker at a rally of the Iowa Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

I previewed the case Bob Vander Plaats will make against Terry Branstad in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Inspired by ads New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine ran against overweight Republican Chris Christie, Bleeding Heartland user American007 pondered whether Chet Culver might be too big to win re-election.

I took another guess at how the likely Republican presidential candidates will do in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

Roxanne Conlin told the Des Moines Register that “more likely than not” she will run against Senator Chuck Grassley.

State Senator Dennis Black’s weak comments to an opponent of same-sex marriage inspired this post urging Iowa Democrats not to cop out when their conservative constituents press them on the issue.

Christie Vilsack ruled out running for U.S. Senate in 2010. She said, “never doubt I am committed to a life of service and to Iowa,” leading me to suspect she plans to run for Congress someday when Leonard Boswell retires.

State Senator Brad Zaun and former Iowa GOP chairman Mike Mahaffey confirmed that they were thinking about running against Congressman Leonard Boswell.

I previewed what is likely to be a highly competitive race in Iowa Senate district 9 next year. First-term incumbent Democrat Bill Heckroth will face former Republican State Representative Bill Dix.

The governor announced more details about his mid-year budget cuts.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources formulated new rules on protecting Iowa’s highest-quality waters.

State Representative Dick Taylor, a Democrat, announced his resignation, forcing a special election to be scheduled in Iowa House district 33. Later in the month, Democratic and Republican candidates were selected in special nominating conventions.

The Iowa Christian Alliance faced an FEC complaint over contributions allegedly run through West Hill United Methodist Church of Burlington.

November 2009

Democrats in Iowa and nationwide should not resort to sexist insults when mocking Sarah Palin.

I discussed the persistent rumor that Terry Branstad plans to pick insurance company executive Doug Reichardt as a running mate and analyzed what Reichardt might bring to the ticket.

I argued that it’s a waste of time for journalists to speculate on whether Steve King will run for president in 2012.

I argued that Iowa Republicans must make their tent bigger in order to regain ground they’ve lost statewide and in former GOP strongholds like Scott County (Quad Cities area).

Chet Culver’s re-election campaign started running a second television commercial, which I thought was quite good.

I reviewed some reactions to the off-year elections in Iowa, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia. In general it was a tough night for Iowa incumbents.

Some Iowa Republican bloggers talked down Brad Zaun for Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Stephanie Rose and Nick Klinefeldt’s nominations for U.S. attorney in Iowa’s northern and southern districts.

Iowa Senate minority leader Paul McKinley officially dropped out of the governor’s race.

Steve King falsely claimed that the Democrats’ proposed health care reform would cancel every private insurance contract in the country. King also missed a House Judiciary Committee hearing in order to participate in Michele Bachmann’s Capitol Hill rally against health care reform. In so doing he helped doom several GOP-sponsored amendments to the PATRIOT Act.

The U.S. House narrowly approved a health care reform bill, and Iowa’s representatives split on party lines.

Roxanne Conlin started putting together a campaign infrastructure and announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate with a two-minute biographical video.

I posted highlights from the Iowa GOP’s big fall fundraiser, featuring an underwhelming debut by candidate Terry Branstad.

Leaders of AFSCME, the largest union representing state employees, reached a tentative deal with Governor Culver on concessions to avoid layoffs. The deal went to a vote of AFSCME members.

The Iowa-based conservative advocacy group American Future Fund asked the Federal Election Commission to overturn state bans on political robocalls.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Chris Rants and Terry Branstad continued to make misleading and hypocritical attacks on the I-JOBS infrastructure bonding initiative.

Republican Ross Paustian announced plans for a rematch against State Representative Elesha Gayman, who defeated him in 2008 in Iowa House district 84.

Iowa got good marks in a report by the Pew Center on the States on state budget problems. You’d never know that from listening to Iowa Republicans, however.

Crisitunity’s Swing State Project post about vulnerable Democratic-held House districts suggested to me that the National Republican Congressional Committee is unlikely to invest heavily in Leonard Boswell’s GOP opponent next year.

