Iowa Democrats postpone county conventions; No changes at legislature

UPDATE: The Iowa legislature on March 16 suspended the 2020 session for at least 30 days. The Iowa Democratic Party sent guidance to county chairs the State Central Committee on March 23 on conducting county conventions “using an absentee system.” I’ve enclosed that document at the end of this post.

The Iowa Democratic Party is postponing county conventions scheduled for March 21 “to a future date to be determined,” the party announced today.

But for now, leaders of the Iowa legislature have no plans to pause activities at the state Capitol. They should reconsider.

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How the Iowa caucuses work, part 1: The new 2020 rules

Expanded and revised from a series published at Bleeding Heartland during the 2016 election cycle

The Iowa caucuses are a notoriously complicated process, and new rules intended to make the caucuses more representative have added to the confusion. This post will cover the basics of what will happen on the evening of February 3 and the three ways the Democratic results will be reported. Later pieces will examine other elements of the caucus system:

Part 2 will explore barriers that keep many politically engaged Iowans from participating in the caucuses, despite several attempts to improve accessibility.

Part 3 will focus on caucus math, which creates different ways to win a Democratic precinct, and for the first time this year, more than one way to win the state.

Part 4 will cover the role of precinct captains or other active volunteers, both before the caucuses and at the “neighborhood meeting.”

Part 5, to be published after results are in, will ponder whether the Iowa caucuses as we know them will soon cease to exist, given the growing sentiment among Democrats around the country that the first nominating contests should be in more diverse, representative states.

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Why Matthew McDermott will likely be Iowa's next Supreme Court justice

After interviewing twelve applicants, the State Judicial Nominating Commission forwarded three names to Governor Kim Reynolds on January 9 to fill the vacancy created by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady’s passing in November.  Reynolds has 30 days to appoint one of the finalists, but there’s no suspense here: she will almost certainly choose Matthew McDermott.

A computer program couldn’t generate a more ideal judicial candidate for a Republican governor seeking to move Iowa courts to the right.

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The 19 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019

Chasing traffic never has been and never will be my primary goal for Bleeding Heartland. If it were, I’d publish weekly posts about puppies or Casey’s pizza instead of Iowa wildflowers.

And anyone who has worked on an online news source can vouch for me: a writer’s favorite projects are often not the ones that get the most clicks.

Still, people do ask me from time what posts tend to do well, and I find it fun at year-end to recap the pieces that were particularly popular with readers. Since I started this exercise a few years ago, I’ve always uncovered some surprises.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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IA-04: Randy Feenstra hits Steve King over impeachment

U.S. Representative Steve King has been a loyal defender of President Donald Trump this fall, repeatedly attacking Democrats for pursuing impeachment and even disrupting a House Intelligence Committee hearing in a secure facility.

But he wasn’t able to participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearings, having lost his committee assignments in January.

State Senator Randy Feenstra, the Republican establishment’s favorite among four GOP challengers in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district, seized on the impeachment saga as proof that King can’t do his job well.

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