Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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Royceann Porter overcame hidden racism in historic victory

Let’s start with the good news: Democrat Royceann Porter made history by winning the December 18 special election for Johnson County supervisor. The longtime community activist and labor organizer gained 5,444 votes (56 percent) to 4,167 votes (43 percent) for Republican Phil Hemingway, a member of the Iowa City school board. Porter is the first African American to win a county-wide office in Johnson County and will be one of four women on a five-member board that never had more than two women serving at the same time before this November’s election.

John Deeth took a granular look at the county’s urban and rural voting patterns in his preview of this election and his analysis of the unofficial results. He sees signs of a possible “watershed moment in county politics.”

While a Democrat winning in “the People’s Republic of Johnson County” might not seem newsworthy, Porter’s victory was not a foregone conclusion. A Republican won a low-turnout special election for a county supervisor seat in 2013. The compressed time frame for the special election gave Porter only four weeks to build up her name recognition. Her opponent was better-known, having already won local office. The Farm Bureau chapter drummed up support for Hemingway with a mass mailing, which was unprecedented for a county race, according to longtime area politics-watchers.

Porter also had to contend with a tremendous amount of implicit bias among voters who probably would not consider themselves racist.

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Kurt Friese walked the talk and sucked the marrow out of life

Mike Carberry remembers his friend and fellow Johnson County supervisor Kurt Friese, who was also an occasional guest author at Bleeding Heartland. -promoted by desmoinesdem

“Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.” –Paul Wellstone

A friend posted this on Twitter last Thursday evening and I reposted it. Friday afternoon our world was rocked by the news of the death of Kurt Friese. I immediately thought that quote was perfect for my first post about my dear friend, colleague, and comrade in arms.

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The inherent culpability of maleness

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese wrote this commentary before The New Yorker published new sexual misconduct allegations about Brett Kavanaugh on September 23. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Let’s get this out there at the outset: I am a person of tremendous privilege. I may not be at the very top of the privilege ladder, but as a college-educated, straight, white cis male who attended both public and private schools during my upper middle class suburban upbringing, as a successful business person, and now as an elected official, yeah, I’m up there.

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Hubbell's primary landslide calls for unity

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese: “2018 is no time for a ‘No-true-Scotsman’ logical fallacy about who is more (or less) progressive than whom, bickering amongst ourselves while the Republican Party consolidates power under the banner of Donald Trump and the Branstad/Reynolds administration.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

As a lifelong holder of minority opinions, I am accustomed to candidates I support being defeated. I’ve never done the math but I’ll bet my record for supporting the winning candidate in a primary is just slightly north of 50 percent–far worse if you only look at the presidential races! I suppose this may be something future candidates who seek my endorsement may want to keep in mind, but anyway…

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Gone but not forgotten: Labor's struggle with itself

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese reflects on Workers’ Memorial Day and the troubling trend of “criticism and bad-mouthing of pro-labor candidates and their supporters BY their respective supporters and even by unions themselves.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Each year at the end of April, labor organizers across the country hold a vigil of remembrance called “Workers’ Memorial Day.” Here in Johnson County, it was just this past Friday. We gathered to remember and to hear speeches, but more importantly to hear the names and stories of the 36 workers who lost their lives on the job in Iowa in 2017.

Many in attendance lined up to read from a notecard about such a story. As each is read, the gathered crowd chants together, “Gone, but not forgotten.” It is indeed quite moving as those words repeat, like a solemn drumbeat, another echo for each story read, another worker dead, each name mentioned, each face shown on the screen, and again: “Gone, but not forgotten.” And again. 36 people who went to work one day but never came home to their families.

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