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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Republican Brad Hart wins Cedar Rapids mayoral election

Iowa local elections are nominally non-partisan, but Republicans have reason to celebrate attorney Brad Hart’s victory in today’s Cedar Rapids mayoral runoff election. Hart defeated former city council member Monica Vernon by 9,518 votes to 7,995 (54.3 percent to 45.6 percent), according to unofficial results. It’s the third straight win for the GOP in Iowa’s second-largest city. Outgoing Mayor Ron Corbett, a former Republican speaker of the Iowa House, did not seek a third term because he is running for governor.

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Review of progressive local election victories around Iowa

Democrats around the country had a lot to celebrate last night, including a “tidal wave” in Virginia, total control of state government in New Jersey, a vote to expand Medicaid in Maine, and a special election that gave the party a majority in the Washington State Senate. Voting rights may be expanded soon in several states, Ari Berman wrote today at Mother Jones.

Many progressive Democrats scored victories in Iowa’s non-partisan local elections as well.

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IA-Gov: Ron Corbett may challenge Kim Reynolds for the GOP nomination

Despite early efforts to consolidate the Republican establishment around Governor Terry Branstad’s successor, Ron Corbett announced this morning on Simon Conway’s AM 600 Radio show that he will not run for re-election as Cedar Rapids mayor in 2017 and will consider running for governor in 2018. By that time, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds will be the incumbent, assuming the U.S. Senate confirms Branstad as ambassador to China, as expected.

Corbett has been laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial bid for some time. Since creating a new conservative think tank late last year, he’s been rolling out policy proposals and speaking at numerous Rotary clubs and other groups around the state.

The Republican Party of Iowa will back Reynolds against any GOP primary challenger in 2018, state party chair Jeff Kaufmann has warned. (CORRECTION: See update below.) But Corbett has presumably found enough support among potential major donors to proceed with considering a gubernatorial bid. I look forward to covering that primary and will update this post following a press conference Corbett has planned for this morning. Corbett would need to raise millions to run an effective statewide campaign, especially since the Republican Governors Association might get involved to protect Reynolds.

Related side note: There’s no love lost between Corbett and Branstad, dating from the time during the 1990s when Corbett served as Iowa House speaker. As soon as Branstad was back in the governor’s office in 2011, he issued an executive order on project labor agreements that caused problems for a big Cedar Rapids project. Branstad didn’t accommodate Corbett’s efforts to negotiate, and Corbett and Cedar Rapids leaders eventually backed down to avoid costly litigation.

UPDATE: Adding to this post after the jump.

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IA-01: "Middle Class Fighter" Pat Murphy is in

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy made his second Congressional campaign official this morning. In the shortest YouTube candidate announcement video I’ve ever seen (just fourteen seconds long), Murphy declared, “The truck’s up and running…and so am I.” A press release announced, “Middle Class Fighter to Take on [GOP incumbent Rod] Blum,” and a e-mail to supporters fleshed out Murphy’s case. Excerpt:

Teri and I discussed this race long and hard and the bottom line is that middle class Iowans deserve to have a voice in Congress, somebody who knows the struggles they face, and will fight for them.  I’ve done that my whole life, because that’s who I am.  And there’s no other candidate running – from either party – who has been on the right side of these fights from day one.

From raising the minimum wage and teacher pay, passing equal pay for women, to protecting women’s health care and all Iowan’s civil rights.  That’s my record.  Fighting for progressive Iowa values is in my blood, with your help, it’s exactly what I’ll do in Congress.

Murphy’s campaign is on the web at Pat Murphy for Congress, on Facebook here, and Twitter here. (His old campaign website is no longer functional.)

I enclose below the candidate’s full e-mail to supporters, as well as excerpts from the press release. It points to Murphy’s lead in a recent internal poll of Democrats in IA-01 and recalls his outright victory in the 2014 primary, despite being outspent by some of his four opponents. The press release also notes that in the general election, Murphy outperformed both U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Braley and the gubernatorial ticket of Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon. Vernon has been considered the front-runner for the 2016 primary in IA-01, on the strength of early fundraising and endorsements from Iowa-based and Washington Democrats. Gary Kroeger is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Former U.S. Representative Dave Nagle is backing Murphy for Congress again, as is the Blue America PAC, which supports progressive candidates in Democratic primaries as well as against Republicans in general elections. Murphy dominated the labor union endorsements before the 2014 primary. I’ll be interested to see whether Vernon picks up more labor support this cycle. So far, she has the backing of Teamsters Local 238, the “largest Teamster Local headquartered in the state of Iowa,” and the  Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council, which supported her during the 2014 primary. UPDATE: Added below a Vernon campaign press release “welcoming” Murphy to the race and listing her key endorsers. They include several Iowa House Democrats who served in the legislature while Murphy was speaker from 2007 through 2010. SECOND UPDATE: Added Kroeger’s statement below.

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