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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 30)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 31, 2014 at 10:13:49 AM CDT

Early voting by Iowa Democrats, Republicans, and no-party voters already exceeds the number of absentee ballots cast by each of those groups in the 2010 general election. Depending on how many more ballots are returned in time to be counted, this year's early vote may exceed 40 percent of the electorate.

Democrats lead in absentee ballots returned by about 7,000 statewide but have many more ballots outstanding (about 47,000) than do Republicans (about 30,000). Each 11,000 to 12,000 ballots left on the table represents roughly 1 percent of the expected statewide vote.

Although Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley have asked the U.S. Postal Service to put legible postmarks on all absentee ballots, I would not risk dropping a ballot in the mail now. If it arrives after election day with no postmark, it will not be counted. Safer to either take your ballot to the post office and demand a postmark on the envelope, or hand-deliver the envelope to the county auditor's office.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

The big question remains: which party has mobilized more voters who otherwise would not have participated in the midterm election? A new Des Moines Register analysis suggests Democrats have only a "thin edge" in early voting. But Nate Cohn of the New York Times' "Upshot" blog has a different take:

In Iowa, the overall early vote is nearly tied in a state where Democrats usually fare well in the early vote.

But Democrats insist that the Republicans are merely banking voters who would have voted on Election Day anyway, and back it up with data showing a lead among people who didn't vote in 2010, 40 to 29 percent. If the G.O.P. is faring better in the early vote by attracting voters who would have turned out anyway, then they diminish their ability to fare as well on Election Day as they have in the past.

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Harkin, Grassley urge Postal Service to postmark all absentee ballots

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 21:30:00 PM CDT

U.S. Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley issued a joint letter today to U.S. Postal Service district managers in Iowa, "urging them to ensure that ballots receive legible postmarks between now and Election Day." I've posted the full statement after the jump.

Absentee ballots may be counted in Iowa if they are postmarked on or before the day before election day. However, many ballots do not receive a postmark, so there is no way to prove they were mailed in time. With more than 100,000 absentee ballots requested but not yet returned to Iowa county auditors, there's a real risk that over the next several days, thousands of Iowans will mail ballots that end up going uncounted.

I applaud Harkin and Grassley for speaking out on this important problem but wish they had sent their letter a few weeks earlier. I don't know whether there is time for the Postal Service district managers to enact this policy change and get the word out to all staff.

At this point, the safest ways to return an absentee ballot are 1) hand-deliver to the county auditor's office, or 2) take to the post office and insist that a postmark be put on the envelope.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2014 general election prediction contest

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 14:32:51 PM CDT

Time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. To enter, post your guesses as comments in this thread before 7 am on Tuesday, November 4. Predictions submitted by e-mail or social media will not be considered. It's ok to change your mind, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before the deadline.

No money's at stake here, just bragging rights like those enjoyed by Bleeding Heartland users ModerateIADem (twice), American007, Johannes, and tietack. This isn't "The Price is Right"; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether they were a little high or low.

Even if you have no idea, please try to take a stab at answering every question. We had no clear winner in this year's primary election prediction contest; the best guessers on some races were way off on other races.

Minor-party or independent candidates are on the ballot for some races, so the percentages of the vote for Democratic and Republican nominees need not add up to 100. You can view the complete list of candidates for federal and state offices in Iowa here (pdf).

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 29)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CDT

Roughly 50,000 registered Iowa Democrats, 35,000 Republicans, and 35,000 no-party voters have requested but not yet returned absentee ballots. The Iowa Secretary of State's Office sent out a press release yesterday on deadlines for returning those ballots. Excerpt:

Absentee ballots returned by mail and received in the county auditor's office by 9 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4 are eligible for counting. Absentee ballots returned by mail and received by the auditors office after the polls close must be postmarked by November 3 or earlier and be received by the auditor before noon on Monday, November 10.  Mail is not always postmarked so it is important to return the ballot as soon as possible. Absentee ballots can also be returned to the county auditor's office in person no later than 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4.

I would not simply drop a ballot in the mail at this point. The risk of it arriving late without a postmark is too great. Either take it to the post office and demand a postmark on the envelope, or hand-deliver it to the county auditor's office.

