Politics

courtesy Iowans for Sam Clovis

As President Donald Trump continues to fill political appointments, his nomination for the top science job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising unique concerns.

Trump has chosen Iowan Sam Clovis to be undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. Clovis served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, has a doctorate in public administration, and taught economics at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Sioux City is also where he gained a following as a conservative talk show host.

Evan Nesterak

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wenfang Tang, Stanley Hua Hsia Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Iowa about China's ability to influence the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea. Then, Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University discusses the political fallout from President Trump's contradictory statements about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ross Wilburn

A former mayor of Iowa City is entering the Democratic race for governor. Fifty-two-year-old Ross Wilburn is formally making the announcement that he is joining the field of seven other Democrats Monday at the Iowa State Fair. Wilburn is a native of Davenport and was the first African-American elected mayor of Iowa City in 2006. He served just one term, but was on the city council for 12 years. 

Vietnam Mobiography

In response to new UN sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons program, North Korea has vowed to retaliate against the U.S.  

In this politics day edition of River to River, guest host Emily Woodbury talks with political scientists, Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Scott Peters of the University of Northern Iowa, about President Trump's reaction to the developments in North Korea.  

Alex Hanson / Flickr

Sam Clovis is a well-known name in Iowa, especially in western parts of the state. Clovis has been many things during his life – an F-16 fighter pilot, a defense contractor, a conservative radio host in Sioux City - and then last year, chief policy advisor and national co-chair of the Trump-Pence campaign.

Now he is the White House representative at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in charge of coordinating White House and USDA policy and staffing under President Trump.

Geoff Livingston

Former President Obama and other leading Democrats are making their first moves this month on a push to change how states draw congressional districts.

Obama returned to politics as the headliner of a July 13 fundraiser for a Democratic group that plans to fight for more equitable congressional and state legislative districts after the 2020 census.

Periódico Resumen / flickr

Over 100 Venezuelans have died during the protests across the country in response to President Nicolás Maduro’s moves to consolidate power in the executive branch. Last week former Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was found guilty of corruption and money laundering charges and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison, and last month the current president Michel Temer was charged with accepting a bribe of over $150,000. Both countries have seen rampant turmoil as their governments and people have clashed in the streets.

Gage Skidmore

The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is running into roadblocks, so what are the implications for the rest of the GOP agenda?  

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by University of Northern Iowa political science professor Donna Hoffman, as well as University of Iowa associate professor of politics, Tim Hagle.

Although there has been a lot blame passed around for the bill's failure, Hoffman says, "It's a whole congruence of  issues that came together to defeat this."

Davenport City Council

One of the candidates in a crowded field of Democrats pursuing a run for Governor is dropping out.

Davenport alderman Mike Matson is suspending his campaign.

He says fund-raising pressures are forcing him to withdraw.

Matson is a former Army Ranger and retired Army Sergeant Major who was in special operations command in Afghanistan and Qatar.

Last month, Polk County Conservation Director Rich Leopold dropped his bid.

That leaves at least seven Democrats either running or exploring campaigns for Governor.

Emily Woodbury

Just as the founding fathers gathered in taverns to enjoy lively political conversation over a local brew, so do columnists and reporters from The Gazette and Iowa Public Radio.

On this edition of "Pints and Politics," recorded before a live audience at the Amana Millstream Brewing Company, co-hosts Ben Kieffer of River to River and Gazette investigative reporter, Erin Jordan, talk politics with columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch of The Gazette. 

Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump comes to Iowa today for the first time since his inauguration. He will be visiting Kirkwood Community College followed by a campaign-style rally tonight in Cedar Rapids.

In this politics day on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University, and Bruce Nesmith, Joan and Abbot Lipsky professor of political science at Coe College. 

Office of Sen. Joni Ernst

Iowa’s junior U.S. Senator is describing the mood at the Capitol as somber following the shootings at a Republican Congressional baseball practice. But Joni Ernst is hesitant to call for security to accompany each member of Congress.

Capitol police were at the ball field in Alexandria, Virginia, because of the presence of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot. They have been praised for their quick action to prevent more casualties. Republican Senator Ernst says members of Congress need to be vigilant, but she’s uncertain if they need armed protection.

todd prichard
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Rep. Todd Prichard of Charles City announced Tuesday he is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

Prichard is a veteran and a lawyer. He says he wants to help "forgotten Iowans" by offering free community college to all Iowans, expanding access to health care and raising wages.

Prichard says he can appeal to urban and rural voters because he grew up in Davenport and now lives in a small town.

BKL / Flickr

"Constitutional crisis" is a phrase heard a great deal in the news lately. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch about what constitutes a constitutional crisis.

Walch also discusses several instances when the U.S. government threatened to break down - during the Civil War in the 1860s, the Great Depression in the 1930s and during the Watergate crisis in the 1970s.

