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Supporters call them "constitutional conservatives" or members of the "Liberty Movement." Detractors call them "Paulbots" or "Paulinistas." Whatever you call them, you have to admit that the Ron Paul faction of the Republican Party of Iowa pulled off tremendous organizing feats last weekend.
The Republican Party of Iowa's State Central Committee met on Saturday to consider a successor to Matt Strawn, who resigned as chairman in the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses.
When a Democrat is governor, the Iowa Democratic Party's State Central Committee defers to the governor's choice for party chair. But a majority of the 17 voting Republicans elected A.J. Spiker, co-chair of Ron Paul's presidential campaign in Iowa, over co-chair Bill Schickel, Governor Terry Branstad's strong preference.
Iowans will elect county supervisors and vote on many local ballot initiatives across the state tomorrow, so I thought I'd put up a thread for Bleeding Heartland readers to discus any local races of interest. Iowa City's vote on the 21-only bar ordinance will be the most closely-watched city election result. If the "yes" side prevails, the city's ordinance barring 19- and 20-year-olds from bars after 10 pm will be thrown out. If "no" wins, the ordinance will stand. Strong early voting among University of Iowa students suggests that the ordinance will be tossed out. If I lived in Iowa City, I'd vote no. To my mind, this is a public safety issue, and the drop in downtown crime since the ordinance went into effect is compelling. I see no reason to make Iowa City a drinking destination for underage people in a large area of eastern Iowa. People who view this as a rights issue should be agitating to lower the drinking age.
Funk has some ground to make up tomorrow. According to Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, as of November 1 his office had received 4,588 absentee ballots from registered Democrats in the third supervisor's district, 2,595 from Republicans, 1,157 from no-party voters and 5 from voters with some other registration. In 2006, Hockensmith defeated Republican Wes Enos by 16,936 votes to 11,121.
Any comments on local Iowa elections are welcome in this thread.
However, Funk faces an uphill battle. Even after recent Republican gains in voter registration statewide, Democrats still have a large registration advantage in Polk County's third supervisor's district. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald provided the latest figures for active registered voters in the area Hockensmith represents: 22,301 Democrats, 15,753 Republicans, 15,569 no-party voters, and 52 others. Polk County Democrats have a strong GOTV operation, and organized labor will work hard for Hockensmith for reasons I described here.
Funk's tea party rhetoric may not resonate in this campaign as well as it did with Republican primary voters last month. The issues page of Polk Needs Funk talks about limiting spending so that county government can "live within its means," but people want their supervisors to deliver public services like the ones Hockensmith will talk about during the campaign.
Anyway, Polk County's fiscal position is strong. Many residents questioned the money spent to expand the Iowa Events Center earlier this decade, but that facility just turned its largest-ever profit despite the tough economy. You can download recent county budgets and reports from bond rating agencies here. The last time Polk County issued general obligation bonds in 2007, all three major ratings agencies gave the county strong credit ratings. Fitch said its AA+ rating "reflects the county's broad and diverse economic base, sound financial operations, and low direct debt burden." Moody's said Polk's "high quality Aa1 rating reflects the county's healthy and economically viable tax base realizing strong growth trends; stable financial operations supported by satisfactory reserve levels; and a manageable debt burden with future debt planned." Standard & Poor's raised Polk's rating from AA+ to AAA, citing factors such as "low debt burden" and "stable financial position supported by a policy to pass balanced budgets."
I heard the rumor, Civic Skinny heard the rumor, and now The Iowa Republican blog reports that Dave Funk will soon be the Republican nominee for supervisor in Polk County's third district.
The two Republican Polk County supervisors aren't up for re-election this year, and the GOP isn't fielding candidates against Democratic supervisors John Mauro and Angela Connolly. As a result, the third district race between Funk and two-term incumbent Tom Hockensmith will determine control of the five-member board of supervisors. Democrats have had a majority on that body for decades.
Without question, Funk is the best candidate Republicans could have recruited for this race. Two pictures tell that story after the jump.
The Branstad campaign is anxious to avoid an embarrassing display of support for Bob Vander Plaats at this Saturday's Republican state convention. Today they hit convention delegates with an e-mail blast and robocalls stressing Reynolds' "conservative credentials." The strong words from Scheffler and Lehman in support of the ticket may prevent any media narrative from developing about religious conservatives rejecting Branstad. The Iowa Family Policy Center (viewed by many as a rival to the Iowa Christian Alliance) backed Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican primary and vowed not to endorse Branstad against Democratic Governor Chet Culver. That group recently affirmed that Branstad would need to undergo a "fundamental transformation" to win their support in the general election campaign.
