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‘It Is So Bad’: State Democratic Party Despairs Amid GOP Surge

Iowa Democrats are struggling in state politics after numerous electoral and legislative defeats by the GOP in recent years, The New York Times reported Friday.

Iowa had long been a purple state until former President Donald Trump’s success in 2016 and 2020, which disappointed the state Democratic Party, according to the NYT. Democrats in Iowa told the NYT they’re exhausted after numerous electoral defeats in recent years, with the GOP taking over the state legislature, the congressional delegation, holding the Senate and keeping the governorship.

“It is so bad,” Democratic state Sen. Claire Celsi told the NYT. “I can’t even describe to you how bad it is.”

Former Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, who’s seat flipped red after he retired in 2020, also expressed disappointment with the party’s losses to the NYT.

“There’s no question that Democrats are at a low point in Iowa,” Loebsack said. “It’s difficult even to recruit people to run when we’re so far down.”

Iowa went for former President Barack Obama twice, and had voted Democratic in every presidential race since 1988 except for former President George Bush in 2004, according to 270toWin. In 2016, then-candidate Trump beat Hillary Clinton by nearly 10 points, and defeated President Joe Biden 53.2% to 45% in 2020, according to Politico.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds assumed office in 2017 when Trump appointed then-Gov. Terry Branstad as U.S. Ambassador to China. Reynolds went on to win her first election in 2018 by 2.8 points, and overwhelmingly secured reelection by nearly 20 points.

The GOP controls both chambers of the state legislature and all four of Iowa’s congressional delegations, with Republican Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Ashley Hinson and Randy Feenstra winning their seats in 2021, and Zach Nunn defeating Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne in 2022. Both Senate seats are also occupied by Republicans with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

In three of the congressional seats that are up for reelection in 2024, no Democrats have announced their candidacy, according to the NYT.

“We should have candidates out there thinking, ‘If I get a few breaks, I can win,’” Pete D’Alessandro, former senior aide to independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ previous presidential campaigns in Iowa, told the NYT. “That we don’t is a direct reflection of having an incompetent party for the last couple of years.”

Iowa has only two large cities and college towns that the Democrats will likely continue to win, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, according to the NYT.

Along with losing electorally in recent years, Democrats have also faced several pieces of legislation successfully pushed by the GOP, according to the NYT. Reynolds signed a six-week abortion ban in mid-July and a new school choice program in January.

“It’s just been so exhausting and frustrating to continue to take losses,” Democratic state Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott told the NYT. “If I had known everything that I was getting into, I don’t think I would have run in the first place, because it’s just been really hard, but I see so much opportunity in Iowa.”

The Iowa Democratic Party did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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