Dirk Deam Passes On 4th District, Fred Hubbell Rumors Heat Up

Iowa State University professor Dirk Deam won’t be running for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s 4th District this cycle. His now-ended campaign informed Starting Line that some new family health obligations will keep him from devoting the full time he felt he needed to run an all-in candidacy. Kim Weaver was already strongly favored to carry the primary, considering her name recognition with Democratic activists and newfound fundraising abilities. Deam, well-liked and respected by students and activists in Ames, may have emerged as a real threat to her over time, but Weaver now has an easy path to the nomination. That may […]

Republicans Show No Fear After Divisive Legislative Session

If Iowa Republicans were concerned about a voter backlash in response to the deeply conservative agenda they passed in the Iowa Statehouse this year, they’re not letting on. After a legislative session in which new GOP majorities passed sweeping rightwing reforms that transformed the very nature of Iowa government and society, Republicans are promising to go even further next year. As Speaker Linda Upmeyer and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds explained in the days after Saturday’s adjournment, Republicans will consider large tax cuts, pension reform and school privatization efforts in 2018. And some abortion opponents want to revisit a “heartbeat bill” that would […]

Pete D’Alessandro Launches 3rd District Bid

In what could easily become the most interesting 2018 campaign to watch, Pete D’Alessandro filed papers today to form an exploratory committee for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. D’Alessandro is a longtime Iowa political operative, with a resume that includes prominent campaign positions for Tom Vilsack, Chet Culver and Leonard Boswell. His most notable recent role was Bernie Sanders’ state coordinator for the Iowa Caucus. The winner of the Democratic primary will face two-term Republican David Young in a swing district that covers Des Moines and Southwest Iowa. D’Alessandro remains well-connected with the national Sanders and Our Revolution operations, and has been […]

It Begins: Klobuchar, Sanders Schedule Iowa Events

In the state where presidential politics never ends, two potential 2020 Democratic contenders have scheduled Iowa visits in the coming months. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will speak at the Polk County Democrats Spring Dinner on May 7 in Des Moines. Senator Bernie Sanders plans on keynoting Citizens for Community Improvement’s annual convention on July 15, also in Des Moines. Neither are sure bets to run for president in 2020, but what they say during their visits could shed some light into how seriously they’re considering it. Klobuchar has often made road trips down to Iowa in past years, in particular to […]

Josh Mandelbaum Scares Christine Hensley Into Retirement

In news that shocked the Des Moines political world, longtime City Councilwoman Christine Hensley announced she would not seek reelection in 2017. The Republican representing a deeply-Democratic seat was already facing what likely would have been her toughest race yet in her 24-year career on the council. Environmental attorney Josh Mandelbaum kicked off his candidacy last month and had already put together an impressive campaign. He had planned to roll out new fundraising numbers and endorsements tomorrow to demonstrate continuing momentum. [Update] Mandelbaum’s campaign informs Starting Line that Mandelbaum has raised over $110,000 in the three weeks he’s been a candidate. They’ve recruited […]

Mark Chelgren Compares Abortion To Time Shares

The Iowa Senate engaged in a passionate debate last night over the 20-week abortion ban and 72-hour waiting period legislation. Republicans sent the bill to the governor’s desk after a 30-20 party-line vote, but not before a few senators made some interesting comments during debate. Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa expressed his dismay that the bill didn’t go further, and then made a curious comparison when defending the 72-hour waiting period provision, which he called the “time share” clause. When the bill is signed into law, Iowa will become the sixth state in the nation to impose the three-day waiting […]

Democrats’ Plan To Retake The Iowa House Starts With You

As the 2017 legislative session draws to a close, many Iowans want to know what they can do to hold Republican legislators accountable and win back the Statehouse for Democrats. Many eyes are focused on the big gubernatorial race, but the battle for control of the Iowa House will be a prominent fight as well. And for activists who want to make GOP legislators pay for their votes, there’s no shortage of vulnerable swing district House Republicans they can impact. This week Leader Mark Smith and House Democrats are rolling out a new effort to begin targeting those districts early on. Calling it their House Builder […]

Mike Sherzan Bows Out Of 3rd District Race

Democratic candidate Mike Sherzan is shutting down his recently-launched campaign for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. Sherzan came in second place in Democrats’ primary in 2016, and had hoped to use lessons learned from that bid to better-position himself for the primary, as well as a general election matchup with Republican David Young. But fundraising concerns and personal issues caused him to pull the plug early. “I am exiting this race because I have recently come to the conclusion that conducting the type of campaign I am comfortable with would require substantial financial self-funding, and that’s not how this process should work,” […]

Will Any Endorsement Be Worth A Damn In Governor’s Race?

Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee for 2018 will not simply be the most important name on the ballot. He or she will also be the defacto leader of the party in a state that hasn’t really had one since Tom Harkin’s retirement in 2014. They have a very big task ahead of them. To say the Democratic Party in Iowa is in a weakened state would be an understatement. The party has not merely lost a significant amount of major elections in recent years. No, the very infrastructure of the left in Iowa is tattered and lacking. There has been few proactive build-the-bench efforts for years. Important […]

Round 2: Konfrst To Hold Hagenow Accountable For Broken Promises

House Republican Majority Leader Chris Hagenow campaigned for reelection last year on a platform that bore no resemblance to his voting record in the Legislature just a few months after. So Jennifer Konfrst has decided to give Hagenow a rematch in 2018, announcing today she’d run for House District 43 again. “I love this community, and I’m running to fight for all families in our district,” Konfrst said in a press release. “As a mom and an educator, I’m deeply troubled by politicians at the Capitol who put special interests ahead of Iowans. The residents of our district deserve a representative whose policies […]