A feature article about Christian Fong got me thinking about ostensibly well-meaning bigotry in the Midwest.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll had very bad news for Chet Culver.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll indicated that Roxanne Conlin would have an uphill battle against Chuck Grassley.

Democrat Ed O’Neill stepped forward to run in Iowa Senate district 13 after two-term State Senator Roger Stewart announced plans to retire next year.

I viewed the upcoming GOP primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district as a sign of the shrinking Republican tent. In a D+7 district long represented by Jim Leach, none of the potential GOP candidates is a social moderate.

Republican hypocrisy regarding the Obama administration’s plans to try some terrorism suspects in the U.S. inspired this post.

Former Iowa State wrestling coach Jim Gibbons and State Senator Brad Zaun announced plans to run against Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third Congressional district. I wondered why so many Republicans are interested in this race. Even if a Republican defeats Boswell in 2010, he is likely to be thrown into a 2012 primary against Tom Latham in a redrawn IA-03.

After reading a report from Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” I suggested that it’s misguided for some politicians to claim that climate change legislation would be “unfair” to residents of coal-dependent states.

Governor Culver announced more details about the planned review of Iowa’s tax credits in the wake of the film tax credit scandal.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Stephanie Rose and Nick Klinefeldt to be the U.S. Attorneys in Iowa’s northern and southern districts, respectively.

Several Iowa metro areas improved their rankings in the 2009 Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best-Performing Cities Index.

I enjoyed the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, where Vice President Joe Biden gave the keynote speech. Before dinner I had a chance to meet Bill Maske, candidate for Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. The same night I learned that two Democrats have announced plans to run against Steve King in Iowa’s heavily Republican fifth district.

The USDA named five Iowa Farm Service Agency committee members, two of whom have strong ties in the sustainable agriculture community.

Bruce Braley said his constituents overwhelmingly support using the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois to house some former prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Iowa Republicans continued to hammer Braley on the issue.

Bob Vander Plaats said Terry Branstad shares responsibility for helping Democrats pass health care reform because he backed Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson in his 2000 campaign for U.S. Senate.

Democrat Kirsten Running-Marquardt easily won a special election to replace retiring State Representative Dick Taylor in Iowa House district 33.

State Senator Brad Zaun filed FEC paperwork to run for Congress in Iowa’s third district.

Chris Rants and Jonathan Narcisse announced plans to hold a series of public debates around the state in December. It struck me as bad news for Governor Culver, since Narcisse had supported him in the 2006 Democratic primary. The debates didn’t receive as much media attention as I had anticipated, however.

Former Iowa Senate Majority Leader Stew Iverson, who is also a former chairman of the Iowa GOP, announced that he may run in Iowa House district 9 next year against two-term Democrat McKinley Bailey. I was intrigued that Iverson doesn’t seem to be considering running for his old Iowa Senate seat, which Democrat Rich Olive won by a narrow margin in 2006.

Two of Iowa’s RNC members supported the so-called “purity test” designed to cut off GOP support for any candidate who strays too far from conservative dogma.

AFSCME and a smaller labor union representing state employees approved concessions in order to avoid layoff during the current fiscal year.

Democratic State Representative Wes Whitead announced that he will not seek re-election in House district 1. Next November Democrat Rick Mullin will face Republican Jeremy Taylor, who nearly upset Whitead in 2008.

Democratic Senate candidate Bob Krause, who chairs the Iowa Democratic Veterans Caucus, spoke out strongly against escalating the war in Afghanistan, while rival candidate Tom Fiegen called for a series of debates between the three Democrats competing to run against Chuck Grassley.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks announced plans to run against Dave Loebsack again in Iowa’s second Congressional district. She faces more conservative Republicans Christopher Reed and Steve Rathje in the GOP primary.

Bruce Braley endorsed Roxanne Conlin in the Democratic primary to face Senator Chuck Grassley.

December 2009

December 1 was a bad day for incumbents as many Iowa cities held runoff local elections.

Christian Fong quit the Republican race for governor, citing “practical financial hurdles.”

Andrew Roos departed as campaign manager for Chet Culver.

Governor Culver called for reforms to Iowa’s budget process in a speech to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Iowa Senate minority leader Paul McKinley revealed his ignorance about special-needs education.

