Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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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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