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Congress

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

by: desmoinesdem

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

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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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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Obama executive order bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM CDT

President Barack Obama signed an executive order today that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Labor Secretary Tom Perez explained,

My colleagues in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs have enforced the government's nondiscrimination laws for federal contractors for years. Their work ensures that contractors and subcontractors doing business with the government don't use taxpayer money to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. With this executive order, it will also include America's LGBT workers.

We still need to go further. Passage of federal legislation to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity would mean that all workers across the country would enjoy these protections. But with Congress failing to lead on this issue, the president is taking the initiative as part of this Year of Action.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the U.S. Senate last fall with bipartisan support but is going nowhere in the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

Justin Sink noted in his report for The Hill that the president still wants Congress to pass that bill, although "some gay and civil rights groups have abandoned ENDA over concerns stemming from the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision." After the jump I've posted more background on that aspect of today's news. While the Hobby Lobby ruling ostensibly was limited to a religious exemption from the contraception mandate in the 2010 health care reform law, it's likely to have more far-reaching effects.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I'll update this post if needed with Iowa political reaction.

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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup, with a few surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 13:24:37 PM CDT

With all four U.S. House districts in Iowa targeted by one or both parties this year, and competitive primaries happening in three of the four races, I was eager to see where the nominees stood at the end of the second quarter.

Highlights from the Federal Election Commission filings are after the jump. After lackluster fundraising the last three quarters, six-term Representative Steve King finally managed to out-raise his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, but to my surprise, Mowrer retained a big advantage over King in cash on hand as of June 30.  

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IA-03: Zaun's out but two "Liberty" candidates are in

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:39:09 AM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, State Senator Brad Zaun confirmed on the July 10 edition of Simon Conway's radio show that he will not leave the Republican Party or run for Congress as an independent in Iowa's third district. I had a feeling Zaun was just seeking attention or fishing for compliments with his July 4 Facebook post about friends "encouraging me to switch to an Independent." He told Conway, "I basically just put out a provocative post [...] I didn't commit myself one way or the other and of course it exploded."

Zaun's third term in the Iowa Senate expires in 2016. He has reportedly been telling people he does not plan to seek re-election to the state legislature again. Zaun left his party's Iowa Senate leadership team shortly after Republicans failed to regain a majority in the 2012 election.

Meanwhile, at least two conservative third-party candidates are running in IA-03 this year. Ed Wright received the Libertarian Party of Iowa's nomination in June. His campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Council Bluffs native Bryan Jack Holder officially announced his campaign in March as a Republican, but he did not qualify for the GOP primary ballot. Last month he confirmed on Conway's radio show that he will file to run for Congress as an independent.

After the jump I've posted some background information on Wright and Holder from their respective campaign websites. Neither candidate will raise enough money to reach voters district-wide through traditional campaign methods. However, these advocates for restoring freedom and the Constitution could influence the outcome if the race between Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young is close. In 2010, two little-known conservative candidates in Iowa's first district gained more votes combined than Representative Bruce Braley's winning margin against Republican Ben Lange.

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

IA-03 news roundup: NRCC more interested, Appel releases first ad against Young

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 11:24:46 AM CDT

As expected, Iowa's third Congressional district campaign between former State Senator Staci Appel and Senator Chuck Grassley's former chief of staff David Young is shaping up to be the most competitive and most expensive of Iowa's four U.S. House races. Within days of Young's surprise victory at a GOP special nominating convention, the Appel campaign released its first paid advertisement highlighting Young's long career as a Congressional staffer and support for cutting Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Young to its list of "contenders" and is now paying for robocalls attacking Appel.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest IA-03 campaign developments.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1118 words in story)

Bleeding Heartland 2014 primary election prediction contest results

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 20:07:14 PM CDT

Now that Republicans have selected a nominee in the third Congressional district, it's time to examine results from Bleeding Heartland's primary election prediction contest. You can view all the entries in this comment thread.  
There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1133 words in story)
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