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2014 elections

Weekend open thread: Final Harkin Steak Fry edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 14, 2014 at 12:35:32 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The weather is perfect in Indianola this afternoon for the roughly 5,000 people expected to attend Senator Tom Harkin's final "Steak Fry" event. At least 200 journalists will be on hand, mostly to see Hillary Clinton's first appearance in Iowa since the 2008 caucuses. If you see a lot of "Hillary doesn't appear to have much of an Iowa problem" stories tonight and tomorrow, remember that you heard it here first, and repeatedly.

I stand by my prediction that Hillary Clinton will face only token Democratic opposition in Iowa and elsewhere if she runs for president again. But in case she doesn't run, 2012 Harkin Steak Fry headliner Martin O'Malley is building up a lot of goodwill among Iowa Democrats. In addition to raising money for key Iowa Senate candidates this summer, the Maryland governor's political action committee is funding staffers for the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and secretary of state candidate Brad Anderson. I still don't see O'Malley running against Clinton in any scenario.

President Bill Clinton will speak today as well. That's got to be a tough act to follow. No one can get a crowd of Democrats going like he can. I'll update this post later with highlights from the event and news coverage. I hope other Bleeding Heartland readers will share their impressions. C-SPAN will carry the main speeches, starting at 2:00 pm. That will be on channel 95 in the Des Moines area.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

IA-03: First Staci Appel/David Young debate discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 19:01:10 PM CDT

Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young are holding their first debate in the third Congressional district race. Iowa Public Television will live-stream the Council Bluffs debate on the "Iowa Press" page. You can also watch on C-SPAN 2, which is channel 87 for Mediacom subscribers in Des Moines. I will be live-blogging the debate after the jump.

P.S.-I've also enclosed below the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's latest television commercial against Young. The format seems a little stale, and I wonder how many people even remember Young's magic-themed ads before the Republican primary.

UPDATE: I didn't realize the Appel campaign is also running a new ad. Scroll to the end to see that video and transcript.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Iowa Public Television has the debate video up on the "Iowa Press" page and will broadcast this debate tonight at 7 pm and Sunday morning.

I've added lots more below, including post-debate spin and Young's second television commercial of the general election campaign, which started running on September 12. Young is presenting himself as a reasonable, moderate, experienced problem-solver. The theme of the Democratic communication is that Young spent the debate hiding from more radical positions he took as a Republican primary candidate for U.S. Senate and later for IA-03. That's accurate, but the reality is that Young does not present as a wild-eyed extremist. Voters may conclude that he was just pandering to wingnuts during the primary campaign.

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Three reasons it's too soon for Iowa Democrats to celebrate an early voting lead

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 16:35:42 PM CDT

Part of a series on GOTV in Iowa this year

Less than two weeks remain before county auditors start mailing absentee ballots to Iowa voters. On September 22, the Iowa Secretary of State's Office will start releasing updates on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and by Congressional district. As in 2012, Bleeding Heartland will post those totals daily.

Data from a few of the larger counties indicate that the Iowa Democratic Party's head start on canvassing this summer has produced a clear advantage on absentee ballots requested. Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson is fretting about the GOP "getting out worked when it comes to early voting." Former Iowa Senate GOP staffer Don McDowell is upset with conservatives who refuse to vote before election day. He has seen more than a few statehouse races lost narrowly after Republican candidates were crushed in the early vote.

However, it's way too soon for Democrats to be over-confident about this year's early vote lead, for three reasons.

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Weekend open thread: Political corruption edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 13:10:56 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I've been reading about the recent convictions of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell on federal corruption charges. Both are likely to do prison time for accepting money and favors for personal benefit. Incidentally, McDonnell refused a deal that would have required him to plead guilty to just one charge, sparing his wife from prosecution. Iowa's own former State Senator Kent Sorenson showed more chivalry--or was it wisdom, for once?--when he agreed to plead guilty on corruption charges, protecting his own wife from prosecution in connection with illegal payments.

