Iowa Travel Guide: The Quad Cities

Consisting of the Iowa cities of Bettendorf and Davenport, and the cities of Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois, the Quad Cities provide a unique facet to Iowa geography. Combined, the cities are about three-fourths the size of the Greater Des Moines area. The Quad Cities are a frequent stop alongside places like Des Moines, Ames, and Iowa City because of their population, unique swing-state diversity in political views, and welcoming attitudes toward all things Caucus. Check out these fan-favorite spots in the area that were recommended to Starting Line: The Quad Cities’ Best Restaurants, Bars, and Coffee […]

The Best Reactions to Ross Paustian’s Reading Habits

During a high-profile debate on collective bargaining rules and education funding, Republican State Representative Ross Paustian decided to crack open a book entitled “Sex After Sixty.” Des Moines Register reported Brianne Pfannenstiel snapped a photo of the Scott County legislator, which quickly went viral in the Iowa polito-sphere. Starting Line compiled a number of the best/funniest reactions to the moment:   The Tweet that started it all: Rep. Paustian clearly engaged in this debate. #ialegis — Brianne Pfannenstiel (@brianneDMR) March 17, 2015 Iowa Gif-t Shop had a field day: Twitter Had Some Fun: @IAStartingLine figuring out how those […]

Statehouse Showdown: House GOP Launch St. Patrick’s Day Attack on Workers Rights

There’s no green beer in sight at the Statehouse this evening, but Iowa House Republicans appear drunk on partisanship with their latest push to slash workers’ collective bargaining rights. Republicans brought House File 549 to the full floor late Tuesday afternoon, a bill that would significantly change the way public school employees negotiate their contracts. Their bargaining rights would be considerably weakened by reducing their abilities in arbitration decisions. The legislation clearly would be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, so the necessity in bringing up such a controversial and divisive bill is suspect. House Democrats consistently assailed it […]

The Disgraceful State of Missouri Politics

Starting Line focuses on Iowa politics, and I’ll be reporting from the Statehouse later today, but I’ve had a nagging desire to write about the recent deplorable situation of Missouri politics, the state I was born and raised in. Several weeks ago the leading Republican candidate for Governor, State Auditor Tom Schweich, committed suicide following an alleged anti-Semetic whisper campaign against him (Schweich was Christian, but had some Jewish ancestry). One of the main suspected culprits is John Hancock, a former GOP consultant and new chair of the Missouri Republican Party. I grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, and while […]

Could Carly Fiorina Be Hillary’s Biggest Threat?

During the same weekend where Jeb Bush and Scott Walker were swamped by supporters and a large chunk of the national political press corp in New Hampshire, Carly Fiorina embarked on a lower-key swing through Iowa. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO and 2010 California Republican Senate nominee met with GOP activists in central Iowa, touting her message of business leadership and unlocking potential for women. She also featured her anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric to much applause among the crowd at a Republican women event on Saturday morning. After speeches at recent conservative gatherings like CPAC, Fiorina is quickly earning the reputation as […]

Sunday Grab Bag: Pate Gets It, House GOP Don’t, Sanders Unlikely

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: Paul Pate Brings Matt Schultz’s Crusade to an End Give credit where credit’s due. The Secretary of State’s office dropped its appeal of Matt Schultz’s legal battle over its attempt to purge the voter file with lists of supposed noncitizen voters. The ACLU had fought Schultz’s effort hard, arguing that it could knock off many legal voters, mostly from minority communities. Paul Pate, the Republican elected in 2014 to […]

EXCLUSIVE: Jim Webb Hires Iowa State Director

Starting Line has learned from multiple sources that former Senator Jim Webb has hired Rania Batrice to head up a potential Iowa Caucus campaign. From Texas, she is scheduled to begin work in the lead-off caucus state in April. Batrice has worked on Iowa campaigns in the past. She was Congressman Dave Loebsack’s campaign manager in 2008 and served on John Edwards’ caucus campaign in 2007-2008. She has recently worked on a number of races in Texas and North Dakota, including running Kinky Friedman’s campaign for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Batrice also did a stint as the North Dakota Democrats’ communications […]

The Anatomy of a Hillary Clinton Media Feeding-Frenzy

There’s nothing quite like a Clinton press conference to bring out the madness of today’s political news cycles. Reports came out early last week that Hillary Clinton used a personal email for her work at the State Department, setting off an all-out media frenzy on the topic. She addressed the concerns on Tuesday at a press conference at the U.N. Clinton confirmed that she used one email on one phone for convenience, admitted that perhaps she should have used separate devices in retrospect, but insisted that she followed all proper State Department rules and has turned over her work emails. […]

Cruz Calls Obama “Apologist for Radical Islam” at Iowa Christian Summit

In a room full of evangelical Christian conservative leaders on Monday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz did not hold back in his criticism of President Barack Obama. Cruz blasted the President on foreign policy, focusing in on his strategies against the terrorist group ISIS, labeling Obama an “apologist for radical Islam.” He’d made the incendiary comments before, but this appears to be the first time he’s used the attack line in Iowa. He then went on to suggest that Obama uses similar rationales that terrorists employ to downplay ISIS, slamming Obama for making a reference to the Crusades in explaining the […]

GOPers Brag of Flying Flag for Ag in Hopes of Rural Vote Snag

It felt like caucus season once again this weekend with multiple likely Republican candidates and the entire national press showing up in Des Moines for the Ag Summit. Bruce Rastetter, in an obvious attempt to make himself a caucus kingmaker, hosted the event and did a Q&A with every White House hopeful, while other speakers gave prepared remarks at the podium. On the issues, there was very little disagreement outside of immigration and the Renewable Fuel Standard. All the Republicans were against EPA regulations, opposed trade with Cuba while supporting trade with China, and criticized GMO labeling. No two candidates […]