David Young beats too-clever-by-half Zach Nunn to IA-03 starting gate

Former U.S. Representative David Young became the first declared Republican candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district on May 6, telling the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel he looks forward to campaigning against the Democrat who defeated him last November.

“I spent a lot of time with folks around the 3rd District, listening to their priorities and listening to their voices, and they are not being heard right now in the U.S. Congress,” Young said in an interview. “The policies that Cindy Axne is putting forward with Nancy Pelosi is not what Iowans are talking about or wanting.”

Young gave the exclusive to the Register about nine hours after State Senator Zach Nunn announced a “listening tour” of the district’s sixteen counties while he pretends to be merely considering a bid for the U.S. House.

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IA-04: Five reasons Steve King could be in trouble

The Cook Political Report changed its rating on Iowa’s fourth Congressional district today from “likely” to “lean” Republican. Although eight-term U.S. Representative Steve King carried this R+11 district by more than 20 points in 2016, several factors make a winning path for Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten seem more plausible than a few months ago, when forecasters moved IA-04 from “safe” to “likely” Republican.

Change Research announced last night that its new survey showed King leading Scholten by just 45 percent to 44 percent. The incumbent quickly released results from an internal poll by WPA Intelligence, showing King ahead by 52 percent to 34 percent, with 11 percent undecided and 3 percent inclined to support a third-party candidate.

FiveThirtyEight.com still gives King a 5 in 6 chance of winning a ninth term, but he could have set himself up much better for next Tuesday. Consider:

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Iowa political reaction to Trump's family separation policy

Editor’s note: Des Moines Democratic activist Robert Niederklopfer drew the cartoon posted above.

The crisis of some 2,300 children separated from their parents after crossing the southern border of the U.S. reached a tipping point this week. The “zero-tolerance policy” is two months old, but new images of kids locked in cages and heartbreaking sounds of children crying for their parents outraged millions of Americans.

A new national poll suggests voters oppose taking children away from their parents by a two to one margin. Thousands have called their members of Congress to demand action. Former acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Obama administration John Sandweg has warned that many of the separations will end up becoming permanent. Several “tender age” shelters are housing very young children, some unable to talk or remember their parents’ names.

I enclose below comments from leading Iowa politicians on the issue. Most predate the executive order Trump signed today, which will do nothing for families already separated and may not help new arrivals either.

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Weekend thread: Statewide candidate edition

Iowa will soon have its first new secretary of agriculture since 2007. The U.S. Senate confirmed Bill Northey on February 27 as undersecretary for farm production and conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He should have been confirmed months ago; senators on the Agriculture Committee unanimously endorsed his nomination in October. But Senator Ted Cruz of Texas held the nomination over a Renewable Fuel Standard dispute that has nothing to do with Northey’s portfolio.

Once Northey resigns as Iowa secretary of agriculture, Governor Kim Reynolds will appoint his longtime deputy Mike Naig to fill that post for the rest of this year, the governor’s office announced on March 1. I enclose Naig’s official bio below. One of five Republicans who have said they will run for Northey’s job, Naig formally launched his campaign for that office on March 2. At this writing, only Craig Lang has qualified for the primary ballot. Other declared GOP candidates are Ray Gaesser, Chad Ingels, and Dan Zumbach. UPDATE: Northey posted on Twitter March 6, “I heartily endorse Mike Naig as our next Iowa Ag Secy. Mike has been a great partner as my Deputy Secy of ag for 4+ yrs. Mike is ready to lead. Let’s elect Mike in June & Nov!”

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Weekend thread: Big Iowa problems

A majority of Iowans think mental health services, student loan debt, child welfare services, state university tuition, and the state budget are either a “crisis” or a “big problem” for Iowa, according to the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. Among nine issues tested in the survey of 801 Iowa adults in late January, mental health services registered as the top concern: 35 percent of respondents described the situation as a crisis, 38 percent as a big problem. No other topic registered above 20 percent for “crisis.”

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Tom or Ted? You Decide

Gary Kroeger looks at the proposed “First Amendment Defense Act,” which “may very well be the most frightening oxymoron of all time.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

What does it mean to be free in America? I believe it means that in the United States of America, no citizen will be denied services, opportunities, benefits, goods, transactions, acquisitions, access or mobility on the basis of their race, creed (religion), color, or gender. In fact, if there were distinctions to determine the extent of such rights, based on any physical or spiritual difference, then “American Freedom” would become meaningless.

This is not a state to state issue, either. There cannot be one definition for the qualifications of civil rights in one state that differs from another. American citizens can pass freely with a full complement of rights and expect the full protection of federal law. How could that be argued?

Yet it is. It is in legislation that is being re-introduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. And with a supportive Republican Congress and the blessings of President Trump, the First Amendment Defense Act could pass.

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