Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic state convention edition

Many Bleeding Heartland readers spent a large part of their weekend at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, where the Iowa Democratic Party held its Hall of Fame event on Friday and its state convention on Saturday. Although delegates were given electronic devices to speed the voting along, convention business dragged on past midnight. UPDATE: I am told the convention adjourned at 2:16 am.

In an organizing triumph, supporters of Hillary Clinton filled all of their delegate slots, while only about 85 percent of the Bernie Sanders delegates turned up. But only about ten delegates chosen as Sanders supporters switched their allegiance to Clinton yesterday, even after a second realignment. According to John Deeth, more than 70 additional people would have had to switch to give Clinton an extra Democratic National Convention delegate from Iowa. So thanks to the Sanders delegates’ loyalty, Clinton received the expected number of 23 national delegates, Sanders 21. Adding Iowa’s superdelegates to the mix, Clinton ends up with 29 DNC delegates to 21 for Sanders. The 51st Iowa DNC delegate is State Party Chair Andy McGuire, who will surely support Clinton in Philadelphia but is still maintaining a neutral stance.

Most of Iowa’s DNC delegates were chosen at last month’s district conventions. Electing the last few national delegates took hours yesterday, because votes in the Clinton and Sanders preference groups were split almost evenly among the many candidates who wanted to go to Philadelphia. Drake student and I-35 School Board member Josh Hughes won one of the male Clinton delegate slots, capping off a big month for the winner of Bleeding Heartland’s primary election prediction contest. I learned on Friday that Josh will be managing Andrea Phillips’ campaign in Iowa House district 37. Phillips is the Democratic challenger to John Landon in this seat covering parts of Ankeny and Alleman in northeast Polk County.

State convention delegates re-elected Scott Brennan and Sandy Opstvedt to the Democratic National Committee yesterday. In their speeches to the delegates, Brennan and Opstvedt emphasized their work to keep Iowa first in the nominating process. We’ll need all the help we can get next year, as there may be a strong push within the DNC to start the nominating process in states with more racial diversity than Iowa or New Hampshire, and to ban caucuses for the purposes of presidential selection.

Hundreds of delegates left before the final platform debates. (Tedious discussions over minor punctuation issues and whether to replace “people” with “human beings” had already taken up too much time during the afternoon session.) The Iowa Democratic Party state platform officially opposes superdelegates–not that DNC members will care what state platforms have to say on the matter. Language backing a “livable minimum wage” was changed to support a $15 per hour minimum wage. When the crowd had thinned out considerably, -delegates approved a plank to legalize all drugs.- CORRECTION: The legalization plank was included in the draft platform distributed to delegates before the convention. According to Jon Neiderbach, the late-night votes rejected two minority reports: one would have substituted “decriminalization” for legalization, the other would have kept the party platform silent on the issue. The legalization plank will probably become fodder for Republican campaign ads, even though I’m not aware of any Iowa Democratic candidates who hold this position. Pat Rynard commented, “doing stuff like this is the fastest way for Bernie people to get marginalized in the party.”

UPDATE: Some have suggested the platform debate should have been shut off for lack of a quorum, given how many delegates left by midnight. But my understanding is that doing so would have left the drug legalization language from the draft platform intact. CLARIFICATION: Delegates had already approved the vast majority of the platform, containing non-controversial provisions, during the afternoon. So if quorum had been called late in the evening, the controversial planks including the one calling for drug legalization would have remained the recommendations of the platform committee but would not have been officially approved by the party.

SECOND UPDATE: Added below the Iowa Democratic Party’s official statement on the convention results, which includes the full list of DNC delegates. One of the national delegates for Sanders, Brent Oleson, was a Republican until less than a year ago.

