Barack Obama’s 2012 Iowa campaign manager Brad Anderson confirmed yesterday that he plans to run against Secretary of State Matt Schultz in 2014. I hope there will be a competitive Democratic primary, because from where I’m sitting, Anderson looks like the wrong candidate for this race.
UPDATE: Added details from Anderson’s formal announcement below, along with his campaign bio and a list of Democrats on his steering committee (including Senator Tom Harkin, former governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, and several former chairs of the Iowa Democratic Party). Looks like there will be no competitive primary.
Anderson is a rising star in Iowa Democratic politics. His official bio on the Link Strategies website covers the early stages of his career:
Brad Anderson is a seasoned communications, research and government affairs professional with a strong track record of delivering results at the state and federal levels of government.
Anderson got his start doing research on John Edwards’ successful 1998 run for United States Senate. After that campaign cycle, he moved to Washington, D.C. to help lead the Business and Ethics research operation at the Democratic National Committee, as well as lead the vice-presidential rapid response efforts during the 2000 campaign. In 2002, Brad served as research director for the successful re-election of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. Anderson returned to Washington in 2004 to run research for Senator John Edwards’ Vice Presidential campaign team.
In August 2006, Brad was named Iowa Governor Chet Culver’s Communications Director and Chief Spokesman. Anderson joined Link Strategies in 2008 and went on to form LPCA with Jeff Link and Bonnie Campbell. Since the firm’s inception, Brad has worked firsthand with President Barack Obama’s campaign at the state and national levels. He has also given guest lectures on research and communications across the country, including Northwestern University, Loyola University and Iowa State University.
That’s quite an understatement to say Anderson “worked firsthand” with the Obama campaign. He was communications director for the Obama campaign during the 2008 general election and managed the re-election effort in Iowa last year. Campaigns and Elections magazine just put Anderson on its list of 500 top “political influencers” across the country. Anderson didn’t make the same magazine’s list of Iowa influencers as recently as April 2011, although that piece named Anderson’s business partners Jeff Link and Bonnie Campbell.
Appearing on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program last month, Anderson explained why he’s motivated to run against Schultz.
“I’m certainly looking at it. I think there are a lot of innovative things that we could do with that office that are not currently being done,” Anderson says. “I think the current secretary of state has wasted a lot of money on fruitless DCI investigations.” […]
“Obviously preventing voter fraud is important to everyone. We all support that,” Anderson says. “There are just different ways to do it.”
Anderson, as the manager of Obama’s Iowa campaign this past year, oversaw an effort that identified thousands of new Democratic voters in Iowa. He suggests as Iowa’s chief election official he would focus on boosting voter turn-out.
“Quite frankly back in I think it was ‘92 we were at 80 percent turnout. You know, we’re at 73 (percent) now,” Anderson says. “I always believe we can do better and we should always focus on, you know, how do we get more people involved in the process, how do we get more people out there to vote as opposed to this idea that we constantly have to threaten penalties and felonies and things like that.”
Since the early stages of his campaign against the highly competent Mike Mauro in 2010, Schultz has exaggerated the voter fraud problem in Iowa. Ignoring the views of county auditors, he pushed relentlessly for a voter ID law. Keep in mind that there are virtually no examples in Iowa or anywhere else of people impersonating another registered voter at a polling place on election day. Voter ID laws are a convenient way to suppress Democratic-leaning voter groups, who are less likely to have a driver’s license, but they don’t address problems such as voter registration fraud, double voting, or absentee ballot fraud. Even Schultz’s full-time criminal investigator working to root out voter fraud hasn’t come up with any cases that could have been prevented by a photo ID requirement at the polls. So far a few non-citizens and convicted felons have been charged, but all of them had valid photo ID in Iowa.
Last summer, Schultz tried to enact emergency rulemaking to deal with Iowa’s ineligible voter problem. A Polk County District Court judge stopped him from enacting those rules during the 2012 campaign but has not ruled yet on their legality. Since the election, Schultz backpedaled on one of his proposed emergency rules, but he still wants to use a federal database to find alleged non-citizens who are registered to vote. In all likelihood most of these people are recently-naturalized citizens. Schultz wants to send them intimidating letters warning them that they might be committing a crime if they try to vote.
