A campaign manager's takeaways from Sarah Trone Garriott's victory

Brittany Ruland is a community advocate, politically passionate individual who has been consulting and managing campaigns in all capacities around the country since 2015. She is a mother, grassroots organizer, and Iowan who most recently has worked for Senator Sarah Trone Garriott as well as Senator Bernie Sanders and President Joe Biden’s campaigns in 2020.

2022 was a rough year to be a Democrat in Iowa. Watching the results roll in felt like a collective gut punch. Next came the stinging realization that even with mostly-good results for Democrats nationally, we again lost ground in the middle of the country, even in places many of us were confident were winnable. It felt like salt on the wound.

A silver lining emerged as returns continued to come in, with Democratic State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott taking down one of the most dangerous Iowa Republican legislators, Senate President Jake Chapman. At that moment, I realized that even though we lost seats in the state legislature, this race could be a turning point for our party.

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Democrats owe Iowans a complete reboot

Jack Hatch is a former state senator and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor of Iowa. This essay first appeared in the Des Moines Register.

Iowa Democrats were wiped out of every federal office and all but one of the statewide offices while losing seats in both the Iowa House and Senate. This is the first time in more than a half-century in which one party controlled all of the state’s U.S. Senate and House seats.

The Iowa red wave happened against the backdrop of a pretty good cycle nationally for Democrats. Conventional wisdom says midterm elections are never the best barometer of a national mood, frequently producing a predictable backlash against the performance of the President’s party. The 21st century has produced strong evidence in this direction, in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. Tough economic numbers including high inflation and interest rates supported forecasts of doom for Democrats in 2022.

Then a strange thing happened. The political center held.

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Iowa Democrats, we have an opportunity!

Jackie Norris is a community leader and small business owner. She once served as the assistant to President Barack Obama and White House chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and worked in leadership roles on the Gore and Obama Iowa campaigns.

Dear Iowa Democrats,

I’m an eternal optimist and choose to focus on what’s next.

We have an opportunity.

Let’s focus on what we can control – our own state’s future.

Let’s hold on to the qualities we loved so dearly about the Iowa caucuses and apply them to help elect Democrats across our state.

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Did low turnout sink Iowa Democratic candidates?

Fourth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2022 state and federal elections.

Many people have asked why Iowa experienced the red wave that didn’t materialize across most of the country. While no one factor can account for the result, early signs point to turnout problems among groups that favor Democratic candidates.

Although this year’s turnout was the second-highest in absolute numbers for an Iowa midterm, participation was down about 8 percent compared to the 2018 general election. The number of Iowans who cast ballots this year (1,230,416) was closer to the 2014 level (1,142,311) than to the high-water mark of 1,334,279, reached four years ago.

My impression is that the decline in turnout was not evenly distributed, but was more pronounced among registered Democrats than among Republicans, who have long been more reliable midterm voters in Iowa.

That alone could account for the narrow defeats of U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (who lost to Zach Nunn in the third Congressional district by 2,145 votes, a margin of 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent), Attorney General Tom Miller (lost to Brenna Bird by 20,542 votes, 50.8 percent to 49.1 percent), and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald (lost to Roby Smith by 30,922 votes, or 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent).

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Three quick hits on Iowa's 2022 early vote

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has released the final unofficial absentee ballot totals for the 2022 general election. These figures reflect all in-person early voting, which wrapped up on November 7, as well as all ballots that arrived in the mail or through drop boxes at the close of business on November 7. A later report will include all absentee ballots that arrive at county auditors’ offices by 8:00 pm today.

Some quick thoughts on what we know about this year’s numbers:

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What to do if you haven't returned your Iowa absentee ballot (2022 edition)

When Iowa Republicans enacted new restrictions on absentee voting in 2021, they increased the risk of voting by mail. At least 150 ballots (and probably more) that Iowans mailed before the June primary election were not counted because they arrived too late.

The latest figures released by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office suggest that more than 35,000 absentee ballots requested for this general election had not reached county auditors by the close of business on November 2. In Polk County alone, 7,636 ballots mailed to voters are still outstanding.

If you have not yet returned your absentee ballot for the November 8 election, do not put it in the mail now. All ballots must arrive at the county auditor’s office by 8:00 pm on election day. Late-arriving ballots will not be counted, regardless of any postmark or barcode on the envelope. Many of the ballots not counted in the June primary were mailed several days before that election.

Here are four options:

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I hate door knocking

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere. 

I hate door knocking. I’m not an extrovert; bothering people in their homes isn’t my thing. But our democracy is dear to me and I know I need to do everything I can to preserve it.  

So Sunday afternoon, door knock I did. My list consisted of 26 Democratic doors (households) with 39 voters. No one answered at fifteen of those doors, so I left Democratic campaign literature and my flyer describing ways to vote and offering my help. I’ll follow up with texts where I have a number.  

I asked those with whom I did speak what their most important issue was for November. The plurality answer was some form of abortion/Roe/women’s rights. 

Schools was second: “Don’t defund our schools.” “Reynolds is mutilating public schools.”  

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How to vote early in Iowa (2022 edition)

As of August 30, Iowans can submit absentee ballot request forms to their county auditors for the November 8 election.

I’m a strong advocate for voting before election day, and Iowa Democrats need to bank early votes in midterms, to counteract the GOP’s longstanding turnout advantage.

But Republicans have substantially changed Iowa’s voting laws since the last general election. So even if you’ve voted by mail before, I would encourage you to make different plans to cast your ballot this year.

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Iowa Democrats face bigger challenges than voter registration numbers

Top Iowa Republicans crowed this month when the state’s official figures showed the GOP had expanded its voter registration lead over Democrats. At this point in the 2018 election cycle, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Iowa by around 24,000. The current disparity is more than three times as large. According to the latest numbers released by the Secretary of State’s office, Iowa has 681,871 active registered Republicans, 597,120 Democrats, and 555,988 no-party voters.

The voter registration totals should concern Democrats, but two other trends facing the party’s candidates in this midterm election should worry them more.

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What to do if you haven't returned your Iowa primary absentee ballot

Iowa’s June 7 primary election will be the first conducted under restrictions on absentee voting that Republicans enacted in 2021.

Two changes in particular greatly increase the risk that Iowans attempting to vote by mail will not have their ballots counted. First, all ballots must arrive at the county auditor’s office by 8:00 pm on election day. Late-arriving ballots will not be counted, regardless of any postmark. So at this writing, it’s far too late to safely put a ballot in the mail.

Second, Republicans made it much harder for voters to have someone else hand-deliver their completed absentee ballot.

If you have an ballot sitting at home, do not mail it on Monday. Here are your best options for making sure your vote will be counted.

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Vote early in Iowa—but not by mail, if possible

Early voting for Iowa’s June 7 primary began on May 18. Voting before election day has many advantages. You don’t have to worry about illness, work obligations, or a family emergency keeping you from casting a ballot. Once officials have recorded that you voted, you should stop receiving unsolicited phone calls and knocks at the door.

However, I now discourage Iowans from voting by mail unless there is no alternative. Recent changes to state law have greatly increased the risk of a mailed ballot never being counted.

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Thoughts on the French presidential election and voter turnout

Matt Hardin suggests five reforms to make voting easier in the U.S., modeled on how presidential elections are conducted in France.

I recently took a vacation to Paris and got to see French democracy up close.

While my wife and I were there, France held the second and final round of its presidential election, which is a simple runoff between the top two candidates from the first round.

On April 24 the incumbent president, Emmanuel Macron, soundly defeated the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, 59 percent to 41 percent. One of the most reported-on figures in the French media was the abstention rate—the percent of registered voters who didn’t vote.

According to the French, the 28 percent abstention rate (so, 72 percent turnout) is an alarming sign for their democracy. Usually, only about 15 to 20 percent of French voters stay home.

Despite the hand wringing in France, the comparatively low abstention and high turnout stunned me. I wanted to understand how they do it.

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How a strong ground game helped turn Urbandale blue

Going into the 2019 elections, Urbandale’s city council consisted of five Republican men with backgrounds in legal or real estate work. This suburb to the west of Des Moines was a GOP stronghold for decades. But Matt Blake and Bridget Carberry Montgomery won two of the three council seats on the ballot two years ago. On November 2, Amy Croll and Larry McBurney won the Urbandale city council races with 5,044 votes and 4,207 votes, respectively. Once they are sworn in, four Democrats and one Republican will serve on the council of Iowa’s twelfth-largest city (around 45,000 residents). Democrats Jason Menke and Rachel Kent won two of the three Urbandale school board seats on this year’s ballot.

Urbandale’s longtime Mayor Bob Andeweg (who was unchallenged for re-election this year) is a Democrat these days, having changed his registration in 2019.

Many suburbs around the country have undergone political transformations as their populations diversify, and college graduates increasingly favor Democrats. But winning a local election in a purple area still requires hard work. McBurney finished just 27 votes ahead of the third-place candidate, Republican John Bouslog.

Each of the winning city council candidates knocked thousands of doors. In addition, Urbandale area Democrats have built a phenomenal volunteer organization to support local candidates by knocking doors, making phone calls, and sending postcards or text messages.

When I reached out to Croll and McBurney this week, both credited the grassroots effort for their wins. McBurney noted, “27 votes means that every door mattered.” Carberry Montgomery agreed, “the bottom line was organization” in each of the last two cycles. Blake estimated that volunteers helped his campaign knock nearly three times as many doors in 2019 as he could have managed on his own.

The late Jerry Tormey was among the most influential activists who helped change Urbandale. Two other superstar volunteers, Donna Richard-Langer and Dave Langer, agreed to a telephone interview on November 4 to discuss their methods.

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Four thoughts about Iowa House district 37 early vote totals

Two weeks before voters will elect a new state legislator to represent parts of Ankeny and northern Polk County, Democrats living in Iowa House district 37 had requested more than five times as many absentee ballots as Republicans.

Polk County Elections Office staff told Bleeding Heartland that 2,818 residents of House district 37 had requested an early ballot by 4:00 pm on August 31. Of those, 2,261 were Democrats, 398 were Republicans, and 159 were affiliated with neither party.

