Iowa Democrats dismiss Julián Castro's critique at our peril

“If you didn’t know anything about this process, and I told you how it was set up, you would think that a right-wing Republican set this process up, because it really makes it harder to vote than it should be,” Julián Castro told a room full of Iowa Democrats at Drake University on December 10.

Castro’s campaign organized the town hall (which I moderated) to highlight problems with the Iowa caucus system and a calendar that starts with two overwhelmingly white states.

Now that Castro has ended his presidential bid, it may be tempting to dismiss his critique as sour grapes from a candidate who wasn’t gaining traction in Iowa.

That would be a mistake. Castro is only the most high-profile messenger for a sentiment that is widespread and growing in Democratic circles nationally.

If Iowa Democrats want to keep our prized position for the next presidential cycle and beyond, we need to acknowledge legitimate concerns about the caucuses and take bigger steps to make the process more accessible.

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Hy-Vee PAC's latest Democratic donation raises questions

Bleeding Heartland was first to report in June that the Hy-Vee corporation’s political action committee gave $25,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa prior to a fundraiser headlined by President Donald Trump and held at the corporation’s West Des Moines corporate venue. It was the PAC’s largest single recorded contribution.

That story by Gwen Hope received significant public comment online and prompted a press release in which Hy-Vee PAC’s executive director Mary Beth Hart asserted that the donation was “an important opportunity for our CEO to directly provide information about pharmacy-related issues […] to the President and his staff while they were in town.” While the contribution could have been designed to seek political favors from high-ranking Republicans, it also covered most of the Iowa GOP’s rental cost to use Hy-Vee’s facility.

In light of that revelation, some local Democratic groups distanced themselves from the grocery store chain, while others asked the company for contributions to balance the corporation’s Republican-heavy donation history.

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Deadline approaching to apply for Iowa Democratic satellite caucuses

Although the Democratic National Committee rejected Iowa’s plan to hold “virtual caucuses” by phone, some Iowans who are unable to attend their precinct caucus on February 3, 2020 may still be able to participate at some other location. But the Iowa Democratic Party will soon stop accepting applications to hold satellite caucuses.

What you need to know if you want to make alternate arrangements for caucus night:

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"Plan B" for the Iowa caucuses will leave many disenfranchised

The Iowa Democratic Party has approved a plan to replace the “virtual caucus” recently nixed by the Democratic National Committee.

But while a news release hailed the proposal to “increase participation and make the caucuses more accessible for Iowans who have traditionally been unable to attend their in-person precinct caucus,” many Democrats won’t be able to use satellite caucuses.

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A candidate for the people

Stacey Walker is a Linn County supervisor who considered seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. -promoted by Laura Belin

I’ve always said that I never wanted to be one of those politicians who sat on the sidelines, not making my support known until it was absolutely clear who the winner would be. I’ve also never been comfortable offering my endorsement of a candidate out of sheer political expediency. It’s just not me.

Instead, I’ve chosen to be an elected official who weighs in and helps bring attention to bold, progressive candidates, because that is exactly what our party and our country needs. Luckily, we have a candidate with those qualities and then some. Her name is Kimberly Graham and she is running to be the next U.S. senator from the great state of Iowa.

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A 55-cent solution to a million-dollar problem

Tom Kinn is a letter carrier in Waterloo and is President of Branch 512 of the National Association of Letter Carriers. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the 2018 midterm elections, about 27 percent of all 118 million votes were cast by ballots directly delivered to the voter, according to PEW Research. Both PEW and the MIT Election Lab show the percentages growing every cycle. Soon, in-person voting on election day will be less than 50 percent of the total. Voting at home is growing steadily and exceeds early in-person voting.

Perhaps it is time for Iowa to have a more fully developed variant of our current, older system.

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