Mueller's findings on Sam Clovis and a top Chuck Grassley staffer

The U.S. Department of Justice on April 18 released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election.” I’ve posted the full document after the jump. You can download it here or look through a searchable versions here or here.

Dozens of reporters and analysts have posted valuable takes on various aspects of the findings and Attorney General Bill Barr’s brazen lying about the Mueller team’s conclusions. This post will focus on angles of particular interest to Iowa readers: the roles of Sam Clovis, a former statewide candidate here who became a top foreign policy advisor for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and Barbara Ledeen, a senior staffer for U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Why Dave Loebsack's retirement makes IA-02 a toss-up race

All four Iowa Congressional districts will likely be competitive in 2020. Republicans were already targeting the first and third districts, where Representatives Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne defeated GOP incumbents last November. Democrats could make a play for IA-04, if Representative Steve King wins the GOP nomination again (as I expect).

Representative Dave Loebsack announced on April 12 that he will retire from Congress after completing his seventh term, rather than running for re-election in the second district. Both Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report immediately changed their ratings on IA-02 from “likely Democrat” to “toss-up.”

A close look at Loebsack’s last two elections shows why that’s the right call.

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Even in defeat, Peter Cownie's better off than Iowans with bad shoulder injuries

Ninth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

Money couldn’t buy a sixth term for State Representative Peter Cownie. Republicans spent more trying to hold his district than on any other Iowa House race, by far. Nevertheless, Democratic challenger Kristin Sunde defeated Cownie by nearly 1,200 votes in House district 42.

The loss must sting. Cownie would have led the House Ways and Means Committee next year, a powerful position as Republicans in full control of state government plan more tax cuts skewed toward corporations and wealthy people.

But in this season of giving thanks, Cownie can be grateful he will continue to be well-compensated. In contrast, Iowans with career-altering shoulder injuries are experiencing tremendous hardship under a 2017 law Cownie introduced and fast-tracked.

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Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Iowa Democrats are in a deep hole, controlling only 20 of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 41 of 100 in the House. On the plus side, strong candidate recruitment and a wave of Republican retirements are giving Democrats plenty of opportunities to pick up House seats. (The 2018 Iowa Senate map is less promising.)

Raising money can be challenging for leaders of a minority party, who don’t call the shots on legislation. Furthermore, Iowa Republicans have a natural advantage, since the policies they promote are often tailored to suit wealthy individuals or corporate interest groups. While money doesn’t always determine campaign outcomes, quite a few Democratic lawmakers and challengers lost in 2016 after being massively outspent on television commercials and direct mail (see here, here, and here for examples).

Yet the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.

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