The vast majority of absentee ballots sent to voters have not yet been returned. As of August 31, the Polk County auditor’s office had received 375 completed ballots from registered Democrats and 36 from Republicans.

Four caveats:

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First thoughts on the Iowa House district 37 special election

Voters in Ankeny will soon choose a successor to State Representative John Landon, who passed away last month. Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the Iowa House district 37 special election for Tuesday, September 14.

I’ll have more to say about this race once the field is set. Democrats nominated Andrea Phillips at a special district convention on August 7; Republicans have not yet selected a candidate.

For now, I want to touch on the opportunities and challenges this short campaign presents.

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Combating voter suppression, "Iowa Nice" style

Bryce Smith chairs the Dallas County Democrats. promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa has a rich tradition of voting integrity, from the way we draw legislative districts, to our access to early voting, election day voting, and ways in which to register to vote. We might call the system the “Iowa Nice” part of the U.S. election system.

Sadly, Iowa’s GOP-led legislature recently approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed yet another bill full of voting restrictions, labeled “voter suppression” by Democrats and hailed as “election integrity” by some Republicans. This comes just a few years after the GOP-led legislature in Iowa passed sweeping voting rights changes and restrictions in 2017.

Republicans across the country have no plan for how to become more competitive in the national popular vote, so they have focused on keeping power by making it harder for those who don’t support them to cast ballots.

With no clear path to enact a federal Voting Rights Act, given the Senate filibuster, how can Democrats defend democracy in GOP-controlled states?

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A path forward for Democrats

Rosanne Cook, Sarah Prineas, Emily Silliman, and Janice Weiner co-authored this post. -promoted by Laura Belin

November 3, 2020 was a kick in the teeth for Iowa Democrats. We lost in Iowa and we lost badly. What should we do about it, other than feel disheartened?

The Potluck Insurgency is a grassroots activist group based in Johnson County. After the 2020 election, four members of Potluck’s steering committee undertook a project to debrief candidates from urban, suburban and rural districts; former officials of the Iowa Democratic Party; and activists from other grassroots organizations.  Seeking to identify reasons for our losses in 2020 and to formulate recommendations for a path forward in Iowa, we interviewed 34 people over the course of three months, in hour-long interviews, working from questions prepared in advance.   

After these interviews, we drew some conclusions about next steps. The following advice is directed at everyone from Iowa Democratic Party leaders, to activist groups like ours, to candidates. These are concrete actions that all of these groups can take to improve our chances in 2022.

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Where Iowa Democrats go from here: Thoughts for the next party chair

J.D. Scholten was the Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district in 2018 and 2020. -promoted by Laura Belin

We, Iowa Democrats, have a lot of work to do. The 2020 election was humbling and has been hard to swallow. In 2008, Barack Obama won Cerro Gordo County with 60 percent of the vote. Donald Trump carried it this year with 52 percent. Obama won Carroll County in 2008 with 51 percent, but Trump won overwhelmingly there this year, with 68 percent of the vote. Those are just a couple of examples of what happened across the state.

Is Iowa a red state? Yes, for now, but I am not sold that all is lost for the Democratic Party here. In order to improve our outcomes, we need some changes within the Iowa Democratic Party. It starts with whomever the new chairperson will be.

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Relational campaigning and our roles as influencers

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for policies that support children and strengthen families. -promoted by Laura Belin

Relational campaigning is back. Out of necessity, campaigns have had to adapt to the strictures of social distancing. 2020 has not been a year for mass gatherings, nor for packed party headquarters of volunteers to disperse leaflets door-to-door or operate phone banks. Instead, much of the volunteer work has relied upon people in their own homes and with their computers and cell phones doing what they can.

The plus side of this has been an increased emphasis upon “relational campaigning,” asking volunteers to reach out to the people they know best about issues that matter to them.

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The most important exchange from the first Trump-Biden debate

The first clash between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was indisputably a low point in the history of presidential debates. There were plenty of discouraging moments, when Trump’s incessant bullying left moderator Chris Wallace pleading with the leader of the free world to stop interrupting. More frightening, a sitting president refused to condemn white supremacy and encouraged his far-right militant supporters to “stand back and stand by.”

But near the end, Biden delivered one of the best answers I’ve ever seen him give in a debate.

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Need an Iowa absentee ballot? Here's how to request one

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has sent his statewide mailing of absentee ballot request forms to active registered voters, his office announced on September 4. “The forms include pre-paid, first class mail postage and an envelope to return the request form to the voter’s county auditor,” the news release clarified.

The secretary of state’s mailing will look like this on one side:

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Interview: Rachel Junck on her winning strategy in Ames

Rachel Junck became the second Iowa State University student elected to the Ames City Council this week, winning the runoff election in Ward 4 by 723 votes (55.1 percent) to 589 votes (44.9 percent) according to unofficial results.

Not only did Junck beat a two-term incumbent with strong ties in the business community, her supporters helped push total turnout on December 3 (1,313 votes) higher than the 1,220 who cast ballots in the ward on November 5. Ask anyone who has worked on local campaigns: that almost never happens.

How did she do it? Junck made time for a telephone interview with Bleeding Heartland on December 5.

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Remembering my dear friend, Jerry Tormey

Many central Iowa Democrats are grieving for Jerry Tormey, a tireless activist who passed away on July 23. Tamyra Harrison now works for The Salvation Army but got to know Jerry well as executive director of the Polk County Democrats, a job she held from 2004 to 2017. -promoted by Laura Belin

There are a lot of different people we meet on the journey through our lives. Some people bring joy to a room just by being present. Some people are so kind of heart they bring out the very best in those around them. Some people radiate joy. Some people always think of others, putting their needs, or that of a greater cause, above themselves. Some people give more of their time to make the world a little better than seems possible, yet always makes time for doing a little more when asked. Some people perform little, seemingly insignificant, acts of kindness every single day without even trying, just by calling to say hi, checking on someone who had bad news, being an ear when needed, remembering a birthday and so much more.

It is rare to find all of this in one individual, but that was Jerry Tormey. We were so blessed to have had our lives touched by him in so many ways, and his influence and legacy will live on.

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Six things Iowa candidates need to know for the 2019 local elections

With umpteen presidential campaigns to follow and competitive races shaping up in all four Iowa Congressional districts, as well as for many state House and Senate seats, I haven’t published anything this year about the 2019 local elections.

Campaigns for school board and city offices will never be the most glamorous topics for political reporters, but the outcomes can greatly affect the quality of life in communities. Iowans thinking about running for office should read the action plan Lauren Whitehead wrote after her successful bid for Solon City Council in 2017. They should also be aware of the following dates and legal requirements:

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Republicans are worried about Iowa Senate district 30, with good reason

Voters in Cedar Falls, Hudson, and part of Waterloo will elect a new state senator on March 19. Three candidates are on the ballot for Iowa Senate district 30: Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Eric Giddens, and Libertarian Fred Perryman.

Republicans took some advantages into this campaign, which is on a shortened timetable because Senator Jeff Danielson resigned during the legislative session. Rogers was better-known than Giddens, and Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the vote during spring break for the University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls public schools, when many people in Democratic-leaning constituencies would likely be out of town.

But since Bleeding Heartland previewed this race in late February, Giddens has emerged as the favorite. Republicans tacitly acknowledged their weaknesses by launching a second over-the-top negative television commercial on March 15, rather than closing on what was supposed to be Rogers’ selling point: giving Black Hawk County and UNI a voice in the Iowa Senate majority caucus.

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Pie in the sky or possible? Flipping a tough district

N. Kelly managed Karin Derry’s 2018 campaign in Iowa House district 39. Derry was one of five Democratic candidates to win Republican-held seats in the suburbs of Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Very difficult but not impossible. That was what we knew about getting Karin Derry elected.

In 2016, the Republican incumbent Jake Highfill won with 57 percent of the vote. Going into 2018, 36 percent of voters in our district were registered as Republicans, compared to 25 percent registered as Democrats.

Bleak numbers, but when you believe that what you want is what most people want – a strong public education system, accessible and affordable healthcare, reasonable environmental protections, sensible policies to make taxation fair and the economy grow – then it simply becomes a matter of getting the word out. Talking to voters. Being real. Karin would speak of how her wonderful father had been a Reagan Republican, but that party is not today’s party. I think that fact resonated with many people across the political spectrum.

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Lawmakers should act on absentee ballots, mail barcodes

Bev Clark calls for action to prevent a 2020 repeat of the scenario that played out in Iowa House district 55. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa legislature must clarify the law that determines the timeliness of absentee ballots. Some 41 percent of Iowans who participated in the 2018 election voted early, according to the Secretary of State’s certified results. That’s 547,205 ballots!

Those are the known, counted absentee ballots. Some of them may not have complied with the postmark requirement, but were counted anyway. In the very tight election for Iowa House district 55, where only nine votes separated the candidates, Winneshiek County rejected 29 late-arriving absentee ballots without a postmark. But those ballots did have an intelligent mail barcode, proving they entered the postal service before election day. The dispute centered on what kind of mail barcode.

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Four takeaways from Iowa's 2018 early voting numbers

Fourteenth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

The November election was the first since Republicans shortened our state’s early voting window. Proponents of the 2017 law, best known for requiring voter ID, never made a case for limiting early voting. Nor did they produce evidence of any problems caused by allowing Iowans to cast ballots 40 days before elections. (County auditors needed to have ballots ready anyway, since federal law requires them to send overseas military ballots 45 days in advance.)

The power play was inspired by a simple fact: Iowa Democrats rely more on early voting than do Republicans. Switching from 40 days to 29 gave Democratic volunteers two fewer weekends to “chase” absentee ballots.

Now that the statewide statistical report on the 2018 general election is available, we can see how early voting played out in a compressed time frame. Bleeding Heartland previously discussed notable findings on turnout rates for Iowans of different political affiliations, age groups, and gender.

