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2014 elections

Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup, with a few surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 13:24:37 PM CDT

With all four U.S. House districts in Iowa targeted by one or both parties this year, and competitive primaries happening in three of the four races, I was eager to see where the nominees stood at the end of the second quarter.

Highlights from the Federal Election Commission filings are after the jump. After lackluster fundraising the last three quarters, six-term Representative Steve King finally managed to out-raise his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, but to my surprise, Mowrer retained a big advantage over King in cash on hand as of June 30.  

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IA-03: Zaun's out but two "Liberty" candidates are in

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:39:09 AM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, State Senator Brad Zaun confirmed on the July 10 edition of Simon Conway's radio show that he will not leave the Republican Party or run for Congress as an independent in Iowa's third district. I had a feeling Zaun was just seeking attention or fishing for compliments with his July 4 Facebook post about friends "encouraging me to switch to an Independent." He told Conway, "I basically just put out a provocative post [...] I didn't commit myself one way or the other and of course it exploded."

Zaun's third term in the Iowa Senate expires in 2016. He has reportedly been telling people he does not plan to seek re-election to the state legislature again. Zaun left his party's Iowa Senate leadership team shortly after Republicans failed to regain a majority in the 2012 election.

Meanwhile, at least two conservative third-party candidates are running in IA-03 this year. Ed Wright received the Libertarian Party of Iowa's nomination in June. His campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Council Bluffs native Bryan Jack Holder officially announced his campaign in March as a Republican, but he did not qualify for the GOP primary ballot. Last month he confirmed on Conway's radio show that he will file to run for Congress as an independent.

After the jump I've posted some background information on Wright and Holder from their respective campaign websites. Neither candidate will raise enough money to reach voters district-wide through traditional campaign methods. However, these advocates for restoring freedom and the Constitution could influence the outcome if the race between Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young is close. In 2010, two little-known conservative candidates in Iowa's first district gained more votes combined than Representative Bruce Braley's winning margin against Republican Ben Lange.

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Comparing the Iowa Democratic and Republican early GOTV

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

Officially, early voting begins in Iowa 40 days before the general election (September 25 this year). The Iowa Democratic Party has been sending field organizers and volunteers out to do voter contacts for weeks, and didn't even take a break for the holiday weekend.

Concern over the Democrats' head start on GOTV was one factor behind the recent change in Iowa GOP leadership. New state party chair Jeff Kaufmann has promised to build a strong field organization in time for the midterm election. Fortunately for him, a dark money group associated with the Koch brothers is already ramping up its voter contacts in Iowa.

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IA-03: Brad Zaun head fakes on possible independent candidacy

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 19:25:00 PM CDT

State Senator Brad Zaun got Iowa political junkies chattering this holiday weekend with a July 4 Facebook update:

As we celebrate Independence Day there is [sic] several of my friends that [sic] are encouraging me to switch to an Independent. What do you think? Very frustrated as Republicans lost their way!

Zaun's frustration is understandable, because he won a plurality of votes in the June 3 Republican primary, only to see the GOP convention delegates hand the nomination to the guy who finished fifth.

Still, I don't believe for one minute that he will file to run for Congress as an independent, nor do I believe that he will leave the Iowa Senate GOP caucus to become the state legislature's only independent lawmaker.

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IA-03 news roundup: NRCC more interested, Appel releases first ad against Young

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 11:24:46 AM CDT

As expected, Iowa's third Congressional district campaign between former State Senator Staci Appel and Senator Chuck Grassley's former chief of staff David Young is shaping up to be the most competitive and most expensive of Iowa's four U.S. House races. Within days of Young's surprise victory at a GOP special nominating convention, the Appel campaign released its first paid advertisement highlighting Young's long career as a Congressional staffer and support for cutting Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Young to its list of "contenders" and is now paying for robocalls attacking Appel.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest IA-03 campaign developments.

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More signs that Hillary Clinton has no "Iowa problem"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:15:10 AM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest Iowa caucus poll adds to the growing body of survey research suggesting that Hillary Clinton's supposed "Iowa problem" exists only in the minds of some political reporters. Details are after the jump.  
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Bleeding Heartland 2014 primary election prediction contest results

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 20:07:14 PM CDT

Now that Republicans have selected a nominee in the third Congressional district, it's time to examine results from Bleeding Heartland's primary election prediction contest. You can view all the entries in this comment thread.  
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Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic Party convention edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 15:34:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? The Iowa Democratic Party's state convention got overshadowed by the circus-like spectacle Republicans put on in Urbandale yesterday. We're talking about David Young's surprising nomination in IA-03 here. This is an open thread for all other topics.

