# Ras Smith



Iowa lawmakers ban schools, day cares from requiring COVID-19 vaccines

Iowa Republican lawmakers gave anti-vaccine forces a parting gift on what may be the final day of the 2022 legislative session. On a party-line vote of 29 to 16, the Senate approved a ban on COVID-19 vaccination requirements for young children in day care or students at any level of education.

House members approved House File 2298 in February, and the bill made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee in time for the legislature’s second “funnel” deadline. It had languished on the “unfinished business” calendar for two months as House and Senate leaders negotiated behind the scenes on various unresolved issues.

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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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Iowa House Democrats head for the exits

UPDATE: Charlie McConkey became the sixteenth House Democrat to confirm he won’t seek another term. Original post follows.

Nearly 40 percent of the Democrats who now serve in the Iowa House have confirmed they won’t seek re-election this year, and several long-serving incumbents have yet to clarify their plans.

The exodus involves not only lawmakers of retirement age, like State Representatives Marti Anderson and Bruce Hunter, but also some who have decades left in their working lives, like State Representatives Ras Smith, Chris Hall, and Kirsten Running-Marquardt, the latest to announce she won’t continue serving in the legislature.

The unusually high turnover may reflect some pent-up demand; older lawmakers who might have retired a few years ago hung on in light of realistic hope that their party could regain control of the chamber in the 2018 or 2020 elections. That prospect seems remote now, with Republicans enjoying a 60-40 majority and the new political map creating fewer than ten strong pickup opportunities for House Democrats.

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Chris Hall rules out running for governor

State Representative Chris Hall will not seek the Democratic nomination for governor, he told Bleeding Heartland on February 7. Having seriously considered the race, he concluded it was not possible to raise the resources or name identification to run a viable campaign.

Hall added, “I care deeply about the direction of the state and Democratic Party, and hope to contribute meaningfully to both.” He has represented part of Sioux City in the Iowa House since 2011, serving in recent years as the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. He has not announced whether he will seek a seventh term in the state legislature.

Business owner Deidre DeJear is the only active Democratic candidate for governor; State Representative Ras Smith left the field last month. While other Democrats are rumored to be thinking about the race, time is running short. Candidates for governor must submit nominating papers to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office by March 18, including signatures from at least 3,500 eligible Iowa voters, with at least 100 signatures from at least nineteen counties.

Any new contender would need to put together a statewide organization before the June 7 primary. The nominee will face Governor Kim Reynolds, whose campaign had $4.78 million cash on hand as of December 31, compared to $8,547.28 in the bank for DeJear.

Prominent Democrats who ruled out running for governor last year include State Senator Pam Jochum, U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, and State Auditor Rob Sand.

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The Hamilton plan

Art Hackett proposes a “secret weapon” that could help a Democratic candidate for governor in Iowa.

I drafted this post shortly after State Representative Ras Smith suspended his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for governor last month. His stated reason was his inability to get the attention of big money donors. I hoped a newspaper might publish it as a guest column and Smith might reconsider the governor’s race. (Smith announced February 5 that he will not seek re-election to the Iowa House.)

So here we are, a little more than a month from the March 18 filing deadline for major-party candidates in Iowa. Des Moines business owner Diedre DeJear is the only active Democratic candidate for governor. She raised just under $280,000 last year and had a whopping $8,547.28 cash on hand as of December 31. 

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