To my mind, Reynolds' record in the Iowa Senate says only that she sticks with the consensus in the Republican caucus. She has not taken any unusual positions or been outspoken on any major issues under consideration. An acquaintance I spoke with today, who spends a lot of time at the capitol every year during the legislative session, had not even heard of Reynolds before this week. That's how low her profile has been during her two years at the statehouse. Reynolds may be a reliable back-bencher for conservatives, but I don't see her as a strong advocate for the religious right. She doesn't have the stature to drive the agenda if Branstad is elected. Like Todd Dorman wrote yesterday, the lieutenant governor gets to do "whatever the governor lets you do. And in a Branstad administration, if the past is an indicator, his mate will be the special director of the Department of Not Much."
Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge spoke about Reynolds today on behalf of the Culver campaign. She suggested that Reynolds may not help Branstad with the social conservatives who supported other candidates for governor, because she "comes out of the same camp as Terry and Doug Gross rather than out of the camp of Bob Vander Plaats or Mr. Roberts." In a press release and news conference, Judge also emphasized that we don't know much about Reynolds' views on key issues, and that her learning curve will be steep, because she has relatively little experience at the statewide level: "It will take a lot of study on Kim's part. [...] If [Branstad] keeps her in the basement in a small office as he did [former Lieutenant Governor] Joy Corning, then she's not going to have much of an opportunity to know what's going on." Say what you will about Patty Judge (I'm not a fan), but she did have a strong legislative record and eight years of holding statewide office going into the 2006 campaign. She has had real influence on policy in the Culver administration.
Being a blank slate may have its advantages, however. Iowa State University Professor Steffen Schmidt thinks Reynolds was a good choice because she is so unknown that she won't turn voters off or take attention away from Branstad.
Share any thoughts about the Branstad/Reynolds ticket in this thread.
Kim Lehman, another member of the Republican National Committee and formerly president of Iowa Right to Life, praised Reynolds' selection and her legislative record, ticking through each of the bills she has sponsored since entering the state Senate in 2008 and concluding, "Reynolds went into office and took the bull by the horns and got busy."
However, a closer look at the bills Reynolds signed on to reveals she only sponsored one piece of legislation on her own - a requirement that the Department of Natural Resources develop depredation plans to fill harvest quotas of antlerless deer in each county that have not been met at the end of the last established deer hunting season each year.
Other than that, she nearly always joins with all or a large majority of the state Senate's 18 Republicans to push bills.
"I remain dedicated to the fight for private property rights in this state," said Kaufmann. "The last four years of Democratic control of the Legislature has yielded no strengthening of these rights. The Democratic majority has not allowed debate of a single property rights bill despite overwhelming support for the 2006 landmark legislation."
"Our attempts to protect property rights will be thwarted, as usual, by Governor Culver and Democratic leadership without Republican control of the Legislature," added Kaufmann. "To me, all other property rights discussions are secondary to that goal. I look forward to working with Kim Reynolds in the future to protect property owners in the future."
I fully support the 2006 legislation that curtailed the use of eminent domain to take private property. I do not support eminent domain for commercial development purposes. I support eminent domain only for essential public services.
That answer satisfied Vander Hart. However, one issue with these recreational lake projects (like ones proposed for Page County, Clarke County and Madison County in recent years) is that the advocates will claim the land grab serves an essential public service, like providing more drinking water. However, analysts dispute whether the lake is really needed as a drinking water source, or whether that's a ruse to obscure the real goal behind the project. A few people stand to make a lot of money if the farmland they own can be developed as lakeshore property. So the question is whether the state would allow other people's farmland to be condemned in order to create a lake that's basically a private commercial development.
Polls close at 9 pm, but I decided to post this thread early in case anyone wants to chat before results start coming in.
I'll update later with returns in the key Iowa races. For now, share any anecdotes about voting or political talk today. I ran into a friend who was a Republican for most of her life, even voting twice for George W. Bush. She voted for Chet Culver in 2006 and plans to volunteer for his campaign this year, mostly because she doesn't want Republicans to cut preschool funding and other social services for kids.
9:15 pm UPDATE: 9 percent of precincts reporting, Terry Branstad 47 percent, Bob Vander Plaats 46 percent, Rod Roberts 7 percent. I have no idea which part of the state has reported--if those are from northwest Iowa counties, Branstad probably doesn't have anything to worry about, but if that's from central or eastern Iowa, this could be a lot closer than I expected.
