# Latinos

Data show which Iowa counties have (or don't have) representative juries

Five of the eight Iowa counties with the largest Black populations “had trial juries that were fully representative of their jury-eligible Black population” during 2022 and the first half of 2023, according to data analyzed by the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP. However, trial juries in Polk County and Scott County failed to hit that benchmark, and Dubuque County was “particularly problematic,” with zero Black members of any trial jury during the eighteen-month period reviewed.

The same review indicated that trial juries in Linn and Woodbury counties were close to being representative of the area’s jury-eligible Latino population, while Latinos were underrepresented on juries in Johnson, Marshall, Scott, and Polk counties, and particularly in Muscatine County.

Russell Lovell and David Walker, retired Drake Law School professors who co-chair the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP Legal Redress Committee, examined juror data provided by the Iowa Judicial Branch and presented their findings at the 11th Annual Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities in Ankeny on November 3.

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Iowa still among worst states for racial disparities in incarceration

Iowa is tied for seventh among states with the highest disparities in Black incarceration rates, according to new analysis from the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative. Data released on September 27 show Black Iowans are about nine times more likely than whites to be in prison or jail, and Native Americans are about thirteen times more likely than whites to be incarcerated in Iowa.

Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said in a statement that the findings “underscore the need for systemic reform.” She called on Iowa to “take action in every facet of the justice process.”

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Kim Reynolds race-baits in new tv ad

Nothing happens in a campaign commercial by accident. Strategists plan every word and image, with the candidate’s approval. Directors may film many takes to get the perfect cadence for every line.

So Iowans should understand: the racist tropes in Governor Kim Reynolds’ latest tv ad are deliberate.

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Two months out: A remade race in the aftermath of Dobbs

Dan Guild is a lawyer and project manager who lives in New Hampshire. In addition to writing for Bleeding Heartland, he has written for CNN and Sabato’s Crystal Ball. He also contributed to the Washington Post’s 2020 primary simulations. Follow him on Twitter @dcg1114.

The U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24. Overturning Roe v Wade caused a political earthquake.

I created this table to show the magnitude of the change in the generic ballot (which asks voters whether they plan to support a Democrat or a Republican for Congress). My averages differ from sites like FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, because I compare results across time from each pollster, rather than averaging all polls at a point in time. (I will explain why this matters at the end of this article.)

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Ten Iowa Democratic legislative primaries to watch in 2022

UPDATE: I’ve added unofficial results for each race.

Iowa Democrats have more competitive state legislative primaries in 2022 than in a typical election cycle. That’s partly because quite a few House and Senate members are retiring, and partly because the redistricting plan adopted in 2021 created some legislative districts with no incumbents.

In most of the races discussed below, the winner of the primary is very likely to prevail in November. However, a few of the districts could be targeted by one or both parties in the general election.

All data on past election performance in these districts comes from the Iowa House and Senate maps Josh Hughes created in Dave’s Redistricting App. Fundraising numbers are taken from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s database.

This post is not an exhaustive account of all contested Democratic primaries for state legislative offices. You can find the full primary candidate list here.

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Why I support Gabe De La Cerda for Iowa House district 36

Rob Barron served on the Des Moines school board from 2013 to 2021 and is the founder of the Latino Political Network.

My name is Rob Barron and I am proud to endorse Gabe De La Cerda to be the next state representative in Iowa House district 36. I grew up on 49th Street, right in the heart of the district, in the house my dad still owns. When I ran my first campaign for school board, voters in the district put me over the top. Now I hope you will give your vote to my friend Gabe.

I have known Gabe for more than ten years and have always trusted him to fight hard for kids, the elderly, and working-class folks. He serves on the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee, has been a union member, and is currently a social worker and father. He is also one of a growing line of Latinos who have raised their hands to run for office.

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Iowa legislature may be more diverse after 2022 election

Iowans may elect more people from under-represented populations to the state legislature in 2022, Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of the primary and general election candidate filings indicates.

One barrier will certainly be broken: as the only candidate to file in House district 78, Democrat Sami Scheetz will become the first Arab American to serve in our state legislature.

The lawmakers who convene at the statehouse next January may also include Iowa’s first Jewish legislator in nearly three decades as well as more people of color, more LGBTQ people, and the first Paralympian.

A forthcoming post will discuss prospects for electing more women to the Iowa House and Senate.

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Murguia-Ortiz, Van Cleave running in Iowa Senate district 17

An unusual race is shaping up in a solid blue Iowa Senate district with no incumbent.

Normally, the Democratic nominee in a district covering parts of Des Moines would be a lock to win in November. But community organizer Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz will run in the new Senate district 17 as an independent candidate on a progressive platform.

The Democratic field is nowhere near set; the first candidate likely to make a formal announcement is Grace Van Cleave.

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Lawsuit challenges English-only voting materials in Iowa

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa is seeking a judicial order declaring that the state’s English-only law “does not apply to voting materials, including ballots, registration and voting notices, forms, instructions, and other materials and information relating to the electoral process.”

The state’s largest Latino advocacy organization filed suit in Polk County District Court on October 27, according to the Democracy Docket website founded by Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias. His law firm is representing LULAC in this and other cases related to voting rights.

LULAC previously petitioned Secretary of State Paul Pate to allow county auditors across Iowa to accept official Spanish-language translations of voter registration and absentee ballot request forms. However, Pate’s legal counsel informed the group in late September that the Secretary of State’s office “is still under an injunction” from 2008 “which prevents the dissemination of official voter registration forms for this state in languages other than English.”

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Advocates ask Iowa SOS to allow Spanish-language voting materials

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has petitioned the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to allow elections officials in all 99 counties to accept official Spanish-language translations of voter registration and absentee ballot request forms.

The Secretary of State’s office has not yet replied to the petition and did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about the matter. If it doesn’t issue the requested order within 60 days of the filing date (July 28), Iowa’s largest Latino advocacy group can go to court seeking an exception for voting materials from Iowa’s 2002 “English language reaffirmation” statute, more commonly known as the English-only law.

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Racial disparities already apparent in Iowa's COVID-19 vaccination rates

When the Iowa Department of Public Health created a new advisory council in December to draft recommendations on allocating coronavirus vaccines, the body’s “guiding principles” were supposed “to ensure vaccine availability to specific populations, particularly in groups that are at highest risk for severe outcome from COVID-19 infection.” The council’s framework stated, “These priority recommendations and subsets must also recognize the importance of treating individuals fairly and promoting social equity, by addressing racial and ethnic disparities in COVID mortality […].”

Nevertheless, people of color in Iowa are being vaccinated for COVID-19 at substantially lower rates than white people, analysis by Sara Anne Willette has found. As of February 7, white Iowans had received more than double the doses of vaccine per 1,000 population as Black Iowans, Native Americans, or people of Asian descent, and Iowans not of Latino ethnicity had received more than triple the doses per capita as had Latinos in Iowa, Willete calculated.

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Barriers broken as Iowans elect more people of color to state House

Fourth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

More people of color than ever ran for the Iowa House in 2020. As a result, a more diverse group of state representatives will be sworn in next year.

Not only will the state House have a record number of members who are not white, people of color serving in the Iowa legislature will include some Republicans for the first time since the 1960s.

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Iowa's COVID-19 fatalities surpass eighth leading annual cause of death

At least 702 Iowans have died from novel coronavirus infections, according to the state’s official website at midday on June 26. Less than four months since the state recorded its first case, the death toll from COVID-19 alone is higher than the number of Iowans who have died in any recent year of flu or pneumonia, which has been the state’s eighth leading cause of death. Those fatalities occurred despite social distancing and other unusual precautions like restricted nursing home visits since March.

Statistics archived by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicate that 697 Iowans died of flu or pneumonia in 2018, reflecting a worse than usual flu season. Iowa deaths in that category numbered 582 in 2014, 618 in 2015, 504 in 2016, and 578 in 2017.

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Des Moines hiring practices don't reflect community's diversity

Joe Henry is a community activist who served on the Des Moines Civil Service Commission from 2013 to 2020. -promoted by Laura Belin

The City of Des Moines’ hiring practices do not reflect the diversity of our community.

Nearly 90 percent of the city’s police department employees (472 total) are white. Only 57 officers are Black or Brown. In addition, the majority of police officers do not live in the city and have never lived here!

