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2014 elections

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.

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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."

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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.

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IA-Gov: Jonathan Narcisse running as "Iowa Party" candidate

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 17:55:00 PM CDT

August tends to be a slow news month, which is a good thing, because Bleeding Heartland has a lot of news to catch up on from July. For one thing, Jonathan Narcisse has qualified for the general election ballot as a candidate for governor representing the Iowa Party. (There are no other Iowa Party candidates running this year.) You can find issue positions and news clips on the Narcisse campaign's website. He campaigned in ten counties last week, and yesterday highlighted his education proposals during his speech on the Des Moines Register's "soapbox"  at the Iowa State Fair.

The former Des Moines school board member ran for governor as the Iowa Party candidate in 2010, winning nearly 2 percent of the statewide vote. Late last year he described that independent candidacy as "naive" and a "mistake." However, the Iowa Secretary of State's office determined that he did not submit enough signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot. Narcisse challenged his exclusion on what he called a "technicality" (failing to list the office he was seeking on some of the petition pages). However, a Polk County District Court and later the Iowa Supreme Court rejected his lawsuit.

Presumably, Narcisse will draw more votes from Iowans who might lean toward Democratic nominee Jack Hatch. However, his support for opting out of the "Common Core" curriculum may attract some social conservatives who are dissatisfied with Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

At least one other candidate for governor is likely to qualify for the general election ballot in Iowa: Dr. Lee Hieb, the Libertarian Party's nominee. She has until close of business on August 15 to submit enough valid signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State's office. That hasn't been a problem for Libertarian candidates in recent election years.

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IA-03: Chuck Grassley cuts radio ad for David Young

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 14:44:00 PM CDT

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is making the case for David Young in a new radio commercial supporting the Republican nominee's campaign in Iowa's third Congressional district. Young worked as Grassley's chief of staff for seven years before resigning in 2013 to run for U.S. Senate. After Representative Tom Latham announced plans to retire, Young switched to the IA-03 race.

I haven't found any official mention of the new radio ad on Young's campaign website, Facebook Page, Twitter feed, or YouTube channel, but I heard it twice in the car today. I don't know whether it's running outside the Des Moines radio market, but I hope some Bleeding Heartland readers in other parts of IA-03 will let me know. I couldn't take notes while driving, but if I can get a recording later, I will update this post with a full transcript. The essence is Grassley telling people that Young will work hard to represent them well. I only heard Young's voice at the very end, saying that he approved the message and is an Iowa candidate for U.S. Congress.

Grassley didn't endorse a candidate in the six-way GOP primary to represent IA-03, but several of his consultants worked on Young's campaign. In late June, the senator promised to do "everything he can to help" Young win in November. He was the special guest at a fundraiser last weekend in Young's home town of Van Meter. (Young went into the general election well behind Democratic opponent Staci Appel in cash on hand.)

Launching his Senate campaign last year, Young said he was "conscious that I have to be my own man," not "some kind of Chuck Grassley clone." But you can't blame him for bringing out the big gun as soon as possible during the general election. Grassley's strong ties to Young are one reason many Democrats were disappointed the IA-03 nomination didn't go to someone else at the special GOP convention. Iowa's senior senator has always been well-liked by swing voters and would not be making this kind of effort on behalf of Brad Zaun, Robert Cramer, or Matt Schultz.

AUGUST 18 UPDATE: For reasons I don't understand, Young's campaign has still not officially announced this radio ad campaign or put the spot up on YouTube. I've heard the commercial many times on Des Moines-based radio but haven't managed to record it. I've paraphrased what I can remember of the script after the jump, but it's not a precise transcription. If anyone can remember more details about the wording, please feel free to post them in this thread.

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IA-04: Jim Mowrer running second positive ad

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 15:21:09 PM CDT

Today Democratic candidate Jim Mowrer launched the second television commercial promoting his campaign in Iowa's fourth Congressional district. The video and transcript for "Together" are after the jump. Like the first Mowrer ad, this 30-second spot is running district-wide on cable and on broadcast television in Des Moines and Sioux City. As in the first ad, the candidate speaks in his own voice, which sounds more approachable to me than ads using a professional announcer. Although Mowrer doesn't mention Republican incumbent Steve King directly, the theme of working together in a non-partisan way is a subtle dig at King, well-known for fighting almost any cooperation or compromise with Congressional Democrats.

