Clay Masters

.05pt">Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. He was part of a team of member station political reporters who covered the 2016 presidential race for NPR. He also covers environmental issues.

.05pt">Clay joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse correspondent in 2012 and started hosting Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

.05pt">He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Lincoln, Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network.

He’s also an occasional music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Damien Jurado will admit he has a bit of an addictive personality. In the past two months while stuck at home in Washington state, he's channeled that energy into songwriting. Jurado says he's already written three distinctly different albums in isolation, and that's on top of What's New, Tomboy, the record he already had in the can and that just came out on May 1.

"I don't know what moderation is," he explains.

A wide open competitive presidential primary should be a moment of opportunity and peak political leverage for ambitious and aspiring politicians in places like Iowa. But one of the most sought-after Democrats in the first-in-the-nation caucus state isn't interested in endorsing a presidential candidate.

As the youngest of a handful of Democrats in statewide office in Iowa, state Auditor Rob Sand, who was elected in 2018, is often mentioned as a potential future U.S. Senate or gubernatorial candidate.

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Farmers in the rural Midwest say they are struggling because of President Trump's ongoing trade war and a recent decision the president made on renewable fuels made from corn and soybeans that benefits the oil industry.

"We're tightening our belt," farmer Aaron Lehman says while driving his tractor down a rural road near his farm north of Des Moines, Iowa. "We're talking to our lenders, our landlords [and] our input suppliers."

The Iowa caucuses are still nine months away, and with at least 20 Democrats either considering a run or officially declared, many of them are looking for ways to stand out in the crowded field. One tried-and-true way: show up in voters' homes.

At first glance, Storm Lake, Iowa, doesn't seem like the sort of place that would attract Democratic presidential candidates.

The town of 10,600 sits in the highly conservative northwest corner of the state. In 2016, Donald Trump collected 4,903 votes in surrounding Buena Vista County, compared with Hillary Clinton's 2,856 votes.

The majority of states hold partisan elections for the person who also oversees the state's elections. The secretary of state, as the role is often called, is the chief election official and in most places that person is a Republican. As some Republican-led states have adopted strict voting laws, Democrats have made many of those races a priority this year.

Next month, 36 states will elect a governor. Nine of those races, where Republicans are in office, are so competitive that some analysts say they are a toss-up. Even though a Republican is in office now, the winner could come from either party.

Like in Iowa, where Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds can't seem to inch past her Democratic challenger, businessman Fred Hubbell, who has been polling several points ahead of her for months.

Many conservatives pundits and lawmakers were incensed that President Donald Trump appeared to make a deal with Democrats to enshrine into law the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields many undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children. To make matters worse for immigration hawks, Trump is also not requiring funding to build a wall along the Mexican border as a condition of the possible deal.

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Lawmakers in Iowa began debating a bill Tuesday to dramatically change how public sector unions negotiate their contracts, part of a wave of legislation in statehouses across the country to roll back union rights.

The bill, similar to a 2011 law in Wisconsin, is high on the state's legislative agenda and comes as Republicans control both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor's mansion for the first time in nearly 20 years.

From the Black Lives Matter movement to environmentalists trying to stop new oil pipelines to the recent Women's March against President Trump, the past year has been filled with large, often spontaneous protests.

Now the reaction to those protests is appearing in a number of Republican-controlled statehouses across the country, where lawmakers are introducing proposals to increase penalties for those who block roadways while protesting.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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There's one issue the major presidential candidates seem to agree on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they're opposed to President Obama's multi-national trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

If Republicans don't hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Democrats believe the issue could help them win the Senate this November.

One test case for this proposition is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees Supreme Court nominations.

At 82 years old, Grassley has coasted safely to re-election for decades and is seeking his seventh Senate term this fall.