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Iowa OSHA visits two more meatpackers; other plants cleared with no inspection

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff conducted on-site inspections of two more Iowa meatpacking plants this week, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on June 2.

Documents provided the following day show regulators closed at least four coronavirus-related complaints against Iowa pork processors with no inspection.

Inspectors toured the Tyson Foods turkey plant in Storm Lake and the Perdue Premium pork facility in Sioux Center on June 1. Both site visits stemmed from “media referrals” rather than complaints, meaning officials acted on unspecified news reports or information relayed to OSHA by a journalistic source.

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More people of color running for Iowa legislature in 2020 (updated)

UPDATE: As of August, people of color who will appear on the general election ballot as candidates for the Iowa legislature include nine Democrats, seven Republicans, one Libertarian, and one independent. I’ve added details in the original post, which follows.

After a decade of little change in the racial breakdown of the Iowa House and Senate, more people of color are running for the state legislature this year.

Candidates appearing on today’s primary ballot include eight Democrats and seven eight Republicans, which to my knowledge is a record for the Iowa GOP.

In addition, three people of color representing minor parties have filed as general election candidates in state legislative districts.

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OSHA inspected five Iowa meatpacking plants on site

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff have conducted five on-site inspections of Iowa meatpacking plans during the past six weeks, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on May 28.

According to Mary Montgomery, who works in the office of Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts, OSHA inspectors examined COVID-19 mitigation measures at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork processing plant in Waterloo on April 20, the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction on April 30, Iowa Premium Beef in Tama on May 21, the JBS pork plant in Marshalltown, also on May 21, and the Tyson plant in Perry on May 26.

Montgomery indicated that a complaint prompted the Waterloo inspection, while “media referrals” led to the others. Asked to define that term, Montgomery said either “news items reported in the media” or information relayed “directly to OSHA by a media source” had prompted the site visits. She did not specify which news reports or journalistic sources influenced OSHA staff.

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Latinos now 1 in 4 of Iowa's COVID-19 cases

Racial disparities continue to widen as the number of novel coronavirus cases grows in Iowa.

Data published on the state’s COVID-19 website on May 17 indicate that Latinos make up 25.1 percent of Iowa’s 14,651 confirmed COVID-19 cases. That’s more than four times the share of Latinos in the state population (6.2 percent according to the latest Census Bureau estimate).

Another 57.1 of Iowans who have tested positive are not Hispanic or Latino, while the remaining 17.8 percent of cases are pending further investigation of the person’s ethnicity.

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New COVID-19 testing program may miss Iowans in high-risk groups

“I do want to encourage every Iowan to go to TestIowa.com and take the assessment,” Governor Kim Reynolds said as she rolled out a program to increase the state’s coronavirus testing capacity during an April 21 news conference. The governor announced the following day that more than 80,000 Iowans had completed an initial assessment during the first 24 hours the website was online.

However, the online survey at the new site is not accessible to all Iowans in high-risk groups for COVID-19 infections and complications. Representatives of the governor’s office and Iowa Department of Public Health did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated questions about barriers to taking the survey.

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Essential doesn't mean expendable

State Representative Ras Smith of Waterloo is among 20 Black Hawk County elected officials who urged Tyson Foods to suspend operations at its local pork processing plant. -promoted by Laura Belin

Across the country, we see “essential workers” as the people who keep us safe, treat the sick and injured, and maintain the systems that sustain us in difficult times. In the background, other essential workers toil in silence as they stock our shelves, clean our floors, as well as process, prepare, and serve our food. They are essential before, during, and after this crisis. 

At Tyson’s Fresh Meats in Waterloo, the employees I’ve talked to fear they’ve been placed in harm’s way, not because they are deemed essential, but because the facility has blatantly dismissed effective COVID-19 mitigation strategies that are supposed to keep them safe. Here’s what one employee noted:

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Racial disparities already apparent in Iowa's COVID-19 data

For the first time on April 14, the Iowa Department of Public Health released information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections by race and ethnicity. The results won’t surprise anyone who has been following the news from other parts of the country: a disproportionate number of Iowans with confirmed COVID-19 infections are African American or Latino.

Activists and some Democratic legislators had pushed for releasing the demographic information after a senior official said last week the public health department had no plans to publish a racial breakdown of Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers.

Meanwhile, Iowa reported its largest daily number of new COVID-19 cases (189) on April 14, fueled by the outbreak that has temporarily shut down a Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction (Louisa County). At her daily press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds again praised efforts by meatpacking companies to slow the spread of the virus and keep workers and the food supply chain safe. However, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has highlighted unsafe workplace conditions for employees of meatpacking plants, a group that is disproportionately Latino.

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New look at the 2020 Iowa House landscape (post-filing edition)

Now that the deadline for candidates to qualify for the June primary ballot has passed, it’s time to revisit the 2020 Iowa House landscape. (A separate overview of state Senate races is in progress.)

Republicans now hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber, meaning Democrats need a net gain of four seats for control. Thanks to our state’s nonpartisan redistricting system, more than a dozen House districts should be highly competitive. This post covers 22 House districts that could fall into that category. One or both parties spent significant funds on twenty Iowa House races in 2018, not counting House districts 82 or 16, where Republican candidates ended up winning by small margins.

Since Bleeding Heartland first reviewed the House landscape last May, both parties have had some recruiting successes, while other districts still lack a top-tier challenger. The Secretary of State published the full list of Democratic and GOP primary candidates here. In some races that are currently uncontested, major parties may get candidates on the ballot later by holding a special nominating convention.

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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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Vulnerable communities hit harder by floods, slower to recover

Residents of low-income communities are more likely to suffer property damage from floods but less likely to be fully compensated for losses and also less likely to benefit from flood mitigation efforts, according to a report the Iowa Policy Project published on December 12.

University of Iowa graduate student Joseph Wilensky wrote “Flooding and Inequity: Policy Responses on the Front Line” (click here for the summary and here for the full text). His focus was on “frontline communities”:

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Beto O'Rourke is writing no one off, taking no one for granted

Emilio Escobar is a Lennox, Iowa resident and the brother of U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar of Texas. -promoted by Laura Belin

I have proudly called Iowa my home for the last ten years. It truly exemplifies the Midwestern values and rich agricultural history that I love. I grew up in El Paso, Texas along the U.S. — Mexico border, just like presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. You’ll often hear him mention El Paso in his speeches, and more often than not, you’ll hear him use words like unity, diversity, shared beliefs, and common purpose – values he learned growing up there.

I just returned from visiting family in El Paso last month. The city was still reeling from the mass shooting in August, a topic of conversation everywhere I went. They’re proud of their native son Beto — for the way he carries himself in this campaign, to the way he consoled and led our native city. I count myself in that club, and it was an honor to speak on his behalf at the Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines recently. Beto is the right choice for president because he writes no one off and takes no one for granted — no matter how different their views are from his.

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Is Iowa's secretary of state fully complying with court ruling on voter law?

The State of Iowa has revised the official absentee ballot request form in light of a court ruling that invalidated some sections of Iowa election law. However, the new form still lists a voter ID number as a required field, despite a court order permanently enjoining Secretary of State Paul Pate from “indicating that such information is ‘required.’”

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Iowa Senate district 36 preview: Jeff Edler vs. Dave Degner

Some sobering facts about the bloodbath that was the 2016 election in Iowa:

Donald Trump carried eighteen state Senate districts that had voted for President Barack Obama in 2012.*

Eleven of those eighteen were even-numbered districts, which are on the Iowa ballot in presidential election years.

The four Republicans who already represented Obama/Trump districts all easily won another term in the Iowa Senate.**

But six of the seven Democratic senators up for re-election in Obama/Trump districts lost: Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (Senate district 8), Mary Jo Wilhelm (Senate district 26), Brian Schoenjahn (Senate district 32), Steve Sodders (Senate district 36), Tom Courtney (Senate district 44), and Chris Brase (Senate district 46).

With Republicans now enjoying a 32-18 majority in the upper chamber, Democrats need to win back at least a few Obama/Trump seats next year to have a realistic chance of regaining Iowa Senate control after the next round of redistricting.