King's 2012 challenger, Christie Vilsack, also tried to run as a coalition-builder, in contrast to politicians who "scramble to the TV cameras to stir the pot." We'll see whether Mowrer's campaign can convey that message more effectively than Vilsack did. I will say that this Mowrer spot is ten times better than Vilsack's second commercial, which featured an odd "seven-layer salad" analogy.  

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Iowa State Fair tips and speaking schedule for state and federal candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 09:47:06 AM CDT

The Iowa State Fair opened a few minutes ago and runs through August 17. I'm a big fan of the event, and after the jump, I've posted some of my favorite tips for enjoying the fair, along with the schedule for candidate appearances at the Des Moines Register's "soapbox" on the Grand Concourse. The Register will live-stream speeches by candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, as well as a few nationally known politicians from out of state.

The fair has almost endless free entertainment, but bring cash with you anyway, because the State Fair board had to backtrack on plans to eliminate cash purchases for food. Instead, vendors have been encouraged to accept credit and debit cards. I suspect most will stick with a cash-only system.  

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IA-03: Staci Appel launches first tv ad

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 14:20:22 PM CDT

The first general election television commercial in Iowa's third Congressional district went on the air today. The biographical spot promoting Democratic nominee Staci Appel will run on broadcast and cable tv in the Des Moines and Omaha markets. I've posted the video and annotated transcript below. Previously, Appel's campaign had released only web ads, including one previewing her case against Republican nominee David Young.

I haven't seen any advertising promoting Young since before the GOP primary. He went into the general election campaign with substantially less cash on hand than Appel. The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting the IA-03 race but so far has not spent money on broadcast media. This week the NRCC launched a web ad bashing Appel's record in the Iowa Senate.

Any comments about this race are welcome in this thread. It's expected to be the most competitive of Iowa's four Congressional races. Official figures show that as of August 1, the sixteen counties in IA-03 contained 153,285 registered Democrats, 164,984 Republicans, and 156,626 no-party voters.

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Terry Branstad's vendetta against Chris Godfrey looks even dumber

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 11:15:47 AM CDT

Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey submitted his resignation to Governor Terry Branstad yesterday in order to become chief judge of the Employee's Compensation Appeal Board in Washington, D.C. later this month. I haven't seen any official reaction from the Branstad administration. The governor has been trying to get rid of Godfrey since late 2010, even though the Iowa Senate had unanimously confirmed him to a fixed term as Workers' Compensation Commissioner until 2015. During the summer of 2011, Branstad docked Godfrey's pay after sending his chief of staff and legal counsel to demand his resignation one more time. The governor couldn't articulate any reason for being dissatisfied with Godfrey, other than saying, "business groups in Iowa [...] told me in no uncertain terms that they were not happy with the direction under Mr. Godfrey." Branstad staffers publicly criticized Godfrey's work, which along with the pay reduction and pressure to resign led to a defamation and discrimination lawsuit against the state of Iowa and six senior officials, including Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

Last month, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Godfrey can sue individual officials as well as the State of Iowa for defamation, extortion and other claims. Yesterday, Godfrey's attorney Roxanne Conlin confirmed that the lawsuit will move forward. I've posted her comments below, along with reaction from Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch. Polk County District Court Judge Arthur Gamble told attorneys last week that a firm trial date will be set for sometime in 2015. Depositions are only just beginning in a case that has already cost the state of Iowa more than $500,000 in legal fees.

