Bill Foster (D-inc): 44
Randy Hultgren (R): 45
The National Republican Campaign Committee announced more moves in its “Young Guns” program today. Two of the districts affected are in Iowa.
The NRCC added Rob Gettemy to its list of “on the radar” candidates. Gettemy is one of four Republicans running against Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s second Congressional district.
“The NRCC is committed to working with Rob Gettemy as he continues to meet the rigorous goals of the Young Guns program,” said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions. “Rob is an accomplished, independent leader who will fight to create jobs and rein in government spending. I am confident that Republicans will wage a strong fight against Dave Loebsack, a loyal Democrat who has repeatedly put his partisan agenda before a healthy economy.”
They’ll have to do more than that to convince me that this D+7 district will be competitive in the fall. The real reason for putting Gettemy “on the radar” is to signal to Republican donors that he’s the guy to support in this race. It’s a slap in the face to 2008 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks, not to mention the other two Republicans running in IA-02 (Steve Rathje and Chris Reed). Gettemy joined the race last but has the most cash on hand thanks to a $100,000 loan he made to his own campaign.
If no candidate wins 35 percent in the June 8 primary, NRCC support could help Gettemy at the district convention that would decide the Republican nominee. Gettemy already has backing from many prominent Republicans in Linn County (Cedar Rapids and its suburbs).
In the NRCC’s three-tiered system for candidates in supposedly competitive races, the next step up from “on the radar” is “contender.” Jim Gibbons’ campaign announced today that the NRCC has elevated him to that level. Gibbons became an “on the radar” candidate in February. If Gibbons can meet certain benchmarks, the NRCC may later elevate him to the top “Young Gun” level, for candidates deemed to have the best chances of winning Democratic-held House seats.
Getting a pat on the back from the NRCC will help Gibbons raise money, particularly from out-of-district donors who don’t know the political terrain in Iowa’s third district (D+1). Gibbons outraised the other Republican candidates in IA-03 by a substantial margin in the first quarter, and being a “contender” will probably help him extend that financial advantage in the second quarter. The Gibbons campaign press release is not subtle:
By achieving ‘Contender’ status, Gibbons has already proven his ability to build a successful campaign structure and achieve vital fundraising goals.
Gibbons added, “This recognition shows that our campaign is ready to take down Leonard Boswell in the fall. I am the only candidate in this race that has shown the financial heft and organization structure to compete and win in November. I am running for Congress to bring Iowa values back to Congress,” said Jim Gibbons.
I have to laugh to see Gibbons bragging about support from Washington party leaders a week after he tried to attack incumbent Leonard Boswell for getting help from the head of the DCCC. From where I’m sitting, Gibbons does not look ready for prime time.
Many people on the ground in IA-03 expect State Senator Brad Zaun to win the Republican nomination. Zaun appears to have an early advantage in name recognition as well as a base in vote-rich Urbandale (a Des Moines suburb). On the other hand, Zaun has raised only a little more than $80,000 for his Congressional campaign, about $50,000 of that in the first quarter. It may not be enough for strong district-wide advertising and direct mail before the June 8 primary. A majority of Republican voters haven’t yet decided on a candidate, according to a recent poll commissioned by Zaun’s campaign.
If no candidate wins 35 percent in the primary, Zaun could be well-positioned to win the nomination at a district convention, having much more background in Republican politics. But Gibbons could point to the NRCC’s backing as an argument in his favor. Party leaders in Washington are less likely to commit resources to this district if Zaun is the candidate.
A final word on Zaun’s meager fundraising. His defenders claim that his fundraising has lagged because he was tied up in the state legislature from January through March. I’m not buying it. Zaun announced his candidacy against Boswell in early December, more than a month before the 2010 legislative session began. If Rod Roberts could raise more than $50,000 in the kickoff event for his gubernatorial campaign, Zaun should have been able to raise much more at his kickoff event in late December (before the legislative session began). Zaun is a former mayor of Urbandale, a community with much more wealth and more Republicans than the Carroll area Roberts has represented in the Iowa House. Zaun should have a large pool of major donors to tap.
Share any thoughts about Congressional races in Iowa in this thread.
Iowa Democrat Roxanne Conlin gave her U.S. Senate campaign $250,000 during the first quarter of 2010 and raised nearly $630,000 from other donors.
From this morning’s press release:
Conlin Campaign Raises More than all of Grassley’s Past Challengers Combined
Has $1 Million in the Bank
Banked $879,615 in First Quarter with NO PAC or WASHINGTON LOBBYIST MONEY
Des Moines – Roxanne Conlin’s grassroots campaign for the US Senate has more than $1 million in the bank. Iowans made up 81 percent of the campaign’s contributors and she has not accepted one penny from Washington lobbyists or PACs.
“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support for our campaign,” said Conlin. “Our grassroots effort has reached 93 counties and we will reach the remaining six this weekend. Iowans keep telling me, Chuck Grassley is not the same man they sent to Washington decades ago. We need a fighter who will stand up for Main Street and not bail out Wall Street.”
No PAC or Washington lobbyist funds.
81 percent of donors are Iowans.
78 percent of contributions are $100 or less.
Campaign to date raised: $1,483,191
First Quarter 2010 raised: $629,615
Candidate contribution: $250,000
First Quarter PAC Money: $0
First Quarter Federal Lobbyist Money: $0
First Quarter 2010 total: $879,615
Cash on hand: $1,000,455
Those are impressive numbers for a challenger, especially since Grassley is not considered one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents. Grassley’s last Democratic opponent, Art Small, only raised about $136,000 during the whole 2004 campaign, and about $70,000 of that total came from the candidate himself.
I haven’t seen Grassley’s latest fundraising numbers yet. He raised about $810,000 during the fourth quarter of last year and began 2010 with about $5 million on hand. While Grassley will surely have a big cash-on-hand edge over Conlin, she will have the resources to run a statewide campaign.
I haven’t seen first-quarter numbers for the other Democratic candidates, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen, but at year-end Fiegen had about $400 on hand, and Krause had about $3,500.
At Iowa Independent, Jason Hancock covered a recent dustup among the Democratic candidates over debates before the June 8 primary. I hope we will see some debates in addition to candidate forums. I plan to vote for Conlin, whose work I have long admired and who is best positioned to make the race competitive. Not only has she raised money, she will have a strong volunteer base. Just in my own precinct I know several Democrats who are not inclined to volunteer for Governor Chet Culver but will knock on doors or make phone calls for Conlin. By next Monday she will have held campaign events in all 99 Iowa counties.
I respect the Democrats who prefer Krause or Fiegen, and I understand why some people were annoyed by Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan’s apparent favoritism last year. Competitive primaries are often healthy for a party, and I particularly appreciate that Krause has kept his message focused on his good ideas and Grassley’s flaws as a public servant. I hope the final eight weeks of the primary campaign will not become too divisive.
UPDATE: Grassley raised $613,577 in the first quarter and has about $5.3 million cash on hand. I am surprised that Conlin was able to out-raise the incumbent for the quarter even if you don’t count her own large contribution to the campaign.
Roxanne Conlin’s campaign for U.S. Senate released partial fundraising numbers yesterday, and they are impressive:
Total cash raised (Nov. 2 – Dec. 31):
Cash on hand:
Total individual donors: 1,649 (1,395 Iowans/85% Iowans)
Online supporters signed up: Over 31,000
Donations $100 and under: 1,332
Donations $250 and under: 1,433
All of Conlin’s campaign contributions came from individual supporters, because she has pledged not to accept contributions from federal lobbyists or PACs. (I wouldn’t have advised her to take that stance, because there are PACs and lobbyists fighting for good things as well as those working against the public interest.) In any event, she has shown that she can raise enough money to staff and run a statewide campaign. Conlin is about a third of the way through a 99-county tour she began earlier this month.
