Showing posts with label Iowa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iowa. Show all posts

February 4, 2020

This is How Pete Buttigieg Earn His Support in an Formerly Anti Gay Iowa

Pete Buttigieg doesn’t often remind people that he’s running a historic presidential campaign. The 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has emphasized an easy-to-like persona: a nice-guy Midwesterner with middle-of-the-road policies and a bit of Obama-style hope-and-change rhetoric. As he campaigns across Iowa ahead of Monday’s caucuses, he doesn’t make much of the fact that he’s the first openly gay candidate with a serious chance of being the nominee of a major political party.

Mayor Pete’s sexuality isn’t a primary point of conversation in the 2020 race is a remarkable testament to how much LGBTQ rights have progressed over the past decade. And it’s even more striking in Iowa, where Buttigieg has centered his campaign on winning smaller, rural counties, places that just a decade ago were the epicenter of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the state. 

In April 2009, six years before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in favor of it. The case, Varnum v. Brien, made Iowa the first state outside the liberal coastal enclaves to legalize gay marriage. Only Massachusetts and Connecticut had marriage equality at that time. (California had briefly legalized gay marriage thanks to a court ruling before voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 banning it.) While it might have seemed out of step for Iowa to be at the forefront of the issue, as I wrote for the American Prospect in 2011: “The state also has a history of extending civil rights earlier than the federal government. In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court’s first opinion granted citizenship to a slave when he entered the territory from Illinois. Iowa had desegregated its schools by 1868; a year later, it became the first state to admit women to the bar.”

Beyond checking off another state for activists, Iowa represented something different from the previous victories, a test case for how marriage equality might be accepted in the more rural parts of the country.

It didn’t go well at first. In Iowa, state Supreme Court judges are subject to judicial “retention” elections, a yes-or-no vote on whether a judge should keep their seat on the bench. Prior to Varnum, these had been staid elections. Judges didn’t run any sort of political campaigns to keep their jobs, and in the five decades, the system had been in place only four judges, each accused of malfeasance at work, had lost a vote. But three months before Election Day 2010, Bob Vander Plaats, a leading figure of the state’s evangelical right, launched a campaign on the steps of the state capitol, pushing voters to say no to three of the Supreme Court judges up for retention that year thanks to their vote on Varnum. Vander Plaats’ efforts were boosted by a string of right-wing national groups—the American Family Association, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Family Research Council—with nearly $1 million spent to fund TV ads and a bus tour for the sort of race that typically had zero dollars in campaign cash. Each of the three Varnum judges lost. 

“He’s getting support in the areas where we lost the worst on marriage.”
Buttigieg doesn’t ignore Varnum, but he doesn’t spend much time at his events dwelling on the trailblazing aspect of his campaign. On a Thursday morning rally in Decorah, a small town in the upper northeast corner of the state, he didn’t make any reference to his sexuality until the last minute of his prepared remarks. When I saw him at his next event 60 miles south in Independence, he excised that aspect as intro instead using it as his closing note at the end of the Q&A portion. 

In both instances, he spun out that detail in the same fashion: “Iowa has this beautiful capacity for showing what can be done for people who aren’t quite sure,” he said in Decorah. “I was a volunteer—first time I ever came through Iowa, the first time I set foot in this state, they sent me to Creston as a volunteer on the Obama campaign in 2008. And I was here in Iowa when this state changed what the country and world thought was possible in American presidential politics. And then, about a decade ago, I wasn’t here to see it, but I was watching from where I lived when this state gave me permission to believe that someone like me could be wearing this wedding ring that I’ve got on right now.”

If you’d asked political analysts five years ago if an openly gay candidate could capture a swell of support in Iowa, that wouldn’t have been unimaginable. But they likely would have assumed that said the candidate had gained momentum through anchoring support in the state’s cities, the places already more friendly to same-sex couples before Varnum came around.

