Iowa lawmakers to receive first redistricting plan by September 16

Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency (LSA) intends to submit the first set of proposed Congressional and legislative maps to the state House and Senate by Thursday, September 16.

The agency’s senior legal counsel Ed Cook announced the timing during an August 17 meeting of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC), which will organize public hearings on the proposed maps and submit a report to state lawmakers summarizing the feedback.

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Democratic election bill would preserve Iowa's redistricting

Iowa would be exempt from one part of a wide-ranging election reform bill the U.S. House approved on March 3 on a mostly party-line 220 to 210 vote. This document explains each section of H.R.1, also known as the For the People Act. In her explainer for Vox, Ella Nilsen provided bullet points on the main provisions, which fall into three broad categories: “expanding voting rights, implementing campaign finance reform, and beefing up ethics laws for members of Congress.”

The bill won’t advance in the U.S. Senate unless Democrats limit the use of the filibuster, which at least two senators now oppose. But if they come around, President Joe Biden has indicated he would sign the bill.

H.R. 1 would ban partisan gerrymandering for federal elections, requiring states to use independent redistricting commissions to draw Congressional districts instead. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) successfully advocated for language that would allow Iowa to keep the nonpartisan process used here since 1981.

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Iowa redistricting predictions, part 3: Legislative overview

Evan Burger speculates on how statutory requirements for drawing new Iowa House and Senate districts could impact partisan control of the legislature during the 2020s. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month, I wrote about the rules governing Iowa’s Congressional redistricting process, and made some predictions. For this post, I’ll do the same for the legislative side of redistricting – but first, a quick mention of two related developments since my last piece. 

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IA-02 primary: Hart gaining strength, Croken considering, Russell's out

More than six dozen prominent Democrats endorsed former State Senator Rita Hart’s campaign for U.S. House on May 22. The list enclosed in full below includes activists from each of the 24 counties in Iowa’s second Congressional district. The best-known endorsers are former Iowa Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge, former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky, and twenty current or former state lawmakers.

Hart was already the clear favorite to win the nomination. She appears increasingly unlikely to face serious competition from the left in the Democratic primary. Iowa City business owner Veronica Tessler ruled out the race earlier this month. Former Bernie Sanders national delegate Daniel Clark, who ran in IA-02 as an independent last year, is now backing Hart. Johnson County progressives on the new list of Hart endorsers include State Senators Joe Bolkcom and Zach Wahls and State Representatives Mary Mascher and Amy Nielsen.

Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken is still considering a Congressional bid, he told Bleeding Heartland in a May 23 telephone interview. Croken said he and his team are collecting information about potential Republican candidates with a view to deciding who would be the best person to keep IA-02 in Democratic hands. He said the long list of Hart endorsers won’t affect his decision, which he will announce sometime after Memorial Day.

Hart’s news release mentioned eleven high-profile Scott County Democrats, including State Representatives Monica Kurth and Phyllis Thede, State Senator Jim Lykam, former Davenport Mayors Bill Gluba and Thom Hart, and former state lawmaker Frank Wood. Croken’s past contributions to some local Republican candidates would also be a problem in a primary race.

Speaking of Democrats in the Quad Cities area, Davenport attorney Ian Russell has ruled out running for Congress next year, he told Bleeding Heartland by phone on May 22. Russell said he talked to Hart about a week ago and “told her she’s going to be a very good candidate for the second district and that I’d support her.”

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Why Dave Loebsack's retirement makes IA-02 a toss-up race

All four Iowa Congressional districts will likely be competitive in 2020. Republicans were already targeting the first and third districts, where Representatives Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne defeated GOP incumbents last November. Democrats could make a play for IA-04, if Representative Steve King wins the GOP nomination again (as I expect).

Representative Dave Loebsack announced on April 12 that he will retire from Congress after completing his seventh term, rather than running for re-election in the second district. Both Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report immediately changed their ratings on IA-02 from “likely Democrat” to “toss-up.”

A close look at Loebsack’s last two elections shows why that’s the right call.

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