Iowa Democrats dismiss Julián Castro's critique at our peril

“If you didn’t know anything about this process, and I told you how it was set up, you would think that a right-wing Republican set this process up, because it really makes it harder to vote than it should be,” Julián Castro told a room full of Iowa Democrats at Drake University on December 10.

Castro’s campaign organized the town hall (which I moderated) to highlight problems with the Iowa caucus system and a calendar that starts with two overwhelmingly white states.

Now that Castro has ended his presidential bid, it may be tempting to dismiss his critique as sour grapes from a candidate who wasn’t gaining traction in Iowa.

That would be a mistake. Castro is only the most high-profile messenger for a sentiment that is widespread and growing in Democratic circles nationally.

If Iowa Democrats want to keep our prized position for the next presidential cycle and beyond, we need to acknowledge legitimate concerns about the caucuses and take bigger steps to make the process more accessible.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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Thirteen quick takes on the November Democratic debate

With four presidential contenders packed closely together at the top of the field and a majority of Democratic voters not yet committed to a candidate, televised debates could make or break several campaigns between now and the February 3 Iowa caucuses. As Dan Guild discussed here, debates have fueled breakouts for some lower-polling candidates in past election cycles.

If you missed the fifth Democratic debate on November 20, you can read the full transcript here. My thoughts on the evening in Atlanta:

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Julian Castro stands up to injustice and discrimination

Bonnie Louise Brown is an elected member of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee and a civil rights activist in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Right now, in this country and in our home state of Iowa, we have a crisis. Hate crimes are on the rise, we have concentration camps on our southern border and Americans are strapped down by their student loan debt. We need strength to overcome this, we need courage to do what is right, and most importantly, we need a leader who will fight for every American.

Secretary Julián Castro is that leader. He has a plan to make the United States of America a home for all its citizens and put us back on a path of moral clarity. He is the strong candidate we need, a candidate who will stand up for what is right and end the terrible discrimination against immigrants and people of color in this country.

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Julián Castro brings one of the most important voices to the table

Kyla Paterson chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Stonewall Caucus. They are endorsing in their personal capacity. The Stonewall Caucus will remain neutral before the Democratic National Convention. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am endorsing former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and will continue being an endorser of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (whom I endorsed September 16), because both of them share my values.

I am endorsing Secretary Julián Castro because his voice is unique. His voice is being erased–the media aren’t giving him the coverage he deserves–and we can’t allow erasure to happen anymore.

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It's getting late for the lower tier in Iowa

What Dan Guild found after analyzing decades of Iowa caucus polling from this point in the election cycle. -promoted by Laura Belin

For candidates struggling nationally, Iowa is the last, great hope.

I have been on campaigns like those. You draw hope from stories of conversion. A vice-chair of a town committee announces their support, or a canvasser talks to someone who just converted from the front-runner to you. You think, just another debate, or a new set of ads. Then one fine morning, a poll will show…

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