I haven’t seen year-end fundraising numbers from Senator Chuck Grassley yet. At the end of the third quarter of 2009, he had more than $4.4 million cash on hand, so clearly he will still be way ahead in the money race. During the third quarter, when Grassley played a high-profile role in health care reform negotiations, he raised $864,622 total, of which $364,295 came from political action committees.
In other words, Conlin raised more from individual donors in two months than Grassley raised from individuals during the third quarter. That’s a strong pace, and it suggests a lot of Iowans are motivated to take the fight to Grassley. Conlin has already raised nearly five times as much as Democrat Art Small spent during his entire 2004 campaign against Iowa’s senior senator.
I don’t have new fundraising numbers from the other Democrats running against Grassley. Bob Krause raised $7,430 during the third quarter, ending with $3,493 on hand. Tom Fiegen raised $3,781 during the third quarter, ending with $519 on hand. I like many of the statements I’ve heard from Krause and Fiegen, but they have yet to show that they will be able to run a statewide campaign, and therefore appear to be extreme underdogs leading up to the Democratic primary in June. Neither Krause nor Fiegen seems likely to drop out of this race, however. On the contrary, Fiegen called on Conlin to quit the race last month, saying Republican attacks on her would divert attention from Grassley and the “needs of working families.” Yesterday Krause criticized one of Conlin’s tax credit proposals.
Grassley will be very tough to beat. His approval rating has fallen but is still above 50 percent, and he has set a goal of raising $9 million for this race. Even if Democrats don’t manage to defeat Grassley, giving him a spirited challenge is well worth the effort. Driving up turnout among Democrats whom Grassley has alienated can only help our candidates down-ticket.
UPDATE: Rasmussen conducted a one-day poll of this race on January 26. Grassley leads Conlin 59 to 31, Krause 59 to 26 and Fiegen 61 to 25 (margin of error 4.5 percent).
Representative Leonard Boswell (D, IA-03) has introduced a constitutional amendment in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. (Read the ruling and many reactions and commentaries at the SCOTUS blog.)
Boswell is looking for co-sponsors and explained the case for amending the constitution:
“I have introduced this important legislation because the Supreme Court’s ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans,” Boswell said in a statement. “The court’s elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly.”
Boswell said House Joint Resolution 68 would disallow a corporation or labor organization from using any operating funds or any other funds from its general treasury to pay for an advertisement in connection with a federal election campaign, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate.
“Corporations already have an active role in American political discourse through million-dollar political action committees and personal donations to campaigns,” Boswell said. “The legislation I introduced will prevent the Wall Street corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars from turning around and pouring that same money into candidates that will prevent financial regulation on their industry. No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote.”
Five Republicans are running against seven-term incumbent Boswell in this D+1 district. Most Iowa observers consider Brad Zaun and Jim Gibbons the front-runners. Dave Funk has the backing of the Tea Party crowd, and I love his tweets that begin, “Congress needs Funk.” Mark Rees is staking out a moderate position, and I have no idea what Pat Bertroche is doing in this race.
• VA-Gov: It’s grown exceedingly hard to see a path to victory for Creigh Deeds in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. The polls aren’t closing (if anything, the gap may be widening), and there’s less than two weeks until election day. What’s more, the highest echelons of the Democratic Party are now distancing themselves from Deeds, saying he rejected Barack Obama & Tim Kaine’s “road map to victory.” The Swing State Project is therefore changing its rating on this race from Lean R to Likely R. (D)
Also, while the second-guessing has begun, PPP suggests that it’s just a bad year for Dems and/or a strong opponent in Bob McDonnell: they found that if Tim Kaine had been able to run for re-election, he’d be losing too, 51-43. Nevertheless, 57% think that governors should be able to run for re-election in Virginia (which is the only state left that doesn’t allow gubernatorial re-elections), with 35% opposed. Still, Kaine probably wouldn’t be running anti-cap-and-trade ads as Deeds is doing in the state’s southwest; with the public option already with the Deeds’ bus treads all over it, it’s one more reason for the Democratic base to lose interest in him.
• CA-Sen: The war between movement conservative candidate Chuck DeVore and the NRSC just keeps building. DeVore is calling attention to a seemingly loose-lips quote from Carly Fiorina that “the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has encouraged me to enter the race, reaffirming my belief that Chuck DeVore cannot beat Barbara Boxer,” which he says contradicts the NRSC’s claim they haven’t endorsed in the race. Of course, that’s not really an endorsement per se, but his camp also claims that the NRSC has rebuffed his attempts to dialogue with them.
• IA-Sen: Wealthy attorney and one-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roxanne Conlin seems to be moving closer to a matchup with Chuck Grassley. She’s says she’s “more likely than not” to step up. While Grassley would start out with the edge, it would push one more competitive race onto the map for 2010.
• MA-Sen: Rep. Michael Capuano pulled down the endorsement of the state’s biggest union in his Democratic primary bid in the special Senate election: the 107,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association. Capuano has a 96% rating from the MTA’s national affiliate, the National Education Association.
• NV-Sen: Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has made it official: she’s getting into the Nevada Senate race. She had sounded hesitant earlier, but she’s emboldened either by her fundraising or by the general climate for conservative candidates right now to jump in. This sets up a confusing and potentially bloody 5-way primary in the Nevada GOP primary (although there’s likely to be some field winnowing before then), and potentially, Angle could sneak through with, say, 33%, if she consolidates the hard-right/Club for Growth/teabagger vote (remember that she was the CfG’s candidate in the open seat primary in NV-02 in 2006, where she barely lost to Dean Heller). With the opposition consisting of an establishment-backed but empty-suitish candidate in Sue Lowden, a random rich guy (John Chachas), a random name-recognition guy (Danny Tarkanian), and Mark Amodei as seemingly what passes for a moderate in the race, she seems likeliest to become the standard-bearer on the movement conservative right, especially if she somehow gets a CfG endorsement again. And the hard-right Angle would be a rather less imposing general election candidate for Harry Reid than, say, Lowden.
• NY-Sen-B: Former Governor George Pataki seems to be taking note of polls showing him competitive with Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate race, although he doesn’t sound enthusiastic about it. His spokesperson tells the Daily News that he’ll make a decision about the race in the coming weeks, but “friends” say that he’s leaning toward “no.”
• UT-Sen: The name of Tim Bridgewater (the former Utah County GOP chair who’s lost several primary elections) surfaced earlier in the year in connection with a GOP primary challenge to Bob Bennett in the Senate race, but faded away as AG Mark Shurtleff seemed to gobble up all the oxygen to Bennett’s right. Suddenly, Bridgewater’s back, saying he’ll join the primary field.
• GA-Gov: Rasmussen has another poll of the gubernatorial primaries in Georgia; the only news is that Thurbert Baker seems to be gaining on ex-gov Roy Barnes. Barnes still has a big lead on the Dem side at 43 (42 in August), followed by Baker at 19 (up from 9 in August), David Poythress at 4, Dubose Porter at 4, and Carl Camon at 3. On the GOP side, Insurance Comm. John Oxendine is in command at 27, with Karen Handel at 12, Nathan Deal at 9, and Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, and Austin Scott all at 3.
• IL-Gov: Rasmussen also looked at the Illinois governor’s race, apparently as part of their IL-Sen sample from last week; since nobody seems to know who any of the Republicans are, they just ran a Generic D/Generic R ballot, which Generic D won, 43-36. Incumbent Dem Governor Pat Quinn clocks in with approvals that are much lower than any other pollster has seen, at 45/53.
