District Convention will Convene April 26
Democrats across the state will be attending the next level in our election cycle, the District Conventions on April 26. The Second District Convention is being hosted by the Jasper County Democrats in Newton. Particulars about the convention, including the Official Call Booklet and the draft Platform Committee report for Delegates, Alternates, and anyone else who wants to know are posted at the "The District" tab on this website. For those who wish to pay via PayPal, a special Convention fee link has been posted for your convenience also on that page.
Elections Set as Filing Deadlines Pass
Voters of the Democratic persuasion in the Iowa 2nd Congressional District will have lots of decisions to make in November - but not so many in the June Primary election.
Of the eight state-wide and federal elections this cycle, all the primary fights are on the Republican side of the aisle. In particular, the race for U.S. Senate is apparently at risk for an inconclusive Primary election with five GOP candidates vying for the one seat. Unless at least one of those candidates manages to attain a minimum of 35% of the votes cast on June 3rd in the GOP Primary for that seat, the decision of which of them will face our own Bruce Braley in the general election will fall to a State Nominating Convention. To say the least, that would be quite entertaining to watch.
Congressman Dave Loebsack, our US Representative in the 2nd District, is set to fend off the winner of the June 3rd Republican Primary. There are three candidates in that race: third-time candidate, Mariannette Miller-Meeks from Ottumwa, is being challenged for that honor by Mark Lofgren of Muscatine and Matthew C. Waldren of Eddyville. Miller-Meeks is hampered by her involvement in the scandal surrounding secret deals and tax payer funds she authorized to be spent as hush money while Miller-Meeks was the appointed Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. She stepped down from that position under a cloud after she publicly maligned the recipients of state aid in an egregious and patently false manner just days before announcing her third attempt to unseat Congressman Loebsack.
The GOP also have all the fun in the race for Governor with the incumbent (and incompetent?) Terry E. Branstad being primaried from the right by Tom Hoefling of Lohrville. The winner of that non-contest will face the Democratic challenger, State Senator Jack Hatch. Governor Branstad has recently been reported as repeatedly saying that he "knows nothing" about how his administration is governing the State of Iowa. As these are words that most Iowans can agree with given that we are being left in the dark on matters of substance in this administration, it appears it is time for Governor Branstad to retire - AGAIN. (Will that require the taxpayers to pay him TWO retirement checks?).
In two state-wide races up for election this year, Treasurer and Attorney General, the incumbent Democrats (Mike Fitzgerald and Tom Miller respectively) are unopposed in both the primary and the general (so far - the GOP could nominate by convention someone to run against either or both before the general election deadlines.). The remaining state-wide races are one-to-one match-ups with great Democratic candidates. Leading the pack is Brad Anderson of Des Moines who has been running a strong campaign against the potentially unconstitutional policies of the outgoing GOP Iowa Secretary of State (and current US Congress candidate in the 3rd District), Matt Schultz. The GOP candidate in this open-seat race is none other than the PREVIOUSLY-removed Paul D. Pate of Cedar Rapids. Mr. Pate held the position before Chet Culver, but did not run for re-election.
In the election for State Auditor, Jonathan Neiderbach of Des Moines is the Democratic challenger to Mary Mosiman of Ames who was appointed by the hapless Terry Branstad to replace David Vaudt who resigned last year. Finally, for Secretary of Agriculture, the Democratic challenger to the GOP incumbent, Bill Northey, is Sherrie Taha of Des Moines.
In the Iowa Senate: Of the 13 State Senate seats included in the 2nd District, eight are up for election this cycle. Of those eight, the Democrat incumbent is unopposed in two of them: State Senators Bob Dvorsky (SD 37) and Joe Bolkcom (SD 43) are both unopposed in both the primary and general elections this cycle. Of the remaining six State Senate elections, only one Democratic candidate has no primary while the GOP will have to go to the polls on June 3rd to determine their candidates in the general election in November. SD 15 has Democratic Candidate Chaz Allen from Newton will facing either Crystal Bruntz from Baxter or Jeremy Filbert from Mitchellville.
