Iowa Politics

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Seven Iowa cities are more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people than the national average, according to a recent analysis by the Human Rights Campaign. The organization rated 506 cities across the country and nine cities in Iowa for its annual municipal equality index.

Kate Payne/IPR

Likely Democratic caucusgoers say climate change is increasingly among their top issues. In response, presidential candidates are rolling out ambitious policy goals to drastically cut emissions and retool the economy. But there are real questions about if the country can transition as quickly as Democrats are proposing.

Kate Payne/IPR

Former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Deval Patrick says he will be competing in the Iowa caucuses. His late entrance to the race puts him at a distinct disadvantage in the state, where many of his competitors have been building grassroots organizations for months, and some of them for years.

The scientific community says the world must zero out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In response, Democratic presidential candidates are rolling out aggressive climate plans. On the thirteenth episode of Caucus Land, we'll talk about what it would take to meet those goals. And later, a conversation with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.


Ben Kieffer / IPR

Late last month, freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez officially endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president. In his latest swing through Iowa, Ocasio-Cortez joined Sanders on the campaign trail, marking her first trip to the state. 

How much does her endorsement mean to likely caucusgoers in Iowa? 

Kate Payne / IPR

New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallied voters in Iowa this weekend with Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, hoping to win over supporters for their Green New Deal.

Clay Masters/IPR

This weekend saw one of the largest events on the state’s political calendar: the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice Celebration. Thirteen presidential candidates took the stage in Des Moines Friday, but the campaigning didn’t end there: two dozen more events followed as candidates criss-crossed the state.

All the Democratic candidates have plans to tighten gun laws. Mass shootings have put the debate front and center. On the twelfth episode of Caucus Land, we’ll talk about the Democratic proposals with proponents, critics and experts. And later, a conversation with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

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This story contains language that may be offensive.

A powerful businessman in an eastern Iowa community called on three female councilmembers to resign in an expletive-filled rant. But the officials are holding on to their posts. 

John Pemble/IPR file

Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders says he would direct his Justice Department to investigate fossil fuel companies for corruption stemming from their role in exacerbating climate change. 

Running a presidential campaign isn’t cheap and one of the first places candidates spend their money is Iowa. On the eleventh episode of Caucus Land, we’ll talk about recent fundraising numbers and what they tell us about the state of the race. Plus, a conversation with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.


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When Neal Smith was born, the 19th amendment to the Constitution had yet to be ratified, which gave women the right to vote. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1958 during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, and is Iowa's longest serving congressman (1959-1995). 

Healthcare commonly polls as one of voters' top issues and political candidates have been running campaigns on it for years. This cycle, Democrats are having a very different conversation about how to fundamentally transform the way Americans get care. On the tenth episode of Caucus Land we talk about where candidates stand on healthcare and what their plans could mean for patients and providers.


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Democratic presidential candidates debated for the fourth time Tuesday night, this time in suburban Columbus, Ohio. The debate comes at a time when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is ascending in Iowa and national polls. But for some Iowans, Warren’s new status as a frontrunner is refreshing some underlining concerns, particularly when it comes to healthcare policy.

house republican leaders
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

House Republicans voted Monday to elect Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, to lead the Iowa House of Representatives.

The vote came a week after House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, announced she is stepping down from the top role in the House and won’t seek re-election in 2020.

Grassley is a 36-year-old farmer and grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. He said House Republicans are unified after his election.

Kate Payne/IPR

Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg took her weekly climate strike to Iowa City Friday, and was welcomed by local elected officials and several thousand supporters.

Iowa farmers are finding themselves caught between the White House and China in the president's disputes over trade and agriculture policy. Some say their support for him is wearing thin. On the ninth episode of Caucus Land, we'll look at how Democratic presidential candidates are trying to win them over.


Linda Upmeyer
John Pemble / IPR file

The speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives announced Monday she will step down from the top position in the chamber and not seek re-election in 2020.

Courtesy of Reeder for Congress

A fourth Republican challenger has thrown his hat into the ring to unseat Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King from Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, which covers the northwest quarter of the state. 

John Pemble / IPR

Some of the presidential candidates who have been organizing for months in Iowa are starting to see their work pay off in the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Poll that came out Saturday. Especially Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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Clay Masters/IPR file

The Democratic National Committee gave conditional approval Friday to the Iowa Democratic Party’s plan to hold satellite caucuses in addition to traditional precinct caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020.

The cost of college and student debt are all-consuming for some families, and they're driving political conversations this cycle. On the eighth episode of Caucus Land, we'll break down what the candidates are promising and hear what higher ed experts make of their plans.


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President Trump named Robert O'Brien, to replace John Bolton as his new national security adviser. O'Brien will be the fourth national security adviser in the Trump administration's term. 

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On Tuesday September 10, Van Jones spoke at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City. Jones is a news commentator, an advocate for social justice and New York Times bestselling author. He also served as President Barack Obama's special advisor for green jobs. Jones is also the President and Founder of Dream Corp., a justice incubator with the overarching goal of closing prison doors and opening doors of opportunity. His talk at Hancher was sponsored by the University of Iowa College of Law as part of the Levitt family lecture series.

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National gun control advocates are calling on retailers, including Hy-Vee, to prohibit customers from openly carrying firearms in their stores. The push comes after last month’s deadly shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.

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On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Dennis Goldford, professor of Political Science at Drake University, and Sara Mitchel, F. Wendell Miller Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, about the latest national and interantional news in politics. Topics include reactions to North Carolina's special election, the resignation of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, the failed Taliban summit at Camp David and reflections on the changes in politics since September 11, 2001.  

Guests include:

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Several states are reportedly ditching their Republican primary next year, paving the way for the president’s re-nomination. But Iowa Republicans will still caucus this February.

While most of the attention around the 2020 election is focused on Democrats, Republicans will hold a caucus too. President Donald Trump does face multiple primary challengers, but on the seventh episode of Caucus Land we'll explain why he likely has nothing to worry about in Iowa.


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Clay Masters/IPR file

The Democratic National Committee is recommending that Iowa scrap its plans for telephone-based virtual caucuses next year, citing security concerns. The DNC had asked the state party to make Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses more accessible following the 2016 election. 

John Pemble/IPR

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race after failing to qualify for the third round of debates.

Gillibrand struggled to boost her polling and fundraising numbers despite her experience in the U.S. House and Senate.

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