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2014 elections

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

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.

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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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