Kathie Obradovich's blog

Endorsing DeSantis is a risky move for Reynolds

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
November 6, 2023

I said on national television back in August that I would be very surprised if Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed a presidential candidate ahead of the 2024 caucuses.

Color me surprised. Reynolds is reportedly set to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a campaign event Monday evening in Des Moines and then take the show on the road, with stops in Davenport and Florida ahead of the third GOP presidential debate.

Reynolds first said over the summer she wouldn’t rule out a pre-caucus endorsement. The reasons I was skeptical then are the same ones that seem puzzling now: It’s a huge political risk for Reynolds and an even bigger hazard to the future of the Iowa GOP caucuses.

DeSantis was 29 percentage points behind former President Donald Trump in the Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely GOP caucusgoers published a week ago. The Florida governor lost his lead over former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who’s now tied with him at 16%. While Reynolds’ backing is certainly a boon at a crucial time for DeSantis, it seems like a stretch that it would push him over the top to defeat Trump in January and launch him to the nomination.

Des Moines Register caucus poll shows ‘hands off’ approach to Trump isn’t working for rival candidates

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 21, 2023

The latest Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of the Iowa caucus race, published Monday, was a blowout. Former President Donald Trump holds more than a 2-to-1 lead over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Good luck, governor – Questioning presidential candidates will be harder than she seems to think

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
July 24, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who rarely speaks to Iowa journalists, now wants to try her hand at their job.

Reynolds announced last week that she plans to personally interview all of the GOP presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair. And not only that, but she plans to “go beyond just the issues of a presidential campaign and allow fairgoers to see who the candidates really are.”

That is an ambitious goal. Presidential candidates, like most politicians, tend to be extremely invested in making sure nobody can pin down “who they really are.” It gets in the way of their aim to be all things to all people.

Iowa Republicans can’t go back to 2018 to dodge fallout of their abortion ban

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
July 10, 2023

What Iowa GOP lawmakers and Gov. Kim Reynolds are planning to do in Tuesday’s special session may have started out as the most politically expedient course of action on abortion – but it could backfire in a spectacular way.

Here’s why.

Reynolds and the GOP majority under the golden dome are coming back into session at the cost of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to try again to pass a law banning most abortions after roughly six weeks of gestation.

No matter what they pass, this law is going straight back to court, at the cost of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars for litigation, again at the expense of taxpayers. Its ultimate fate will not be decided before the Legislature’s regular session in January. In fact, it probably won’t be decided before the 2024 elections.

Abortion ruling heightens risk to judicial independence, balance of powers in Iowa

Iowa Capital Dispatch
June 19, 2023

The Iowa Supreme Court’s surprising deadlock on the state’s “fetal heartbeat” bill sets up a difficult and potentially divisive election-year debate among Republicans in the Iowa Legislature – and not just about abortion. It also is likely to inspire even more Republican zeal to weaken the separation of powers and judicial independence in Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and GOP lawmakers have put considerable effort into reengineering the courts to their advantage. They revamped the membership of the judicial nominating commission in 2019, to give the governor more power over the people in charge of vetting and recommending applicants for positions on Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

GOP campaign messaging needs a reality check

Iowa Capital Dispatch

It’s been a while since I attended an Iowa caucus cattle call. After spending most of Saturday at Sen. Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride event at the Iowa State fairgrounds, featuring eight GOP presidential candidates, I was most surprised by how little things change.

In a lot of ways, it could have been the summer of 2015. Just like this year, the rhetoric from Republican candidates running for the 2016 caucuses was heavy on immigration and government overspending, energy costs, crime at home and dangers abroad.

The national media, this year as in 2015, were obsessed with the wonder of retail politics and wrote very little about what candidates actually said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brought his kids and a bouncy house, gave away ice cream and managed to have a few conversations with voters that weren’t painfully awkward. Sen. Chuck Grassley wore socks given to him by Sen. Tim Scott. (Is that some kind of new endorsement by footwear?)

Iowa’s historically small legislative session

Iowa Capital Dispatch
May 8, 2023

We heard from Republican lawmakers that the recently completed legislative session was “historic.” It sure was — historically small.

With a few exceptions, the major GOP priorities of the legislative session will benefit relatively small numbers of Iowans, in some cases at a gigantic cost to the most vulnerable among us.

Iowa Senate GOP answers state supreme court’s call for transparency by. . . hiding from questions

Iowa Capital Dispatch
April 24, 2023

The Iowa Supreme Court sent a strong message to the Iowa Legislature. The Statehouse majority party heard it and came up with the most idiotic and harmful response imaginable.

This should surprise no one.

Last Monday, during what turned out to be an all-nighter in the Iowa Senate, Sen. Adrian Dickey, R-Packwood, shocked and angered Senate Democrats by refusing to address a reasonable question about the child labor bill. When Waterloo Democrat Bill Dotzler asked Dickey to “yield” to a question, which is legislative protocol when lawmakers speak to each other on the floor, Dickey simply said, “No.”

GOP principles: up in smoke at Iowa Statehouse

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
March 13, 2023

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature like to talk about their bedrock principles. This year, those principles seem to be printed on tissue paper and every new bill lights another match.

I wrote a whole column last week about how Statehouse Republicans, despite their repeated declarations of trust for parents, are working to eliminate choices for many. That was just one example, and the pattern has been regularly repeated.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Rep. Chad Ingels of Randalia, one of five Republicans who voted against the ban on gender-affirming health care for minors:

“This (bill) seeds division. It also asks the question: When do parents matter? Many people have talked already today that we have had a lot of talk, a lot of discussion, about parents mattering. Parents being the focus. But that’s until those parents think differently than us. You think differently than we do? To hell with them.”

But the abandonment of trust for parents isn’t the only one way the majority of Republicans are shredding previous principles. A central argument for banning drug therapies such as puberty blockers for minors was what Republicans cited as a lack of medical research on the long-term “efficacy” and safety of the medication.

And yet, just last year, House Republicans went to the wall to push through so-called “right to try” legislation to enable unapproved, unproven and potentially unsafe off-label use of drugs for certain patients. They wanted to clear the way for internet-fad remedies like ivermectin, commonly used to deworm horses, to treat COVID-19.

‘Don’t say Kim?’ – Governor Reynold's bill would regulate schools’ use of student nicknames

Iowa Capital Dispatch
February 13, 2023

The Republican Party’s obsession with sex and gender identity has reached a fever pitch in the Iowa Statehouse this year. Gov. Kim Reynolds and her gang of helicopter mothers are clutching their pearls so hard they must be cutting off oxygen to their brains. At this rate, they will end up banning rainbows before the next election.

Iowa GOP lawmakers have expanded on the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law from Florida, extending the prohibition in schools on all things LGBTQ all the way to eighth grade. The Florida ban specifies kindergarten through third grade.

Sen. Sandy Salmon’s version of the bill, Senate File 159, would create draconian civil penalties from $10,000 to $50,000 for schools where violations occur and are not immediately corrected. The bill prohibits any instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-8, while also requiring instruction on human growth and development to be “age-appropriate” and research-based. That seems like a contradiction, since pretending LGBTQ people don’t exist is neither age-appropriate nor research-based. It’s delusional.


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