Statehouse and Politics

Sandhya Dirks

The first presidential debate is this week, and the presidential candidates are a little busy. So are the Vice Presidential Candidates. Paul Ryan just concluded a two day tour stumping up and down the Mississippi River, talking about the economy. To find out whether his message hit home, Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks talked to voters.

Dean Borg / Iowa Public Radio

The Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin Congressman emphasized his Catholic faith and brought his wife and three children on stage with him at Loras College in Dubuque.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

Early in-person voting has begun in Iowa, the first swing state to open polling sites.

Residents of the battleground state can now vote in person at their local county auditors' offices or turn them in by mail. Some areas will offer additional satellite locations.

At the Polk County Auditor's office in downtown Des Moines Thursday morning, a line of voters stretched down the block as the door opened.

Peter Clay, 62, was among the many supporters of President Obama. He says he's volunteered for the campaign on his days off from his job as a zookeeper.

Iowa law enables anyone obtaining one-hundred voter signatures to get a satellite voting at a site of their choosing.  Election officials must hold balloting at that location for at least one day before the November 6th general election.

Sandhya Dirks

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins is at the center of two bus tours making their way across the state this week.  Wiggins is part of the court that paved the way for same sex marriage here, and he is facing the same opposition that pushed three justices off the court in 2010. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, this time the Iowa Bar Association is stepping up their involvement in the election.

J. Stephen Conn / flickr

The town of Hampton is recognizing the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution with a week long "Libertyfest" celebration. Shawn Dietz, mayor of Hampton, wants to emphasize the historical document's impact on the nation. Though the event falls during election season, Dietz says the festivities honor patriotism and not partisanship.

Dietz joined "River to River" host Ben Kieffer in a discussion on the festivities.

The vice presidential race takes the reigns in Iowa

Sep 19, 2012

This week the race for Iowa’s six electoral votes is in the hands of the Vice Presidential candidates. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks attended rallies by both Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.

Although they were in different parts of the state you would have thought the two vice presidential candidates were debating in the same room. Vice President Joe Biden welcomed his opponent, "the good thing about Romney picking Ryan, is that Romney’s vague promises have now been given definition."
 

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican Steve King and Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack met in Hampton Monday night for another debate. It was the first time the incumbent met his opponent on ground that wasn’t part of his old district.  The two differed on just about every issue including controversial Iowa voter ID laws.

Drake University / Facebook

Former President Jimmy Carter says he disagrees with President Obama’s assessment this week of Egypt’s relationship to the United States.

The Democrat addressed students and faculty at Drake University in Des Moines Thursday. During a forum focused primarily on social justice issues, Carter was asked if he agrees with President Obama’s statement that Egypt is neither an ally nor an enemy.

"No, I think Egypt is an ally of the United States," Carter says. "We know Egypt well."

Sandhya Dirks / Iowa Public Radio

Most of the attention in the presidential race is focusing on the Democratic and Republican parties.  But there are, of course, third-party candidates … including former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is running as a Libertarian.

Johnson’s name will appear on the November ballot in Iowa after he survived a challenge from supporters of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. He’s faced similar challenges in several other states including Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Controversial voter ID laws across the country are getting a lot of attention. Here in Iowa, voter rules approved by Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz are also falling under scrutiny. The new rules could keep some of Iowa’s Latinos home on Election Day. That concern was brought up before a state rulemaking panel at the capitol Tuesday. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Both the Republican and Democratic national conventions are over. And both presidential candidates were in Iowa yesterday.  Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were using new jobs numbers to sway voters.

More than 8,000 people crowded outside Jessup Hall at the University of Iowa. A late afternoon rain soaked the crowd… many dressed in Hawkeye yellow and black as well as ponchos.  But the sky cleared up for Vice President Joe Biden to introduce the president.

The Democratic challenger in Iowa’s new Fourth Congressional District, Iowa's former first lady Christie Vilsack, came out swinging in the first face-to-face debate of the campaign.   Incumbent Republican Congressman Steve King was caught a little off guard.   

AP Photos

It’s the day after the conventions—do you know where you candidate is? If you guessed Iowa, you would be right. While President Obama stops at the University of Iowa, Republican Nominee Mitt Romney stumped at Northwestern College – a private Christian school. As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, Romney rallied the Republican base and tried to woo the youth vote.  

Courtesy Iowa Democratic Party

Sue Dvorsky is chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party as well as of the delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this year.   Speaking by phone from Charlotte, she says she's pleased with how President Obama is presenting his record to the public, and says Democrats are also concerned about the nation's deficit.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

On a muggy afternoon, President Obama addressed an open-air crowd of an about 10,000 people at Living History Farms near Des Moines. He says the GOP convention involved "a lot of talk about hard truths and bold choices, but nobody told you what they were."

