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IA-03 catch-up thread, with tv ads about education and terrorism

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 20:41:36 PM CDT

Although all four of Iowa's Congressional districts are targeted in theory, only the third district is seeing large-scale independent expenditures as well as broadcast advertising by the candidates.

Today Democratic nominee Staci Appel's campaign launched a new positive ad, focusing on her support for public education at all levels. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new spot bashing Republican nominee David Young over his call to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee is out with a new ad today about the same "passports for terrorists" canard they featured in their last Iowa effort. Clearly they think this is their strongest card against Appel, and they won't stop no matter how many news media report her real position on the issue.

Videos and transcripts of all the latest ads are after the jump.

I haven't seen any new commercials from Young's campaign lately. Justin Sink reported for The Hill that Young cancelled $107,000 in "reserved television ad time in the Omaha market through election day, according to a source tracking ad buys." Roughly 20 percent of the voters in IA-03 live in the Omaha viewing area, most of them in Pottawattamie County (Council Bluffs). Residents of Mills, Montgomery, Fremont, Page, and Cass counties also receive Omaha television stations, as do some Iowans living in Adams, Adair, and Taylor counties. Click here for voter registration numbers in all of the 16 IA-03 counties.

The NRCC has pledged to spend $1.5 million on this race between Labor Day and November 4, but to my knowledge, they have only been running their anti-Appel ads in the Des Moines market, not in Omaha. The Appel campaign maintains they are already on broadcast networks in Omaha and will be on cable there shortly, for the duration of the campaign.

Last week the DCCC released partial results from an internal poll showing Appel slightly ahead of Young by 47 percent to 44 percent. I expect this race to remain close all the way up to election day. While Republicans have a slight advantage in voter registrations, Democrats lead so far in absentee ballots requested by voters in the district.

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Weekend open thread: Des Moines Register IA-Sen poll edition (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 27, 2014 at 23:36:24 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This evening the Des Moines Register rolled out partial results from its first Iowa poll since forming a partnership with Bloomberg News on political coverage. The news isn't encouraging for Democrats: State Senator Joni Ernst leads U.S. Representative Bruce Braley by 44 percent to 38 percent, outside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent. CORRECTION: That's the margin of error for each candidate's support. The margin of error for Ernst's lead over Braley would be larger.

I've posted excerpts from the Register's coverage after the jump. The most worrying points include: Ernst has a double-digit lead among independents; her 25-point lead among men more than compensates for Braley's 13-point lead among women; she leads among every age group (though only by 1 percent among senior citizens); Braley is not ahead in the first Congressional district, despite representing much of northeast Iowa since 2007.

Some Democrats have been grumbling this evening about the biased tone of the Register's write-up. For instance, Jennifer Jacobs dwelled on Braley's negatives, even though the poll showed a higher unfavorable rating for Ernst (44 percent) than for Braley (42 percent). In general, I can't remember a Des Moines Register political reporter showing a stronger bias than Jacobs has shown toward Ernst this whole year. It's remarkable. But that's far from Braley's biggest problem right now.

I expected the Braley campaign to respond that this poll is out of line with their internal numbers, or with other recent polls showing the IA-Sen race tied. But the memo from Braley's campaign manager Sarah Benzing was much more alarming, since it accepted the Register's numbers as a "snapshot of where this race begins" as voters start paying attention. It argued that the race was tied all summer, when "the TV spending numbers were closer to parity." In contrast, "the Ernst campaign and its backers have spent over $500,000 more than the Braley campaign and Democratic groups on television" in the past two weeks. "Unless this disparity is equalized over the next few weeks, there is a real chance that spending by outside groups will determine the Iowa Senate race [...]."

I've enclosed the Braley memo after the jump. There's some happy talk about the Democratic ground game, which supposedly will deliver for Braley "as long as Democratic spending in Iowa matches the firepower that the other side is contributing to the air war." Really, that's your spin? News flash: Democrats won a bunch of close Senate races in 2012 despite being outspent on television. They were able to connect with voters despite that deficit. Moreover, pro-Ernst and anti-Braley spending will probably continue to surpass Democratic spending for the whole month of October. Braley's campaign manager should not be suggesting her candidate can't win under those circumstances.

