I'm voting no March 6 (twice if I don't get caught)

Heather Ryan makes her case against the local option sales tax for Iowa’s largest county. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In case you haven’t heard, there is a special election scheduled on the intentionally obscure date of Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Polk County residents must decide if they believe an additional 1 percent sales tax will help solve their financial woes. I will be voting “No.” Twice if I don’t get caught. Here’s why:

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Jonathan Narcisse, Remembered

State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad’s tribute to his friend Jonathan Narcisse. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Jonathan Narcisse, advocate, media presence, and publisher of several newspapers, including “The Bystander,” Iowa’s most enduring publication geared towards an African American audience, died last Saturday, February 17. He was 54–young, but not unusual for a black man in America.

He was also my former campaign manager, business associate, peer, and friend. So I write this with sadness in my heart for the loss Iowa experiences as a result of his death, and with joy in my soul that he is no longer in pain.

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Third-party and independent candidates in Iowa's 2014 elections

The filing period for general election candidates in Iowa closed last Friday, so it’s a good time to review where candidates not representing either the Democratic or Republican Party are running for office. The full candidate list is on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website (pdf(. After the jump I discuss all the federal, statewide, and state legislative races including at least one independent or minor-party candidate. Where possible, I’ve linked to campaign websites, so you can learn more about the candidates and their priorities.

Rarely has any Iowa election been affected by an independent or third-party candidate on the ballot. Arguably, the most recent case may have been the 2010 election in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Final results showed that Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley defeated Republican challenger Ben Lange by 4,209 votes, while conservative candidates Rob Petsche and Jason Faulkner drew 4,087 votes and 2,092 votes, respectively.

Any comments about Iowa’s 2014 elections are welcome in this thread.

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IA-Gov: Jonathan Narcisse running as "Iowa Party" candidate

August tends to be a slow news month, which is a good thing, because Bleeding Heartland has a lot of news to catch up on from July. For one thing, Jonathan Narcisse has qualified for the general election ballot as a candidate for governor representing the Iowa Party. (There are no other Iowa Party candidates running this year.) You can find issue positions and news clips on the Narcisse campaign’s website. He campaigned in ten counties last week, and yesterday highlighted his education proposals during his speech on the Des Moines Register’s “soapbox”  at the Iowa State Fair.

The former Des Moines school board member ran for governor as the Iowa Party candidate in 2010, winning nearly 2 percent of the statewide vote. Late last year he described that independent candidacy as “naive” and a “mistake.” However, the Iowa Secretary of State’s office determined that he did not submit enough signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot. Narcisse challenged his exclusion on what he called a “technicality” (failing to list the office he was seeking on some of the petition pages). However, a Polk County District Court and later the Iowa Supreme Court rejected his lawsuit.

Presumably, Narcisse will draw more votes from Iowans who might lean toward Democratic nominee Jack Hatch. However, his support for opting out of the “Common Core” curriculum may attract some social conservatives who are dissatisfied with Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

At least one other candidate for governor is likely to qualify for the general election ballot in Iowa: Dr. Lee Hieb, the Libertarian Party’s nominee. She has until close of business on August 15 to submit enough valid signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. That hasn’t been a problem for Libertarian candidates in recent election years.

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IA-Gov: Iowa Supreme Court rejects Narcisse bid for spot on primary ballot

State Senator Jack Hatch will be unopposed on the Democratic primary ballot for governor. The Iowa Supreme Court issued a short opinion on March 31 affirming without comment a District Court’s decision rejecting Jonathan Narcisse’s claim that he submitted enough signatures to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. The Supreme Court justices agreed to hear the case on an expedited schedule because primary ballots need to be sent to the printer soon. They did not explain the reasoning behind affirming the lower court’s decision. Reports last week indicated that three of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices would hear Narcisse’s appeal: David Wiggins, Daryl Hecht, and Edward Mansfield. However, the ruling released yesterday indicates that all justices concurred except for Brent Appel, who recused himself.

Speaking by telephone this morning, Narcisse confirmed that he will run a write-in campaign for the Democratic primary. He said he was “disappointed the Supreme Court affirmed the decision without reviewing the evidence.” He acknowledged his campaign’s oversight in not making sure the “governor” line was filled in on all the nominating petitions: “Ultimately, this happened because we messed up, but the law was not equitably applied. This was not a disqualifiable offense.” He particularly objected to how the District Court considered a 2012 election law ruling from Arizona but rejected as evidence the Iowa panel ruling from the same year allowing State Senator Joe Seng to run for Congress, despite missing information on some of his nominating petitions.

Narcisse said he has “no illusions about a write-in campaign” but is compelled to keep talking about issues that need to be addressed, including the “disparity in justice,” the “phony war on drugs which is really a war on the poor,” and Iowa’s “bipartisan alliance brutalizing poor working people.” In his view, Hatch “has not fought the good fight the way he should have.” Narcisse said he has not decided yet whether he would mount a second bid for governor as an independent.

After the jump I’ve posted a more extensive comment from the Narcisse campaign about the lower court’s ruling on his ballot access.

UPDATE: Added a comment below from Alfredo Parrish, who represented Narcisse.

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Narcisse loses first court battle to run in IA-Gov Democratic primary

For now, State Senator Jack Hatch remains unopposed on the Democratic primary ballot for Iowa governor. Jonathan Narcisse appealed his exclusion in Polk County District Court on Wednesday, citing precedent from a 2012 panel decision allowing State Senator Joe Seng on the primary ballot in IA-02. Yesterday Judge Michael Huppert ruled against Narcisse, saying the missing information on some petitions left those who signed unable to conclude that the candidate was running for governor.

Narcisse’s attorney, Alfredo Parrish, has already appealed the decision. I enclosed after the jump a statement explaining Narcisse’s case. I think he has a valid argument, based on how officials bent the rules to accommodate Seng.

You can read the 2012 Seng decision here (pdf). Pages 4 through 7 contain the most relevant information. Some petitions allowed were missing Seng’s county of residence, which is admittedly a much less serious defect than Narcisse’s petitions leaving blank the line for office sought. But the panel also counted Seng petitions that were missing the Congressional district number. “Likewise, we find that, absent any showing of any intent to mislead by the candidate or confusion on the part of the signatories, the Davis County signature pages that lacked only the congressional district number substantially comply with the intent of section 43.14 and should be counted.” To this non-lawyer, that sounds very close to not telling voters the office you’re seeking. I suppose there is a slight difference if Seng’s petitions showed he was running for Congress, while the disputed Narcisse petitions did not list any office. Iowa’s rules are designed to prevent any “bait and switch” during the signature collection process.

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