Iowa Panel Says Gary Johnson Can Be on November Ballot

Aug 30, 2012
Gary Johnson campaign

Libertarian-minded voters will have a presidential candidate on the ballot in Iowa this November—but it won’t be Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who galvanized so many Iowa voters when he ran for the Republican nomination. Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson will have his name in the running, after a unanimous decision by a  three-person bipartisan panel.

Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican National Convention is underway in Florida, and while Iowa may not have the largest delegation, it’s still getting a lot of attention because of Iowa’s swing-state status.

The delegation also has been the source of controversy within the party, because most of its members have supported Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon speaks with delegation chairman Drew Ivers, who's also the former chairman of Paul’s Iowa campaign.

Clay Masters / IPR

President Barack Obama will be in Ames Tuesday. He’s likely to bring up the wind energy tax credit. That federal tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year. And the president’s opponent Mitt Romney opposes extending that credit. It's put Iowa’s top Republicans at odds with Governor Romney.

Iowa’s top Republicans--from Senator Chuck Grassley to Governor Terry Branstad-- want Romney to reconsider and give the tax credit a little more time.

Romney campaign

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney made a campaign stop at a manufacturing plant in Bettendorf Wednesday - not far from where President Obama wrapped up his three-day campaign swing through Iowa a week earlier.

Is the Political Fringe Moving Into the Mainstream?

Aug 22, 2012

One of the wackier sideshows in Iowa’s political theater happened earlier this summer  - when the Republican State Senate candidate in the 34th district declared the United States Government illegitimate, and dropped out of the race.

Randi Shannon then announced she was becoming a State Senator in something called the Republic for the United States of America.  Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks took a closer look at the political fringe.

One of the country's toughest congressional races is in Iowa between Republican Rep. Steve King and the state's former first lady, Christie Vilsack.

Iowa is losing a seat in the House after the election, due to redistricting. Now ultra-conservative King is facing a more moderate electorate as he runs in the newly redrawn 4th Congressional District against a political newcomer.

Clay Masters / IPR

One of the country’s toughest congressional races is here in Iowa. It’s between Steve King, a Republican incumbent and the state’s former First Lady Christie Vilsack - a political newcomer. Iowa’s losing a seat in the House after the election due to redistricting. Now ultra-conservative King is facing a more moderate electorate as he runs in the newly drawn 4th district. 

President Obama, First Lady, Wrap Up Iowa Swing

Aug 16, 2012

President Obama closed out his three-day bus trip across Iowa with an assist— from First Lady Michelle Obama. Her visit helped to highlight the president’s softer side—and remind Iowa why it holds such a special place for the first family.

Ryan and Obama Woo Voters at State Fair

Aug 14, 2012
Obama campaign Facebook page

The state of Iowa – and the Iowa State Fair— once again became the center of the political Universe this week.  Two skinny politicians from bordering Midwestern states stopped by the fair to try and drum up support for their respective campaigns—and along the way they threw a few punches. In the ring for the Republicans was the newly announced pick for vice president — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Stopping by in the evening for a beer and a pork chop? President Barack Obama.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrapped up a two-day campaign trip to Iowa Wednesday.   At a rally in downtown Des Moines, he did not back off a controversial claim that President Obama wants to end work requirements for welfare recipients.   Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell reports:

Office of Governor Branstad / Facebook

Starting Wednesday, Governor Terry Branstad starts paying 20 percent of his healthcare premium costs. He signed an executive order last month allowing other state workers to do the same. It has pushing the difference between private and public sector compensation back into the spotlight.

Right now Iowa is among only a handful of states where public workers don’t pay any of those costs.

League of Women Voters of California / Flickr

Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz  hopes to match  Iowa voter registration lists  against a federal database to purge non-citizens from the rolls.   Critics  call it  a solution in search of a problem.   

WNYC

If you were hoping the political ads would go away after the Iowa caucuses…well, no luck. As you’re probably well aware, Iowa is a swing state in this presidential election.  Both President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney are fighting hard for our six electoral votes in what's looking like a very tight race.

Reporter Anna Sale of WNYC (http://www.wnyc.org/) in New York is also a writer for the political blog, “It’s a Free Country.”  She's been spending the week in Iowa as part of a tour of key swing states.

Clay Masters / IPR

President Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids Tuesday. He spent a lot of time discussing his call this week to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to the middle class. He also addressed the economy… something his presumptive GOP opponent, Mitt Romney has attacked him on. And as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, how he addresses the lagging economy could be what makes or breaks his reelection.  

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