Democrats need to hope that either Braley can turn things around in the debates, or that this poll will turn out to be one of Selzer & Co's occasional misses (like when the Register's Iowa poll had Terry Branstad 28 points ahead of Bob Vander Plaats a few days before he won the 2010 GOP primary by 9 points). It's too bad the Register didn't commission an Iowa poll shortly after the June primary, so we would all have a baseline for comparison. But Public Policy Polling has an Iowa survey in the field this weekend too, and claims Ernst is running ahead.

UPDATE: On September 28, Harstad Strategic Research released partial results from a poll conducted between September 21 and 25 for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. This poll showed Braley and Ernst tied at 42 percent each and Braley leading among independents by 40 percent to 36 percent. The survey drew respondents from the Iowa voter file rather than through the random-dialing method used by some pollsters. I've added the memo at the end of this post.

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IA-Sen: "No Labels" group sucker punches Bruce Braley

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 27, 2014 at 17:01:02 PM CDT

Few members of Congress have done more to link themselves with the "No Labels" movement than U.S. Representative Bruce Braley. He spoke at the group's launch event in December 2010. He participated in the group's December 2011 release of a 12-point action plan to "Make Congress Work." In 2012, Braley co-sponsored "No Budget, No Pay" legislation supported by No Labels; similar language was included in a budget bill President Barack Obama signed the following year. A review of Braley's voting record on a wide range of issues shows many examples of the Democrat voting with the majority of House Republicans and against most members of his own caucus.

When Braley received the No Labels "Problem Solver Seal of Approval" this July, his U.S. Senate campaign enthusiastically spread the news along with a long list of his bipartisan accomplishments in the House.

It must have come as a shock when No Labels turned around and gave Republican State Senator Joni Ernst the same "Problem Solver Seal of Approval" a few days ago. Just in time for the Senate nominees' first debate on Sunday, without any bipartisan legislative accomplishments to speak of, Ernst got outside validation for her campaign's otherwise laughable pivot from the "mother, soldier, conservative" tag line to "mother, soldier, independent leader." All she had to do to gain equal status with Braley was pay lip service to the No Labels "National Strategic Agenda."

I've long believed that No Labels is an "astroturf" (fake grassroots) movement founded on false premises, and that Democrats who got mixed up with the latest incarnation of Beltway "centrists" were making a mistake. Braley may not be the last to learn this lesson the hard way. Follow me after the jump for more thoughts on No Labels' wrong-headed policy stands and political choices.  

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IA-04: Mowrer emphasizes crossover appeal, King finally agrees to debate

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 15:55:05 PM CDT

Catching up on news from Iowa's fourth Congressional district, a veteran who served with Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer in Iraq is the star of Mowrer's fourth television commercial. I've posted the video and transcript after the jump. The veteran explains that although he usually votes Republican, he supports Mowrer for Congress, because Mowrer "put his men and his responsibilities above himself" in Iraq and will "put Iowa first" in Washington. Mowrer appears near the end of the spot. Without mentioning Representative Steve King, he draws an unspoken contrast between himself and the incumbent, saying Congress has forgotten to put service "to the people" above a party. While campaigning around the district, Mowrer points out that King is an obstructionist who "has never passed any major legislation or brought anything back to Iowa."

Bleeding Heartland covered Mowrer's first three ads here, here and here. To my knowledge, King has not run any tv ads yet. I cannot think of any other example of a Congressional incumbent waiting so long to go up on the air against a well-funded challenger. I can only conclude that King is not at all worried about this election. It's also noteworthy that the incumbent is relying on his son and daughter in law to manage this year's effort, as he did in 2008 and 2010. In contrast, King brought in seasoned campaign professionals to run his 2012 re-election bid against Christie Vilsack in a substantially redrawn district.

To have any chance against King, Mowrer needs quite a few Republicans to cross over and vote for him, in addition to good Democratic turnout and a big lead among independents. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate that the 39 counties in IA-04 contain 122,996 active registered Democrats, 179,418 Republicans, and 172,126 no-party voters. Democrats have a small lead in absentee ballot requests so far.

Over the weekend, King finally agreed to debate Mowrer. After months of stonewalling, which was attracting some unflattering media attention, King accepted Iowa Public Television's invitation to an "Iowa Press" debate on October 23 in Storm Lake. He is still refusing to debate Mowrer in Sioux City, the largest metro area in IA-04.

