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Attorney General

IA-01: The Democratic establishment wants Pat Murphy to stay out

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 11, 2015 at 18:54:53 PM CDT

Sources in northeast Iowa continue to report that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy plans to announce a new campaign in the first Congressional district soon, despite signals that prominent Democrats in Iowa and Washington want Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon to be the 2016 nominee against first-term Republican Rod Blum.
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Iowans haven't heard the last from Brenna (Findley) Bird

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 16:18:43 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's office announced on Thursday that Brenna Bird (whose maiden name was Findley) is stepping down as the governor's legal counsel "to pursue opportunities in the private sector." Her LinkedIn profile hasn't been updated yet, so it's not clear whether Bird is returning to the Des Moines-based Whitaker Hagenow law firm. She joined that firm in 2010 after leaving Representative Steve King's staff, but did not practice much law, since she was running for Iowa attorney general full-time.

Branstad named Bird as his legal counsel shortly after the 2010 election. She appears to have influenced several of the governor's policy choices. At one time, Branstad had supported a mandate to purchase health insurance, but soon after being inaugurated in 2011, he joined a lawsuit to overturn the federal health care reform law (a key issue in Bird's unsuccessful attorney general campaign). Branstad's legal counsel also appears to have helped convince Branstad to change his position on banning lead shot for hunting mourning doves in Iowa. When the state legislature refused to overturn a rule mandating non-toxic ammunition, Bird worked several angles to overturn a rule adopted by the state Natural Resource Commission.

Bird's work as legal counsel has also gotten the Branstad administration involved in some major litigation. In 2011, she participated in efforts to pressure Iowa's Workers Compensation Commissioner to resign before the end of his fixed term. As a result, she and the governor, along with other former staffers, are co-defendants in a lawsuit filed by the former workers' compensation commissioner.

In 2013, Bird was a key contact for Iowans seeking to ban the use of telemedicine for providing medical abortions in Planned Parenthood clinics. As the Iowa Board of Medicine considered a new rule containing verbatim wording from anti-abortion activists, the state Attorney General's Office "cautioned the board against moving so quickly." But as the governor's counsel, Bird encouraged board members to adopt the telemedicine abortion ban immediately. Planned Parenthood's lawsuit challenging that rule is pending with the Iowa Supreme Court.

Bird may be leaving the public sector for now, but I suspect Iowans will see her name on a ballot before too long. She reportedly considered running for Congress last year in Iowa's third district and has served on the Republican Party of Iowa's State Central Committee since last June. I could easily see Bird running for a Republican-leaning Iowa House or Senate seat if one were to open up in central Iowa. Alternatively, she and 2014 attorney general nominee Adam Gregg (now Iowa's state public defender) are likely GOP candidates for attorney general in 2018.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. After the jump I've enclosed a press release on Bird's departure from the governor's staff, with background on Michael Bousselot, her successor as legal counsel.  

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Attorney general candidate Adam Gregg becoming Iowa's state public defender

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 18:45:00 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad has often appointed unsuccessful Republican candidates to state positions, and this week he named Adam Gregg, the GOP nominee for Iowa attorney general, to be Iowa State Public Defender. I've enclosed the press release after the jump. It contains background on Gregg, who worked as a staffer in the governor's office before running against longtime Democratic incumbent Tom Miller. I don't anticipate Gregg having any trouble being confirmed by the Iowa Senate.

The Des Moines rumor mill says Miller will retire at the end of his ninth term as attorney general. An race for that position would likely attract many candidates in both parties. I expect Gregg to seek the office in 2018, along with Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley, who was the GOP challenger to Miller in 2010. Several Republicans in the Iowa House or Senate might give this race a look, especially if there are no open Congressional seats on the horizon.

For those wondering whether Gregg or Findley performed better against Miller, the answer depends on how you look at it. Both of the challengers raised quite a bit of money for first-time candidates seeking a statewide office. Gregg raised $191,359 in his first month and a half as a candidate, then nearly another $200,000 before the election; see here and here. Findley also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for her 2010 race; see here, here, and here.