While I have no problem with prosecuting greedy politicians, it occurs to me that the McDonnells' outrageous actions (such as letting a wealthy businessman cater their daughter's wedding) were less damaging to the public welfare than many more prevalent forms of "legal corruption." No governor will be prosecuted for appointing wealthy donors to powerful state positions, where they may promote their own businesses or interfere with those they see threatening their industry. No governor will ever be prosecuted for giving interest groups undue influence on public policy, either covertly or openly. In the August 31 Sunday Des Moines Register, Richard Doak wrote an excellent piece on how Governor Terry Branstad has "put state government at the service of one segment of the people: the business community." I've posted excerpts after the jump. Doak's not talking about criminal activity, but he cites policies that have harmed Iowa more than any luxury vacation for the McDonnells could ever harm Virginia.

On a related note, the Brennan Center for Justice recently published a disturbing report on trends in federal campaign spending:

In recent cases like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Supreme Court has been narrowing what counts as corruption in campaign finance cases to mere quid pro quo corruption. Quid pro quo is Latin meaning "this for that." In other words only explicit exchanges of gifts for votes or campaign cash for official acts will count as corruption for the Roberts Supreme Court. But a new study entitled, "The New Soft Money" from Professor Daniel Tokaji and Renata Strause calls this narrow read of corruption into question.  

Speaking of "dark money," Iowa's third Congressional district was among thirteen tossup U.S. House races examined in a separate Brennan Center report on outside political spending. A growing trend (not yet seen in IA-03) is for a super-PAC to be formed supporting a single Congressional candidate, giving "big donors a way of evading federal contribution limits."

UPDATE: Over at the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's blog, Adam Rappaport illustrates another example of legalized corruption: "issue ads" funded by dark money, which are clearly intended to influence elections. Although the "tax code plainly says section 501(c)(4) organizations must be 'exclusively' engaged in non-political activity," the IRS interpretation allows dark money groups to fund blatant electioneering communications.  

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IA-03: NRCC tv ad attacks Staci Appel on spending votes (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:05:00 AM CDT

Yesterday the National Republican Congressional Committee launched its first television commercial in Iowa this year. After the jump I've posted the video and transcript of the 30-second spot attacking Democratic candidate Staci Appel over spending votes she cast in the Iowa Senate. Bleeding Heartland provided background here on one of the points, which was a staple of Iowa Republican campaign rhetoric in 2010. Short version: money was never spent on those "decorative flowerpots," because Governor Chet Culver line-item vetoed the allocation. But in any case, they were not intended purely for decoration around the State Capitol grounds. Rather, they were similar to heavy planters commonly seen around federal government buildings, as much a security measure as a decorative one.

I've also enclosed below background on the historic musical instrument for which Appel and other state lawmakers allocated restoration funds. UPDATE: It turns out that GOP candidate David Young's boss, Senator Chuck Grassley, went to bat for federal funding to restore the same organ. Scroll down for details.

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IA-03: DCCC on the air against David Young

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 15:58:00 PM CDT

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running its first television commercial attacking Republican nominee David Young in Iowa's third Congressional district. I don't know exactly when the ad went up on the air, because I haven't seen any official announcement from the DCCC, nor is the video on their YouTube channel yet. I saw it for the first time today during the lunchtime newscast on a Des Moines-based station. Bleeding Heartland readers in southwest Iowa, please let me know if you've seen the spot on an Omaha/Council Bluffs station.

Since I didn't catch the ad on video yet, I don't have an exact transcript. The gist was that David Young is a Washington insider who will "never work for you," only for special interests that want to do bad things like eliminate the Department of Education. When possible, I'll update this post with the ad and its script. It was very cookie-cutter in style.

Ater the jump, I've posted a statement the DCCC released today, mocking Young's new television ad for promising to bring "Iowa reality" to Washington.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved television time in IA-03, but to my knowledge, they are not on the air yet against Democratic nominee Staci Appel. CORRECTION: The NRCC started running its first tv spot against Appel on September 4. Click here for details.

