How Congressional Primaries Stack Up With New Fundraising Numbers

Federal candidates’ campaign finance reports for 2017’s 4th quarter were due this past week, and they once again give us a sense of where the money aspect of Iowa’s congressional races stand. The dynamics of the 1st District primary largely stays the same, while the numbers cast a slightly new light on the 3rd and 4th District contests. Starting Line will take a brief look at each district. 1st Congressional District Abby Finkenauer’s $302,000 haul didn’t just surpass all the Democratic candidates in her race and the other districts – she out-raised every single incumbent member of Congress in Iowa, […]

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 […]

Dr. John Paschen Seeks Right Prescription To Defeat Steve King In 2018

John Paschen, one of the Democratic candidates vying for the uphill fight against Congressman Steve King in 2018, already knows a good deal about overcoming skepticism. Born in the suburbs of Chicago, he moved with his family to Iowa as a teenager, settling down on a farm outside of Camanche in Clinton County. Looking to embrace life in the rural community, Paschen got involved in 4-H, but the local instructors weren’t sure what they could task a city boy with. “What could this kid from Chicago raise?” Paschen told Starting Line his 4-H instructor had wondered at the time. “Chickens […]

Steve King Says His Christmas Will Be Ruined Without Looser Gun Laws

Here’s a great Christmas gift idea from the GOP and Iowa’s nutty Republican Congressman Steve King. This week the House Judiciary Committee debated and passed a massive gun expansion bill, “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.” The Republicans want to give gun owners a huge gift by expanding their ability to use their concealed-carry permits in all states. The GOP wants to force those states where it’s currently illegal to accept gun owners carrying their guns in from other states. Congressman King, always swinging for the outrageous, complained that restricting guns will “ruin the King Christmas.” During the conceal-carry debate […]

State Of The Race In Iowa’s 4th District (October 2017)

Starting Line finishes its analysis of Iowa’s four congressional races today by looking west to Steve King country (you can read our previous district posts here: 1st District, 2nd District, 3rd District). There’s no one Democrats would like to see go away more than King, but his reliably Republican district has always made that a near-impossible task. That hasn’t stopped people from trying, nor Democrats from getting excited about each race, and there’s always some slim reason for hope in Iowa’s 4th District. The finance reports are in, so let’s take a look at where the 4th District Democratic primary […]

An Iowa Politics Primer Guide For Students

School has been back in session across Iowa for college and high school students for a few weeks now. While Donald Trump is certainly a constant topic of discussion, important Iowa campaigns are well underway for governor, Congress, the Iowa Legislature and other statewide offices. Starting Line thought it’d be helpful to put together a simple primer guide all in one place for those races and the overall dynamics of Iowa politics to help students who want to get a good baseline knowledge of what’s happening. Many politically-engaged students will already know this information. But perhaps they have out-of-state friends […]

Leann Jacobsen Kicks Off Campaign To Take On Steve King

Spencer businesswoman Leann Jacobsen has officially entered the Democratic primary for Iowa’s 4th District in the hopes of going toe-to-toe with Congressman Steve King next November. She had been considering a run for several weeks, and kicked off her candidacy this morning with a campaign website and video: In the video she comments on the strong communities in Northwest Iowa that are still facing serious problems, pointing to rural hospitals in particular (Jacobsen is a board member for Spencer Hospital). She labels King as “just another politician” who doesn’t focus on the real needs of his district. “A politician who […]

Everyone Is Running For Everything In Iowa In 2018

Just as reliably as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, not a week goes by in Iowa politics without a new candidate running for this or that major office. Iowa Democrats have about 22 declared or strongly-considering candidates for governor and the three Republican-held congressional districts. The field for every race has continued to grow this summer, though we may be finally nearing the end of the announcement phase. It’s an interesting parallel to the huge, 17-candidate Republican presidential primary field in 2016. Out of power for a while now, there’s fewer influential power-brokers or […]

Businesswoman Leann Jacobsen Considers Run Against Steve King

One of the longstanding frustrations of moderate Republicans and some independents in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District isn’t so much the incendiary things Steve King says; it’s instead what local issues he isn’t talking about. While King is complaining on Twitter about immigrants and touting far-right European political movements, small town economies in Western Iowa are struggling. Now Leann Jacobsen, a Spencer city councilwoman whose expertise is building up small business communities in Northwest Iowa, is thinking about challenging King in 2018. “I have 30 years of business experience which provides a lot of passion around seeing business succeed, from start-ups […]

Can We Start Focusing On The More Winnable Races Now?

Kim Weaver’s candidacy has ended, and a follow-up story from the Des Moines Register raised serious questions about her reasoning for doing so. But whatever, it’s time to move on. Hopefully, part of moving on for Iowa Democratic activists will be a renewed focus on the 1st and 3rd congressional districts. Barring something incredibly dramatic, those two races will be much closer than the deep-red 4th District. And their outcome could very well determine whether Democrats retake the U.S. House and thus are able to launch actual investigations into the Trump Administration. One could make a very compelling argument that the congressional […]