I haven't seen much polling on this race. Loras College surveyed 300 voters in the district earlier this month and found King leading by 47 percent to 36 percent. That poll had a fairly high margin of error of 5.6 percent and some methodological issues that made me question the results. But if King's internal polling showed major warning signs, he would probably be on television right now, and/or the National Republican Congressional Committee would get involved, as they did in 2012. So I would assume King leads by enough not to feel threatened. Let's hope he is taking too much for granted.

Any comments about the IA-04 campaign are welcome in this thread.  

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U.S. begins bombing ISIS targets in Syria

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 22:08:30 PM CDT

This evening a U.S. military official confirmed to news media that airstrikes have begun in a part of Syria largely controlled by the terrorist group ISIS. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain are partnering with the U.S. on the airstrikes, though the extent of their cooperation is not yet clear. The Obama administration had previously announced plans for "targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria -- including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure," according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. I don't understand the endgame, since the Obama administration has vowed not to cooperate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate authorized the Obama administration to train and arm "moderates" in Syria and Iraq. But in a pathetic act of cowardice, Congress approved the president's request as part of a huge must-pass spending bill, rather than as a stand-alone measure. Why should anyone respect the separation of powers if most members of Congress would rather punt than have a serious debate over whether to get the country more directly involved in a civil war? Especially since no one seems to know who these moderate Syrian rebels are. For all we know, we will be inadvertently training the next group of terrorists in the region, or supplying weapons that will fall into the wrong hands.

The funding bill containing the military authorization language passed the U.S. House by 273 votes to 156, with bipartisan support and opposition. Iowans Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 114 House Democrats who voted yes. Representatives Tom Lataham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) were among the 159 Republicans who voted yes.

When the same bill passed the U.S. Senate by 78 votes to 22, Senators Chuck Grassley (R) and Tom Harkin (D) both voted yes. Rebecca Shabad and Ramsey Cox reported for The Hill, "The 'no' votes included several senators seen as prospective presidential candidates in both parties, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)." Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and is considering a presidential campaign, voted no. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, considered a possible presidential candidate if Hillary Clinton does not run, voted yes.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I will update this post as needed with Iowa political reaction to the airstrikes in Syria. But don't hold your breath: last week I did not see any official statement from anyone in Iowa's Congressional delegation about having voted to authorize weapons and training for rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.

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Iowa absentee ballot numbers in the 2014 general election

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 11:52:18 AM CDT

This morning the Iowa Secretary of State's Office started posting absentee ballot statistics for this year's general election. They will update the chart on weekdays here (pdf).

As in 2012, Bleeding Heartland will update the absentee ballot totals daily as they become available. The first set of numbers are after the jump. I've organized the data a bit differently from the Secretary of State's Office. For each day's totals, I will create two charts: the first shows the number of absentee ballots Iowans have requested, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. The second shows the number of absentee ballots county auditors have received from voters, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. (For now, those numbers are small, because most of the county auditors have not yet mailed ballots to voters who requested them.)

In-person early voting will begin on September 25 at county auditors' offices. Some counties will open satellite locations for in-person early voting as well. When an Iowan votes early at the auditor's office, that counts as an absentee ballot requested by the voter and as an absentee ballot received by the auditor on the same day.

Today's press release from the Secretary of State's Office noted that "demand for absentee ballots with 43 days before the election is much higher this year for all party affiliations than at a similar point in 2010." Absentee ballot requests as of September 21 totaled 112,178 statewide, compared to 56,725 at this point in Iowa's last midterm election campaign. Registered Democrats had requested 57,869 absentee ballots (versus 34,318 at this point in 2010), Republicans had requested 31,099 ballots (12,710 in 2010), and no-party voters had requested 23,043 ballots (9,664 in 2010). Click here for more information about voting early, or to download an absentee ballot request form.

Note that not every mailed-in absentee ballot will count. Some ballots mailed late will not get a postmark proving voters sent them before election day. John Deeth goes over other common errors that can lead to absentee ballots not being counted, such as voters not signing the "affidavit envelope" or re-opening the affidavit envelope after sealing it. Everyone planning to vote by mail needs to read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly.