UPDATE: Added the video and transcript below.

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IA-03: David Young wants to "bring a dose of Iowa reality to Washington"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 03, 2014 at 18:34:14 PM CDT

Republican Congressional candidate David Young has launched his first television commercial of the general election campaign. I've posted the video and transcript to "Good Meal" after the jump. Echoing his opponent Staci Appel's promise to "bring Iowa common sense to Washington," Young's new ad vows to "bring a dose of Iowa reality to Washington." Speaking to the camera, Young separates himself from beltway insiders who are mismanaging the government: "I get it, and you get it. Why can't they?"

Campaigning against Washington is standard practice, but this rhetoric is real chutzpah coming from a guy who has spent most of his adult life as a Congressional staffer based in the capital. The fundraising e-mail that accompanied today's ad release glossed over Young's professional background, asserting, "Washington needs David," and urging supporters to "Help send David to Washington," as if Young hadn't spent the better part of two decades there.

Any comments about the race in IA-03 are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- While many voters would probably agree with Young's claim that the federal government "overspends" and "overtaxes," Young is smart enough to know better. Fact is, the federal tax burden on most American households is at historically low levels, whether you look at federal income taxes only or total federal taxes. By the same token, total federal government spending as a share of U.S. gross domestic product has "fallen dramatically" since the Great Recession ended, and the federal government "outside Social Security and Medicare is already significantly below its historical average size."  

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The 2014 Iowa ground game: 12 Canvassing dos and don'ts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 12:21:02 PM CDT

First in a series of posts on GOTV in Iowa this year

Air time for television advertising has become the most expensive line-item in many election campaigns. Outside groups have spent millions of dollars already on Iowa commercials targeting U.S. Senate candidates Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst, with millions more to be spent over the next 60 days. Nevertheless, I don't know many people who believe attack ads will determine the outcome of close races like Iowa's U.S. Senate battle. Barring some extraordinary campaign event (such as a meltdown in the debates), the winner will be the candidate whose side does a better job of identifying its supporters and turning them out to vote.

The number of Iowans who voted in each of the last two midterm elections was about a third lower than the number who had voted in the most recent presidential election. If that trend holds, approximately 1.1 million Iowans will cast ballots in the 2014 general election. Braley and other Democrats can't afford to have turnout resemble 2010, when only 56.5 percent of registered Iowa Democrats voted, as opposed to 69 percent of registered Republicans.

The Iowa Democratic Party has been crowing about its bigger and better "coordinated campaign," an effort to build on the successful 2012 early voting program here. No question, Democrats got a big jump on the ground game while the Iowa GOP was mired in poor fundraising and a messy leadership transition. Democrats have had canvassers out every weekend for months, and so far have generated many more absentee ballot requests than Republicans. The Iowa GOP has stepped up its door-knocking over the past several weeks, and Governor Terry Branstad will spend part of his war chest to assist the early voting efforts.

Knocking on doors is one of the most valuable ways to volunteer for a campaign. For those willing to spend a few hours on a weeknight or a weekend afternoon, I've enclosed my best advice for canvassing after the jump. Please feel free to share your own experiences with canvassing (on either side of the door) in this thread. Six years ago, a guest diarist posted his top tips here.

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IA-02: First Loebsack and Miller-Meeks debate live-blog and discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 19:01:27 PM CDT

Four-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack and his three-time Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks are debating in Iowa City tonight, starting at 7 pm. Iowa Public TV is live-streaming the event here. I'll post updates after the jump.

Any comments about the race in Iowa's second Congressional district are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The archived video is now available at IPTV's site. My comments are below.  

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IA-03: David Young promises to listen

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 14:55:00 PM CDT

Republican candidate David Young has launched the second radio spot promoting his Congressional campaign in Iowa's third district. I've posted the audio and full transcript of "Listen" after the jump. (For whatever reason, Young's campaign never did post the first general election radio spot, featuring Senator Chuck Grassley, on their official YouTube channel.)

