Smart Politics blog author Eric Ostermeier is now also a regular on-line commentator for Twin Cities Public Television's Almanac: At The Capitol website. Ostermeier is part of that website's "Brain Trust" - a collection of political opinion leaders who write brief essays on the current issues affecting state politics in Minnesota. Contributors include lawmakers, bloggers, think-tankers, and media observers. Ostermeier's first contribution examines the hurdles facing state lawmakers in their attempt to measure the public's pulse on education policy. You can read that essay here.
Barack Obama has delivered an address before a joint session of Congress eight times since taking office five years ago. During his first three speeches (February 2009's inaugural address to Congress, September 2009's address on health care reform, and the 2010 State of the Union), the president's tie color of choice was red. After the GOP tsunami in November 2010, Obama has opted for a blue tie in four of his five speeches held in the Republican-controlled lower legislative chamber (for the 2011, 2013, and 2014 SOTUs and his September 2011 address on job growth). The president reverted back to his red tie only once, for the 2012 SOTU.
Tom Latham's surprise announcement last month that he would retire from the U.S. House at this end of this term was also an unusual exit in modern Hawkeye State history. Over the last 50+ years since the 1962 cycle, only six of 32 Iowa U.S. Representatives - including Latham - left the chamber via retirement, or 18 percent: Democrats Merwin Coad in 1962 and Berkley Bedell in 1986 and Republicans Charles Hoeven in 1964, Harold Gross in 1974, Cooper Evans in 1986, and Latham in 2014. Seventeen others were defeated in reelection bids, while nine ran for higher office. Five of these were defeated (Republicans Tom Tauke in 1990, Fred Grandy in 1994, Jim Lightfoot in 1996, Greg Ganske in 2002, Jim Nussle in 2006), three were victorious (John Culver in 1974, Chuck Grassley in 1980, Tom Harkin in 1984), with one yet to be determined (1st CD Democrat Bruce Braley, running for U.S. Senate this cycle).
Budget and taxes
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Race and ethnicity