Feenstra Opposing King in Iowa Primary

The Story:

Randy Feenstra, a Republican state senator in Iowa, may well prove the beneficiary of outrage generated by the Republican representative for the 4th Congressional District in that state, Steve King.


Rep. King is serving his ninth term in the US House of Representatives. He has made outrageous statements before. In January of this year, he said that he didn’t understand why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacy” have such negative connotations. The Republican leadership in the House responded by removing him from all his committee posts.

The latest furor concerns statements about rape and incest. King believes (as do many conservatives) that constitutional protection for abortions should be withdrawn, and that state legislatures should criminalize the procedure. At a recent political gathering he was discussing the common opinion that even should the procedure itself be re-criminalized, there should be exceptions for pregnancies generated by rape or incest.

He said, “What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” He seemed to be trying to make an argument that since anyone might be a product of rape or incest through some number of great grandparentage, it is wrong to abort on such a basis.

The Thing to Know:

Feenstra, also a conservative and a Republican, is challenging King’s renomination to his Congressional seat, hoping to defeat him in a primary next June. King’s latest remarks are shaping up as an early gift to Feenstra’s campaign.

Klobuchar’s Views on Education Policy

The Story: 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D – Minn), one of the Democratic Party’s candidates for President, announced what she calls a “Progress Partnership” plan last week. This is a program to provide federal aid to states that agree to: increase teachers’ pay in their public schools, update the high school curricula, and demonstrate an equitable system to repair their schools.


Klobuchar is languishing in the polls, oscillating between 1% and 2% support. She is doing somewhat better in Iowa, site of the first actual primary season vote (a caucus, scheduled for February 3, 2020). Iowa borders Minnesota, so Klobuchar is more familiar to voters there than to voters in much of the rest of the country. Still, even there she is only in the mid single digits.

She may reasonably hope to improve her position by stressing important issues thus far largely unexplored in this campaign, and education policy is among them.

The Thing to Know:

Klobucher spoke about her plan at a forum hosted in Houston, Texas on Friday, July 5 by the National Education Association. She described herself there as the daughter of a teacher, adding that her mother “taught second grade until she was 70 years old.” That, even more than her policy specifics, won a warm response from the crowd.

Senator Ernst Must Defend Her Seat in 2020

China tariffs plan could hurt American farmers

The Story:

Senator Jodi Ernst (R – Ia) nears the end of her first term in the US Senate. She will run for re-election, but she is already encountering a good deal of flak as a consequence of President Donald Trump’s love of tariffs. Trump’s tariffs on goods from China has led to Chinese tariffs on the agricultural products that Iowa exports.


Although Iowa leans conservative, it is a state that President Barack Obama won twice, and that was represented in the US Senate by Tom Harkin (D) from 1984 to 2014: so conservative/Republican victories are not a sure thing.

The People’s Republic of China is the top market for U.S. agricultural exports. The US had as of 2017 a 52% share of China’s soybean market. One Iowa soybean farmer, Brent Renner, recently told the Des Moines Register, “A lot of us think that it [the fall-out from the trade war] can’t get any worse….But that’s probably not a safe bet.”

The Thing to Know:

Ernst is dealing with her constituents’ hostility toward the ‘war’ with China by posing herself as a moderating influence upon the President’s trade-war decisions. “I’m continually pushing on the administration,” she says, and Trump “will take my calls.”

Scaled-back rewrite of judicial nominating plan passes

The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines March 6.

DES MOINES — The Iowa Legislature gave final approval Saturday to a $1.94 billion health and human services budget despite emotional opposition from lawmakers who argued it failed to meet the needs of vulnerable Iowans, did not address problems in the private management of Medicaid and endangered the lives of transgender individuals.

In the final hours of the 2019 session, lawmakers also approved changes in Iowa’s judicial nominating system by increasing the sway of the governor over who sits on the Iowa Supreme Court and appeals court.

House Democrats were sometimes…

In its final season, HBO’s ‘Veep’ goes where all presidential campaigns must: Iowa


Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced she has been diagnosed breast cancer. The Emmy Award-winning actress shared the news on Twitter. She thanked her friends and family for their support and called on others to help “make universal health care a reality.” Wochit

HBO’s vulgar, straight-shooting political comedy Veep has covered a lot of ground across its six seasons in a fast-changing political and cultural climate.

