Liz Bennett, Breanna Oxley face off in open Iowa Senate primary (updated)

Catching up on some news from before the holiday weekend: a competitive Democratic primary is shaping up for an open Iowa Senate seat covering part of Cedar Rapids. Four-term State Representative Liz Bennett confirmed on June 30 that she will run for the district that State Senator Rob Hogg has represented since 2007. Hogg won’t seek re-election in 2022, he announced last month. Iowa has yet to adopt a new political map, but this district will cover some part of the city of Cedar Rapids.

Bennett is the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House 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. Having won four previous state legislative races, she will be the early favorite in the Iowa Senate primary.

Bennett is also the first out LGBTQ woman elected to the Iowa legislature and the only out LGBTQ person now serving at the statehouse. Only one out LGBTQ person has ever served in the Iowa Senate: Matt McCoy, who did not seek re-election in 2018.

Breanna Oxley, a public school teacher and education activist, was first to declare her candidacy for the Cedar Rapids Senate district on June 15. She told Bleeding Heartland last week she is staying in that race. Her endorsers include former U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack, former State Senator Swati Dandekar, and former Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston.

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Where are the freedom fighters? A plea for help from a beleaguered Black man

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker: “Until a renewed season of action on the hard issues springs forth from the Iowa Democratic Party, my people will continue to freeze in the long winters of apathy, and die during the hot summers of violence.” -promoted by Laura Belin

During a recent Facebook Live conversation with Kimberly Graham where we discussed issues facing the African-American community, I recounted a high-profile officer-involved shooting that happened in my neighborhood shortly after I was elected. It was during this very conversation, in real-time, that I realized this officer-involved shooting fundamentally changed who I was as a public servant.

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The true cost of incrementalism: defeat

Stacey Walker is a Linn County supervisor who has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. -promoted by Laura Belin

There’s a popular expression that not paying attention to politics is a privilege. In this time and moment, this is an obvious truth. Only those in the gilded classes are protected from the pervasive social and economic harms that haunt and oppress most Americans. This enormous shield of privilege allows for the bliss that comes with inattentiveness; a sedative that can lull us into ignorance and apathy.

A comparable privilege which I’ve struggled for years to articulate is the one that comes with being able to wholeheartedly support a candidate for president who espouses a politics of incrementalism. An endorsement of this sort of politics suggests an immunity to the social and economic harms I referenced earlier.

The Democrats I know supporting Joe Biden have health insurance. They have good jobs and they don’t have any fear of life or limb when interacting with the police. While this may not seem like much to some, for many Americans this basic sense of security is a Maslovian dream.

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Bleeding Heartland's coverage of U.S. Senate, House races in 2019

After the wipeout of 2016, I questioned whether Iowa’s top races of 2018 and 2020 would be foregone conclusions for the Republican incumbents. But amid unusually high turnout for a midterm election, Democratic challengers flipped two U.S. House seats and fell only a few points short against Governor Kim Reynolds and Representative Steve King.

One of my goals for 2019 was to provide in-depth reporting on Iowa’s federal and state legislative races. Thanks to our nonpartisan redistricting system, none of our four Congressional districts are considered safe for either party in 2020. While U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is still favored to win a second term, she is increasingly seen as a vulnerable GOP incumbent.

Follow me after the jump for a review of Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the campaigns for U.S. Senate and House, with links to all relevant posts. A separate post will cover the year’s stories about battleground legislative districts.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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