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 […]

Republicans Show No Fear After Divisive Legislative Session

If Iowa Republicans were concerned about a voter backlash in response to the deeply conservative agenda they passed in the Iowa Statehouse this year, they’re not letting on. After a legislative session in which new GOP majorities passed sweeping rightwing reforms that transformed the very nature of Iowa government and society, Republicans are promising to go even further next year. As Speaker Linda Upmeyer and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds explained in the days after Saturday’s adjournment, Republicans will consider large tax cuts, pension reform and school privatization efforts in 2018. And some abortion opponents want to revisit a “heartbeat bill” that would […]

Mark Chelgren Compares Abortion To Time Shares

The Iowa Senate engaged in a passionate debate last night over the 20-week abortion ban and 72-hour waiting period legislation. Republicans sent the bill to the governor’s desk after a 30-20 party-line vote, but not before a few senators made some interesting comments during debate. Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa expressed his dismay that the bill didn’t go further, and then made a curious comparison when defending the 72-hour waiting period provision, which he called the “time share” clause. When the bill is signed into law, Iowa will become the sixth state in the nation to impose the three-day waiting […]

Democrats’ Plan To Retake The Iowa House Starts With You

As the 2017 legislative session draws to a close, many Iowans want to know what they can do to hold Republican legislators accountable and win back the Statehouse for Democrats. Many eyes are focused on the big gubernatorial race, but the battle for control of the Iowa House will be a prominent fight as well. And for activists who want to make GOP legislators pay for their votes, there’s no shortage of vulnerable swing district House Republicans they can impact. This week Leader Mark Smith and House Democrats are rolling out a new effort to begin targeting those districts early on. Calling it their House Builder […]

Round 2: Konfrst To Hold Hagenow Accountable For Broken Promises

House Republican Majority Leader Chris Hagenow campaigned for reelection last year on a platform that bore no resemblance to his voting record in the Legislature just a few months after. So Jennifer Konfrst has decided to give Hagenow a rematch in 2018, announcing today she’d run for House District 43 again. “I love this community, and I’m running to fight for all families in our district,” Konfrst said in a press release. “As a mom and an educator, I’m deeply troubled by politicians at the Capitol who put special interests ahead of Iowans. The residents of our district deserve a representative whose policies […]