GOP And Trump’s Transgender Attacks Backfire In Iowa Special Election

In the midst of a new national debate on transgender soldiers serving in the military, voters in Southeast Iowa were seeing their TVs inundated with campaign ads about transgender bathrooms. Their target was Phil Miller, the Democratic candidate in the House District 82 special election, who had voted on the school board to keep in place a policy on transgender students using the bathroom of their gender identity. But the local issue took on a national feel following President Donald Trump’s tweets indicating that he would enact a ban on transgender soldiers serving in the military. At the time, Trump’s […]

Iowa Democrats Win Special Election In Trump +22 District

Iowa Democrats pulled off an impressive and important victory in a Southeast Iowa special election this evening, boosting the party’s hopes that 2018 could be a bounce-back year. Democratic veterinarian Phil Miller of Fairfield comfortably defeated Republican farmer Travis Harris of Davis County, 4,021 to 3,324 (about 55% to 45%), thanks largely to a massive victory in his hometown of Jefferson County. That means Democrats will hold on to a key rural swing district that Donald Trump won in November by 22 points. Miller will fill out the remainder of Curt Hanson’s term in the Iowa House for District 82, […]

Dems Face Big Test In Special Election, Need Help This Weekend

Iowa Democrats face a very important test this upcoming Tuesday: can they still win local elections in rural parts of Iowa that trended toward Donald Trump last year? If they ever hope to win back the legislature (and probably the governor’s mansion too), the answer to that needs to be yes. So Democratic campaign staff and activists have been working overtime in the special election in House District 82 to hold onto a blue seat in Southeast Iowa. They have a solid candidate in Phil Miller, but as we reported yesterday, Republicans are filling the airwaves with attack ads that […]

One Iowa Calls For Iowa GOP To Pull Anti-Transgender Ad And Apologize

The use of an inflammatory TV ad in the special election for House District 82 is drawing criticism from LGBTQ advocacy groups in Iowa. As Starting Line reported earlier today, candidate Travis Harris and the Republican Party of Iowa are running ads in the Ottumwa media market that attack Democrat Phil Miller over his votes on a transgender bathroom policy. It’s particularly upsetting to some local residents considering a recent tragedy of a transgender teen taking his own life in mid-June. One Iowa Action, the Iowa LGBTQ advocacy group, put out a statement this afternoon condemning the Republican ad and […]

Even After Teen’s Suicide, Iowa GOP Inflames Transgender Fears In Special Election

Just a month after a transgender 13-year-old’s suicide in Fairfield, the Republican Party of Iowa and candidate Travis Harris are running attack ads on transgender bathrooms that are reigniting a bitter controversy that divided a community last year. Their target is Phil Miller, the Democratic candidate in the special election for House District 82, who as school board president voted to keep in place a policy on the matter mandated by both Iowa and national law. Community members and former students are increasingly worried about the psychological impacts on local LGBTQ students that the Republican ad campaign could be causing. […]

Phil Miller Looks To Carry On Curt Hansen’s Legacy In Special Election

If voters in Southeast Iowa are searching for a spiritual successor to Curt Hansen’s brand of respectful, determined political representation, there seems to be none better suited to the role than Democratic nominee Phil Miller. A Fairfield veterinarian and school board member, Miller is running to fill Hansen’s seat in the state legislature for House District 82, which covers, Jefferson, Davis and Van Buren counties. “Curt seemed like he put politics aside as much as possible, and that’s the way I look at myself,” Miller told Starting Line this week. “That’s what we need in Des Moines: legislators who can […]

Democrats Missed Two Opportunities In Pottawattamie Special Election

Pottawattamie County voters elected Republican Jon Jacobsen to fill the remainder of recently-passed Representative Greg Forristall last night. But the surprising part here was just how close the independent bid of Forristall’s widow, Carol, got to victory. Jacobsen received 1,069 votes (43.9%) to Forristall’s 803 (33.0%), with another 465 write-in votes (19.1%). The vast majority of those write-ins were presumably for Ray Stevens, the Democratic nominee who failed to turn in his nominating papers in time to get on the ballot. Voter turnout in the special election was only 10.3%. The entire ordeal was a mess for Democrats following their […]

State Representative Curt Hanson Passes Away

State Representative Curt Hanson of Fairfield has passed away, House Democrats confirmed this morning. The Democratic lawmaker and retired teacher had represented House District 82 in Southern Iowa since 2009. Hanson was a very well-liked and respected member of the Legislature, known for his kind personality and dedication to his work. “Iowa lost an exceptional public servant today with the passing of Rep. Curt Hanson,” House Democratic Leader Mark Smith said in a statement. “Curt taught thousands of students to drive safely on the roads in Jefferson County and was an active member of the Fairfield community his entire life. Rep. […]

Iowa GOP Women Breaks Glass Ceilings, But Still Have Work To Do

It’s been a banner two weeks for Iowa Republicans. Last Wednesday they saw Terry Branstad step down for his Chinese ambassador role, swore in Kim Reynolds as governor, celebrated it this Friday night and hosted Vice President Mike Pence at Joni Ernst’s Roast And Ride. And at every opportunity during it, Republicans have pointed out how it was their party to get several key female firsts. “Tonight is an evening of breaking glass ceilings,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told the crowd at Reynolds’ inauguration party in a Des Moines hotel ballroom. Republicans pointed to Joni Ernst as […]

Will Reynolds Step Out From The Shadows Of Trump & Terry?

Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds took over the reins of state government. As the new Governor, she has a unique opportunity this summer to rise above politics and break out from the over-sized shadows of both Trump and Branstad. I went to the transition ceremony and heard her outline her top priorities in her first speech as Governor. Reynolds said her top priority was reforming Iowa’s tax structure to make it more “fair.”  While I agree it should be fair, the path of the Iowa GOP today is massive corporate tax giveaways that have already led to a slowing state […]