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A house divided

Anyone who has knocked doors in Iowa has probably experienced the depressing phenomenon Allison Engel describes. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On Saturday, October 27, as I was door-knocking in Johnston for Democratic candidates, I had a depressingly familiar experience. A middle-aged man answered the door, and I asked to speak to his wife, a registered Democrat, by name. He saw the campaign flyers on my clipboard and without a word, slammed the door in my face.

All volunteer canvassers get doors slammed in our faces occasionally, but in this election cycle, there is a noticeable and alarming trend for men not to allow their wives or adult daughters to come to the door to listen to us or receive our literature. It has happened to me every time I’ve door knocked over the past four months. A few weeks ago, I had a father brusquely tell me that his daughter wasn’t home when I could see her standing right behind him. To her credit, she said, “Yes, I am,” and proceeded to fill out an absentee ballot request as he seethed.

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What to do if you haven't returned your Iowa absentee ballot

Nearly 450,000 Iowans have already voted in the 2018 general election, according to figures the Iowa Secretary of State’s office released on November 2. Early voting is on track to far exceed the number of Iowans who cast ballots before election day in 2014. But as of Friday, county auditors had not yet received some 82,000 absentee ballots mailed to Iowa voters this fall.

If you’re among the roughly 35,000 Iowa Democrats, 25,000 Republicans, or 22,000 no-party voters who have not yet returned their absentee ballots, you still have time. But don’t simply drop the ballot in the mail if you want to guarantee your vote will count. Here are your options:

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"Fight for the best of who we are": Kamala Harris rallies Iowa Democrats

Hundreds of Iowa Democrats got their first chance to hear U.S. Senator Kamala Harris on October 22. On her first major swing through the state, the senator from California had a packed schedule, including:

  • a morning gathering with the Asian and Latino Coalition;
  • an Ankeny rally organized by Des Moines Area Community College students, also featuring Iowa House district 38 candidate Heather Matson, Iowa Senate district 19 candidate Amber Gustafson, and third Congressional district nominee Cindy Axne;
  • a late afternoon event in Indianola;
  • a private fundraiser for Axne; and finally
  • a speech to a room full of Polk County Democrats in Des Moines.
  • Though Harris is widely viewed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, she kept her focus on the election happening November 6. I enclose below the full audio and partial transcript of the evening speech, which was similar to remarks Harris delivered earlier in the day.

    Whereas some politicians tend to use convoluted, run-on sentences, Harris was striking in how she used simple sentence construction and repetition to great effect.

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    The much anticipated blue wave -- not

    Ira Lacher asks, “How in the world can we effect the kind of change we so urgently seek when we decline to exercise the one sure method to accomplish this?” -promoted by desmoinesdem

    Many of us despair that Brett Kavanaugh, who displayed such a nonpartisan judicial mien during the latter stages of his confirmation process, has become the latest impediment to a progressive agenda. We are livid that Senators Mitch McConnell and Iowa’s own Charles Grassley hijacked the confirmation process for Barack Obama.

    And yet, when the ballots are counted on November 6, we almost assuredly will find that far fewer than half of voting-eligible Americans actually realized the most elementary way to reverse this outcome: They didn’t vote.

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    IA-02: Dave Loebsack should spend less on tv, more to elect Iowa Democrats

    Six-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack will spend more than a million dollars over the next seven weeks running television commercials for a race not seen as competitive by any election forecaster or political advocacy group.

    Meanwhile, his campaign has contributed just $125,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party’s coordinated effort to boost candidates running for all state and federal offices.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

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    IA-04: What needs to happen for J.D. Scholten to beat Steve King

    Representative Steve King is making national news again, this time for re-tweeting a neo-Nazi British politician. King’s long had a thing for European right-wingers who stir up racist fear about non-white immigration. As usual, no House Republicans are calling for King to resign, nor has any prominent Iowa Republican denounced the sentiments. King repeated his warning about immigration this morning.

    J.D. Scholten won the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district convincingly with 51 percent of the vote in a three-way field. He will be the underdog in November. All the major election forecasters rate this district as safe for Republicans, since King won more than 60 percent of the vote in 2014 and 2016.

    On the other hand, a few months ago, a Democrat won a special election in a Pennsylvania U.S. House district with a partisan voting index of R+11–the same as IA-04. More recently, a Republican barely won a special election in an R+13 Arizona House district.

    Here’s what Scholten needs to pull off what would be a huge upset:

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    An open letter of thanks from Tracy Freese

    Tracy Freese is the Democratic candidate in today’s election in Iowa Senate district 25, where Majority Leader Bill Dix resigned last month. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    As I sit typing this on the morning of a special election where almost nothing is certain, there is one thing I know for sure: I will never be able to wholly express with words how deeply affected I am by the support I’ve received from loved ones, friends, and complete strangers.

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    Flip the Iowa House

    A view from the trenches by Christine Lewers, an organizer of a new group working to help Democratic candidates win Republican-held Iowa House districts. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    Most Iowans don’t know who David Reid is. I didn’t either, until last spring, when the national Sister District Project sent an e-mail asking me to contribute to his campaign. I sent $20 and forgot about Reid until November 7, 2017, when Democrats in Virginia won fifteen Republican-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Reid’s win was among them.

    That got me wondering. Why not do the same thing in Iowa? The Sister District idea is to move resources from safe blue regions of the country to places where it can have the most impact: state legislative races where a Democratic challenger is taking on an incumbent in a flippable district.

    Unfortunately, Iowa is not currently a focus of Sister District’s 2018 political strategy. That shouldn’t stop Iowa’s Democrats from building a similar strategy to help win back the state House themselves. I’m part of a politically active group of friends, neighbors and family that during the past year has marched and protested and called and more. None of that is enough. Democrats must win elections.

    That’s why my group and I started Flip It Iowa.

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    "We can do better": Deidre DeJear's case for secretary of state

    Iowa Democrats are set to have their first competitive primary for secretary of state since 1998. Deidre DeJear launched her campaign last month on the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, to symbolize her commitment to increasing voter participation.

    DeJear spoke to Bleeding Heartland at length about her candidacy, and I’ve posted highlights from that interview after the jump, along with the audio and full transcript of her remarks to a Democratic audience in Grinnell. You can follow her campaign on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

    DeJear’s approach to the race is markedly different from that of Jim Mowrer, the other Democrat in the field. Mowrer came out swinging against Secretary of State Paul Pate, vowing “to say no to making it harder and more expensive to vote” and highlighting the failure to count nearly 6,000 votes in Dallas County last November. In contrast, DeJear says little about Pate in her campaign materials and stump speech. She didn’t bring up the Dallas County debacle in our interview either.

    Pate is very unpopular among Democratic activists since pushing for new restrictions on voting that will create barriers for certain populations. Nor is the secretary of state well-liked by county auditors, some of whom have already endorsed Mowrer. I suspect many 2018 primary voters will be drawn to a candidate willing to take the fight to Pate, relentlessly.

    On the other hand, DeJear’s more aspirational, positive message should resonate with Democrats who prefer candidates to talk about what they are for, not what they’re against. I look forward to following this race.

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    Phil Miller likely leads by 1,100 early votes in Iowa House district 82

    Registered Democrats have returned 1,153 more ballots than Republicans in Iowa House district 82, as of today. The news will encourage supporters of Democratic nominee Phil Miller, though a strong election-day turnout by Republicans could still win the race for the GOP’s Travis Harris. In the high-profile 2009 special Iowa House election covering some of the same territory, Democrat Curt Hanson led by about 1,000 early votes and ended up winning by 107.

    UPDATE/CORRECTION: Judging by the unofficial results from Davis County, posted after polls closed, the person who read me those numbers over the phone appears to have transposed the Democratic and Republican totals. I have switched the numbers in the table, which decreased the overall Democratic absentee ballot lead in the district to 1,025.

    Click here for the rest of the election results and my take on Miller’s big win.

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    Early votes and tv ads: the latest news from Iowa House district 82

    On August 8, Iowans in three counties will elect either Democrat Phil Miller or Republican Travis Harris to succeed the late State Representative Curt Hanson. Both major parties are spending more on the House district 82 race than on any other special state legislative campaign in years.

    Voter interest is relatively high. The number of early ballots requested here already exceeds the total number of votes cast in each of the last two races to fill Iowa House vacancies (House district 22 in June and House district 89 in January).

    Follow me after the jump for the absentee ballot numbers as of a week before election day, and the latest television commercials for and against Miller and Harris. Spoiler alert: if you guessed that Republicans would run a misleading ad about transgender bathrooms, you were right.

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    Weekend open thread: New Iowa Democratic Party leadership edition

    Following a less acrimonious campaign than what unfolded in December and January, the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted yesterday for Troy Price to lead the party through 2018. Price brings a lot of relevant experience to the job. He worked in the Vilsack and Culver administrations and led the LGBT advocacy organization One Iowa during the 2010 election campaign, when conservatives targeted Iowa Supreme Court justices and other supporters of marriage equality. Later, he served as political director for Organizing for Iowa, was the Iowa Democratic Party’s executive director during the 2014 election cycle, and was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign before the 2016 caucuses.

    Sentiment against Price was brewing in some private Facebook groups near the beginning of this short campaign for a new statewide party leader. Some activists distrusted him because he had worked for Clinton’s operation and was running Todd Prichard’s gubernatorial campaign until a couple of weeks ago. Those feelings didn’t gain steam, partly because unlike the last time, there was no “Bernie” candidate for state party chair this go around. Also, Price reached out personally to central committee members, and a few activists with clout vouched for him privately and publicly. Robert Becker, who ran the Sanders campaign in Iowa, posted on Friday that Price would be an “outstanding” chair. Jon Neiderbach, the only gubernatorial candidate who was a public supporter of Sanders for president, didn’t endorse anyone to lead the party but said he was confident Price would be even-handed if elected.

    I was disappointed to learn that some prominent labor union leaders and supporters conducted a whispering campaign against Julie Stauch, Price’s main rival in this race. The backstory here is a mystery to me; I’ve known Stauch for more than 20 years and never seen any sign that she isn’t staunchly pro-labor. Unions are a powerful constituency within the Iowa Democratic Party, providing financial support and sometimes endorsements that influence primaries. It would be helpful for labor leaders to stick to the case for their preferred candidate, instead of making up reasons not to support someone else. More than a few state central committee members were turned off by the negative campaigning against Stauch, who handled the situation with class.