Bleeding Heartland has a longer update in progress about Schultz’s efforts to combat voter fraud. For many weeks I have been seeking details on voter fraud complaints submitted to the Secretary of State’s office in 2012, either through their website or their toll-free voter fraud hotline. I am guessing that almost none of the complaints concerned the type of fraud that could be prevented by photo ID requirements. Schultz testified before the U.S. Senate last month that more criminal charges will be forthcoming. He indicated at a Republican fundraising dinner in November that he will keep fighting the voter ID fight. Clearly he believes it’s a political winner; on his twitter feed, Schultz has linked to various opinion polls showing people support photo ID requirements.
Schultz has used the Secretary of State’s office to wage a partisan crusade. He’s even using federal Help America Vote Act Funds to pay for a full-time criminal investigator.
Iowa Democrats should nominate a candidate for secretary of state in the Mike Mauro mold. An experienced county auditor who has run elections can make a strong case against Schultz. Auditors understand the administrative work involved and are better-suited to remove the Secretary of State’s office from the partisan political arena.
I don’t think Anderson stacks up well against Schultz’s record. He knows a ton about elections, but Republicans will have no trouble caricaturing him as a tool trying to stack the deck for Democratic candidates. It doesn’t help that Link Strategies employed Zach Edwards, arrested in January 2012 for hacking into Schultz’s e-mail. Jeff Link immediately fired and distanced himself from Edwards, who later pled guilty to a simple misdemeanor. Do you think that will stop Republicans from running tv ads about Anderson’s buddy who committed a crime in order to smear Schultz?
The least surprising thing I’ve read in a while was today’s headline by Kevin Hall for The Iowa Republican blog: “Dem With Ties to Electoral Shenanigans Wants to be State’s Chief Vote-Counter.” Schultz and his allies will depict Anderson as a player in a devious plot by Democratic operatives to subvert fair elections.
Any comments about Schultz’s record or the 2014 campaign for secretary of state are welcome in this thread.
UPDATE: Anderson held a press conference on January 10 to formally announce his campaign. O.Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa posted excerpts and a link to the audio of his remarks.
“…We take our right to vote seriously. We help pick American presidents and we even invented the computer, but recently too many eligible voters have been intimidated, our state’s technology has gone dormant and our tax dollars have been wasted on fruitless investigations. We can and must do better, which is why I’ve made the decision to run for Iowa Secretary of State.”
The secretary of state is Iowa’s top election official. Current Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, was first elected in 2010 and in the past year Schultz has led an effort to review voter registration records to check for ineligible voters, like felons or illegal immigrants. Anderson calls that “offensive” voter intimidation. Anderson suggests an already-existing electronic system that verifies a voter identity at the polls would be a cheaper option.
“A better way to prevent fraud than voter I.D. and doesn’t disenfranchise a single voter,” Anderson said, as he rapped the lectern with his knuckles to make his point.
Anderson’s campaign website includes this bio:
During the 2012 election cycle, Brad Anderson was on the front line as President Barack Obama’s Iowa State Director. Throughout the campaign Brad and his team increased voter turnout and organized volunteers and local officials across the state to protect eligible Iowans’ right to vote. As a result Iowans voted early in record numbers and Iowa was one of just a handful of states to increase voter turnout from the historic levels set in 2008.
Beyond his long history working for campaigns and causes, both Anderson and his wife Lisa started small businesses in Iowa. Since 1997, Anderson has helped build campaigns dedicated to middle class job creation, tax fairness, and civil rights. No candidate has embodied these values more powerfully than U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, for whose 2002 campaign Anderson helped coordinate the message and media efforts.
After working on U.S. Senator John Edwards’ 2004 Iowa caucus campaign, Brad joined Link Strategies, where he continues to advise campaigns and assist local communities on referenda to create jobs, improve wellness, make communities safer, and improve conservation and water quality.
From 2007 through 2008 Anderson served as Communications Director for Iowa Governor Chet Culver. In that time Culver signed into law several landmark pieces of legislation – including laws to increase the minimum wage, expand pre-school and establish same-day voting registration.