After the jump I've posted several links about the Democratic convention and the full text (as prepared) of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's speech. He seems to have made a good impression, as he did at the Harkin Steak Fry in 2012. O'Malley won't challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination; he was loyal Clinton surrogate during the 2008 primaries, even after Barack Obama crushed her in his state. If Clinton decides against running for president again, O'Malley could have a lot of upside potential in Iowa. He's much more familiar with this state than your average east-coast governor, having worked as a field organizer for Gary Hart's 1984 Iowa caucus campaign. John Deeth wrote up O'Malley's appearance for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch and running mate Monica Vernon in Iowa City.

UPDATE: Added below a short version of what would be the progressive case against O'Malley if he competes in the Iowa caucuses.

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Ronda Bern will face John Forbes in Iowa House district 40

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 06:28:00 AM CDT

Republicans held a special convention in Iowa House district 40 yesterday to nominate a candidate against first-term State Representative John Forbes. Remarkably, no Republican filed to run in this district before the March filing deadline. Two candidates attempted to win the nomination through write-in votes on the June 3 primary, but neither reached the required threshold.

Kevin Hall reported for The Iowa Republican that establishment candidate Ronda Bern won the nominating convention by 4.5 to 3.5 over college student Jeremy Freeman. (GOP Polk County Central Committee members from the various precincts in the House district cast weighted votes based on how many Republican votes came from each precinct in the last general election.) I'm surprised Bern didn't defeat Freeman more decisively. The nominating convention could have gone the other way if Freeman had a few more friends on the central committee.  

Click here for background on Bern. After the jump I've posted a map of House district 40 and the latest voter registration numbers. This will likely be a targeted seat in the general election. Republicans currently hold a 53 to 47 Iowa House majority.

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IA-01, IA-02: NRCC makes Blum, Miller-Meeks "contenders"

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated the GOP nominees in Iowa's first and second Congressional districts to the second level of their "Young Guns" program supporting challengers. Rod Blum will face former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy in the open IA-01. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will face four-term Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack for the third time in IA-02. As official NRCC "contenders," Blum and Miller-Meeks now have a chance to move up to the top level ("young guns") if they meet certain targets for fundraising and campaign organization.

Only some of the "young guns" will receive major financial assistance from the NRCC. So far, the group has reserved tv time for independent expenditures in seventeen Democratic-held U.S. House districts, none in Iowa. During the last election cycle, the NRCC paid for a small amount of advertising against Loebsack and against Representative Bruce Braley in IA-01 but never made a big commitment to either race.

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IA-Gov: "Stache-less" Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:14:20 AM CDT

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch announced today that Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon will be his running mate. In addition to following the Iowa tradition of female lieutenant governors, Vernon balances the ticket geographically and ideologically. An elected official in Iowa's second-largest city for seven years, she has been campaigning around northeast Iowa since last summer as a Democratic candidate for Congress. She carried Linn County and finished a strong second to Pat Murphy district-wide on June 3.

Some Democrats are grumbling that Vernon is a longtime Republican who joined our party just five years ago. But frankly, Hatch isn't running in a Democratic primary. He needs to appeal to a statewide electorate including thousands who have become disaffected from the GOP, just like Vernon did. Anyway, she is arguably more progressive than Governor Chet Culver's running mate, lifelong Democrat Patty Judge. Despite the complaining, there shouldn't be any major snags when the Iowa Democratic Party's statewide convention officially nominates Vernon for lieutenant governor this Saturday.

After the jump I've posted background on Vernon and other recent news from the Hatch campaign, including his first television commercial for the general election and highlights from his weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.

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IA-03: David Young gets talking point to take to convention

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

With only a few days left before special convention delegates choose a Republican nominee in Iowa's third Congressional district, David Young got a boost from a "poll" by the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts. The blog set up a closed, online survey last week and circulated the link to delegates via e-mail.

There's no way to know whether the 118 people who filled out the survey are representative of some 500 district convention delegates or alternates who will gather in Urbandale on June 21. If they are, it's good news for Young, who finished fifth in the June 3 voting. Asked which candidate they support, 27 percent of delegates named Young, equal to the percentage backing State Senator Brad Zaun, who won a plurality of votes in the primary. Some 19 percent of delegates who responded named Robert Cramer, 14 percent Monte Shaw (widely seen as Governor Terry Branstad's favored candidate), and just 8 percent named Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. The results were even better for Young on the "second choice" question: 34 percent of respondents named him, way ahead of 17 percent for Zaun, 14 percent for Schultz and Cramer, and 10 percent for Shaw.

