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?

Continue Reading...

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.

Continue Reading...

Rest in peace, Mary Maloney

Democrats all over Iowa were saddened by the news that Polk County Treasurer Mary Maloney died unexpectedly on January 29. Many who offered their condolences on social media described Maloney as a true public servant. Her work since 1989 to modernize the treasurer’s office and keep it running smoothly was highly regarded. She was often the highest vote-getter in Iowa’s largest county when she was on the ballot, even outperforming other Polk County officials who ran for re-election unopposed.

Many personal friends and colleagues remarked on how kind and caring Maloney was. I’ve enclosed some remembrances below. Although I didn’t know Maloney well, her kindness came through in all of my interactions with her over the years.

The Bleeding Heartland community sends healing thoughts to all of Mary Maloney’s loved ones, especially her husband and four children.

Continue Reading...

Historic new leadership for Iowa Democrats

For the first time, a person of color will lead one of Iowa’s major political parties. The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee on January 23 chose Ross Wilburn to serve as state party chair for the coming election cycle. Wilburn won on the first ballot in a field of four candidates after Brett Copeland withdrew his candidacy during the committee’s meeting.

The two candidates with a strong base of support among the 50-plus State Central Committee members were Wilburn, who received just under 65 percent of the votes, and Jodi Clemens, who received 33 percent. Clemens is a former Iowa House candidate and former staffer on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign as well as Kimberly Graham’s 2020 U.S. Senate campaign. At last year’s state convention, she was elected to represent Iowa on the Democratic National Committee. She will continue in that role.

Wilburn has represented Iowa House district 46, covering part of Ames, since September 2019 and will keep serving in the state legislature. However, in order to focus his full-time efforts on leading the Democratic Party, he will quit his other job as diversity officer and associate director for community economic development at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Continue Reading...

Tanner Halleran for Iowa Democratic Party vice chair

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

As a young Iowan, I got active in Democratic politics during the 2012 re-election of President Obama.  Obama inspired me, and to this day, I find joy and comfort in knowing my volunteerism within his campaign made a difference for so many across Iowa and the country.

I have remained active in Democratic politics since 2012, even running for the Iowa House in 2016. Although I came up short in that election, the campaign pushed me to become even more engaged in the Democratic Party. Since 2017, I have been humbled to be the chair of the Dallas County Democrats. I have found great joy in working with fellow Democrats from across the state to better our party, grow together, elect Democrats and fight the good fight.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Democratic Progressive Caucus Statement on Capitol riots

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus adopted this statement about the events of January 6. -promoted by Laura Belin

A true participatory democracy must always uphold the right to protest, and support the direct actions that endeavor to build a better world, a better future, and defend the rights of the disenfranchised and exploited. However, those actions must always be done in good faith with acknowledgement that our Constitution and branches of government are the foundational structures of our country. It is through their function where the redress of grievances are executed. Without that, there is no rule of law.

The actions of those who invaded the halls of Congress and interrupted a legislative session on the behalf of a corrupt demagogue and his cronies in no way uphold the values of our representative democracy, or share the honor, the values, or justification of those brave activists who have taken to the streets against true tyranny and injustice. 

Continue Reading...
View More...