Iowa Republicans may regret blocking statewide absentee ballot mailing

July 6 was the first day Iowans can request an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election. Under normal circumstances, I prefer voting early in person and have encouraged others to do the same. But voting by mail is by far the safest option for 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican legislators signaled last week they won’t allow Secretary of State Paul Pate to send absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter again.

Election officials in Iowa’s largest counties aren’t waiting to see how things play out. Several auditors are already making plans for their own universal mailings. Higher turnout in those counties should benefit Democratic candidates for federal offices and state legislative seats.

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More people of color running for Iowa legislature in 2020

After a decade of little change in the racial breakdown of the Iowa House and Senate, more people of color are running for the state legislature this year.

Candidates appearing on today’s primary ballot include eight Democrats and six seven Republicans, which to my knowledge is a record for the Iowa GOP.

In addition, three people of color representing minor parties have filed as general election candidates in state legislative districts.

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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

UPDATE: Reynolds didn’t pick McDermott this time but appointed him to the Iowa Supreme Court in April 2020. Bleeding Heartland covered highlights from his application and interview here.

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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