Democrats have been actively campaigning in Senate districts 8 and 44 for some time. Now GOP State Senator Jeff Edler has a strong challenger in Senate district 36.

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Ross Wilburn nominated for Iowa House district 46 special

Ross Wilburn will be the Democratic candidate in the August 6 election to represent Iowa House district 46. Delegates to a special nominating convention in Ames on June 29 chose Wilburn on the second ballot.

The former Iowa City mayor, who has worked for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach since 2014, recently told Bleeding Heartland that if elected to the state House, he wants to address problems with privatized Medicaid, climate change, and gun violence. Other priorities for Wilburn are strengthening public school districts, restoring collective bargaining rights for public workers, and making Iowa more welcoming and inclusive for marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ community, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.

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Democrats Jamet Colton, Amber Corrieri running for Iowa House district 46

Ames School Board member Jamet Colton and Ames City Council member Amber Corrieri confirmed on June 17 that they will seek the Democratic nomination for Iowa House district 46, where longtime State Representative Lisa Heddens is stepping down to serve as a Story County supervisor. I enclose below statements with background on both candidates.

Delegates in the precincts that make up House district 46 will select the nominee at a district convention, to be scheduled soon after Governor Kim Reynolds sets a date for the special House election. Although I have not seen any formal announcement from Ames School Board member Lewis Rosser, many Story County sources expect him to compete for the nomination. Dr. Jay Brown, an allergist with the McFarland Clinic, is also considering the race, he told Bleeding Heartland over the weekend.

The Democratic nominee will almost certainly win the special election later this summer, given that the strongest potential Republican candidate, Ames City Council member Tim Gartin, says he is not running. Some locals had speculated that Gartin had a chance to flip the seat, with the election taking place before most Iowa State University students return for the fall semester. I haven’t heard of any announced GOP candidate for this race. Even without the large student population in town, winning this district would be a longshot for a Republican. Residents of House district 46 gave 57.2 percent of the 2016 presidential vote to Hillary Clinton and 65.3 percent of the vote for governor last year to Fred Hubbell.

Regardless of who serves out the remainder of Heddens’ term, which runs through 2020, Democrats may well have a contested primary in House district 46 next June. It’s easy to qualify for the primary ballot in Iowa by collecting 50 signatures on nominating petitions.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that if elected, Colton would be the first Latinx to serve in the Iowa legislature.

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Democratic declines in key counties: A turnout or persuasion problem?

Twelfth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

One of the hottest debates in Democratic activist circles relates to strategy for winning statewide and national elections. Does the party need to fix a base turnout problem by nominating contenders who will inspire passionate support among progressives? Or is the more urgent task appealing to voters who used to back Democrats, but lately have favored Republican candidates?

This post doesn’t claim to settle that argument, but searches for clues in the results and turnout rates from key Iowa counties where Fred Hubbell underperformed in his bid to unseat Governor Kim Reynolds.

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Court puts four new Iowa voting restrictions on hold (updated)

A Polk County District Court has ordered that four voting restrictions Iowa Republicans enacted in 2017 will be on hold pending resolution of a lawsuit the League of United Latin American Citizens and Iowa State University student Taylor Blair filed in May. Plaintiffs had requested the temporary injunction, noting that the new law (House File 516) could disenfranchise eligible voters in various ways and would disproportionately harm Democrats, who are more likely to cast early ballots.

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66 photos from Keep Families Together rallies in Iowa

Despite heat advisories across most of the state, at least 2,000 Iowans turned out for rallies and marches on June 30 to oppose the Trump administration’s family separation policy and demand justice for immigrants.

Like the Women’s March and similar mass protests from the past two years, the Keep Families Together events were a target-rich environment for creative political signs and t-shirts. With thanks to those who gave permission to publish their photographs here, I’ve compiled some of my favorite images from the weekend.

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Then and now: Kim Reynolds on Steve King

Governor Kim Reynolds downplayed her association with U.S. Representative Steve King on Friday, saying “No two people are going to agree on everything” and describing the bigoted loudmouth as just “one of over 4,000 honorary chairs” of her campaign.

When it has suited her political purposes, she has spoken of King in a much more flattering way.

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Diversity lacking on Iowa Democrats' new governing body

Both major parties held district conventions on April 28. One encouraging sign from the Iowa Democratic Party’s proceedings: activists are much more energized this year than usual. Every delegate slot was filled in all four Congressional districts. Quite a few alternates (including myself) did not receive credentials. According to former State Senator Jack Hatch, it was only the second time in 40 years that an IA-03 district convention “packed a full slate of delegates.” State party chair Troy Price observed in a Facebook post, “Typically, in a non-Presidential year it is a struggle to reach quorum, and this year we had more people than spots available.”

All of the district convention delegates elected at county conventions in March are automatically delegates for the state conventions in June. So the main order of business yesterday was choosing members of each party’s State Central Committee.

Both Democrats and Republicans will have lots of new faces on their governing bodies. But Democrats mostly missed an opportunity to elect leaders who reflect the diversity of the party’s base.

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Kim Reynolds quietly signed unconstitutional immigration bill

Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill designed to force Iowa police and sheriffs to assist with federal immigration enforcement.

In so doing, she undermined public safety and constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures–not only for those living in Iowa without legal authorization, but also for immigrants who are lawfully present or even U.S. citizens.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2017 guest authors

Bleeding Heartland published 140 guest posts by 81 authors in 2016, a record since the blog’s creation in 2007.

I’m happy to report that the bar has been raised: 83 authors contributed 164 guest posts to this website during 2017. Their work covered an incredible range of local, statewide, and national topics.

Some contributors drew on their professional expertise and research, writing in a detached and analytical style. Others produced passionate and intensely personal commentaries, sometimes drawing on painful memories or family history.

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Iowa sports announcer: "As Trump would say, go back where they came from"

A northern Iowa radio station has fired two employees for making “insensitive, thoughtless and degrading” comments about high school basketball players with Latino-sounding names. In a statement published this morning, KIOW-FM Radio in Forest City (Winnebago County) condemned the “deplorable” remarks by announcer Orin Harris and an unidentified woman before a recent boys basketball game between Forest City and Eagle Grove (Wright County). UPDATE: KIMT reported that the woman was board operator Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt.

Eagle Grove resident Betty Jo Willard posted what she rightly called the “absolutely appalling!!” clip on Facebook on December 3. The banter illustrates how President Donald Trump has emboldened bigots across the country to express racist views.

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Courts will have the final say over Iowa's voter ID law

New restrictions on voting in Iowa are headed to Governor Terry Branstad after one last party-line vote in the state Senate on Thursday. The final version of House File 516 contains voter ID and signature verification requirements that will surely prevent some eligible voters from having their ballots counted. For more on those barriers, read Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert’s statement enclosed below, testimony from the public hearing in the Iowa House last month, Bleeding Heartland guest posts by representatives of One Iowa and the American Civil Liberties Union, John Deeth’s “deep dig,” and the position paper from Iowa’s Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. That commission took its first-ever stand on pending legislation out of concern House File 516 will “impede access to the voting booth.”

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Iowa House censored video of public hearing on voter ID bill

The topic at hand was supposed to be Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert announcing that he may run for Iowa secretary of state in 2018. In a March 19 press release, Weipert said, “I’ve been meeting with auditors of both parties across the state, and there’s wide agreement we need new leadership in the Secretary of State’s Office. […] We should be helping people vote, not making it harder.” Auditors are the top election administrators in Iowa’s 99 counties. Weipert has been an outspoken critic of Secretary of State Paul Pate’s proposal to enact new voter ID and signature verification requirements. The Republican-controlled Iowa House approved a version of Pate’s bill earlier this month.

Weipert has argued voter ID would disenfranchise some voters and create long lines at polling places. While working on a post about his possible challenge to Pate, I intended to include footage from the Johnson County auditor’s remarks at the March 6 public hearing on House File 516. I’d watched the whole hearing online. However, I couldn’t find Weipert anywhere in the video the Iowa House of Representatives posted on YouTube and on the legislature’s website.

Upon closer examination, I realized the official record of that hearing omitted the testimony of sixteen people, including Weipert.

