How Democrats can reach rural America, build relationships, create change

Second in a series of post-election commentaries by Amber Gustafson, who was the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 19. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Remember the Hippos – A Parable

Once a non-profit organization decided to “help” a poor, rural village in a country in Africa. When the fresh-faced, idealistic, young European aid workers arrived, they noticed many things right away. They noticed that the people in the village were malnourished. They also noticed that the village had no fields, no vineyards, and no orchards.

The aid workers, full of compassion, saw that what the people of the village needed was food; and more than that, they needed to be taught how to farm.

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Nobody asked for my opinion, but I’m giving it anyway (part 1)

Amber Gustafson was the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 19. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Some Key Improvements Iowa Democratic Organizations Can Make Ahead of 2020

Okay, maybe a few people have asked for my opinion on what Iowa Democrats could have done better in 2018, and how we can be in a better position in 2020 to retake one or both of the houses of the state legislature, defeat Senator Joni Ernst, keep Representatives Dave Loebsack, Abby Finkenauer, and Cindy Axne, send Steve King packing, and help rid our country of the scourge of Donald Trump.

It has been about a month since I ran against and nearly defeated Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver in a district where he ran twice previously unopposed – and made him spend more than $500,000 defending his seat in a district with a distinct Republican registration advantage – while proudly running on a platform of protecting abortion rights and reducing gun violence.

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Final look at nine Iowa Senate races to watch, with ratings

Few Iowa politics watchers doubt that Democrats will gain ground in the state House today–the only question is how much will the Republican majority shrink.

In contrast, the Iowa Senate landscape could shift in either direction. Republicans now hold 29 seats and are unopposed in Senate district 1, where independent Senator David Johnson is retiring. They are also outspending several Democratic incumbents in districts Donald Trump carried in the last presidential election. Democrats currently hold 20 Senate seats, but they could add to their ranks today, despite a difficult map and a couple of bad breaks over the summer.

Here’s how the key races look going into election day, based on voter registration totals, recent voting history, absentee ballot numbers, and where Democratic or Republican leaders have made large expenditures.

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"Fight for the best of who we are": Kamala Harris rallies Iowa Democrats

Hundreds of Iowa Democrats got their first chance to hear U.S. Senator Kamala Harris on October 22. On her first major swing through the state, the senator from California had a packed schedule, including:

  • a morning gathering with the Asian and Latino Coalition;
  • an Ankeny rally organized by Des Moines Area Community College students, also featuring Iowa House district 38 candidate Heather Matson, Iowa Senate district 19 candidate Amber Gustafson, and third Congressional district nominee Cindy Axne;
  • a late afternoon event in Indianola;
  • a private fundraiser for Axne; and finally
  • a speech to a room full of Polk County Democrats in Des Moines.
  • Though Harris is widely viewed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, she kept her focus on the election happening November 6. I enclose below the full audio and partial transcript of the evening speech, which was similar to remarks Harris delivered earlier in the day.

    Whereas some politicians tend to use convoluted, run-on sentences, Harris was striking in how she used simple sentence construction and repetition to great effect.

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    GOP outspending Democrats in almost every competitive Iowa Senate race

    As was the case two years ago, Democratic candidates are at a financial disadvantage in almost all of the Iowa Senate districts both parties are targeting.

    The disparity adds another challenge to a party already facing a difficult path to gaining ground in the upper chamber. Republicans currently hold 29 of the 50 Senate seats and are guaranteed to pick up the district independent Senator David Johnson is vacating.

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    Iowa Senate Republicans on tv to defend Jack Whitver, Julian Garrett

    Five weeks before the general election, the Republican Party of Iowa has begun airing television commercials to promote Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and State Senator Julian Garrett.

    The advertising suggests that Republican internal polling shows Democrats Amber Gustafson and Vicky Brenner within striking distance in Senate districts 19 and 13, respectively. Democratic internal polling presumably shows competitive races too, since former President Barack Obama included Gustafson and Brenner on his list of Iowa endorsements this week. Only five state legislative candidates made the cut.

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