Julie Gammack

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The Tom and Ruth Harkin Center: It's official

Julie Gammack first published this piece on her Substack, Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck.

No, it’s not just another new building. It is a liberation movement.

Usually, a dedication to a new building isn’t big news except for those with a personal stake in the construction. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are pro forma events that give those involved a deserved acknowledgment. Funders show up to congratulate one another.

Last Saturday, August 20, was all of that, but oh, so, much more.

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It's different this time

Julie Gammack writes about a campaign event she co-hosted. She published a version of this piece on her Substack, Julie Gammack’s Potluck.

I was in Carey’s Electronics shop in downtown Spencer on Thursday. As we concluded our business, the subject of kids, his kids, their health, and safety came up. I was curious to see where the conversation would go.

“To get a driver’s license, I needed to pass a test,” said the man behind the counter. “To own a car, I must have insurance. If I don’t wear my seatbelt, I can get a $275 ticket.

“But my 18-year-old son can go down the street and buy an assault rifle, no questions asked. This is just insane!”

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On the road with Mike Franken

Julie Gammack reports from the campaign trail. She published a version of this piece on her Substack, Julie Gammack’s Potluck.

I tagged along with retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken last weekend as he campaigned in the northwest Iowa towns of Pocahontas, Storm Lake, Le Mars, and Sioux Center. This part of the state is as red as blood in political jargon. Or barn. It’s so red a dead GOP candidate would likely beat a live Democrat. According to recent filings, D’s aren’t even bothering to field candidates in multiple legislative districts in this corner of the state. 

So I was curious to see if anyone would show up for this scheduled trip. They did. 

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"Don't Look Up": The Iowa angle

This post first appeared on Julie Gammack’s Potluck Column on Substack.

There’s an Iowa connection to the film “Don’t Look Up,” a satire about society’s blindness to our planet in peril. 

A Des Moines Roosevelt High School graduate, Staci Roberts Steele, co-produces the star-studded film. In addition to her job description, the actress/producer/writer also played the assistant to a tech titan character in the movie. 

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A friend remembers Dan Johnston

Thanks, Laura, for asking me to contribute a post about former Polk County Attorney Dan Johnston.

I said goodbye by phone to Dan Johnston a couple of days ago. He was in Iowa Methodist Medical Center waiting for a bed in hospice.

It was around this time of year in 1974 when Dan and Norman Jesse came to my fathers’ bedside as he was dying and helped him cast his last vote.

Dan Johnston’s obituary will no doubt include his career highlight when at the age of 30 he successfully represented Roosevelt High School students who were suspended from school for wearing black arm bands to protest the Vietnam war in a case that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He also held elective office as Polk County Attorney and ran for Iowa Attorney General.

I’ve known Dan since I was 16. And that was a long time ago. 1966 to be precise.

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