Both Gregg and Findley campaigned energetically around the state, visiting all 99 counties and attending hundreds of public events. In 2010, when total turnout was 1,133,429 for the midterm election, Miller received 607,779 votes to 486,057 for Findley (there were a smattering of write-ins and 38,605 "under votes," meaning voters left that part of the ballot blank).

This year total turnout was a bit higher at 1,142,226, and Miller received 616,711 votes to 481,046 for Gregg (there were more write-ins and 43,016 under votes).

So Findley received a slightly higher share of the two-party vote, but she also had way more help. Branstad talked up her campaign all year and appeared in one of her television commercials. She was able to run far more radio and tv ads statewide, thanks to more than half a million dollars in transfers from the Republican Party of Iowa. Gregg didn't get anything like that kind of assistance or exposure, so arguably he got more bang for his campaign bucks.

I'm intrigued that an ambitious young conservative politician wanted to serve as the state public defender. It's an important job, and I hope Gregg does it well. Some of my favorite people have worked as public defenders. But there's no getting around the fact that his office will be defending some unsavory characters. The job is risky in that next time Gregg is a candidate for public office, rivals could run "Willie Horton" ads against him highlighting onetime clients who committed horrible crimes.

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2014 election results discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 04, 2014 at 20:52:38 PM CST

Polls across Iowa close in just a few minutes, and I'll be updating this post with results throughout the evening. Any comments about any of today's races, in Iowa or elsewhere, are welcome in this thread.

Many races on the east coast and in the Midwest have already been called. As expected, Republicans picked up the U.S. Senate seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, and South Dakota. Louisiana will go to a runoff in December. Jeanne Shaheen held the New Hampshire Senate seat for Democrats, but Kay Hagan may be in trouble in North Carolina, and in a potentially stunning upset, Mark Warner is behind in Virginia. He needs a strong turnout in the DC suburbs.

As state-level results come in, these are the key Iowa Senate races to watch, and these are the key Iowa House races to watch. For the last four years, Democrats have held a 26-24 Iowa Senate majority. For the last two years, Republicans have held a 53-47 Iowa House majority.

UPDATE: Polls are closed and further updates will be after the jump. News organizations called the governor's race for Terry Branstad immediately.  

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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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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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Branstad staffer Adam Gregg will run for Iowa attorney general

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 11:47:00 AM CDT

No Republican stepped up to run against Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller in time to appear on the primary election ballot, but yesterday Adam Gregg announced that he will seek the GOP nomination for attorney general at the state party convention later this month. Gregg worked in private practice for the Des Moines-based Brown Winick law firm before joining Governor Terry Branstad's staff as a legislative liaison in 2012. (He's quitting that job to run for office.) His press release touted his work to help pass "the largest tax cut in Iowa's history, historic education reform, and a state based, Iowa alternative to Obamacare." The tax cut refers to the property tax reform approved during the 2013 legislative session. The Iowa Health and Wellness Plan is more accurately described as an alternative to Medicaid expansion rather than an alternative to "Obamacare." Iowa is still implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Gregg promised "to fight everyday for Iowa families, Iowa farmers, and our constitutional freedoms," to "be an advocate for open government," and to "hold Washington, DC accountable when the federal government oversteps its bounds." Around the country, many Republican state attorneys general have used the job to grandstand against federal policies they don't like for ideological reasons. Sounds like Gregg will be emulating that model.

I don't give him much chance of beating Tom Miller. Four years ago, Brenna Findley got in the race early and ran a strong and well-financed campaign, only to come up well short amid a huge Republican landslide. Running a statewide campaign will raise Gregg's profile, though, and possibly open doors to future political jobs. The Des Moines rumor mill expects Miller to retire rather than seek another term in 2018. In that case, Gregg could join Findley as prominent candidates in a much more winnable race.

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IA-Gov: Terry Branstad has primary challenger, Jack Hatch does not

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 15:36:30 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad's Republican challenger, Tom Hoefling, has qualified for the primary ballot after submitting his nominating petitions on March 14, the final day. I don't see any way Hoefling could win a primary, but it will be interesting to see how large the conservative protest vote is against Branstad. GOP turnout should be larger than usual on June 3, because of competitive primaries for the U.S. Senate seat and the first, second, and third Congressional districts.

