Where things stand in Iowa's second Congressional district

Part of a series catching up on Iowa’s 2020 races for federal offices.

Republicans and GOP-aligned interest groups did not make a serious play for Iowa’s second Congressional district in the 2016 or 2018 elections, but this seat covering 24 counties in southeast Iowa is expected to be much more competitive this year, due to U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack’s retirement.

As the filing period for state and federal candidates approaches, both parties still have two declared candidates in IA-02, but the front-runners–former State Senator Rita Hart for Democrats and State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks–have further consolidated their positions.

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What Joni Ernst said (and didn't say) about acquitting Donald Trump

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial ended on February 5 with U.S. Senate votes to acquit on both counts: 52-48 for “not guilty” on abuse of power and 53-47 for “not guilty” on obstruction of Congress. Republican Senator Mitt Romney joined the 47 members of the Democratic caucus to convict on the abuse of power charge; the other vote fell along straight party lines.

Public comments from Iowa’s Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley over the past several months indicated that neither would seriously consider convicting Trump under any circumstances. Both opted not to subpoena documents the White House refused to provide during the House investigation, and voted not to hear any testimony from witnesses the president sought to keep quiet. So yesterday’s votes were no surprise.

Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a closer look at Ernst’s public explanation for her vote. A separate Bleeding Heartland post will cover Grassley’s justification for voting to acquit.

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Joni Ernst becoming public face of Trump's impeachment defense

All Republicans in the U.S. Senate are so far presenting a united front to defend President Donald Trump against any full examination of the charges against him. But more than most of her colleagues, Iowa’s Senator Joni Ernst is becoming the public face of Trump’s defense.

She is also the leading voice in Congress for a talking point Ernst floated earlier this month: Trump has more firmly supported Ukraine against Russian aggression than did President Barack Obama.

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Ernst, Grassley become active participants in Trump's obstruction

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst told Iowa reporters in October that if articles of impeachment were referred to the Senate, she would “evaluate the facts” as a “jurist.”

Senator Chuck Grassley voted to allow deposition of witnesses in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, explaining at the time he was supporting “a tightly disciplined legal process to get the information needed to help clear up important discrepancies on the record. Witnesses will not be called simply for the sake of calling witnesses. Seeking this information is important to a process that is judicious.”

Yet Iowa’s senators joined all of their Republican colleagues on January 21 to prevent senators from examining any documents the White House is withholding and from hearing any witness testimony about President Donald Trump’s conduct.

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