But if Buttigieg ends up winning Iowa, it’ll be thanks to places like Decorah and Independence. While Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have worked to rev up voters in the state’s cities and suburbs, Mayor Pete’s closing push has been all about the rural eastern part of the state, places that flipped from Obama to Trump. That’s the case for both Winneshiek County—home of Decorah—which went for Obama by 23 percent in 2008 but which Trump won narrowly in 2016, and Buchanan County—home of Independence—which was +18 percent for Obama in ’08 before Trump won by 15 points. Buttigieg’s campaign boasts that the large audiences he is turning out draw from some of the same crowd who voted for Trump four years ago. “I am meeting so many of what I like to call future-former-Republicans, who are determined to replace this president,” Buttigieg said in Decorah. “And they are more than welcome to this movement that we built.”

“He’s getting support in the areas where we lost the worst on marriage,” says Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, who I first met back in 2011 when he was in charge of One Iowa, the state LGBTQ rights group that had helped spearhead the lawsuit that legalized marriage. “It’s the suburban areas, it’s the rural areas, that’s where he’s doing really well.” 

Back in 2012, after a month of crisscrossing the state to track the Republicans challenging Barack Obama, I stuck around after the caucuses to try to answer a question: In the three years since Varnum, how had legal same-sex marriage changed perceptions in small-town Iowa? Whether same-sex marriage could garner mainstream support at the time was still an open dispute. Barack Obama had so far stayed silent on the issue, and no state had legalized marriage through a popular vote (though both of those facts would change by the end of that year).

I traveled to Clayton County, which went heavily against the three judges in 2010, voting them out by double-digit margins. The county seat, Elkader, with a population of just over 1,200 people, draws tourist traffic during the spring and summer. There is little change in gradient to most of Iowa’s landscape except for the northeastern corner Elkader occupies, one of the few spots in this part of the Midwest that the ice age glaciers supposedly bypassed. Elkader is particularly scenic, lying in the base of a valley surrounded by Iowa’s best approximation of mountains. If you drew a line between Decorah and Independence, Elkader would be just a little east of the exact midpoint.

In Elkader, I met two men in their 80s who had moved to the town before the court decision but married shortly after Varnum. They told me they hadn’t encountered much backlash, and continued on with their lives, still volunteering at the small local museum with no trouble. “You can do the same thing in a big city, but that’s because in a big city you’re anonymous,” one of them told me. 

“Well, nobody is anonymous here, and that’s what makes it very gratifying. That you are known.” The small stretch of downtown was anchored by an Algerian restaurant run by a young gay couple, one of whom, Brian Bruening, now runs the county Democrats. When I stopped by a Saturday evening mass at the local Catholic church, the woman who served as the cantor was married to another woman. “We don’t all have the same faith and we don’t all walk the same way,” the church’s 77-year-old priest told me after the service, explaining why his congregation should make a concerted effort to reach out with an open heart to those who might have different views.

“The hearts and minds of people started changing so quickly on it, once they started seeing couples getting married,” Price says. “That was always the plan when they started down this path of the lawsuit in ’05, if we can get it in Iowa it will spread everywhere because it’s not just an east coast or west coast thing.” 

To be sure, not all was rosy. Some parents were still wary to let their children around gay and lesbian couples. The pastor at the evangelical church on the outskirts of town was far less welcoming. “If you want a church that will proclaim that homosexuality is ok and that same-sex marriage is ok, if you look long enough, you’ll find one,” he told me back then. “They won’t follow the word of God as it’s written.” But even he acknowledged that it wasn’t so clear cut. “It’s one of those subjects where everyone wants to be accepting of everyone, but we can’t compromise God’s truth for that.”

But it was clear that those interactions might slowly melt away the hate as time went by. “Being at One Iowa in 2010 and 2011,” Price says today, “not only were there people still hesitant because of what happened with the judges, there were people bitter that it was ‘our fault’ for pushing that lawsuit and putting us in this position, that we would have won all this stuff if it hadn’t been for Varnum. By 2015, when the US Supreme Court ruling came out, [the politics of marriage equality had become] a positive out there. You could feel it, you could see that out there. It just moved really quickly after 2010, it just moved really fast.”