The new commercial features Young speaking calmly and deliberately about how Iowans expect their elected officials to listen more than talk. It's the most slow-paced political ad I've heard in a long time. I wonder if it's too slow to keep some listeners' attention. On the other hand, I generally like candidates to speak in their own voice, rather than let professional voice-overs do the talking.

In contrast to his television commercials appealing to Republican primary voters, Young doesn't bash President Barack Obama's health care reform or other policies. He briefly alludes to a balanced budget amendment and helping businesses thrive, but he seems to be promoting a style of work and a way of relating to people, rather than a set of issues. Grassley focused on similar points in the ad he recorded for Young.

Young's Democratic opponent, Staci Appel, is emphasizing her bipartisan work in the television commercial now running throughout IA-03. Although Young doesn't use the words "bipartisan" or "across the aisle," his promise to "be at the table" working on solutions to benefit Iowans draws an unspoken contrast with strident Republicans in the Steve King mold. Pledging to ensure "government is working for Iowa families" separates Young from conservatives who would prefer to shrink government enough to drown it in a bathtub.

Young did vow to "keep our promises to Iowa seniors," pre-empting likely Democratic attacks on his views about Social Security reforms that include private savings accounts.  

Roll Call's Alexis Levinson observed Young's listening ears in action during a recent campaign swing. She recounts the way Young listened patiently to an angry man wanting more details on spending cuts:

As the man berates him, Young calmly answers, "I'm listening to you. ... I appreciate these conversations."

Talk about the anti-Steve King. This campaign strategy will serve Young well and will make it difficult to caricature him as a "way out there" tea party Republican.

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In Des Moines, a rare left-wing take on 1950s nostalgia and American exceptionalism

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 09:49:25 AM CDT

Sunday night, the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines marked its 100th anniversary at a dinner gathering downtown. The gala was unusual in several respects. For one thing, I don't recall seeing such a large and bipartisan group of Iowa politicians at any non-political local event before. Attendees included Senator Chuck Grassley, Governor Terry Branstad, State Senator Jack Hatch, Lieutenant Governor nominee Monica Vernon, Representative Bruce Braley, State Senator Joni Ernst, Representative Dave Loebsack, IA-03 candidates David Young and Staci Appel, State Senator Matt McCoy, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, State Representatives Helen Miller, Marti Anderson, and Peter Cownie, and several suburban mayors or city council members. (Insert your own "a priest, a rabbi, and an Iowa politician walk into a bar" joke here.)

The keynote speech was even more striking. It's standard practice to invite a Jewish celebrity to headline major Federation events. This year's guest was award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. But other than a "Borscht belt"-inspired opening riff about learning to nod and say "Yes, dear" to his wife, Dreyfuss left obvious material aside. He didn't dwell on humorous anecdotes from his Hollywood career, or talk about how being Jewish helped his craft. Instead, Dreyfuss reminisced about a cultural place and time that could hardly be more foreign to his Iowa audience, regardless of age or religious background.

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Republicans left Iowa House seats uncontested in nearly every battleground Iowa Senate district

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 12:41:54 PM CDT

The filing period for general-election candidates closed on August 15. You can view the full candidate list for federal and state offices on the Iowa Secretary of State's website. John Deeth briefly reviews all 100 House races here. Next month, I'll be posting on the most competitive Iowa House races.

For today, I'm interested in what appears to be a pattern of Republicans letting Iowa House seats go in battleground Iowa Senate districts. I suspect a strategy is in play to depress GOTV in the more Democratic halves of these districts.  

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Push Polling Call

by: idiosynchronic

Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 17:09:18 PM CDT

Just occured, 4:25pm CDT -

Caller identified himself as Jeff from National (mumble) Survey, wants to know if I have time for a very short survey, he specifically says that he will transfer me to an automated system. I (obviously) accepted. "This poll is primarily concerned with the Senate election."

It was short - and I encourage you to read through to after action, because that's the interesting part.

