Democrat Lance Roorda running for one of toughest Iowa Senate districts

An under-reported Iowa politics story this year has been strong Democratic recruiting for the 2020 state Senate races. Even though recapturing the Iowa Senate is likely to take at least two election cycles, given the current 32-18 Republican majority, Democrats have declared candidates in five out of six Senate seats the party lost in 2016.*

Other Democrats are actively campaigning in three Senate districts that were only nominally contested in 2016.**

As of this week, Democrats also have a challenger in an Iowa Senate district that is so heavily Republican the party did not field a candidate for the last election.

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Five thoughts about Linda Upmeyer's tenure as Iowa House speaker

Iowa House Republicans meet in Des Moines this morning to elect new leaders for the 2020 legislative session. Linda Upmeyer announced on September 30 that she will step down as House speaker when the legislature reconvenes in January and will not seek re-election next November. She said in a written statement that she wants to spend more time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Speaking to WHO Radio’s Jeff Angelo on October 1, Upmeyer said she was also influenced by her predecessor Kraig Paulsen’s decision to leave the post long before an election. A new speaker is “well-served” by having a session under their belt, which helps them with fundraising and recruiting candidates, she explained. “I wanted to make sure that whoever was going to be leading the caucus in the future had those tools at their disposal going into this next election.”

Sources close to the legislature indicate that current House Appropriations Committee chair Pat Grassley is likely to become the next speaker, with Matt Windschitl moving up from House speaker pro-tem to majority leader. Current Majority Leader Chris Hagenow may not be part of the new leadership team, for reasons that remain unclear. UPDATE: The caucus selected Grassley as speaker, Windschitl as majority leader, and State Representative John Wills as speaker pro tem.

I’ve been thinking about Upmeyer’s legacy and how she influenced the chamber.

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Iowa House district 16 preview: Mary Ann Hanusa vs. Jen Pellant

Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take control of the Iowa House after the 2020 elections. One seat that wasn’t on the party’s 2018 target list (but should have been) was House district 16, covering part of Council Bluffs. State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa had a close shave there, defeating Democrat Steve Gorman by only 114 votes, a roughly 1 percent margin.

Gorman is running for the Iowa Senate this cycle, but as of October 1, Democrats have a strong challenger for the House seat: Jen Pellant.

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Jack Hatch running for Des Moines mayor

Former State Senator Jack Hatch will run for Des Moines mayor, he announced on WHO-TV on September 19, the last day for local candidates in Iowa to file nominating papers. A few minutes later, his campaign released a statement and a video, both enclosed below, and launched a website at JackHatchforMayor.com.

Key issues for Hatch will include fixing roads and neighborhood infrastructure, addressing “the urgent mental health care crisis that has been ignored,” protecting drinking water, improving area schools, and public safety measures including steps to reduce gun violence. All of those topics were mentioned in a telephone poll Hatch commissioned earlier this month, which Bleeding Heartland summarized here.

Defeating sixteen-year incumbent Mayor Frank Cownie will not be easy, and Hatch will have only six and a half weeks to build his case with voters. However, unlike most challengers, he already has very high name recognition. Hatch represented parts of Des Moines in the Iowa House or Senate for more than 20 years, was the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor, and is a well-known property developer.

Hatch told WHO-TV’s Dave Price he started thinking about running for mayor after Cownie “decided not to protect our drinking water when he had a chance to,” adding that Cownie “was silent” as Republican legislators tried to break up the Des Moines Water Works in 2017. Hatch acknowledged he was starting his campaign late, saying others had considered running against Cownie but backed off. He’s in the race because sees the future of Des Moines “being blurred” without strong leadership.

Turnout on November 5 may be higher than usual for a city election, because Des Moines has multiple competitive city council races, and this is the first year school board elections will be held concurrently with elections for municipal offices. Early voting begins on October 7.

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Demand clean water now

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. The Cedar Rapids Gazette published a version of this essay on August 28. -promoted by Laura Belin

August 26, 2019

Prologue: Some time ago, I wrote an essay for the Iowa Ideas Magazine , which was published recently by the Cedar Rapids Gazette. That piece forms the bulk of this essay. I received no compensation from the Gazette, and the title here is mine and not the Gazette’s.

I am 58 years old, grew up in Iowa, and have lived here most of my adult life. Although some things have improved and exceptions can be found, for the most part the state’s water quality has never been good or even adequate during the span of my life.

Some of this connects to decisions made 100+ years ago by our great-great-grandparents, including my own. But some or most of it is because of recalcitrance and the insistence that we tolerate the status quo. I reject that. Hence the title.

I’ve slightly edited the essay I sent to the Gazette. The new version follows.

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