If Godfrey weren't doing his job well, he would not have been offered a more senior and prestigious position in the same line of work. I don't know whether Branstad wanted to get rid of him because Godfrey is openly gay, as the lawsuit alleges, or because the governor was taking marching orders from business groups. Either way, the governor never should have bullied and badgered this highly capable person, and the state should have settled this lawsuit a long time ago.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- Has any Iowa governor ever hired a worse legal counsel than Brenna Findley? She's supposed to steer her boss away from legal problems, not provide fodder for a lawsuit. Nor is this case her only misstep. Last summer, Findley contradicted legal advice from the Iowa Attorney General's office and the attorney for the Iowa Board of Medicine, encouraging that board to move forward with abortion restrictions that have been temporarily blocked and will probably be struck down in a separate lawsuit.

UPDATE: Todd Dorman hits on the most disturbing aspect of this "saga": "Truth is, governors have the power to make dozens and dozens of powerful appointments. The fact that Branstad would go to these lengths to get his hands on one job that eluded his grasp tells you quite a bit about how he views the limits of executive power. After nearly 20 years, he doesn't see any."

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How not to retire from the Iowa legislature (revisited)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 09:33:21 AM CDT

A few months ago, Bleeding Heartland criticized the practice of longtime Iowa legislators announcing their retirements within a day or two of the filing deadline for primary candidates. Too many incumbents in both parties have pulled that stunt over the years. Respect for one's constituents demands giving people outside a small circle of party activists a few weeks, or ideally a few months, to consider running for the Iowa House or Senate.

Yesterday, State Representative Henry Rayhons demonstrated an even worse way to retire from the Iowa legislature. Just eleven days before the deadline for getting a candidate on the general election ballot, the nine-term Iowa House Republican announced that he would not seek re-election, citing "ongoing family and health matters." Rae Yost reported for the Mason City Globe-Gazette that the Rayhons family "has been dealing with issues regarding appointment of a guardian and conservator" for the 78-year-old lawmaker's wife.

Rayhons should have announced his retirement earlier this year, anticipating that he would be unable to serve another two-year term. Then other Republicans could have competed in a primary to represent Iowa House district 8, covering part of Kossuth County and all of Hancock and Wright counties. Now only a handful of GOP activists will have a say in choosing Rayhons' successor. They need to convene a nominating convention in the middle of vacation season and the Iowa State Fair. The GOP nominee will face Democrat Nancy Huisinga in a district that strongly favors Republicans in voter registrations and presidential voting in 2012.

Arguably, Rayhons should have stepped aside gracefully three years ago, after Iowa's new map of political boundaries threw him and two House GOP colleagues into House district 8. Instead, House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer moved to the Clear Lake area to run in House district 52. It made no sense for Upmeyer to defer to an eight-term backbencher like Rayhons when doing so meant bigfooting Gabe Haugland, the ambitious young Republican who was already planning to run in HD-52. Everyone could see that Rayhons didn't have a long political career ahead of him and wasn't a key member of the House GOP caucus. We haven't seen the last of Haugland, who was elected to the Iowa GOP's State Central Committee earlier this year. But he could be seeking a second term in a safe Iowa House seat by now if Rayhons had allowed Upmeyer to stay in HD-08.

I'm glad there is no mandatory retirement age for Iowa legislators, but sometimes our older incumbents are too reluctant to step aside for a younger generation.

UPDATE: I was sorry to hear that Donna Lou Young Rayhons passed away on August 8.

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Iowa Senate district 7: "Sore loser" Maria Rundquist gives Bertrand breathing room

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 09:12:36 AM CDT

Iowa's status as one of only three states to allow losers of major-party primaries to seek the same office as independents is good news for Republicans hoping to hold Iowa Senate district 7. First-term Senator Rick Bertrand is seeking re-election in the Sioux City-based seat, where President Barack Obama performed better than in any other Iowa Senate district now held by a Republican. Although midterm electorates sometimes favor GOP candidates, and Iowans tend to re-elect their statehouse incumbents, the voter registration totals here lean toward Democrats. Both parties are targeting Senate district 7, and a victory for challenger Jim France would virtually assure continued Democratic control of the Iowa Senate.

