Keep Iowa first

Athena Gilbraith is a Black woman and mother of four in eastern Iowa. She works in early education, previously volunteered for the Kamala Harris campaign, and is currently a precinct captain for the Elizabeth Warren campaign. -promoted by Laura Belin

In light of recent and continual pitches to let go of Iowa’s first in the nation status, there is yet a pitch with a better alternative.

Of course, there are pros and cons to Iowa’s premiere position, as there are for a caucus versus a primary. Both factors are indicative of a flawed system, but the arguments against our being principal in the role of the nation’s primary season are a basic and trivial attempt to ameliorate the Democratic Nomination Process.

Iowa is representative of the rest of the country. It is we the people who are in denial. Yes, our state has more white people than others, but this characteristic is also signified within the country’s sociopolitical structure. The responsibility of continually putting white people in charge is an American thing, not just an Iowa thing. And with the upholding of colonialism, denial and circumventing accountability.

Continue Reading...

Iowa House district 39 preview: Karin Derry vs. Eddie Andrews

Of the five Democrats who flipped Iowa House seats in the Des Moines suburbs in 2018, Karin Derry had the steepest uphill climb. Jennifer Konfrst and Kenan Judge were campaigning in open seats (House districts 43 and 44). Kristin Sunde was running against a GOP incumbent, but Hillary Clinton had carried House district 42, and registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans there. Heather Matson faced an incumbent in a district that had voted for Donald Trump, but the GOP had only a slight registration advantage in House district 38.

Derry challenged State Representative Jake Highfill in House district 39, where Trump outpolled Clinton and registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 2,300 going into election day.

It’s long been obvious that Derry’s seat will be among the GOP’s top targets for 2020 state House races. But until last week, Republicans didn’t have a declared candidate. Eddie Andrews made his campaign official on January 20. If elected, he would be only the second African-American Republican to serve in the Iowa legislature and the first in more than five decades.

Continue Reading...

Must-see exhibit chronicles racist housing policies in Des Moines

“They took our land, they took the grocery store, they took the community center,” Joyce Bruce recalled of a project that destroyed the African-American neighborhood anchored by Center Street in the late 1950s and 1960s. “They just wiped that whole block completely out, all, all the way down.”

Bruce’s words and other personal stories are featured in a new interactive exhibit devoted to the history of racist housing policies in Des Moines. Federal government programs and city initiatives over many decades contributed to persistent, wide-ranging racial disparities in Iowa’s largest metro area.

Continue Reading...

Democratic presidential primary schedule needs serious evaluation

Dan Guild: “The modern primary schedule greatly reduces the voice of African Americans in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate.” -promoted by Laura Belin

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us remember the importance he placed on African American access to the ballot box. A portion of a speech he gave in 1957 is below.  The whole text is worth reading.

But even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition. And so our most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote. [Audience:] (Yes)

Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights…

Give us the ballot (Give us the ballot), and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs (Yeah) into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.

Unfortunately, the modern primary schedule greatly reduces the voice of African Americans in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Continue Reading...

Reframing racism

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for policies that support children and strengthen families. He has endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans like to see presidential candidates in the flesh, but sometimes their surrogates offer perspectives that deserve as much attention.

In early January, Heather McGhee spoke on behalf of Elizabeth Warren to a small group of Iowans at Smokey Row in Des Moines. Her message, however, was one that deserves to be considered and heeded by Democrats and progressives more generally.

Continue Reading...

Who's who in the Iowa House for 2020

The Iowa House opened its 2020 session on January 13 with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, a change from last year’s 54-46 split due to State Representative Andy McKean’s party switch shortly before lawmakers adjourned last year.

The House members include 67 men and 33 women (23 Democrats and ten Republicans). Although 34 women were elected to the chamber in 2018 (a record number), State Representative Lisa Heddens stepped down last summer, and Ross Wilburn won the special election to serve out her term in House district 46.

Five African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, Phyllis Thede, and Wilburn) will serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 95 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the state Senate following the 2008 election. Democratic State Representative Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the lower chamber. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted significant changes since last year.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Smiths (both Democrats), while the other 98 members have different surnames. As for popular first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), three Roberts (a Rob, a Bob, and a Bobby), three men named Thomas (two go by Tom), three Johns and two Jons, and three men each named Gary and Brian. There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Bruce, Chris, Jeff, Michael (one goes by Mike), Ross, and Charles (a Chuck and a Charlie).

Continue Reading...
View More...