Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Congratulations to Kathie Obradovich

The Des Moines Register announced yesterday that Kathie Obradovich will be the paper’s new political columnist. Her first column will run this Sunday.

Obradovich has covered Iowa politics for many years and been the Register’s political editor since 2003. She replaces David Yepsen, who earlier this year left to become director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Even though the Register’s statewide reach is not what it was a few decades ago, Yepsen still played an agenda-setting role for Iowa politicians and fellow journalists. Sometimes that was for the good, when he called attention to possible backroom deals at the statehouse. However, Yepsen sometimes forgot that his disapproval didn’t automatically make a political strategy illegitimate. I don’t think he ever apologized for wrongly giving his readers the impression that there was something unfair about encouraging college students to come back to Iowa for the 2008 caucuses, for instance. He was too quick to cite think tank reports as proof that Iowans are overtaxed, without considering the services Iowans get for our tax dollars compared to low-tax states like South Dakota. I also didn’t appreciate his suggestion that women’s political opinions are more “catty” than men’s.

May Obradovich use her agenda-setting power wisely.

I’ve posted the Register’s press release announcing Obradovich’s promotion after the jump.

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