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Iowa Republicans on voter ID: La la la, we can't hear you

Bare-knuckles partisanship is a running theme of the 2017 Iowa legislative session, so Thursday’s party-line House vote to approve new voting restrictions was unremarkable. Nor was it surprising that Republicans cut off floor debate before members discussed most of the Democratic amendments to House File 516. Before last month, House leaders hadn’t invoked the “time certain” procedural maneuver since March 2011. They’ve used it twice this year already: to destroy collective bargaining rights and now for the bill containing voter ID, signature verification, and other ways to make voting more difficult.

After listening to the March 6 public hearing and about half of the twelve hours House members debated the bill, I was struck by how Republicans stayed on the message we’ve heard from Secretary of State Paul Pate. No one will be unable to vote because of this bill, and everyone who needs a new voter ID card will get one for free.

At the hearing and on the Iowa House floor, numerous speakers offered specific examples of how the GOP proposal could prevent eligible voters from casting a ballot.

They might as well have been talking to a wall.

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Why I am working with the Latino Political Network

Thanks to Hazel Posada for sharing her experience with the Latino Political Network. -promoted by desmoinesdem

My name is Hazel Posada and I currently reside in Des Moines, Iowa. I am student at Des Moines Area Community College and I work full time. I am very passionate about human rights and social justice and helping people in my community the most I can. I’m developing myself personally and professionally as a participant of the class of 2017 Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines.

I am the daughter of immigrant parents who came to this country in the early 1990’s for an opportunity to a better life and a shot at the American dream. My father fled his country of El Salvador from the aftermath of the Civil War between military-led government and political organizations. My mother migrated from Mexico to the U.S. looking for a better quality of life and to escape poverty and government corruption. They have taught me to never give up and always work hard to achieve my goals. Both of them are very supportive in my career goals and push me to be a role model citizen in my community.

Through the Latina Leadership Initiative, I chose to work with Rob Barron and Omar Padilla from the Latino Political Network (LPN) for my community service project. I have always been interested in engaging socially in my community and bringing people together, but the mission and goal of LPN is what brought me to join this organization.

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Weekend open thread: Is Democratic unity possible?

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez will be the first Latino to chair the Democratic National Committee, having won Saturday’s election on the second ballot by 235 votes to 200 for Representative Keith Ellison. Perez immediately moved to name Ellison deputy leader of the party, and delegates approved that motion by acclamation. Soon after, Ellison urged those who “came here supporting me”

to give everything you’ve got to support Chairman Perez. You love this country, you love all the people in it, you care about each and every one of them, urban, rural, suburban, all cultures, all faiths, everybody, and they are in need of your help. And if we waste even a moment going at it over who supported who, we are not going to be standing up for those people. We don’t have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided.

Perez and Ellison then did a joint media appearance, wearing each other’s supporter buttons. Unfortunately, the Facebook comment thread below that video is dominated by angry progressives threatening to leave the party.

I’ve seen similar arguments playing out in several popular Facebook groups for Iowa Democrats, ever since news broke late Friday that Iowa’s voting members of the DNC would support Perez. Many activists who favored Bernie Sanders in the caucuses, including some members of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee, are upset by the unified vote for Perez, considering how many Iowa Democrats backed Ellison. Others felt it was poor form that the SCC didn’t get advance warning before Perez announced the Iowa delegation’s support on Twitter. A few claimed that state party chair Derek Eadon and first vice chair Andrea Phillips had led them to believe they would support Ellison for the DNC job.

More broadly, Democrats in Ellison’s camp were upset by what they perceive as party insiders choosing corporate lobbyists over progressives, failing to grasp the need for reform, attaching too much importance to fundraising, or being afraid of a black Muslim representing the party. The comments in this Bleeding Heartland thread reflect views I’ve seen in many other forums. Apparently the rhetoric is even harsher in some of the “secret” Facebook groups frequented by Iowa Democrats on the Sanders wing.

I understand why so many activists preferred Ellison, but I don’t understand the widespread condemnation of Perez, given his record on labor and civil rights issues. People who have followed his work closely think highly of him. After the jump I’ve posted excerpts from Perez’s official bio, along with the statement Sanders released following the DNC vote.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Yet again this weekend, legislative forums around the state drew hundreds of attendees. I’m always seeking tips on noteworthy remarks by Iowa House or Senate members at public events. If you have an anecdote to share, or better yet a recording, please post a comment in this thread or contact me privately by e-mail at the address near the lower right of this page.

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How Clinton's Iowa campaign is reaching Latino and African-American voters

Pundits agree that Iowa’s demographics give Donald Trump a better chance of winning here than in any other state President Barack Obama carried twice.

However, a growing number of Iowans don’t match stereotypes about our state’s mostly-white electorate.

Hillary Clinton’s Iowa coalitions director, Maryland House Delegate Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk, spoke to Bleeding Heartland this week about the campaign’s outreach to Latino and African-American communities. Peña-Melnyk has put 6,000 miles on her car since August, traveling from Council Bluffs to Columbus Junction and many places in between.

Even in this overwhelmingly white state, a strong turnout among Latino and African-American voters could swing a close election.

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Weekend open thread: Depressing news, inspiring news

What’s on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: Some exceptionally sad news caught my eye recently:

A new investigation by the Associated Press and the USA Today network found that in the first six months of 2016, children aged 17 or younger “died from accidental shootings — at their own hands, or at the hands of other children or adults — at a pace of one every other day, far more than limited federal statistics indicate.” Alaska and Louisiana had the highest rates of accidental child shooting. A separate feature in the series focused on three incidents that killed two teenage girls and seriously injured another in Tama County, Iowa.

Government research on accidental gun deaths is nearly non-existent, because more than two decades ago, the National Rifle Association persuaded Congress to defund gun research by the Centers for Disease Control.

Meanwhile, the AP’s Scott McFetridge reported last week on the growing hunger problem in Storm Lake. The problem isn’t lack of jobs–the local unemployment rate is quite low–but a lack of livable wages. Iowa-born economist Austin Frerick mentioned Storm Lake and other towns dominated by meatpacking plants in his guest post here a few months ago: Big Meat, Small Towns: The Free Market Rationale for Raising Iowa’s Minimum Wage.

I enclose below excerpts from all of those stories, along with some good news from the past week:

The African-American Hall of Fame announced four new inductees, who have done incredible work in higher education, criminal justice, community organizing, and the practice of law.

Planned Parenthood marked the 100th anniversary of the first birth control clinic opening in the country on October 16. Click here for a timeline of significant events in the organization’s history.

Drake University Biology Professor Thomas Rosburg will receive this year’s Lawrence and Eula Hagie Heritage Award from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Rosburg is a legend among Iowans who care about native plants, wetlands, and prairie restoration.

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Iowa House district 72 preview: Dean Fisher vs. Nathan Wrage

When the dust settled after the 2012 general election, I was frustrated to see how close Iowa Democrats came to winning back the Iowa House majority. Democratic candidates picked up seven GOP-held state House seats that year, but lost half a dozen other races by extremely narrow margins, leaving Republicans with 53 of the 100 seats in the lower chamber.

One of the “seats that got away” was House district 72, where Dean Fisher beat Nathan Wrage by only 216 votes in an open seat due to GOP State Representative Lance Horbach’s retirement. President Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney by about 3 percentage points among voters in the district.

The GOP expanded its Iowa House majority to 57-43 in the 2014 midterm election, but many state legislative seats are competitive this year, putting control of the chamber in play. As Wrage challenges Fisher again, Democrats won’t repeat their 2012 mistake of not targeting this race.

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Joaquin Castro will headline the Iowa Democratic Party's "2016 Gala"

Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas will be the “special guest speaker” at the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2016 Gala, formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, according to invitations that arrived in many Democrats’ mailboxes today. Tickets for the October 14 event at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines (formerly Veterans Auditorium) are available online as well.

Castro represented a San Antonio district for five terms in the Texas legislature before being elected to the U.S. House for the first time in 2012. The Progressive Punch database rates his voting record as the 112th most progressive among current House members. The same database ranks Iowa’s Representative Dave Loebsack 152nd.

Castro spoke about his family’s immigration story and Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. I enclose below parts of that speech, background on Castro’s career, and excerpts from his entertaining essay for the Texas Monthly about his first year in Congress. That piece went viral mainly because the author recounted that in 2013, he heard then-House Speaker John Boehner refer to Iowa’s own Representative Steve King as an “asshole.”

