IA-01: Mathis set to clear Democratic field

Less than a week after launching her Congressional campaign, State Senator Liz Mathis has eliminated any chance of serious competition for the Democratic nomination in the first district.

Mathis announced support last week from more than 100 well-known Iowa Democrats, including all recent U.S. House representatives, every current statewide official, and 48 current state legislators. It’s not just the number of endorsements that will discourage others who may have considered running for Congress in northeast Iowa. Prominent voices representing all wings of the Democratic Party are behind Mathis.

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Liz Bennett running for Iowa Senate seat in Cedar Rapids (updated)

UPDATE: Bennett announced at a Linn County Democrats’ meeting on June 30 that she will run for this seat. I’ve added her news release below. Original post follows.

State Representative Liz Bennett may join the Democratic field in an Iowa Senate district covering part of the Cedar Rapids area, she announced on June 28.

Bennett said in a news release that after State Senator Rob Hogg confirmed he would not seek re-election in 2022, “numerous community leaders and grassroots activists” encouraged her to run. “Iowa’s political situation is dire and we need an experienced progressive leader in the Senate,” she added.

First elected in 2014, Bennett is the only out LGBTQ person now serving in the Iowa House as well as the first out LGBTQ woman ever elected to the Iowa legislature. She’s the ranking Democrat on the Economic Growth Committee and a member of the Human Resources, Natural Resources, and Information Technology committees, as well as the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations subcommittee. She represents half of Hogg’s current Senate district.

Iowa’s next political map won’t be finalized until sometime this fall, so it’s not clear whether the vacant Senate district will be as Democratic-leaning as Senate district 33 is now. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a nearly two-to-one margin, and Hogg received about 65 percent of the vote in his last re-election bid.

Two other candidates are already seeking the Democratic nomination in the district Hogg will vacate: Breanna Oxley and Sami Scheetz. UPDATE: Scheetz announced on July 1 that he will run for Bennett’s open Iowa House seat in 2022, instead of for the state Senate.

Bleeding Heartland is unlikely to endorse in this primary but welcomes commentaries by any Democrat running, or by their supporters. Guidelines for guest authors endorsing candidates in Iowa Democratic primaries can be found here.

To follow Bennett’s campaign: website, Facebook, Twitter

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Iowa Republicans have abandoned executive branch oversight

Governor Kim Reynolds has been lucky at key points in her political career. Terry Branstad passed over more experienced contenders to select her as his 2010 running mate, allowing a little-known first-term state senator to become a statewide elected official. Six years later, Donald Trump won the presidency and named Branstad as an ambassador, setting Reynolds up to become governor without having to win a GOP primary first.

Most important, Reynolds has enjoyed a Republican trifecta her entire four years as governor. Not only has she been able to sign much of her wish list into law, she has not needed to worry that state lawmakers would closely scrutinize her administration’s work or handling of public funds.

During the legislative session that wrapped up last month, the GOP-controlled House and Senate rejected every attempt to make the governor’s spending decisions more transparent. They declined to hold even one hearing about questionable uses of federal COVID-19 relief funds or practices at state agencies that disadvantaged thousands of Iowans.

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Iowa turned down $95 million to test school kids for COVID-19

Governor Kim Reynolds revealed on April 29 that she is sending back $95 million in federal funds designated for testing students for COVID-19.

During a Fox News event featuring Republican governors, Reynolds said of President Joe Biden,

I think he thinks the COVID just started. I just returned 95 million dollars because they sent an additional 95 million dollars to the state of Iowa to get our kids back in the classroom by doing surveillance testing. And I said, “We’ve been in the classroom since August. Here’s your 95 million dollars back.”

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Iowa OSHA's call for "immediate" action on COVID-19 came too late

Eleven weeks after beginning to inspect workplace safety at the Iowa capitol, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) informed legislative leaders about conditions “that may expose workers to COVID-19 hazards.” OSHA recommended “immediate corrective actions where needed,” as well as a review of safety and health practices “to ensure consistency” with advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines

What took them so long?

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