Why Rita Hart is favored to win the IA-02 Democratic primary

Former State Senator Rita Hart will run for Congress in Iowa’s second district, she announced this morning. Her campaign is online at RitaHart.com and on Twitter @RitaHartIA.

Other Democrats including Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken are looking at this race, but Hart will be the prohibitive favorite in the June 2020 Democratic primary for the seat where seven-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack is retiring.

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Cindy Axne to seek re-election in IA-03, won't challenge Joni Ernst

First-term U.S. Representative Cindy Axne will run for re-election in Iowa’s third Congressional district and won’t challenge U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, WHO-TV’s Dave Price was first to report on April 30.

Axne had been recruited for the Senate race, where Democrats have no declared candidates. Eddie Mauro is almost certain to run and has been discussing his plans with activists in numerous counties. Theresa Greenfield is often mentioned as a possible challenger to Ernst. Des Moines attorney Kimberly Graham is exploring a Senate campaign as well.

Earlier this year, many Democrats hoped former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Rita Hart might run for Senate, but she is far more likely to compete for the open U.S. House seat in Iowa’s second district.

A competitive GOP primary is likely in IA-03. Former two-term U.S. Representative David Young, whom Axne defeated last year, has been sounding out local Republicans about another campaign. After the jump I’ve posted an interactive map and table showing county-level results for Axne and Young.

State Senator Zach Nunn appears to be the top GOP recruit for IA-03. Bleeding Heartland speculated here on how he might match up against Axne. UPDATE: Nunn announced on May 6 a “listening tour” across the sixteen counties as he considers a Congressional campaign. He looks committed to me.

Conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart identified six other Republicans who are seriously considering this race. Three are from Council Bluffs, but a candidate from the Des Moines metro area would likely be better-positioned for the primary and general elections.

The third district is the most politically balanced of Iowa’s four Congressional districts. As of April 1, its sixteen counties contained 171,434 active registered Democrats, 170,607 Republicans, and 173,103 no-party voters. The Cook Political Report rates this district as a toss-up for 2020, while Sabato’s Crystal Ball puts it in the “lean Democratic” column, due to a higher share of college-educated voters and better performance for Fred Hubbell in the governor’s race, compared to the first Congressional district.

Bleeding Heartland has published county-level 2018 voting numbers for Congress and governor in each district; click through to see maps and tables for IA-01, IA-02, IA-03, and IA-04.

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Why Dave Loebsack's retirement makes IA-02 a toss-up race

All four Iowa Congressional districts will likely be competitive in 2020. Republicans were already targeting the first and third districts, where Representatives Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne defeated GOP incumbents last November. Democrats could make a play for IA-04, if Representative Steve King wins the GOP nomination again (as I expect).

Representative Dave Loebsack announced on April 12 that he will retire from Congress after completing his seventh term, rather than running for re-election in the second district. Both Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report immediately changed their ratings on IA-02 from “likely Democrat” to “toss-up.”

A close look at Loebsack’s last two elections shows why that’s the right call.

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Lessons of 2018: Both parties elected more women lawmakers than ever

Fourth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

The largest group of women ever to run for the Iowa legislature has produced the largest contingent of women lawmakers in state history.

For the first time, women will make up more than a third of Iowa House members and a majority of the lower chamber’s Democratic caucus.

The number of women serving in the Iowa Senate will exceed the previous record set in 2013 and 2014. In a major shift from the recent past, the women senators will include almost as many Republicans as Democrats.

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IA-Gov: Notes on the final Hubbell-Reynolds debate

Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell debated for the third and last time today in Davenport. Too bad not many viewers are likely to tune in at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, because the discussion was yet another study in contrasts. For those who prefer a written recap, I enclose below my detailed notes. Click here and here for Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of the first two Hubbell-Reynolds debates.

As during the second debate, journalists kept the candidates on topic and within the time limit, so kudos to moderator David Nelson of KWQC-TV6 and panelists Erin Murphy of Lee Enterprises, Forrest Saunders of KCRG-TV9, and Jenna Jackson of KWQC-TV6.

Both candidates recycled many talking points from their first two meetings. My impression was that Reynolds performed about equally well in all three debates, while Hubbell improved each time. For instance, after Reynolds noted that Iowa had moved up in mental health rankings three years in a row and was now rated sixth in the country for mental health, Hubbell pointed out that the study the governor cited covered the years 2013 through 2015. That was before the Branstad/Reynolds administration closed some mental health institutions and privatized Medicaid, which has led to worse care for thousands of Iowans.

For those who prefer to watch the replay, KCRG-TV posted the video in a single file, which is the most user-friendly option. You can also find the debate on KWQC-TV (with closed captioning) and WOWT-TV’s websites, but you will have to watch a series of clips, with advertisements before each segment.

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