Jim Leach joins new GOP reform effort

Jim Leach is among 27 former Republican members of the U.S. House who spoke out this week for changing the GOP in the face of “rising political extremism.” Four former governors, along with several former ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, or Republican Party leaders are also among the 152 people who signed the “Call for American Renewal” published on May 13.

The document cites “the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice” when “forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise.” The signers “declare our intent to catalyze an American renewal, and to either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.”

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Exclusive: Iowa Democrats recall first Congressional vote on Hyde amendment

Forty-three years ago this week, Congress overrode a presidential veto to enact an appropriations bill containing the first ban on federal funding for abortion. Republican U.S. Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois had proposed language prohibiting Medicaid coverage of abortion during House debate on what was then called the Health, Education, and Welfare budget. Ever since, the policy has been known as the “Hyde amendment.”

Four Iowans who served in Congress at the time spoke to Bleeding Heartland this summer about their decisions to oppose the Hyde amendment and the political context surrounding a vote that had long-lasting consequences.

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Sara Craig Gongol joins small group of top Iowa women staffers

The first woman elected to our state’s highest office has picked the third woman to serve as an Iowa governor’s chief of staff.

Sara Craig Gongol will replace Governor Kim Reynolds’ current chief of staff Ryan Koopmans, effective December 15. Craig Gongol was a leading campaign strategist for Reynolds this year and has been “a key member of my team” since 2014, the governor said in a December 11 press release.

The appointment inspired me to look into which women have held the top staff position for governors or members of Congress from Iowa. Like Craig Gongol, who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 Iowa caucus campaign, several women who managed high-level Iowa campaigns went on to serve as chiefs of staff.

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Rest in peace, Bob Ray

Iowans of all political persuasions are grieving former Governor Bob Ray, who passed away on July 8 at age 89. I can’t think of any Republican more admired by Iowa Democrats. My parents canceled out each other’s votes in most elections for decades, but my mother supported Ray whenever he was on the ballot. Bill Crews, who managed the governor’s 1978 re-election campaign, remembered Ray as his “best boss and a great mentor.” Crews took the above photo on the night Iowans elected Ray to his fifth and final term.

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More women managing Iowa campaigns

Iowa hasn’t been the most friendly state for women in politics, to put it mildly. We didn’t elect a woman to Congress until 2014. We have not elected a woman governor. Just 22.7 percent of our state lawmakers are women, below the pitiful national average of 25.3 percent. Only two women have ever been Iowa Supreme Court justices, and we are currently the only state in the country to have no women serving on our highest court.

But Iowa has not escaped the national trend of more women becoming politically involved in the wake of the 2016 election. Not only will a record number of female candidates appear on Iowa ballots in 2018, more women than ever before are leading campaigns for high-level offices.

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Former Representative Jim Leach joins #NeverTrump camp

Jim Leach, who represented parts of southeast Iowa in the U.S. House for 30 years, is among 30 former Republican members of Congress who are publicly opposing Donald Trump for president, Nolan McCaskill reported today for Politico. In a joint statement, the Republicans described Trump as “manifestly unqualified” and a “man who makes a mockery of the principles and values we have cherished and which we sought to represent in Congress.”

“Given the enormous power of the office, every candidate for president must be judged rigorously in assessing whether he or she has the competence, intelligence, knowledge, understanding, empathy, judgment, and temperament necessary to keep America on a safe and steady course,” they wrote. […]

“Every day brings a fresh revelation that highlights the unacceptable danger in electing him to lead our nation,” they said. […]

“It is in that spirit that, as Donald Trump’s unfitness for public office has become ever more apparent, we urge our fellow Republicans not to vote for this man whose disgraceful candidacy is indefensible,” they said. “This is no longer about our party; it’s now about America. We may differ on how we will cast our ballots in November but none of us will vote for Donald Trump.”

Leach was a leading Republican endorser of Barack Obama in the 2008 general election. Most of the others to sign today’s statement have never publicly opposed a GOP presidential nominee.

In an embarrassing oversight on my part, Leach was not among the dozens of moderate Iowa Republicans I’ve contacted in recent months about Trump’s candidacy. Most of these current or former elected officials have not responded to my requests for comment. I am hopeful that in the final weeks of this campaign, as Trump continues to find new ways to disqualify himself, more prominent Iowans will follow Joy Corning’s example and make their opposition to Trump known. A few years from now, many Republicans will regret that they lacked the courage to speak out before this election.

On a related note, Michael Chertoff has revealed that he will vote for Hillary Clinton. He was the lead Republican counsel for the U.S. Senate’s Whitewater investigation during Bill Clinton’s presidency and a secretary of Homeland Security in George W. Bush’s administration. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Monthly has endorsed Clinton in an editorial headlined, “Against Donald Trump.” The magazine’s editors have taken a stand on the presidential election only twice before: for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and Lyndon Johnson in 1964. I enclose below some of Chertoff’s comments and excerpts from the Atlantic editorial.

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