Sara Craig Gongol joins small group of top Iowa women staffers

The first woman elected to our state’s highest office has picked the third woman to serve as an Iowa governor’s chief of staff.

Sara Craig Gongol will replace Governor Kim Reynolds’ current chief of staff Ryan Koopmans, effective December 15. Craig Gongol was a leading campaign strategist for Reynolds this year and has been “a key member of my team” since 2014, the governor said in a December 11 press release.

The appointment inspired me to look into which women have held the top staff position for governors or members of Congress from Iowa. Like Craig Gongol, who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 Iowa caucus campaign, several women who managed high-level Iowa campaigns went on to serve as chiefs of staff.

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Lessons of 2018: High turnout doesn't only help Democrats

First in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections. Since publication, I have updated numbers with official totals.

Fred Hubbell received more votes than any Democratic nominee for Iowa governor since Harold Hughes was re-elected in the 1964 Democratic landslide. He gained more votes than most of the candidates elected Iowa governor in the past 50 years, including Terry Branstad five of the six times he was on the ballot. Nevertheless, Hubbell lost to Governor Kim Reynolds by about 39,000 votes, according to unofficial returns (UPDATE: The final margin was about 36,000 votes.)

Anecdotal reports of long lines at Iowa polling places on November 6 cheered Hubbell supporters, but the outcome of the governor’s race is a reminder that high turnout doesn’t only help Democrats.

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Clean water and the governor’s race

Barb Kalbach is a fourth-generation family farmer from Adair County and board chair of CCI Action Fund. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In the gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night, lots of issues were discussed, but one got short shrift: Iowa’s clean water crisis.

Iowans across party lines want clean water and air. But pollution from corporate factory farms is making that impossible, as millions of gallons of untreated waste ends up in our waterways.

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Rob Sand: If I'm elected, Medicaid MCOs will get subpoenas

Iowa’s disastrous Medicaid privatization is becoming an important theme of Rob Sand’s campaign for state auditor. While Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman was slow to embark on a review of the program and won’t promise to release her office’s findings before the November election, Sand has pledged to thoroughly investigate the operations of managed-care organizations (MCOs), which now make health care decisions affecting more than 600,000 Iowans.

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Duplicity in action: The Kim Reynolds mental health ad

Matt Chapman had a “visceral reaction” to the governor’s campaign ad about mental health. -promoted by desmoinesdem

If you watch Jeopardy! or the local news, you have been seeing a lot of campaign commercials for Governor Kim Reynolds. The first three were biographical in content, and the latest attacks Fred Hubbell over his leadership of the Younkers department store chain. (Iowa Starting Line pointed out that ad featured local GOP activists posing as people affected by store closures.)

The fourth Reynolds campaign spot, “Leader,” gaslights Iowans on our state’s inadequate mental health system.

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How Iowa's 20-week abortion ban could be overturned

Pro-choice advocates were jubilant about the Iowa Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down a major section of a 2017 anti-abortion law.

However, the other major piece of that law remains in effect: a near-total ban on abortions beyond 20 weeks “post-fertilization.” Speaking to reporters on June 29, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis asserted the 20-week ban is “clearly unconstitutional and a violation of women’s fundamental rights.” She declined to say whether the ACLU will challenge that provision: “We don’t forecast our litigation strategy.”

Although I am not an attorney, I am a third-generation supporter of reproductive rights in Iowa. So I’ve been thinking about how a case could get the 20-week ban before the Iowa Supreme Court.

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