• ME-Gov (pdf): PPP polled the Maine governor’s race as part of its poll on Question 1, and finds what R2K found a few weeks ago, which is that nobody has any idea what’s going on. As with R2K, they found “not sure” dominating the head-to-heads and even the favorability questions. Unlike R2K, though, they found that moderate GOP state Sen. Peter Mills matches up well against the Dems, beating state Sen. President Libby Mitchell 34-31 and ex-AG Steve Rowe 33-25. Mitchell beats rich guy Les Otten 34-26, but Otten beats Rowe 28-26. Meanwhile, one more sorta-prominent Republican now says he’s seriously considering the race: Steve Abbott, who’s currently Susan Collins’ chief of staff.
• NJ-Gov: Two more polls split the difference between Jon Corzine and Chris Christie in New Jersey. Democracy Corps, who’ve usually been Corzine’s most favorable pollster, finds a 3-point race, with Corzine at 42, Christie at 39, and Chris Daggett at 13. SurveyUSA, on the hand, has tended to lean toward Christie and continue to do so, giving him a 2-point lead, with Christie at 41, Corzine at 39, and Daggett at 19. Christie, for his part, is turning for help to the one Republican in New Jersey that most people still like: ex-Governor Tom Kean, who just cut a TV ad on Christie’s behalf.
• RI-Gov: Businessman Rory Smith has announced his candidacy on the Republican side for Rhode Island governor. Insiders are comparing him to current GOP Gov. Don Carcieri, who was also a little-known businessman before winning in 2002; unlike Carcieri, though, Smith is socially liberal. He may have the field to himself; little-known state Rep. Joe Trillo, who was viewed as the default frontrunner after former Senate candidate Stephen Laffey declined, recently said that he too is leaning against the race.
• AK-AL: Trouble just keeps following Republican Rep. Don Young around, and there’s more of it today. A retired oil industry exec from VECO, Bill Allen, told the Justice Department that his company gave paid for fundraising events for Young to the tune of $130K to $195K, and also gave gifts to Young which didn’t get disclosed. This provides the first hard evidence linking Young to the same VECO scandal that took down Ted Stevens last year. Young has not been charged in the matter, although suspicion was cast his way in previous VECO-related testimony. Young, who narrowly won in 2008, faces another competitive race in 2010 (assuming he’s still in office at that point) from Democratic state Rep. Harry Crawford.
• IL-08: On the “some dude” front, businessman (and apparently, not the former Eagles guitarist) Joe Walsh (who ran unsuccessfully against Sidney Yates in the 9th back in the 90s) announced that he’ll run against Melissa Bean in the 8th.
• NY-23: Now that all the cool kids are endorsing Doug Hoffman, the floodgates are starting to open among the cognoscenti of the conservative movement: Rick Santorum endorsed, and so too did former presidential candidate
Michael Steve Forbes. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who seems like he’s still trying to decide whether to be establishment or movement in 2012, has his finger in the air but said he’ll probably endorsed and gave a clue by saying he had issues with the way Scozzafava got the nomination.
• VA-05: Also on the “some dude” front, businessman and first-time candidate Ron Ferrin got into the overstuffed Republican field to go against freshman Rep. Tom Perriello. State Sen. Robert Hurt seems to have the inside track, though.
• VA-St. House: One other worry for Democrats in Virginia is that Creigh Deeds’ seeming negative coattails could cost them some seats in the state House of Delegates (where the GOP has a 53-43 edge, with 2 R-caucusing indies and 2 vacancies). Not Larry Sabato gives a preview of the hot races there, helpfully breaking it down into Tossup, Lean, and Likely for us. They see 2 GOP seats and 3 Dem seats as leaning toward takeovers, with 5 true tossups, but a strong McDonnell performance could push things more in the GOP direction.
• Campaign Finance: Here’s an interesting development on the campaign finance arena, although experts are still trying to sort out just what it means. The FEC won’t appeal an appellate court decision that would allow outside groups to spend significantly more money on elections. The case was brought by EMILY’s List; the decision allows them and other 527s to use soft money (in addition to hard money) to pay for ads and GOTV. The Obama administration’s Solicitor General, Elena Kagen, however, can still appeal the case without the FEC’s involvement.
• 2010: It sounds like some of the more timid members of the House Democrats were in need of a pep talk, so Chris Van Hollen of the DCCC sent around a memo with a nice list of bullet points on why 2010 won’t be 1994.
When Republican power-brokers formed the Draft Branstad PAC last month, I assumed that the entity was a political action committee, as implied by the name “PAC.” However, the Draft Branstad PAC registered with the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board as a 527 committee. The distinction is important, because unlike PACs, 527 groups do not have to disclose their donors and are not allowed to advocate for candidates.
Today the Iowa Democratic Party caught the folks in charge of the Draft Branstad effort running their 527 group like a PAC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2009
DRAFT BRANSTAD GROUP IGNORES IOWA ELECTION LAW
DES MOINES, IA -The political action group called Draft Branstad, formed to promote Terry Branstad’s candidacy for Governor before he became a declared candidate, is ignoring Iowa ethics law and engaging in express advocacy for Branstad, who became a candidate on Wednesday, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan said Friday.
• FACT: Last night Draft Branstad hosted an event at Graze restaurant in West Des Moines. The event included Branstad campaign paraphernalia and free drinks. It was paid for by Draft Branstad and apparently the materials came from the same group.
• FACT: Draft Branstad continues to advertise on conservative websites. Screen captures made Friday showed activity on multiple sites.
“This Draft Branstad group has spent funds directly benefiting the Branstad campaign,” Kiernan said Friday. “That’s a blatant violation of Iowa campaign ethics law.” Iowa election law prohibits 527 groups from engaging in express advocacy on behalf of any candidate or candidate’s committee.
“Branstad should either embrace the spending of this group, since it’s a group designed by him to promote his candidacy, or publicly disavow it,” Kiernan said Friday.
Iowans know better. They aren’t confused by the tactics being used to avoid both the letter and the spirit of campaign ethics law. They know Branstad was behind the “movement” to draft him – and he knows why. This campaign-that’s-not-a-campaign is a mockery of our system of democratic government and a slap in the face to Iowa’s bipartisan tradition of clean elections.
Now, we call upon Terry Branstad to:
1 Call upon the Draft Branstad group to cease and desist public statements and representations in his favor;
2 Disavow any expenditures already made by the Draft Branstad group after Tuesday, Oct. 6;
3 Call for the immediate disbanding of the Draft Branstad group based on Branstad’s decision to become a candidate on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
The leaders of the Draft Branstad PAC should know better than to make this kind of mistake, and Iowans should know better than to elect Terry Branstad again.
• CO-Sen: Former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff officially kicked off his primary challenge to Michael Bennet yesterday, with appearances in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Romanoff, however, wasted no time in demonstrating that he won’t be running to Bennet’s left, saying that he’s opposed to the card-check portion of EFCA. If he isn’t going to run to Bennet’s left, that leads to the question of: what other kind of an angle can he work, other than just “it’s my turn?”
• IL-Sen: Here’s an interesting development in the Illinois Senate race: EMILY’s List has weighed in, endorsing (surprise) Cheryle Jackson. EMILY’s List isn’t always a magic bullet in these type situations (see Tinker, Nikki), but it does expose Jackson to a nationwide base of donors. Politico does observe something odd, though: EMILY’s List hasn’t endorsed a female Senate candidate who seems to have at least somewhat better odds of making it out of her primary… Jennifer Brunner.
• NY-Sen-B (pdf): Some leftovers from yesterday’s Marist poll of NY-Gov: Kirsten Gillibrand is still having some growing pains, with an approval of 26% excellent or good, 38% fair, and 9% poor (with 27% not sure) and losing a head-to-head against ex-Gov. George Pataki, 48-44 (Pataki has been completely silent on the issue, but you’ve gotta wonder if the consistent numbers are getting him more interested). For yucks and giggles, they also matched Gillibrand up against Eliot Spitzer in a Dem primary, which she won 57-29. (Spitzer also loses a primary to David Paterson 60-31, and receives a general “no” on the issue of running again, 27/69.)