UPDATE: I should have noted that if this year's turnout is similar to 2010, about 1.1 million Iowans will cast ballots, meaning that roughly 10 percent of those likely to participate in the midterm have already requested a ballot. The Republican Party of Iowa's first mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms went out in early September, while the Iowa Democratic Party's went out last week.

SECOND UPDATE: Adding latest daily numbers after the jump.

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IA-03: Republicans try oldest trick in the book against Staci Appel

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 14:42:37 PM CDT

UPDATE: Appel's response ad is here.

For decades, Republicans have tried to win elections by painting Democrats--especially Democratic women--as soft on crime or weak on national defense. So no one should be surprised by the smear at the heart of the National Republican Congressional Committee's latest attack on Staci Appel in Iowa's third district. Taking out of context comments Appel made during her first debate with David Young, the NRCC is claiming Appel supports "passports for terrorists."

Background and details are after the jump, along with the latest ads from both sides. Politico's "Morning Score" reported on September 18 that David Young's campaign has "gone dark"--not airing any television commercials--for the time being. It's not clear whether the Young campaign is running short of funds or simply taking a break while the NRCC does the heavy lifting. Typically candidates will run positive ads while outside groups run attacks. The NRCC already has a positive spot running about Young as well as the misleading ad they've launched against Appel.

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IA-02: First Miller-Meeks ad draws contrast with Loebsack

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 12:58:00 PM CDT

Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is on the air with her first television commercial in her third campaign against Representative Dave Loebsack in Iowa's second Congressional district. Her debut ad from the 2010 campaign contained entirely negative material about the incumbent. In contrast, the new spot jumps quickly from saying Loebsack is part of the problem to positive statements about Miller-Meeks. That strikes me as a more effective message, especially for reaching voters in counties that weren't part of IA-02 during her previous two Congressional campaigns. Notably, Miller-Meeks is emphasizing her credentials as a doctor and a veteran. This ad says nothing about the three years she spent in state government running the Iowa Department of Public Health.

After the jump I've enclosed the video and transcript of "Problem." I am seeking comment from Miller-Meeks' campaign on where the commercial is running. The 24 counties in IA-02 are located in five separate media markets (Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, Des Moines, Ottumwa-Kirksville, and Quincy, Illinois), making it fairly expensive to reach all voters in the district.

Any comments about the IA-02 campaign are welcome in this thread. I consider this race an uphill battle for the challenger.

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Catching up on the IA-01 race, with ads from Pat Murphy and Rod Blum

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 16:47:46 PM CDT

Since the June primary, I haven't written much about the first Congressional district campaign between former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy and longtime business owner Rod Blum. In theory, the race could be competitive. IA-01 leans Democratic with a partisan voting index of D+5, meaning that in the last two presidential elections, voters living here skewed about 5 percent more Democratic than the nationwide electorate. Crucially, this is a midterm, not a presidential year. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that the 20 counties in IA-01 contain 156,344 active registered Democrats, 134,313 Republicans, and 186,446 no-party voters. Hardly an overwhelming advantage. The right Republican could win this district.

Nevertheless, I doubt Blum has a strong chance in IA-01 for three reasons. First, the hero to the "Liberty" crowd and Steve Forbes is not moderate enough to win a lot of crossover voters. Blum applauded a key vote that led to last year's federal government shutdown. The Republican won't be able to run up the score in his home county either, because both Murphy and Blum are from Dubuque.

Second, Bruce Braley's Senate hopes are dead in the water if he doesn't get a strong Democratic turnout in the Congressional district where he is best known to voters. So his campaign and the Iowa Democratic Party have incentive to focus on GOTV in the key IA-01 counties. Unless the "coordinated campaign" is an epic failure, Murphy should benefit.

Third, as in Iowa's second Congressional district, we haven't seen a lot of activity from outside groups in IA-01. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is committed to defending this seat, but to my knowledge has not spent any money on radio or television commercials here. Likewise, the National Republican Congressional Committee put Blum in its top tier of challengers but hasn't reserved air time or spent significant money against Murphy. I believe they would do so if they smelled a real opportunity here.

