EMILY's List more engaged in Iowa primaries than ever (updated)

In this record-setting year for Iowa women candidates, the country’s leading political action committee seeking to elect pro-choice, Democratic women has been more involved in Iowa primaries than ever before.

EMILY’s List has long backed female Democratic candidates for state and federal offices in Iowa. But for the first time this year, the group’s political arm has been the biggest outside spender in Iowa Congressional primaries.

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Where Iowa's statewide candidates stand financially before primary

Many Iowa candidates filed their last financial disclosures before the June 5 primary on Friday. Those reports were required for anyone running for governor who raised $10,000 or more between May 15 and 29, for those seeking other statewide offices who raised at least $5,000 during the same time frame, and for state legislative candidates who raised at least $1,000.

Follow me after the jump for highlights on fundraising and spending by all the Democratic and Republican Iowa candidates for governor, state auditor, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture, attorney general, and state treasurer. Bleeding Heartland discussed the previous financial reports on the governor’s race here. Those covered campaign activity from January 1 through May 14.

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Five questions inspired by the Des Moines Register's IA-03 poll

Iowa’s third Congressional district Democratic primary has no clear front-runner, according to the first public poll of the race by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. If the June 5 election were held today, 27 percent of respondents would support Eddie Mauro, 26 percent Cindy Axne, 11 percent Pete D’Alessandro, 10 percent “none of these/someone else/would not vote,” and 26 percent unsure/refused to answer.

Mauro has the highest name recognition in this field–not surprising, since he comes from a well-known Polk County political family and began advertising on Des Moines television stations in mid-April, about two weeks before Axne and D’Alessandro did. Selzer found 42 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Mauro, 13 percent unfavorable, and 46 percent didn’t know enough to have an opinion, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register today. The comparable numbers for Axne were 33 percent favorable, 8 percent unfavorable, 59 percent unsure, and for D’Alessandro, 22 percent favorable, 10 percent unfavorable, 68 percent unsure.

I have no idea who will win the nomination. Five questions came to mind after reading Petroski’s write-up.

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IA-03: Austin Frerick, EMILY's List endorse Cindy Axne

Catching up on this week’s news from the third Congressional district, former candidate Austin Frerick is now supporting Cindy Axne, one of three remaining Democratic contenders. In a statement enclosed in full below, Frerick described Axne as “the hardest working candidate” in the once-crowded field, having held more than 80 meetings with voters in communities large and small. “Cindy is hands down the best person to beat David Young in November. I ask my supporters to fight as hard for Cindy as they did for me,” Frerick added.

Frerick ended his campaign just before last month’s filing deadline, saying he did not have the financial resources to compete for the nomination. He gained respect among supporters of all candidates for highlighting problems rarely discussed on any campaign trail, such as economic concentration and the Iowa Farm Bureau’s conflicts of interest.

I would guess that many local activists expected Frerick to endorse Pete D’Alessandro. Anecdotally, a lot of “Bernie Democrats” were having trouble deciding between those two candidates. U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, a vice chair of the House Progressive Caucus, was an early Frerick supporter and endorsed D’Alessandro soon after Frerick was out.

Also this week, Axne landed the endorsement of EMILY’s List (full statement below). The group promoting pro-choice, Democratic women has a huge national mailing list and can help candidates raise substantial funds from donors who might not otherwise be familiar with their campaigns. EMILY’s List came out for Abby Finkenauer in Iowa’s first Congressional district last year and for secretary of state candidate Deidre DeJear last month. Understandably, the PAC was keeping its powder dry in IA-03, where until recently, two strong pro-choice women were running. With Theresa Greenfield not qualifying for the ballot, Axne’s only remaining Democratic competitors are D’Alessandro and Eddie Mauro.

Any comments on the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread. Click here to read each candidate’s case for being able to beat Representative David Young and here for a list of high-profile endorsers.

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The 15 Bleeding Heartland posts I worked hardest on in 2015

As I mentioned on Tuesday, writing is a labor of love for me. Some posts are much more labor-intensive than others.

All of the pieces linked below took at least a couple of days to put together. Some were in progress for weeks before I was ready to hit the publish button. (No editor, deadlines, or word limits can be a dangerous combination.) A few of the particularly time-consuming posts required additional research or interviews. More often, the challenge was figuring out the best way to present the material.

Several pieces that would have qualified for this list are not included, because they are still unfinished. Assuming I can get those posts where they need to be, I plan to publish them during the first quarter of 2016.

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One pro-choice Democratic woman's question for EMILY's List

Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon was the first Congressional candidate endorsed this cycle by the influential political action committee EMILY’s List. The PAC’s mission is straightforward: “We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.” EMILY’s List did not get involved in the 2014 primary to represent Iowa’s first district, in which three of the five candidates were pro-choice women. But the PAC’s leaders have signaled they will fight to help Vernon win the IA-01 nomination in 2016.

As in the last election cycle, Vernon’s main competition for the right to face Republican Rod Blum will be former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy. Even before Murphy officially entered the race last week, EMILY’s List took the first shot at the 2014 Democratic nominee. Cristinia Crippes reported for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on July 20,

“Pat Murphy cannot be trusted to stand up for women and families across Iowa — just look at his long record of trying to restrict women’s access to health care and put politics in the middle of decisions that should be left between women and their doctors,” Emily’s List press secretary Rachel Thomas said in a statement.

On July 29, EMILY’s List fleshed out that case with a graphic I’ve enclosed below, highlighting Murphy’s “pro-life” votes and statements between 1996 and 2007.

This lifelong Democrat and third-generation supporter of reproductive rights in Iowa has one question for the EMILY’s List strategists: Do you really want to go there?

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