On The Road With J.D. Scholten’s Campaign To Defeat Steve King

There’s few summer activities more quinesstential than a father/son road trip in an RV. Stopping at small town restaurants. Sleeping in a pull-down bed. Navigating through country roads. But one extra feature of J.D. Scholten and his father Jim’s tour around Iowa in their new RV is that J.D. is also running for Congress. As Scholten was entering the final months of Democrats’ three-way primary to take on Steve King, he faced a difficult problem: Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is a sprawling, 39-county swath of Western and Northern Iowa. Scholten leads the pack of Democrats vying for the nomination in […]

A Day In The Life Of A Nate Boulton Field Organizer

Later this evening, thousands of dedicated Iowa Democrats will trudge through the snow and the cold to attend their local precinct caucus. It’s expected to see the largest attendance ever for a non-presidential year caucus, but the stakes involved with the gubernatorial primary alone don’t ensure people turn out. Phone calls, meetings, trainings and door-knocking by campaign staff and volunteers – thousands of hours of work in all for every single campaign – get voters into those caucus rooms. That’s what Nate Boulton field organizer Adam Henderson was working on during a recent Friday when Starting Line shadowed him for […]

With Zach Wahls And More, Iowa Dems’ Future Is On The Ballot In 2018

Few elections have ever held more longterm consequences for a state than the upcoming 2018 races in Iowa. A few of the issues at stake: the survival of public unions and Planned Parenthood, the existence of mental healthcare services, and the state’s own political identity as a purple or red state. Iowa could soon become the next Kansas for decades to come, or a Democratic wave could return balance to the Statehouse. But for the Democratic Party here, 2018 presents one more opportunity that could outlive all of those outcomes: the chance to vote into office a raft of young […]

State Of The Race In Iowa’s 3rd District (October 2017)

Starting Line’s analysis of Iowa’ four congressional races continues today with the most intriguing primary of all: the Des Moines-based 3rd District. Four, possibly five Democrats have a real shot at winning the party’s nomination to take on incumbent Republican Congressman David Young. It’s also more likely than not that the nomination goes to a convention if no candidate gets to 35%, the amount required by Iowa law to avoid doing so. Young himself prevailed in a nominating convention in 2014 after coming in 5th place in the primary. Could the Democrat who finally defeats him come out of a […]

Boulton Blasts Off: Big Crowds Greet His Statewide Tour

The first leg in Nate Boulton’s long marathon to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination saw a common theme at his kick-off events in breweries, restaurants and coffee shops this week: energy. Boulton was met by cheering crowds in packed rooms where the atmosphere felt more like the weekend before Election Day, rather than an introductory visit a year and a half out. At several stops attendees stomped and clapped their feet to mimic Boulton’s announcement video. In years past, Iowa Democratic candidates have struggled to turn out even dozens of party loyalists to local meet-and-greets in cities large and small. Sure, you can get a […]

Democrats’ Gubernatorial Hopefuls Make Their Pitch In Rural Iowa

The Democrats’ quest to retake Terrace Hill kicked off in Quasqueton this weekend, a tiny, picturesque town in Buchanan County. Local Democrats held a county party fundraiser that five gubernatorial hopefuls attended. The contenders chatted with Northeast Iowa activists over a barbeque dinner before delivering their pitches in front of the room. With a loaded speaker lineup – 13 in all – the event stretched on for nearly four hours, but the 100 attendees – angered by recent Republican-passed legislation – stayed and listened intently long after the sun had set. The five gubernatorial candidates (or potential candidates) on hand […]

Take Our Video Tour Of Iowa’s Changing Voting Trends By Precinct

Here at Starting Line, I’ve written several posts looking at precinct-by-precinct results from both the 2016 election and the Iowa Caucus to give readers a sense of how and why Iowa’s voting trends are changing. No swing state shifted more than Iowa in the general election (from Obama +6 in 2012 to Trump +10 in 2016), but to really understand it all you need to look at individual precincts to see where the changes occurred. Fortunately, a data lover by the name of Ryne Rohla compiled the voting data for every precinct in the United States and put it all in […]

Voter Anger Boils Over At Ankeny Legislative Forum

Ankeny residents have had enough. A boisterous crowd of well over 400 packed the room at a legislative forum hosted by the local chamber of commerce at a community education building in Ankeny. Many spilled out into the hallway as they watched the panel of Senator Jack Whitver, Representatives John Landon and Kevin Koester and County Supervisor Steve Van Oort give their reports and take questions. The attendees were made up of many teachers, parents and public workers who were there to speak out against the changes to collective bargaining and the underfunding of public education. The Legislature passed the third-lowest education […]

What Iowa’s “Chapter 20” Is And Why It’s Important To Workers: An Explainer

The biggest battle at the Iowa Statehouse this year will likely center around collective bargaining rights for state employees. At issue is Iowa’s “Chapter 20,” the section in Iowa code that governs collective bargaining, and the sweeping changes the new Republican majorities want to make to it that would weaken or eliminate workers’ ability to negotiate parts or all of their contracts. But what is “Chapter 20”? Democrats and politically-engaged Iowans generally know the basics of collective bargaining, but many may be less familiar with that specific part of Iowa Code. Since Iowa reporters, legislators and activists involved in Iowa’s collective […]

How Dave Loebsack Beat The Trump Bump

Guest post from Grant Gregory In the 2016 presidential elections, Iowa shifted away from Democrats more than any other swing state in the country, realizing a total margin shift of 15.2%. This shift yielded large losses for Democrats down the ballot as well – Democrats in Iowa’s 1st District, 3rd District, and state legislative races across the state failed to secure victories. Interestingly, Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s 2nd District managed to defy odds and secure a win despite his district voting for Donald Trump by 4 points, a margin wider than both Iowa’s 1st and 3rd Districts. Loebsack performed so […]