If you make a mistake while filling out your absentee ballot, or your ballot gets lost or damaged, or you realize after mailing that you forgot the secrecy or affidavit envelopes, call your county auditor's office. In many cases you will be able to come in, sign a form to void your original absentee ballot, and fill out a new absentee ballot right there.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Great blue lobelia

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 23:40:00 PM CDT

The peak blooming period for today's featured plant is in late summer, but we've had an unseasonably warm October across Iowa, so I decided to run with it anyway. Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is native to most of North America east of the Rockies. I enclose several pictures after the jump.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

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Three things that are not plagiarism

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 15:35:00 PM CDT

2014 is shaping up to be the year of idiotic plagiarism accusations in political campaigns. Here's a good example of real plagiarism: "Senator John Walsh of Montana took most of a 2007 final paper required for his master's degree from the United States Army War College from other sources without proper attribution."

In contrast, these common political actions are not plagiarism:

1. Having boilerplate language on a campaign website.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has alleged in a television commercial that IA-03 candidate Staci Appel was "caught plagiarizing 20 times." No, an early version of her campaign website included political statements about the minimum wage and other issues that were similar to other Democratic campaign websites. That is no different from dozens of Republican candidates parroting the same talking points about how the tax code should be "flatter, fairer, and simpler," or responding to a question about climate change with identical "I'm not a scientist" rhetoric.

2. Introducing similar or companion legislation.

Today the Republican Party of Iowa is pushing a bogus story about Bruce Braley "plagiarizing" a bill by Senator Harry Reid. Members of Congress introduce companion legislation to bills from the other chamber all the time. Republicans in dozens of state legislatures introduce bills that are taken verbatim from American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) drafts.

3. Sending out a newsletter composed largely by staff.

Today Andrew Kaczynski and Ilan Ben-Meir reported for Buzzfeed, "Passages of local paper pieces under [Joni] Ernst's name appear to have been copied word-for-word from templates sent as guidelines to Republican members of the Iowa Senate." What they describe is standard operating procedure for Iowa lawmakers in both parties. While some representatives and senators write their own weekly newsletters, many others rely on text prepared by legislative staff. Sometimes local newspapers will reproduce all or part of those newsletters. I don't consider that "plagiarism."

Some days it's hard to see how our political discourse could get any more stupid or dishonest.

P.S. Speaking of dishonest, look how Joni Ernst's hired gun Daid Kochel re-tweeted my comment about common practice in the Iowa legislature, just minutes after he pushed the Iowa GOP's bogus plagiarism claims about Braley's bill.

UPDATE: Political reporter Gavin Aronsen comments, "Not sure I agree on point 3, once it's printed in a newspaper. Editors should reject that if it's not words of stated author." Point taken. But I blame lazy editors desperate for copy for that mistake, not politicians. Newspapers should not run a bulletin under an elected official's byline if other lawmakers sent out virtually identical text.

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Shorter Mary Mosiman: Not my job to look for fraud

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 12:05:00 PM CDT

State Auditor Mary Mosiman, who in her previous job stood by and watched other people collect salaries for doing no work, has doubled down on her defense of the status quo in state auditing procedures.

Highlights from Thomas Geyer's report for the Quad-City Times are after the jump, along with state auditor candidate Jon Neiderbach's reaction to the incumbent's "reckless comments."

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 28)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CDT

As of yesterday, the number of registered Republicans who had returned absentee ballots to county auditors (138,362) exceeds the total early Republican vote in the 2010 Iowa general election (136,243). Ballots returned by registered Democrats and no-party voters are likely to exceed 2010 early voting levels today or tomorrow.

Statewide, Democrats have returned about 5,000 more absentee ballots to county auditors than Republicans have, but they also have a lower return rate. Roughly 56,000 Democrats have requested but not yet returned absentee ballots, compared to about 38,000 ballots outstanding for Republicans and 38,000 outstanding for no-party voters. Every 11,000 to 12,000 ballots left on the table represents roughly 1 percent of the expected total vote in the 2014 general election.

For Iowans who have not yet returned their absentee ballots, the safest options are to hand-deliver the completed ballot to the county auditor's office, or to take it to the post office and demand a postmark for the envelope. Late-arriving mailed ballots with no postmark will not be counted.

