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.

Continue Reading...

Iowa House bill would ensure more absentee ballots are counted

The controversial 2018 election result in Iowa House district 55 has inspired two legislative proposals related to late-arriving absentee ballots. The House State Government Committee on March 5 advanced a bill designed to enfranchise more Iowans who voted by mail, with uniform rules for all 99 counties.

The leader of the Iowa Senate State Government Committee would move in the opposite direction, excluding all ballots that arrive after election day, even if envelope markings could prove voters mailed them on time. That approach appears to be a non-starter for House Republicans.

Continue Reading...

The intersection of anti-choice warriors and misogyny

Matt Chapman: “The need to control women is what this is about, and the rage stems from a perception of impotency, caused by that lack of control.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It was impossible to miss the sea of white the Democratic women of the U.S. House wore to the State of the Union address on Tuesday. It was a nod to the suffragettes, who paved the way to winning the right to vote on August 26, 1920, and a celebration of the record-breaking diversity of the 116th United States Congress sworn in on January 23, 2019, almost one hundred years later.

Yet reminders of how far there still is to go echoed throughout the chamber. While President Donald Trump acknowledged the record-breaking number of women legislators elected, it took a moment for the modern-day suffragettes to stand and applaud. His praise was unwelcome, due to his history of misogyny.

Continue Reading...

Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2019

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2019 session on January 14 with 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats. A record eleven senators are women (six Democrats and five Republicans), up from six women in the chamber at the start of the last legislature’s work.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve mentioned changes since last year’s legislative session. Note that Democratic Senator Nate Boulton will serve on committees after all. Minority Leader Janet Petersen had declined to assign him to any committees last month.

A few words about demographics: all current state senators are white. To my knowledge, the only African American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the Iowa legislature; in 2014, Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first. No Asian American has served in the Iowa Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths (a Democrat and a Republican) and two Taylors (both Democrats). As for first names, there are three Marks, three Zachs, and two men each named Dan, Jim, Tim, Tom, and Jeff.

Continue Reading...

Key GOP lawmaker not interested in limiting state auditor's subpoena power

Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan responded to recent election losses by limiting the powers of some Democratic statewide officials. GOP lawmakers are rumored to be considering similar legislation in Iowa, where Rob Sand just took office as the first Democrat to serve as state auditor in more than 50 years.

But Republican State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the Iowa House State Government Committee, told Bleeding Heartland he has no interest in revoking or curtailing the subpoena power of Sand’s office.

Continue Reading...

Final look at nine Iowa Senate races to watch, with ratings

Few Iowa politics watchers doubt that Democrats will gain ground in the state House today–the only question is how much will the Republican majority shrink.

In contrast, the Iowa Senate landscape could shift in either direction. Republicans now hold 29 seats and are unopposed in Senate district 1, where independent Senator David Johnson is retiring. They are also outspending several Democratic incumbents in districts Donald Trump carried in the last presidential election. Democrats currently hold 20 Senate seats, but they could add to their ranks today, despite a difficult map and a couple of bad breaks over the summer.

Here’s how the key races look going into election day, based on voter registration totals, recent voting history, absentee ballot numbers, and where Democratic or Republican leaders have made large expenditures.

Continue Reading...
View More...