Young's campaign was quick to spread the news in an e-mail blast I've enclosed below.

I had assumed Shaw held the advantage in a convention scenario, as he has longstanding ties with GOP activists, and to my mind, would be seen as a less-offensive alternative to some other candidates in the race. But if this survey is representative, Young has a chance of filling that "least offensive" niche. Maybe conservatives working together to block Shaw are succeeding in creating a bit of a backlash against the leading establishment candidate.

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Weekend open thread, with Iowa GOP state convention highlights

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 21:58:07 PM CDT

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

The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention today in Des Moines. Links and highlights are after the jump.

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Sam Clovis will run for Iowa state treasurer

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

Sam Clovis, who finished a distant second in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, will likely be nominated for state treasurer at the Iowa GOP's statewide convention on June 14, The Iowa Republican blog reported last night. No Republicans stepped up to run for the office long held by Democrat Mike Fitzgerald in time for the March filing deadline. John Thompson, a native of Jefferson and army veteran, recently declared his candidacy for state treasurer and was hoping to be nominated at the state convention. Earlier this week, Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson published a hit piece backgrounder on Thompson that read like a desperate plea for some other candidate to seek the treasurer's office.

Today's exclusive report by Kevin Hall says "Clovis has received a lot of encouragement to run over the past couple of days," including a "Thursday evening phone call" from Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. They offered to help Clovis raise money for a statewide campaign, and he would need their help, as fundraising was his weakest area by far as a Senate candidate. Apparently the governor does not want to run on a ticket with Thompson, given the "interesting background" Robinson highlighted.

Fitzgerald is the longest-serving state treasurer in the country, having been first elected in 1982, the same year Branstad was elected governor for the first time. He has been re-elected seven times, twice amid huge Republican landslides (1994 and 2010). He defeated Dave Jamison by more than 60,000 votes in 2010.

One of Branstad's staffers, Adam Gregg, will be nominated for attorney general at tomorrow's GOP convention. That's the only other statewide office for which no Republican filed in time to appear on primary ballots.

Final Iowa trivia note: Fitzgerald's 2002 opponent was Matt Whitaker, the fourth-place candidate in this year's GOP Senate primary.

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Coalition forming against Monte Shaw before IA-03 nominating convention?

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 13:59:13 PM CDT

Roughly 500 Republican delegates from the third Congressional district will meet at Des Moines Christian School in Urbandale on June 21 to select a nominee against Staci Appel. I consider Monte Shaw the best-placed candidate going into the convention, despite his fourth-place finish in the June 3 voting. Several signs point to the other campaigns developing a strategy to stop Shaw at the convention. Executing that strategy won't be easy.
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Bisignano wins Iowa Senate district 17 as Blake opts against recount

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:51:00 AM CDT

Tony Bisignano will be the Democratic nominee in Iowa Senate district 17, as second-place finisher Nathan Blake declined to request a recount. From a Facebook status update Blake posted yesterday:

According to the official canvass from the Polk County Auditor's Office, I ended up 18 votes behind in the Democratic primary election for Iowa State Senate District 17. I congratulate Tony Bisignano on a hard-fought victory. Thank you to my supporters, volunteers, and all who voted. Thanks especially to my wife and partner, Andrea, and our two kids for their patience, support, and sacrifices over the last year. I am proud of the campaign we ran. We won over 60% of the Election Day vote, even if we came up a few votes short.

As for the future, I am committed to to electing Democrats up and down the ballot in Iowa this November. I will continue my work in public service, fighting for consumers as an Assistant Iowa Attorney General. I promise to stay involved in progressive politics and will seek future opportunities to serve in elective office. The issues we care about are too important to sit on the sidelines.

A recount wouldn't have changed the result, so I think Blake did the right thing not to go through the motions. He did manage a very strong election-day turnout, which is promising for any future candidacies.

Senate district 17 was the best chance for Democrats to elect Iowa's first Latino state legislator, but two other opportunities remain this year in House district 60 and Senate district 47.

UPDATE: In a Facebook post, Bisignano said of Blake, "I can't say enough about his poise and character. He has a very bright future in public service and I'm looking forward to helping him. His positive and respectful campaign shows what people want and expect from their public officals."