Enter Maria Rundquist, who lost the Democratic primary to France in June, but filed this week to run in Senate district 7 as an independent. Her campaign website provides a short bio and background on her civic involvement in the Sioux City area. I sought comment from Rundquist about why she is running as an independent, and how she would answer critics who say she can only help re-elect Bertrand. She responded, "I am running because, I can provide the leadership, integrity and ethics so needed in our government. I believe the people in the Iowa Senate District 7, deserve an honest and smart choice."

Following up, I asked Rundquist whether she was aware that a third-party candidate has not won an Iowa legislative election in several decades, if ever, and whether she would have any regrets if Bertrand were re-elected with fewer votes than she and France received combined. She answered,

Yes, I am aware about  third-party never won an Iowa legislation seat. So let make history and pass the word to elect Maria Rundquist to change the system. I don't have regrets to Rick Bertrand or any candidate. We leave in a Nation of Democracy and the voters have the right to chose the right person to represent them. So stop questioning me and get to work and campaign for Maria Rundquist.

Sorry, that's not going to happen. I've voted for lots of Democrats who didn't win their primary. None of them became what is known in political science as a "sore loser." One can argue that voters should be able to select any candidate they choose, but upholding state sore loser laws during the 1970s, the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional right to continue an intra-party struggle during the general election. I'm with John Deeth: candidates who seek a party's nomination should abide by the primary voters' verdict. Rundquist must know that she won't "change the system" through this campaign. I hope she doesn't become a spoiler, but there's no question that her candidacy will hinder France's effort to unseat a Republican incumbent.

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Who's right about impeachment prospects: John Boehner or Steve King?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 21:40:00 PM CDT

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner doesn't want to impeach President Barack Obama. His plan to sue the president is a gambit to appease Republicans bent on fighting the president's alleged failure "to faithfully execute the laws." At this week's meeting of the House GOP caucus, both Boehner and Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged colleagues not to talk about impeachment, saying such talk only helps Democrats. Today, Boehner assured a roomful of reporters, "We have no plans to impeach the president," claiming that such speculation was "all a scam started by Democrats at the White House."

There's no question Democrats have been hyping the impeachment speculation, to remarkably successful effect. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in $2 million over four days from e-mail appeals warning of Republican plans to oust the president.

But it's a stretch for Boehner to claim Democrats dreamed up the impeachment "scam." Dave Weigel posted a good overview of Republicans inside and outside Congress calling for impeachment within the past year, and especially within the past month.

Just a few days ago, Iowa's own Representative Steve King predicted House Republicans will be motivated to launch impeachment proceedings if President Obama uses executive orders to give "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants. After the jump I've posted excerpts from those comments, as well as King's latest op-ed piece on immigration policy (which does not mention impeachment).  

To put it mildly, King and Boehner don't always see eye to eye on political messaging. With House leadership strongly opposed, I'm skeptical Republicans aligned with King would be able to force a vote on articles of impeachment, let alone pass such a measure. Too many people remember how calls to impeach President Bill Clinton backfired during the 1998 midterm elections. But it's worth noting that House Republicans proceeded with efforts to remove Clinton despite the verdict voters delivered in 1998. A recent national poll indicated that even as Obama's approval ratings remain low, two-thirds of Americans oppose impeaching him. The same poll suggested that a majority of Republican respondents favor impeachment.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Great piece by Lynda Waddington on King saying, in effect, that Obama can't feel true patriotism because "he was not raised with an American experience."

UPDATE: Added new comments from King below. He isn't currently pushing for impeachment but thinks the president might want to be impeached because of a narcissistic personality and "messiah complex."

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Republicans nominate Jonathan Lochman in Iowa Senate district 17

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

After fielding candidates in every Iowa Senate district in 2012, Republicans left a bunch of low-probability seats uncontested this year. One of those districts now has a GOP candidate, however: a special convention on July 24 selected Jonathan Lochman to run in Iowa Senate district 17. I don't see a website for his campaign, but Lochman's on Facebook here. During 13 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, he served wartime tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He's now the Iowa coordinator for Team Rubicon (the Iowa chapter is on Facebook here).