Brad Zaun leads the early returns in IA-03, but it seems like Polk County is coming in early.
9:40 pm UPDATE. The Associated Press has called the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate for Roxanne Conlin. She has about 80 percent of the vote in the early returns; Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen have about 10 percent each.
Branstad is opening up a lead on Vander Plaats, about 51-41.
Zaun is dominating the IA-03 primary with over 50 percent of the vote (about half the precincts counted).
10 pm UPDATE: Zaun is being called the winner in the IA-03 primary. He has about half the vote with about two-thirds of the precincts reporting.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads the IA-02 GOP primary in the early returns.
Matt Campbell leads Mike Denklau in the early returns for the IA-05 Democratic primary.
Conlin just finished giving her victory speech to her supporters.
Ako Abdul-Samad won the Democratic primary in Iowa House district 66 with about 75 percent of the vote.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks looks smart for not wasting money on tv ads in the IA-02 primary. She has been called the winner with 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race. The NRCC's favored candidate, Rob Gettemy, may actually finish dead last.
Matt Schultz has a pretty big lead in the GOP secretary of state primary, about 47 percent so far. The big surprise to me is that Chris Sanger (who hardly raised any money) has almost as many votes as George Eichhorn, who had quite a few endorsements and has been active in Iowa politics for a long time.
Tea party candidate Tom Shaw has a narrow lead in the Republican primary in Iowa House district 8, but it's too early to know if that lead will hold up.
11:25 pm UPDATE: It's official, Gettemy finished dead last in IA-02. Miller-Meeks won that four-way primary with an impressive 51 percent of the vote. Will Republicans unite behind her?
Zaun is sitting at about 43 percent with most of the IA-03 votes counted.
Branstad is still leading with 51 percent of the vote, to 40 percent for Vander Plaats. If the Club for Growth had invested $1 million in Vander Plaats, this could have been a nail-biter.
Matt Schultz did win the secretary of state primary with 47 percent of the vote. Political veteran George Eichhorn got 27 percent, and Chris Sanger got 26 percent despite spending almost no money.
Dave Jamison easily won the GOP primary for state treasurer with about 67 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Jim Heavens.
Campbell has a very big lead in the IA-05 Democratic primary, with about 76 percent of votes counted so far.
In Iowa Senate district 13, Tod Bowman easily won the four-way Democratic primary with more than 60 percent of the vote. He had key union endorsements. This should be an easy hold for us in November.
Anesa Kajtazovic won the House district 21 Democratic primary with more than 90 percent of the vote (Kerry Burt dropped out of the race this spring).
Democratic incumbents Chuck Isenhart, Dave Jacoby and Mary Gaskill easily held off primary challenges in House districts 27, 30 and 93, respectively. All won more than 80 percent of the vote.
In Iowa House district 8, tea partier Tom Shaw is officially the Republican primary winner over Stephen Richards, who almost beat Dolores Mertz in the 2008 election. I like our chances of holding a seat that should have been the GOP's best pickup opportunity in the Iowa House.
Check the AP's page for results in the other statehouse primaries (mostly GOP).
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention the results in Senate district 41. State Senator Dave Hartsuch, who defeated incumbent Maggie Tinsman in the 2006 GOP primary, got a taste of his own medicine when he lost the Republican primary to Roby Smith by a 52-48 margin. Rich Clewell won the Democratic primary with 56 percent to 44 percent for Republican-turned-Democrat Dave Thede. Scott County readers, do you think these results improve our chances of winning this district? It has historically been Republican, but registration numbers have been trending toward Democrats, evening things out.
Enter by answering the following questions. To qualify for the contest, your predictions must be posted as a comment in this thread by 7 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. This isn't like The Price is Right; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low.
1. How many votes will be cast in the Republican primary for Iowa governor? (Hint: about 199,000 Iowans voted in the hard-fought 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.)
2. What percentages of the vote will Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts receive in the Republican primary for governor?
3. What percentages of the vote will Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen receive in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate?
4. What percentages of the vote will Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje and Chris Reed receive in the Republican primary in Iowa's second Congressional district? Remember, if you expect this nomination to be decided at a district convention, make sure your guess has the top vote-getter below 35 percent.
5. Who will be the top four candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa's third Congressional district, and what percentages of the vote will they receive? Again, keep the top vote-getter below 35 percent if you expect this nomination to go to a district convention. Your possible answers are Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees, Scott Batcher, Jason Welch and Pat Bertroche.
6. What percentages of the vote will Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell receive in the Democratic primary in Iowa's fifth Congressional district?