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IA-04: Jim Mowrer's third ad focuses on Social Security

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 12:25:20 PM CDT

Today Democratic candidate Jim Mowrer started running his third television commercial across Iowa's fourth Congressional district. In look and feel, the 30-second spot closely resembles Mowrer's first and second television ads, featuring the candidate's own voice and the same acoustic background music. While the previous ads focused on Mowrer's public service, the new one mentions an earlier part of his biography: the family tragedy that cemented his commitment to preserving Social Security. I've posted the video and transcript after the jump.

Mowrer's new ad does not mention six-term Republican incumbent Steve King by name. Rather, the Democrat says he disagrees with those who "want to weaken Social Security." King has voted for the House Republican Study Committee budget, which would increase the Social Security full retirement age and put Social Security's cost of living adjustments on the "chained Consumer Price Index." (Bleeding Heartland has explained before why chained CPI would be disastrous for lower- and middle-income Social Security recipients.) More than 100 of King's House GOP colleagues rejected the Republican Study Committee budget.

King has also repeatedly voted for House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's budget plans, though in recent years Ryan has backed off from Social Security cuts he once advocated.

To my knowledge, King has not run any radio or television commercials this year. Nor has he given the appearance of being worried about Mowrer's challenge. His lackluster fundraising let Mowrer build up a financial advantage. In addition, King has been relying on his son and daughter-in-law to run the campaign, rather than the professionals he brought in to manage his 2012 re-election bid against Christie Vilsack.

Mowrer talked about his family's experience with Social Security during his appearance on the Des Moines Register's soapbox at the Iowa State Fair. He also noted that King has voted to raise the retirement age.

King focused on health care reform during his soapbox speech, calling Obamacare "a malignant tumor that is metastasizing and feeding upon America's God-given liberty."

Any comments about the IA-04 race are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- Like Mowrer, Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) grew up in a family that relied on Social Security survivor benefits to keep food on the table.

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Hillary and Bill Clinton to headline the final Harkin Steak Fry

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:10:00 PM CDT

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will be the star guests at Senator Tom Harkin's final steak fry on September 14 at the Indianola Balloon Field. Doors open at 12:30 pm, event runs from 1-4. Traffic can be slow on the highway leading to the balloon field, so my advice is to allow extra time.

All of Iowa's Democratic candidates for federal and statewide office typically speak at the steak fry, but the big crowds will be there to see Hillary Clinton in her first Iowa appearance since the January 2008 caucuses. While she's in central Iowa, I would not be surprised to see her do an event for Staci Appel, Democratic nominee in the third Congressional district. Then State Senator Appel appeared at numerous events for for Hillary during 2007.

My opinion hasn't changed regarding Clinton and the 2016 Iowa caucuses: if she runs for president again, she wins here. Vice President Joe Biden and everyone else are far behind in every Iowa poll I've seen. Other presidential hopefuls are waiting in the wings, in case Clinton decides against running, but are in no position to challenge her for the nomination.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

New data bolster supporters of raising Iowa's gas tax

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:33:30 AM CDT

The average cost of owning a car is lower in Iowa than in any other state, the Cedar Rapids Gazette's B.A. Morelli reported on August 16, citing an analysis by Bankrate.com. Car insurance costs an average of $630 per year in Iowa, the lowest in the 50 states. Vehicle repairs cost Iowa drivers an average of $315 per year, also the lowest number for any state. The average cost of gasoline for Iowa drivers worked out to $998 a year, taking into account not only the price of gas but also vehicle miles traveled and fuel efficiency rates. That's "middle of the pack," Morelli noted.

Iowa's gasoline tax has not been increased since 1989, reaching a historic low in real terms. Meanwhile, Iowa road and bridge conditions continue to deteriorate. Three years ago, our state ranked third-worst in the country for structurally deficient bridges. The latest data indicate we are second-worst in that category, with more than 20 percent of the state's bridges in need of repairs or replacement.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch supports raising the gas tax, while Governor Terry Branstad has said he favors other ways to finance road and bridge work. The candidates clashed over that issue during last week's debate. Branstad has left himself some wiggle room by not pledging to veto a gas tax increase.

