Don't bet on Chuck Grassley retiring

Five U.S. Senate Republicans have confirmed they won’t seek re-election in 2022. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama reported no individual or political action committee contributions during the first six months of 2021. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania reported $365 in total contributions during the same period. Rob Portman of Ohio–$23,635.83. Richard Burr of North Carolina–$140,764. Roy Blunt of Missouri–$194,149.74.

In contrast, Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley–who has served in elective office continuously since 1959–raised $682,379.79 in contributions from January through June, Federal Election Commission filings show. His campaign brought in $354,679.79 from individuals and $327,700 from a long list of PACs. He also transferred $193,811.28 from other committees to his main campaign account, which reported $2,549,206.27 cash on hand as of June 30.

Grassley refunded more campaign contributions ($11,400 in the first quarter, $20,775 in the second) than rival Republican candidate Jim Carlin (a state senator from Sioux City) raised from individuals other than himself. Carlin’s latest FEC disclosure shows his Senate campaign spent more than it brought in from April through June and closed out the second quarter with $8,639.20 cash on hand.

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Anti-vaxxers hate Iowa's "vaccine passports" bill

The governor signed this bill on May 20. Original post follows.

“I look forward to signing this important legislation into law!” Governor Kim Reynolds tweeted on May 6, after the Iowa House and Senate approved a bill purportedly banning “vaccine passports.”

House File 889 fits a pattern of Republican bills that are best described as solutions in search of a problem. No state or local government agency intends to issue COVID-19 vaccine passports, nor are Iowa-based businesses rushing to require that customers show proof of coronavirus vaccinations.

A “message” bill can be useful politically, if it pleases a constituency Republicans need in the next election. The odd thing about this last-minute push is that Iowa’s most vocal vaccine skeptics don’t support the bill heading to the governor’s desk. On the contrary, they’re demanding a veto in the name of freedom.

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IA-Sen: Republicans not interested in Jim Carlin

After keeping a relatively low profile during his first few years in the Iowa legislature, State Senator Jim Carlin has been “loud and proud” this year on matters that might appeal to conservative Republicans.

Speaking on the Iowa Senate floor, Carlin has repeatedly alleged that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. He introduced a “bathroom bill” that became the first legislation targeting trans youth to make it through an Iowa House or Senate subcommittee. He led an effort to ban employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines, and turned a subcommittee hearing on that bill into a platform for airing anti-vaccination views. He introduced a bill that would have required state university employees to be surveyed about their political views.

Carlin announced in February that he would seek the 2022 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, whether or not Senator Chuck Grassley runs for re-election. In a campaign video, he declared, “Donald Trump made the Republican Party the party of working men and women,” and outlined “core beliefs” that hit everything on the usual conservative checklist. “I know the people of Iowa very well,” Carlin told Jacob Hall of The Iowa Standard in February. “I’ve literally represented the forgotten man for the last 30 years.”

Nevertheless, the people of Iowa have little apparent interest in his Senate bid.

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As Grassley weighs 2022 plans, either path entails political risks

A new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom contained shocking numbers: 55 percent of respondents, including 35 percent of Republicans surveyed, hope U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley does not run again in 2022. Just 28 percent of respondents (50 percent of Republicans) hope he will run for an eighth Senate term.

The same poll measured Grassley’s job approval at 48 percent, the lowest in this survey since 1982. Selzer polls routinely found Grassley’s approval to be above 70 percent during the 2000s and above 60 percent during the first half of the 2010s, a graph published in the Des Moines Register shows.

Although Grassley would be a prohibitive favorite to win again, the new numbers indicate widespread unease about the senator’s capacity to serve another six-year term.

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It's hard to believe this legislative session is real

Bruce Lear covers some low points of this year’s Republican work in the Iowa House and Senate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Even though this Iowa legislative session may seem like a sketch from Saturday Night Live, it’s real.

But if it had a theme, it might be “Solutions in search of a problem,” or maybe “If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.”

In a legislative session this extreme, it’s really hard to focus on specific bills solving nonexistent problems, not because they are hard to find, but because there are so many.

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The politics of Ashley Hinson's balancing act in IA-01

Eighth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

During her first six weeks serving in the U.S. House, Representative Ashley Hinson has been speaking in two distinct voices.

In many public statements, she has positioned herself as a unifier within the House Republican caucus and Congress at large, willing to work with anyone for the benefit of her constituents. Meanwhile, she has regularly demonized Democrats as threats to America, especially when speaking to perceived supporters or on conservative platforms.

The dual messaging reflects Hinson’s dependence on Donald Trump’s base in a swing district where future Republican victories are not assured.

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