# Iowa Politics

Favorite online sources for Iowa news

I’ve been reading news and analysis at Iowa Independent daily for more than a year, but since they recently added an Iowa News Feed to the front page I’m checking the blog even more often. The news feed links to mainstream media reports and blog posts covering a wide range of topics.

IowaPolitics.com also provides lots of links to mainstream media stories, politicians’ press releases and blog posts, plus some original reporting.

CoveringIowaPolitics.com has original reporting on the biggest statewide political stories.

Radio Iowa also has a mixture of original reporting, including interviews, and press releases.

For stories and angles that can be off the beaten path:

Blog for Iowa publishes action alerts and press releases from various progressive organizations.

The Public News Service releases Iowa-related stories several times a week, which often have an environmental or public-health focus.

E-mail lists run by various non-profit organizations are another way to find out what’s going on in the state. I subscribe to several of these, and I often see stories or press releases that I wouldn’t have found in any newspaper or blog.

I look forward to reading about other Bleeding Heartland users’ favorite online sources for Iowa news.  

Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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Events coming up this week

I haven’t posted an event calendar for the last couple of weeks, because there was hardly anything going on. Things are picking up again this week, however.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know if an event I’ve left out, which would be of interest to the Bleeding Heartland community.

Monday, December 8:

Learning from the Floods of 2008: Practical Strategies for Resilience

Join the conversation December 8, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m, at a flood workshop at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This workshop will explore the potential ways to mitigate future flooding and offer insights from experts in agriculture, water and land use, urban planning and government, and representatives from state and federal agencies. Sessions are planned on Flood 2008 realities; farming systems; urban systems and river systems. Sponsors for the event are the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa. The workshop is free but registrations must be received by Monday, December 1 at the conference web site: http://www.flood.leopold.iasta…  For more information, contact Jeri Neal, wink@iastate.edu, or (515) 294-5610. (Note: It may be worth calling first thing on Monday to see if you can get in, even past the registration deadline.)

IowaPolitics.com is hosting a panel discussion featuring Iowa’s legislative leaders and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Confirmed panelists include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. It will be located at the Iowa Historical Building, third floor, Classroom A & B. (Doors open at 2 p.m.) In theory, you were supposed to RSVP by December 1 if you wanted to attend, but it may be worth contacting Julie Rutz at 515.226.8774 or email rutz@IowaPolitics.com to see if there is still seating available. Free parking will be available in a ramp located directly North of the Historical Building on Grand Avenue.

If anyone goes to this forum, you might want to ask ask why the legislative leadership isn’t making local control (agricultural zoning) a priority, even though both parties’ platforms endorse the principle. I think I know the answer to that question, but I would be curious to know how the leaders answer.

On Monday evening from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, join One Iowa for the public premiere of “Our Story”, One Iowa’s short film featuring Iowans speaking out in favor of marriage for gays and lesbians. The screening will be at Fleur Cinema and Cafe, 4545 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. Come celebrate with us and don’t miss your chance to mingle with the stars! Light appetizers will be provided with a cash bar. Remarks by Senator Matt McCoy and Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu.

RSVP here: http://eqfed.org/oneiowa/event…

For more information, contact One Iowa at (515) 288-4019 or organize@oneiowa.org

Tuesday, December 9:

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a marriage equality case (Varnum v. Brien):

Join One Iowa across the state to celebrate and learn more about this historic opportunity for equality. Given the interest in the case and limited capacity, we anticipate that there will not be enough seating for everyone in the Supreme Court chamber.  To accommodate growing interest from our supporters, One Iowa has planned several “watch parties” across the state!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 – 9:45 – 11:30 AM

Des Moines Watch Party – Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Avenue

Ames Watch Party – ISU Memorial Union, Gallery Room (3rd Floor), 2229 Lincoln Way

Iowa City Watch Party – Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn

We are making every effort to ensure a live-feed at each of these locations; but due to technology limitations and previous experiences in other states, we cannot make any guarantees on the quality of the live-feed. Regardless, this will be a great way for our supporters to gather for a truly historic event!

If you can’t watch the Supreme Court arguments live, One Iowa is organizing a “Making the Case” Des Moines Reception on Tuesday from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Pappajohn Center, 1200 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. Join us in the evening for a reception to discuss this historic event with remarks by Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s senior attorney on the case. If the district court ruling is upheld, it will provide gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry; full marriage equality in Iowa. Wine and hors d’oeuvres provided.

Also on December 9, James Patchett, landscape architect, hydrologist and founder/president of the Conservation Design Forum in Chicago, will explore peoples’ cultural relationships to land and water resources. His presentation will be from 4-5:30 p.m. at the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education in the Auditorium (Cedar Falls). It is free and open to the public. Patchett will present case studies that show how to apply sustainable development practices of green roof technologies, porous pavements, bio-retention systems, and integration of native landscapes. For more information, go to http://www.ceee.uni.edu.

