Rest in peace, Berkley Bedell

Thousands of Iowans are mourning Berkley Bedell, who passed away of a stroke this weekend at the age of 98.

Bedell was best known as a member of Congress representing northwest Iowa from 1975 through 1986, when he retired while battling what was later diagnosed as Lyme disease. He served on the Spirit Lake school board early in his career but was unsuccessful in his first U.S. House campaign in 1972. Like his friend and colleague Tom Harkin, Bedell ran against the Republican incumbent again in 1974 and won the seat, aided by the post-Watergate Democratic landslide.

Tim Hynds reported for the Sioux City Journal, “At age 15 in 1937, using money earned from a newspaper delivery route, Bedell founded Berkley & Co., a Spirit Lake business that manufactured fishing tackle.” The company became a major employer in the area. President Lyndon Johnson recognized Bedell as Small Businessman of the Year in 1964.

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Culver campaign brings on new finance director

Governor Chet Culver’s campaign announced today that Peggy Huppert has signed on as finance director. From the press release:

“Peggy is an asset to our campaign and will make sure we have the resouces needed to win in November. She brings a great deal of knowledge and experience about fundraising but also about Iowa politics,” said Culver/Judge Campaign Manager Donn Stanley.

Huppert has taken a leave of absence from her role as Iowa Director of Government Relations at the American Cancer Society to join the Culver/Judge Campaign. From 1998 to 2000, she served as co-chair of the Polk County Democrats and has continued to play a key role in Des Moines politics. Prior to her work with the American Cancer Society, Huppert worked with Iowans for Sensible Priorities/Caucus4Priorities and was Chair of the Freedom Fund.

Huppert knows a lot of the major donors in Iowa Democratic and progressive circles from her past work with the Polk County Democrats, Iowans for Sensible Priorities and the Freedom Fund. If you were in Iowa during the year before the 2008 caucuses, you may recognize this graphic even if the name “Sensible Priorities” doesn’t ring a bell:

Sensible Priorities spinning wheel

The Freedom Fund is the old name for Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa’s political action committee. PPGI became Planned Parenthood of the Heartland last year, and its political arm is now called the Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa PAC. The Freedom Fund endorsed Culver before the 2006 Democratic primary and for the general election, and Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa PAC has endorsed Culver for re-election.

It’s a bit late for the Culver campaign to bring a heavy-hitting fundraiser on board, but better late than never. A lot of the usual suspects in the Iowa Democratic donor world weren’t on Culver’s last campaign finance disclosure report. The Democratic Governors Association has already given money to Culver ($500,000 in 2009 and $750,000 in the spring of this year), and they may offer additional help. At the same time, they are defending a lot of governor’s seats and don’t have an endless supply of cash.

Terry Branstad depleted most of his campaign’s cash on hand by spending at least $2 million before the Republican primary. Even so, he should have resources to spend on the general election. Branstad has continued to advertise on television since the primary, which suggests he’s still collecting lots of individual donations and/or the Republican Governors Association cut him a big check. The RGA has about twice as much cash on hand as the DGA, in part because major Republican givers have been shunning the Republican National Committee.

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Congratulations to these outstanding Democratic women

Today the Democratic Activist Women’s Network announced the winners of awards they will present on at their Women’s Appreciation Day Reception on March 8:

Award winners include Andrea Jansa, Des Moines (Rising Star Award); Rachael Grimes, McCallsburg (Special Recognition Award); Clara Oleson, West Branch (Activist Award); Peggy Huppert, Des Moines (Lifetime Achievement Award); and State Senator Amanda Ragan, Mason City (Elected Official Award).

During the reception, DAWN’s List will also honor Lynda Waddington for her volunteer efforts in 2009 and will recognize Roxanne Conlin, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, for her many years of service to DAWN-supported issues.

Guest speaker at the reception will be Christie Vilsack, Executive Director of the Iowa Initiative and former Iowa First Lady.  The reception will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Grand Piano Bistro, 506 E. Grand Avenue, Des Moines.

Congratulations to all the award winners. Many Bleeding Heartland readers will recognize Lynda Waddington’s name as the founder of the Essential Estrogen blog and a frequent contributor to Iowa Independent. She’s one of my favorite reads.

Andrea Jansa is an assistant to Iowa House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Not only is Amanda Ragan a good legislator, she managed to win her first election to the Iowa Senate in 2002, which was a tough political environment for Democrats.

Peggy Huppert has worked for and volunteered for many non-profit organizations. Some of you may remember her work as executive director of the Sensible Priorities Campaign before the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

If you want to buy tickets for the March 8 event, check the DAWN’s List website or send an e-mail to dawniowa AT gmail.com. DAWN’s list supports the election of pro-choice Democratic women candidates in Iowa.

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