Iowa Republicans: The Most Pro-Trump Party In The Country?

“We need to support Donald Trump and his choice for vice president because he will make America great again!” boomed Governor Terry Branstad at the Republican Party of Iowa’s state convention this May. “We have an opportunity once again to make America great again,” Senator Chuck Grassley said in a warm introduction of Trump in Pella way back in January, one of the first Republican U.S. Senators to stand with him on a stage. “If you vote for him, Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, the Republican Party of Iowa and this Republican chair will be behind him one thousand […]

The Fiercest Iowa Primary Battle In 2016? This Newton House Seat

While most of the state is focused on the major Democratic primaries in the U.S. Senate race, 1st and 3rd Congressional, the most contentious intra-party battle is playing out in Newton. Three-term incumbent State Representative Dan Kelley faces a particularly strong primary challenge from fellow Democrat Wes Breckenridge, and very well could be the first incumbent to lose in 2016. The race has exploded with accusations, long-held grudges, ideological conflicts and county-level clique politics. It’s fueled huge turnout – House District 29 has the second-most Democratic absentee requests in the state. And letters-to-the-editor about the race have inundated the Newton Daily […]

A Day On The Trail With Rob Hogg

What good is an endorsement? That’s an open question in any political campaign. Some bring an army of volunteers, others bring only the single vote of the endorser. State Senator Rob Hogg has a lot of public endorsements in his quest for the Democrats’ nomination for U.S. Senate: AFSCME, the Iowa Federation of Labor, over 90 current and former legislators. One of them, former State Senator Daryl Beall, did his best this past Tuesday to deliver Webster County for his old friend. Hogg meets his former colleague from the legislature at Bloomers, a downtown Fort Dodge coffee shop. Beall has […]

A Day On The Trail With Patty Judge

Patty Judge was running a few minutes behind when she got her travel schedule last Thursday, full of meetings and event drop-bys in northern Iowa. She gathered with her campaign staff in her East Village office housed out of Jeff Link’s consulting firm. “I need a fast car and somebody to drive it,” Judge told her campaign manager when asked if there was anything else she needed for the road. The car they ended up taking was her own, a black Chrysler 300. The car has a nickname. She calls it “Dr. Dre.” When she and her husband bought it […]

A Day On The Trail With Pat Murphy

Iowa Starting Line will be doing a series of posts where we follow along a major primary candidate for most of a day as they campaign. We hope it gives a different, unique look into who the man or woman running for office is, beyond just their stump speeches and debate points. We followed Pat Murphy for a day the weekend before last: Pat Murphy began his Saturday early in the morning, serving up a hot meal to the needy at 7:30 AM at the Labor Harvest food shelter near downtown Dubuque. It’s a volunteer service he’s done for over […]

What The Governor’s Conference On LGBTQ Youth Is Really Like

Conservative Republicans’ attempts to investigate or restrict local funding for the Governor’s annual Conference on LGBTQ Youth seem to have largely backfired. Monday’s gathering in downtown Des Moines saw the largest attendance yet in its 11-year run, with over 1,100 students, parents and educators showing up. Few topics in Iowa have seen more political controversy in the last year than the conference that focuses largely on anti-bullying advice for LGBTQ youth led by the Iowa Safe Schools organization. Republicans at the statehouse tried to launch an investigation into the event, even asking local districts for information on who attended last year […]

Kansas Caucus: How The Heck Do You Organize A 14-County Caucus?

There are some liberals in southwestern Kansas, including those in a place actually named Liberal, the Kansas town on the Oklahoma border with a majority Hispanic population and the self-appointed home of Dorothy. But for the Liberal liberals who want to make an impact in the Democratic nomination race, they’ll have to leave early on March 5th to drive the hour and a half to their caucus site in Dodge City. Many Democrats living in the western half of the state face long drives next Saturday afternoon because Kansas Democrats organize their caucuses by senate districts, of which there are 40 in the […]

Regret Over 2008 Fuels Hillary Volunteers To Win Clinton County

Clinton County was not Clinton country in 2008. The eastern Iowa working-class county situated on the Mississippi River broke for neighbor-state Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 Iowa Caucus win, besting Hillary Clinton here by a 37% to 34% margin. That defeat in the county that shares a name with the former Secretary of State has weighed heavily on the minds of Hillary supporters here. “I kind of feel like I disappointed myself by not doing more for her,” says Dave Dawson, a local precinct captain for Hillary. “When [the campaign] called me this time it was not a question […]

O’Malley’s 2nd Choicers Could Swing The Caucus – Where Are They Going?

Hillary Clinton went in to caucus night in 2008 in 2nd place. Nearly every entrance poll released showed her ahead of John Edwards, though still behind Barack Obama. But after the realignment period in the actual caucus – where candidate groups who don’t meet the Democrats’ viability threshold switch sides – Clinton ended just behind Edwards. Very few supporters of Bill Richardson, Joe Biden or Chris Dodd had Clinton as their backup option. Non-viable caucus-goers’ 2nd choices were a big reason Clinton suffered the damaging 3rd place finish. Now we’re entering the final stretch of the 2016 Iowa Caucus, with […]

How Bernie Sanders Helped Kill Rand Paul’s Campaign

Rand Paul’s presidential campaign hasn’t exactly gone as planned. Once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, many saw him as poised to capitalize on his father Ron’s libertarian base of support and build upon it with Rand’s more conventional policies and a personality more palatable to mainstream conservatives. Instead, less than three weeks out from the Iowa Caucus he’s mired in low single-digit poll numbers and got bumped from the main debate stage for tonight’s Republican debate. There’s a lot of reasons for Paul’s struggles in his White House bid. By most measures, Rand Paul should be […]