David Young

So much Iowa, so little time
Snapshots of a state that will be a big deal politically for a while

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg talks with attendees at a campaign event in Fairfield, Iowa, on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — It is difficult for some people to accept that Iowa, a relatively small state in the middle of the country, has such an outsize role in determining the next president. But the Hawkeye State is more of a microcosm of U.S. politics and the country than it might first appear.

Iowa’s population of roughly 3 million people is tiny compared to mega-states like California, Texas and Florida, and it has a lack of racial diversity (it is about 87 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). But its voting patterns and political infrastructure make it a valuable barometer. 

The Iowa State Fair: Our hits, misses and lessons learned
Political Theater, Episode 88

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, says a quick hello to her son, Gunnar, as he works at a corn dog booth at the Iowa State Fair on Monday August 12, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — For all its quaintness and fun, the Iowa State Fair does a pretty good job of approximating politics at the national level, be it questions about electability and charisma or trade and agricultural policy.

“The debate within the party that is happening right now, is happening right in front of me at the Iowa State Fair between these two people,” CQ Roll Call senior politics writer Bridget Bowman says, recounting a conversation between a couple after hearing South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox on Aug. 13. The couple, both of whom told Bridget they were impressed with Buttigieg, were torn between what was more important for a Democratic candidate: offering bold ideas or being more likely to beat President Donald Trump.

The Iowa State Fair: Why do you have to come here to be president?
Political Theater, Episode 87

Iowa State Fair mascots walk by the Administration Building at the Iowa State Fair on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Iowa plays a big role in presidential politics because of its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Even by that standard, though, the Hawkeye State this time feels busier, more significant.

There are more than 20 Democrats running for president, and unlike in previous years, no one is writing the state off. There are also several competitive congressional races here. That means a very busy Iowa State Fair, because all these politicians want to meet voters, make their case at The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, flip pork chops at the pork tent and eat.

The Iowa State Fair: A day in the deep-fried life
Political Theater, Episode 86

People wait in the rain Sunday to hear Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, speak at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Yes, there are a lot of politicians who attend the Iowa State Fair to court voters. But there is so much else to this unique event, from the almost 70 fried foods on a stick, to giant slides, sea lions, butter cows and butter Big Birds; even arm-wrestling. A day in the life of the Iowa State Fair with Political Theater. 

Candidates, calories and cows: What really happens at the Iowa State Fair
Fear and Loathing in Des Moines

CQ Roll Call deputy editor Jason Dick chows down on a corn dog, just a few hundred of the thousands of calories he and his producers consumed in one day at the Iowa State Fair. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

‘Embrace it and take it all in’: Former Rep. David Young on the Iowa State Fair

Former Rep. David Young and Sen. Michael Bennet work the grill at the Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on August 11, 2019 (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call).

The Iowa State Fair: Our proactive primer on politics, pork and public officials
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 85

Politicians love to hang out at the Iowa State Fair, so that is where Political Theater will relocate next week to cover all the political races — for president, Senate and House — as well as various foods served on a stick. Here, Republican Rep. Steve King and future Sen. Joni Ernst hang out amid the pork at the Pork Tent in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Political Theater is heading to the Iowa State Fair to check out how the 2020 races for president and Senate and four competitive House contests are shaping up in this bellwether state. Why Iowa? Because that’s where the candidates are.

Bridget Bowman, our senior political writer, and Leah Askarinam of Inside Elections lay it all out for us on the latest episode of Political Theater. 

A closer look at what the alumni of the 115th Congress have been up to
Some have moved on to other offices, consulting or punditry. Some are plotting their way back

At the end of her brief tenure last Congress as representative for Michigan’s 13th District, Rep. Brenda Jones returned to the Detroit City Council where she serves as president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One hundred and fifteen former House members and senators, who served full or partial terms in the 115th Congress, are newly adapting to life after Capitol Hill. CQ Roll Call finds them in a wide variety of roles, ranging from the expected to the unusual.

Three lawmakers from the last Congress have died, either while serving or since leaving office. Here’s what the rest of the alums have been up to. 

National Democrats take sides in Iowa Senate primary
DSCC and EMILY’s List back Theresa Greenfield in race to take on GOP Sen. Joni Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is running for a second term in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 3:26 p.m. | National Democrats are taking sides in the primary to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in Iowa, with two groups and a presidential candidate backing Theresa Greenfield, who was an early favorite for a House race last year. 

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, which backs female Democrats who support abortion rights, both announced they were endorsing Greenfield in the race over two other Democrats who are running.

Iowa's David Young wants a rematch against Cindy Axne
Republican seeks comeback after bid for third term failed by 2 points last fall

Former Rep. David Young has announced a big for his old seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Iowa Rep. David Young is back for a rematch in Iowa’s 3rd District, which he lost to Democrat Cindy Axne by 2 points in 2018. 

“The policies advocated by Cindy Axne and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in this current Congress are harming Iowa’s families by hurting our economy and rights,” Young said in a statement Monday evening. “Iowans deserve better from their current representative.”