We haven't seen much polling on this race. In August, Murphy released partial results from an internal poll indicating that he was ahead by 51 percent to 40 percent. Blum countered with his own internal showing Murphy leading by just 40 percent to 35 percent. Take those with a grain of salt, as with all internals.

Loras College surveyed 300 voters in IA-01 earlier this month and found Murphy barely ahead, by 34.6 percent to 33.0 percent, with 32.3 percent either undecided or refusing to answer. Both candidates have been campaigning around the district, but neither Murphy nor Blum started running general election television commercials until this month, which could explain the high number of undecideds. On the other hand, Loras doesn't have a long track record in polling, and that survey had a relatively small sample and a relatively large margin of error (plus or minus 5.6 percent). The cross-tabs included some unusual findings, such as Murphy barely ahead among women and Blum barely ahead among men. If true, that would be a big red flag for Murphy, who defeated three women candidates in the Democratic primary. While Republican blogger Craig Robinson draws big hope from this aspect of the Loras poll, I am skeptical that the gender gap we've seen in so many elections for decades is magically absent from this race. The margin of error for a subsample of a poll is always larger than the margin of error for the whole survey.

After the jump I've posted the first two general election ads for Murphy and the debut general election ad for Blum, as well as the spot Blum ran before the GOP primary. They all look solid to me. Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread.  

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IA-03: Appel's fourth tv ad draws contrast with "Washington insider" Young

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 12:55:00 PM CDT

Former State Senator Staci Appel released her Congressional campaign's fourth district-wide television commercial today. Whereas Appel's first three spots had an entirely positive message (see here, here, and here), the new ad contrasts her background as a lifelong Iowa resident with Republican candidate David Young's 20-year career as a "Washington insider." In a press release today, Appel's campaign manager Ben Miller commented, "There is a clear choice in this campaign between Staci Appel, who has lived in Iowa her entire life and worked in Iowa to cut government waste and balance budgets, and David Young, who has spent the last 20 years in Washington, D.C and is part of the problem."

For his part, Young is campaigning on a promise to bring "a dose of Iowa reality to Washington." His campaign has also highlighted work he's done for Iowans as U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's chief of staff, as well as his record of listening to voters' concerns.

I've posted the video and annotated transcript of the new Appel commercial after the jump. Any comments about the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Young's "good meal" commercial hasn't gone over well with many Republicans, according to The Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson. I've enclosed an excerpt from his post below.

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IA-02: First Loebsack tv ad, and how close is this race anyway?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:59:09 AM CDT

If campaign strategy is anything to go by, four-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack is a creature of habit. Loebsack's debut television commercial launched late last week, and I've enclosed the video and transcript after the jump, with my initial thoughts about the message. The biographical information and visuals echo Loebsack's opening commercial from his 2010 re-election campaign. The ad highlights the same public policy he led with in 2012. The same narrator performs the voice-over. The mid-September launch is precisely when he went up on the air in 2010 and 2012. (Loebsack's not the greatest fundraiser in Congress, so he can't afford to advertise district-wide for more than a couple of months.)

Several Bleeding Heartland readers have asked me about last week's Loras College poll, showing Loebsack ahead of Miller-Meeks by 48.7 percent to 32.1 percent among 300 likely voters in the second Congressional district. I have a hard time believing those results, partly because Loras doesn't have a long track record with polling. In addition, the statewide sample for the Loras poll includes too high a proportion of no-party voters for a mid-term election. Although a plurality of Iowa registered voters are independents, no-party voters comprised only about a quarter of the electorate in the last three Iowa midterm elections (click through for reports on turnout in 2010, 2006, and 2002). Perhaps most important, Loebsack defeated the less-credible challenger John Archer by a little more than 12 percent in 2012, a presidential election year. So I consider it unlikely he's 16 points ahead of Miller-Meeks, who came fairly close to beating him in 2010.

By the same token, I don't believe the Tarrance Group survey that the Miller-Meeks campaign hyped in mid-August, showing her trailing Loebsack by just 45 to 42 percent. Internal polls are always suspect, especially when the campaign releases almost no information about the sample demographics, question wording or question order.