Last night the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicated that Jonathan Narcisse filed papers to run for governor as a Democrat. However, his petitions must not have had enough valid signatures, because his name does not appear on the full candidate list (pdf). The other long-shot Democratic hopeful, Paul Dahl, apparently never filed petitions. That leaves State Senator Jack Hatch as the lone Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

In other statewide candidate news, no Republicans stepped up to run against Attorney General Tom Miller or State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. By this time in 2010, Brenna Findley was already campaigning around the state against Miller, and two Republicans were running for treasurer.

As expected, Sherrie Taha is the Democratic candidate for secretary of agriculture; she will face GOP incumbent Bill Northey. Jon Neiderbach is the Democratic candidate for state auditor; he will face GOP incumbent Mary Mosiman, whom Branstad appointed last year. The secretary of state's race pits Democrat Brad Anderson against Republican Paul Pate. 2010 Libertarian nominee Jake Porter also plans to register for the ballot this summer.

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IA-03: Brenna Findley won't run in 2014

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 13:15:00 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley told the Des Moines Register yesterday that she has decided not to run for Congress in the open third district. She indicated that she plans to continue her work in the governor's office and teach a course at the University of Iowa law school.

I would guess that the early conservative endorsements for Matt Schultz were in part intended to deter Findley from entering the GOP primary in IA-03. Not only was she seriously considering the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee had reserved the domain name BrennaFindleyforCongress.com. Findley has strong conservative credentials as a product of homeschooling and a longtime staffer for Representative Steve King before running for Iowa attorney general in 2010. She has repeatedly spoken out against illegal immigration and the mandate to purchase individual health insurance. She has arguably helped steer the Branstad administration's policies to the right on abortion and gun-related issues.

Although Findley won't run for Congress or statewide office this year, I expect Iowans will see her name on a ballot again sometime before the end of this decade. We may have an open race for attorney general in 2018 if Tom Miller decides to call it quits after nine terms.  

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Strengths and weaknesses of Brenna Findley in an IA-03 GOP primary

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 17:12:53 PM CST

I was skeptical about these rumors, but according to Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican, Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley "has been meeting people about a congressional run in the Third District." Findley told the Des Moines Register "that she appreciates the encouragement, but she's focused on her job" in the Branstad administration. That phrasing falls short of ruling out a Congressional bid.

Follow me after the jump for first thoughts on strengths and weaknesses Findley might bring to a GOP primary campaign. At the end of this post, I've enclosed background on the potential candidate from her 2010 campaign bio and the news release announcing her appointment as legal counsel.  

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Themes of Attorney General Tom Miller's re-election campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 14:20:00 PM CST

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller launched his campaign for a ninth term today with events in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Dubuque. His official statement, posted below, elaborates on Miller's recent response to critics of his work and highlights the following "achievements for Iowans in the last three years":

1. Miller's "leadership in negotiating the national mortgage servicing settlement with major banks," resulting in "payment of more than $40 million to Iowa homeowners and funding the Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline, which has helped thousands of Iowans with mortgage foreclosure issues." (Roughly 6,000 Iowa borrowers received checks for $1,480 as part of the settlement--hardly adequate compensation for losses they suffered because of lenders' mortgage servicing abuse.)

2. Protecting consumers against various kinds of fraud.

3. Helping to prosecute both violent and white-collar criminals, strengthening laws against child pornography and enticement of minors, improving victim assistance services to Iowans who have suffered from family violence or sexual assault.

4. Saving millions of taxpayer dollars by defending the state in various lawsuits.

5. Protecting the environment through "18 enforcement actions during the last three years involving air pollution, water pollution, and illegal solid waste disposal."

Miller also promised to work on more issues during his next term, including "abuses by for-profit colleges," "shoddy debt collection practices," "ways to strengthen human trafficking and consumer protection laws," and "the challenges of the e-cigarette." UPDATE: Radio Iowa posted audio from one of Miller's press events today.

I have not heard of any Republicans planning to challenge Miller in 2014. He was unopposed in 2006 and defeated Brenna Findley by a comfortable 55.5 percent to 44.4 percent margin in 2010 despite being outspent during the campaign and facing negative television commercials.

