Jack Hatch considering run against Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie?

Former State Senator Jack Hatch appears to be seriously considering a campaign for mayor of Des Moines.

In recent days, numerous Democrats living in the capital city have received a lengthy telephone poll testing positive messages about Hatch and mostly negative messages about Mayor Frank Cownie, a four-term incumbent who has held the position since 2004.

Hatch did not immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment on his plans and whether he commissioned the poll. I’ve paraphrased the questions below, based on detailed notes from a source who took the survey on September 9, and will update this post as needed when Hatch makes his intentions clear.

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Hy-Vee's largest political donation in a decade preceded Trump event

Editor’s note: Hy-Vee’s PAC provided a comment on June 24, which is enclosed in full at the end of this post.

Great catch and great digging by Gwen Hope. -promoted by Laura Belin

Hy-Vee is one of those companies we often associate with small-town, everyone-knows-everyone “Iowa Nice” culture. Yet it’s important to remember that while some major Iowa businesses started small, many are no longer those small-town startups of yesteryear. Hy-Vee is no exception, having just made a conveniently-timed donation that was its largest single political contribution in a decade.

Like many livestock farmers, state businesses fill their animal troughs with corn and silage, but the resulting pork is of the political persuasion variety. In this vein, I looked into the fundraiser1 for the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI), held at Hy-Vee’s Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines. President Donald Trump headlined the June 11 event.

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Logical, but disappointing: Reynolds vetoes medical cannabis bill

Carl Olsen analyzes the big news the governor tried to bury in a pre-holiday weekend news dump. He has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis in Iowa for many years and closely follows legislative happenings related to the issue. -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds vetoed House File 732 on May 24. The bill passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both legislative chambers: 96 to 3 in the Iowa House and 40 to 7 in the Iowa Senate. The full text of the governor’s veto letter is enclosed at the end of this post.

This is a tough issue for me to write about. I totally agree with the governor’s logic. At the same time, I am disappointed with the outcome.

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First look at the Iowa House landscape for 2020

Republicans used their control over state government to inflict tremendous damage on Iowa during the 2019 legislative session: underfunding education, blocking steps that would improve Medicaid services, dismantling effective sex education programs, further undermining workers’ rights, targeting health care for transgender Iowans, and giving Governor Kim Reynolds the ability to pack our highest courts with conservative ideologues.

The disastrous outcomes underscored the urgent need for Democrats to break the Republican trifecta in 2020. The Iowa House is the only realistic path for doing so, since Reynolds won’t be up for re-election next year, and the 32-18 GOP majority in the Iowa Senate will take several cycles to undo. State Representative Andy McKean’s recent party switch improved Democratic prospects, shrinking the Republican majority in the chamber from 54-46 to 53-47. Nevertheless, a net gain of four House seats will be no easy task for Democrats.

The Daily Kos Elections team calculated the 2018 election results for governor and state auditor in every Iowa House district. Jeff Singer discussed their key findings in a May 2 post: Reynolds carried 60 state House districts, Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell just 39. The “median seat backed Reynolds 51.0-46.3, a margin of 4.7 points. That’s about 2 points to the right of her statewide margin of 2.8 points.” Eight Democrats represent districts Reynolds carried, and one (Dave Williams) represents a district where Reynolds and Hubbell tied, while “only one Republican is in a Hubbell district.”

I’d encourage all Iowa politics watchers to bookmark the DK Elections number-crunching, as well as the team’s spreadsheet on 2016 presidential results by House district.

The Daily Kos team also looked at the 2018 voting for state auditor, seeking clues on which House seats might be within reach for Democrats. I don’t find that angle as useful. Previous State Auditor Mary Mosiman ran a terrible campaign. Not only did Rob Sand outwork Mosiman on the trail, he ran unanswered television commercials for six weeks, allowing him to go into election day with higher name ID than the incumbent, which is almost unheard of. Sad to say, Democrats won’t be outspending incompetent, little-known GOP candidates in the 2020 state legislative races.

Here’s my first take on both parties’ best pickup opportunities. What appear to be competitive state House seats may shift over the coming year, depending on candidate recruitment and incumbent retirements, so Bleeding Heartland will periodically return to this topic.

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State board suggests more restrictive medical cannabis limits

Carl Olsen has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis in Iowa for many years and closely follows legislative happenings related to the issue. -promoted by Laura Belin

In a highly unusual move, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on the afternoon of April 12 that the Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board had rescheduled its planned meeting. Instead of convening for two and a half hours on May 3, the board would meet for one hour on April 16.

Members called the shorter, rushed meeting in order to discuss recommendations on the tetrahydracannabinol or THC cap and purchase limits in a bill the Iowa House approved last month.

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Iowa Senate committee puts THC cap in House medical cannabidiol bill

Carl Olsen reports on the latest legislative maneuvering around Iowa’s medical cannabis program. -promoted by Laura Belin

Key lawmakers said for months the 3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cap would never be lifted unless Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board recommended doing so. Nevertheless, the Iowa House mysteriously decided to lift the 3 percent cap on THC shortly before the first legislative funnel deadline on March 8.

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