Earlier in the day, Rynard covered the State Central Committee elections, which happened on Saturday morning. The committee will be almost evenly split between Clinton and Sanders supporters, though the last committee member (chosen on Saturday evening) may give Clinton backers a slight edge.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. This past week I read many heartbreaking accounts of people who died in last weekend’s massacre at a gay club in Orlando. One of the most disturbing articles about the tragedy: mass murderer Omar Mateen was checking social media for reports on his killing spree while the crime was in progress. Last year Mark Follman published a must-read piece at Mother Jones about “How the Media Inspires Mass Shooters.” I enclose below six recommendations for media reporting on mass shootings, “based on interviews with and research from threat assessment experts concerned about this issue.” Another good read on the subject by Follman is “Inside the Race to Stop the Next Mass Shooter.”

Iowa Democratic Party press release, June 18:

2016 Iowa Democratic Party State Convention Results

DES MOINES—Today, Iowa Democrats held their state convention at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines. Our state convention is the final step in the Iowa Democratic Party’s delegate selection process that began on February 1st, 2016. With 1285 of 1406 delegates seated, Democrats today saw an incredible participation rate, signaling that the party is strong, united, and committed to turning out voters in November.

IDP Chair Dr. Andy McGuire said that today’s convention showed that the Democratic party is clearly ready to move forward into the General Election. “I am energized and encouraged after the enthusiasm I saw at today’s state convention,” said McGuire. “I saw hundreds of smiling faces today, and as Democrats, we know that in the end we are in this fight together to combat inequality, discrimination and exclusion. This is going to be the most important election of our lifetime–Donald Trump is dangerous, unpredictable, and unfit to be our commander-in-chief.”

The results of today’s elections are:

National Delegates elected today, 5 Clinton, 4 Sanders

Michael Fitzgerald (Clinton)

Josh Hughes (Clinton)

Christina Blackcloud (Clinton)

Alexandria Hoskins (Clinton)

Cindy Pollard (Clinton)

Eleanore Taft (Sanders)

Jenny Gernhart (Sanders)

Victor Zavala-Sanders

Chris Petersen (Sanders)

PLEO (Party Leader Elected Officials) 3 Clinton, 3 Sanders

Som Baccam (Clinton)

Tom Harkin (Clinton)

Rob Hogg (Clinton)

Brian Gerjets (Sanders)

Mary Hoyer (Sanders)

Brent Oleson (Sanders)

Presidential Electors

Danny Homan (Clinton)

Joan Peck (Clinton)

DNC Committee People

Scott Brennan (Clinton)

Sandy Opstvedt (Clinton)

State Affirmative Action Chair

Rachel (Alex) Anderson (Sanders)

IDP State Central Committee Constituency Caucus Chairs
Asian-American Pacific Islander Caucus: Som Baccam
Black Caucus: Jamie Woods
Disability Caucus: Catherine Crist
Labor Caucus: Tammy Wawro
Latino Caucus: Brenda Phongsavah
Native American Caucus: Lutisha Dumkrieger
Progressive Caucus: Jason Frerichs
Rural Caucus: Colleen Caldwell
Senior/Retiree Caucus: Jean Pardee
Stonewall Caucus: Devin Kelly
Veterans Caucus: Caleb Humphrey
Women’s Caucus: Melinda Jones

Below is a breakdown of the Iowa Democratic Party’s National Delegation. More information will be released in the coming days.

29 National Delegates elected at district conventions: 15 Clinton, 14 Sanders
9 At-Large National Delegates elected today: 5 Clinton, 4 Sanders
6 PLEOs (Party Elected Leader Officials): 3 Clinton, 3 Sanders
7 Superdelegates

23 pledged Clinton Delegates, 21 pledged Sanders Delegates are the same results and Delegate count as the night of Iowa Caucuses on February 1st.

From Mark Follman’s October 2015 article “How the Media Inspires Mass Shooters”:

Report on the perpetrator forensically and with dispassionate language. Avoid terms like “lone wolf” and “school shooter,” which may carry cachet with young men aspiring to attack. Instead use “perpetrator,” “act of lone terrorism,” and “act of mass murder.”