I previewed next year’s campaign in Iowa Senate district 41, where a Republican and a Democrat intend to challenge GOP incumbent Dave Hartsuch.

State Senator Brad Zaun formally announced his candidacy in the GOP primary for Iowa’s third Congressional district.

The executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement published a good piece in the Des Moines Register about ending USDA loans that encourage construction of more factory farms.

Jim Gibbons’ Congressional campaign’s first attack against Leonard Boswell was pathetic, even by the standards of modern Republican campaigns.

Bruce Braley’s House Populist Caucus and Tom Harkin advocated new Wall Street transaction fees to increase revenue and discourage “reckless speculation.”

I speculated on whether Christian Fong should agree to be Branstad’s running mate and whether Branstad should choose him.

I noticed that Iowa RNC Committeewoman Kim Lehman is still heading Iowa Right to Life, even though she promised a year ago to hand over the reins at that organization to someone else.

The Iowa GOP hired a new executive director to replace Jeff Boeyink, who left to manage Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign.

The Des Moines metro area was rated the fourth-best U.S. city in terms of “bang for the buck.”

Terry Branstad’s campaign and its supporters engaged in some ridiculous revisionist history regarding his handling of the state budget.

A group of economists proposed reforms to Iowa’s budget process.

Leonard Boswell turned up on a list of 17 House Democrats that the NRCC hopes to pressure into retirement.

I discussed the absurd overreaction by Iowa Republicans to former Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning’s support for marriage equality.

I found confirmation of the rumor that ethanol baron Bruce Rastetter was backing Jim Gibbons for Congress in IA-03.

Cedar Rapids attorney Mark Seidl announced that he plans to run in Iowa House district 37, which Republican Renee Schulte carried in 2008 by just 13 votes.

The Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee unanimously approved new rules on regulating abuse and negligence in nursing homes, but I predict an attempt to overturn these rules during next year’s legislative session.

Moderate Mark Rees became the fourth GOP candidate in the race against Leonard Boswell. Later in the month conservative Pat Bertroche would bring the GOP primary field to five.

The Obama administration announced its intention to move some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, but it may be years before the plan goes ahead.

Bill Maske declared his candidacy in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. He faces an uphill battle against eight-term Republican incumbent Tom Latham.

Jim Gibbons secured the backing of many heavy-hitter Republican donors in his race for the GOP nomination in IA-03.

Self-styled constitutional historian David Barton, a prominent conservative activist based in Texas, endorsed Bob Vander Plaats for governor.

I noticed that Terry Branstad has a big accountability problem.

After seeing the weak November fundraising numbers from the National Republican Congressional Committee, I predicted the NRCC will not spend heavily in IA-03 next year.

The Des Moines Rotary decided to review its approval process after 11 members rejected an application by a Planned Parenthood employee.

Second-tier candidate Jerry Behn quit the governor’s race and endorsed Terry Branstad. I speculated on whether Chris Rants or Rod Roberts would be the next to go.

The National Republican Congressional Committee started a new robocall against Leonard Boswell three days before Christmas.

I launched a holiday haiku contest, and Bleeding Heartland readers submitted some good haikus inspired by the governor’s race and the campaign in Iowa’s third Congressional district.

A judge ordered a new trial for David Flores, who has spent more than 13 years in prison for murder.

The Census Bureau’s last population estimates before the 2010 census confirmed that Iowa will lose a Congressional district during the next reapportionment.

Citing official statements by Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Grassley and Harkin, I previewed next year’s campaign messages on health care reform..

Terry Branstad recorded a phone appeal targeting Iowa Democrats.

Steve King kept scaremongering about health care reform and the threat posed by moving terrorist suspects from Guantanamo Bay.

Culver appointed Bret Mills to run the Iowa Department of Economic Development and moved a housing program from IDED to the Iowa Finance Authority.

A review of state tax credits continued ahead of the 2010 legislative session.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was named most valuable grassroots advocacy group by John Nichols of The Nation.

I took issue with Environment Iowa giving Tom Harkin and Leonard Boswell perfect scores for their activities during the year.

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