This summer, Castro confirmed he will consider running against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in 2018.

His identical twin brother, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, is a former mayor of San Antonio and delivered the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (transcript here). He was on Hillary Clinton’s short list for vice president.

P.S.-I’m still not happy Iowa Democratic Party leaders turned the Jefferson-Jackson dinner into a generic “gala,” which could refer to any fancy fundraiser. They could have honored any number of inspiring Democratic figures with a name more appropriate for what should be a celebration of shared political values.

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Steve King, champion of integration?

When it comes to racially divisive public statements, few members of Congress are in Representative Steve King’s league, and Donald Trump surpasses every presidential candidate of the last half-century aside from George Wallace. Yet King strongly objects to critics who would portray him or Trump as racist. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported yesterday on King’s interview with a Fort Dodge-based radio station:

“And now we’ve got the Congressional Black Caucus here in Washington, DC, today will be leading a protest and they have declared Donald Trump to be a racist. Now, why are they the authority on that?” the Iowa congressman said on KVFD AM1400 radio in Iowa. “I call them the self-segregating caucus, and so, they long ago moved away from the integration that we really need in this country.”

Click through to hear the audio clip and read more comments from King. He’s still bent out of shape over African-American journalist April Ryan confronting him in July about his assertion that white people had contributed “more to civilization” than had “other categories of people.”

King is uncomfortable with black people calling attention to systemic racism, whether they be farmers who sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over decades-long discrimination policies or a football player declining to stand during the national anthem. In a classic example of what psychologists call projection or scapegoating, King labels African Americans “divisive” if they want an important historical figure to be represented on currency, and considers public discussion of police misconduct grounded in racism to be “anti-white.” Yet he considers it appropriate to display a Confederate flag on his desk in the halls of Congress.

Some Congressional Black Caucus members literally put their lives on the line to integrate public spaces in this country. Yet King would have us believe the caucus is a force of racial divisions because its members object to Trump’s manifold racist comments. King’s remarks to KVFD reminded me of a Gallup poll from the summer of 1963. During that critically important time for the civil rights movement, some 60 percent of respondents nationwide said “mass demonstrations by Negroes” are “more likely to hurt the Negro’s cause for racial equality.” Talk about projecting blame and responsibility “towards a target person or group.”

Final thought: King posturing as a supporter of “the integration that we really need” will be news to many of his constituents. Iowa’s fourth Congressional district includes many counties with large Latino populations. Those families are keeping schools and local businesses viable in numerous cities and towns. But that hasn’t stopped King from disparaging Spanish-speaking immigrants and their children as drug mules, or from trying to restrict birthright citizenship to exclude children of people who came to this country illegally.

UPDATE: Added below an image King tweeted on September 23, in which references to NFL player Colin Kaepernick and police officers were replaced with “King” and “Muslim” to highlight what King called “the contradictions of political Correctness.”

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Where Iowa's Latino, African-American, and Asian-American voters are

Iowa is at more risk of swinging to Donald Trump than any other state President Barack Obama carried twice. Demographics go a long way toward explaining why.

Compared to most battleground states, Iowa has a less diverse population. About 86.7 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, according to the latest census data. Roughly a quarter of Iowans at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. Polls have indicated race and education levels are strongly correlated with support for Trump or Hillary Clinton, with non-college-educated whites among the strongest voting blocs for the Republican.

On the flip side, numerous polls have found very low levels of support for Trump among Latino, African-American, and Asian-American voters.

Traditionally, Americans in those groups have voted at lower rates than have non-Hispanic whites. But it would be a mistake to discount their impact, even in this overwhelmingly white state. Al Gore won Iowa by just 4,144 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast in 2000. Four years later, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by just 10,059 votes out of more than 1.5 million cast.

A strong GOTV campaign aimed at minority voters who support Clinton (or at least despise Trump) could mobilize enough Iowans to change the statewide outcome.

Follow me after the jump to see where organizers and volunteers for the Iowa Democratic “coordinated campaign” will likely concentrate those efforts.

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Breaking Iowa Democratic hearts, Hillary Clinton picks Tim Kaine for VP

Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced a few minutes ago that U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a former mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia, willge the Democratic candidate for vice president. Kaine’s been the front-runner for the job all along, by virtue of his extensive political experience, stature in a swing state, good ties with the business community, and fluency in Spanish.

I suspect that the Bernie Sanders endorsement last week, combined with the mostly disastrous Republican National Convention, gave Clinton confidence to make a “safe” choice, rather than someone who would excite our party’s base, like Senator Elizabeth Warren or even Senator Cory Booker. Too bad Ohio has a Republican governor, otherwise Senator Sherrod Brown would have been an ideal running mate. Some pundits are calling Kaine a “governing pick,” someone Clinton feels comfortable working with for the next four or eight years, as opposed to the person who can do the most to boost her campaign over the next four months.

Of all the people Clinton was considering, Kaine arouses the most antipathy from the Sanders wing for various reasons. His vocal support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is just one of the problems. Kaine’s defenders point to his perfect voting record in the Senate on reproductive rights and LGBT equality, his near-perfect record on labor issues, his background as a civil rights attorney, and numerous accomplishments as governor. He is not outside the Democratic Party’s mainstream. On the other hand, the Progressive Punch database ranks Kaine the 40th most progressive among the 46 current senators who caucus with Democrats.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was repeatedly named in news reports and commentaries about Clinton’s short list. He’s got an inspiring personal story and developed a tremendous grasp of public policy over his long career in local, state and federal government. By all accounts, he and Clinton get along very well, having been acquainted since Clinton became friends with Christie Vilsack’s brother Tom Bell during the 1970s. Like Kaine, he has a reputation for making few mistakes. I regret that Clinton didn’t choose Vilsack, though I would have been equally happy with Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

No one is more disappointed tonight than the Iowa Democrats who know Vilsack best. Sometimes in politics, you hear how so-and-so big shot elected official was a nightmare to work for. You never hear those stories about Vilsack. On the contrary, the former Vilsack staffers I know rave about how knowledgeable, thorough, caring, engaging, and funny he was.

Then First Lady Clinton came through for Vilsack at a critical time during his underdog 1998 gubernatorial campaign. I have no doubt she will tap him for an important job if she is elected president. Iowans will see plenty of Vilsack on the trail this fall as a supporter of Clinton and down-ticket candidates.

Any thoughts about Kaine or the presidential race generally are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added below some comments from Iowa Democrats to the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble and Brianne Pfannenstiel.

SECOND UPDATE: Embedded below the video from the first joint campaign appearance by Clinton and Kaine, in Miami on July 23. His stump speech is worth watching in full; it was remarkably well constructed and delivered. I see more clearly now what this “happy warrior” could bring to the ticket. He wove together personal details, policy accomplishments, and a clear contrast between Clinton’s vision for the country and Donald Trump’s. I didn’t know much about Kaine’s legal work to combat housing discrimination, or that he and his wife sent their kids to public schools. If he does as well at the DNC on Wednesday night, Republicans should be worried.

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Democrats nominate Ryan Drew to face David Kerr in Iowa House district 88

Local Democrats have nominated Ryan Drew to run in Iowa House district 88, which became a potentially competitive race when House Ways and Means Committee Chair Tom Sands decided not to seek re-election. Drew was unopposed at the July 14 special district nominating convention. Bleeding Heartland posted background on the longtime labor activist from the Burlington area when he announced his campaign last month.

Drew will face David Kerr in November. I never did hear a good explanation for why Republicans nominated Kerr with as little publicity as possible, instead of Jason Delzell, the early establishment GOP candidate to succeed Sands.

House district 88 includes most of Des Moines County outside the cities of Burlington and West Burlington, all of Louisa County, and a large area in Muscatine County, not including the city of Muscatine. I enclose a district map below.

Both parties are likely to target this race. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, House district 88 contains 5,594 active registered Democrats, 6,388 Republicans, and 6,801 no-party voters. President Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney here by 50.9 percent to 47.9 percent in 2012. Antipathy to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump could become a factor in the large Latino communities of West Liberty and Columbus Junction.