7. What percentages of the vote will Matt Schultz, George Eichhorn and Chris Sanger receive in the Republican primary for secretary of state? (I covered that campaign in this post.)
8. What percentages of the vote will Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens receive in the Republican primary for state treasurer? (The Iowa Republican blog has been covering this race from time to time.)
9. What percentages of the vote will State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and challenger Clair Rudison receive in the Democratic primary for Iowa House district 66? (Click here for background.)
10. What percentages of the vote will Tom Shaw, Stephen Richards and Alissa Wagner receive in the Republican primary for Iowa House district 8? (Click here and here for background. Keep in mind that although Wagner withdrew from the race and endorsed Shaw, her name will remain on the ballot.)
Don't be afraid to make some wild guesses. You can't win if you don't play!
This is also an open thread, so share whatever's on your mind.
Iowa Republicans are deluding themselves if they think Representative Leonard Boswell is highly vulnerable this year. The more I see of the Republican primary campaigns, the less worried I am about holding Iowa's third Congressional district in the Democratic column.
Four of the seven Republicans running against Boswell have no chance of winning the nomination. Jason Welch hasn't attended any candidate forums, and I wonder why he went to the trouble of qualifying for the ballot. Pat Bertroche and Scott Batcher are ill-informed sideshows who will be lucky to win 5 percent of the vote. Mark Rees seems to have the firmest grasp of the issues, but there aren't enough moderate Republicans anymore for someone like Rees to win a primary. Rees could affect the election, because a strong showing for him (10 to 20 percent of the vote) would increase the chance that no candidate receives at least 35 percent in the primary. But whether Republicans pick a winner on June 8 or at a district convention later, Rees will not be Boswell's general election opponent.
That leaves the Washington establishment candidate Jim Gibbons, State Senator Brad Zaun and tea party favorite Dave Funk. After watching yesterday's forum featuring six of Boswell's opponents, Graham Gillette argued that Funk, Gibbons and Zaun "are all capable of putting together a strong general election effort." After the jump I explain why I disagree.
Brad Zaun: There's a plan for most of the problems that face America, it's called the Constitution, I'm Brad Zaun.
We need limited government, which means a repeal of Obamacare, and let's get back to the 10th Amendment and put the power in the hands of the people.
Anncr: Under Brad Zaun, Urbandale had the lowest tax rates and as Senator Brad Zaun has been recognized by business groups with a 100% pro-jobs voting record. Brad Zaun a proven conservative, getting it done.
Brad Zaun: I'm Brad Zaun and I approve this message.
This commercial is nowhere near as slick as Jim Gibbons' opening tv ad, but it's an improvement on the first Zaun commercial, which aired briefly in January. Zaun is still hitting very safe Republican themes, but unlike the first ad, the new commercial cites Zaun's record as mayor and state senator. None of the six other Republicans running for Congress in the third district has ever held elective office before. Zaun's opening radio ad also emphasizes his record:
BZ: You learn a lot when you own a hardware store for eighteen years, I'm Brad Zaun. I learned to meet a payroll, listen to my customers and during tough times, cut expenses. And that's what our country needs today.
Anncr: Under Brad Zaun's leadership as Mayor, Urbandale tightened its belt and enjoyed the lowest tax rates in the metro area and as Senator, Brad Zaun received a 100% rating from the Iowa Association of Business and Industry for supporting job creation.
BZ: In Congress, I'll vote to repeal Obamacare and support real health care reform that is market-driven and puts you in control of your own healthcare decisions. I will also vote to end wasteful earmarks...if you're looking for pork barrel spending; I'm not your candidate. And I'll push for a balanced budget amendment to force Washington to end the out of control spending. Let's take our country back. I'm Brad Zaun and I approve this message.
Anncr: Brad Zaun...Conservative...Republican....Proven Results. Paid for by Zaun for Congress
Gibbons has also talked about how his career has influenced his political beliefs and has made vague promises to "stop wasteful spending, lower taxes and grow Iowa jobs." But Zaun has a dash more "tea party" in his campaign message, bringing up the 10th amendment and "Obamacare" in the tv ad and bashing earmarks in his radio ad. Earmarks make up a miniscule and declining portion of federal spending, but it's a safe bet Republican primary voters aren't aware of that.
Zaun won't be able to run as many commercials as Gibbons before the June 8 primary. Republican insider Doug Gross has predicted Zaun will have a stronger ground game than Gibbons, while tea party favorite Dave Funk has support from the "ideologues." I am curious to see whether Gibbons ever makes a case against any of his Republican rivals. For now he seems to be relying on fame from his wrestling days and a large advertising budget.