Iowans cannot turn in completed absentee ballots at their regular polling place on election day. However, they may go to their precinct polling place next Tuesday, surrender their unreturned absentee ballot to poll workers, and receive a new ballot to fill out like other election-day voters.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Catching up on the Iowa secretary of state race

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 28, 2014 at 22:59:40 PM CDT

The Iowa secretary of state campaign looks like a nail-biter. Neither Democrat Brad Anderson nor Republican Paul Pate has had a lead outside the margin of error in any public poll I've seen. The new Loras College statewide survey shows Anderson barely ahead of Pate by 39.9 percent to 39.0 percent. That survey did not include the other two candidates running for secretary of state, even though Libertarian Jake Porter received about 3 percent of the statewide vote in 2010.

When Anderson and Pate appeared jointly on Iowa Public Television earlier this month (in a "job interview" that resembled a debate), major differences between the candidates were apparent. Pate would continue outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz's crusade for a voter ID law, an expensive "fix" to a non-existent problem, which risks disenfranchising voters. Anderson proposes several ideas to improve the voter file and maintain security, without depressing turnout.

During the same "Iowa Press" program, Pate hedged on whether former employees of the Secretary of State's Office should pay back the state for salary and benefits they received for doing no work. I've enclosed that exchange after the jump. I would guess that 90 percent of Iowans agree with Anderson: it's a "no-brainer" that these people should pay back the money.

Pate's campaign website is mostly devoid of policy ideas. His case to voters is simple: he has more experience, having served as secretary of state before, he supports voter ID requirements, and he is a "non-partisan leader," as opposed to his "partisan political operative" opponent. Never mind that Pate once sought the position of Iowa GOP chair.

Compared to Pate, Anderson has proposed more specific ideas for improving the work of the Secretary of State's Office. (For that matter, so has Porter.) Anderson's campaign website includes not only ideas to make Iowa number one in voter turnout, but also proposals to make it easier to start a business, create a new registry for veteran-owned businesses, improve the integrity of the Iowa caucuses, make it easier for overseas and military voters to cast ballots, and most recently, an address confidentiality program that would allow survivors of domestic abuse or sexual violence "to register to vote, cast a ballot, and go about daily life without fear for safety." (Pate's campaign quickly announced that the Republican also supports "Safe at Home" measures.)

Anderson and Pate are still running the television and radio commercials Bleeding Heartland covered here. In addition, a group I'd never heard of called iVote has spent just under $30,000 to run a tv ad opposing Pate. Democratic strategists created the new political action committee to get involved in several secretary of state races. When I saw iVote's spot for the first time during a lunchtime local newscast, the unorthodox style caught my attention. I've enclosed the video and transcript below. The Cedar Rapids Gazette's fact-checker rated this ad "true."

Speaking of the Gazette, that newspaper endorsed Anderson today, saying he would offer "a clean break" from the "sorry chapter" of Schultz's tenure as secretary of state. Click through to read the whole editorial, or scroll own to read excerpts. How embarrassing for Pate not to get the support of his hometown newspaper. He's been a local business owner for decades as well as a former Cedar Rapids mayor and former state senator representing part of Linn County.  

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New thread on competitive Iowa Senate races

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 28, 2014 at 09:49:43 AM CDT

It's been a while since Bleeding Heartland posted a thread dedicated to the Iowa Senate races. Democrats go into the election with a 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber, where 25 of the 50 districts are on the ballot this year. Only a handful of those races appear to be competitive.

Carolyn Fiddler, who blogs about state legislative races here, has rated the Iowa Senate as a "Tossup/Tilt D" chamber on her list of state legislative chambers most likely to flip. In those terms, I consider the Iowa Senate a "lean D" chamber, as a lot has to break for Republicans to get them to 26 seats.

In theory, Democrats are defending six seats: five incumbents have challengers, and one Democratic-held seat is open. In reality, Republicans have failed to mount strong challengers against Amanda Ragan in Senate district 27 or Tod Bowman in Senate district 29. Moreover, the Iowa GOP is not putting significant money behind Jeremy Davis, its challenger in Senate district 23. Davis has just started running some positive radio ads in the Des Moines area, whereas radio commercials were launched more than a month ago in the targeted races.

The Democratic incumbent who appears to be most at risk is Daryl Beall in Senate district 5. His territory changed quite a bit with redistricting, and Mitt Romney carried it in the 2012 presidential election. Republicans are also making a strong play for the open Senate district 15. Both parties have been running radio ads since late September, but as of last week only Democrats were on television in Senate district 15, with a positive spot about Chaz Allen. To a lesser extent, Republicans have put money behind Brian Schmidt's campaign in Senate district 49, but the demographics of that district favor incumbent Senator Rita Hart.