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Take Back Muscatine

When Diana Broderson decided last year to run for mayor of Muscatine, she thought that her many years in the community and working in family programs at the YMCA would bring a unique perspective to the city, one mainly focused on reducing poverty and on creating a family-focused community. As it turned out, the majority of voters agreed. Mayor Broderson won by eight points over the incumbent mayor, garnering more votes than anyone else on the ballot in the City.

But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

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State Senator David Johnson joins #NeverTrump camp (updated)

“Mark me down as Never Trump,” State Senator David Johnson said today, becoming the most prominent Iowa Republican elected official to renounce the presumptive presidential nominee. The longtime Senate incumbent told the Des Moines Register’s William Petroski he became a no-party voter because of Donald Trump’s “racist remarks and judicial jihad.”

“I will not stand silent if the party of Lincoln and the end of slavery buckles under the racial bias of a bigot,” Johnson said, referring to Trump. His criticism was prompted by Trump’s comments that a judge presiding over a lawsuit involving his business was biased because of his Mexican heritage. […]

“If Mr. Trump is the nominee, he becomes the standard bearer for a party that’s on the verge of breaking apart. He simply cannot unify the GOP. If there is a profound split, I’ll gladly re-join Republicans who are dedicated to equality and justice for all, and let Mr. Trump lead his supporters over the cliff,” Johnson said. […]

“There are consequences to the decision to suspend, for now, my Republican registration. I am fully aware of that,” Johnson said. “As I have for the past 18 years, I will put a high priority on constituent service. Many of the voters who elected me are supporting Mr. Trump. I respect that, but disagree that he is qualified to lead the nation and the free world.”

Johnson represents one of the most heavily Republican state Senate districts, covering five counties in northwest Iowa. Ted Cruz carried two of those counties (Lyon and Osceola) by a relatively wide margin, while Trump carried the other three (Dickinson, Clay, and Palo Alto) by slim margins. Johnson endorsed former Texas Governor Rick Perry for president in early 2015, eventually backing Carly Fiorina last October.

Conservation funding aside, I rarely find myself in agreement with Johnson. But kudos to him for speaking out while Senator Chuck Grassley, Governor Terry Branstad, and others tried to sidestep Trump’s steadfast assertion that a federal judge is biased because “he’s Mexican.”

UPDATE: A reader asked whether Johnson had endorsed Representative Steve King’s re-election, given King’s long history of offensive statements regarding Latinos. Johnson was not on the list of state legislative supporters the King campaign released on May 24.

King himself has not yet endorsed Trump, for reasons unrelated to the presidential candidate’s comments about immigrants.

SECOND UPDATE: Added below excerpts from Johnson’s interview with Ben Jacobs of The Guardian.

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How much lower can Donald Trump go?

Though presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says something outrageous on almost a daily basis, I can’t get over his incredibly offensive comments this week about U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel. On Thursday he said out loud that a judge should not hear the case involving alleged fraud by one of his companies, because Curiel’s “Mexican heritage” creates “an absolute conflict.”

Trump doubled down in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday. Media Matters posted the partial transcript, and I’ve enclosed excerpts below. Trump repeatedly asserted he has been “treated very unfairly” by Judge Curiel, because “I’m building a wall” along the Mexican border. He called Curiel “Mexican” even though the judge is a native-born U.S. citizen and repeatedly said the judge is “proud of his heritage,” as if that should be disqualifying. He also claimed the case involving Trump University should have been over two years ago–but if that’s the case, what does the wall have to do with it? Trump only started talking about the border wall last year, as a presidential candidate.

I’ve never heard Republican strategist Ana Navarro sound as angry as she did while talking about these comments on CNN yesterday. Her kicker: “what he is doing is disgusting. I am livid about it, and if this is his strategy to win over Hispanics, he’s got a hell of a wake-up call coming to him come November.”

In early 2013, the Republican National Committee published its Growth & Opportunity Project, better known as the so-called “autopsy” on Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential campaign. A key point in that document concerned the need for Republicans to do a better job appealing to Latino voters. It’s hard to conceive of a candidate more alienating to that demographic than Trump. This week, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns reported for the New York Times that Ruth Guerra is resigning as head of the RNC’s Hispanic media relations because she did not want to work for Trump. Adrian Carrasquillo reported for Buzzfeed that Guerra’s replacement Helen Aguirre Ferré has been “very critical of Trump in a multitude of Spanish-language interviews” and wrote in now-deleted Tweets that she was #NeverTrump.

Every Iowa Republican who has promised to support Trump should be held accountable for the GOP standard-bearer’s bigoted view of a federal judge. Let’s start with Senator Chuck Grassley, who is preventing President Barack Obama from filling a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy in the hope that Trump will be able to name Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor. Does Grassley think whole ethnic groups should be disqualified from hearing certain kinds of cases?

UPDATE: Several prominent Republicans have condemned Trump’s remarks about Curiel, Dan Balz reported for the Washington Post. One of them was Newt Gingrich: “I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care, […] His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.” Maybe a Trump/Newt ticket isn’t the perfect match I thought it would be. LATER UPDATE: On June 6 Trump said on Fox News, “as far as Newt is concerned, I saw Newt, I was surprised at Newt, I thought it was inappropriate what he said.”

SECOND UPDATE: Grassley didn’t condemn Trump’s remarks during his meetings in meetings in three towns on June 3 as part of his 99-county tour. Asked to comment by Pat Rynard, Grassley said, “It would help him very much to be elected President of the U.S. if he would be a little more mild in his demeanor.” In other words, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee has nothing to say about the substance of Trump’s beliefs about a federal judge’s ethnicity as disqualifying. But Grassley wishes Trump would display a different “demeanor” to improve his chances of winning the November election. Weak.

At Grassley’s Humboldt even, he dodged a question from someone else about Trump’s comments: “And the other point your brought up about what he says about a judge, I’ve already answered that–there’s a process for anybody that doesn’t like the judge you have, you think that judge isn’t going to be fair, you can file a petition. And if you file a petition that a judge should get out, and that judge says you shouldn’t get out, then you’ve got a right to appeal that to a higher court and get fair judgment that way.” Again, he did not address the central issue: the Republican candidate believes a judge whose parents came to this country from Mexico cannot be impartial.

Meanwhile, Trump refused to back down during a June 5 appearance on the CBS show “Face the Nation.” Now he says it’s “common sense” that being “proud of his heritage” is why Judge Curiel “not treating me fairly.” Furthermore, Trump told John Dickerson, it’s “possible” that a Muslim judge also would not be able to treat him fairly in court.

THIRD UPDATE: Added below some of Governor Terry Branstad’s outrageous comments on the story.

FOURTH UPDATE: Grassley spoke further about the subject to Roll Call’s Bridget Bowman. Excerpts are below.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature (post-filing edition)

Now that the deadline to compete in the Democratic or Republican primaries has passed, the field of candidates is set in most of the 100 Iowa House districts and 25 Iowa Senate districts that will be on the ballot this fall.

It’s time for a first look at chances to increase diversity in the state legislature for the next two years. The proportion of white lawmakers is unlikely to change, while the proportion of women could move in either direction.

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Nevada Democratic caucuses discussion thread

Nevada Democrats are caucusing this afternoon in a state where Hillary Clinton has built up a stronger organization but Bernie Sanders is perceived to have growing momentum. After the lopsided New Hampshire primary results, Clinton probably needs a strong finish in Nevada more than Sanders does before the Democratic race moves to South Carolina on February 27 and more than a dozen contests happen during the first week of March.

Results among Latino caucus-goers will be particularly scrutinized today. Some national polling suggests Sanders has nearly closed the gap with Clinton among Latinos since the Iowa caucuses. Paul Lewis and Maria L La Ganga reported for The Guardian on “why Latinos in Nevada are switching to Bernie Sanders.” NBC’s Victoria Defrancesco Soto covered some facts about the Latino population in Nevada. Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo noted the key opening for Sanders: “49% of Hispanics in Nevada [are] between 18-35 years old.” I enclose below excerpts from those pieces, but encourage you to click through and read the originals.

I will update this post as needed with Nevada results. For those who put stock in entrance polls (I don’t), CBS News says Clinton has a slight lead, and Jon Ralston explains why the demographics may favor Clinton. Turnout seems to be high, with long lines outside some caucus sites and at some locations on the Las Vegas strip designed to help casino workers participate. Some shift workers gave up waiting, concerned about getting docked if they were late to return to work.