Buttigieg swung by Elkader last September. “The most important, the best thing in my life, my marriage, only exists by the grace of a single vote on the US Supreme Court,” he said in his remarks. “And by the way, thank you Iowa for what you did to bring about marriage equality in the United States.” He’s earned the support­­ of Bruening, who said in his endorsement, “I’m with Pete because I see a better future in him—a better America and a better world.” Bruening told me that Buttigieg drew the biggest crowd of any of the Democrats and that perhaps about a third of the attendees were people who have voted Republican. “That he’s married to a man,” Bruening says, “is so not an issue.” 

Buttigieg’s hesitancy to make too much of his place as a first in presidential politics hasn’t exactly engendered goodwill from some activists in the LGBTQ community. Last week, Iowan Lyz Lenz wrote a piece for Gen headlined “What Pete Buttigieg Doesn’t Understand About LGBTQ Life in Iowa,” in which she explained how, while marriage might be a more settled issue, there are still plenty of equality fights in the state, and the local community wasn’t fully behind Mayor Pete. 

But the fact that Buttigieg’s allyship is quieter, that his marriage to Chasten Buttigieg would be a boringly bland political marriage were it not for their respective genders, might be what helps normalize his relationship for these rural communities. “The fact that he’s palatable to middle America,” Bruening says, “is why he’s popular in Iowa.”

“If you step into some of the smaller towns, the more rural towns, you can hear the slurs used as a casual form of language, but the young people today are much more open to letting people live their lives however they want,” Dan Callahan, the chair of the Independence County Democrats, who had introduced Buttigieg, told me after his event in Buchanan county last week, as George Michael’s “Freedom” played over the loudspeakers to usher out the crowd. “There’s a lot of these older people here today. They’re the same way. ‘What you do doesn’t affect me, so I’ll let you do it, if you let me do what I want.’ That’s a lot of what Iowa is all about.”

As much as rigid gender norms loosened nationally in the 2010s, people across the LGBTQ spectrum still face plenty of discrimination, and things haven’t progressed nearly as far on trans rights as they have on marriage equality. Just last week, a group of nine Republicans in the state legislature, including the representative for Clayton County, introduced a bill that would have stripped trans protections from the Iowa Civil Rights Act, but the Republican in charge of the relevant committee quickly killed the provision. “It’s one of those issues,” Price says, “that has moved so quickly and become such a non-issue for most people’s minds that when the Republicans do start talking about it, they get immediate pushback.” Should Iowa send Mayor Pete forward as its top choice against Trump, it doesn’t mean the state is absolved of any lingering homophobia, just as Barack Obama’s win here in the 2008 caucuses didn’t mean racism was solved in the Hawkeye state.

But the fact that Pete is even a competitive candidate, and that the main reason he has a chance is thanks to the small towns that just a decade ago would have been highly judgmental to someone like him, is a quiet success story—one of the few political bright spots of the Trump era.

“There’s a lot of people here who are probably still uncomfortable,” Callahan told me. “But it doesn’t mean they’re going to treat you differently or do anything differently. And they’re certainly not going to vote to support those kinds of actions.” 

November 18, 2019

Pete Buttigieg Jumps Way Ahed on The Iowa Poll


 Pete Buttigieg continues to surge in Iowa, leapfrogging Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to hold a commanding lead among likely Democratic caucusgoers, according to a new poll from The Des Moines Register and CNN.

The poll showed that Mr. Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., was the first choice for 25 percent of would-be Democratic caucusgoers, a significant increase from the 9 percent he held in September when The Register last polled the state. The support placed him far ahead of the rest of the field — with the other three top candidates in a virtual tie for second: Ms. Warren at 16 percent and Mr. Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders at 15 percent.

The results are the latest evidence of Mr. Buttigieg’s strength in Iowa, where his moderate political views, plain-spoken style, and military history have resonated in the early voting state. Since September, when he placed fourth in the Register poll, he has more than doubled his on-the-ground staff to over 100 and has opened more than 20 field offices. He recently completed another bus tour in the state.

Speaking to reporters in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday night during the state’s Democratic convention, Mr. Buttigieg said the just-released poll numbers were “extremely encouraging.”
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“We have felt a lot of momentum on the ground,” he said.

His rise also suggests that voters, in Iowa at least, are increasingly favoring a centrist agenda — a view that has drawn two new entrants, Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, into the race this month.

