Iowa Politics

Some Linn County voters are still confused about the sample ballots they received. More than 300 voters have mailed them back with their candidates marked off.

Thomas Hawk via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/14471621099/

A political advocacy group is banking on a digital ad campaign to get young Iowans to the polls. 

Emily Woodbury

On this edition of “Pints and Politics,” presented by The Gazette and Iowa Public Radio, panelists provide insight on the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school, look toward Iowa’s congressional and gubernatorial races, and discuss Gov. Kim Reynolds’ handling of former Iowa Finance Authority director, David Jamison’s, conduct.

 

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The amount of public money spent to support non-public education options including private schools and homeschool programs has increased by 53 percent over the last ten years according to a recent report from The Des Moines Register.

On this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer explores what it means to spend public education dollars on non-public education options. He talks with Des Moines Register reporter Mackenzie Ryan, who recently published an article breaking down just how many public dollars ended up supporting non-public education options. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds today defended her call for immigration reform following the killing of University of Iowa student Molly Tibbetts, allegedly by a man federal officials say is an undocumented Mexican immigrant.  

Following the discovery of the victim’s body, President Trump, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and Gov. Reynolds all issued statements highlighting the immigration status of Cristhian Rivera who is jailed on a first degree murder charge.    

Gage Skidmore

Today is the first of four days of funeral services for Senator John McCain.

On this edition of politics day on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Evan Renfro of the University of Northern Iowa and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa, about the Arizona senator’s legacy.

As a former Air Force intelligence analyst, Renfro also discusses Russia’s planned war games, the largest since the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and the controversy over the revoking of security clearances by the Trump Administration.

Phil Roeder

All beliefs and all actions are political. And often, inaction is just as political.

That’s according to Jeanne Dyches, assistant professor of education at Iowa State University, whose research centers around the idea of how teachers bring their political beliefs into the classroom.

“There is absolutely no way for a teacher not to bring his or her politics to the classroom,” she says.

John Pemble / IPR

The Democrat who hopes to unseat Republican Congressman Steve King  in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District told state fairgoers Saturday that residents in the district are suffering from the Trump administration’s tariffs and they need someone fighting for them. Coming from a farming family, J.D. Scholten says he believes he can be that leader.

Todd Huffman / Creative Commons

 

Opioid-related deaths are on the rise in Iowa, and research suggests that needle exchanges may be effective in decreasing drug-related deaths.

 

david young
John Pemble / IPR

Republican Congressman David Young took the stage at the Des Moines Register Soapbox Thursday and told state fair-goers ongoing trade disputes and tariffs are making him nervous.

After his speech, Young (R-Van Meter) told reporters he has made it clear to the Trump Administration that he “doesn’t like” tariffs that are affecting Iowa pork and soybean producers.

“As a leverage tool, I understand what [Trump is] doing,” Young said. “But as policy, we cannot allow this to go on a whole lot longer and allow this to become pure policy and have it mired in that.”

KOMU News / Creative Commons

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to public radio reporters from Iowa, Ohio, Kansas and Missouri to see hower voter laws are changing across the Midwest.

Iowa

A 2017 voter law required voters to provide an identification numbers from a driver’s license, a non-driver’s license or a voting card in order to apply for an absentee ballot.   

Joyce Russell/IPR

Vice President Mike Pence rallied Republican voters in Des Moines today at a roundtable event sponsored by a pro tax-cut group known as “America First Policies.” 

In a rousing 30-minute speech to a first-come, first-served crowd of about 250, Pence criticized the Washington media and recited what he sees as the accomplishments so far of the Trump administration.  

That includes record tax cuts, exiting the Paris climate accords, and a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds took to the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the state fair Tuesday and touted her new legislation and positive state rankings as part of her campaign to remain governor of Iowa.

She told supporters and fair-goers she is proud of signing tax code changes, mental health reform, and job training bills into law.

“We have a lot of positive things happening in Iowa,” Reynolds said. “And I know the other side wants to think everything’s doom and gloom and Iowa’s going to hell in a handbasket and I’m sorry, it is not.”

Iowa Democratic Party

The annual veterans parade at the Iowa State Fair turned controversial Monday when a Democratic veterans group was barred from the event.   

The Iowa Democratic Veterans’ Caucus was initially issued credentials from the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs through what organizers call a clerical process.   But when the organizers reviewed the applications late last week, they recinded the credentials for the IDVC.  

Daniel Gannon is part of the informal group of organizers he calls the Iowa State Fair Veterans Committee.  He says they’ve always banned political groups.  

fred hubbell
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Standing on the Des Moines Register soapbox Saturday, Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell criticized Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds for what he said is her failure to stand up to the White House during escalating trade disputes.

Hubbell said tariffs are putting rural communities “on edge.”

“It’s not acceptable to say, ‘Let’s be patient, it’s going to work its way out.’ We need someone to stand up for Iowans and put Iowans first, regardless of who’s in the White House and regardless of what the party is,” Hubbell said. “And that’s what I’m going to do.”

deidre dejear
John Pemble / IPR

Secretary of State candidate Deidre DeJear told state fair-goers Friday she wants all eligible voters in Iowa to have access to the ballot box.

