Pros and cons of Iowa Democratic Party's new "virtual caucus"

The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee approved a new rules package for the 2020 caucuses and convention process by a unanimous vote on April 6. Committee members did not amend any aspect of the proposal, which the party unveiled in February. I’ve enclosed the whole document near the end of this post.

The most significant innovation will be allowing voters to register a preference in the presidential contest without being physically present at a precinct caucus on February 3, 2020. Iowa Democratic insiders have long resisted that kind of change and probably would not have developed this plan if not for pressure from the Democratic National Committee.

This “virtual caucus” will significantly reduce barriers to participation that have kept thousands of politically-engaged Iowans from having their voices heard in past cycles. However, the rules won’t give equal weight to those who are unable to attend in person or prefer to call in. That will create a new set of challenges and perhaps some unintended consequences.

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Republicans are worried about Iowa Senate district 30, with good reason

Voters in Cedar Falls, Hudson, and part of Waterloo will elect a new state senator on March 19. Three candidates are on the ballot for Iowa Senate district 30: Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Eric Giddens, and Libertarian Fred Perryman.

Republicans took some advantages into this campaign, which is on a shortened timetable because Senator Jeff Danielson resigned during the legislative session. Rogers was better-known than Giddens, and Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the vote during spring break for the University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls public schools, when many people in Democratic-leaning constituencies would likely be out of town.

But since Bleeding Heartland previewed this race in late February, Giddens has emerged as the favorite. Republicans tacitly acknowledged their weaknesses by launching a second over-the-top negative television commercial on March 15, rather than closing on what was supposed to be Rogers’ selling point: giving Black Hawk County and UNI a voice in the Iowa Senate majority caucus.

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Iowa Republicans complicit in Trump's fake national emergency

“Whatever a national emergency may be, that’s not it,” tweeted experienced Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal, after President Donald Trump admitted during his February 15 press conference, “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”

The courts may stop Trump from using funds appropriated for other purposes to have the military build a wall along the southern border, which Congress has repeatedly declined to authorize. But the president’s warlord-like behavior can still do lasting harm to democratic institutions.

Iowa Republicans in Congress are either unconcerned about this “reckless disregard for the separation of powers” or cheering it on.

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