The next debate featuring the third district Republican candidates will be hosted by the Des Moines Tea Party this Sunday evening, May 16. Funk and moderate Republican Mark Rees should probably try to do something to stand out from the crowd. If each of them can win 10-20 percent of the vote on June 8, it becomes much more likely that a district convention will decide which Republican will face Representative Leonard Boswell in November.
For what it's worth, most of the Democrats I talk to expect Zaun to be the eventual nominee, but if it goes to convention Funk cannot be counted out.
UPDATE: According to Kathie Obradovich, Gibbons, Rees, and Jason Welch (who hasn't campaigned at all) won't attend this Sunday's Tea Party debate. Gibbons declined because he doesn't do campaign events on Sundays.
My initial concerns with the debate are of fairness and credibility. Although the Des Moines Tea Party has said it will not officially endorse a candidate in the Primary, one of my opponents is widely known and commonly accepted to be, "the Tea Party candidate." Furthermore, his campaign has been managed by a key organizer and leader of the Tea Party movement in Iowa. I believe these facts raise a large and legitimate red flag as to whether this debate will indeed provide a fair and level playing field for all of the candidates.
Next, recent news reports, along with my own interactions with Tea Party activists during this campaign, have left me deeply troubled by the tone, demeanor, and tactics of the movement.
Gibbons talks about being a competitor, wanting to take down the champion and why this will be a tough race. Here is my rough transcript of the most intriguing part, beginning around the 3:30 mark:
If you look around this group right here, you'll see people who have never been a part of this process. They're new, they're young people, they've got those "Burn the Boats" shirts on. People ask, "What's that about?" Let me give you the explanation.
In the 1500s, the conqueror [Hernando] Cortés was going up against the Aztec army. He decided that to motivate his people, to get them fired up about the job that they had to do--they were outnumbered vastly--he made the decision: burn the boats. If we're successful, we'll go home in their boats.
That's the attitude of this campaign. That's what I'm about. I'm totally committed to beating Leonard Boswell. I have the resources, the will, the determination to beat him in November. I'm asking you to join me in this fight. We will win in November. I'm burning my boats, and I'm attacking the island, thank you and God bless.
Technically, Cortés scuttled (not burned) his ships in order to prevent another mutiny after one failed attempt. He wasn't motivating his troops by the prospect of winning and going home in Aztec boats; he was making them give up hope of returning from the new world. According to Wikipedia, the "popular misconception that Cortés burned the ships [...] may have come from a mistranslation of the version of the story written in Latin."
I get Gibbons' point: he's all in to win this race, having quit his job as a financial adviser when he decided to run for Congress. He's drawing an unspoken contrast with his chief Republican rival Brad Zaun, who has his state Senate seat and a job in real estate to go back to if he loses to Boswell.
The Republican Governors Association has embraced the symbolism of [Guy] Fawkes, launching a rather striking website, RememberNovember.com, with a video that showcases far more Hollywood savvy than one can usually expect from Republicans. Again, the Fawkes tale has been twisted a bit. This time, President Obama plays the roll of King James, the Democratic leadership is Parliament, and the Republican Party represents the aggrieved Catholic mass.
I've spent a few Guy Fawkes Days in the UK. The holiday is marked by fireworks and bonfires to celebrate the failure of Fawkes' plot. There's even a nursery rhyme, "Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot." Republicans may have embraced the wrong hero out of confusion. Or perhaps Steve Benen is right: "the Republican mainstream made a right turn at scary, and have arrived right at stark raving mad."
Any comments about campaign strategy or sloganeering are welcome in this thread. I love the official statements from tea party favorite Dave Funk's third district campaign, which often start out with, "Congress needs Funk."
It's early in the campaign season, but Benton County Advocates (whoever they are) are on track to be the worst debate organizers of the year. They are hosting a debate on April 27 in Vinton for three Republican candidates in Iowa's third Congressional district. Seven candidates qualified for the ballot, but Benton County Advocates invited only Dave Funk, Jim Gibbons and Brad Zaun to take part in the debate, Iowa Independent reported today.
The rules, as displayed in the group event linked in your article, were quite clear. We were going to look at the individual contributions and take the top three earners. Mr. Gibbons was first place with $344,598, Mr. Zaun was second with $83,380 and Mr. Funk was third with $69,141. Mr. Reese raised $12,050, less that 1/5th his nearest competitor. While Mr. Reese rightly states he has more cash on hand than all but Mr. Gibbons, the part he leaves out is that of the $64,000 reported to the FEC, $54,000 of that money was contributed by Mr. Reese himself. While that is certainly a firm statement of his belief in his political path, we believe individual contributions are a broader yardstick to measure his viability within the 3rd district.