Any comments about the Democratic presidential race are welcome in this thread; I’ll put up a separate thread later for talking about the South Carolina Republican primary.

UPDATE: Clinton won by approximately a 5-point margin, thanks to her strength in Clark County. Many cross-tabs from entrance polling are here. But beware: Although entrance polling suggested that Sanders was winning Latino voters, the results from precincts with a large Latino population tell a different story. Clinton appears to have maintained her strong advantage with African-American voters, which is a good sign for her going into next weekend’s contest in South Carolina.

Turnout seems to have dropped more sharply in Nevada than in Iowa. The 2008 Nevada caucus turnout was around 120,000, and early projections suggest approximately 80,000 participated today. Some 239,000 Iowans participated in the 2008 caucuses, compared to about 171,000 this year.

CBS has posted results here and exit poll data here.

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Two views of efforts to increase Latino participation in the Iowa caucuses

The National Journal’s Matt Vasilogambros had a productive visit to Iowa recently. His feature on how immigration raids in 2006 affected the Latino community in Marshalltown is a must-read. Do click through, but prepare to be disheartened by stories of families broken apart and impacts that went far beyond the undocumented immigrants who were swept up in the raids at the Swift & Co. meat­pack­ing plant.

Vasilogambros also followed up on his story from last summer on “Why Latinos Don’t Caucus in Iowa” with a new look at the relatively poor outreach by presidential campaigns to the growing number of potential Latino caucus-goers.

If Latino participation in the February 1 caucuses exceeds the record set in 2008, credit will be due primarily to the League of United Latin American Citizens chapter in Iowa. Adrian Carrasquillo reported for Buzzfeed earlier this month on LULAC’s campaign. Highlights from both articles are after the jump.

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New report belies Steve King's scaremongering on immigration

Representative Steve King owes much of his political notoriety to hyping alleged threats posed by immigrants. From being the Iowa legislature’s leading advocate for an “official English” law to sparking a national uproar over his claim that there are 100 drug mules for every “DREAMer” who’s a valedictorian, King is a voice for those who believe immigrants–particularly Hispanic immigrants and their progeny–may drag the U.S. down to “Third World status.” His official Congressional website features a section on “illegal immigration stories,” highlighting violent crimes committed by people not authorized to live in this country. He is the primary Congressional sponsor of legislation to end birthright citizenship, a stance that is becoming more mainstream in the Republican Party. He led the successful fight to prevent DREAMers covered under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from enlisting in the U.S. military.

Yet a new report on “The Integration of Immigrants into American Society” belies most of King’s scaremongering about demographic shifts in the U.S. population. Julia Preston summarized the report’s highlights for the New York Times.

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CNN agrees to stop calling some immigrants "illegals"

CNN responded quickly yesterday to an appeal from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the advocacy group Define American to “modernize and improve the accuracy of its editorial guidelines and discontinue the use of the word ‘illegal’ when referring to undocumented immigrants.” From a statement released on September 14, two days before CNN broadcasts the second Republican presidential debate:

“NAHJ is concerned with CNN, CBS News and other news organizations use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11.7 million undocumented people living in the United States,” said Mekahlo Medina, NAHJ President. “NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word ‘illegals’ as a noun, shorthand for ‘illegal aliens.’ Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use ‘illegals’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ in headlines.”

The statement also noted that the term “illegal” to describe immigrants is “factually flawed. Being in the U.S. without proper documents is a civil offense, not a criminal one.” Griselda Nevarez reported for NBC News,

On Monday night, Medina wrote that CNN had informed the journalist group that it will re-issue guidelines to their editorial departments regarding the term “illegals” as well as “illegal immigrants.”

“The word illegal alone should never be used as a standalone noun to refer to individuals with documented or undocumented immigration status,” said Geraldine Morida, Vice President of Diversity for CNN, to NAHJ.

Define American and the NAHJ are now turning their attention to the New York Times, saying a review had found hundreds of examples of the newspaper using the term “illegal immigrant” in the past year. Unlike the Associated Press guidelines for covering immigration-related stories, the New York Times does not ban the use of “illegal immigrant” but “encourages reporters and editors to ‘consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions.’”

I noticed that Define American and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists praise the example set by AP, but also suggest that journalists use the terms “undocumented immigrant” or “undocumented American”–which are no-nos, according to the AP Stylebook.

Pejorative language in news coverage of immigrants who entered or remain in the U.S. without legal permission is a pet peeve for me, and I applaud efforts to raise awareness of the problem. I encourage Bleeding Heartland readers to watch for and alert me to any Iowa media reports referring to “illegals” outside of a direct quotation from a newsmaker.

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Rick Perry takes shots at Donald Trump while suspending campaign

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry deviated from his stump speech yesterday when addressing the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, telling the audience that while God’s will “remains a mystery,” some things “have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.” He didn’t need to spell out what has been clear for more than a month: Perry lacked the resources to pay for a full campaign staff and ranked too low in the polls to get on the main Republican debate stage.

I would never have guessed that a longtime Texas governor would have trouble raising enough money to be competitive through the early presidential caucuses and primaries.

You can read the full text of Perry’s speech on his campaign website. I enclose below what struck me as the most important passages. Without mentioning Donald Trump’s name, Perry warned against nominating a candidate who sounds just like the current GOP front-runner.

If Perry’s former Iowa campaign chair Sam Clovis had stuck it out, he would now be free to sign on with another candidate without looking like an opportunistic hypocrite. I am in rare agreement with The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson: “loyalty shouldn’t be so rare in politics,” so “only sign on with a campaign if you are really committed to your candidate’s cause.”  

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WHO Radio host Jan Mickelson stands by illegal and illogical immigration plan

When life imitates The Onion: a talk radio host with one of Iowa’s largest listening audiences believes he has devised the perfect method to drive away immigrants living here without authorization. All we need to do is “put up some signs” warning that after a certain date, people “who cannot demonstrate their legal status” will “become property of the State of Iowa,” forced to do labor on behalf of the state.

WHO Radio’s Jan Mickelson elaborated on his idea Wednesday in an interview with Media Matters. It’s a remarkable read.

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Steve King's stand on birthright citizenship more mainstream than ever in GOP

Just four years ago, Representative Steve King’s commitment to ending birthright citizenship was considered such a political liability for Republicans that King was passed over to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration.

Now a growing number of Republican presidential candidates would end birthright citizenship for children born to parents not authorized to live in the U.S. In fact, GOP presidential contenders who share King’s perspective outnumber those who are willing to defend current law, which has been settled for more than a century.

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Long past time for media to stop calling people "illegals"

Actions can be illegal. People are not illegal. Which is why I was disappointed to see yet another reference to “illegals” in a Radio Iowa headline this week.

The news service has substantial agenda-setting power in the Iowa media world, with more than 50 affiliate stations around the state. Over the years, too many Radio Iowa reports have applied the word “illegal” to people, either in headlines (“Marion Mayor wants police to track down illegals”) or when paraphrasing a politician (“[Rick Perry] says the federal resources have to be used in the right way to stop the inflow of illegals”). While Representative Steve King is famous for applying dehumanizing language to people who didn’t immigrate through legal channels, that’s no excuse for headlines like “Congressman King says Gang of Eight bill is almost complete amnesty for illegals.”

Even when the newsmaker used more appropriate language, Radio Iowa has sometimes fallen back on stigmatizing shorthand. Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino spoke about driver’s licenses for “foreign nationals,” but Radio Iowa’s headline read, “DOT won’t approve licenses for illegals on deferred action status.” When the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa promised to “vigorously pursue all legal options to change” DOT policy, noting that people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status “are authorized to be here by the federal government,” Radio Iowa’s headline read, “Iowa ACLU will try to overturn DOT’s ruling on licenses for illegals.”

The latest example involved a story titled, “Senator Grassley wants action on Cuban illegals with criminal records” (a screenshot is after the jump). A few hours after I called attention to the issue, the headline was revised to “Senator Grassley wants action on Cuban ‘aliens’ with criminal records.” Here’s hoping Radio Iowa will enact new editorial standards, perhaps drawing on Associated Press or New York Times guidelines for covering such stories.

