Weekend thread: Statewide candidate edition

Iowa will soon have its first new secretary of agriculture since 2007. The U.S. Senate confirmed Bill Northey on February 27 as undersecretary for farm production and conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He should have been confirmed months ago; senators on the Agriculture Committee unanimously endorsed his nomination in October. But Senator Ted Cruz of Texas held the nomination over a Renewable Fuel Standard dispute that has nothing to do with Northey’s portfolio.

Once Northey resigns as Iowa secretary of agriculture, Governor Kim Reynolds will appoint his longtime deputy Mike Naig to fill that post for the rest of this year, the governor’s office announced on March 1. I enclose Naig’s official bio below. One of five Republicans who have said they will run for Northey’s job, Naig formally launched his campaign for that office on March 2. At this writing, only Craig Lang has qualified for the primary ballot. Other declared GOP candidates are Ray Gaesser, Chad Ingels, and Dan Zumbach. UPDATE: Northey posted on Twitter March 6, “I heartily endorse Mike Naig as our next Iowa Ag Secy. Mike has been a great partner as my Deputy Secy of ag for 4+ yrs. Mike is ready to lead. Let’s elect Mike in June & Nov!”

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The qualities we pray for

Gary Kroeger’s thoughts on the coming campaign in a targeted Congressional district where Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Courtney Rowe are already running. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Two years ago I was in the Democratic primary to unseat Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Along with businessman Ravi Patel and Cedar Rapids city council member Monica Vernon, I ran on progressive values and we strengthened each other’s resolve by engaging every single day with constituents and with each other.

By late summer, Mr. Patel left the primary race and former State Representative Pat Murphy joined. By the following spring (the race was so long I saw seasons change 7 times), I bowed out to support Monica Vernon because I felt that she had the best chance of winning. I went on to run for the Iowa House and Vernon gained the nomination to run against Blum, but incumbents are hard to beat and political intangibles were not in our favor and we both lost.

I’m not pointing this out to re-live the narrative of defeat, but to re-vive the spirit on which we all ran. It was the conviction that we, as Iowans, and as Americans, can do better. We each ran in our respective races because we believed that a dramatic course correction was necessary.

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Where are they now? Anesa Kajtazovic edition

Another Throwback Thursday post is coming later today, but I’ve been meaning to catch Bleeding Heartland readers up on Anesa Kajtazovic. She served two terms in the Iowa House, having stepped in following legal troubles for the previous Democratic incumbent in a Waterloo-based district. Kajtazovic did not seek re-election to the state legislature in 2014. Instead, she ran for Congress in Iowa’s first district, finishing fourth in the Democratic primary.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported in June that Kajtazovic had become executive director of the Family & Children’s Council of Black Hawk County, a non-profit “focused on child and sex abuse prevention, parenting education and other programming.” At this writing, the council’s website is down, but this note on the organization’s Facebook page summarizes various parenting classes, children’s programs, and family services offered in the Cedar Valley area. A few weeks ago, Holly Hudson reported for the Courier on Kajtazovic’s work for the Family & Children’s Council. I’ve posted excerpts after the jump, but I encourage you to click through to read the whole piece.

Our culture tends to glamorize success in the business world, rather than the non-profit sector. But I can hardly think of a more valuable way for Kajtazovic to dedicate her time and energy. The Family & Children’s Council is working on many of the most pressing issues related to children’s physical safety and long-term health. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death and serious injury; the council helps provide car seats to needy families and runs training sessions on how to use them properly. The council’s staff “visit well over 600 families [of newborns] a year in the hospitals,” according to Kajtazovic. That kind of outreach to parents of newborns has been shown to reduce child abuse. Social workers may also spot early risk factors for postpartum depression, helping women find resources if needed. Other staff or volunteers reach thousands of children in area schools with programs like “Take Charge of Your Body,” a curriculum aimed at preventing sexual abuse. Ideally, parents would teach their children about good touch/bad touch and similar rules. But since those conversations are not happening in many households, what a child learns at school about saying no, getting away, and telling an adult could be life-changing.

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IA-01: Who should run against Rod Blum?

Judging by the comments in this thread, Bleeding Heartland readers are eager to discuss who should take on Republican Rod Blum in the next election to represent Iowa’s first Congressional district.

Blum should be a one-termer. Unofficial results show he beat Pat Murphy by about 7,000 votes (51.2 percent to 48.7 percent) in a banner year for Iowa Republicans. Democratic turnout should be much higher for a presidential election than it was this year. Blum’s record in Congress will also make him an easier target for the next Democratic opponent. He didn’t campaign like an extreme right-winger, but he’s about to start voting like one, which will hurt him with independents. The next Paul Ryan budget (which Blum will support) will include big cuts to entitlement programs. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Blum help House Republicans shut down the federal government again.

Who should be the next Democratic nominee in IA-01? My first thoughts are after the jump.

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Fewer women will serve in the Iowa Senate, more in Iowa House

For the past two years, ten women have served in the Iowa Senate (20 percent of the chamber’s membership). That number will fall to seven or eight by the time the newly-elected legislature begins its 2015 session.

However, the number of women who will serve in the Iowa House will grow from 25 to 27 for the next two years. Follow me after the jump for details and a full list of Democratic and Republican women who will serve in the newly-elected Iowa legislature.

Following up on prospects for increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the Iowa legislature, all five African-American state representatives were re-elected to the Iowa House this week: Helen Miller (House district 9), Ruth Ann Gaines (House district 32), Ako Abdul-Samad (House district 35), Deborah Berry (House district 62), and Phyllis Thede (House district 93). Neither party nominated any African-American candidates for the Iowa Senate, which remains all-white.  

Iowans have yet to elect a Latino candidate to the state legislature. Democrats nominated Karyn Finn in House district 60 and Maria Bribriesco in Senate district 47, but both lost to Republican incumbents on Tuesday.

As has been the case since Swati Dandekar left the Iowa Senate in 2011, the Iowa legislature includes no Asian-American lawmakers. Neither party nominated any Asian-American candidates in 2014.

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