Iowa Senate district 20: Brad Zaun knows he's in trouble

Brad Zaun’s fifth campaign for the state legislature will be his toughest yet.

Like affluent suburban areas around the country, Iowa Senate district 20 has been trending away from Republicans. Democrats in the northwest suburbs of Des Moines did well in the 2019 local elections and more recently surpassed the GOP in voter registrations.

Zaun has adapted to the new environment with messaging that doesn’t mention his party affiliation, his votes for many controversial laws, his numerous attempts to ban abortion, or his early support for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

On the contrary, he is campaigning as an “independent voice” and leader on improving education and mental health services.

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This primary challenger's big win should put Iowa lawmakers on notice

Running against a sitting office-holder from your own party is always an uphill battle. Many Iowa House or Senate members have faced primary challengers during the past decade, but only a handful have failed to win their party’s nomination.

Christina Bohannan beat the odds on June 2, taking 66 percent of the vote against 20-year State Representative Vicki Lensing in Iowa’s most Democratic House district.

No one can write off the outcome as a fluke of a low-turnout environment. Statewide turnout set a new record for an Iowa primary, and voter participation in Johnson County was sky-high as well. Unofficial results showed 6,687 residents of House district 85 cast ballots for either Bohannan or Lensing.

Bohannan’s win and in particular the margin of victory should put every Iowa legislator on notice: you have to keep earning your constituents’ support.

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Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Scott Roland is an activist from Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Introduction

Whatever we think that we are doing, it is certainly not working. We are asked to embrace some variation of the status quo that offers us ruinous household debt, political corruption that has become normalized, stagnant growth rates, perilously insecure employment, a natural environment that is on a course to become barely inhabitable, and a health care system that leaves many just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. As a society, we have fallen into a chasm, and have brought our diminished faith in American exceptionalism with us. 

These problems have been exacerbated by a complacent political class, but politicians like Kimberly Graham offer us a credible path forward. Absurdly, some have painted her as an unrealistic radical, but in much of the developed world, she would be a mainstream social democrat. Her desire is not a destructive revolution, but decency: universal publicly financed health care, wages that ensure that households live above the threshold of poverty, elections that can’t be bought by the highest bidder, a system that does not leave students shackled in debt, and a Green New Deal to address the trillions in negative externality costs related to climate change.

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Letter from disappointed Iowa Democrats to Senator Chuck Schumer

Editor’s note from Laura Belin: The Senate Majority PAC, a super-PAC aligned with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has already spent nearly $7 million to promote Theresa Greenfield, one of four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Women Vote!, a super-PAC aligned with EMILY’s List, has spent nearly $1 million, mostly on advertising attacking Mike Franken, with a small buy of negative ads against Eddie Mauro. Both EMILY’s List and the DSCC endorsed Greenfield days after she launched her campaign in June 2019.

Sent Via Fax: 202-228-3027

May 29, 2020
Senator Chuck Schumer
322 Hart Senate Office
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: Cease and Desist Interferences in Iowa U.S. Senate Primary Campaign

Dear Senator Schumer:

We write to you as long-time Iowa political activists, asking that you, and allied groups and individuals working in concert with you, cease and desist unwelcomed interferences in the Iowa Democratic Party’s primary campaign to nominate our candidate for the United States Senate seat now held by Republican Joni Ernst.

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Where things stand in Iowa's third Congressional district

Part of a series catching up on Iowa’s 2020 races for federal offices. Click here for the latest on IA-01 and here for IA-02.

Plenty of successful Iowa politicians have lost their first campaign as a challenger, then defeated the same incumbent two years later. (Tom Harkin and Berkley Bedell are two of the most famous examples.) Rematches occur in a different political context. The challenger has higher name recognition, and the prevailing national atmosphere may favor the party out of power.

In Iowa’s third Congressional district, another kind of rematch is taking shape. U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, who took down an incumbent on her first attempt, will face David Young, who won two U.S. House races before losing to Axne in a difficult year for Republicans nationally.

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