Steyer sinks as Iowa women rise

Ed Fallon is a former Iowa lawmaker who hosts the Fallon Forum and directs Bold Iowa. He is the author of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim, his memoir about the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. -promoted by Laura Belin

I caught the tail end of Tom Steyer’s bait-and-switch press conference on January 9. With great flair and grandiosity, Steyer announced he wasn’t running for President. Instead, he’ll invest his time and money pounding the impeachment drum.

I’m ambivalent about whether Steyer runs for president. But if he could have picked a more poorly conceived cause than impeachment, I’m not sure what it would have been (maybe opposing continental drift?). If Democrats in the US House want to impeach President Trump, fine. But there’s not much any of us can do to impact what is largely a procedural undertaking.

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A snowless December stroll

Ed Fallon is a former Iowa legislator, longtime environmental activist, and the author of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim, a memoir from the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you work the land, it’s impossible not to notice that our climate is changing dramatically. I checked out the cold frame Kathy and I planted in mid-October. Normally, the seeds sprout a little bit, then the young plants hunker down until early March. The way they’re growing this year, we’ll be eating fresh greens later this month.

That’s wonderful on one level — and deeply disturbing on another.

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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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Austin Frerick highlights another Iowa Farm Bureau conflict of interest

Congressional candidate Austin Frerick charged today that “extensive investments” in the fossil fuel extraction sector may explain why the Iowa Farm Bureau fails to acknowledge the reality of climate change, despite the well-established impacts of warming temperatures, severe weather events, and increased humidity on Iowa farmers.

The Farm Bureau’s lobbying against proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions hasn’t been as noticeable as its steps to block water quality standards and meaningful state-led or collaborative efforts to reduce soil loss and water pollution from conventional farming. But the organization has also opposed federal and state policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The American Farm Bureau Federation and its state affiliates lobbied to weaken the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act before a U.S. House vote and helped kill that “cap and trade” proposal in the U.S. Senate. The Farm Bureau’s representative on the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council voted against some recommendations aimed at reducing emissions from the agricultural sector (see pages 103 to 110 of the final report released in December 2008).

In a statement enclosed in full below, Frerick argued that the century-old organization would “be advocating for steps to fight climate change” if it were true to its stated mission of standing for Iowa farmers and rural communities. Instead, the Farm Bureau’s stance tracks with major oil companies in which its for-profit insurance arm has invested.

One of six Democrats seeking the nomination in Iowa’s third Congressional district, Frerick has focused his message on issues affecting the agricultural sector, particularly economic concentration. Last month he linked Iowa Farm Bureau investments in agribusiness giants to the organization’s failure to oppose consolidation in the hybrid seed market, which raises production costs for grain farmers.

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Iowa AG has joined 36 legal actions challenging Trump policies

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller signed on to three dozen multi-state actions challenging Trump administration policies last year, covering a wide range of immigration, environmental, civil rights, consumer protection and labor issues. Miller also joined fellow attorneys general in nine amicus curiae briefs related to state-level or local policies on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, gun control, voting rights, and gerrymandering.

Although federal lawsuits aren’t the main focus of Miller’s work, Iowans can be proud our attorney general repeatedly stood for fundamental rights and core progressive values.

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IA-01: Democrat Courtney Rowe may challenge Rod Blum

Cedar Rapids-based engineer Courtney Rowe may run for Congress against Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district, she confirmed to Bleeding Heartland today. Rowe has been an active Democrat locally and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to last year’s Linn County, first district, and state conventions, as well as an alternate to the Democratic National Convention. She has volunteered her time on church missions, as a mentor for middle-school students, and as an officer for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Rowe described her background and motivation for considering a Congressional bid in a document I enclose below. She has not yet created an exploratory committee but plans to launch a campaign website sometime next month, both to present some of her policy ideas and to create an interactive format for voters to weigh in on the issues.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 166,338 active registered Democrats, 146,164 Republicans, and 191,340 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. The largest-population counties are Linn (the Cedar Rapids metro area), Black Hawk (Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro), and Dubuque, a traditional Democratic stronghold that is also Blum’s home base, where Democrats underperformed badly in 2016.

Blum was considered one of the most vulnerable U.S. House members in the country going into the 2016 election cycle, and many Iowa Democrats believed his narrow victory over Pat Murphy in 2014 had been a fluke. However, the Freedom Caucus member defeated Monica Vernon by a larger margin of 53.7 percent to 46.1 percent. Blum ran about five points ahead of Donald Trump, who carried the IA-01 counties by 48.7 percent to 45.2 percent. That was a massive swing from Barack Obama’s double-digit advantage in this part of Iowa in 2012.

Although I haven’t yet heard of any other Democrats thinking seriously about challenging Blum, I expect a competitive 2018 primary. Any comments about the race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its first target list on January 30. IA-01 and IA-03 are among those 33 Republican-held House seats.

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