The current leaders of the Iowa House and Senate Transportation Committees strongly support raising the gas tax to pay for road work. Bills to increase the tax by a total of 10 cents per gallon over several years passed committees in both chambers in recent years, but advocates were unable to recruit enough bipartisan support to pass them in the full Iowa House or Senate in either of the past two legislative sessions. Iowa House Transportation Committee Chair Josh Byrnes has promised to keep working on this issue, and State Representative Brian Moore, the vice chair of that committee, said this spring that a gas tax hike is "in the works" for 2015. He has emphasized that weight limits on structurally deficient bridges are bad for businesses like the livestock transportation company he owns.

Republicans Byrnes and Moore both represent Iowa House districts that may be targeted this fall, as does Iowa Senate Transportation Committee Chair Tod Bowman, a Democrat. Prospects for raising the gas tax will depend in part on whether key advocates are re-elected in November. Regardless of which parties control the Iowa House and Senate after the midterm elections, a gas tax increase would have to be a bipartisan effort.

Democratic and Republican critics of increasing the gasoline tax have pointed out that consumption taxes tend to be regressive, hitting lower-income people harder. A gas tax hike would also disproportionately affect rural residents, who may need to travel further to work or shop. The Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has recommended reforms to address those concerns. I've posted the short summary after the jump; you can read more in depth on their ideas for "building a better gas tax" here. I would add that any increase to Iowa's gas tax should be accompanied by "fix-it first" language, so that new road construction doesn't swallow the most of the revenue that should be earmarked for repairs. Fixing roads and bridges gives taxpayers more bang for their buck and creates more jobs than building new roads or putting new lanes on existing roads, which (while sometimes needed) increase future maintenance costs.

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Weekend open thread: Matt Schultz comeback attempt edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 09:29:10 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

Lots of politicians have come back after one or more electoral setbacks. Tom Harkin lost his first campaign for U.S. House in southwest Iowa. Bill Clinton lost his first re-election bid as Arkansas governor. But it's rare for a politician to win a general election after losing a party primary for a different office in the same year. Two high-profile Iowa Republicans are now attempting this feat in 2014. Sam Clovis, who finished second in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, shifted gears to run for state treasurer.

This past week, Madison County Republicans nominated Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to run for county attorney. Schultz finished third in the GOP primary to represent Iowa's third Congressional district after choosing not to seek re-election to his current position. (He also finished third in Madison County, behind David Young and Brad Zaun.) The Vote Matt Schultz website now focuses on his plan to fight crime in Madison County. I've posted text from the "issues" page after the jump. In keeping with his relentless hyping of voter fraud as a major crime problem (in the absence of evidence), Schultz is now stoking fears that suburban sprawl will allow "more big-city crime" to "spill over" into nearby areas.

Schultz lived in Council Bluffs, where he served on the city council, before relocating to the Des Moines area after winning the 2010 secretary of state election. Dar Danielson reported for Radio Iowa on August 15,

Schultz moved to Truro a year-and-a-half ago and was asked about those who say he hasn't lived in the area long enough to represent the people there. "This is a situation where it's not about money, and I could have made a lot more money working at a law firm in Des Moines, I've got a lot of legal experience and professional experience," Schultz says. "I have a passion for public service and I really care about the community I live in. I love Madison County, it is like heaven for us."

According to the Winterset Madisonian, the county attorney position is a full-time job with a salary of roughly $73,500. I would be surprised to hear that Des Moines law firms are lining up to hire an attorney who spent a relatively short time in private practice before presiding over an underwhelming term as secretary of state. But perhaps there's an untapped market for lawyers who are able to spin any courtroom defeat as a victory and have attempted to enact rules that were eventually slapped down by not one but two district court judges.