• IL-Gov: State GOP chair Andy McKenna, who briefly provoked a Mark Kirk temper tantrum when he said he’d run in the Illinois senate primary, has decided he still really wants to run for office, and instead has headed over to the Governor’s race, where there was no top-tier candidate or even clear frontrunner. This seemed to spook one of the candidates, suburban state Sen. Matt Murphy, who bailed out of the race and signed on as McKenna’s running mate. While McKenna has the fundraising connections and can self-fund as well, McKenna has never won a race (he finished 4th in the GOP Senate primary in 2004, meaning he lost not only to Jack Ryan but also Jim Oberweis), and he’ll still have to face DuPage County Board Chair Bob Schillerstrom (who has at least 900,000 constituents) as well as a gaggle of other state Senators. (H/t GOPVOTER.)
• MI-Gov: SoS Terri Lynn Land has signed onto Oakland Co. Sheriff Michael Bouchard’s ticket as his running mate. Land, you’ll recall, was widely expected to run for Governor but surprised everyone by endorsing Bouchard instead. (There was a brief rumor that she’d run in MI-03 after a Vern Ehlers retirement, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.)
• NH-Gov: Rasmussen throws in gubernatorial numbers as part of its sample from Sep. 14 that found Kelly Ayotte up on Paul Hodes by 8 in the Senate race. The results help cast a little more doubt on the composition of that particular sample, as the state’s widely popular Democratic Governor, John Lynch, leads former Senator John Sununu (who I’ve never seen mentioned in connection with that race) by only 48-43. Lynch beats the only announced candidate, businessman Jack Kimball, 52-31, and vaguely interested state Senator Chuck Morse 51-29.
• NJ-Gov: PPP tried out some alternate scenarios in New Jersey involving replacement Democrats for Jon Corzine (although Corzine hasn’t made any moves to get out, and it’s unclear why he would at this point, with his numbers improving somewhat). The bottom line is, it wouldn’t help anyway; Rep. Frank Pallone loses big-time to Chris Christie 43-23 (with Chris Daggett at 15). Newark mayor Corey Booker doesn’t fare much better, even though he has very high approval ratings: he loses 41-33-13.
• OR-Gov: We’ll definitely have a contested primary on the Democratic side, despite the entry of heavyweight ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber. Former SoS Bill Bradbury is staying in the race, preparing to announce today, and yesterday releasing a video endorsement from his most prominent backer, former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who preceded Kitzhaber in office. Meanwhile, Kitzhaber released a literal shitload of endorsements yesterday, with many of the state’s key Democrats (AG John Kroger, Treasurer Ben Westlund, Superintendent of Education Susan Castillo, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, ex-Portland mayor Vera Katz, ex-Rep. Darlene Hooley) and some names who’d been bandied about as possible candidates (state Sen. Mark Hass, Portland city counilor Randy Leonard) on board — not a lot of oxygen left for Bradbury, or for Rep. Peter DeFazio, if he still wants to get in.
• PA-Gov: Scranton mayor Chris Doherty is almost certain to run for the Democratic nod for Governor, insiders are saying. He’s staffing up (including some heavy hitters, including media pro Tad Devine) and polling.
• TX-Gov: Rasmussen’s new poll of the Texas governor primary on the Republican side has a big surprise: it’s the first poll in ages (since May) to give a lead to Kay Bailey Hutchison. KBH leads incumbent Rick Perry 40-38, with somebody named Debra Medina, who’s from the Ron Paul wing of the party, pulling in 3% of the vote… apparently pulling in enough of Perry’s base of teabag/secession nuts to flip the race to KBH. Rasmussen’s May poll had Perry up 42-38.
• CA-42: Republican Rep. Gary Miller has drawn a wealthy primary challenger, Lee McGroarty, an executive with an investment firm. Ethical clouds related to real estate deals have followed Miller, but he’s probably more vulnerable to an anti-insider primary challenge than a Democrat in this R+10 Orange County district.
• NY-23: After Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts dropped their barely-explicable holds on the confirmation of Rep. John McHugh for Secretary of the Army, the New York Republican was confirmed last night. The three candidates — Democrat Bill Owens, Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Doug Hoffman — now are waiting to see when the special election is scheduled. State law requires David Paterson to schedule the election between 30 and 40 days from his announcement of the date, so in order to schedule the election on the regular election day of Nov. 3 (like everyone expects will happen), he’ll need to delay the announcement for at least another week.
• Campaign Finance: Last month, a federal judge ruled that Connecticut’s relatively new campaign matching fund system violated the First Amendment, saying it impermissibly put unfair burdens on “hopeless” minor party candidates that it did not also place on equally hopeless major party candidates running in uncompetitive districts. (The decision was in part based on the Supreme Court case that struck down the federal Millionaire’s Amendment last year.) AG Dick Blumenthal is appealing to the Second Circuit. Meanwhile, some folks in Arizona are concerned that this ruling might implicate their own public financing system. (D)
I do most of my writing at the Iowa progressive community blog Bleeding Heartland.
Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.
This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.
After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.
I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.
The Iowa caucuses dominated the beginning of the year. In the ninth and final diary in my series on how the Iowa caucuses work, I responded to arguments in defense of what I consider flaws in caucus system.
Chris Woods posted some early analysis of the Iowa caucus results. Barack Obama won 41 counties, John Edwards won 29 counties, Hillary Clinton won 25 counties and four counties were ties.
I was frustrated by my failure to secure a third delegate for Edwards in my precinct.
Chris Woods lamented the Iowa mainstream media’s lack of interest in political blogs.
Iowa Republicans were already downbeat about their election prospects, having failed to recruit a credible candidate against U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. Republicans in the state legislature fell behind Iowa Democrats in fundraising.
I was hoping the legislature would put some balance in our state’s transportation planning, but the powers that be wanted to spend virtually all the new money on road-building.
Secretary of State Mike Mauro did us all a favor by proposing a bill to require paper ballots in every Iowa precinct.
Yet another study confirmed that runoff from conventional farms in Iowa is a major contributor to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.
Former Governor Tom Vilsack called for more action to combat global warming.
Noneed4thneed called for more leadership from Chet Culver on conserving energy and making Iowa the renewable energy capital.
A report by the American Wind Energy Association showed Iowa falling to fourth in wind power.
Environmental advocates arranged for world-class expert testimony before the Iowa Utilities Board against a proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown.
Ed Fallon announced his candidacy for Congress, and I explained why I planned to support him against six-term incumbent Leonard Boswell in the third district primary.
I was a respondent in a long poll commissioned by Boswell’s campaign, which tested some of Fallon’s messages against the incumbent.
I called for fixing the problems with the Iowa caucuses and learned that the Nevada Democratic Party adopted slightly better caucus rules than ours. (Unfortunately, precinct chairs in Nevada were poorly-trained, and the caucuses were a fiasco in many precincts.)
I was disappointed when Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, even though I knew he had no chance of winning the nomination.
What started out as a routine illness put me in the hospital for a week. Things might have taken a very bad turn if I had waited longer before seeing a doctor. I told the story here: My health insurance may have saved my life.
Noneed4thneed discussed the connection between anti-tax zealots and local roads that are in terrible condition.
Renewable Rich sounded the alarm about attempts by state legislators to define nuclear power as a form of renewable energy. Fortunately, that bill was not approved.
The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women supported a bill that would make it easier for working mothers to breastfeed. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it out of committee in the Iowa House.
Senator Tom Harkin stayed neutral in the Clinton-Obama contest and said the Democratic Party should eliminate superdelegates from the presidential nominating process.
I was already getting tired of safe incumbent Harkin’s repeated fundraising appeals, and there were dozens more to come before the year was over.
Democracy for America endorsed Ed Fallon in the third district Congressional primary.
