Martin O’Malley Finds Warm Iowa Reception For New Leadership Message

Martin O’Malley entered the room to hoots and hollers at his Des Moines rally the evening after his official presidential announcement in Baltimore. The crowd was eager to see the former Maryland Governor (or perhaps just any Democratic candidate), and O’Malley returned the enthusiasm with a high-energy speech of his own. “When a country reaches a point where it has concentrated wealth in the hands of so very few, that it’s sucking opportunity out of the homes of the many,” O’Malley said to the audience. “There are two paths for us: one is a sensible re-balancing for our common good […]

Bernie Sanders Gets Lemonade, Huge Crowds on Iowa Trip

“Lemonade for Bernie!” read the sign held by some pint-sized entrepreneurs across the street from Bernie Sanders’ event in West Branch on Friday night. The Senator from Vermont happily obliged the young girls as his red SUV pulled up on the tree-lined street. Sanders paid his 50 cents, drank a cup of lemonade, chatted with the kids and posed for pictures before heading over to his rally. Sanders entered the small town of West Branch, the hometown of a former President, into some picturesque Americana scenes for a classic Iowa Caucus-style event. A large crowd of locals and area Democrats […]

Rumor Roundup: Ravi Patel’s Super PAC, Webb’s Loss, Adams In, Bertrand for Governor

We hear all kinds of interesting things here at Starting Line, and figured it was about time for another fun Rumor Roundup. Here’s the latest political chatter making its way around Iowa: Super PACs Coming in 1st District Primary All the cool kids these days are getting their own Super PACs. Starting Line hears that the initial stages of setting up a Super PAC for Ravi Patel, Democratic candidate in the 1st District, is underway. Jeff Link, Bruce Braley’s top strategist from the Senate campaign, is rumored to head up the effort. A number of firms in D.C. are reportedly […]

Greg Heartsill Sends “Creepy” Letter To Schools For LGBTQ Info

While the Iowa Legislature continues to struggle to find consensus on school funding, some state representatives seem fixated on other issues. Starting Line obtained from a number of sources an email that Republican Representative Greg Heartsill sent to what appears nearly every public school superintendent in the state. Attached is a letter requesting information about the district’s participation in the Governor’s LGBTQ Youth Conference. In his letter (which you can read here), Heartsill asks the school districts for details on their participation in the conference, including info about how many faculty and students attended, and whether the school paid any […]

Republicans Should Listen To Rick Santorum – He’s Saying The Smartest Things In The Race

For those who have written off and ignored Rick Santorum as a past-his-prime player in the country’s social conservatism movement, you might want to tune back in to his 2016 campaign. He’s quickly become the Republican field’s uncomfortable-truth-teller, urging his party to move on from Reagan economics and adopt a message aimed at the working class. Santorum, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy tomorrow, stands alone in his quest, telling numerous GOP audiences things they don’t want to hear, who usually reward him with light applause, if that. Aside from Rand Paul’s, his message is the most unique, […]

Monday Power Ranking: Iowa Caucus – Republicans

Welcome back to Starting Line’s Power Ranking series! This week we take a look at the very crowded Republican race (last week we did the Democrats). This one is obviously a lot tougher, especially figuring out how to rank 2 – 5. You could easily make the case that any of them are in 2nd place right now. Here’s how we currently think the Republicans will do in the Iowa Caucus: 1. Scott Walker The Wisconsin Governor hasn’t relinquished his early lead in many polls taken in Iowa. Walker continues to perform well at events around the state, heavily emphasizing […]

Mike Huckabee’s Indefensible Defense of the Duggars

Here’s a tip: if you’re running for president, don’t strongly publicly defend a child molester. Mike Huckabee didn’t seem to ever get that memo. On Thursday he posted to Facebook an inexplicable defense of the Duggar family, following the revelations that oldest son Josh had sexually molested some of his young sisters. For those who haven’t followed the Duggar child molestation story, you really need to check it out – read the incredible In Touch story that broke the news. Huckabee tries to pass off the situation as a case of a “blood-thirsty” liberal media set out to beat up […]

Fortune Favors The Bold: The Case For Attending The Straw Poll

It’s do-or-die time for the Iowa Straw Poll. The Republican caucus tradition hasn’t attracted many major participants yet, with Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush already ruling the event out. While the other White House hopefuls gather with their campaign teams to decide whether or not to attend, press stories abound about the Straw Poll’s shortcomings. Some have focused on the failures of past participants. Tim Pawlenty went all-in and dropped out later. Michelle Bachmann won, then squandered her momentum. Others are focusing on the minutia of the event. How’s the candidate exhibition space/tents going to work? How are attendees going […]

What’s LGBTQ? Asks Republican Voting on LGBTQ Legislation

It was not a banner night in the Iowa House for Republicans debating LGBTQ issues and young people struggling with bullying. Up for debate was a high-profile piece of legislation on anti-bullying measures, which had previously passed the Senate 43-7 in a bipartisan fashion. However, the most unbelievable moment came earlier in the evening, during debate on an amendment aimed at adding restrictions to Iowa students wishing to attend the Governor’s annual conference on bullying and LGBTQ issues. Republican State Representative Greg Heartsill of Marion County seemed unsure when pressed on what LGBTQ stands for, or was, at the very […]

Northeast Iowans Worry School Quality Will Suffer From Darrel Branhagen-Backed Budget

Just a few weeks ago U.S. News and World Report ranked Decorah High School as the 4th best in Iowa, and in the top 3% of schools nationally. However, many voters and school district administrators in Northeast Iowa worry if local children will enjoy the same quality of education after this year’s contentious school funding debate in the Iowa Legislature. Darrel Branhagen, the freshmen State Representative from the area, has stuck with other House Republicans in their proposal to keep the funding increase to only 1.25%. Education advocates have urged at least a 4% increase to keep up with inflation […]