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State Representative Henry Rayhons charged with abusing his incapacitated wife

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 07:25:00 AM CDT

When I criticized State Representative Henry Rayhons for announcing his retirement so late in an election year, I had no idea this was coming down the pike:

Today, 78 year old Henry Rayhons of Garner, Iowa was arrested after charges were filed against him for 3rd Degree Sexual Abuse, a class C Felony. [...]

The criminal complaint states that on or about May 23, 2014, Rayhons committed sexual abuse upon the victim [Donna Rayhons] by performing a sex act upon her as a person suffering from mental defect or incapacity, after he had been told that the victim did not have the cognitive ability to give consent to any sexual activity.

You can view the complaint and affidavit here (pdf). After the jump I've posted the full text of the Iowa Department of Public Safety press release, a statement released by Henry Rayhons' attorney, and excerpts from relevant news coverage. Henry Rayhons has been released from jail after posting bail. Donna Rayhons passed away on August 8.

It appears that the prosecution's case against Rayhons will rely on testimony from Donna Rayhons' roommate at the nursing home, surveillance camera footage from the nursing home, and statements the state lawmaker made while being interviewed by a Department of Criminal Investigations agent on June 12. Judging from comments made yesterday by Rayhons' son and by his attorney, the defense will argue that Rayhons is the victim of a "witch hunt," that he loved his wife, and that the "sexual contact" he admitted to "could be anything from a hug or a kiss."

Rayhons' late retirement makes a lot more sense now. By the way, on August 14 local Republicans held a special election to nominate Terry Baxter in Iowa House district 8, the seat Rayhons will vacate. Baxter will face Democrat Nancy Huisinga in a district that strongly favors Republicans in voter registrations and presidential voting in 2012.

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IA-04: A despicable comment, even by Steve King standards

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 07:26:00 AM CDT

Anyone who has followed Representative Steve King's career knows that he is prone to racially insensitive comments that minimize realities of how African-American people are often treated in this country. Specifically, he has long defended racial profiling by law enforcement. King's most recent comments on this topic made national news yesterday. As the country reacts to yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man, King has determined that we don't need to worry about racial profiling by police in Ferguson, Missouri. You can watch his whole Newsmax interview here or read the highlights here:

"This idea of no racial profiling," King said, "I've seen the video. It looks to me like you don't need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that."  

This man thinks it's a horrible infringement of liberty for a corporation to be required to provide contraception coverage, yet he is incapable of acknowledging the long and well-documented history of police officers killing black men for no reason. I don't think this was a slip of the tongue--King thinks ahead of time before making the offensive comments that end up on highlight reels.

I've posted the Iowa Democratic Party's reaction to King's "hateful rhetoric" after the jump.

UPDATE: Some progressives believe King is "crazy," while some conservatives believe the liberal media are out to make the congressman look bad. I say both groups are wrong. Speaking to the Sioux City Rotary Club more than six years ago, King admitted that "he plans everything he says, no matter how 'provocative' -- it's weighed ahead of time, never off the cuff and designed to stir discussion of key issues."

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 83 words in story)

IA-Gov: First Branstad-Hatch debate discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 16:08:26 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad and State Senator Jack Hatch are debating this afternoon at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa Public Television is live-streaming the event and will replay the debate at 7 pm tonight. Share any comments about the governor's race in this thread. I will be updating with my thoughts after the jump.

Branstad has agreed to two other debates with Hatch, but his team are refusing to allow Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to debate Hatch's running mate, Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon. It's a strange stance for a guy who is determined to make Reynolds the next governor.

UPDATE: My live-blog is after the jump. I will add more links and discussion later. If you missed the debate, you can watch at 7 pm on Iowa Public Television. They may also keep the video up on the IPTV website. SECOND UPDATE: The full debate transcript is now available here.

THIRD UPDATE: Mike Glover saw this debate as a sign Iowa "will actually have a governor's race this year." Click through to read the whole piece; I've posted excerpts below, after the liveblog.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 2250 words in story)
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