Pam Jochum rules out running for governor

Democratic State Senator Pam Jochum will not be a candidate for governor in 2022, she confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on November 1. The longtime senator from Dubuque seriously considered the gubernatorial race in recent months. She could have run for statewide office without giving up her seat in the legislature, because she was re-elected to a four-year term in 2020, and Iowa’s redistricting plan puts her in an even-numbered Senate district, which won’t be on the ballot until 2024.

In a written statement, Jochum said she had been “humbled by the outpouring of support” for a potential candidacy. But after speaking with many activists and much “soul searching and prayers,” she determined, “My place is a strong voice in the legislative branch of government.”

Jochum believes Governor Kim Reynolds is “very vulnerable, but it is not going to be easy” to beat her. It would take “a minimum of $15 million to launch an effective campaign, and to “put all of the pieces together,” she would have needed to make the decision last spring.

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First look at Iowa's new House, Senate maps in cities, suburbs

Now that Iowa’s political maps for the next decade have been finalized, it’s time to look more closely at the district lines in and near larger metro areas. Although most districts anchored in cities are safe for Democrats, these metros will include quite a few battleground Iowa House and Senate races over the next two election cycles. Several “micropolitan” districts containing mid-sized cities remain competitive as well, and a forthcoming post will cover those maps.

I’ll write more about the political landscape of individual House or Senate districts once lawmakers and other contenders have confirmed their plans for next year. Several incumbent match-ups have already been worked out, and I’m continuing to update this post. (Please send tips on candidate announcements.)

I’ve grouped each Iowa Senate district with the two state House districts it wholly contains.

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Give Ras a chance

Charlie Hodges is a Democratic activist in Polk County.

In early 2020, I had a memorable evening, but not for the reason I anticipated. I attended a house party for Joe Biden before the Iowa caucuses and looked forward to meeting members of Biden’s family and a former U.S. Ambassador, among others. However, as the evening played out, the biggest impression made was by an Iowa House member from Waterloo: Representative Ras Smith.

I left the party having met several very interesting people, but I was not thinking about the caucuses at all, frankly. I thought about how Ras Smith completely held the attention of that room filled with dignitaries when he talked. I thought about how inspirational and hopeful he was. I thought about how charismatic he was. I thought about what his next step in politics would be – because I knew the Iowa House was not his ceiling.

Now we know – he’s running to be our next governor

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Governor brags about hoarding public money during pandemic

The state of Iowa ended fiscal year 2021 with the largest surplus ever recorded: nearly $1.24 billion. That’s four times higher than the general fund’s ending balance of $305 million when the books closed on the previous fiscal year, and it doesn’t include an estimated $801 million in Iowa’s cash reserves and economic emergency funds.

Governor Kim Reynolds declared in a news release, “Iowa is in a very strong financial position due to our fiscal responsibility.” Her staffer Joel Anderson, who is temporarily running the state’s budget agency, commended the governor “on recognizing the importance and need for a healthy and strong balanced budget.”

But an enormous surplus is not a sign of a healthy budget or responsible decisions. On the contrary, it suggests state government should have spent more on the public services Iowans need.

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The GOP abandoned Iowa’s strong public education heritage

Ras Smith has represented part of Waterloo in the Iowa House since 2017 and is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

School is back in session across the state, but with soaring cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and school districts stripped of local control, our educators, students, and parents are suffering. Long before the pandemic, though, Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa GOP turned their backs on schools in Iowa.

Education is central to our heritage. Iowa’s state quarter reads “Foundation in Education.” When I had the opportunity to visit with former Senator Tom Harkin this spring, he reminded me that Iowa’s forbearers prioritized establishing a schoolhouse in every township, and they prioritized paying for it. That’s the Iowa I know and love.

Our schools are the backbones of our communities. But right now, there’s a major disconnect between politicians and our classrooms. From not empowering local school districts to make decisions about how to keep students safe during the pandemic, to propping up for-profit charter schools with no oversight, to banning curriculum, Governor Reynolds has led Iowa astray. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

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IA-Gov: Deidre DeJear launches campaign, rolls out endorsements

Deidre DeJear made it official on August 14: she’s running for governor, “because Iowa is worth it.” The 2018 Democratic nominee for Iowa secretary of state spent several weeks on the road over the past month hearing about the challenges facing communities of all sizes. In a news release, she indicated education, small business development, and job growth would be the focus of her campaign:

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