Republicans could win two of the Democratic-held Iowa Senate seats, but that won't get them to the magic 26 unless they hold all of their current seats. Two of those are heavily targeted. In the open Senate district 39, both parties have been advertising on the radio for more than a month. Democrats have invested far more in television ads (all positive for Kevin Kinney) than Republicans have for Mike Moore.

The other Republican-held Senate seat most at risk appears to be Senate district 41. By voter registration and top of the ticket performance, this should be a Democratic seat. The best thing going for State Senator Mark Chelgren is that Mariannette Miller-Meeks is the Republican nominee in Iowa's second Congressional district. She's an underdog against Representative Dave Loebsack, but a strong turnout for her in the Ottumwa area would benefit Chelgren, as it did in 2010.

Carolyn Fiddler encouraged readers to keep an eye on Senate district 47, but even though Barack Obama carried that district in 2012, it would be an upset for Maria Bribriesco to defeat incumbent Roby Smith. That said, Democrats have hit SD-47 with quite a bit of direct mail.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that surrogates have gotten involved with many of these races. Senator Tom Harkin headlined an October 27 rally in Fort Dodge for Beall. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley did an event earlier this month for Steve Siegel in Senate district 41. On the Republican side, Governor Terry Branstad has been in Ottumwa recently to help Chelgren and plans events for the GOP candidates in Senate districts 15 and 39 soon.

SECOND UPDATE: Tim Kraayenbrink, the GOP challenger to Beall in Senate district 5, has just started running a positive television commercial in the Des Moines market. The gist is that he's a small business owner, unlike "career politicians in Des Moines." I haven't caught it on tape yet but am fairly certain he did not mention Beall by name.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 27)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 28, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

A week before election day, early voting is on track to well exceed the total number of absentee ballots cast in the 2010 Iowa general election. I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Republicans lead in ballots requested and returned in the fourth Congressional district. Democrats lead in the other three districts, by the largest margin in IA-02 (where Representative Dave Loebsack is facing Mariannette Miller-Meeks) and by the smallest margin in IA-03 (the open-seat race between Staci Appel and David Young).

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Iowa caucus hopefuls eager to serve as campaign surrogates

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 17:55:02 PM CDT

With the 2016 caucuses only a bit more than a year away, many potential presidential candidates have been paying their dues in Iowa this fall. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headlining events for Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids and Davenport on Wednesday, while her husband, President Bill Clinton, will campaign with Braley in Des Moines and Waterloo this Saturday. Vice President Joe Biden was in Davenport today with Braley and Representative Dave Loebsack.

Others who might run for president (if Hillary Clinton opts out) have been here lately too. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got large crowds of Democrats going in Iowa City and Des Moines last weekend. This past Saturday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley recently visited Iowa for the fourth time since June, headlining events for Braley, Loebsack, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and Steve Siegel, the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 41.

On the Republican side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did an event for Representative Steve King before headlining Governor Terry Branstad's "birthday" bash in Des Moines on Saturday. (King helped Christie out of a jam once.) The New Jersey governor will be back later this week to campaign with Branstad, Senate nominee Joni Ernst, and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Burlington. Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky came to Cedar Falls for an event with IA-01 GOP nominee Rod Blum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry made stops in Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids area for attorney general nominee Adam Gregg, Blum, and Ernst. Former Senator Rick Santorum did an event for King last week too, and Donald Trump did earlier in October. Senator Marco Rubio is coming back to eastern Iowa tomorrow to raise money for the Scott County Republicans and for Blum.

I've heard that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have recorded radio ads for Sam Clovis, the social conservative favorite who is running for state treasurer. However, I haven't heard those spots on the radio yet. Speaking of social conservative heroes, Dr. Ben Carson (possibly the new "flavor of the month" for Iowa Republicans) is slated to keynote the FAMiLY Leader's fall fundraiser on November 22.

Any comments about the next presidential race in Iowa are welcome in this thread. P.S. Imagine if any Democratic candidate or elected official followed Branstad's lead and moved his "birthday party" up from November 17 to October 25 for political reasons. There would be a chorus of outrage from pundits: Phony! Not acting like a real Iowan!  