DeJear is a Democrat challenging Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate in the November election.

She said her grandmother in Mississippi saw the sacrifices made when people of color and women were seeking the right to vote.

Abby Finkenauer Campaign

Since 2009, Iowa boards and commissions have been required by law to maintain gender balance. The latest research from Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics shows that boards statewide have fallen short.

Kelly Winfrey, Assistant Professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, joins host Ben Kieffer on this segment of River to River to chat about the ongoing study.

The former state senator who made recommendations last year for addressing sexual harassment in the Iowa Senate is weighing in on State Senator Nate Boulton’s decision to return to the capitol.  

Boulton (D-Des Moines) dropped out of the race for the democratic nomination for governor after complaints of sexual improprieties.   Some of his Democratic colleagues, including Minority Leader Janet Peterson (D-Des Moines), wanted Boulton to resign his Senate seat.    

But former Republican Senator Mary Kramer says that wouldn’t be fair to the voters who put him in office.

Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he is satisfied with President Donald Trump’s explanation for his controversial remarks in Finland this week that caused an outpouring of criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.  

At a news conference on Monday, Trump concurred with President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.   That contradicted Trump’s own intelligence agencies conclusions that Russian agents were behind U.S.  cybersecurity violations.

On Tuesday, Trump walked back his comments and said he misspoke. 

Iowa Public Radio

Democratic State Sen. Nate Boulton says he will retain his seat in the Iowa Senate, in spite of calls for his resignation.  

Boulton was accused of sexual misconduct and dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.  

That was days before the June primary, after the Des Moines Register revealed complaints from women who described being touched inappropriately by Boulton in social situations in the past.  

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Last weekend, an Iowa teenager from Waverly died from injuries sustained during a fireworks accident. He is believed to be the first person killed by consumer explosives in the state since the Iowa Legislature legalized them last year.

In this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Dr. Chris Buresh, Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa, about this incident and the increase in firework-related injuries this year.

Corey Torpie

Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset a 10-term establishment Democrat in New York last week. While her district doesn’t necessarily mirror that of Iowa’s districts, a 2016 Des Moines Register/Bloomberg News Iowa Poll found that 43 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers consider themselves socialists.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer explores what Democratic Socialism means today and why it has an appeal at this particular time in U.S. history.

Ben Kieffer co-hosts this "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River with Gazette investigative reporter Erin Jordan. They ask panelists to discuss the latest in national and state politics, including how the election match ups look in Iowa’s Congressional races.

Panelists joining the discussion include Gazette columnists Todd Dorman, Lynda Waddington, Adam Sullivan, Gazette reporter James Lynch, and special guest, Dianne Bystrom, who has served as director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University since 1996.

John Pemble/IPR

State representative Chip Baltimore says it's time to let someone else "take up the flag" at the Iowa legislature. The Boone Republican and former chair of the House Judiciary Committee is not seeking a fifth term.

He was convicted in January on charges of first-offense OWI and possession of a dangerous weapon while under the influence, but he claims he made the decision not to run long before he was charged with those offenses.

Iowa Legislature

Back in 2016, when it was clear the Republican Party was warming up to the idea of having Donald Trump as its Presidential nominee, one state Senator from Iowa quit the Republican Party. Now, he's announced that he will not be seeking reelection as an Independent in the Iowa Senate.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan about this decision and how politics have changed in his nearly 20 years as a lawmaker in Iowa.

In recent years, Johnson says he has seen a definite political shift.

Joyce Russell/IPR

In the final debate of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor last night, five candidates made their case for who is best qualified to take on Gov. Kim Reynolds in the general election.  

The debate was held before a live audience at the State Historical Building, sponsored by the Des Moines Register and KCCI-TV.  

Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell has been leading in the polls, financing his campaign in part with  his personal wealth.  

John Pemble / IPR file photo

Political analysts say there’s “reason to be optimistic” this year’s elections could lead to a record-breaking number of women serving in the Iowa Legislature.

There have never been more than 35 women among the state’s 150 lawmakers.

“Part of the reason we hit that ceiling is not having enough women run for office,” said Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor at Iowa State University and coordinator at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. “This year, we have more women running, so we would expect to see more women winning.”

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

State Senator Nate Boulton has suspended his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the Iowa Governor's race in light of accusations of sexual misconduct.  In this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by IPR reporter and Morning Edition host Clay Masters to talk through the status of that race.

nate boulton
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24

Nate Boulton said in a statement Thursday morning he is suspending his campaign for governor. 

"While I depart this campaign for governor with a heavy heart, I remain resolved to the greater cause of creating a future Iowa we all can be proud to call our home," the statement read.  

There are five other Democrats running in the primary.  By Thursday morning, four of them had called for Boulton to drop out of the race, and John Norris said Boulton shouldn't be the Democratic nominee. 

Marco Verch/Flickr

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa and Dave Andersen of Iowa State University, about President Trump's FBI spy claims, the campaigning ahead of Iowa's gubernatorial primaries, and updates on trade disputes with China.

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