Our group chose individual contributions as the marker because we felt it was a solid indicator of support within the 3rd district. If a candidate presents his views and has the electorate listen to them, we believe their direct financial support is a solid indicator of a candidate's viability. Since Mr. Reese did not meet the minimum requirement of our selection criteria, he was not invited.
Here's some free advice, Mr. Keller: you would sound more credible if you spelled the candidate's name correctly at least once.
The substance of Keller's argument wasn't convincing either. Granted, a debate with seven candidates could get unwieldy, and some of the men on the ballot for the IA-03 primary aren't running real campaigns. In contrast, Rees has hired paid campaign staff and has been actively campaigning around the district for the last few months. He has yard signs out around the Des Moines suburbs and a strong online presence too.
The April 27 debate in Vinton would have been more interesting with Rees in the mix, because he is trying to fill a more moderate niche in the GOP. Without him, the debate is likely to be a boring display of right-wing sloganeering. Who wants to watch Zaun, Gibbons and Funk try to one-up each other as the true conservative? The Benton County Advocates blew it.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the health insurance reform bill on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Iowa politicians from both parties have been responding to last night's votes in the House of Representatives. After the jump I've posted lots of reaction quotes, plus some bonus embarrassing comments from Steve King.
Iowa City was where candidate Obama announced his health-care plan before the 2008 caucuses, when he was in a scrap with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for the party's presidential nomination.
A White House official said today the president will be in the state to "discuss how health insurance reform will lower costs for small businesses and American families and give them more control over their health care."
I'll be curious to see the public polling on this issue in Iowa. A new nationwide CNN poll released today showed that 39 percent of respondents support the Senate bill just approved by the House. Some 43 percent oppose the bill because it is "too liberal," while 13 percent oppose the bill because it is "not liberal enough." In other words, more than half the respondents either support the bill or (like me) feel it doesn't go far enough.
Last night former House Speaker Dennis Hastert headlined a fundraiser for Jim Gibbons, the candidate in the third Congressional district favored by beltway Republicans. Gibbons raised the most money by far in the fourth quarter of 2009, and Hastert's appearance should help him out-raise his five or six Republican rivals in the current fundraising period too.
By the same token, Hastert's trip to Des Moines will provide fodder for Gibbons' opponents. Tea Party favorite Dave Funk is pushing this message:
As a pilot, I know if you don't chart a clear course and stay ever vigilant, you're going to lose your direction and get lost. I hate to say it, but that happened under Dennis Hastert's watch. The House Republican caucus lost its way with excessive spending and policies that didn't represent the values and ideals of our party or the majority of American voters.
To be honest, Dennis Hastert was the "earmark king" of the Republican Party. And now Jim Gibbons has aligned himself with Dennis Hastert and the very philosophy and actions that resulted in our party losing control of Congress, the Senate and the White House.
How can we in Iowa's Third District expect real leadership from Jim Gibbons, when he is joining forces with the leader who led the House Republicans on the spending spree with taxpayers money that cost conservatives their reputations as fiscally responsible small government leaders?
"While some of the candidates in this primary are worried about earning the favor of the powerbrokers on Capitol Hill, I've been focused on serving my constituents and listening to the voters across the 3rd Congressional District. I look forward to ramping up our efforts in April and May after the legislative session adjourns," concluded Zaun.
Former Representative Greg Ganske hosted the Hastert event for Gibbons. He represented Polk County when it was part of Iowa's fourth Congressional district from 1995-2003. Ganske isn't universally popular with the Republican base, though. He nearly lost the 2002 U.S. Senate primary to wingnut extraordinaire Bill Salier, and some Republicans believe (foolishly in my opinion) that being too moderate cost Ganske that year's election against Tom Harkin.
The Iowa Democratic Party released a statement yesterday on Hastert's visit:
More than two years after leaving public office to become a lobbyist, former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert continues to receive nearly $40,000 a month in taxpayer funded perks including an office, cell phone, staff, and an SUV.
"Keeping Former Speaker Dennis Hastert on the taxpayer dime while he works as a lobbyist is hardly what Iowans believe is a good use of their hard earned money," said Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan. "Republican Jim Gibbons should know he is only as good as the company he keeps, and by choosing to embrace Dennis Hastert his calls for fiscal restraint ring [hollow]."
