Next time, just nominate the competent woman

What was already a difficult race for Democrats in Iowa Senate district 15 became virtually impossible on September 14, when a federal grand jury charged Leesa Marie Parkhill-Nieland with theft and Social Security fraud. Parkhill-Nieland is married to Dan Nieland, the Democratic candidate who will face two-term Republican State Representative Zach Nunn in November.

At an emergency meeting of the Jasper County Democratic Central Committee on September 17, Nieland admitted he knew his wife was facing a criminal investigation before seeking the nomination at a special convention last month.

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Five ways ending straight-ticket voting could affect Iowa's 2018 election

For the first time in living memory, Iowans will not have the option of filling in one oval to vote a straight ticket for a political party in this year’s general election. Republicans eliminated straight-ticket voting here in 2017, as GOP legislators have done in several other states in recent years. The more publicized provisions of Iowa’s new law, on voter ID and signature verification, will benefit Republicans by creating obstacles for eligible voters in groups that tend to favor Democrats (people with lower incomes, college students, racial minorities, and senior citizens).

By contrast, the impact of eliminating straight-ticket voting is less clear. More Iowans filled in the Republican oval than the Democratic one in the 2014 election, the only midterm for which such statistics are available.

One thing is for sure:

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Iowa Republicans left many Democratic lawmakers unchallenged

The Republican Party is not fielding a candidate in more than two dozen Democratic-controlled Iowa House or Senate districts, while Democrats have left only seven GOP-held legislative seats uncontested. The disparity in party strategies is a departure from the last midterm election, when each party failed to nominate a candidate in more than two dozen state House districts alone.

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What to do if you get push-polled or message-tested (2018 edition)

Revised from a Bleeding Heartland post first published ten years ago.

Republicans have polls in the field this week testing negative statements about Democrats and praise for their GOP opponents in targeted Iowa House races. Two years ago, similar surveys informed talking points used for Republican-funded direct mail or other kinds of advertising.

Activists often become angry when they hear biased or misleading claims about candidates they support. But if you want to help Democrats win elections, my number one piece of advice is do not hang up the phone.

Do not hang up the moment you hear an automated voice on the other end.

Do not hang up the moment you are asked to participate in a brief survey.

Do not hang up the moment you realize that the poll is asking skewed questions about your candidate.

Stay on the line and either start recording or grab a pen and paper.

Follow me after the jump for further instructions.

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Democrats face tougher path in two crucial Iowa Senate races

Prospects for Democrats to gain ground in the Iowa Senate took a sharp turn for the worse over the past week. The party’s best pickup opportunity became a more difficult race when GOP incumbent Rick Bertrand unexpectedly decided to seek a third term after all. Meanwhile, Republicans landed their strongest possible candidate for a Democratic-held seat now open because of Senator Chaz Allen’s unexpected retirement.

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