Iowa Senate district 17 is open because State Senator Jack Hatch is running for governor. Tony Bisignano narrowly won a contentious three-way primary in this heavily Democratic seat covering parts of downtown Des Moines and the south side. In a press release, Lochman asserted that Bisignano would "be a rubber stamp for the radical, obstructionist agenda of Mike Gronstal," whereas the Republican would "be an independent voice for my community." Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix asserted, "Des Moines voters deserve a candidate​ like Jonathan Lochman, who has​ the integrity, honor and passion to effectively represent their interests at the State Capitol​." Judging from that comment and various Republican posts on social media, the plan is for Lochman to win by playing up Bisignano's drunk driving arrests and scandals from his previous term of service in the Iowa Senate during the 1990s.

It would be a historic upset for a Republican to win a state legislative seat here. The latest official figures show that Senate district 17 contains 16,388 active registered Democrats, 6,559 Republicans, and 9,792 no-party voters. Bisignano should have help from the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, because other Democratic candidates (notably Hatch, U.S. Senate nominee Braley, and IA-03 nominee Staci Appel) are counting on good GOTV in strongholds like the south side of Des Moines.

Also on July 24, Polk County Republicans held a special convention to nominate Army veteran Tom Hess in Iowa House district 34, covering half of Senate district 17. Hess will challenge longtime Democratic State Representative Bruce Hunter and has about the same chance of winning as Lochman (slim to none). As of July 1, House district 34 contained 8,404 active registered Democrats, 3,497 Republicans, and 5,114 no-party voters.

P.S. - I would have posted the full press release on Lochman's campaign launch, but the "latest news" on the Iowa Senate Republicans website is a press release from mid-May.

UPDATE: Cityview's Civic Skinny published a detailed account of Tony Bisignano's drunk driving arrest and how the case unfolded from there. Many details were new to me, and I suspect that if they had been more widely known, Nathan Blake might have won the Senate district 17 Democratic primary.

The most surprising fact recounted by Civic Skinny is that Jennifer Jacobs apparently e-mailed her draft Des Moines Register story on the OWI to Bisignano before publishing. Double-checking quoted remarks is one thing, but I am not aware of any newspaper where it is standard practice to run a full draft by the public figure who is the subject of the article.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Martin O'Malley: Presidential candidate? Maybe. Clinton rival? No way.

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 14:45:00 PM CDT

It makes perfect sense for potential Democratic presidential candidates to visit Iowa, meeting activists and keeping their options open. That doesn't mean any of them would run against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Case in point: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Having keynoted the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention last month, he's coming here again this weekend, headlining events for State Senator Rita Hart and state Senate candidate Kevin Kinney on Saturday, then Council Bluffs and Sioux City events for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch on Sunday. Politico's Maggie Halberman notes that O'Malley "has said he's exploring a 2016 presidential run." A Des Moines Register headline writer termed him a "possible rival" to Clinton. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post speculated, "O'Malley is term limited out as governor at the end of this year and undoubtedly thinks a credible run for president might bolster his chances of a spot in a Clinton Administration."

I just don't see it. Laying the groundwork for a potential campaign is not the same thing as preparing to embark on a suicide mission. O'Malley doesn't come across as a guy like Senator Bernie Sanders, who knows he will never be president but might run to shine a light on issues important to him. O'Malley goes way back with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He stuck with Hillary for president even after Barack Obama dominated the 2008 Maryland primary. From where I'm sitting, CNN's Dan Merica had it exactly right when he described O'Malley as an "understudy," "angling to be the person who could step in" if Clinton does not run for president for whatever reason. Maryland's term limits for governors make 2016 an ideal time for O'Malley to run for president, but he's only 51 years old--young enough to wait until 2020 or 2024 if necessary.

Meanwhile, I hope all of this weekend's events are successful, because Hatch, Hart, and Kinney are very worth supporting.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Hart's re-election bid in Senate district 49 is a must-hold for Democrats. Kinney's running in the open Senate district 39, and if he wins, it would virtually guarantee a Democratic majority in the state legislature's upper chamber for the next two years.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

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.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 824 words in story)

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.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 565 words in story)
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