Boswell was among 21 House Democrats who worked with Republicans to do George Bush’s bidding on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But he stepped up his constituent outreach by helping my suburb, Windsor Heights, secure a unique zip code.
Fourth district Congressional candidate Kurt Meyer started posting diaries occasionally at Bleeding Heartland.
Secretary of State Mauro ran into opposition from Chet Culver over his efforts to require that all voting machines use paper ballots. However, the governor soon got behind a plan to eliminate touchscreen voting machines.
I argued that a new law requiring all Iowa children to be tested for lead is worth the cost, not only because lead harms children. It seems that exposure to lead may diminish the functioning of the aging brain decades later.
Iowa joined California’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency “for its legal action which denied states’ rights to adopt vehicle emissions standards to regulate global warming emissions.”
Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy paid a fine to settle an ethics investigation.
Noneed4thneed alerted us to a corporate-funded advertising campaign targeting five first-term Iowa House Democrats. (Four of the five won re-election in November, but Art Staed lost by a heartbreaking 13 votes.)
I reflected on a year without Steve Gilliard, whose News Blog I used to read daily.
The Republican 501(c)4 group Iowa Future Fund ran untruthful ads against Culver without disclosing its donors, but Iowa law does not require political ads to be true.
In a party-line vote, the Iowa House rejected a Republican effort to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage up for debate.
Tom Harkin introduced the Complete Streets Act of 2008 in the Senate.
Congressman Steve King of the fifth district made his infamous comment about how terrorists would be “dancing in the streets” if Obama were elected president.
The National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of top House targets did not include any of Iowa’s Democratic-held seats.
Ed Fallon came out against new coal-fired power plants proposed for Marshalltown and Waterloo, while Boswell declined to take a position on the issue.
Boswell used his franking privilege to send glossy campaign-style flyers to voters in the third district, and the Des Moines Register called him on it.
Boswell defended his vote for the bankruptcy bill, which was unpopular with many liberal Democrats.
Boswell also changed his stand on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and touted his record on supporting the middle class.
A national LGBT rights group endorsed Fallon.
Boswell’s campaign sent out a mass e-mail saying Fallon is “no Democrat.”
I explained why I thought Fallon would be a more effective representative than Boswell.
Fourth district Congressional candidate William Meyers started posting diaries here and continued to do so throughout the primary campaign.
Noneed4thneed encouraged Bleeding Heartland readers to support first-term Democrats in the Iowa legislature who were targets of a corporate-funded advertising campaign.
A report from Families USA estimated how many Iowans die prematurely because they lack health insurance.
I wrote about the disparities in c-section rates in Iowa, depending on where a woman lives and in which hospital she births.
Speaking of babies, I gave some reasons to use cloth diapers.
A Polk County judge ordered Secretary of State Mauro to stop providing voter information in languages other than English, proving that the English-only bill Governor Tom Vilsack signed in 2002 was more than symbolic.
Chet Culver signed the law banning touchscreen voting machines in Iowa.
Our state’s Republican representatives in the U.S. House, Steve King and Tom Latham, voted against a federal bill on verified voting.
After reviewing voter records, the Des Moines Register concluded that very few ineligible voters participated in the Iowa caucuses.
The U.S. House approved a “plain language” bill sponsored by Congressman Bruce Braley of the first district.
The Iowa legislature approved a major new transportation bill without putting additional funds into public transit or stipulating that road money be spent on fixing existing infrastructure.
I urged Culver to veto a bill seeking more study of the livestock odor problem instead of action, but he signed it.
The legislature also approved a ban on smoking in most public places, with a few exemptions, such as casino gambling rooms.
Mrs panstreppon speculated about the political ambitions of Bruce Rastetter, a businessman and funder of the anti-Democratic 501(c)4 group Iowa Future Fund. The Iowa Future Fund had been running television ads attacking Chet Culver.
Mrs panstreppon also wrote about the new Republican 501(c)4 group Iowa Progress Project, which was created to replace the Iowa Future Fund.
The Des Moines Register razzed Culver for staying at Bill Knapp’s Florida condo without paying the full market rental rate.
I wrote a four-part series on the Boswell campaign’s efforts to question Fallon’s ethics and explored the differences between Fallon and Boswell on farm issues.
Progressive Kick created an entertaining website highlighting Boswell’s voting record in Congress.
Fallon blasted Boswell’s vote for the Military Commissions Act, which gave the president the authority to determine what interrogation techniques are “torture.”
Boswell’s campaign sent out positive direct-mail pieces on the economy, Iraq and health care. His campaign also sent two direct-mail pieces in one week highlighting Fallon’s support for Ralph Nader in 2000. I transcribed them here and here.
Polk County voters rejected a plan to borrow money to build a new courthouse.
A sign that the housing bubble had well and truly burst: Iowa’s largest home-builder ceased operations and laid off its entire staff.
Mixed-use developments are good for people, business and the environment.
I weighed in on a local hot topic when Pizza Hut fired a Des Moines delivery driver who shot an alleged armed robber. (The restaurant chain does not allow drivers to carry guns.)
In honor of cesarean awareness month I wrote about how to avoid having an unnecessary surgical birth.
On the last day of the month the Iowa Utilities Board approved an application to build a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown.
I was extremely disappointed that the Democrats on the Iowa Utilities Board voted to approve a new coal-fired power plant.
I weighed in on why Hillary Clinton lost Iowa and eventually the nomination.
An article by Joe Trippi got me speculating on whether John Edwards should have stayed in the presidential race longer.
Tom Harkin gave some reasons to be concerned about John McCain, and I added ten more reasons not to vote for the Republican nominee.
I discussed why John and Jackie Norris were important early Obama supporters in Iowa and pondered which presidential candidate had the best celebrity supporters.
The removal of Lurita Doan as head of the General Services Administration reminded me of one of Bruce Braley’s finest moments in Congress.
Governor Culver signed into law a bill that establishes a statewide 1-cent sales tax for school infrastructure.
Prevention First discussed the Healthy Families project’s successful attempt to persuade state legislators to increase funding for family planning.
Sadly, no prominent Iowa Democrat stood up for repealing Iowa’s English-only law.
I welcomed the prospect of a court challenge against the smoking ban exemption granted to casinos.
A Des Moines Register report on the Culver administration’s alleged horsetrading with lobbyists was troubling.
In the fourth district primary, Becky Greenwald introduced herself to Democrats as “the girl next door.”
As the third district Democratic primary race heated up, Fallon highlighted his early opposition to the war in Iraq and portrayed himself as “new energy for Iowa.” He also urged Boswell (a Clinton supporter) to endorse Obama for president.
Fallon and Boswell clashed over ethanol, and Fallon called for a moratorium on new confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Noneed4thneed argued that Boswell is not a loyal Democrat on the issues that matter most.
A 527 group bankrolled by a central Iowa developer accused Fallon of not protecting kids from sex offenders, not supporting ethanol producers, and not protecting kids from sex offenders (yes, there were two dishonest direct-mail pieces on Fallon’s vote against residency restrictions for sex offenders).
The Southeast Iowa Lutheran Synod showed real leadership on global warming.
The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production published damning reports on conventional livestock production in the U.S.
An editorial by James Howard Kunstler on “Driving Toward Disaster” inspired this post on how to reduce Americans’ vehicle-miles traveled by car.
In honor of asthma awareness month, I suggested 10 ways to combat asthma.
I paid tribute to my friend and fellow activist LaVon Griffieon on Mother’s Day.
I gave parents some ideas about good books to read to children.
June 3 was primary day in Iowa. I wrote up Boswell’s final radio ad as well as his campaign’s pathetic attempt to portray Fallon as unconcerned about meth.
I received two push-polls targeting Iowa House district 59 candidate Jerry Sullivan.