From the Sierra Club e-mail list:

Conference to Assist Those Planning to Circumvent Disaster from Future Weather Events Will Be Held December 9-11 in Coralville

Learn from the experience of those impacted by natural disasters, their recovery, the regulatory issues involved, the rebuilding process, and an exploration of strategies to consider prior to reconstruction. Attend the Iowa Disaster Recovery Conference scheduled for December 9 and 10 at the Marriott Coralville Hotel & Conference Center. An optional community design workshop led by design professionals will be held December 11 at the same location.

Three concurrent breakout sessions tracks are offered for Natural Disaster Recovery, Regulatory Compliance, and Sustainability/Green Design. Keynote speakers are Bob Dixon of Greensburg, Kansas, and former Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening, President, Smart Growth Leadership Institute.

Conference agenda and registration are available at www.iowalifechanging.com/register .

This conference is sponsored by Department of Economic Development, Rebuild Iowa Office, Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

Wednesday, December 10:

Join One Iowa and Lambda Legal for a “Making the Case” townhall forum in Cedar Rapids to celebrate and discuss the oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court in the landmark Varnum v. Brien case. The event will take place from 6:30-7:30 pm at CSPS/Legion Arts, 1103 3rd St SE in Cedar Rapids.

Thursday, December 11:

One Iowa and Lambda Legal are holding a “Making the Case” townhall forum from 6:30-7:30 at  Davenport Unitarian, 3707 Eastern Ave in Davenport.

Friday, December 12:

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women is organizing a lunch and learn:

Bring your lunch and join the discussion regarding violence against college women. Presenters will be Annette Lynch with the Iowa Regent’s Campus Violence Prevention Project and Karen Mitchell with the SAVE* Forum Actors, University of Northern Iowa . The panel will be moderated by Rachel Scott, ICSW division administrator.

Friday, December 12th

12 noon – 1 p.m.

Lucas State Office Building 6th Floor Cafeteria

321 East 12th Street, Des Moines

Free and open to the public

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a meeting at 1:00 pm in the Wallace State Office Building (5th floor), 502 East 9th Street in Des Moines, to receive public comments about new Antidegradation rules for rivers, streams and lakes in Iowa. Background from the Iowa Environmental Council:

New Water Rules Proposed

Citizen Comments Important!

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled nine meetings in December and January to receive public comments about new Antidegradation rules for rivers, streams and lakes in Iowa. It is important that citizens attend the meetings or send written comments in support of these protective rules.

These new water rules, called Antidegradation, refer to regulations that significantly increase protections for all rivers, streams and lakes and keep water quality from worsening.  Under the federal Clean Water Act, each state must adopt antidegradation rules for their rivers, streams and lakes.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently in the process of proposing antidegradation rules for Iowa waters and is asking for public comments that will help determine how protective (or lax) these rules will be.  That is why it’s important that concerned Iowans participate in this process.

In addition to strengthening protections for all rivers and lakes the proposed rules include an initial list of more than 50 waters with exceptional recreational or ecological significance to receive special designation and protection as Outstanding Iowa Waters, including West Lake Okoboji, Spirit lake, Wapsipinicon River, Maquoketa River, and French Creek.

How you can help

1)      Learn about antidegradation policy, frequently asked question, talking points and much more, by reading the documents posted on this section of our website (http://www.iaenvironment.org/Antidegradation1.htm).  Don’t feel like you have to be an expert on antidegradation policy.  If you have questions after reading these documents, call or email Susan Heathcote, water program director for the Iowa Environmental Council.  515-244-1194, ext 205.  Heathcote@iaenvironment.org.

2)      Attend a public comment meeting and speak up in support of the antidegradation rules as proposed by the Iowa DNR.  Meetings will be held in December and January.  For a list of dates and locations, go to http://www.iaenvironment.org/w…

Antidegradation rules have been a required component of all state’s Water Quality Standards since 1972 as part of the federal Clean Water Act and have never been fully implemented in Iowa. These rules are a top priority for the Iowa Environmental Council and we are glad the Iowa DNR has finally begun rule making on these important rules.

These rules will allow Iowa to grow sensibly and sustainably by ensuring that new pollution will be allowed into Iowa’s rivers, lakes and streams only if it will not harm existing uses of those water bodies and is truly necessary to achieve important social and economic goals of the people of Iowa.

An especially critical part of these new rules are two new designations for Iowa’s highest quality waters called Outstanding Iowa Waters (OIW) and Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW). These new designations require stringent protections against permitting any new sources of pollution that would lower water quality. Currently the Iowa Great Lakes in Dickinson County (including West Lake Okoboji, Big Spirit Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Lower Gar, Upper Gar and Minnewashta) and Dalton Lake in Jackson County are proposed for OIW designation. Also proposed for OIW designation are 46 stream segments (mostly cold  water streams in Northeast Iowa), including portions of the Wapsipinicon River, Maquoketa River, French Creek, Sny Magill Creek, Trout Run, and Waterloo Creek.