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Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:13:58 AM CDT

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

The Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I've posted some highlights after the jump. The "news" of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn't the most interesting part of his speech.

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Iowa AG Tom Miller previews case for his re-election?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 06:25:00 AM CDT

Although Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller hasn't made any official announcement about plans to seek a ninth term in 2014, he recently previewed what could become central themes of a re-election campaign. Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen made a splash in the Iowa newspaper world last month with editorials calling for Miller to retire. Cullen cited the attorney general's position on open records controversies and his alleged efforts to thwart the work of Iowa's ombudsman. Newspapers including the Des Moines Register and the Des Moines-based weekly Cityview republished Cullen's case for Miller to step aside and clear the path for "an attorney general for the people." Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu cited several other troubling examples of how Miller has lost his way in recent years.

To defend his work and "set the record straight," Miller wrote guest editorials for various publications. You can read his specific rebuttals to Cullen here. I was more interested in the list of achievements he cited as proof that "in the last few years," the Attorney General's office has "done more than ever to serve Iowans." It sounds like the kernel of a stump speech or television commercial to me. I've posted those excerpts after the jump.

Please share any relevant thoughts in this thread. I haven't heard yet about a Republican challenger to Miller, but I would not be surprised to see his 2010 opponent Brenna Findley take another shot next year. She is currently Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel and just completed a six-week stint as the governor's interim chief of staff.

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Matt Hinch will be Branstad's new chief of staff

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 09:10:00 AM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad announced yesterday that Matt Hinch will start work as his new chief of staff on October 14. A short bio of Hinch is in the press release I've posted after the jump. He has worked as a Congressional and campaign staffer to U.S. Representative Tom Latham, chief of staff to Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, and most recently as a lobbyist for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Hinch's connections with the partnership made me wonder whether he might open the governor's mind regarding proposed passenger rail service between Chicago and Omaha. Branstad has long opposed allocating state funds to match a federal grant for passenger rail. Like many business groups, the Greater Des Moines Partnership has supported state funding for the rail project as part of its legislative agenda. But probably I am raising false hopes; interviews Hinch gave last year suggest that rail wasn't on his radar as an issue to press on behalf of the partnership. Moreover, Hinch's former boss Latham has historically been hostile to funding alternate modes of transportation, including passenger rail. Hinch's former boss Paulsen works for a trucking company and adamantly opposes state funding for passenger rail.

Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley has served as interim chief of staff since Jeff Boeyink left last month to start work as a lobbyist. She's more qualified to run the governor's office than she is for her current position, so I thought she might become the next permanent chief of staff. Perhaps she is gearing up for a second bid to become Iowa's attorney general. Running for statewide office is a full-time job.

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Report scrutinizes Tom Miller's campaign contributions

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 14:19:54 PM CDT

Kevin McNellis of the National Institute on Money in State Politics published a report yesterday on Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller's 2010 campaign fundraising. The report connects Miller's contributions from out-of-state law firms and people in the finance, insurance, and real estate sector with the nationwide foreclosure investigation Miller has been leading since October. Miller objects that the report "is false or misleading from the start to the finish." More details and context are after the jump.
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Iowa and national election discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 16:38:24 PM CDT

Time for a new thread on the statewide election results. I haven't dug into the county-level returns in the governor's race yet, but Chet Culver didn't even carry Polk County, which he won with a 21,000 vote margin in 2006. Culver did carry Johnson County, but by a much smaller margin than in 2006. What happened in your area, Bleeding Heartland readers?

UPDATE: Culver carried only eight counties: Black Hawk (Waterloo/Cedar Falls area), Linn (Cedar Rapids), Johnson (Iowa City), Dubuque, Des Moines (Burlington area), Lee (Ft. Madison/Keokuk), Story (Ames), and Jefferson (Fairfield). Culver almost carried Floyd County, where Republicans easily won House district 14. I guess Charles City loves I-JOBS! LATE UPDATE: The unofficial results indicate that Culver did carry Floyd County (barely), by fewer than 100 votes.

Branstad carried Wapello County (Ottumwa) for the first time. In his 1994 landslide victory, Bonnie Campbell carried only four counties: Story, Johnson, Des Moines and Wapello.

The down-ticket Democrats had a lot of ground to make up with Chuck Grassley winning the U.S. Senate race 64 percent to 33 percent and Terry Branstad winning 53 percent to 43 percent. Secretary of State Michael Mauro outperformed Culver, which he wasn't able to do in 2006, but still fell short against Matt Schultz. It's a shame to see such a competent public official lose in a wave election. Iowa will continue to benefit from his work to make voting more accessible and secure, with paper ballots. I expect the new legislature to act on Schultz's top priority, photo ID requirements, and I wonder if they will also revoke same-day voter registration.

Iowa Republicans didn't miss many targets, but I think they overlooked an opportunity by not investing in the state treasurer's race. Michael Fitzgerald won his eighth term by an unusually narrow (for him) margin: just under 53 percent to 47 percent. A few hundred thousand dollars thrown toward Dave Jamison's campaign could have won that race. Jamison didn't have the resources to improve his name identification or make his case against Fitzgerald. Last year some conservative blogger, it may have been Krusty, said Christian Fong should have challenged Fitzgerald instead of running for governor as a 32-year-old. With his background in finance, his connections to major Republican fundraisers, and his roots in both eastern and western Iowa, Fong might have outperformed Jamison.

Tom Miller winning more than 55 percent of the vote was such a relief. The Republicans threw everything they had at him, and he ran a non-existent campaign until the final month, but he still defeated Brenna Findley convincingly. Miller even carried Woodbury County, where Republicans romped. Now he can get back to work on state attorneys' coordinated investigation of foreclosure practices:

Mr. Miller's status as a point man in the multistate investigation has been seen by many observers as a sign that the states will push for a sweeping settlement requiring lenders to implement mortgage modifications allowing homeowners to stay in their houses.

Mr. Miller, who has monitored mortgage-industry practices for years, had already begun discussions with some lenders, including Bank of America. In one meeting last week at Mr. Miller's office, he and officials from other states told Bank of America executives and outside lawyers that state attorneys general would like additional aid to be offered to borrowers, such as further principal reductions on certain delinquent loans where people owe much more than what their homes are worth, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Doubt Findley would have been interested in seeking concessions from corporations to people underwater on their mortgages.

Environmentalists lost a few supporters in the Iowa Senate last night, but today many advocates are cheering the passage of the Iowa Water and Land Legacy trust fund amendment. I wouldn't count on that fund being filled anytime soon, and I don't support a regressive sales tax increase. However, it's good to know that if Branstad follows through on plans to shift from income taxes to consumption taxes, he won't be able to avoid allocating more money to soil and water conservation. The big margin of victory for this amendment (62.7 percent yes, 37.3 percent no) was also a blow to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's prestige. Farm Bureau never opposed this amendment the two times state legislators passed it nearly unanimously, and a Farm Bureau representative was on the group that helped shape the amendment wording. For some reason, Farm Bureau decided late in the game to made a play to stop this amendment. In doing so, they disappointed some sympathetic legislators and enraged conservatives who backed a constitutional convention. The Farm Bureau's messaging urged a no vote on the constitutional convention question as well as the soil and water trust fund.

Please share your thoughts about any of last night's election results in your town, county or beyond. Iowa City voters upheld the 21-only bar ordinance, by the way.

Feel free to comment on races from outside Iowa that caught your eye. A few U.S. Senate seats haven't been called, but the chamber seems likely to have 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Republicans will pick up between 60 and 70 House seats, meaning they will hold 240 to 250 seats in the new chamber (218 are needed for a majority). Republicans are on track to hold about 30 governorships, although several states have yet to be decided. Republicans swept Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, assuring that they can replicate their successful gerrymanders of those states. Florida approved ballot measures that were designed to limit gerrymandering, but opponents may challenge those rules in court. Florida will still have a Republican governor and legislature, but if the ballot measures stand Democrats may make gains at the state level and in Congressional districts.

Democrats did better in some states (Connecticut, California, West Virginia) than in most others, but a common thread was Republican gains among independents, working-class whites and suburban voters. For instance, Joe Sestak fell just short in the Pennsylvania Senate race, losing to Pat Toomey 51 percent to 49 percent. He did as well in Philadelphia as Bob Casey did four years ago, but couldn't match Casey's performance in other parts of the state.

The Republican campaign for president will start winding up any day now, so get ready for more Iowa visitors. On that note, one person who has been touted as a presidential prospect, Mike Pence, may be laying the groundwork to run for governor of Indiana instead.

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AG race: Parties trade allegations over campaign funding

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Oct 31, 2010 at 10:58:55 AM CDT

Television commercials on the Iowa attorney general race remain in heavy rotation statewide, and over the weekend both parties raised questions about how that advertising was funded. Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn demanded an investigation yesterday into loans received by Attorney General Tom Miller's campaign. The Iowa Democratic Party highlighted heavy spending in support of Republican Brenna Findley by outside groups, some of which don't disclose their donors.

Follow me after the jump for more details.

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Des Moines Register punts on down-ballot statewide offices

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Oct 30, 2010 at 06:56:25 AM CDT

The "newspaper Iowa depends upon" won't endorse a candidate in this year's races for attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture or state auditor, Des Moines Register editorial page editor Linda Fandel confirmed to me this week. Fandel told me the newspaper has been inconsistent about endorsing candidates for those offices in the past. She said limited staff time and resources lay behind the decision not to endorse this year. The Register did endorse candidates in the races for governor, U.S. Senate and all five U.S. House seats, as well as the Iowa Supreme Court retention vote, which the editors called the most important election in the state this year.

I understand limits on resources. Compared to previous election cycles, the Register's newsroom staff is smaller, and its editorial pages contain less content. However, a newspaper that claims to have a statewide profile shouldn't punt on elections offering such significant contrasts to voters. More thoughts on these campaigns are after the jump.

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AG race: New negative ads hit Miller and Findley (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:00:05 AM CDT

The attorney general's race isn't getting much coverage in Iowa print or broadcast media. Higher-profile campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate, as well as the unprecedented drive to oust Iowa Supreme Court judges, don't leave much of a "news hole" for candidates seeking down-ballot statewide offices. I doubt many Iowans caught Attorney General Tom Miller and Republican Brenna Findley's debate, since it has only been broadcast at odd hours on Mediacom Channel 22. The candidates had little time to discuss issues in depth during their joint appearance on Iowa Public Television.

As a result, 30-second commercials during news and entertainment programs will be all most Iowa voters see about the attorney general race. This week new ads targeting Miller and Findley hit Iowa tv screens. To my knowledge, none of the video clips have been posted online, but I taped the ads. Transcripts and descriptions of the visuals are below. UPDATE: Scroll down for a description of the Findley campaign's latest commercial.

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AG race: A close look at the Miller-Findley debate

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 16:11:53 PM CDT

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Republican challenger Brenna Findley debated at the University of Iowa law school on October 20. I read the news coverage of the debate highlights at at the Des Moines Register blog, WCCC.com, Radio Iowa and IowaPolitics.com, but I was anxious to watch for myself. This afternoon Mediacom showed the debate, and I was able to take detailed notes, which you can read below. Both candidates communicated their central message well. Findley tried to keep the incumbent on the defensive, but I thought Miller handled her points and defended his record well. He also noted several times when her ideology or lack of experience seemed to affect her views on the attorney general's proper role.

Unfortunately, Iowa Public Television isn't showing this debate, and to my knowledge Mediacom has not posted the full video. Miller and Findley appeared jointly on IPTV earlier this month (video and transcript here), but although they touched on some of the same issues, that discussion lacked the depth and intensity of the one-on-one debate. Mediacom cable subscribers have one more chance to watch the attorney general candidates' debate on Channel 22 this Sunday, October 31, at 7 am.

I have another post in progress on this campaign, because both candidates are running new negative television commercials this week. Also, the Progress Project, which is closely linked to the American Future Fund, is up on television with an attack on Miller.

My play-by-play of the Miller-Findley debate is after the jump.  

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