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Steve King can stop worrying about immigration reform (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 20:50:00 PM CDT

Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) has long been one of the leading voices in Congress against any immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He even lost out on a subcommittee chairmanship because of his perceived hostility to immigrants, especially those who came to this country illegally. In early 2013, many pundits predicted King and his allies would not be able to stop a bill like the one that passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support, because of the Republican Party's urgent need to improve its standing with Latino voters. But the anti-reform Republicans won promises from House leaders not to bring the Senate bill up for a vote on the House floor. (It would surely have passed with a few dozen Republicans joining most of the Democratic caucus.)

Every few months, pro-reform forces mount a new push to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and King mobilizes opposition. I think he can rest easy now that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just lost his Republican primary to a little-known tea party challenger in Virginia's seventh Congressional district. While immigration wasn't the only issue brought up during the campaign, it was a salient issue in the primary.

[Challenger David] Brat ran hard against immigration reform, and the issue dominated conservative talk radio in recent days as the Obama administration's request of funds to cope with an influx of recently detained young illegal immigrants from Central America.

Cantor sought to neutralize the issue, running hard negative television attacking Brat as a "liberal professor" and sending direct mail pieces saying he fought President Obama on "amnesty."

Regardless of what Cantor said in campaign mailers, beltway insiders considered him a pro-immigration reform Republican.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - During my childhood, there were several Jewish Republicans in Congress. Cantor was the last remaining after Senator Arlen Specter switched parties in 2009. Don't hold your breath waiting for another one to be elected.

UPDATE: King commented on Twitter, "Earthshaking primary results in Virginia tonight. Resounding rejection of #Amnesty and support for Rule of Law. Personal regrets to Eric."

SECOND UPDATE: King posted on June 11, "Wanted: Applicants for Majority Leader in US House who have a record opposing amnesty. Come see me."

THIRD UPDATE: Senator Tom Harkin believes Cantor was defeated because he "lost touch with his district." He pointed out that Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina survived his GOP primary this week, despite openly supporting immigration reform. But Graham had six opponents splintering the protest votes, not one challenger making a coherent case against him.

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Four comments and a question about the IA-01 Democratic primary results

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:33:17 PM CDT

Past time for a post-mortem on the five-way Democratic primary in the open first Congressional district. Here are the unofficial results from June 3:

IA-01 Democratic primary results photo Screenshot2014-06-10at95141AM_zps4ce44fc8.png

A few thoughts struck me as I reflected on this campaign and looked more closely at the results.  

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:10:18 AM CDT

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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What caused the big drop in Iowa Republican primary turnout?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 13:39:01 PM CDT

Earlier this year, I would have predicted high Republican turnout for Iowa's June 3 primary elections. The five-way race for the U.S. Senate nomination was highly competitive, as was the six-way contest in the open third Congressional district. Multiple candidates contested GOP primaries in the first and second Congressional districts too. The 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses, which involved going out for an hour or more on a cold night in January, attracted a record turnout of roughly 122,000 people.

Yet according to unofficial results, just 158,031 Iowans cast ballots in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, and 156,275 cast ballots in the governor's race, where Terry Branstad had a token challenger.

The 2010 midterm election saw much higher Republican turnout, with some 227,404 people voting for one of the three GOP gubernatorial candidates. There weren't any high-profile statewide Republican primary contests in 2006, but in the 2002 midterm year, 199,234 Iowans cast ballots in the three-way GOP primary for governor, and 197,096 Iowans cast ballots in the two-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

In IA-03, five of the six Republican candidates raised enough money to run district-wide campaigns before this year's primary. Yet only 42,948 Iowans voted in a Congressional district with 160,660 active Republican voters as of June 2014. The seven-way 2010 GOP primary in IA-03 attracted more than 46,000 votes in a district that included only one-fifth of the state's population at the time and 118,850 active Republican voters. (Iowa lost one of its Congressional districts after the 2010 census).

A similar story took shape in IA-02, where about 30,500 people cast ballots in this year's GOP primary, compared to nearly 40,000 who voted in the 2010 primary, at a time when the district covered one-fifth of the state's population rather than one-fourth.

In this thread, please share your thoughts on why Republicans didn't show up to vote in larger numbers this year. Julie Stauch, a veteran of many Democratic campaigns, speculated that the low turnout "is the cumulative result of every extreme and outrageous statement over the last four years. The current Republicans in Iowa are only talking to those who agree with them 100 percent, which creates a rapidly shrinking base as every outrageous statement drives away a few more people. We can see the effect of this from the loss of 40 percent of the 2010 participants. That's a serious decline over any range of time, but very bad over four years."

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