On election day Becky Greenwald easily won the four-way primary in the fourth Congressional district, while Boswell easily defeated Fallon in the third district. Mariannette Miller-Meeks narrowly won the Republican primary in the second district. Christopher Reed barely edged out two Republican rivals for the chance to get crushed by Tom Harkin.
I urged unsuccessful fourth district candidate William Meyers not to make the mistake of running for Congress as an independent.
After Republicans nominated Miller-Meeks and Democrats nominated Greenwald, I again discussed some reasons why Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress.
I was confident that the third district Congressional race would not be competitive in the general election.
Dubuque and the Quad Cities moved one step close to passenger rail, thanks to work by Bruce Braley on the House Transportation Committee.
Activists for organized labor in Iowa were still mad at Chet Culver two months after he vetoed a bill that would have expanded collective bargaining rights.
I started making the case for supporting fifth district Democratic candidate Rob Hubler against “Jackass Award” winner Steve King.
Meanwhile, King chastised Scott McClellan for revealing misconduct inside the Bush White House.
Bleeding Heartland readers weighed in on potential future leaders in the Iowa Democratic Party.
Chris Woods examined the relationship between climate change and the Iowa floods and offered his take on how Iowa should pay for flood recovery.
I advocated an investigation into why the Des Moines levee that failed was never fixed after the 1993 floods.
Also in connection with the historic flooding, I urged readers not to use chlorine bleach to clean flood-damaged surfaces and not to use DEET-based mosquito repellents.
Noneed4thneed called attention to a report on how special interests spent big money to influence Iowa lawmakers.
The Iowa Values Fund seems not to have been good value for the taxpayers’ money.
I disagreed with Iowa Utilities Board members who argued that meeting future electricity needs will require more coal or nuclear power.
Less than three weeks after winning the primary, Leonard Boswell voted with House Republicans to approve the new version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Iowa Voter informed us that Chuck Grassley misled a town hall meeting audience on FISA. I linked to a bunch of commentaries on Obama and the FISA bill.
Opponents of the public smoking ban annoyed me when they called the new law “Soviet” or “fascist.” Anyway, fears about the smoking ban’s impact on business were unfounded.
The US Department of Agriculture in effect told honeybees to drop dead.
I learned from noneed4thneed that Marshalltown passed an ordinance to reduce the use of plastic bags.
After reading a diary by nyceve on how insurance companies punish women who have had cesarean births, I posted more advice for pregnant women seeking to reduce their risk of having a c-section.
I had some friendly advice for Obama volunteers on how to talk to non-supporters about Obama.
I posted my take on what any Democrat should do if you get push-polled or message-tested.
News that the Obama campaign would be running the GOTV operation in Iowa made me worried about the potential effect on down-ticket Democrats. (Sadly, the election results validated several of my concerns.)
AlanF cross-posted this excellent piece on tips for volunteers who knock on doors for a political candidate.
I offered readers five reasons to get involved in state legislative races.
Senator Tom Harkin held an online voting contest to determine which Democratic statehouse candidates would receive contributions from his campaign fund.
Second district incumbent Dave Loebsack signed on to a letter urging Congress to address transportation issues in forthcoming legislation on climate change.
Relations between Senator Chuck Grassley and social conservatives in the Republican Party of Iowa had seen better days. Some of the tension stemmed from Grassley’s inquiry into the tax-exempt status of some television-based ministries.
Leonard Boswell spent two weeks in the hospital after having surgery.
Becky Greenwald criticized fourth district incumbent Tom Latham for his loyal Republican voting record on Iraq and other issues.
I argued that Greenwald had a real chance to beat Latham, but the incumbent’s money advantage would be her biggest obstacle.
I contrasted Bruce Braley’s record of delivering for his constituents with Steve King’s.
SW Iowa Guy, a fifth district resident, gave us a window onto a conference call with King.
A particularly horrible Associated Press story on how “Pet owners prefer McCain over Obama” inspired this post on confounding variables in opinion polling.
Markos Moulitsas bashed me on the front page of Daily Kos.
Iowa environmental groups encouraged state regulators to make utilities do more on energy efficiency.
I went over some reasons to buy local.
One of my occasional posts on parenting laid out some reasons to “wear your baby”.
The revelation of John Edwards’ affair stirred up conflicting feelings for me, as for many other former Edwards volunteers. I posted ten words I thought I would never write and a precinct captain’s reflections on the Edwards story.
Edwards’ political career may be over, but his presidential campaign’s slogan lived on.
After getting more fundraising appeals from Tom Harkin (whose Republican challenger had only a few hundred bucks in the bank), I advocated a Use it or Lose it campaign to encourage safe Democratic incumbents to give more money to Democratic campaign committees.
Jason Rosenbaum asked readers to contact their representatives in Congress on health care.
Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach endorsed Obama for president. Leach later addressed the Democratic National Convention and headlined numerous “Republicans for Obama” events.
I suggested five ways Bleeding Heartland readers could help Rob Hubler’s campaign against Steve King.
I felt a special legislative session to deal with flood relief was warranted, but it never happened.
The Cedar Rapids-based Rebuild and Grow organization offered its own flood recovery action plan.
The Iowa Fiscal Partnership released a report on why property tax cuts are the wrong approach for flood relief.
Chuck Grassley made some shameful comments favorably contrasting flood victims in Iowa to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Unfortunately, conventional agriculture interests trumped environmental concerns on the state’s flood recovery panel.
I was impressed after attending one of the Obama campaign’s outreach events for women.
I argued that Joe Biden would be a good surrogate for Obama.
A conservative baby-sitter helped introduce my five-year-old to the concept of political pluralism.
Comparing the presidential campaigns’ ground games, I became convinced that Obama’s small-town outreach would crush McCain’s.
I posted a few questions on factors that could skew polls of the Obama-McCain race.
Caught up in the excitement of the Democratic National Convention, I finally gave some money to Obama’s campaign.
I was immediately convinced that Sarah Palin would become McCain’s gift to Democrats and noted that not all evangelical conservatives were thrilled with her candidacy.
I discussed another failure of employer-based health insurance as Whirlpool “filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to cut the medical benefits of thousands of retired Maytag workers.”
A well-known political scientist at the University of Iowa took his own life while under criminal investigation for allegedly giving students higher grades in exchange for sexual favors.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa warned about a proposed Bush administration regulation that would restrict access to contraception. (The administration implemented that new rule in December.)
Marvin Pomerantz, one of the most influential Iowa Republicans in the last 40 years, passed away.
As September began I was thankful Iowa’s first Congressional district was not competitive, freeing me of the responsibility to write most posts on the idiot who ran against Bruce Braley.
Obama started running radio ads on abortion in Iowa and several other states.
American007 posted this excellent summary of Sarah Palin’s record in Wasilla.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer headlined Tom Harkin’s Steak Fry, but Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge gave the most memorable speech of the day.
EMILY’s List finally endorsed Becky Greenwald two days after I posted this piece wondering why they hadn’t done so already.
The following week Greenwald went up on tv with a biographical ad that depleted her campaign coffers while doing little to boost her support.
Tom Latham’s first television ad highlighted his big “achievement” on health care: co-sponsoring a bill that never made it out of committee. Greenwald’s campaign exposed Latham’s real record on health care in a press release, but unfortunately lacked the cash to put up a response on television.
I saw Latham’s ad as proof that he expected a big Democratic wave and was positioning himself accordingly on traditionally “Democratic” issues.
Tom Harkin posted this diary on McCain’s “crusade against renewable fuels.”
There was plenty of hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle when the U.S. House passed an energy bill designed to give Democrats cover on the offshore oil drilling issue.
While the presidential election still looked like a tossup, I discussed what would happen if neither candidate received 270 electoral votes.