Ben Kieffer/IPR

In this special edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer takes a tour of a new exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum that opens this weekend. Museum Director Tom Schwartz gives some insight into American Presidents as people.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they’re working toward.

“I want to become an FBI [agent],” says freshman Mariam Mohammed. “It’s my dream.”

abby finkenauer
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Democratic state representative says she intends to run for Congress in 2018 to represent northeast Iowa.

Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque is hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Rod Blum in the race for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Finkenauer says she wants to focus on policies that support working families and raise wages in Iowa.

Gage Skidmore

On this special "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River, Iowa Public Radio's Ben Kieffer co-hosts a discussion with Gazette opinion page editor Jennifer Hemmingsen.

Thursday evening, they gathered at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids to talk politics with columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch of The Gazette. They discussed President Donald Trump’s first one-hundred days, as well as the main takeaways of the 2017 Iowa legislative session.

For 10 years, Iowa State University's non-partisan campaign training program "Ready to Run" has prepared women to be first time candidates. This year, they have had record enrollment in the workshops.

Kelly Winfrey is coordinator for Research and Outreach for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. She says women are far less likely to run for office than males, but at recent Ready to Run workshops, they have had record numbers of women interested in running for local and county offices.

Casey Reyner

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on presidential power, recorded Tuesday, April 25 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. 

Opinions in the audience varied, but as one participant noted: "[I] can't remember the last time we were in an auditorium talking about politics and the entire crowd didn't think just like me. We had a civil discussion with those that think differently. It can happen. There is hope."

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst told constituents in Elkader Monday that health care has been the biggest topic at town hall meetings, and Congress needs to work hard on new health care legislation.

She says she is worried the one remaining statewide health insurance carrier on Iowa's individual market will be free to raise its prices or will also pull out of the state.

Ernst says there is a new plan in the works to replace the Affordable Care Act, and she hopes it is ready before open enrollment starts for 2018.

Pat Blank/IPR

The longest serving mayor in the history of Cedar Falls, Jon Crews, has died. He passed away Thursday after a bout with liver cancer over the past several months.

Crews held public office most of his adult life. He was mayor for a total of 30 years, serving three separate terms.  In an interview with IPR shortly before his retirement in 2015, he reflected on his years of public service.

John Pemble / IPR

President Donald Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. The change in tone was noticeable, but listeners say the president's actions will speak louder than his words.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Donna Hoffman, associate professor and chair of political science at University of Northern Iowa, and Dennis Goldford, professor and chair of political science at Drake University about Trump's speech.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s first few weeks in office have been a whirlwind. The same can be said for the first few weeks of the Iowa Legislature’s 2017 session.

During this special edition of River to River, recorded before a live audience at the Mill in Iowa City, host Ben Kieffer talks with columnists Todd Dorman and Lynda Waddington of the Gazette, as well as political reporter James Lynch. 

Conversation topics include Russia's interference into the U.S. Election, the likelihood of an investigation, collective bargaining rights in Iowa and many others. 

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa's U.S. senators are back in the state this week, drawing large, sometimes raucous crowds at town hall meetings. Attendance at Sen. Charles Grassley's gathering in Hancock county was reportedly more than 100. Sen. Joni Ernst drew a similar crowd at her event in Macquoketa.

Some Iowa attendees held signs supporting the Affordable Care Act and chanted "Do your job," and "Work for us." But do such protests make a difference to elected officials?

Mobilus In Mobili / Flickr

Just weeks after leaving the White House, President Barack Obama ranks as the 12th best president overall, according to a new poll of historians conducted by C-SPAN. It's the first time Obama is eligible for the Presidential Historians Survey, which asked 91 historians to rank all 43 former presidents across 10 categories. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

An overflow crowd crammed the Visitors' Center at Living History Farms in Urbandale for a lively town hall meeting with 3rd District Congressman David Young. The exchanges between the Republican and audience occasionally turned heated.

Larry Koester

Russia has received a lot of attention in America recently, due to evidence of Russia meddling in the last U.S. presidential election, news of Donald Trump aides’ contact with Russian officials, and military moves including an intelligence ship spotted cruising just off the East Coast and a cruise missile test that may violate a 1987 arms treaty.

Redistricting happens after each U.S. Census. Iowa lost one congressional district in 2013 based on the results of the 2010 Census; before that, Iowa had five districts. Today, we have four. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with David Daley, former editor-in-chief of Salon magazine who has written about redistricting, and Tracy Osborn, an associate professor of political science and director of the Politics and Policy Program at the University of Iowa. 

Under a bill unveiled last week by Secretary of State Paul Pate, Iowa voters would be required to present identification at the voting booth. Pate says his proposal is aimed at ensuring the integrity of Iowa's elections. Democratic legislators and civil libertarians, however, have promised a fight over the issue. They raise concerns that new rules could suppress voter turnout. During this half hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Pate about his proposal. 

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