Plains Justice is holding a holiday open house at its Cedar Rapids office from 4 to 6 p.m.:  

We have a lot to celebrate, including our second anniversary in November, the addition of several great new staffers, board and advisory board members this year, and getting back on our feet after the flood.  We’re so grateful for the support of all our friends and colleagues.

Our office is at the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street SW, on the west side of the Cedar River next to I-380, on the second floor.  We’d love to see you.

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Why has Iowa not sent a woman to Congress or Terrace Hill?

As some Clinton supporters at MyDD never tire of reminding me, Iowa and Mississippi are the only two states that have never elected a woman governor, senator or Congressional representative.

Over at Iowa Independent, Douglas Burns wrote a feature on Ann Selzer, pollster for the Des Moines Register. She commented:

“I’m rather stymied by Iowa’s failure to elect a woman,” Selzer said. She chalks it up to lack of strong candidates of that gender so far rather than any deep-seeded sexism among Iowa natives.

Democrats are clearly not to blame for this problem. We have nominated two women for governor and many women for Congress. We’ve also nominated women to many statewide offices, and some of those, like Bonnie Campbell and Patty Judge, have been elected.

I think one issue is that we’ve got a lot of long-serving incumbents here, and rarely have we had open seats. Sheila McGuire ran for an open Congressional seat in 1994, but that was in the most Republican district in Iowa. Every other woman I can think of who has run for Congress in Iowa has had to face off against an incumbent. As we know, more than 90 percent of incumbents are reelected to Congress.

Almost every ten years, Iowa loses a Congressional district, which means that even if an incumbent retires, there may not be an open seat available.

Roxanne Conlin ran for governor when the seat was open in 1982, but perhaps there was some backlash against the Equal Rights Amendment at that time. She also was not able to beat back the “Taxanne” message coming from the right-wing.

I believe that many women elected from other states benefit from belonging to a political dynasty. Some states have elected exactly one woman to Congress, and that woman happens to be the widow, daughter or grand-daughter of a long-serving incumbent. For instance, I think we can all agree that Stephanie Herseth would not have won an election in South Dakota without the Herseth family name. We haven’t had any women in that situation in Iowa.

About five years ago I attended a political science conference and heard Stephen Ansolabahere speak. He has published great work on Americans’ voting behavior.

I asked him about Iowa’s reluctance to elect women to high office. One point he made, which surprised me, is that of the 50 states, Iowa has the largest percentage of the population living in small towns and rural areas.

Nebraska, by contrast, is one of the most “urban” states, with a very large percentage of the population living in the Omaha or Lincoln metro areas and a much smaller percentage living in the smaller towns.

Perhaps the “political culture” of Iowa’s smaller towns creates a less friendly environment for women candidates. Most of the women in the Iowa legislature come from urban or suburban districts.

I think that the lack of opportunity for women to run for open seats is a bigger issue, though.

What do you think?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that women candidates may have an even tougher time defeating incumbents, but that isn’t the case just in Iowa. Someone, and I’m sorry I can’t remember who, studied 20 “serious Democratic challenges” to Republican-held seats in the U.S. House in 2006. A serious challenger was defined as someone who had raised at least $1 million by the end of June 2006. Of those 20 challengers, 13 were men and 7 were women.

On election day 2006, 12 of the 13 men on that list defeated the Republican incumbent, while 6 of the 7 women lost (the exception was Kirsten Gillibrand in New York).

In each case, you can construct a narrative for why the woman lost that has nothing to do with gender. However, looking at the totality of the outcomes in 2006, I think we can posit that the U.S. electorate is slightly more resistant to women challengers to Congressional incumbents.

SECOND UPDATE: I found this piece by Chris Bowers. He also wondered why Democratic women did so poorly in the 2006 elections. He noted that in the 30 Republican-held districts that were top targets for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s list, 21 of the Democratic candidates were men, and 9 were women. (Some of those were open seats, not challenges to incumbents.)

In those races, 20 of the 21 men won, while 8 of the 9 women lost. Again, it appears that American voters are more resistant to electing women to Congress, which could make the difference in a close race.

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John Edwards Announces Iowa Staff

Iowa Team Features Experienced Caucus and Campaign Staff

Des Moines, Iowa – Building on the momentum from Senator John Edwards’ series of community meetings on health care with Iowa caucus goers last week, the campaign announced today the addition of key staff members in Iowa.  The staff includes veterans of numerous campaigns, who have years of experience working in the caucuses.

“I am proud to have such a strong staff in Iowa to share my vision for America with caucus goers,” said Edwards.  “I plan to campaign hard in Iowa and look forward to talking with Iowans about the big challenges facing our nation and how we can meet them together.”

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