The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts that were most fun to write in 2019

Before the new political year kicks off with the Iowa legislature convening and Governor Kim Reynolds laying out her agenda, I need to take care of some unfinished business from 2019.

When I reflect on my work at the end of each year, I like to take stock of not only the most popular posts published on this website and the ones I worked hardest on, but also the projects that brought me the most joy. I’ve found this exercise helps guide my editorial decisions on the many days when I have time to write up only one of several newsworthy stories.

Among the 348 posts I wrote last year, these were some of my favorites:

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Bleeding Heartland's coverage of U.S. Senate, House races in 2019

After the wipeout of 2016, I questioned whether Iowa’s top races of 2018 and 2020 would be foregone conclusions for the Republican incumbents. But amid unusually high turnout for a midterm election, Democratic challengers flipped two U.S. House seats and fell only a few points short against Governor Kim Reynolds and Representative Steve King.

One of my goals for 2019 was to provide in-depth reporting on Iowa’s federal and state legislative races. Thanks to our nonpartisan redistricting system, none of our four Congressional districts are considered safe for either party in 2020. While U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is still favored to win a second term, she is increasingly seen as a vulnerable GOP incumbent.

Follow me after the jump for a review of Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the campaigns for U.S. Senate and House, with links to all relevant posts. A separate post will cover the year’s stories about battleground legislative districts.

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Iowa reaction to Trump impeachment

For the third time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives impeached a president. Following nearly ten hours of debate, House members voted 230 to 197 (roll call) to impeach President Donald Trump for abusing his power, and by 229 votes to 198 (roll call) to approve the second article, on Trump’s obstruction of Congress. (Read the full text of the articles here.)

As they had indicated in statements the previous day, Democratic Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted for both articles of impeachment. None gave a speech during the floor debate. Only two House Democrats voted against the first article, and three voted against the second, while Representative Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” in what she called a “stand for the center.”

No Republicans voted for either article, and Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among many GOP members who thundered against the drive to impeach Trump during the floor debate. I’ve enclosed below the video and transcript of his remarks, along with new statements from Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and comments from some Iowa Congressional candidates. You can read comments released before the House votes here.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after the impeachment that she won’t immediately refer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House leaders hope to influence the Senate to agree to procedures that would allow for a “fair trial.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he is working closely with White House counsel and hopes to dispose of the impeachment articles quickly.

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Iowa Democrats on board with impeachment (with GOP reaction)

U.S. Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) confirmed on December 17 that they will vote for both articles of impeachment, which charge that President Donald Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. Their support brought the number of House members who will vote for the articles to 217, according to a Washington Post analysis–a bare majority in the chamber.

Finkenauer, Loebsack, and Axne are among 31 House Democrats representing districts Trump carried in 2016. However, Trump’s vote share was below 50 percent in all of their districts; thirteen of their Democratic colleagues represent districts where Trump received a majority of votes.

After the jump I’ve enclosed the full statements released by the Iowans in Congress, along with comments from some of their GOP opponents. I will update this post as needed. Republican Representative Steve King (IA-04) blasted the impeachment drive again last week; Bleeding Heartland published his comments here.

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IA-02: A strange choice by Mariannette Miller-Meeks

Imagine you’re a newly-elected legislator. Your party leaders think highly enough of you to make you a committee chair right away. It’s a good committee, handling important bills on subjects you care about.

Would you walk away from that post, less than a year into a four-year term, to spend more time running for another office? State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks just did.

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IA-02 voters likely to elect a woman in 2020

Before this year, no woman had ever represented Iowa in the U.S. House. But after the 2020 general election, women may represent three out of the state’s four Congressional districts.

U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer’s likely Republican challenger in IA-01 is State Representative Ashley Hinson. Representative Cindy Axne has at least even odds to win a second term against presumptive Republican nominee David Young. And the latest campaign finance reports point to a general election match-up between State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks and former State Senator Rita Hart in the second district.

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