Running through the remaining State Senate races in the 2nd Congressional District this cycle:
In SD 39, Either Richard Gilmore of Washington or Kevin Kinney of Oxford (both Democrats) will face either Bob Anderson of Swisher, Michael D. Moore of Washington, or Royce W. Phillips of Tiffin.
In SD 41, Either Democrat Tom Rubel or Steve Siegel (both of Ottumwa) will challenge Republican Mark Chelgren, also of Ottumwa.
In SD 45, the seat will be held by a Democrat as the Republicans are fielding no candidate against either Mark Riley or Joe Seng, both of Davenport.
In SD 47, Democrat, Maria Bribriesco of Bettendorf is challenging Republican Toby Smith of Davenport.
Finally, in SD 49, Democrat Rita Hart of Wheatland is challenging Republican Brian Schmidt of Delmar.
With no Democratic action in the state-wide or federal races on the Democratic side, down-ticket races with primaries are going to have to work hard to get voters to turn out in those few decisive primaries.
Minimum Wage Increase, Women's Rights, Veterans Bills, Mental Health
There could not be a more definite division between Democrats and Republicans on these issues. The need to make sure that voters understand these topics and what is being proposed by each side could not be more important. It is always easier to bring issues down to the level of silly little slogans when you don't care about the truth. Most issues at the forefront of the battles in our legislatures at both the state and national level are much more complex than bumper-stickers can explain.
The fight to increase the minimum wage is a case in point. The point-counterpoint discussion about whether the United States should increase the minimum wage is unfolding as theory vs. reality. The Democratic points that a measured, slow increase in the minimum hourly rate would stimulate the economy creating more jobs, lift 900,000 people out of poverty, and reduce the number of low-wage earners being subsidized by tax-payers (while corporations pocket the money they should be paying so their employees can live on their earnings without additional government help). The Republicans decry a theory that ANY increase in labor costs HAS to slow the economy - despite years of proof to the contrary. That is not to say that every employer is able to meet a requirement to raise the wages of their lowest-paid employees without a hit to their profitability. The debate continues. Be sure to follow the FULL discussion and support your Democratic legislators who are working for you. An excellent discussion of the pros and cons can be found in this article from the Chicago Tribune.
Women's rights continue to be an issue at both the state and national level. Given that there are a little more than five million more women than men in the U.S; a higher percentage of registered women actually vote, and that more women tend to vote for Democrats (56%) than Republicans (44%), one would think that an intelligent politician would actively work to avoid antagonizing women. We can leave that statement to stand on its own merits. No point in beating a dead elephant.
Many rank and file GOP voters must be feeling overwhelming shame since their U.S. Senators blocked a bill crafted for the sole purpose of taking care of our veterans. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont brought forth a bill, S. 1982, that would have helped veterans gain access to healthcare programs, permanently resolved a previous cut to veterans' pensions, and would have increased the impact of the GI Bill for education by allowing veterans to attend any college across the country at in-state tuition rates. The bill would have also provided advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Not only did every Republican Senator save two vote against the bill, they first tried to tie sanctions against Iran to the stand-alone bill. “Whatever your views are, it just does not belong in a veterans bill,” Sanders said at a press conference after the vote. Apparently, the GOP likes the idea of creating more veterans, but not taking care of the ones we already have.
Mental health continues to be a major issue in Iowa ... and in the nation. As Iowa struggles to figure out how to structure and pay for the critically needed and scarce mental health services, the nation has come to realize that the mental health screenings that even the NRA agrees should be available are being obstructed in those states being run by GOP legislatures and/or governors. One of the little-realized side effects of denying Medicaid expansion to their constituents, is the denial of mental health services to those between 100% and 150% of poverty.
These are just a few of the issues on the radar this month. Find out more about these and other issues. Speak to your legislators, neighbors, and family. An informed electorate is required for Democracy to survive.