Weekend open thread: Mother's Day edition

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community who is celebrating this weekend. Although abolitionist and feminist Julia Ward Howe originally envisioned the holiday as a “Day of Peace,” our culture approaches today as a time to thank mothers with cards, phone calls, visits, or gifts. In lieu of a traditional bouquet of flowers, I offer wild geranium, a native plant now blooming in many wooded areas, and a shout out to some of the mothers who are active in Iowa political life.

These Iowa mothers now hold state or federal office: U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, State Auditor Mary Mosiman, State Senators Rita Hart, Pam Jochum, Liz Mathis, Janet Petersen, Amanda Ragan, Amy Sinclair, and Mary Jo Wilhelm, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, State Representatives Deborah Berry, Timi Brown-Powers, Nancy Dunkel, Ruth Ann Gaines, Mary Gaskill, Lisa Heddens, Megan Jones, Vicki Lensing, Mary Mascher, Helen Miller, Linda Miller, Dawn Pettengill, Patti Ruff, Kirsten Running-Marquardt, Sandy Salmon, Sharon Steckman, Sally Stutsman, Phyllis Thede, Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Cindy Winckler, and Mary Wolfe.

These Iowa mothers are running for state or federal office this year: U.S. Senate candidate Patty Judge, U.S. House candidates Monica Vernon (IA-01) and Kim Weaver (IA-04), Iowa Senate candidates Susan Bangert, Pam Dearden Conner, Rene Gadelha, Miyoko Hikiji, and Bonnie Sadler, Iowa House candidates Perla Alarcon-Flory, Jane Bloomingdale, Claire Celsi, Sondra Childs-Smith, Paula Dreeszen, Carrie Duncan, Deb Duncan, Jeannine Eldrenkamp, Kristi Hager, Jan Heikes, Ashley Hinson, Barbara Hovland, Sara Huddleston, Jennifer Konfrst, Shannon Lundgren, Heather Matson, Teresa Meyer, Maridith Morris, Amy Nielsen, Andrea Phillips, Stacie Stokes, and Sherrie Taha.

Mother’s Day is painful for many people. If you are the mother of a child who has died, I recommend Cronesense’s personal reflection on “the other side of the coin,” a piece by Frankenoid, “Mother’s Day in the Land of the Bereaved,” or Sheila Quirke’s “What I Know About Motherhood Now That My Child Has Died.” If your beloved mother is no longer living, I recommend Hope Edelman’s Mother’s Day letter to motherless daughters or her commentary for CNN. If you have severed contact with your mother because of her toxic parenting, you may appreciate Theresa Edwards rant about “13 Things No Estranged Child Needs To Hear On Mother’s Day” and Sherry’s post on “The Dirty Little Secret.”

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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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Brad Zaun won't run in IA-03, will face Miyoko Hikiji in Iowa Senate district 20

State Senator Brad Zaun confirmed earlier this month that he will run for re-election in Iowa Senate district 20 rather than challenging U.S. Representative David Young in the third Congressional district GOP primary. Zaun cited “unfinished business that I want to see accomplished in the Legislature” and expressed optimism that Republicans will gain control of the Iowa Senate in next year’s elections. Democrats have had a 26 to 24 state Senate majority since 2011.  

Zaun was the GOP nominee in IA-03 in 2010 and won a plurality in last year’s six-way Congressional primary, only to lose to Young on the final ballot at the district nominating convention. Although Zaun made noise about a possible challenge to Young, it always sounded like a far-fetched scenario. In both absolute and relative terms, Zaun gained fewer votes in the 2014 IA-03 primary than he had in the 2010 primary, even though the district’s population increased after Iowa dropped down from five to four Congressional districts. Amazingly, Zaun also raised less money for his 2014 Congressional campaign than he had before the 2010 primary, even though he had higher name recognition as a former GOP nominee.

An enduring mystery: how can a Republican who has represented some of Iowa’s wealthiest precincts as Urbandale mayor and state senator be such a consistently poor fundraiser?

In any event, Zaun will be heavily favored as he seeks a fourth term in the legislature. Iowa Senate district 20 contains 11,967 active registered Democrats, 16,551 Republicans, and 14,276 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Mitt Romney carried about 52.75 percent of the vote in the Senate district 20 precincts in 2012, and Joni Ernst won 55.15 percent of the vote here in last year’s U.S. Senate race.

Democrats failed to field a challenger to Zaun in 2008 and 2012, but Iraq War veteran Miyoko Hikiji has stepped up and appears poised to run a serious campaign in 2016. Iowa Starting Line profiled Hikiji recently, discussing among other things her efforts to lobby for a military sexual assault bill the legislature adopted last year (Senate File 2321). Hikiji’s on Twitter, Facebook, and has a website at Alliowacanbe.com.

No Democrat currently represents an Iowa Senate district with as large a GOP voter registration advantage as Senate district 20, but Hikiji’s supporters feel her military background will help attract crossover votes. A Republican vouches for her in her first campaign video, “New Mission.” For now, it’s only up on YouTube, but the spot looks tv-ready for next year, assuming the candidate can raise enough funds for paid advertising on Des Moines stations. After the jump I’ve posted that video, along with more background on Hikiji and a detailed map of Senate district 20. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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