    CORRECTION: It was more than a whispering campaign. A reader pointed me to this public thread in which Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro said, “Labor is with Troy, we have no time to waste,” and AFSMCE’s longtime President Danny Homan added, “The only hope for the IDP is Troy Price.” Pressed on their reasoning, Wawro and Homan both mentioned Price being at the Capitol during debates over key anti-labor legislation this year–as if Iowa Democrats who were not physically at the statehouse on those days don’t share the same views. That kind of litmus test won’t be helpful as Price tries to build bridges between different party factions.

    I enclose below more links on the State Central Committee meeting and Price’s top priorities as state chair.

    This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Readers who want to help select the Democratic nominee for governor should block out Monday, February 5, 2018 on your calendars. The precinct caucuses held that evening will select delegates to county conventions, which on March 24 will select delegates to the district and state conventions. If no gubernatorial candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in next year’s primary, the state convention delegates will choose a nominee on June 16. John Deeth has more to say on next year’s caucus-to-convention process.

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    How liberal is the American Heartland? It depends...

    Kent R. Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant who has measured and analyzed public opinion for public and private sector clients for more than 30 years. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    The American Heartland is not as conservative as some Republicans want you to believe, nor is it as liberal as some Democrats would prefer.

    Like the nation writ large, the American Heartland is dominated by centrists who make up nearly half of the vote-eligible population.

    That conclusion is based on my analysis of the recently released 2016-17 American National Election Study (ANES), which is a nationally-representative election study fielded every two years by Stanford University and The University of Michigan and is available here.

    Across a wide-array of issues, most Heartland vote-eligible adults do not consistently agree with liberals or conservatives. They are, as their group’s label suggests, smack dab in the middle of the electorate.

    However, on the issues most important to national voters in 2016 — the economy, jobs, national security, and immigration — there is a conservative skew in the opinions of the Heartland. The Iowa Democratic Party, as well as the national party, must recognize this reality as they try to translate the energy of the “resistance” into favorable and durable election outcomes in 2018.

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    Dallas County screw-up could scare Iowans away from early voting

    When I heard elections officials in Iowa’s fastest-growing county somehow failed to count 5,842 ballots from the 2016 general election, my first thought was that Dallas County Auditor Julia Helm should resign immediately, along with anyone else responsible for the “human error” that disenfranchised almost 13 percent of the county’s residents who cast ballots in the presidential election.

    My second thought was that someone on Secretary of State Paul Pate’s staff should have suspected a problem much sooner when Iowa’s fastest-growing county reported only a few hundred more votes in November than in the 2012 general election.

    Since Pat Rynard already covered that ground, I will focus on another concern: the Dallas County disaster could discourage Iowans from voting early in the future.

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    These Iowa Democrats will conduct the 2016 election post-mortem

    On a dark day for Democrats across the country, the Iowa Democratic Party announced most members of the “Building Blocks” committee that will analyze what went wrong in the 2016 elections. Representative Dave Loebsack spearheaded the initiative and will help raise money to cover the costs of a listening tour and research including a professional focus group. Members named in a January 20 press release:

    – Joe O’Hern- Campaign Manager Loebsack for Congress
    – Laura Hubka- 1st District SCC Member
    – Kate Revaux- 2nd District SCC Member
    – Jason Frerichs- 3rd District SCC Member
    – Penny Rosfjord- 4th District SCC Member
    – Emily Parcell- Wildfire Consulting
    – Jessica Vanden Berg- Maverick Consulting and Mail
    – Erich Schmidt- Laborers International Union
    – Representatives from House Truman Fund
    – Representatives from State Senate Majority Fund
    – Representatives from the Iowa Democratic Party Staff

    Best of luck to this group. I look forward to reading their report sometime this spring. Broadly, we know that white voters without a college degree were the key to Iowa’s massive swing to Trump. But we have a lot to learn about why so many people in counties that had voted for Barack Obama twice either did not vote or voted for Trump. We need to figure out how to reconnect with voters in eastern Iowa communities that were Democratic strongholds for decades. We need to assess the party’s early GOTV strategy, which seems to have inadvertently turned out Trump voters. We also need to understand why some of our hard-working Iowa Senate incumbents and state House candidates performed so poorly in down-ballot races. Why didn’t Governor Terry Branstad’s disastrous Medicaid privatization and under-funding of education and mental health care resonate more with voters in communities of all sizes?

    P.S.- I learned after publishing my latest Throwback Thursday post that Jessica Vanden Berg and Scott Ourth (an Iowa House Democrat since 2013) worked on John Judge’s campaign for the January 1999 special election to replace Patty Judge. I hope to hear their stories someday and publish an account of that race from the Democratic perspective.

    Letter From Obama Alumni in Support of Derek Eadon for IDP Chair

    Thirteen people (named below) signed this statement advocating for Derek Eadon. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee Members,

    As alumni of President Obama’s campaigns and grassroots organizations here in Iowa, we ask that you cast your vote for Derek Eadon as the next Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. Derek was the first organizer President Obama hired in Iowa in 2007 and he has fought tirelessly for Democratic candidates and progressive values his entire career.

    Derek has dedicated countless hours to mentor new organizers, train and develop volunteer leaders, and build progressive grassroots organizations across Iowa. He has invested his time and talent, his energy and enthusiasm. There are three things that are immediately clear to the hundreds of staffers that Derek has managed and the thousands of volunteers he has worked with: he has an unmatched work ethic, he has sound judgment as a leader, and he has a relentless desire to help everyone around him get better. Derek has a proven history of building successful teams around a core belief of Respect, Empower, Include. His service for Iowa Democrats and his leadership and vision will make him a great Chair.

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    An Iowa Democratic Party Vice Chair Candidate's Thoughts on the Party's Next Steps

    Andrea Phillips was the Democratic candidate in Iowa House district 37 last year. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    Having just come through an Iowa election from the inside as a legislative candidate, I’ve had a behind-the-scenes view of how the party operates in an election cycle. I have decided to run for Iowa Democratic Party 1st Vice Chair because I have a passion for implementing the changes we need to start making now to position us to win back the Governor’s office and make gains in the statehouse and in Congress in 2018 and 2020. Election night 2016 shocked us all. In Iowa, not a single Democratic legislative challenger defeated a Republican incumbent (including me; I lost my race to represent northern Ankeny in the Iowa House).

    With the Governor’s office and both the Iowa State Senate and House under Republican control, our party activists are more important now than ever. We need to be sounding the alarm constantly, letting legislators know that people are watching how they vote, and letting voters know what the people they elected are doing at the statehouse (setting the stage for a correction in 2018). We need to strengthen our party infrastructure so that it’s easy for people to get and stay engaged, and to harness the anger, fear, and frustration many people are feeling into action. (And after the rallies are done, we need to maintain contact with the people who are showing up, welcoming them to remain involved with the party).

    But if we want to see our values and priorities reflected in the laws of our state and nation, we need to win elections. Here are some things we as a party need to do:

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    An Outsider's Opinion on the Race for Iowa Democratic Party Chair

    Highly-engaged Democratic volunteer nwfisch attended a January 10 meeting in Dubuque, where six candidates to lead the Iowa Democratic Party spoke to activists and answered questions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    As a teacher, I wouldn’t consider myself a political insider. I live a modest life and try my best to advocate for my students through politics. I’ve become more involved in the local party over the past year and I recently had the chance to hear six of the candidates running for chairperson of the Iowa Democratic Party.

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    The 2016 Election: A view from The People’s Republic of Johnson County

    A resident offers a view of the 2016 election from the “People’s Republic of Johnson County.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

    If Johnson County, Iowa were its own state or country, Hillary Clinton would be president today and Patty Judge one of our two senators, Bruce Braley being the other. Using public data from the Johnson County Auditor webpage, turnout for the 2016 presidential election was 77,476 votes, which is 84 percent of registered voters. Secretary Clinton pulled in 65 percent of the vote and Judge 57 percent in her bid to become US Senator. In the presidential race, Donald Trump received 27 percent of the vote, Gary Johnson 4 percent, and write-ins were higher than any other candidate at 1.2 percent.

    John Deeth notes in his blog that Johnson County, Iowa tops the next best performing county for Clinton by 14 percent, and in the recent past was the only wins for Jack Hatch and Roxanne Conlin. Johnson was the only county to not favor Terry Branstad in his 2014 reelection. If more of the nation had voted like Johnson County, things would have looked more like what nearly every news source was predicting. The figure of 84 percent is remarkable for a turnout and press coverage reflected this, but I will return to this in a moment.

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    A year's worth of guest posts, plus tips for guest authors

    One of my blogging new year’s resolutions for 2016 was to publish more work by other authors, and I’m grateful to the many talented writers who helped me meet that goal. After the jump I’ve linked to all 140 guest posts published here last year.

    I encourage readers to consider writing for this site in 2017. Guest authors can write about any political issue of local, state, or national importance. As you can see from the stories enclosed below, a wide range of topics and perspectives are welcome here.

    Pieces can be short or long, funny or sad. You can write in a detached voice or let your emotions show.

    Posts can analyze what happened or advocate for what should happen, either in terms of public policy or a political strategy for Democrats. Authors can share first-person accounts of campaign events or more personal reflections about public figures.

    Guest authors do not need to e-mail a draft to me or ask permission to pursue a story idea. Just register for an account (using the “sign up” link near the upper right), log in, write a post, edit as needed, and hit “submit for review” when you are ready to publish. The piece will be “pending” until I approve it for publication, to prevent spammers from using the site to sell their wares. You can write under your own name or choose any pseudonym not already claimed by another Bleeding Heartland user. I do not reveal authors’ identity without their permission.

    I also want to thank everyone who comments on posts here. If you’ve never participated that way, feel free to register for a user account and share your views. If you used to comment occasionally but have not done so lately, you may need to reset your password. Let me know if you have any problems registering for an account, logging in, or changing a password. My address is near the lower right-hand corner of this page.