Note: neither the AP nor the New York Times approves of “undocumented immigrants,” a term advocacy groups (and Bleeding Heartland) use regularly. The news organizations prefer descriptive phrasing such as “someone living in a country without legal permission,” or “someone who enters, lives in or works in the United States without proper legal authorization.”  

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Two perspectives on "Why Latinos don't caucus in Iowa"

This week’s must-read piece for any Iowa politics watcher is by Matt Vasilogambros for the National Journal: “Why Latinos Don’t Caucus in Iowa.” The short answer: “no one asked them.” You should click through to read the fuller explanation. I’ve posted a few excerpts after the jump.

I also enclose below comments from Christian Ucles on Vasilogambros’s article. A native of Honduras who grew up in Iowa, Ucles has worked on campaigns in Texas and Minnesota as well as in our state. He is currently the political director for the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.  

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Weekend open thread: "Demographics are destiny" edition

All topics are welcome in this open thread. Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) inspired the unifying theme of this weekend’s post, when he approvingly linked to this recent article by Heather Mac Donald called “Practical Thoughts on Immigration.” King commented, “USA declining 2 Third World status bc shrinking %age who would reverse course don’t realize demographics r destiny.” At this writing, King has not responded to my request that he clarify whether he meant to say that a U.S. where non-Hispanic whites are a minority would inevitably sink to “Third World status.”

Meanwhile, the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that immigration contributed greatly to Iowa’s population growth of 2 percent between 2010 and July 1, 2014.

After the jump I’ve enclosed a map showing the latest Iowa county population estimates, some links on the Census Bureau data, and excerpts from Mac Donald’s commentary, which struck a chord with King.

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About 15,000 Iowans could be protected under new immigration policy

About 15,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa will be eligible for deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s latest executive order on immigration, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis. Iowa is home to an estimated 40,000 unauthorized immigrants (roughly 1.35 percent of the state’s population). Of those, Pew Center researchers estimate that about 5,000 people became eligible for deportation relief under Obama’s 2012 executive order regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Another 15,000 Iowans could receive deportation relief under the policy the president announced last week. A much larger number of Iowans stand to benefit from having the threat of deportation temporarily lifted from friends or relatives who are undocumented immigrants.

Click here to view a table showing how many people could be affected by the new immigration policy in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Jens Manuel Krogstad, a writer and editor at the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, and Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, collaborated on the new analysis.

Since last week, I’ve been wondering how unauthorized immigrants could find out whether the new executive order applies to them, without running the risk of deportation in case the answer is no. Madeline Cano, a community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, told me that the application process for deportation relief will begin in May 2015. She said the Administrative Relief Resource Center is “the most reliable resource” on the subject. Using information from that website, Iowa CCI and other advocacy groups created documents in English and Spanish that cover the basics on Obama’s executive action. I’ve enclosed those documents after the jump.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: At the end of this post I added excerpts from this Des Moines Register op-ed by Joe Henry, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.  

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Two views of changing Iowa demographics

Today’s Des Moines Register features a long front-page story by Daniel Finney and Jeffrey Kummer on Storm Lake (Buena Vista County) as one of Iowa’s most diverse communities, and expected trends in the state’s demographics between now and 2020. I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing. After the jump I’ve enclosed a few excerpts and one graphic from the feature. Separate, shorter pieces examine diversity trends in the Des Moines metro area (Polk and Dallas counties), Webster County (including the Fort Dodge area), and Butler County (the least diverse in Iowa).  

On Monday, Michael Barbaro of the New York Times examined Iowa’s population shift from rural to urban and suburban areas as “a potent but unpredictable undercurrent in a closely fought Senate race.” I’ve enclosed a few excerpts at the end of this post. Barbaro interviewed people northwest Iowa’s heavily white Pocahontas County, as well as in downtown Des Moines, the far western suburbs in Dallas County, and Denison (Crawford County), a town where almost half the residents are Latino.

I spent some time in Denison last fall and was impressed by the vibrant downtown, with more locally-owned shops and restaurants than I’ve seen in most Iowa towns of similar size. One resident told me that approximately 75 percent of students in Denison’s public schools are Latino. That has helped the area avoid the steep enrollment declines and school closures seen in Pocahontas, as Barbaro recounts, and in so many other communities.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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To the Iowans defending Steve King: It's not about you

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told a New York audience on Monday

that his party needed to abandon a strategy of appealing to “older white guys” and that it “doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to understand that demography matters in politics. […]

Republicans can’t win new voters “by narrowing your party and purifying your party and all this nonsense,” he said.

And he blasted some of the rhetoric from congressional Republicans against immigration, such as Iowa Rep. Steve King as “shameful and so insulting … [it’s] totally out of the mainstream of conservative thought.”

Iowa blogger Shane Vander Hart fumes,

If [Bush] is running in 2016 then he’s running a clinic on how to guarantee one loses the Iowa Caucus.

First lesson if you want to lose attack Congressman Steve King (R-IA).  […] The grassroots identify with Congressman King and his position on the issues. So when Bush takes a crack at him in New York of all places… well that shows he lacks the sense to run a successful campaign in Iowa.

I doubt Jeb Bush is focused on winning the Iowa caucuses. I think he’s focused on the GOP not losing presidential elections until the end of time.

Winning the presidency is not about pandering to social conservatives in Iowa. Republicans can’t win just by improving their performance among white voters. They need more support from fast-growing demographic groups. Specifically, as Bush knows very well, they need to do better among Latino voters in Florida. King may have won the battle against comprehensive immigration reform, but his national prominence on this issue is a nightmare for Republican strategists.  

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Steve King faction winning immigration battle in House GOP?

One of Representative Steve King’s top priorities this year is blocking comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House. A few months ago, King was concerned that House GOP leaders might cut a deal including “amnesty” for  approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants. He condemned the immigration reform bill U.S. senators approved last month with bipartisan support.

News out of Washington during the last week suggests that King’s faction may be on the way to winning their battle to block any legislation outlining a path to citizenship.  

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ACLU of Iowa and LULAC restart Voter Suppression Lawsuit against Iowa Secretary of State

(The full statement from the ACLU of Iowa and Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens is here. Schultz confirmed earlier this year that he planned to enact the new rules, but did not call attention to the issue this week.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

March 29, 2013 

The ACLU of Iowa and Iowa LULAC today restarted their lawsuit to stop the Secretary of State from an unreliable process to remove registered voters if they cannot prove their U.S. citizenship within a limited time.

The ACLU of Iowa and the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) filed papers in Polk County District court today, renewing their lawsuit against two rules filed by the Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz that the groups say wrongly restrict voting by qualified Iowans.

One rule would have allowed unverified challenges to another voter’s qualifications. The Secretary of State eventually voluntarily withdrew that rule. The other rule, which took effect yesterday, allows the Secretary of State to run Iowa’s registered voters through numerous federal databases to attempt to generate a list of non-citizens.

The ACLU and LULAC say that the Secretary of State was never authorized by the Iowa legislature to put his Voter Removal Rule forward, and that it will erroneously deprive qualified citizens in Iowa of their right to vote. The ACLU and LULAC cite problems with running the registered voter lists through the federal SAVE system, as well as a lack of procedural checks to protect voters once they are identified.



Bill Richardson Roundup: June 23-30, 2007 News Review

Highlighting his considerable foreign expertise, Governor Bill Richardson last week set forth a path to avoiding military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. Richardson called on Bush administration to stop threatening Iran with “incendiary rhetoric,” and instead recognize our interests in engaging Iran diplomatically.

Richardson's week ended with a well-received speech before Latino leaders in Florida. Decrying the tone of the debate in the Senate on the immigration bill and how Latinos are portrayed in the media, Richardson asked:

Do you notice that when they depict immigrants, they have someone crossing a wall, jumping as if they are criminals? How about the farmers who break their backs working or those who are cleaning the toilets and working at the hotel where we stay? How about the American media covering the immigrant who died protecting his country?

Also of note, Pollster.com added Richardson to its Top Democrats charts, joining Clinton, Obama and Edwards. Charles Franklin of Pollster.com stated, “For other Democratic candidates, we've not seen a substantial upturn anywhere. Richardson stands alone in that respect at the moment.”

For a full review of Richardson's week, continue reading.

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