Miller-Meeks and her suporters are optimistic because the district leans less Democratic than the one where Loebsack won his first three elections to Congress. The old IA-02 had a partisan voting index of D+7, whereas the current district is D+4. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate that the 24 counties in IA-02 contain 165,834 active registered Democrats, 139,034 Republicans, and 180,843 no-party voters. In contrast, Democrats had a voter registration advantage of nearly 48,000 in IA-02 going into the 2010 general election, when Loebsack defeated Miller-Meeks by about 11,500 votes. Notably, Loebsack's current district includes the Quad Cities area (Scott County), traditionally more Republican-leaning than the Cedar Rapids area (Linn County), which was part of his old district. Under the previous map, Bruce Braley narrowly lost Scott County to his GOP challenger Ben Lange in 2010.

That analysis overlooks a few salient points, though. Since Iowa lawmakers adopted the current map of political boundaries, Loebsack has had three and a half years to build up his name recognition and support in the Quad Cities. He's attended hundreds of public events there. He's gone to bat for the Rock Island Arsenal, a major local employer. Nor are the new IA-02 counties a natural base of support for Miller-Meeks, who has spent most of her career in the Ottumwa area. In fact, her woefully under-funded opponent Mark Lofgren carried Scott County and neighboring Clinton County, as well as his home base of Muscatine, in this year's Republican primary to represent IA-02.

I suspect we would have seen a greater sense of urgency from Loebsack's campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee if Democratic polling indicated a close race here. The DCCC swooped in to rescue Loebsack in 2010, running a couple of negative spots against Miller-Meeks in the final weeks. I'll believe Miller-Meeks has a real shot if we see more independent expenditures for both candidates than occurred in IA-02 during the Loebsack's race against Archer. While the National Republican Congressional Committee placed Miller-Meeks on the top tier of their program for challengers, I have seen no sign that the NRCC plans to spend significant money on this race.

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IA-03: First Staci Appel/David Young debate discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 19:01:10 PM CDT

Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young are holding their first debate in the third Congressional district race. Iowa Public Television will live-stream the Council Bluffs debate on the "Iowa Press" page. You can also watch on C-SPAN 2, which is channel 87 for Mediacom subscribers in Des Moines. I will be live-blogging the debate after the jump.

P.S.-I've also enclosed below the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's latest television commercial against Young. The format seems a little stale, and I wonder how many people even remember Young's magic-themed ads before the Republican primary.

UPDATE: I didn't realize the Appel campaign is also running a new ad. Scroll to the end to see that video and transcript.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Iowa Public Television has the debate video up on the "Iowa Press" page and will broadcast this debate tonight at 7 pm and Sunday morning.

I've added lots more below, including post-debate spin and Young's second television commercial of the general election campaign, which started running on September 12. Young is presenting himself as a reasonable, moderate, experienced problem-solver. The theme of the Democratic communication is that Young spent the debate hiding from more radical positions he took as a Republican primary candidate for U.S. Senate and later for IA-03. That's accurate, but the reality is that Young does not present as a wild-eyed extremist. Voters may conclude that he was just pandering to wingnuts during the primary campaign.

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IA-03: NRCC tv ad attacks Staci Appel on spending votes (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:05:00 AM CDT

Yesterday the National Republican Congressional Committee launched its first television commercial in Iowa this year. After the jump I've posted the video and transcript of the 30-second spot attacking Democratic candidate Staci Appel over spending votes she cast in the Iowa Senate. Bleeding Heartland provided background here on one of the points, which was a staple of Iowa Republican campaign rhetoric in 2010. Short version: money was never spent on those "decorative flowerpots," because Governor Chet Culver line-item vetoed the allocation. But in any case, they were not intended purely for decoration around the State Capitol grounds. Rather, they were similar to heavy planters commonly seen around federal government buildings, as much a security measure as a decorative one.

I've also enclosed below background on the historic musical instrument for which Appel and other state lawmakers allocated restoration funds. UPDATE: It turns out that GOP candidate David Young's boss, Senator Chuck Grassley, went to bat for federal funding to restore the same organ. Scroll down for details.

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IA-03: DCCC on the air against David Young

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 15:58:00 PM CDT

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running its first television commercial attacking Republican nominee David Young in Iowa's third Congressional district. I don't know exactly when the ad went up on the air, because I haven't seen any official announcement from the DCCC, nor is the video on their YouTube channel yet. I saw it for the first time today during the lunchtime newscast on a Des Moines-based station. Bleeding Heartland readers in southwest Iowa, please let me know if you've seen the spot on an Omaha/Council Bluffs station.