Annoyed by the fundraising appeals I kept getting from safe Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell, I asked Bleeding Heartland readers to tell Boswell to give more to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
I argued that Democrats can win and hold districts like Iowa’s fifth. (Unfortunately, Hubler was not among the Democratic challengers who won deep-red Congressional seats this year, most notably in Maryland’s first and Colorado’s fourth districts.)
As a Democratic wave election appeared more likely, I wondered which Democratic pickups would shock us the most. (As it turned out, the most surprising pickup was probably in Virginia’s fifth Congressional district. We also had surprisingly narrow losses in California’s fourth and 44th districts.)
I thought labor unions were right to focus their political spending on the Iowa statehouse races and withhold contributions to Chet Culver’s re-election campaign for now.
The Sierra Club created an online petition for Iowans urging energy providers to invest in clean sources for electricity generation, not coal.
Environmental groups called on utilities to do more to save energy.
Renewable Rich summarized a report showing how clean energy can create thousands of new jobs in Iowa.
A grassroots group in Cedar Rapids organized volunteers every weekend for flood recovery work.
An advocate for factory farms stepped down from the state Environmental Protection Commission.
Former John Deere employees filed a class-action lawsuit in Des Moines that underscored the failures of our employer-based health insurance system.
I called for ending Iowa’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to water quality.
There was a highly contentious election for the Des Moines school board, followed by an ill-advised attempt to censure the black sheep of the board. I found the lack of oversight on the Des Moines School Board disturbing.
A newspaper article on an abstinence club at my old high school inspired this post on why even abstaining teens need comprehensive sex eduction.
I explained why Iowa native Justin Roberts is our family’s favorite children’s musician.
All three Iowa Democrats in the U.S. House voted for the second version of the Wall Street bailout package, while Iowa’s two Republicans voted no. The bailout became a central issue in Tom Latham’s campaign advertising after Becky Greenwald unwisely said she would have voted for the revised bailout package. Senators Harkin and Grassley both voted for the bailout.
I offered some advice to disappointed party activists on What to do when you don’t care for your party’s nominee. Bleeding Heartland user lorih followed up by explaining why she started volunteering for Obama despite her deep disappointment that Clinton did not win the nomination.
I continued to speculate on factors that might affect the accuracy of polls on the presidential race.
The third quarter Federal Election Commission filings showed all the incumbents in Iowa’s Congressional delegation with big money leads over their challengers, foreshadowing the double-digit victories all the incumbents posted a few weeks later.
I kept urging our safe Democratic incumbents to “Use it or Lose it” by donating some of their excess campaign cash to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Although I considered the second district race uncompetitive, I covered some key issues and events in Dave Loebsack’s campaign against Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Again I examined the reasons underlying Iowa’s failure to elect a woman to Congress.
Bleeding Heartland supported the Obama campaign’s strong push for Iowa Democrats to vote early (including an early voting RV tour). As it turned out, strong early voting saved several Democratic statehouse incumbents.
Not long after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee upgraded the races in IA-04 and IA-05, I urged Bleeding Heartland readers to get serious about expanding the field by supporting under-funded longshot Democratic Congressional challengers.
Steve King continued to embarrass himself and all Iowans.
Although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped for, I have no regrets about encouraging Democrats to back Rob Hubler’s campaign.
Speaking of longshots, little-known Republican Senate candidate Christopher Reed blew it in his only debate with Tom Harkin.
Harkin gave more cash to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His campaign also launched a contest where Iowans could nominate county party organizations that deserved extra money for GOTV efforts. (Marion, Muscatine and Linn counties ended up winning.)
Mark Langgin urged Bleeding Heartland readers to support Democratic candidates for the Iowa House in light of a Republican focus on the House races.
The Republican 501(c)4 group American Future Fund exploited loopholes in rules governing political advocacy groups in order to run campaign advertising in targeted Iowa House districts.
The perils of leaving any Republican unopposed were exposed when news emerged that an incumbent Iowa senator with no Democratic challenger had previously been charged with a prostitution-related crime.
The Iowa Democratic Party kept producing videos on why McCain would be bad for Iowa.
I was puzzled by John McCain and Sarah Palin’s visits to Iowa late in the campaign, despite poll after poll showing Obama above 50 percent in Iowa, with a double-digit lead over McCain. In fact, a series of missteps by McCain got me wondering whether the Republicans should have nominated Mitt Romney.
The not-so-classy McCain used the Iowa floods in his campaign’s robocalls and direct-mail pieces.
Polk County Democratic activists gained national attention by holding a clothing drive for the DAV across the street from a Palin rally in Des Moines.
I went over some tips for phone bankers trying to recruit volunteers.
I supported a referendum on taking the word “idiot” out of the Iowa Constitution. (There was no organized opposition to that referendum, and it passed easily.)
For the first time in my life, the Des Moines Register endorsed the full slate of Iowa Democrats running for Congress. Ed Fallon urged his supporters to vote for Boswell in an e-mail that linked to the Register’s incredibly lukewarm endorsement of the incumbent.
Obama made one last stop in Des Moines shortly before election day.
Iowa Voter noted that the Brennan Center gave Iowa high marks for election readiness.
Jason Rosenbaum contributed this guest post on why health care reform matters. Rosenbaum was involved with the Health Care for America Now Coalition, which kept up the grassroots pressure on Senator Chuck Grassley to support universal health care.
I attended a commitment ceremony for a same-sex couple who had gotten married in California a few months earlier.
Obama won Iowa convincingly, but his 9-point margin was smaller than the 17-point lead he had in the final Des Moines Register poll of the campaign.
I looked at some reasons why Becky Greenwald lost to Tom Latham by more than 20 points in the fourth Congressional district.
Unsuccessful Congressional candidate Rob Hubler criticized the statewide GOTV effort in an e-mail to supporters. Hubler’s son lost an Iowa House race by only a few hundred votes in the Council Bluffs area.
I was particularly disappointed when Democrat Jerry Sullivan lost in my own district by fewer than 100 votes. He had been the target of negative advertising as well as last-minute robocalls and lit drops.
In the good news column, Democratic incumbent Eric Palmer won re-election in his House district despite Republican attempts to disenfranchise Grinnell College students who voted by absentee ballot.
Jackie Norris accepted an offer to become Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.
The presidential election results convinced Josh Goodman of Governing.com that Iowa is now the best bellwether state.
Likely future Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal reached out to social conservatives while visiting Iowa.
I suspect Democrats would benefit if Iowa Republicans take the advice of a leading social conservative.
Some Iowa Democrats grumble about Governor Culver, but I argued here that their discontent will not rise to the level of a primary challenge in 2010.
Bruce Braley played an active and visible role in Henry Waxman’s successful campaign to be named chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Stranded Wind sounded the alarm about the risk of famine in 2009.
A blogger’s struggle to pay medical bills inspired this post on the need for comprehensive health care reform. Our immoral and ineffective health care system was also the subject of this post.
Wisconsin rejected an application to build a new coal-fired power plant, prompting the Iowa Environmental Council to call on Iowa policy-makers to follow the lead of “neighboring states to the west, north, and now east, which have concluded that clean energy makes more economic sense than coal.”
I owned up to a few things I got wrong and right during the long presidential campaign.
The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Varnum v Brien, a same-sex marriage case. jpmassar walked us through some of the legal issues at hand, and I discussed the political implications of the court ruling expected sometime next year.
A week later I posted a recap and analysis of the Varnum v Brien hearing and reaction to it.
Culver’s announcement of $100 million in budget cuts the same day he had scheduled a $5,000 a head fundraiser inspired me to make the case for “clean elections” campaign financing.
I discussed Congressional Quarterly and Progressive Punch rankings for the members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation in 2008.
Bruce Braley announced plans to form a Populist Caucus and landed a spot on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.
I examined how the post-census reapportionment is likely to play out in the 2012 U.S. House races in Iowa.
