Business community losing influence in Iowa local elections?

Rachel Junck‘s victory in the Ames City Council Ward 4 runoff election on December 3 was historic in two ways. The 20-year-old engineering major is the youngest second-youngest woman elected to any office in Iowa* and the first female Iowa State University student to win a seat on the council of our state’s seventh-largest city.

The outcome in Ames was also in line with a recent trend: candidates with strong ties in business circles have not performed as well in local elections in larger Iowa communities.

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My time with Lieutenant Governor Jo Ann Zimmerman

Janis Bowden clerked for Jo Ann Zimmerman in the Iowa House. Zimmerman went on to become Iowa’s first woman lieutenant governor and a member of the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. She passed away in October. -promoted by Laura Belin

I met Jo Ann Zimmerman in Dallas Center, Iowa. She was campaigning for the Iowa House as a Democrat.

Initially I was impressed by her obvious intelligence and demeanor. It did not take long to jump on board to help her campaign. Dallas Center was known as a hub of Republicans in the early 1980s, as opposed to the very active Democrats living in most of Dallas County.

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Thirteen quick takes on the November Democratic debate

With four presidential contenders packed closely together at the top of the field and a majority of Democratic voters not yet committed to a candidate, televised debates could make or break several campaigns between now and the February 3 Iowa caucuses. As Dan Guild discussed here, debates have fueled breakouts for some lower-polling candidates in past election cycles.

If you missed the fifth Democratic debate on November 20, you can read the full transcript here. My thoughts on the evening in Atlanta:

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Joni Ernst won't cross NRA for deal on Violence Against Women Act

Months of work on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which lapsed in February, “came to a screeching halt” this week, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst announced on the Senate floor on November 7.

For 25 years, that federal law has supported “criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.” Congress has reauthorized it three times, each time with improvements. By Ernst’s telling, “Democrats are putting politics ahead of people,” rejecting a bipartisan approach to revive the law in favor of “non-starter” legislation the U.S. House approved in April.

Some salient facts were missing from Ernst’s narrative. The House bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act was bipartisan: 33 Republicans voted for it.

Ernst also left out a few relevant words: guns, firearms, and National Rifle Association.

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Des Moines City Council members flouted gender balance requirement

Two Des Moines City Council members seeking re-election on November 5 used their appointment powers to perpetuate a gender imbalance on a key board in the state’s largest city, despite a state law requiring certain local boards to have no more than a simple majority of male or female members.

Joe Gatto, who represents Ward 4, and Linda Westergaard (Ward 2) both named men to fill vacancies on the Des Moines Plan and Zoning Commission when state law indicated a woman should have been appointed. Gatto has done so twice. The second time, his choice worsened the commission’s imbalance and happened well before the end of a statutory period during which officials are supposed to make a “good faith effort” to find someone from the underrepresented gender.

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IA-02 voters likely to elect a woman in 2020

Before this year, no woman had ever represented Iowa in the U.S. House. But after the 2020 general election, women may represent three out of the state’s four Congressional districts.

U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer’s likely Republican challenger in IA-01 is State Representative Ashley Hinson. Representative Cindy Axne has at least even odds to win a second term against presumptive Republican nominee David Young. And the latest campaign finance reports point to a general election match-up between State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks and former State Senator Rita Hart in the second district.

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