In its seventh and final season, the show starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus — returning to her starring role as the foul-mouthed, would-be president after undergoing treatment for breast cancer — returns to the place where all politics-obsessed narratives must: Iowa.

The season’s first episode, “Iowa,” opens with a moment exemplary of the show’s ethos and hysterical messiness. Embarking on yet another ill-advised run at the presidency, Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer attempts to get her “New. Selina. Now.” campaign off the ground with a triumphant plane landing in Iowa.

In an extremely relatable turn of events, Meyer finds her plane landing in Cedar Falls instead of Cedar Rapids, where the crowd has been called to meet her. Executive Producer David Mandel has said that this moment was based off a real mixup that the Obama campaign once made.

Over the first three episodes aired this season, Meyer’s campaign and her…

Pete Buttigieg confronted by religious protester

Pete Buttigieg confronted by religious protester
2020 Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a town hall meeting, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — In his first visit to Iowa since officially launching his campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that the state with the initial nominating votes “will be really central to our strategy.”

“There’s a political style here that rhymes a lot with my home territory in Indiana,” Buttigieg said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think that the mechanics of a caucus really favor a style that involves a lot of engagement, which is how I like to practice politics … of course there’s a simple logistical advantage of it being the one early state that’s within driving distance of my home.”

The South Bend mayor has surged from a relatively unknown candidate in the field to a media darling who’s gained support in nationwide polling and posted a stronger-than-expected fundraising number in the first quarter. He’s drawn attention for his plainspoken style, and the…

Beto O’Rourke: ‘I’m Just Born To Be In It’ | The Last Word | MSNBC

Beto O'Rourke: ‘I'm Just Born To Be In It’ | The Last Word | MSNBC

Vanity Fair is has a new cover story to accompany Beto O’Rourke on his first trip to Iowa on what already seems like a presidential campaign. Joe Hagan joins Lawrence to discuss his interview with Beto O’Rourke.
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Beto O’Rourke: ‘I’m Just Born To Be In It’ | The Last Word | MSNBC

Biden and Sanders Lead the 2020 Field in Iowa, Poll Finds

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders lead a new poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers released this weekend, underscoring how the nomination process for the Democratic Party has, to this early point, been defined by the two figures with the largest national profiles.

The poll, which was conducted by The Des Moines Register and CNN, had Mr. Biden as the top choice for 27 percent of respondents, leading all candidates. Though Mr. Biden’s advisers have signaled that he intends to run for president, he has yet to announce his candidacy. Mr. Sanders, who kicked off his campaign recently in New York City, was the top choice for 25 percent of those asked.

Poll numbers have fallen sharply, however, for the other major holdout: former Representative Beto O’Rourke, who lost a Senate bid in Texas in 2018 and could announce his candidacy in the coming weeks. Only 5 percent of likely caucusgoers now call…

Gabel says marijuana movement motivated her political activism

Krystal Gabel planned to have a doctorate by the time she was 25, so she focused on education. And she was an exceptional student.

“I really pushed myself. I was told my entire life to have goals, to get a career, to be focused.”

Gabel was valedictorian of her class, graduating from Akron-Westfield High School in Iowa in three years, plus she was active in sports from basketball to track.

She graduated magna cum laude from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, with a writing degree, the last writing degree the school offered.

But her $80,000 student debt and an evolving life philosophy changed her goals.

After college and after surviving the recession on a series of low-paying jobs, Gabel bought a house in Omaha, landed a job as a technical writer with a decent salary and began paying off her student debt.

About 10 years after graduating Gabel still had $30,000 of debt…

Politics Podcast: Iowa And New Hampshire Can Go To Hell

Every four years, a select few states — particularly Iowa and New Hampshire — play an outsized role in determining who voters get to choose between for president. Those states’ demographics are out of line with the makeup of the Democratic electorate. In this episode, elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley joins the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast to discuss what other lineupsWell, to the back of the…