Organic farming is carbon sequestration we can believe in.
There is no such thing as “clean coal.”
Bleeding Heartland user American007 won our election prediction contest.
I wondered whether it matters who ends up running the Republican Party in Iowa and nationwide.
The Des Moines-based American Future Fund is exploiting loopholes in rules governing political advocacy groups in order to run campaign advertising in targeted races without disclosing its donors.
The Des Moines Register provided the latest evidence in this article from Saturday’s edition: “National group airs ads on Iowa House.”
For background on the American Future Fund, a 510(c)4 organization “formed to provide Americans with a conservative and free market viewpoint,” you can read this piece by Iowa Independent’s Jason Hancock, this TPM Cafe story by Mrs. Panstreppon, or Paul Kiel’s report for TPM Muckraker.
The American Future Fund is associated with heavy-hitters in the field of campaign advertising. Its media consultant is Larry McCarthy (creator of the 1988 Willie Horton ad), and its legal consultant is Ben Ginsberg (who was involved with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004).
Representatives for the American Future Fund deny that the group seeks to influence elections. For that reason, they are not subject to campaign disclosure rules governing political action committees and other groups that make independent expenditures during election campaigns.
However, the American Future Fund’s radio and television commercials this year have focused on candidates running in competitive Senate races, such as Republican incumbent Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Democratic candidate Mark Udall of Colorado, and Democratic candidate Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. You can view many of those ads at the AFF’s You Tube channel. Note that while these commercials ostensibly are focused on generating phone calls in support of a particular issue position, they haven’t been aired in states without a contested Senate seat.
Now the AFF is weighing in on key Iowa legislative races. From yesterday’s story in the Des Moines Register:
On Wednesday [October 29], AFF launched television ads in Iowa that criticize Democratic Reps. McKinley Bailey of Webster City, Paul Shomshor of Council Bluffs, Elesha Gayman of Davenport and Art Staed of Cedar Rapids. All four are incumbents struggling to hold onto their seats in the face of strong Republican challengers.
Other ads that compliment Republican Reps. Doug Struyk of Council Bluffs, Jamie Van Fossen of Davenport and Dan Rasmussen of Independence. Struyk is a Republican leader whose opponent has spent little; the other two are dealing with strong Democratic challengers.
AFF’s spokesman explained the timing of the political messages by saying it took months to compile analysis on the legislative session, which ended in April.
What an amazing coincidence. Analysis about legislative action completed more than six months ago resulted in television ads that appeared six days before a general election.
In another amazing coincidence, the AFF’s ads happen to focus on candidates running in six battleground districts being targeted by both parties. Dozens of legislators who voted the same way on those issues, but represent uncompetitive districts, are not subject to AFF’s advertising blitz.
I could only find two of the American Future Fund Iowa’s tv ads on You Tube. One praised the Republican incumbent in Iowa House district 81, Jamie Van Fossen, and the other criticized the Democratic incumbent in House district 9, McKinley Bailey.
It’s worth noting that while urging viewers to call legislators, these ads give the phone number for the switchboard at the State Capitol. However, the switchboard is currently closed, because the legislature is not in session. The AFF spokesman explained that the law requires advertisements to use official phone numbers, but he is evading the issue.
These commercials cannot be intended to generate citizen communication with legislators if they are giving a phone number that no one is currently answering.
Clearly the AFF selected the subjects and timing of their advertising in order to influence the outcome of legislative elections in Iowa. (The Republican Party of Iowa is concentrating its resources on making gains in the Iowa House, where Democrats have only a 53-47 majority.)
The tv ads direct viewers to the web site of the AFF’s Iowa chapter: www.iowa.americanfuturefund.com.
AFF spokesman Tim Albrecht
told The Des Moines Register last month that AFF is a group that focuses solely on national issues. “At that time we were, but after a lot of analysis and reviewing what had occurred in the last legislative session, we decided to open an Iowa chapter,” he said.
It is AFF’s first state-based chapter in the country, said Albrecht, who is a former spokesman for Iowa Republican legislative leader Christopher Rants and AFF’s only paid staff member.
Earlier this year, the Iowa Future Fund was incorporated by the same people behind the American Future Fund, and the Iowa Future Fund ran television ads criticizing Democratic Governor Chet Culver. (Here is one of the Iowa Future Fund’s ads against Culver.) In March, the Iowa Democratic Party called for an investigation into the Iowa Future Fund’s advertising campaign and failure to disclose donors. In April, a press release announced the creation of the Iowa Progress Project to replace the Iowa Future Fund. In theory, the the Iowa Progress Project was going to focus on state issues, while the American Future Fund focused on national issues.
It is unclear why the American Future Fund decided to create an Iowa chapter, rather than have the Iowa Progress Project pay for television commercials about Iowa House incumbents. If anyone has any information regarding the Iowa Progress Project or the decision to create an AFF Iowa chapter, please post a comment or send me a confidential e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).
Can anything be done to force the AFF to disclose who is paying for these commercials? Charlie Smithson, executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, told the Des Moines Register that his office had received a complaint about the ads, but that campaign disclosure laws do not apply because the AFF ads do not urge viewers to vote for a candidate.
Mr. desmoinesdem has extensively researched election law and tells me that one relevant case in this area is Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life. Wisconsin Right to Life was running ads urging people to contact their senators about judicial filibusters. Senator Russ Feingold was up for re-election, and the ads did not urge people to vote against him, but the FEC considered them “sham issue ads” that were intended to influence an election and therefore were subject to regulation by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (McCain-Feingold).
The Supreme Court had previously upheld McCain-Feingold’s provisions on political advocacy ads (in the McConnell vs. FEC case), so the key question was whether Wisconsin Right to Life’s ads were the kind of political advocacy Congress can regulate. With Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority, the court
held that McConnell v. FEC did not establish the test that any ad intended to influence an election and having that effect is express advocacy. Such a test would be open-ended and burdensome, would lead to bizarre results, and would “unquestionably chill a substantial amount of political speech.” Instead, the Court adopted the test that “an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.” The Court further held that the compelling state interests invoked by the government to regulate advocacy did not apply with equal force to genuine issue ads. Neither the interest in preventing corruption nor the goal of limiting the distorting effects of corporate wealth was sufficient to override the right of a corporation to speak through ads on public issues. This conclusion, the Court held, was necessary in order to “give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship.” The dissent by Justice Souter called WRTL’s ads indistinguishable from political advocacy ads and accused the majority of implicitly overruling McConnell v. FEC.
I agree with Souter’s position that so-called issue ads targeting candidates in key races shortly before elections are really political advocacy ads subject to McCain-Feingold. If the American Future Fund were mainly trying to influence Iowans’ views on issues, they wouldn’t be running their commercials only in battleground districts. Also, the timing of the ads only makes sense in the context of this Tuesday’s election. As I mentioned above, no one is currently answering the phone number AFF asks viewers to call.
But Smithson has to look at the AFF’s Iowa advertising from a narrow legal perspective. Clearly the ads are promoting favorable opinions about some Republican incumbents and unfavorable opinions about some Democratic incumbents. But as long as the ads urge people to call a telephone number (even a non-working one), courts would probably not hold that the commercials have “no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”
I am not an expert on election law or disclosure requirements for 501(c)4 organizations. Perhaps there is some way Congress could require more financial disclosure of 501(c)4s so that they would not be able to run campaign ads with no accountability.
I don’t know the solution, but I do know that we can help Democrats fight back against the American Future Fund’s ad campaign by giving to the Iowa House Democrats’ Truman fund or to the following individual candidates:
McKinley Bailey (incumbent in House district 9)
Art Staed (incumbent in House district 37)
Elesha Gayman (incumbent in House district 84)
Paul Shomshor (incumbent in House district 100)
Phyllis Thede (challenger in House district 81)
Gene Ficken (challenger in House district 23)