[...] Former Speaker Hastert maintains an office at taxpayer expense in Yorkville, Illinois. The perks that Speaker Hastert accepted include an office, cell phone, staff, and a leased SUV. All told, Hastert receives nearly $40,000 a month in benefits from the federal government. These taxpayer-funded benefits are entirely legal as long as Hastert does not make use of them in the course of his lobbying work. [Politico, 12/21/09]
To my mind, Hastert's current lobbying is less offensive than the fact that he sold real estate for nearly $2 million in profits after he secured federal earmarks to construct the Prairie Parkway near land he owned. I wonder what Gibbons thinks about that deal.
If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, district conventions would select the Republican nominee in IA-02 and/or IA-03. In 2002, a fifth district convention selected Steve King as the Republican nominee for Congress after no one in the four-way primary cleared the 35 percent threshold.
Republican county conventions scheduled for this weekend will select delegates for the district conventions, which will be held later this spring. If no winner emerges from the June primary, the second or third district conventions would have to reconvene to select a Congressional nominee. That could happen during the state convention, to be held on June 26 in a location not yet determined. The convention usually takes place in Des Moines but has occasionally been held in Cedar Rapids. This year, Sioux City is also in the running as a venue. That would be a three to four hour drive from the counties in IA-03 and a four to seven hour drive from the counties in IA-02.
Western Iowa is the most Republican area of the state, but the bulk of the Iowa population still lives in the eastern counties. Former GOP State Central Committee member David Chung, who lives in Cedar Rapids, sounded the alarm on his Hawkeye GOP blog:
Even if hotels are short in Des Moines, holding the convention in Sioux CIty almost guarantees that a large number of delegates will need hotel rooms. I do not know whether there will be a major pre-convention event but if there is, it will be impossible for 1st and 2nd Republicans to attend without taking a whole day off from work.
Even worse, given the number of candidates for the 2nd and 3rd district congressional races there is the real possibility that the nominee will be chosen at a district convention. The state convention has been scheduled long enough after the primary to make resolving nominations at the convention possible. I cannot stress how bad a decision it would be to decide the 2nd CD race in Sioux City! The turnout from our district will be greatly suppressed if Siouxland is the choice.
Krusty Konservative also warned yesterday that many Republican delegates will not bother to attend a state convention in Sioux City.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks had a hard time uniting second district Republicans even after winning the 2008 primary. Be prepared for lasting hard feelings if a small group of party activists ends up choosing the GOP nominee in IA-02 or IA-03 this year. King wasn't hurt by his path to the nomination in 2002, but he was fortunate to be running in heavily Republican IA-05. In contrast, Boswell's district leans slightly Democratic (D+1) and Dave Loebsack's district leans strongly Democratic (D+7).
P.S.- I took my kids to see a game at the Iowa girls' state basketball tournament on Wednesday. A bunch of teams in the Des Moines metro area made the 4A quarterfinals. I noticed that NRCC "on the radar" candidate Jim Gibbons had an ad scrolling occasionally (nothing special, just "Jim Gibbons for Congress, www.gibbonsforcongress.com"). Unfortunately for him, the teams from Republican-leaning Ankeny and Johnston were eliminated in the quarter-finals, so their fans who live in IA-03 won't be back to see more of the Gibbons ads later this week. Des Moines East advanced to the semis, but I don't think many GOP primary voters live on the east side of Des Moines. The other teams in the semis are Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Kennedy (IA-02) and Waukee (IA-04).
Jim Gibbons has emerged as the Republican insiders' choice against seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell in Iowa's third district. Nine members of Congress are hosting a fundraiser for Gibbons in Washington on February 24, the Gibbons campaign announced today. The hosts are Senator Chuck Grassley, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (VA-07), and Representatives Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), Dean Heller (NV-02), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Steve King (IA-05), Tom Latham (IA-04), Kevin McCarthy (CA-22), and Peter Roskam (IA-06).
I cannot recall whether Grassley or Latham endorsed a candidate in the four-way GOP primary to represent IA-05 in 2002, which King won at a district convention. I also don't remember Grassley, Latham or King getting involved in the three-way GOP primary in IA-01 in 2006, or the three-way primary in IA-02 in 2008. If any Bleeding Heartland reader remembers endorsements by members of Congress in those races, please post a comment here or e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.
CORRECTION: Not all of the co-hosts at this event are endorsing Gibbons in the Republican primary. Bleeding Heartland user mirage notes in the comments that Iowa Republicans in Congress also co-hosted an event for Dave Funk in Washington. Grassley's spokeswoman e-mailed the following comment to me today: "Senator Grassley has not endorsed anybody in the 3rd District race. It is correct that Senator Grassley was also listed as a co-host of an event for Dave Funk. If the other Republican candidates asked, he would do the same thing for them."