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Three reasons Jon Neiderbach would be a better state auditor than Mary Mosiman

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CDT

Iowa's state auditor is a low-profile position and a difficult office to campaign for, even without a marquee U.S. Senate race sucking up all the oxygen. But there are huge contrasts between Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman, appointed to the office last year, and her Democratic challenger Jonathan Neiderbach.

Last week, Robert Rees hosted a mini-debate of the state auditor candidates during his "Morning Drive" program on the Des Moines-based talk radio station 98.3 The Torch. You can listen to the 15-minute exchange here or look it up on the list of Morning Drive podcasts for October 21. The big takeaway is that Mosiman wants to maintain the status quo in State Auditor's office operations, despite mismanagement including secret payouts to state employees, which several years of audits failed to uncover. Neiderbach wants to improve the audits so that they are meeting the tasks set out in Iowa Code.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from last week's debate and two more reasons to support Neiderbach for state auditor.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 26)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 08:47:57 AM CDT

In all likelihood, at least a quarter of the Iowans who will participate in this year's midterm election have already returned completed ballots to county auditors. Another 150,000 voters have requested ballots but not yet returned them. To anyone planning to vote by mail: send your ballot back as soon as possible. Iowa law says any ballot mailed by the day before the election (in this case November 3) is valid, but county auditors will not count late-arriving ballots without postmarks. Unfortunately, post offices no longer routinely put postmarks on all mail that passes through. Iowans who are worried about their ballots arriving on time should either take them to a post office this week and ask for a postmark, or hand-deliver completed ballots to the county auditor's office.

Don't forget to seal the ballot in the secrecy envelope, seal the secrecy envelope in the affidavit envelope, and sign the affidavit envelope before mailing. If you make a mistake on your absentee ballot, don't erase or cross anything out. Contact your county auditor about the procedure for getting a replacement ballot.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa newspaper endorsement edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Oct 26, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM CDT

Iowa newspapers have been publishing their endorsements for the midterm election during the past week or two. While few voters blindly follow the lead of any editorial board, endorsements can be newsworthy when they go against expectations.

Of the largest Iowa newspapers, Joni Ernst met with only one editorial board: the Sioux City Journal. That was a safe bet, because to my knowledge, that newspaper has endorsed exactly one Democrat for IA-Sen in the last 30 or 40 years: Tom Harkin in 2008 only (when his GOP challenger was a joke). I am not aware of any Democrat running for president or Iowa governor ever getting the Sioux City Journal's endorsement. Ernst also met with the Omaha World-Herald, a widely-read paper in southwest Iowa and a slam-dunk for endorsing Republicans.

Although the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, and Quad-City Times endorse more Republican candidates than Democrats, Ernst did not agree to meet with any of those newspapers. A few days ago, she also backed out of a scheduled meeting with the Des Moines Register, which had endorsed her in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate. Ernst's handlers are clearly terrified to let her participate in an hour-long conversation about public policy, with good reason. She has about 90 seconds of memorized talking points on any given issue and gets in trouble quickly after that.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette endorsed Braley last weekend. The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and Des Moines Register did so today. I am convinced that Ernst could have had any of those endorsements if she had participated in the process.

After Iowa media and even some national reporters noticed that Ernst was dissing Iowa newspapers, the Ernst campaign scheduled a "meeting" by telephone with the Quad-City Times editorial board. I don't think the editors should have agreed to those terms. How do they know she won't be reading off cue cards supplied by her staff the whole time?

This is an open thread for discussing newspaper endorsements or any other issue that's on your mind. P.S.: The Register's decision not to endorse either Terry Branstad or Jack Hatch for governor was quite a cop-out.

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Three suburbs of Des Moines named to "50 Best" list

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Oct 25, 2014 at 21:23:29 PM CDT

Business Insider put three central Iowa suburbs on its new list of 50 "best suburbs in America." Business Insider cited schools, short commutes, and low costs of living among the reasons Waukee ranked 37th, Ankeny 36th, and Johnston 25th. On all of those counts, and more, I favor Windsor Heights, Iowa's only "inner ring suburb."

1. Windsor Heights residences feed into either the Des Moines or West Des Moines school districts. Both contain good high schools and a more diverse student body than the growing-too-fast Waukee, Ankeny, or Johnston schools.