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    A Political Autopsy: What Went Wrong for Iowa Democrats, and How We Can Come Back Stronger for 2018

    Guest author nwfisch knocked hundreds of doors in Dubuque County, which voted for the Republican presidential candidate this year for the first time since 1956. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    As a delegate for Hillary Clinton throughout the caucus season, I became more engaged as the general election approached. I knocked on doors weekly encouraging voters to request an absentee ballot or else convince them to vote for Hillary and down ballot Democrats. I often pestered coworkers and friends about the election and the importance of speaking out against Donald Trump.

    I have no regrets and don’t feel my time was wasted in standing for a competent candidate and against an unprepared and unqualified candidate. This post will air some grievances I had during my time as a volunteer this cycle, attempt to explain why Iowans flocked to the GOP, and offer some ideas for next steps for Democrats to take.

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    Recruit, Engage and Empower

    Many thanks to Julie Stauch for posting more details about her vision for rebuilding the party. All candidates for state party chair are welcome to share similar materials before next month’s election. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    Saturday at the State Central Committee meeting, I presented my ideas on how to strengthen the Iowa Democratic Party. Because we had a short window of time to speak, on Sunday I sent the attached document to the members of the State Central Committee to expand upon the points I highlighted. Today I share this with Bleeding Heartland readers because the very best thing about so many candidates in this race is the exchange of ideas. Only one person will be chair, but the ideas are for all of us.

    The fundamental goal of my recommendations is to shift to a greater focus on empowerment. Empowerment allows individuals to contribute based upon their strengths and talents. When a leader takes actions that empower others to step up, opportunities, answers to problems, and success increase. Rather than trying to control every little move, we allow for people to design and create a more intuitive Iowa Democratic Party that fits each and every corner of the state. We focus less on one right way and more on celebrating all the many different ways we can succeed.

    A special word of thanks to Bleeding Heartland for figuring out how to share this document. You have created a space for the transformation Iowa needs. Thanks, BH!

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    Iowa results certified: Clinton carried early vote, Trump crushed election day

    The scale of Iowa’s unexpectedly large swing toward Donald Trump has been clear for nearly a month. But until today, we didn’t know how much early and election-day voters contributed to transforming Iowa from a bellwether state to one that voted much more Republican than the rest of the country, from a state the Democratic presidential nominee carried by nearly 6 points in 2012 to a state the Republican nominee won by more than 9 points four years later.

    According to numbers released following the official state canvass, Hillary Clinton went into election day with a cushion less than half as large as Barack Obama’s early vote lead in 2012. Meanwhile, Trump’s advantage among election-day voters was more than four times as large as Mitt Romney’s.

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    Welcome New Friends, Tear Down Walls, Find the Common Ground

    Bill Brauch, a member of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee and chair of the Third District Central Committee, adds his suggestions for rebuilding the party. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    In the past few weeks Iowa Democrats have offered many great ideas to improve our party and election chances following the November 8 debacle. To the extent some of the following may be repetitive, it is only because certain ideas are screaming out to be adopted.

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    Next For Iowa Democrats

    Thanks to Democratic activist Paul Deaton, “a low wage worker, husband, father and gardener trying to sustain a life in a turbulent world,” for cross-posting these ideas from his blog. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    The Iowa Democratic Party should be blown up and its structure re-engineered — from scratch.

    There has been a lot of internet discussion about what’s next for the Iowa Democratic Party after three terrible election cycles. That is, terrible in terms of winning elections.

    Here are my thoughts, most of which have been expressed previously.

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    Gathering Forces and Resources

    Sixth-generation Iowan Kurt Meyer chairs the Mitchell County Democrats and is the founding chair of the Tri-County Democrats (Worth, Howard, & Mitchell counties). -promoted by desmoinesdem

    After thoughtful consideration and conversations with Democrats throughout the state, I have decided to seek the position of Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP). Our Party has now experienced two devastating election cycles in a row. To address this reality, the IDP must act quickly to a) listen, assess, and incorporate lessons learned from the last election cycle; b) outline plans to chart a different course; and c) enlist and empower leaders at all levels to help us accomplish our plans. Here are my preliminary priorities:

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    The First Step for Iowa Democrats

    Julie Stauch is a candidate for Iowa Democratic Party chair with a lot of experience on Democratic campaigns. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” JP Morgan

    How do you begin to get an understanding of what is working and what is not working with an organization the size and scope of the Iowa Democratic Party? One way is to start with thematic analysis, an anecdotal way to gather information from within a group of people. How does it work? You ask the same questions of each person in a one-on-one conversation. Then you listen for common themes, new ideas, and where you have the kind of consensus that makes implementing change easier.

    Since the election I’ve spoken with thirty-three individual Iowa Democratic activists from all across the state, asking each person the same four questions:
    1. What are the problems facing the Iowa Democratic Party?
    2. What are the opportunities?
    3. What would a successful Iowa Democratic Party look like?
    4. What are the obstacles between your vision of success and where we are right now?

    The good news is that there’s a tremendous amount of consensus on the problems and opportunities.

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    10 Things the Iowa Democratic Party Can Do To Rebuild

    John McCormally joins the conversation on how Iowa Democrats can recover. Currently an attorney and member of the party’s State Central Committee, McCormally is a former staffer for the party and for various Democratic campaigns. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    When it comes to rebuilding the Iowa Democratic Party, better messaging and party building are at the top of everyone’s list. Everyone agrees on the problems. Solutions are more elusive. Claire Celsi’s extraordinary article offers a great insight as to what the priorities of the next chair should be. While the next chair’s vision is important, rebuilding the party will take more than the vision of one person. As someone who has been on the IDP State Central Committee for six years, and will be for 18 more months, I am familiar with the potential and the limitations of the organization. In that spirit, I offer ten specific programs the IDP can implement to rebuild:

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    Don't Panic

    Ben Nesselhuf is a veteran of many Democratic campaigns and managed Jim Mowrer’s 2014 Congressional race against Steve King. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    ‘Don’t Panic’ – The Hichhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    First, my fellow Democrats, Don’t Panic. Election night was horrific. It was especially difficult because we all expected something different but, Don’t Panic. The Democratic Party, both in Iowa and on the national level, is far from the dumpster fire that the national media is portraying it as. We are in much better shape than the GOP was after the 2008 elections. If you recall, the national punditry was talking about the death of the modern day Republican Party. That was going to be nothing but a regional party that couldn’t win a race outside of the south. Obviously, that is not the case. In 2010 they came back in a big way and we will too. So, again I say, Don’t Panic.

    Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I have not met nearly as many democratic activists in Iowa as I would like and it is very likely that you, dear reader, have no idea who I am.

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    Building a Statewide Party

    Pete McRoberts, a close observer of many Iowa Democratic campaigns, kicks off Bleeding Heartland’s series of guest contributions on how the party can recover after routs in two consecutive elections. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    The days after any election offer for winners, some hope and excitement, and for losers, the opportunity to examine – in as close to real time as possible – where candidates and organizations succeeded, and failed. We get a re-set. If used properly, the days and weeks after an election loss – no matter how hard that loss is – can affirmatively help us do better at what we sought to do.

    This is not a wholesale analysis of the Democratic Party in Iowa or the 2016 numbers, and it’s not a general ‘how to’ guide. It’s an attempt to go under the hood, and look at some very specific structural issues highlighted by the elections of 2014 and 2016. At a gut level, it’s very easy to conclude there’s no upside of such a clear election loss. But these losses are something more than simply parties exchanging power, or a reflection of competing views about the future.. They represent one of our deepest forms of communication with one another. If we listen — and act — we can create a party in Iowa that once again, not only wins elections, but is truly representative of the millions of people in the state whose hopes and fears are both real, and for whom we do our work.

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    Final Iowa early vote numbers: Is Clinton's lead large enough?

    Most election forecasters see Iowa likely to go to Donald Trump, based on the preponderance of opinion polls taken here in the past month.

    However, Michael McDonald, who closely tracks early voting for the U.S. Elections Project, concluded that Iowa leans to Hillary Clinton, based on the ballots cast before election day.

    How can that be, given that the current Democratic lead in ballots returned to county auditors is significantly smaller than what President Barack Obama carried into election day 2012?

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    My Hillary Clinton Retrospective

    Tanya Keith has volunteered for many Democratic campaigns in Des Moines and was a precinct captain for Barack Obama before the 2008 Iowa caucuses. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    We’re into the last two days of this campaign and as Hillary released her “Story of the Campaign” video, I began to think about my journey through this campaign. The lead up to the Iowa Caucus was a turning point in my life. My third and likely final child, a daughter, was born in April of 2015, just as my oldest was becoming a teenager. I realized that this was the last Presidential election that my oldest will not vote in, and I decided to push myself to show her how to engage in politics, even through the fog of early motherhood. My first venture on this mission was a trip to Newton, Iowa when the baby was 12 weeks old.

    When my first was born, I was starting my own company, and with my second my company was going strong and I barely took any time off. My third born gave me the opportunity to indulge in staying home with her without the immediate pressure of working. Reaching 12 weeks, when American families who qualify for FMLA must return to work after unpaid leave was taking an emotional toll on me. My daughter was still so small, and I felt a personal responsibility to take advantage of the Iowa Caucus stage to shine a light on the absurdity of United States being the only industrialized nation to not offer paid family leave.

    As Clinton wrapped up her speech and began taking questions, I stood up with my baby girl in my arms.

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    Weekend open thread: Final Iowa polls and last-minute GOTV edition

    No need to ask what’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers. Three days from now, this election will be over except for the recounts. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have released their closing arguments to television viewers. Clinton’s 60-second ad “Roar” is a lot more upbeat than Trump’s two-minute “Argument for America.” UPDATED to add: the Trump commercial pushes some anti-Semitic buttons.

    Nearly 600,000 Iowans have already voted. I enclose below the latest absentee ballot figures, as of today and at the same point in the 2012 campaign. The Democratic lead in ballots received by county auditors stands at 41,881. On the Saturday before election day 2012, Democrats had banked 65,099 more votes than Republicans.

