Lopsided governor's race imperils whole Democratic ticket

The filing deadline for campaign finance disclosures is always an exciting day for political reporters. My plan for this week was to write a series of posts about fundraising and spending for each of Iowa’s statewide races: governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, state auditor, and secretary of agriculture.

I shifted gears after reviewing the latest reports for Governor Kim Reynolds and Deidre DeJear, the only Democrat actively campaigning for governor.

Unless things change dramatically in the coming months, Reynolds will be able to use most of her war chest to help down-ballot Republicans.

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Ras Smith's departure raises tough questions for Iowa Democrats

State Representative Ras Smith suspended his campaign for governor on January 5, saying he had reached “the heartbreaking conclusion that there are barriers that one campaign cannot overcome, no matter how hard we work or how faithfully we represent the majority of hardworking Iowans.”

In a written statement and recorded video message, Smith thanked Iowans who welcomed him a candidate for governor, saying the campaign “has reaffirmed for me the magnitude of mission-driven work that lies ahead.” He added, “Unfortunately, this process has also exposed a drastic disconnect between the current political system and the people.”

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Reflecting on 2021 and the work ahead

State Representative Ras Smith, a candidate for governor, recalls his highs and lows and poses some tough questions for Iowa Democrats.

As we prepare for upcoming holidays and the close of 2021, I am reminded to once again take inventory of the year, and to reflect upon my work. What has it meant? Is it aligned with my mission-driven commitment? What lies ahead?

I continue to find beauty in the struggle.  

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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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Iowa Democrats back Deere workers, Republicans mostly silent

Prominent Iowa Democrats were quick to express solidarity with United Auto Workers members who went on strike at midnight on October 14. But Republican officials were mostly silent as Iowa’s largest strike in decades began.

The work stoppage affects some 10,000 UAW members, of whom about 6,500 are employed at John Deere facilities in Waterloo, Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, and Ottumwa. Earlier this week, about 90 percent of UAW members voted to reject the company’s contract offer—a remarkable consensus, given that more than 90 percent of workers participated in the vote. Although Deere’s profits have increased by 61 percent in recent years, and CEO John May’s salary increased by about 160 percent from 2019 to 2020, the company offered workers only a 5 percent to 6 percent raise, with additional 3 percent raises in 2023 and 2025. Proposed changes to pensions also weren’t acceptable to most workers.

The last strike at John Deere plants began in 1986 and lasted for about five months. According to the Des Moines Register, the largest strikes anywhere in Iowa during the past three decades were a 1995 stoppage at Amana Refrigeration in Cedar Rapids, which involved about 2,000 workers, and a 2004 strike at Newton-based Maytag, involving about 1,600 workers.

The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement supporting the Deere workers a few minutes after midnight, and many well-known Democrats added their voices throughout the day. I’ve enclosed many of those comments below.

Meanwhile, Governor Kim Reynolds, Senator Joni Ernst, and U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) said nothing about the event directly affecting thousands of their constituents. Staff for Reynolds, Hinson, and Miller-Meeks did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries.

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