2. Homes in Windsor Heights have more character than the cookie-cutter housing developments in "taupetown." Moreover, a lot of these older brick homes were built to last, in contrast to the cheap construction that's gone up lately in outlying suburbs.

3. Commutes are even shorter in Windsor Heights, only 10-15 minute drive from most places in the Des Moines metro area (more like 20 minutes to the airport or State Fairgrounds).

4. Windsor Heights is better-served for bike trails than the suburbs mentioned by Business Insider.

5. Most lots in Windsor Heights have mature trees.

Incidentally, I reject the premise that suburbs always offer a higher quality of life. My dozen or so favorite Des Moines neighborhoods are in my book nicer places to live than Ankeny, Waukee, or Johnston as well. Not even close.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 23)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 24, 2014 at 16:55:00 PM CDT

Another commitment kept me away from my computer for most of the day, but after the jump I've enclosed the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Democrats slightly extended their statewide lead in absentee ballot requests and regained a small lead in absentee ballots returned to county auditors, after Republicans had held an edge of a few hundreds ballots the previous day. However, Republicans now lead in absentee ballots returned in Iowa's third Congressional district as well as in the fourth. Here's hoping some of the Republicans who have already voted in IA-03 followed the lead of conservatives who oppose David Young.

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IA-04: Steve King/Jim Mowrer debate liveblog and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 18:57:58 PM CDT

In a few minutes, six-term Republican incumbent Steve King will debate his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer in Storm Lake. Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" is hosting the debate, and C-SPAN is also televising. King hedged for weeks about whether he would participate and refused to accept the Sioux City Journal's invitation, so this will be the only time the two candidates appear on the same stage. King debated his 2012 opponent Christie Vilsack, but before that he had never agreed to debate any of his Congressional challengers.

I'm liveblogging after the jump, where I have also enclosed the latest commercial King's campaign is running.

UPDATE: You can watch the debate video on the "Iowa Press" page.

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Branstad Beer - It's All About the Dirty Water

by: Mark Langgin

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 11:28:13 AM CDT

(I saw this ad on cable in the Des Moines area this morning. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I've had enough.

Gov. Branstad continues to spread misinformation about his record on water quality. The simple fact? He vetoed $20 million in funds that would have improved Iowa's natural resources and protected water quality of our rivers, lakes and streams.

With full disclosure, I'm the Director for Citizens for a Healthy Iowa. We are a non-profit (c4) organized here in Iowa and we work primarily on water quality issues - public education & issue advocacy. More about our new ad, and campaign, after the jump ....

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IA-Sen: Ernst campaign preparing for possible recount

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 11:13:03 AM CDT

As the latest opinion polls show a close U.S. Senate race in Iowa, representatives of Joni Ernst's campaign have requested detailed information about ballot-counting and recounting procedures in at least five Iowa counties that have often produced Democratic vote margins, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports today. In Johnson County, which includes the Iowa City area, the auditor was asked to provide

(1) all election training manuals, and any documents stating: (2) the SOP for counting ballots (absentee, Early and normal ballots); (3) for handling absentee ballots; (4) listing each and every polling place (early and normal); (5) all aspects of the recount process, (6) a copy of all requests for documents served by Bruce Braley's campaign; and (7) all documents provide to the Braley campaign, the state party, the DNC or the Dem Sen. Campaign Cttee.

Erin Jordan and Chris Earl reported that auditors received similar requests in Linn County (Cedar Rapids area), Polk County (Des Moines area), Woodbury County (Sioux City area), and Clinton County (just north of the Quad Cities).

A public records request from a political candidate isn't unusual, but the volume of materials Ernst's campaign is seeking right before an election isn't typical, several auditors said. [Ernst's senior adviser Derek] Flowers asks auditors to notify him if they can't provide the materials within five days - which may be a challenge for some counties.

"It's going to take some time we don't have, because the people who would do it are getting ready for the election," said Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.

[Johnson County Auditor Travis] Weipert said he did not think his office would be able to compile all the requested materials before Nov. 4. His staff are consulting with Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness, he said.

Looks like Ernst's team are trying to set the stage to claim there was voter fraud in high-performing Democratic areas. I don't recall any previous statewide recount in Iowa. The recount after Minnesota's U.S. Senate race in 2008 was an ugly mess.

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