    The Des Moines Register released toplines from Selzer & Co’s final Iowa poll of the year a few minutes ago. It’s not good news for Democrats: Trump leads Clinton by 46 percent to 39 percent, with 6 percent supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1 percent the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Last month’s Selzer poll showed Trump 4 points ahead.

    The latest surveys from Simpson College/RABA Research and Emerson College both showed Trump leading Clinton by 44 percent to 41 percent in a field including multiple candidates.

    Loras College in Dubuque released its final Iowa poll earlier today: Clinton 44 percent, Trump 43 percent, Johnson and Stein 3 percent each, and 7 percent undecided. Loras found a 10-point advantage for Trump (47-37) among respondents who said they had not yet voted. Clinton’s net favorability (-8) was substantially better than Trump’s (-36). I enclose below excerpts from the Loras polling memo and Jason Noble’s write-up of the Selzer poll in the Des Moines Register. I’ll update later with more details as the Register publishes further results.

    Lots of pundits have written off Iowa already, given the demographics that favor Trump (a mostly white population, older than in other swing states and with a relatively small proportion of college graduates). Clinton’s campaign is working GOTV hard. A field office near you could use your help these last few days. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers on the phone or at the doorstep, you can bring food to campaign staff and volunteers, or offer to be a poll watcher on election day.

    I can’t remember more perfect weather for canvassing the weekend before a general election. For those planning to hit the doors tomorrow, Monday, or Tuesday, here are my best tips and pointers from superstar volunteer Laura Hubka, the Howard County Democratic Party chair.

    Some GOTV “scripts” are geared toward voters already identified as supporters of Democratic candidates. These people don’t need persuading. Volunteers will remind them of their polling place location and opening times and will ask for their plan to vote. Research has shown that when people articulate their plan (for instance, before work or after dropping the kids off at school), they are more likely to follow through and cast a ballot. Clinton’s campaign has an online tool for voters and hilarious YouTube video of Joe Biden (enclosed below) on why making a plan “is like the whole secret of life.”

    All 99 county auditors’ offices will be open for early voting in person on Monday, November 7, from 8 am to 5 pm.

    Important reminders for absentee voters who have not yet mailed back their ballots: late-arriving absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 7 in order to be counted. Post offices no longer routinely attach postmarks, so either 1) take your ballot to a post office on Monday and request a postmark, 2) hand-deliver your ballot to your county auditor’s office by 9 pm on November 8, or 3) ask a campaign volunteer to pick up your completed ballot so it can be hand-delivered on time.

    Make sure to follow instructions carefully: fill in ovals completely, seal the marked ballot in the secrecy envelope, seal that envelope inside the affidavit envelope, and sign and seal the affidavit envelope.

    If you’ve changed your mind about voting absentee, bring your unmarked ballot to your regular polling place on November 8, so you can “surrender” it and receive a regular ballot. If you don’t have your absentee ballot with you, poll workers will make you fill out a provisional ballot instead.

    Final note: political junkies can enter Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa election prediction contest by posting a comment in this thread before 7 am on November 8.

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    How Clinton's Iowa campaign is reaching Latino and African-American voters

    Pundits agree that Iowa’s demographics give Donald Trump a better chance of winning here than in any other state President Barack Obama carried twice.

    However, a growing number of Iowans don’t match stereotypes about our state’s mostly-white electorate.

    Hillary Clinton’s Iowa coalitions director, Maryland House Delegate Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk, spoke to Bleeding Heartland this week about the campaign’s outreach to Latino and African-American communities. Peña-Melnyk has put 6,000 miles on her car since August, traveling from Council Bluffs to Columbus Junction and many places in between.

    Even in this overwhelmingly white state, a strong turnout among Latino and African-American voters could swing a close election.

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    Quinnipiac finds tied race in Iowa, with big lead for Clinton among early voters

    Hillary Clinton has gained ground in Iowa since before the presidential debates, according to Quinnipiac’s new survey of 791 likely Iowa voters (margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points). In a four-way race, Clinton and Donald Trump are tied at 44 percent each, with 4 percent of respondents supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Trump leads Clinton by 47 percent to 46 percent in a head to head matchup. A month ago, Quinnipiac found Trump ahead 44-37 in the four-way race and 50-44 against Clinton alone.

    Quinnipiac’s polling memo highlighted a few findings from the cross-tabs. The most heartening for Democrats: “Clinton leads 61 – 27 percent among Iowa likely voters who have cast ballots.” That’s surprising, considering that only 27 percent of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 30 percent as Republicans, and 37 percent as independents.

    The Iowa Democratic early vote lead is smaller than it was at the same point in the 2012 campaign. As of October 27, Democrats had requested 45,684 more ballots and had cast 40,681 more ballots than Republicans. For Clinton to be 30-plus points ahead among early voters, as Quinnipiac’s data indicate, she would have to be winning a large share of early votes cast by Iowans affiliated with neither party. No-party voters had requested 116,737 absentee ballots as of October 27; 75,819 of those ballots had already arrived at county auditors’ offices. President Barack Obama’s campaign did a much better job of mobilizing no-party supporters here in 2012; Iowa Democrats hope to repeat that performance.

    More from the polling memo:

    In Iowa, Clinton is less disliked by likely voters, with a negative 40 – 55 percent favorability rating, compared to Trump’s negative 36 – 59 percent.

    Iowa men back Trump 51 – 35 percent, while women back Clinton 52 – 37 percent. Republicans go to Trump 88 – 6 percent, while Democrats back Clinton 88 – 9 percent. Independent voters are split 40 – 40 percent, with 6 percent for Johnson.

    White college-educated respondents narrowly favored Clinton, 47-43, while whites without a college degree split 48-38 for Trump.

    Dan Guild pointed out last month that third-party candidates tend to lose ground after the presidential debates. The Q-poll suggests that pattern is repeating this year; in last month’s survey, 10 percent of respondents supported Johnson and 2 percent Stein.

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    About 1 in 5 Iowa votes already banked

    Approximately 20 percent of the Iowans who will participate in this year’s general election had already cast ballots two weeks before election day.

    Iowa’s 99 county auditors had received 311,007 absentee ballots as of October 25.

    In the last presidential election, 1,589,899 Iowans voted–a record number in absolute terms. Two weeks before the 2012 general election, Iowa county auditors had received 376,065 ballots, which turned out to be about 23.6 percent of total votes cast. I expect this year’s turnout to be a bit lower than the 2012 level, because this year’s major-party presidential nominees are unusually unpopular.

    As of yesterday, 487,370 Iowans had requested absentee ballots. At the same point in the 2012 campaign, 542,096 Iowans (more than a third of the number who eventually participated) had done so.

    Follow me after the jump for more on how this year’s early vote numbers compare to the last presidential election.

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    Iowa Democrats' early vote lead remains smaller than in 2012

    I have good news and bad news.

    Registered Democrats in Iowa have requested more absentee ballots than Republicans, and a higher percentage of Democrats have returned those ballots to county auditors.

    On the other hand, a daily review of data released by the Iowa Secretary of State’s offices shows Democrats are not building the absentee ballot lead they enjoyed in 2012, when strong early GOTV delivered this state for President Barack Obama. Furthermore, Iowa Democrats are lagging further behind their 2012 numbers than are Republicans.

    Hillary Clinton is poised to win the presidency and could carry Iowa, but Democrats have reason to worry about the cushion she will take into election day.

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    Polk County early voting locations

    Thanks to Jeffrey Bruner for compiling the full list of early voting locations for Polk County, where about one in seven Iowa voters live. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    The Polk County Elections Office at 120 2nd Avenue, just south of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines, is open for in-person early voting every weekday through Monday, November 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and also will be open on Saturday, October 29, and Saturday, November 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Starting today, the following satellite voting locations will be open for in-person early voting as well:

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    Iowa GOP absentee ballot surge happened just in time for the Trump tape

    Good news for Iowa Republicans: their second major early vote mailing produced a surge in absentee ballot requests. President Barack Obama won this state in 2012 thanks to votes cast before election day, so shrinking the Democratic advantage in absentee ballots has been a key goal of the GOP’s turnout program.

    Bad news for Iowa Republicans, though: tens of thousands of GOP voters received their absentee ballots just in time for Donald Trump’s 2005 videotape to become one of the most talked-about political stories of the year.

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    Latest look at Iowa early vote numbers compared to 2012

    Hillary Clinton urged her Iowa supporters to cast early ballots at a Des Moines rally yesterday, a short walk from the Polk County Elections Office. Her campaign needs to bank as many votes before November 8 as possible to counteract the traditional Republican advantage among election-day voters.

    Republican strategist David Kochel has portrayed Iowa as a lost cause for Clinton, thanks to the large proportion of white, non-college-educated voters. Some Democratic activists felt demoralized last week after two opinion polls showed Donald Trump ahead by 8 percent and 7 percent. I’ve always expected a close presidential result here and think the next few Iowa polls will indicate a tight race, thanks to Trump’s disastrous performance in Monday’s debate.

    But delivering this state for Clinton will require stronger early GOTV than what Iowa Democrats have produced so far, especially among women, who were more likely than men to vote early in the last presidential election.

    Iowa Democratic early voting still lags well behind the party’s 2012 numbers. The big question is how much of the shortfall reflects deliberate tactical choices as opposed to a voter enthusiasm problem.

    After the jump I’ve enclosed tables showing how many absentee ballots Iowa voters have requested and county auditors have received as of today and September 28, 2012 (the same number of days before the November 6 general election). Democrats have gained some ground since last week but are still more than 56,000 ballot requests (nearly 42 percent) behind the numbers from four years ago. Republicans were ahead of their 2012 early vote numbers last week; they are now slightly behind that pace. No-party voters have requested about 17,000 fewer absentee ballots this year than they had by this point in the last presidential campaign. That’s probably bad news for Democrats, because Barack Obama received more early votes than Mitt Romney did from Iowans affiliated with neither party.