The poll results reflect the deep split within the Democratic Party over whether it is veering too far to the left to defeat President Trump. Speaking on Friday to a room of wealthy liberal donors, former President Barack Obama expressed concern about some of the policy ideas being promoted by some of the candidates, citing health care and immigration as issues where the proposals may not align with public opinion. 

Though he did not single out any candidates directly, his remarks were seen as an implicit criticism of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, two of the leading candidates who are pushing policy plans once considered too liberal, like “Medicare for all,” with the broader goal of “political revolution” and “big, structural change.”

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr. Obama said. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”

Ms. Warren, who led the Register’s September poll, with 22 percent, fell 6 percentage points. Her poll numbers are now roughly what they were in June when she was at 15 percent. Mr. Sanders, who suffered a heart attack shortly after the last poll results were released, climbed 4 percentage points.

Mr. Biden, who has seen his standing in Iowa slowly slip, dropped 5 percentage points.

In addition to identifying a new Iowa front-runner, the poll has once again delineated a clear divide between the top tier of Democratic candidates — Mr. Buttigieg, Ms. Warren, Mr. Biden, and Mr. Sanders — and the rest of the field. The next-closest candidate in the poll was Senator Amy Klobuchar, with 6 percent, followed by a cluster of White House hopefuls with 3 percent, including Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, and Andrew Yang.

Mr. Bloomberg, who has suggested he would skip the first four early nominating states, including Iowa if he were to officially enter the race, was at 2 percent.

April 13, 2018

In Iowa A GOP Gov Wanted an Anti LGBT BD OF Med. Candidate But The Dem Senate Rejected it

This is happens twice in the span of the year and twice is been put down with candidates that seem qualify except in Social Issues. You can't have some one for the Board of Medicine who beleive some of the people he'she is going to serve are sick or religious unfit. The person needs to have respect for all and the law. Last year it was an anti abortion candidate.  These reinforces things we know, that if we have a legislature/congress froma party that beleie in scial justice even a wild card on a Governnor can be restrained to do the right thing. If this was so natioanlly we would a different world right now!  🦊

Gov. Reynolds’ nominee for a position on the Iowa Board of Medicine went down to defeat in a  confirmation vote in  the Iowa Senate today.  
Nevada resident Katherine Asjes is the wife of a NATO flight officer with a background in public relations who has lived all over the world, but settled in Iowa in 2005.     
The Senate voted 30 to 18 for confirmation, short of the two-thirds majority required. 
Senate Democrats objected to a post on a Catholic blog in which Asjes agreed with negative views about the LGBT community.    
“Our caucus is interested in making sure that anyone appointed to the Board of Medicine will protect the health of all Iowans,” said Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen.   “After doing some research there were some concerns, red flags, caused pause in moving that confirmation forward.”
An entry on The Catholic World Report criticized a movement in the Catholic Church to accept gays and lesbians.  The entry goes on to say that when the Church began to focus on the unitive rather than procreative aspects of sex, that led to the acceptance of homosexuality.     
“I completely agree with all you have said here,” Katherine Asjes wrote on the blog. 
Urbandale Republican Brad Zaun called Asjes more than qualified for a position on the Board of Medicine.  He called it “disgusting” that Asjes was opposed  for one comment on a blog.
“So we bring her down, her whole family down,” Zaun said. “Freedom of speech only works on this side of the aisle.” 
Petersen said she advised Gov. Reynolds that the confirmation was in  trouble, but the governor did not take Asjes out of consideration.  
In a statement, the governor’s spokeswoman Brenna Smith called the vote disappointing. 
“Senate Democrats voted down a well-qualified nominee who wanted to give her time and talents to the State of Iowa,” Smith said.   
Last year,  Senate Democrats defeated Gov. Branstad’s nominees Diane Clark and Hamid Tewfik for additional terms on the Board of Medicine because of their votes against telemed abortions.     
“This is the Board of Medicine,” Peterson said last year.  “This is not Gov. Branstad and Kim Reynolds' board that they politically stack with people who won't back a woman's constitutional right for a legal medical procedure.”   
It is adamfoxie's 10th🦊Anniversay. 10 years witnessing the world and bringing you a pieace whcih is ussually not getting its due coverage. 4.9 Million Reads

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