Five questions inspired by the Des Moines Register's IA-03 poll

Iowa’s third Congressional district Democratic primary has no clear front-runner, according to the first public poll of the race by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. If the June 5 election were held today, 27 percent of respondents would support Eddie Mauro, 26 percent Cindy Axne, 11 percent Pete D’Alessandro, 10 percent “none of these/someone else/would not vote,” and 26 percent unsure/refused to answer.

Mauro has the highest name recognition in this field–not surprising, since he comes from a well-known Polk County political family and began advertising on Des Moines television stations in mid-April, about two weeks before Axne and D’Alessandro did. Selzer found 42 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Mauro, 13 percent unfavorable, and 46 percent didn’t know enough to have an opinion, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register today. The comparable numbers for Axne were 33 percent favorable, 8 percent unfavorable, 59 percent unsure, and for D’Alessandro, 22 percent favorable, 10 percent unfavorable, 68 percent unsure.

I have no idea who will win the nomination. Five questions came to mind after reading Petroski’s write-up.

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Des Moines Register poll: Bad news for Hubbell, worse news for everyone else

After spending millions of dollars more than his closest competitor, Fred Hubbell leads the Democratic field of gubernatorial contenders, the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom finds. But Hubbell hasn’t locked up the race: this snapshot suggests his support is below the 35 percent level needed to win the June 5 primary outright, and three-quarters of respondents said they are open to changing their minds.

While other candidates have an opportunity to gain ground, they likely lack the capacity to reach as many Iowans as Hubbell will during the home stretch. And no one is in a position to make a case against the front-runner that large numbers of voters will see.

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Iowa remains one of worst states for puppy mills

Ten dog breeding facilities in Iowa made the Humane Society’s latest annual report on the country’s “Horrible Hundred” puppy mills. Iowa has long been one of the worst states for unscrupulous dog breeders, and a 2010 law designed to “crack down on the bad actors in this industry” did little to resolve the problem. Only Missouri and Ohio had more dog breeders listed in the latest Humane Society report. Iowa was among the five worst states for puppy mills in similar reports for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Two of the Iowa breeders mentioned this year are “repeat offenders” from past “Horrible Hundred” lists.

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The case for each Democrat running for Congress in IA-03

With less than three weeks remaining before the June 5 primary, many Democrats (including myself) are still undecided in the primary to represent Iowa’s third Congressional district. All three candidates left standing in the once-crowded field have raised enough money to run strong, district-wide campaigns.

This post focuses on how Cindy Axne, Pete D’Alessandro, and Eddie Mauro have presented themselves in stump speeches, direct mail, and television commercials aimed at Democratic voters.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Violet wood sorrel

The Virginia bluebells are fading fast in my corner of central Iowa, but the pink blossoms of spring beauty are still prevalent, along with Jack-in-the-pulpits and striped white violets. May apples (umbrella plants) are near their peak, and the first blossoms of sweet Cicely and Aunt Lucy are starting to appear. Virginia waterleaf won’t be far behind.

I’ve wanted to write about today’s featured wildflowers since Eileen Miller pointed them out near a trail in Dolliver Memorial State Park three years ago. In 2016 and 2017, I looked in vain for colonies of Violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea) on my spring walks through wooded areas. Fortunately, Marla Mertz and Lora Conrad have generously shared their photographs of this “delicate” plant, with five-petaled flowers that can be lavender or pink or purple. You may be lucky enough to find these blooming in woodlands or moist prairies during the next several weeks. The species is native to most of the U.S. other than a handful of states west of the Rocky Mountains.

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Groups sue to block abortion ban; Iowa AG won't defend law (updated)

UPDATE: Have added the plaintiffs’ court filings at the end of this post.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and the Iowa City-based Emma Goldman Clinic filed suit today to block the new state ban on almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. I enclose below the full statement from the groups and will post the court filing once that document becomes available. The Polk County District Court is certain to put a stay on Senate File 359 (which would have taken effect July 1) while litigation is pending.

Attorney General Tom Miller “has disqualified himself from representing the state” in this case, Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson informed Iowa’s Executive Council today. Miller took that step after determining “he could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.” The attorney general recommends that the Executive Council authorize the Thomas More Society to defend the law. That conservative group has offered its legal services at no cost to the state.

Miller’s decision is telling, because a few years ago, the Iowa Attorney General’s office defended the state administrative rule seeking to ban the use of telemedicine to provide medical abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics around the state. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously found that policy created an “undue burden” for women seeking an abortion. You can read that decision in full here.

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