Democrat Lance Roorda running for one of toughest Iowa Senate districts

An under-reported Iowa politics story this year has been strong Democratic recruiting for the 2020 state Senate races. Even though recapturing the Iowa Senate is likely to take at least two election cycles, given the current 32-18 Republican majority, Democrats have declared candidates in five out of six Senate seats the party lost in 2016.*

Other Democrats are actively campaigning in three Senate districts that were only nominally contested in 2016.**

As of this week, Democrats also have a challenger in an Iowa Senate district that is so heavily Republican the party did not field a candidate for the last election.

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Thirteen quick takes on the November Democratic debate

With four presidential contenders packed closely together at the top of the field and a majority of Democratic voters not yet committed to a candidate, televised debates could make or break several campaigns between now and the February 3 Iowa caucuses. As Dan Guild discussed here, debates have fueled breakouts for some lower-polling candidates in past election cycles.

If you missed the fifth Democratic debate on November 20, you can read the full transcript here. My thoughts on the evening in Atlanta:

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Sawtooth sunflower

I’ve wanted to write about Sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus) since the earliest months of Bleeding Heartland’s wildflowers series in 2012. Large colonies thrive at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City. But for one reason or another, I’ve never managed to catch them at the height of their blooming period.

After I visited the refuge in early August, I was determined to get back there a few weeks later to capture the sawtooth sunflowers. Again, life got in the way, and I feared these prairie plants had eluded me again.

The first weekend in October, I called the refuge and spoke with a volunteer, who assured me that some sawtooth sunflowers were still blooming near the main parking lot. I took most of the pictures enclosed below there or near the Highway 163 ramp that leads to the refuge (exit 18).

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Julian Castro stands up to injustice and discrimination

Bonnie Louise Brown is an elected member of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee and a civil rights activist in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Right now, in this country and in our home state of Iowa, we have a crisis. Hate crimes are on the rise, we have concentration camps on our southern border and Americans are strapped down by their student loan debt. We need strength to overcome this, we need courage to do what is right, and most importantly, we need a leader who will fight for every American.

Secretary Julián Castro is that leader. He has a plan to make the United States of America a home for all its citizens and put us back on a path of moral clarity. He is the strong candidate we need, a candidate who will stand up for what is right and end the terrible discrimination against immigrants and people of color in this country.

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The Des Moines Register poll shows Buttigieg can win Iowa. But...

The latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom did what November Des Moines Register polls often do: shake up perceptions of the presidential race.

Buttigieg’s historic rise (I will show how historic in a minute) is stunning. While I am skeptical he is really ahead of everyone else by 9 points–another poll released on November 17 showed him 1 point behind both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden–the idea that he leads and is well over 20 is believable. But the horse numbers underestimate what Buttigieg has accomplished. He is the best-liked candidate as well as the one being considered by the most voters.

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