Iowa Travel Guide: Des Moines Hidden Gems

The Des Moines restaurant scene has seen an explosion in fine dining options, craft breweries and quirky specialty joints in recent years. Reporters and campaign staff traveling to Iowa’s capitol for the Iowa Caucus often come away pleasantly surprised. Sometimes, however, you can get into a rut of returning to your same favorite spots downtown and in the East Village. So Starting Line put together a list of some interesting and unique eating and drinking choices in the metro area to expand your Des Moines palate. Enjoy:   B&B Grocery and Meat Deli (pictured) – This South Side institution has […]

Does Any Republican Want To Win Iowa, Or What?

The mood at the Democrats’ Jefferson Jackson Dinner last weekend was electric. Each campaign went all-out to provide Democratic activists an entertaining spectacle and show of organizational strength. How did it compare to the many Republican multi-candidate events that Starting Line has also attended? To use a phrase of the former GOP front-runner, those Republican ones have felt a little “low energy.” Why the difference? Well, for one the Democrats seem like they’re actually trying to win Iowa. I’m not so sure many of the Republicans are. There doesn’t seem to be a big difference in the enthusiasm from the […]

Jeb Bush’s Terrible Internal Iowa Numbers

Usually when a campaign puts together a memo for their top donors you try to highlight your accomplishments and project momentum. Perhaps that’s what Jeb Bush’s top advisers thought they were doing with the internal campaign briefing that got leaked to U.S. News and World Report yesterday, but even a brief look at their Iowa numbers show extremely troubling signs for Bush’s viability in the the caucus. The most jarring number is their amount of identified supporters. Bush hopes to garner about 18% in the Iowa Caucus, which their projections show requires a vote goal of 23,716. So far they […]

Iowans Unimpressed With Lack Of Family Policy At GOP Debate

A group of about 100 central Iowa activists packed into a bar in Beaverdale last night to take in the latest GOP free-for-all on TV. The crowd was mostly Democrats (invited by the Make It Work organization), watching a Republican debate, but they still hoped to hear the candidates go on record on a number of topics like equal pay and paid family medical leave. There wasn’t much to listen to. Throughout the two hour debate topics regarding working families were rarely asked or referenced. To be fair, part of that was the fault of CNBC, which was roundly criticized […]

Only In Iowa: My Summer With Hillary

Guest post by Sean Bagniewski I can still remember it. I was standing in line at the grocery store and got a call from my friend, Brenda Kole, who had been helping with Hillary Clinton’s exploratory committee. She asked if I remembered a film crew who had stopped by my house several weeks before to talk about whether my wife and I thought Hillary should run for president. I said I did and she said the footage about our home renovations and our rescue lab puppy was going to be used in Hillary’s launch video, which would go live in […]

Iowa Underdog Candidates Link Campaigns With Sanders’ Revolution

A crowd of thousands erupted in cheers for underdog U.S. Senate candidate Tom Fiegen when he took the stage at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner on Saturday night – not so much for him, but for the Bernie Sanders sign he hoisted into the air. Fiegen says it was unplanned theater, an impromptu gesture to emphasize his support of Sanders, whom he shares many of the same progressive policy priorities. The moment may stand as the highlight of his run during the primary, in front of the largest audience he’ll likely stand before. Fiegen joins Gary Kroeger, one of three Democrats […]

State Rep Scott Ourth Endorses Clinton Following JJ Dinner

The time for deciding in the Iowa Caucus is upon us after two weeks of important developments in the Democratic primary. The first debate gave voters a closer look at how the candidates compare to each other. Vice President Joe Biden declined to run. Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out. Hillary Clinton easily handled her 11-hour Benghazi committee hearing. And the Jefferson Jackson Dinner gave the candidates a chance to make their pitch and show off their campaigns to Iowa’s activists. For Scott Ourth, a two-term State Representative from Warren County with a long history of political campaign work, […]

The Governor Who Thought He Was King

Guest Post by House Democratic Leader Mark Smith Our system of government is set up with a series of checks and balances. Right now, Iowans picked a divided government, which means we have to work together to move our state forward. After 21 years in office, Governor Terry Branstad apparently doesn’t understand that. He is working over-time this year trying to anoint himself as King of Iowa. King Branstad has decided he doesn’t need legislative approval nor does he have to follow state law to get what he wants. It’s a disturbing pattern we’ve seen from Branstad over the last […]

Jefferson Jackson Dinner Recap And Analysis

The 2015 Jefferson Jackson Dinner is now officially in the books, after a full day of rallies, sign wars, pre-concerts and speeches from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. The entire affair was a hell of a lot of fun, even if it didn’t measure up to the majesty and drama of the epic 2003 and 2007 JJs. It certainly had a different feel from those two past major JJ Dinners. Last night the vast majority of the audience felt very set for who they support – natural because most were brought in by the campaigns, but even then […]

Afternoon Scenes From JJ Dinner Day

The pre-JJ festivities fun continued throughout the late morning and afternoon on Saturday. All three Democratic campaigns brought their supporters and staffs out to make shows of organizational strength before the night’s dinner. We covered the morning activities in this earlier post. This afternoon Katy Perry held a concert for Hillary Clinton (with Bill Clinton speaking before her), Bernie Sanders led a march with around a thousand supporters over the river, and Martin O’Malley played some music of his own with his guitar to a crowd of backers. Here’s the scenes from the campaigns’ activities this afternoon: After rallying on […]