Since I didn't catch the ad on video yet, I don't have an exact transcript. The gist was that David Young is a Washington insider who will "never work for you," only for special interests that want to do bad things like eliminate the Department of Education. When possible, I'll update this post with the ad and its script. It was very cookie-cutter in style.

Ater the jump, I've posted a statement the DCCC released today, mocking Young's new television ad for promising to bring "Iowa reality" to Washington.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved television time in IA-03, but to my knowledge, they are not on the air yet against Democratic nominee Staci Appel. CORRECTION: The NRCC started running its first tv spot against Appel on September 4. Click here for details.

UPDATE: Added the video and transcript below.

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IA-03: David Young wants to "bring a dose of Iowa reality to Washington"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 03, 2014 at 18:34:14 PM CDT

Republican Congressional candidate David Young has launched his first television commercial of the general election campaign. I've posted the video and transcript to "Good Meal" after the jump. Echoing his opponent Staci Appel's promise to "bring Iowa common sense to Washington," Young's new ad vows to "bring a dose of Iowa reality to Washington." Speaking to the camera, Young separates himself from beltway insiders who are mismanaging the government: "I get it, and you get it. Why can't they?"

Campaigning against Washington is standard practice, but this rhetoric is real chutzpah coming from a guy who has spent most of his adult life as a Congressional staffer based in the capital. The fundraising e-mail that accompanied today's ad release glossed over Young's professional background, asserting, "Washington needs David," and urging supporters to "Help send David to Washington," as if Young hadn't spent the better part of two decades there.

Any comments about the race in IA-03 are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- While many voters would probably agree with Young's claim that the federal government "overspends" and "overtaxes," Young is smart enough to know better. Fact is, the federal tax burden on most American households is at historically low levels, whether you look at federal income taxes only or total federal taxes. By the same token, total federal government spending as a share of U.S. gross domestic product has "fallen dramatically" since the Great Recession ended, and the federal government "outside Social Security and Medicare is already significantly below its historical average size."  

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

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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Rest in peace, Jim Jeffords

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 20:50:00 PM CDT

Former U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont passed away today at the age of 80. When he was first elected to Congress in 1974, New England Republicans were well represented in Washington, DC, and were more progressive than many southern Democrats in the Capitol. By the time he retired in 2006, only a few Congressional Republicans hailed from states to the north and east of New York.

Jeffords will be most remembered for becoming an independent in May 2001, shifting control of the Senate to Democrats just a few months into George W. Bush's presidency. Emily Langer notes in her Washington Post obituary that Jeffords had been out of step with his party on many occasions before then.

In 1981, while serving in the House, he was the only Republican to oppose President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. Later, as a member of the Senate, Mr. Jeffords opposed President George H.W. Bush's nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court and publicly agonized before supporting the president on the invasion of Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

During the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton, Mr. Jeffords broke with his party by backing the president's health-care plan and voting against the articles of impeachment brought against him in connection with the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Even so, leaving the GOP caucus was a difficult choice for Jeffords. You can watch his May 24, 2001 speech here or read the transcript at the Burlington Free Press website. Iowa's senior Senator Chuck Grassley was among the GOP colleagues most hurt by Jeffords' defection. Speaking to reporters on that day in 2001, Jeffords said his meeting with Republican senators had been

the most emotional time that I have ever had in my life, with my closest friends urging me not to do what I was going to do, because it affected their lives, and very substantially. I know, for instance, the chairman of the finance committee has dreamed all his life of being chairman. He is chairman about a couple of weeks, and now he will be no longer the chairman. All the way down the line, I could see the anguish and the disappointment as I talked.

So many elected officials have remained loyal to parties that no longer represent their views. It's hard to redefine one's political identity and jeopardize longtime relationships. Jeffords stands out because he took a painful step for principles he believed in.

Incidentally, Grassley focused on the policy implications of Jeffords' switch, not his personal loss of power. As it happens, he didn't have to wait long for another chance to chair the Senate Finance Committee, from January 2003 through December 2006.

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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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