The 2007 votes that made 2019 a historic year for transgender Iowans

Only three months in, 2019 is already the most significant year for transgender equality in Iowa since 2007, when state lawmakers and Governor Chet Culver added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That 1965 law hadn’t been significantly amended in decades.

The crucial Iowa House and Senate votes on the civil rights law happened during the first year since the 1960s that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Support for LGBTQ equality is often taken for granted now in Democratic circles, but the issue was seen as more politically volatile twelve years ago. The bill amending the civil rights act came late in the 2007 legislative session and could not have passed without some Republican votes.

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Five Iowa Senate races to watch in 2014

It’s the time of year for blog posts about notable candidates and upcoming elections. Every politically engaged Iowan knows already that 2014 will be an unusually exciting year. We haven’t seen an open U.S. Senate race since 1974. The last time Iowa’s first Congressional district was open was in 2006. The last time Iowa’s third Congressional district was open was in 2002, but it wasn’t a wide open seat, since incumbent Representative Leonard Boswell moved into Polk County to run. Amazingly, 1940 was the “last time there was a Congressional race in Polk County without an incumbent seeking re-election.” All of Iowa’s statewide elected officials are up for re-election as well this year, and the secretary of state’s position may become open if Matt Schultz decides to go for the Republican nomination in IA-03.

Since Bleeding Heartland readers already know about the big Iowa races to watch, I want to focus today and tomorrow on the elections that are likely to determine control of the Iowa House and Senate in 2015 and 2016.  

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Timothy Junker first GOP challenger against Amanda Ragan in Iowa Senate district 27

Three-term Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan has her first declared challenger, as Timothy Junker announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination in Iowa Senate district 27.

Ragan’s race is one of a handful of contests that will likely determine control of the Iowa Senate after 2014. As of December 2013, Senate district 27 contained 11,997 registered Democrats, 13,396 Republicans, and 17,747 no-party voters according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. I’ve posted a district map after the jump. It covers Franklin County, part of Butler County, and most of Cerro Gordo County, including the population center of Mason City.

Junker is from Butler County and served six terms as the elected county sheriff before President George W. Bush appointed him U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Iowa in 2006. Since leaving that position in 2010, “Junker has been selling real estate for Schuck Realty Co., served on the Allison City Council and Allison Tree Board, and is an active member of Trinity Reformed Church, Allison Am Vets and the Am Vets/Legion Drill Team.” He has been exploring this candidacy for some time and held a meet and greet with Franklin County Republicans earlier this month.

I’ve heard rumors of several other Republicans considering this race. This fall, some Mason City residents received telephone polls asking whether they would support former Mayor Bill Schickel or Ragan for the Senate seat. Other possible candidates include former Mason City Mayor Roger Bang and former State Senator Merlin “build my fence” Bartz, who runs Representative Steve King’s Mason City office. Bartz would have to move from his Worth County farm to run against Ragan, though. Cerro Gordo County GOP Chair Gabe Haugland was on my radar because he considered running for the Iowa House during the last election cycle. But he told me today that he is “99 percent sure” he is not running in Senate district 27.  

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Health insurance compromise will be key issue in Iowa Senate district 27 (updated)

Many questions remain to be answered about Iowa’s new plan to provide health insurance to low-income citizens, but this much is clear: resolving the impasse over Medicaid expansion will be a major theme in State Senator Amanda Ragan’s re-election campaign next year.

Follow me after the jump for background on Ragan and more details about Iowa Senate district 27, sure to be targeted by both parties in 2014.  

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Iowa GOP picks Ron Paul's man over Terry Branstad's choice

The Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee met on Saturday to consider a successor to Matt Strawn, who resigned as chairman in the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses.

When a Democrat is governor, the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee defers to the governor’s choice for party chair. But a majority of the 17 voting Republicans elected A.J. Spiker, co-chair of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in Iowa, over co-chair Bill Schickel, Governor Terry Branstad’s strong preference.

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