Minimize use of the perpetrator’s name. When it isn’t necessary to repeat it, don’t. And don’t include middle names gratuitously, a common practice for distinguishing criminal suspects from others of the same name, but which can otherwise lend a false sense of their importance.

Keep the perpetrator’s name out of headlines. Rarely, if ever, will a generic reference to him in a headline be any less practical.

Minimize use of images of the perpetrator. This is especially important both in terms of aspiring copycats’ desire for fame, and the psychology of vulnerable individuals who identify with mass shooters.

Avoid using “pseudocommando” or other posed photos of the perpetrator. This should apply especially after these images are outdated, such as showing the Aurora killer again with his red “Joker” hair during his trial three years later, when he was heavier and wore glasses and a beard.

Avoid publishing the perpetrators’ videos or manifestos except when clearly necessary or valuable to the reporting. Instead, paraphrase, cite sparingly, and provide analysis. The guiding question here may be: Is this evidence already easily accessible online? If so, is there a genuine reason to reproduce and spread it, other than to generate page views?

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  • "Legalizing drugs"

    I would like to read a write-up specifically about the “legalizing all drugs” plank. I was not at the convention & am baffled, frankly.

    Rynard states this was the work of Bernie supporters. Is that true? If so, how? & why?

    • More like Libertarians

      What was particularly odd is there was a separate plank to legalize cannabis, and then one to legalize all drugs. Really? Legalize meth? It is one thing to say reschedule any drug that a medical professional believes is helpful. It is one thing to say legalize certain drugs with long records of reasonably safe use (marijuana). But to suggest legalization of meth, crack, PCP etc. ignores that there is no safe use, no safe level and ignores that often those at the margins of society are hardest hit by the damage of these drugs. I was shocked to see that in the draft platform (my wife was a delegate.)

      • Drug abuse is a Mental Health - not Criminal Justice - problem

        The platform approved by the Platform Committee and printed in the Convention Call Book included the plank to legalize all drugs. Nothing was sneaked (snuck?) through late at night by the Bernie people or anyone else. Legalizing drugs does not mean endorsing their use. Our decades long effort to address drug abuse through the criminal justice system has been a huge failure: it hasn’t stopped drug abuse and it has cost us huge amounts of money in prison costs and wasted lives. The platform plank – which I fully support – reflects the need to try a new approach. Note that a growing number of Republicans also support changing how we deal with drug abuse. The platform also calls for funding for substance-abuse treatment programs and overall improvement in the mental health and addiction treatment area.

        • You're focusing only on users

          I agree that drug use is often — but certainly not always — a mental health issue. So are some — but not all — mass shootings, and we believe controlling the instrumentality, not just the user, is a valid approach. We should be consistent and recognize the controlling the instrumentality of drug abuse is critical. Legalization as worded in the platform does not apply to just the user, who may benefit from a different approach, but because it decriminalizes the substance itself legalizes distribution. You aren’t helping the decision making of someone with mental health problems to have the drug be more freely available. Moreover, one purpose of the law is to provide guidance and set norms. When Republicans argue “criminals will still get guns” part of the answer is always don’t you think *more* people would do x, y or z undesirable thing if there were no laws against it? You don’t minimize drug abuse by removing the societal signal that certain drugs are harmful and removing barriers to use.

          Legalizing selectively, and particularly medicinally, makes sense. Changing how we deal with non-violent personal use issues to emphasize interdiction and treatment as opposed to incarceration makes sense. Sending a message to those who are curious but law-abiding that we no longer see danger in drugs that can be addictive after a single dose and can kill easily (meth, fentanyl), and then increasing their availability will be disastrous; it will get us to the same place we are with guns in this country.

        • so what was the late-night vote?

          Was that on a motion to remove that plank from the platform?

        • changing how we deal with drug abuse is important

          but I wouldn’t jump from there to legalizing all controlled substances. Start with marijuana.

          Also, decriminalizing is different from legalizing.

