# Dave Loebsack



Polk County Democrats ditch Hy-Vee for Steak Fry

Jason Clayworth had the scoop for Axios Des Moines: the Polk County Democrats have hired Orchestrate Management to cater the 2022 Steak Fry. The grocery chain Hy-Vee “had catered the event since at least 1992,” according to Polk County Democrats chair Sean Bagniewski.

Some Democratic activists have wanted to cut ties with Hy-Vee since Gwen Hope reported for Bleeding Heartland three years ago that the grocery chain’s PAC has favored GOP candidates and committees. In particular, the Hy-Vee PAC gave the Republican Party of Iowa $25,000—the PAC’s biggest donation in a decade—shortly before President Donald Trump headlined an Iowa GOP fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s facility in West Des Moines during the summer of 2019.

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Where things stand in the Iowa Democratic race for governor

Since State Auditor Rob Sand ruled out running for governor earlier this month, I’ve been meaning to catch up on the Democratic candidates who have been actively campaigning against Kim Reynolds: State Representative Ras Smith and Deidre DeJear, the 2018 nominee for secretary of state.

The field may not be set; many Democrats believe at least one other candidate will join the governor’s race early next year. Recent speculation has centered around State Representative Chris Hall. The six-term Iowa House Democrat from Sioux City, who is ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, has not announced whether he will seek re-election or run for higher office in 2022. Hall declined to comment for the record when I reached out to him shortly after Sand confirmed he’ll run for state auditor again.

This post will focus on bases of support for Smith and DeJear. We’ll know more about their capacity to run a strong statewide campaign after candidates disclose how much they’ve raised and spent this year. Those reports must be filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board by January 19.

Bleeding Heartland is unlikely to endorse any candidate before the primary, but I welcome guest commentaries advocating for any Democratic contenders. Those wanting to learn more about the options should tune in to the Iowa Unity Coalition’s gubernatorial candidate forum on January 22 in Des Moines; both Smith and DeJear have agreed to participate.

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Murder fantasy video not a bridge too far for Iowa Republicans

Republicans talk a good game about running government like a business. But almost every U.S. House Republican balked when asked to punish conduct that would be a firing offense at just about any private company.

Like all but two of their GOP colleagues, Iowa’s Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) voted against censuring Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona and removing him from the House Oversight and Natural Resources committees.

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Interview: Christina Bohannan on running for Congress in IA-02

State Representative Christina Bohannan confirmed on August 24 that she’s running for Congress in Iowa’s second district. She’s the first declared Democratic candidate for the seat, where Republican U.S. Representative Miller-Meeks was certified the winner in 2020 by six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast.

Last year’s campaign in IA-02 was Iowa’s most expensive U.S. House race, with the candidates spending nearly $6 million and outside groups putting in more than $15.5 million over the cycle. Both parties are expected to target the district next year, and Miller-Meeks’ campaign had more than $1.1 million cash on hand as of June 30.

Speaking by phone a few hours after her campaign became official, Bohannan told Bleeding Heartland, “I’m having way more fun than I think you’re supposed to when you’re running for Congress.” She said she’s enjoyed the conversations she’s had today and is feeling “really good” about her early fundraising.

I had more questions for the new candidate.

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Mike Franken leans toward repeat U.S. Senate bid

Retired Admiral Mike Franken is strongly leaning toward seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022, provided he gets “a clean bill of health” following an upcoming surgery at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Speaking to Bleeding Heartland by phone on August 4, Franken confirmed he is putting pieces together for another campaign and thinks he could “add value” in the Senate. But first, he needs to ensure he is “entirely capable of running” and serving a six-year term.

Franken would enter the race with a strong base among Iowa Democrats, having received 68,851 votes (nearly 25 percent) in the four-way 2020 primary. Nominee Theresa Greenfield benefited from massive establishment support and some $7 million in outside spending before the June election.

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IA-01: Mathis set to clear Democratic field

Less than a week after launching her Congressional campaign, State Senator Liz Mathis has eliminated any chance of serious competition for the Democratic nomination in the first district.

Mathis announced support last week from more than 100 well-known Iowa Democrats, including all recent U.S. House representatives, every current statewide official, and 48 current state legislators. It’s not just the number of endorsements that will discourage others who may have considered running for Congress in northeast Iowa. Prominent voices representing all wings of the Democratic Party are behind Mathis.

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