Sunday Grab Bag: Bush and Rand’s Base Problem, Schock’s Luck

Good morning readers! As always, a lot happened in the political world this week. Enjoy our Sunday Grab Bag of shorter takes on a number of Iowa and national political topics: Jeb Bush and Rand Paul Struggle With Expanding Their Base at CPAC The media fawned over Jeb Bush’s performance at CPAC on Friday, the mega-gathering in D.C. for conservative activists. He gave a strong, at times confrontational, defense of his policies and accomplishments as Florida’s governor. Despite occasional heckling from the crowd, he didn’t back down on or equivocate his stances. That may win him plaudits from the media […]

Quick Takes on CPAC Speeches

I will be doing a live-blog of sorts covering Day 2 of CPAC. Stick with me throughout the day as I do quick-takes on the major speeches. Will catch up on the early speeches of Gingrich, Rubio and Perry, and then move on to Paul, Trump, Santorum and Bush later. General Notes: There’s a guy near the stage dressed up in colonial garb who waves his tri-corner hat when speakers walk out (Gingrich gave him a shout-out). CPAC should really hold a Cosplay event so conservatives can wear costumes of their favorite Republican superheros. The Q&A following the speeches is […]

Hillary Clinton Needs a Better ISIS Answer

Hillary Clinton made her first major speech of the year in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, dominating the day’s news cycle. Her remarks gave tantalizing hints as to what major themes would form the centerpiece of her campaign. Clinton gave an impressive performance that connected with the crowd, clearly laying out her support of women in the workplace and proposals like paid medical leave. However, as I was watching her Q&A with Re/code’s Kara Swisher, something else jumped out to me: her long and unfocused answer on ISIS. Several articles written on the event characterized her comments mostly as ruling out […]

Chip Baltimore Bails and Other Gas Tax Notes

Both the Iowa House and Senate passed a 10-cent increase in the gas tax yesterday in what will likely be this session’s largest legislative accomplishment (or failure, depending on your view). The vote breakdown in both chambers was fascinating, one of the few majorly controversial bills that doesn’t come down to a party-line vote. Democrats and Republicans split nearly in half, with endangered incumbents both voting for and against. Chip Baltimore, on the other hand, chose to skip out on the bill altogether, despite being present at the Capitol. The Republican representative from Boone did vote against the bill in […]

How Much Did Leslie Knope’s City Council Campaign Cost?

NBC’s Parks and Recreation’s seven-year run ends tonight with their series finale. Leslie Knope’s drive, decent humanity and love for her town built a loyal following of fans for the show. However, one thing always bothered me: the cost of her campaign for City Council in Season 4. Seriously, a bus tour? I’ve run several local legislative races around Iowa, and I was amazed at what she chose to spend on for her campaign in the fictional town of Pawnee. So as the book closes on our favorite Indiana government employee, I decided to add up all the expenses from […]

Groups Push for Driver Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

Supporters stressed the safety improvements for Iowa motorists that proposed legislation to allow driver licenses for undocumented immigrants could bring to the state. At a Moral Mondays meeting yesterday at the State Capitol, a gathering of progressive organizations described the start of a currently low-key effort to push for the changes. “We know unlicensed drivers disproportionately cause more traffic fatalities,” explained Erica Johnson, an immigrant rights and social justice advocate for the ACLU. She cited a AAA study that such drivers are five times more likely to be in a crash than licensed drivers, in addition to being more likely […]

Bernie Sanders Calls for a Revolution… Sort Of

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-identified socialist, undertook a three-day visit to Iowa late last week to test out a potential presidential bid. From Thursday to Saturday, he hit liberal gatherings, county party events and colleges in Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Tipton and Ames. His message focused on wealth inequality, the danger of money in politics and several other issues key to the progressive left. However, if you listened closely, Sanders’ pitch was more progressive in presentation than actual policy proposals.

Sunday Grab Bag: Sanders Impresses, Paulsen and Gas Tax

Good morning readers! As always, a lot happened in the political world this week in Iowa. Enjoy our Sunday Grab Bag of shorter takes on a number of Iowa-based topics: Bernie Sanders Impresses During Iowa Trip Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders finished up a three-day swing through Iowa last night. Once again, his visits stuck mostly to friendly liberal audiences: a book store in Iowa City, the University of Iowa and Drake’s campus and an ICCI dinner. Still, he gave impressive performances at many of the venues, displaying an effective speech style and natural interactions with the event attendees.This was a […]

Hillary Clinton Message Polling in Iowa

Update 3/6: DesMoinesDem got a poll testing Hillary negatives on March 5th. Layout seemed similar to this one. Around 6:00 this evening I got a call from Mountain West Research that asked a wide array of questions on presidential candidates and policy messaging, mostly focusing on policy. It lasted about 35 minutes. I would say I’m 99.9% sure it was testing messages for Hillary Clinton. As you’ll see in my notes, the policies asked about seemed much more in line with a Clinton candidacy than any other White House hopeful. I wasn’t at my computer, so the following is from […]

Iowa Travel Guide: Iowa City

Home to the state’s largest college, the University of Iowa, Iowa City features the greatest variety and quality of bars and restaurants than anywhere else in the state, save for Des Moines. There’s no shortage of sports and dive bars, and the University of Iowa has often been ranked among the top party schools in the nation. But there’s also a significant amount of upscale dining options, gastropubs, classic diners, craft breweries, ethnic food restaurants and live music bars. Check out the favorite spots that were recommended to Starting Line, and come back often as we update the list: