Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum endorsing Hillary Clinton is a big deal

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum endorsed Hillary Clinton for president today in a guest column for the Des Moines Register. This afternoon, she will elaborate on her reasons at a Women for Hillary event in Dubuque.

Jochum joins the list of prominent Iowa supporters of Barack Obama before the 2008 caucuses who are now backing Clinton. An Iowa House Democrat at that time, Jochum headed Obama’s leadership team in Dubuque County. Obama easily won a plurality of delegates in Dubuque and carried all of the neighboring counties too.

More important, Jochum is a hero to many on what you might call “the Democratic wing of the Iowa Democratic Party.” I’m thinking of the 26 percent who voted for Ed Fallon in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, as well as people who have long advocated for campaign finance reform at the state level. Although I think highly of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, he’s not the progressive champion Jochum is—not by a long shot. She has helped fight some very tough fights, where powerful interest groups were lined up on the other side. I can’t think of an Iowa state legislator in my lifetime who has reached such a senior leadership position while being as consistently progressive as Jochum.

My impression is that many on the “Democratic wing” of the party have already committed to caucus for Bernie Sanders. Others feel conflicted as I do, drawn to Sanders for his passion and his uncompromising policy agenda, while recognizing Clinton’s strengths as a candidate and what it would mean for this country to elect a woman president. That Jochum is on board with Clinton could carry a lot of weight with undecided Democrats like me.

Before today, eight Democratic state senators and nine state representatives had already endorsed Clinton for the 2016 caucuses. I’ve enclosed the full list after the jump, along with excerpts from Jochum’s Des Moines Register op-ed.

Continue Reading...

IA-03: Democratic establishment consolidating around Jim Mowrer

The candidate filing deadline may be nearly six months away, but it seems increasingly likely that the fight for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s third Congressional district will be a two-way contest between Desmund Adams and Jim Mowrer. Today Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02), the only Democrat left in Iowa’s Congressional delegation, made his "full support" for Mowrer official. I enclose the statement from Mowrer’s campaign after the jump. It includes a list of well-known endorsers, such as former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, State Senators Dick Dearden and Bob Dvorsky, State Representatives Charlie McConkey, Todd Prichard, and Abby Finkenauer, former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky, three IDP State Central Committee members, and Democratic Party chairs in five IA-03 counties.  

Endorsements at this stage are not aimed at persuading Democratic primary voters. Rather, they serve mainly to deter other candidates from getting into the race. They also signal to donors inside and outside Iowa that Mowrer is the “serious” candidate. He already was likely to raise substantially more money than Adams, by virtue of his strong fundraising effort as the 2014 Democratic candidate against Representative Steve King in IA-04.

On a related note, last month the Cook Political Report changed its rating on IA-03 from “toss up” to lean Republican. One reason: “Each day Mowrer consolidates support, the less likely it is that Democrats’ very top choice, U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt, gets in. Former Gov. Chet Culver was rumored to be interested but now looks unlikely to run.” I’m intrigued that a handful of unnamed sources (including one “operative”) managed to convince beltway experts that Klinefeldt would be the “gold standard” candidate in IA-03. Not meaning to knock Klinefeldt, but I’ve had scores of conversations with local Democrats about this race. It’s hardly a consensus view that the U.S. attorney would be the strongest possible candidate to face first-term Republican David Young.

Speaking of Young, earlier this month James Hohmann and Elise Viebeck reported for the Washington Post that he had signed a contract with the National Republican Congressional Committee as a condition for getting help from the NRCC’s incumbent protection program. You can view the fundraising, communication, and political requirements laid out in that contract here.

The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,572 active registered Democrats, 163,096 Republicans, and 163,748 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. More than half of the district’s voters and roughly two-thirds of the Democrats live in Polk County, containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs.

Continue Reading...

Regents' gesture on funding won't stop backlash against new University of Iowa president

Contradicting official documents released less than a week ago, Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter announced yesterday that "he will seek $4.5 million in additional funding for the University of Iowa" during the 2017 fiscal year after all.

The three-sentence news release is intriguing on several levels:

1. The way it conflates Rastetter’s personal opinion with a shift in Board of Regents policy.

2. The unusual timing of a state government body announcing a policy change on a public holiday.

3. The unconvincing attempt to give newly-appointed University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld some credit for the conciliatory move.

4. The effort to spin a relatively small funding increase as a significant investment in the university’s “strengths” and “core mission.”

Continue Reading...

Jim Mowrer joins Democratic primary in IA-03

Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, the 2014 Democratic challenger to Representative Steve King in Iowa’s fourth district, announced this morning that he is running for Congress in Iowa’s third district. Earlier this year, Mowrer moved his family from Boone to Des Moines. I’ve enclosed his campaign’s statement after the jump, which lists 19 endorsers. Five are state legislators (two representing districts in IA-03), and five lead Democratic Party committees in IA-03 counties.

Speaking to Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register, Mowrer said he started thinking about running for Congress again a few months ago, when “a good friend” (Beau Biden) died: “That was another reminder of how fleeting life can be and we need to take action to change our world while we have the opportunity to do so.” Mowrer has known the Biden family for a long time; he chaired the Iowa veterans committee backing Joe Biden for president before the 2008 caucuses.

Earlier this year, Mowrer ran for Iowa Democratic Party state chair and was elected first vice chair. He confirmed to Bleeding Heartland that he resigned from that position this morning.

At this writing, Mowrer’s campaign website Jim for Iowa consists of a landing page, a volunteer sign-up form, a contribution button, and a link to the candidate’s biography. I assume issue positions and other information will be added soon. Mowrer is on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Mowrer raised an impressive amount of money for his 2014 campaign against King, more than $2.1 million. So he starts this effort with an unusually large e-mail list of supporters and contributors. He may not match his 2014 fundraising levels, since IA-03 GOP incumbent David Young is neither as well-known as King, nor hated by Democrats across the country. But Mowrer will surely raise enough money to run a competitive district-wide race.

Mowrer will have at least one rival in the Democratic primary: Desmund Adams. State Senator Matt McCoy took himself out of the running last week. Simone Pathe reported for Roll Call on August 14 that some Democrats are recruiting U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt to run in IA-03, and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included both Klinefelt and Mowrer in a recent poll. According to Pathe, that poll did not test former Governor Chet Culver, who said earlier this year that he was thinking about running for Congress. I don’t know any local Democrats who expect Culver to get in to this race at this point.

The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that the sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,997 active registered Democrats, 163,107 Republicans, and 163,172 no-party voters.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: "Middle Class Fighter" Pat Murphy is in

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy made his second Congressional campaign official this morning. In the shortest YouTube candidate announcement video I’ve ever seen (just fourteen seconds long), Murphy declared, "The truck’s up and running…and so am I." A press release announced, "Middle Class Fighter to Take on [GOP incumbent Rod] Blum," and a e-mail to supporters fleshed out Murphy’s case. Excerpt:

Teri and I discussed this race long and hard and the bottom line is that middle class Iowans deserve to have a voice in Congress, somebody who knows the struggles they face, and will fight for them.  I’ve done that my whole life, because that’s who I am.  And there’s no other candidate running – from either party – who has been on the right side of these fights from day one.

From raising the minimum wage and teacher pay, passing equal pay for women, to protecting women’s health care and all Iowan’s civil rights.  That’s my record.  Fighting for progressive Iowa values is in my blood, with your help, it’s exactly what I’ll do in Congress.

Murphy’s campaign is on the web at Pat Murphy for Congress, on Facebook here, and Twitter here. (His old campaign website is no longer functional.)

I enclose below the candidate’s full e-mail to supporters, as well as excerpts from the press release. It points to Murphy’s lead in a recent internal poll of Democrats in IA-01 and recalls his outright victory in the 2014 primary, despite being outspent by some of his four opponents. The press release also notes that in the general election, Murphy outperformed both U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Braley and the gubernatorial ticket of Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon. Vernon has been considered the front-runner for the 2016 primary in IA-01, on the strength of early fundraising and endorsements from Iowa-based and Washington Democrats. Gary Kroeger is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Former U.S. Representative Dave Nagle is backing Murphy for Congress again, as is the Blue America PAC, which supports progressive candidates in Democratic primaries as well as against Republicans in general elections. Murphy dominated the labor union endorsements before the 2014 primary. I’ll be interested to see whether Vernon picks up more labor support this cycle. So far, she has the backing of Teamsters Local 238, the “largest Teamster Local headquartered in the state of Iowa,” and the  Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council, which supported her during the 2014 primary. UPDATE: Added below a Vernon campaign press release “welcoming” Murphy to the race and listing her key endorsers. They include several Iowa House Democrats who served in the legislature while Murphy was speaker from 2007 through 2010. SECOND UPDATE: Added Kroeger’s statement below.

Continue Reading...
View More...