    • Drug abuse is a Mental Health not Criminal Justice problem

      The platform approved by the Platform Committee and printed in the Convention Call Book included the plank to legalize all drugs. Nothing was sneaked (snuck?) through late at night by the Bernie people or anyone else. Legalizing drugs does not mean endorsing their use. Our decades long effort to address drug abuse through the criminal justice system has been a huge failure: it hasn’t stopped drug abuse and it has cost us huge amounts of money in prison costs and wasted lives. The platform plank – which I fully support – reflects the need to try a new approach. Note that a growing number of Republicans also support changing how we deal with drug abuse. The platform also calls for funding for substance-abuse treatment programs and overall improvement in the mental health and addiction treatment area.
      – See more at: http://www.bleedingheartland.com/2016/06/19/weekend-open-thread-iowa-democratic-state-convention-edition/#sthash.3GuhrzIw.dpuf

  • There has to be a limit

    Apparently there were numerous lengthy proposed platform planks being submitted from the floor, which took ages. I know some Clinton delegates viewed this (rightly or wrongly) as an attempt by Sanders delegates to drag things out, get the Clinton folks to leave before key votes on certain planks or on rules and Constitution amendments.

    I understand this position is likely out of step with where the party is right now, but there really have to be some limits on the amount of little “d” democracy that can be provided by the time you get to state convention. We are turning people off of the process because county, district and state all have run for 18 hrs. When I was younger I was a delegate, and on platform committee (in the late 80s and early 90s) — it was never this kind of test of endurance. Planks can be submitted at the precincts, there is platform debate at county and at district, and there are elected representatives on the committee, and minority reports are included in the draft as voting alternatives. That really ought to be ample. Allowing floor submissions at State makes all of the prior process and work pretty meaningless, and needlessly turns it into a marathon session — it would take long enough to simply debate an up or down vote on the planks and minority reports.

    Democracy does not require that every last person have every last opportunity to individually write the platform. We have a committee for a reason, and it is democratically elected. Every last person *does* have several opportunities for input into the process at earlier stages. But having those opportunities narrow with subsequent rounds of process just makes sense. To suggest otherwise isn’t democracy, it is anarchy. The way the various in Iowa ran this year is not sustainable.

    • errata

      “The way the various *conventions* in Iowa ran this year. . .”

    • This is what democracy looks like

      With all due respect, lengthy debate over the convention platform is hardly new or unexpected. Perhaps the convention should go for two days, one for elections of people and one for debate on platform and changes to IDP governance document. Having the state convention work on the Platform Committee’s proposal (which is based on the earlier district, county, and precinct platform work) allows the document to be perfected and most importantly legitimized by the democratically elected representatives of the Democratic grassroots!

      • I imagine it would be very hard

        to get delegates to show up for a second day of work focused on platform and IDP governance debate.

  • Open thread

    Long time and one big election between now and then, but I’ve been thinking ahead to the Gov contest in 2018.

    Even if TB steps down and gives KR a leg up on the GOP side, I think Bill Northey is a slam dunk as the Republican candidate. I don’t see Reynolds or Corbett beating him. I don’t believe Branstad’s blessing will help KR that much. He’s underwater right now, and he has a mixed record at best with his annointed candidates

    If you follow Northeys social media, he’s already out there, running hard. Long time statewide officeholder, personable, knows everybody, loyal party guy, Farm Bureau, the whole package.

    On the Dem side, I cannot think of any of the oft mentioned suspects who can beat him. Maybe Tom Vilsack, in the unlikely event he would jump back in. Maybe.

    Would be interested in the thoughts of other BH users about who could beat Northey.

    • I hope you are right

      My money’s on Corbett to win the nomination, thanks to sweeping the eastern Iowa counties. I think Corbett would be very hard to beat in the general, due to crossover support for him in Linn County.

      • Don't think so

        He’s my number 2 candidate on the GOP side. I think his weakness in Polk County might deny him the nom. But I don’t see any Dem beating him either. Pat Rynard sez Andy McGuire is already working with consultants on her candidacy. I think there are better options.