Interview: What drives Senator Jeff Merkley

“We need to use every tool we have to reclaim our country,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley told me during his latest visit to Des Moines. “We are at the verge of a tipping point, and maybe we’re almost past it, in which the power of the mega-wealthy is so profound that we can’t tip the balance back in to we the people.”

The senator from Oregon spent much of Labor Day weekend in central Iowa supporting Democratic candidates for the state legislature. His fifth trip here since the 2016 election won’t be his last: he will be a featured speaker at the Polk County Steak Fry later this month. During our September 2 interview, I asked Merkley about the most important matters pending in the U.S. Senate, prospects for Democrats in November, and his possible presidential candidacy.

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Voters vexed by stagnation myth

Jon Muller challenges a “Big Myth” about the economy, which drives some voters toward leftist candidates rather than more viable centrist Democrats. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I got wrapped up in a couple of heated arguments after this week’s special election in Ohio’s twelfth Congressional district. According to those sympathetic to the Green voters, the problem was a choice of two Republicans. This was a rehash of frustration surrounding Green Party voting in the 2016 general election in the Great Lakes states.

Whether that voting, either in 2016 or in OH-12, tipped the election is not pertinent. Rather, this is an exploration of their position and the underlying grievance. The rejection of a centrist Democrat dismisses two central realities:

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Five questions inspired by the Des Moines Register's IA-03 poll

Iowa’s third Congressional district Democratic primary has no clear front-runner, according to the first public poll of the race by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. If the June 5 election were held today, 27 percent of respondents would support Eddie Mauro, 26 percent Cindy Axne, 11 percent Pete D’Alessandro, 10 percent “none of these/someone else/would not vote,” and 26 percent unsure/refused to answer.

Mauro has the highest name recognition in this field–not surprising, since he comes from a well-known Polk County political family and began advertising on Des Moines television stations in mid-April, about two weeks before Axne and D’Alessandro did. Selzer found 42 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Mauro, 13 percent unfavorable, and 46 percent didn’t know enough to have an opinion, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register today. The comparable numbers for Axne were 33 percent favorable, 8 percent unfavorable, 59 percent unsure, and for D’Alessandro, 22 percent favorable, 10 percent unfavorable, 68 percent unsure.

I have no idea who will win the nomination. Five questions came to mind after reading Petroski’s write-up.

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The case for each Democrat running for Congress in IA-03

With less than three weeks remaining before the June 5 primary, many Democrats (including myself) are still undecided in the primary to represent Iowa’s third Congressional district. All three candidates left standing in the once-crowded field have raised enough money to run strong, district-wide campaigns.

This post focuses on how Cindy Axne, Pete D’Alessandro, and Eddie Mauro have presented themselves in stump speeches, direct mail, and television commercials aimed at Democratic voters.

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IA-01: Abby Finkenauer out-raised Rod Blum

The latest fundraising numbers from Iowa’s first Congressional district confirm what was already apparent: Representative Rod Blum is among the country’s most vulnerable U.S. House incumbents, and Abby Finkenauer will be the prohibitive favorite in the June 5 Democratic primary.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from the first-quarter Federal Election Commission filings for Blum and his four challengers.

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Iowans remember Donna Red Wing

Iowa progressives have been mourning the loss of a longtime advocate for justice and LGBTQ equality this week. Since Donna Red Wing passed away on April 16, Iowans who knew her well have shared their reflections and stories. With permission, I’ve posted some of those comments below.

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