    You can view every day’s absentee ballot numbers here. I draw on figures released by the Secretary of State’s office but present the data in a different way.

    P.S.- Ruline Steininger, the 103-year-old Des Moines woman who starred in a recent Clinton campaign video, stood with Clinton yesterday before casting her own early ballot. She told reporters, “I’m 103. That’s the reason I voted early. I’m not taking any chances.” Unfortunately, Iowa law would prohibit Steininger’s vote from being counted if (God forbid) she passes away before November 8. Some states, including Virginia and Hawaii, require early votes to be counted in the same circumstance.

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    Three ways to vote early in Iowa (2016 edition)

    Early voting begins in Iowa tomorrow, 40 days before November 8. Hillary Clinton is coming to downtown Des Moines for a rally less than a mile from the elections office in Polk County, home to about one in seven registered Iowa voters. Donald Trump will rally supporters today in Council Bluffs, Iowa’s seventh-largest city.

    More than 43 percent of Iowans who cast ballots in the last presidential election voted before election day. President Barack Obama built up a lead of 137,355 among early Iowa voters, which more than compensated for Mitt Romney’s advantage of 45,428 among those who voted on November 6, 2012.

    Strong early GOTV will be important for Clinton and other Democrats for another reason too: Iowa women are more likely than men to vote before election day. Clinton needs high turnout from women to offset Trump’s advantage among men.

    Click here for tables showing the latest early vote numbers and here for the same data from 2012. So far, registered Iowa Democrats have requested more than twice as many absentee ballots as have Republicans. However, Democrats are behind their early vote numbers from the last presidential campaign, while the GOP is ahead of its 2012 pace.

    Although many people enjoy the experience of going to their local polling place on election day, I encourage all my friends to vote early. Ballots cast in September and October allow campaigns to focus their final GOTV efforts on those who may need an extra push to participate. Voters benefit too, because they won’t have to worry about bad weather, last-minute work obligations, or a family emergency stopping them from getting to the polls on November 8. They also will receive fewer unsolicited phone calls and knocks at the door once their county auditor has processed their ballot.

    Iowans have three options for voting early.

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    Iowa absentee ballot numbers in the 2016 general election

    Early voting was a major factor in Barack Obama’s margin of victory in Iowa four years ago. Although both parties launched their absentee ballot drives a little later this year, Democrats and Republicans will soon be fully engaged in banking as many votes as possible before election day.

    I will update this page every weekday with the latest absentee ballot numbers released by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, presented in two tables. The first shows the number of absentee ballots Iowans have requested, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. The second shows the number of absentee ballots county auditors have received from voters, in each Congressional district and statewide. (For now, those numbers are small, because county auditors only just started mailing ballots to voters who don’t live overseas or serve in the military.)

    In-person early voting will begin on September 29 at county auditors’ offices. When an Iowan votes early in person, either at the county auditor’s office or at a satellite location, that counts as an absentee ballot requested by the voter and as an absentee ballot received by the auditor on the same day.

    You can compare this year’s early vote numbers to the daily charts from the last two election cycles by clicking through to Bleeding Heartland’s archive of absentee ballot totals from 2012 and 2014.

    You can find the latest absentee ballot figures in each Iowa House and Iowa Senate district on the Secretary of State’s website.

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    Iowa early vote numbers down compared to same point in 2012 and 2014

    Although Iowans won’t be able to cast ballots in person or by mail until next Thursday, September 29, candidates and volunteers have been collecting absentee ballot request forms for weeks as they knock on doors.

    Today the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office provided this year’s first statewide early voting numbers. Absentee ballot requests are down considerably compared to mid-September 2012 and 2014.

    That the Republican Party of Iowa has not yet mailed its first big piece of early vote literature can’t fully explain the trend. At this point in the last two election cycles, absentee ballot requests from Iowa Democrats alone far exceeded current numbers.

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    Walking, Knocking and Talking the Talk

    Howard County Democratic Party chair Laura Hubka shares wisdom gained from knocking thousands of doors as a superstar volunteer in northeast Iowa and former candidate for the state legislature. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    I was not always into politics and even though I was a “talker” in elementary school, I really was never into starting conversations, especially about politics, with anyone I did not know. In the last 8 years or so I have changed. Knocking doors and talking about local, state and national candidates are part of my life now on a regular basis. I have actually come to enjoy it. I understand how it can be scary and intimidating at times, but I also know the joy of having a great one on one conversation with my fellow Iowans. Here are some of my tips to those who want to put their boots on the ground and make a real difference.

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    Weekend open thread: Trump at the Ernst "Roast and Ride" edition

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was back in Des Moines yesterday as the headliner for Senator Joni Ernst’s second annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser. Approximately 400 people rode their motorcycles to the state fairgrounds, where politicians addressed a crowd of about 1,800. Radio Iowa posted the full audio of Trump’s remarks and highlights here. Shane Vander Hart live-blogged the event for Caffeinated Thoughts.

    I got a kick out of the Ernst Twitter feed, featuring photos of the rock band The Nadas, various other special guests and crowd shots, but not a single picture of headliner Trump.

    Why so shy, Senator?

    Not to worry, lots of other people got pictures of Ernst standing next to Trump and recorded her urging Iowans to get out the vote for the whole GOP ticket.

    Representative Steve King (IA-04) was up there with Trump and Ernst, despite telling Radio Iowa on Friday he was “uneasy” about the presidential nominee seeming to backpedal lately on his promise to deport undocumented immigrants. ABC’s Meghan Keneally recapped Trump’s mixed messages about immigration policy this past week. For more, see Nick Corasaniti’s latest report for the New York Times and this piece by Peter Beinart for The Atlantic. Trump attempted to clean up the mess in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday. His campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tried but failed to articulate a coherent position on CBS this morning.

    At the Roast and Ride, Trump promised, “We’re gonna get rid of these people, day 1, before the wall [is built on the Mexican border], before anything.” The family of Sarah Root, the inspiration for Steve King’s “Sarah’s law,” joined Trump on stage. My heart goes out to them. Losing a loved one to a drunk driver would be devastating.

    Senator Chuck Grassley and Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) all spoke to the Roast and Ride crowd but declined to stand on stage for the group photo with Trump. Who can blame them?

    Speaking of Trump’s toxicity, Hillary Clinton delivered an excellent speech this week to connect the dots on how Trump has promoted racist and race-baiting ideas, giving hope and cover to white supremacists. The full transcript is here. Watching the white nationalist movement become emboldened by Trump’s campaign has been one of the most disturbing political developments of the last year.

    This is an open thread: all topics welcome. I skipped the Roast and Ride to go knock some doors on behalf of Jennifer Konfrst, the Democratic candidate in Iowa House district 43. Incumbents have a lot of advantages when running for re-election, especially a powerful legislator like Konfrst’s opponent, House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow. But a leadership role has drawbacks in a campaign too. For instance, when a no-party voter in this district tells me at the door she’s upset the legislature hasn’t done anything on bike safety, it’s nice to be able to mention that as majority leader, Hagenow has a huge say in what bills come out of committee and up for votes on the House floor. So if you want the House to act on bills that have already passed the state Senate (like the safe passing law that’s a high priority for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, or real medical cannabis reform, or insurance coverage for autism services, or better oversight of privatized Medicaid), you need to change the House leadership.

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    Weekend open thread: More Iowa Republicans throwing in with Trump

    While Republican insiders across the country despair about the presidential race, dozens urging the Republican National Committee to stop investing in Donald Trump, others wishing in vain that Trump would drop out, and some even quitting their political jobs, Iowa’s most influential Republicans continue to stand with the GOP nominee.

    This week, Governor Terry Branstad confirmed plans to advise Trump on policy; his major influencer Bruce Rastetter will reportedly do the same. In addition, two other well-known GOP operatives took on formal roles in Trump’s Iowa campaign. Jamie Johnson will be coalitions director and Jake Ketzner a senior advisor. Johnson is a veteran of Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential bid. After a spell supporting Ted Cruz, he landed with Rick Perry’s short-lived campaign this cycle. An ordained minister, he will presumably focus on engaging evangelical Christians, a key constituency for Santorum in 2012 and for Cruz this year. Jake Ketzner managed Representative Steve King’s re-election campaign in 2012, the year he faced Christie Vilsack in a substantially redrawn district. Ketzner left Branstad’s staff for a lobbying job last summer and soon became a senior adviser to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Iowa caucus campaign.

    Why are more respectable Republicans joining what looks like a sinking ship? For one thing, the latest public polls show Trump running better in Iowa than in national polls or surveys in swing states with more diverse populations. So even if Trump gets blown out nationally, working on his campaign here might not be a liability, especially if he carries Iowa or loses by a relatively small margin. Also, hitching your wagon to a toxic nominee is less risky when your state’s governor, lieutenant governor, GOP U.S. senators and representatives are giving you cover. UPDATE: Forgot to mention that going all-in for Trump helped our state’s establishment secure a promise from the nominee that if he’s elected, the Iowa caucuses will remain first in the nominating calendar.

    Neither Branstad nor any Republicans who represent Iowa in Congress have responded to my questions about worrying aspects of Trump’s candidacy. To my knowledge, only two GOP elected officials in Iowa have publicly ruled out voting for Trump: State Senator David Johnson and Hardin County Auditor Jessica Lara. Tips are welcome if readers know of other GOP officials willing to say #NeverTrump. I’ve sought comment from many whom I considered “likely suspects.”

    Several experienced Iowa campaign operatives have said they won’t vote for the GOP nominee, including David Kochel, a former strategist for Mitt Romney and senior figure in Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign. Justin Arnold, former state political director for Marco Rubio, explained in a March op-ed column for the Des Moines Register why he would not support Trump under any circumstances. He announced earlier this month that he has joined the direct mail and political consulting firm Majority Strategies. That company’s clients include U.S. Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) and at least one Iowa GOP state committee.

    Joel Kurtinitis, a onetime staffer on Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and former Republican State Central Committee member, published a blistering commentary at The Blaze on Friday: Five Things You Can Never Say Again After Voting Trump. I enclose below excerpts from a piece that social conservatives might describe as “convicting.”

    Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues to build a strong field operation in Iowa and other battleground states, while Trump’s ground game is remarkably weak and in some areas literally missing in action.

    This is an open thread: all topics welcome. The Iowa State Fair opened on Thursday and runs through Sunday, August 21. A summer cold moving systematically through our household has so far kept us from the fairgrounds, but we will get there once or twice this week. Bleeding Heartland has previously published my best advice for enjoying the fair, especially in the company of young children. The schedule of candidates speaking at the Des Moines Register’s “soapbox” near the administration building is here. Like Brad Anderson, I was surprised Senator Chuck Grassley passed on the opportunity. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, though. Grassley tends to avoid putting public events on his schedule in Polk and several other large-population counties.

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    Stop badgering Bernie Sanders supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton

    Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president Tuesday morning during a joint campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as in an e-mail blast and a Facebook note.

    Some enthusiastic Sanders fans, including his captain in the precinct next door to mine, have made their own pitches to their fellow Berners today. I enclose below an e-mail that former State Senator Daryl Beall sent to friends and acquaintances. Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry shared the Sanders Facebook post calling on progressives to continue the political revolution. More power to them, and to those who are expressing their newfound support for Clinton in a humorous way.

    I still see too many arguments on social media between Clinton backers and #BernieOrBust holdouts. Please stop. Give people time to grieve. Most Democrats who backed Sanders in the primaries will eventually support Clinton this fall. Some small percentage won’t. It’s not productive for those who were “with her” from the beginning to engage with them, especially not now. No amount of arguing on Facebook or Twitter will convince diehard Hillary-haters to support the Democratic nominee. It can only antagonize people.

    Some in the #HillYes crowd get upset seeing fellow Democrats bash a woman they admire. My best advice: you don’t have to make it your mission to get them to see what you see. Either try to find common ground with them by talking about down-ballot races, or back off and focus your energy on mobilizing other voters.

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    A plea to Iowa supporters of Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton locked up the Democratic presidential nomination last week with a win in California. Today she closed out the primary season with a nearly four to one margin of victory in the Washington, DC primary.

    Bernie Sanders met with Clinton tonight and is planning to speak to his supporters on Thursday evening. It’s not clear yet whether he plans to end his presidential campaign or soldier on to the Democratic National Convention, just in case something happens that might swing a few hundred superdelegates his way.

    To the Iowans who backed Clinton throughout this past year, I have two requests.

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    Low primary turnout is warning sign for Iowa Democrats

    The U.S. Senate primary outcome was frustrating for supporters of Rob Hogg. Despite outperforming his numbers in the Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, Hogg finished about 8.5 percent behind front-runner Patty Judge. Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause each took about 6.7 percent of the primary votes, which arguably kept Hogg from overcoming Judge’s higher name recognition and better-funded campaign. Many activists are upset that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee encouraged Judge to bigfoot Hogg in the first place.

    Let’s set aside the blame game for now.

    The low turnout in yesterday’s primary should alarm all Iowa Democrats, regardless of preference in the Senate race.

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    IA-Sen: Patty Judge played not to lose, and it looks like she's not losing

    Since launching her U.S. Senate campaign in March, former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge has held relatively few public events. She hasn’t put out attention-getting policy proposals. Her campaign has announced high-profile endorsements through news releases, not at press conferences where tv cameras would be rolling. She didn’t come to the two televised debates ready to drop headline-grabbing talking points.

    Both Iowa and national Republicans have mocked Judge’s sparse public schedule, asking, “Where’s Patty?” Even some Democrats have been puzzled by the experienced candidate’s low-profile approach to a race she entered very late.

    Judge’s strategy had a certain logic, though. If her internal polling showed her well ahead of the other three Democrats seeking the nomination–expected given her higher visibility as a former statewide office-holder–packing her schedule with rallies and town-halls would have little upside. Republican video trackers, like the ones who have been following State Senator Rob Hogg around since last summer, would catch any slip and blow it out of all proportion.

    Two public polls released in recent days lend support to persistent rumors in Democratic circles that surveys conducted for the Judge campaign put her 10 or 15 points ahead of her nearest rival.

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    How to vote early in the final days before Iowa's June 7 primary

    Iowa’s primary election is just four days away. Democrats have a statewide race for U.S. Senate and spirited primaries in the first and third Congressional districts. Republicans nave no statewide race to vote on, but Representatives Steve King and David Young are both facing primary challengers. Contested primaries for either the Democratic or Republican nomination are happening in dozens of Iowa House or Senate districts as well. The full candidate list is here.

    The early voting period for Tuesday’s primary began five weeks ago, but lots of people who prefer to cast early ballots still haven’t voted, either out of procrastination or because they are undecided. In particular, I’ve heard many Democrats say they are struggling to choose among the three candidates running in IA-03.

    If you haven’t voted yet but prefer to do so before primary election day, you still have options.

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    Two reasons Patty Judge is smart to highlight flood response role

    Former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge launched her first television commercial as a U.S. Senate candidate on May 24, two weeks before primary voters will determine which of four Democrats will take on six-term Senator Chuck Grassley.

    The 30-second spot, which is running in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets, highlights Judge’s work as the Culver administration’s Homeland Security Advisor, which gave her a leadership role as state government responded to devastating 2008 floods in eastern Iowa.

    It’s a smart strategy.

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    IA-Sen: Two big labor endorsements for Rob Hogg

    Two of Iowa’s largest labor organizations are backing State Senator Rob Hogg in the four-way Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Speaking to delegates at the Iowa Democratic Party’s second Congressional district convention this morning, Hogg announced that the Iowa Federation of Labor has endorsed him, Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble reported. A couple of hours later at the first district convention, Hogg announced the support of AFSCME Council 61, which represents tens of thousands of public employees.

    During his speech at a campaign event in Urbandale on April 25, Hogg mentioned his strong pro-labor voting record during four years of service in the Iowa House and ten in the Iowa Senate. Also relevant: Hogg’s main primary rival is Patty Judge, who was not known as a champion on labor issues in the Iowa legislature and was lieutenant governor when Governor Chet Culver vetoed a collective bargaining bill in 2008. I do not recall Judge speaking publicly about that bill at the time, but the veto caused lingering bad blood between Culver and the organized labor community.

    Labor support doesn’t always carry the day in Iowa Democratic politics. Mike Blouin fell a bit short against Culver in the 2006 gubernatorial primary despite having more labor endorsements, including from AFSCME. Still, financial and/or organizational help from AFSCME and the IFL will be a boost for Hogg as he competes against Judge, Bob Krause, and Tom Fiegen to get out the vote before June 7. Judge spoke this morning to delegates at the third and fourth district conventions and is scheduled to appear at the other conventions in the afternoon. Krause and Fiegen were planning to appear at all the conventions today as well.

    Any comments about the Senate race are welcome in this thread. At this writing, statements about the latest endorsements for Hogg have not appeared on either labor organization’s website or on Hogg’s Senate campaign website. I will update as needed.

    UPDATE: Speaking by phone on April 30, Hogg said he was “really excited about the labor endorsements. I think it will really magnify the grassroots support that I already have. I think it’s because we share a view that we need to create an economy that works for all Americans. And I have that voting record in the Iowa legislature–I’ve got a 99 percent lifetime Iowa Federation of Labor voting record. I didn’t set out to have that, but that’s how they’ve scored me, and I’m very, very proud of that and very excited about the endorsement.”

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    Two ways to vote early in Iowa's June 7 primary

    Early voting for Iowa’s Democratic and Republican primaries began today, 40 days before the June 7 election. Several candidates held events to mark the occasion. Jim Mowrer’s campaign had a presence in the morning at the Polk County Elections Office, while his third Congressional district Democratic rival Mike Sherzan was first in line to cast an early ballot in Dallas County. Iowans have two options for voting early in the primary.

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    Ending the Apathy Fallacy

    Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts, including first-person accounts of Iowa campaigns. A millennial shares her reflections on volunteering before the Iowa caucuses as a personal rebuttal to the “over-hyped” narrative “about my generation’s apathy towards Secretary Clinton’s candidacy.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

    It was a long journey from Boston to Black Hawk County, Iowa. I’d set aside the normal rhythms of my life to follow my brother, an organizer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to his district to get out the vote for the caucus. My family and I had spent years cheerleading for Secretary Clinton from the sidelines, as voters but never as volunteers. In the wake of a primary season that has left us anxious and frustrated, we knew that we had to become louder and bolder in our support of Secretary Clinton.

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    How the Iowa caucuses work, part 6: Pros and cons of the caucus system

    Wrapping up this year’s Iowa caucus series. Part 1 covered basic elements of the caucus system, part 2 explained why so many Iowans can’t or won’t attend their precinct caucus, part 3 discussed how Democratic caucus math can affect delegate counts, part 4 described how precinct captains help campaigns, and part 5 explained why the caucuses have been called a “pollster’s nightmare.”

    When I have criticized some aspects of the Iowa caucus system or called for reforms to allow more Iowans to participate, I have often heard from activists defending the status quo.

    This posts lists some leading arguments in favor of the current caucus system, along with my rebuttals.

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    How the Iowa caucuses work, part 4: What a precinct captain does

    Continuing a six-part series. Part 1 covered basic elements of the caucus system, part 2 explained why so many Iowans can’t or won’t attend their precinct caucus, and part 3 covered Democratic caucus math, which sometimes produces strange results.

    Axiom of Iowa politics: the key to winning the caucuses is to “organize, organize, organize, and then get hot at the end.” Although paid staff do much of the ground work, a successful presidential campaign needs a large number of volunteers at the precinct level. I haven’t been engaged as a volunteer this cycle, because for the first time in my life, I remained undecided until shortly before the caucuses. But I spent many hours trying to turn out neighbors for John Kerry in 2004 and for John Edwards in 2008. During the past thirteen years, I’ve talked with hundreds of Iowa Democratic activists who volunteered locally for presidential candidates.

    This post focuses on how precinct captains can influence outcomes on caucus night.

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