In 2010 Anderson and his business partner, Jeff Link, started a company called My Digital Manager – a simple, user-friendly online platform for searching video and digital assets.
Brad and his wife Lisa, along with their children Alice and Will, live in Des Moines with their dog Gracie Carmel. Lisa is a speech therapist, running her own small business, Small Talk Therapy. They attend Westminster Presbyterian Church where Brad has served as an elder since 2011.
Anderson’s steering committee:
Anderson for Iowa Steering Committee:
Marti Anderson – State Representative, Des Moines
Jan Bauer – Story County Democratic Chair
Nancy Bobo – Obama for America Team Leader, Des Moines
Kim Boggus — Obama for America Team Leader, Des Moines
Tim Bottaro – Attorney, Sioux City
Bruce Braley – U.S. Congressman representing Iowa’s 1st District
Scott Brennan – Former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party
Bonnie Campbell – Former Iowa Attorney General and Chair of Anderson for Iowa
Chet Culver – Former Iowa Governor
Sandy Dockendorff – Iowa State Central Committee Rules Vice Chair, Danville
Gary Dunham – President of Iowa Teamsters Local 231
Sue Dvorsky – Iowa Democratic Party Chair
Bob Dvorsky – Iowa State Senator, Iowa City
Rich Eychaner – Iowa Business leader and activist, Des Moines
Mike Fitzgerald – Iowa State Treasurer
Bill Gerhard – President of the Iowa State Building Trades, Iowa City
Teri Goodmann – Local leader, Dubuque
Tom Harkin – U.S. Senator
Jim Hayes – Attorney, Iowa City
Jennifer Harrington – Page County Democratic Chair, Obama for America Team Leader
Fred Hubbell – Former CEO Equitable Insurance, Des Moines
Patty Judge – Former Iowa Lt. Governor
Theresa Kehoe – Treasurer of Anderson for Iowa, Des Moines
Michael Kiernan – Former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party
Bill Knapp – Chairman Emeritus of Knapp Properties, Van Meter
Dianne and John Liepa – Party activists and IDP Hall of Fame member, Indianola
Jeff and Patty Link – Business partner and Anderson for Iowa advisors, Des Moines
David Loebsack – U.S. Congressman representing Iowa’s 2nd District
Paula Martinez – Political and Latino activist, Carlisle
Linda Nelson – Pottawattamie County Democratic Chair
Sally Pederson – Former Iowa Lt. Governor
Kevin Perkins – Obama for America Team Leader, Davenport
Janet Petersen – Iowa State Senator, Des Moines
Dan Prymek – LiUNA Laborers’ Iowa LECET Director, Waukee
Sam Reno – Obama for America Team Leader, Des Moines
Bob Riley – CEO Feed Energy, Des Moines
Andrea Rivera – United Auto Workers CAP Director, Des Moines
John Stone – Cerro Gordo County Democratic Chair
Dale Todd – Local leader and activist, Cedar Rapids
Rob Tully – Former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party
Tom Vilsack – Former Iowa Governor
Christie Vilsack – Former Iowa First Lady
Pat Walters – Obama for America Team Leader, Johnston
Peggy Whitworth – Obama for America Team Leader, Cedar Rapids
SECOND UPDATE: The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Todd Dorman comments,
Yeah, we had a good secretary of state in Mauro, someone who actually wanted to do the job, even the tedious parts, and not simply use it as a springboard for grander political ambitions. His four-year tenure was a nice break between Chet “celebration of voting” Culver and now Matt “show me your ID” Schultz.
Anderson’s background in political strategery doesn’t suggest he’d break that spin cycle. But we’ll hear him out. Plenty of time. Lots.
Personally, I’m looking for a secretary of state candidate who promises to never call a press conference, who won’t slap his or her massive portrait or name in Ambition Bold 48 point all over everything, who vows to seek a minimum of five terms and who states, openly, often, that he or she would make a monumentally lousy governor, senator or U.S. rep.
Who were the refs in the best-officiated football game you ever saw? Don’t recall? Perfect. That’s what I’m talking about.
FEBRUARY UPDATE: Former Democratic nominee for governor and U.S. Senate Roxanne Conlin joined Anderson’s steering committee.