Eight lessons of election week 2020 in Iowa

Bill Brauch is a former Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee member and Third District Central Committee chair. -promoted by Laura Belin

Election week 2020 felt like an anti-gravity bungee jump for Iowa Democrats. We went from the depths of despair on election night, suffering losses we never expected, to huge relief — euphoria even — on Saturday when it was clear Joe Biden had won the presidency. That our next vice president will be a woman of African and Indian descent added to the joy of knowing that Donald Trump’s occupation of the White House will soon come to an end.

But there is no question Iowa Democrats are hurting. We lost statehouse seats we should have won. We did poorly in the U.S. Senate and presidential races. We lost one — maybe two — U.S. House seats. (We were not alone in this. Democrats even lost seats in states Biden won!)

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First thoughts on another disastrous election for Iowa Democrats

Bleeding Heartland will analyze the Iowa election results from many perspectives in the coming weeks. For now, let’s review the big picture: just like in 2016, the outcome was more devastating than any Democrat’s worst nightmare.

Turnout set a new record: Iowans cast at least 1,697,102 ballots, roughly 107,000 more than the high water mark of 1,589,951 people voting in the 2012 presidential election.

But as we learned in November 2018, high turnout doesn’t only help Democrats.

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Iowa Democrats split on latest COVID-19 relief bill

The U.S. House on October 1 approved a new version of a coronavirus relief package. The 214 to 207 vote split mostly along party lines, but Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) was among eighteen Democrats to oppose the bill, along with all Republicans (roll call).

When the previous version of the so-called Heroes Act came before the House in May, Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) joined Axne in voting no, while Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) supported the bill, as did most House Democrats. Today Finkenauer and Loebsack both voted with the majority of their caucus.

Statements from all three Iowa Democrats in Congress are after the jump. Republican Representative Steve King (IA-04) voted against the bill but didn’t post about it on his social media. His office has not put out a news release since a few days before King lost the June primary to State Senator Randy Feenstra.

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Chamber of Commerce backing Finkenauer in IA-01, Axne in IA-03

In the clearest sign yet that the business establishment is preparing for a Democratic administration in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will endorse 23 first-term House Democrats, including U.S. Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Cindy Axne (IA-03).

Alex Gangitano was first to report the planned endorsements for The Hill on September 1. Other political reporters soon confirmed the news.

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Cindy Axne overtakes Chuck Grassley as Iowa's renewable energy champion

Tyler Granger compares the recent work of U.S. Representative Cindy Axne and Senator Chuck Grassley. -promoted by Laura Belin

America’s clean energy economy has been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 620,000 U.S. clean energy workers lost their jobs from March 2020 to May 2020, and clean energy employment has fallen by 18 percent over that same time period.

Allies of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley affectionately call him the father of Iowa wind energy. That may have been true a decade ago, but Grassley has been an absentee father in 2020 when it comes to renewable energy. 

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