IA-01: Under growing pressure, Rod Blum channels Donald Trump

As signs mount that national GOP strategists are ready to let his district go, two-term Representative Rod Blum seems to be staking his political career on appealing to fans of President Donald Trump.

While some vulnerable Republicans keep their distance from an unpopular president, Blum welcomed Trump to Iowa’s first Congressional district in July and continues to praise trade policies that hurt the farm economy. More recently, he has sought attention by portraying himself as the news media’s victim.

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Latest Des Moines Register casualty: prep football fans

Ira Lacher shares his perspective on an unpleasant surprise waiting for many Des Moines Register readers on Saturday, August 25. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I was assistant sports editor of the Des Moines Register for four and a half years in the mid-1980s. As my soon-to-be bosses, sports editor Mike Wegner and managing editor Arnie Garson, explained to me during my application interview, if there was one thing that distinguished the Register as “The Newspaper Iowans Depend Upon,” it was our unparalleled coverage of Iowa high school sports.

The second-most important night of the week, besides Saturday night, when we produced The Big Peach sports section, was Friday night during high school football season. We labored mightily to get the scores and stories in from all around Iowa, beginning first with the out-state editions, and ending with the Golden Circle and Des Moines metro results.

So, imagine my shock when I saw the blurb in last Saturday’s paper saying that if you wanted to read about high school football coverage in print, wait for Sunday’s paper!

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Why did Kim Reynolds dodge questions about her Iowa Supreme Court choice?

Governor Kim Reynolds will hold less frequent press conferences for the duration of this year’s campaign, her staff acknowledged this week after persistent questioning by political reporter Barbara Rodriguez. The governor’s spokesperson downplayed the significance of abandoning the weekly presser, an Iowa tradition Governor Bob Ray established and Terry Branstad and Tom Vilsack maintained. All public events on Reynolds’ schedule would provide opportunities for journalists to ask questions, Rodriguez was told on July 31.

That promise didn’t hold up well. The very next day, Reynolds read carefully from written remarks when announcing District Court Judge Susan Christensen as her choice for the Iowa Supreme Court. Christensen briefly thanked her family, friends, and colleagues, and promised to support the constitution. End scene, with no question time for the assembled media. The governor’s staff also ignored my written inquiry related to the Supreme Court appointment.

It’s not hard to guess why Reynolds would block journalists from asking her or Christensen about the process for selecting the first new justice to join Iowa’s high court in seven and a half years.

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Cartoon: The fine print

Robert Niederklopfer, a Democratic activist in Des Moines, was inspired to draw this commentary after President Donald Trump condemned the massacre of reporters and editors at the The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, saying, “journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs.” Trump has repeatedly called the media “the enemy of the people” and has sometimes incited supporters at his rallies to bash journalists or news organizations. -promoted by desmoinesdem

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3 hopes for Des Moines Register chief politics reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel

The Des Moines Register made it official this week: Brianne Pfannenstiel will move up to the chief politics reporter job after three years covering the statehouse. She is best-known for writing about alleged sexual misconduct by State Senator Nate Boulton; that article quickly ended his campaign for governor. It was a tricky story to report, and Pfannenstiel handled the material well. Another huge scoop was her June 2017 investigative report on delayed state tax refunds.

Pfannenstiel impressed me during her first year at the Register, when she had the news sense to write multiple pieces about the most under-covered major Iowa politics story of 2015. Some experienced statehouse reporters failed to recognize the significance of an unprecedented move to enact a new sales tax break without legislative approval. That policy change turned out to be far more costly than officials had projected, contributing to state revenue shortfalls in subsequent years.

I’m looking forward to watching Pfannenstiel apply her detail-oriented approach to her new beat. As she turns her attention to campaigns and elections, I hope she will:

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