Tea Party favorite Dave Funk recently attacked Gibbons for supposedly saying in an interview, "It[']s fine for me where the Constitution says that the federal government should be in charge of education." Today Gibbons advocate Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican blog declared Funk's attack "sloppy and untrue." After listening to a recording of the interview, Robinson concludes that Gibbons actually said, "Find for me where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government is in charge of education."
What does surprise me is that according to Robinson, no one at the Gibbons campaign "set the record straight" after Funk issued his press release. Maybe it's a strategy for Gibbons to not acknowledge his primary opponents, but I think his press shop needs to stay on top of what the other candidates are saying about him.
UPDATE: In this comment thread Funk stands by his press release about what Gibbons said, and several commenters write that they heard Gibbons' remarks as Funk did.
A helpful Bleeding Heartland reader sent me a copy of a memo from Brian Dumas of Victory Enterprises to State Senator Brad Zaun's campaign for Congress. The memo describes a poll conducted on January 27 and 28 of 400 Republicans in Iowa's third Congressional district who are likely to vote in the June primary.
The poll shows 60 percent of respondents were undecided about whom to support in the primary. Zaun had 26 percent support, compared to 5 percent for Jim Gibbons, 3.6 percent for Dave Funk, 2.1 percent for Pat Bertroche and 1 percent for Mark Rees. In Polk County, the population center of the district, 37.5 percent of respondents supported Zaun.
About half the respondents hadn't heard of Zaun. (This poll was in the field before he started running television ads in the Des Moines market.) I was more surprised to see that 67.8 percent of respondents said they had never heard of former Iowa State wrestling coach Jim Gibbons.
Several of the candidates will gain more name recognition in the coming months as they begin to advertise and hold campaign events around the districts. Gibbons clearly will have the resources for an extensive paid media campaign. National Republicans seem to have picked Gibbons already, which is one reason he's pulled in so much out of state PAC money.
I posted the whole memo from Victory Enterprises after the jump. The Zaun for Congress campaign employs Victory Enterprises as consultants, but it's not clear from the memo whether Victory Enterprises or some other entity conducted the poll. I am seeking more information and will update this post if I get it.
UPDATE: Victory Enterprises confirms that it conducted this poll.
Zaun's early activity is similar to that of another former Victory Enterprises client, 2008 2nd Congressional District candidate Peter Teahen. In May of 2008, Victory Enterprises polled the 2nd Congressional District. Teahen, the better known candidate from the largest county in the district, had a big lead in the poll.
In VE's 2008 poll showed Peter Teahen with 36% of the vote, while Miller-Meeks had 14 percent, and Lee Harder netted 7.5 percent. Forty-one percent of likely GOP primary voters were undecided. Despite the Teahen's early lead, Miller-Meeks won the primary by 218 votes.
The difference between the 2008 2nd District race and this year's 3rd District primary is that Gibbons has created a huge fundraising advantage over his opponents. Thus far, Gibbons has not run any ads, sent mail, or paid for phone calls.
The money race between Teahen and Miller-Meeks in the primary was tight. While Miller-Meeks outraised her opponent, Teahen had the ability to loan his campaign a considerable amount of money. Gibbons has already raised more money in his first fundraising quarter than Miller-Meeks and Teahen spent combined in the 2nd District primary.
I agree with Robinson that this race is up for grabs with so many Republicans undecided and most of the candidates lacking name recognition.
Financial reports for the end of 2009 were due with the Federal Election Commission on January 31. Here are some highlights.
The Iowa Democratic Party announced yesterday that it raised about $2.47 million across all accounts in 2009, while the Republican Party of Iowa raised $1.46 million. IDP chair Michael Kiernan said the party had met its goal of securing "the resources needed to win this November." Details:
IDP filed $1.23 million in the state report. RPI filed $450,137 in the same report.
Filed 19 January 2010. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
IDP filed $148,574 in State Party Building Fund Report. RPI filed $177,365.
Filed 28 January 2010. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
IDP filed $1.09 million filed in Federal Year-End Report. RPI filed $837,406.
Filed 31 January 2010. Federal Elections Commission.
The money reported in the federal year-end report can be used to support any candidates and campaigns. The money in the state fund can be used on statewide races or Iowa House and Senate races. The State Party Building Fund money can't be used on candidates or campaigns, but only on expenses for the building where the party headquarters is located (such as equipment or maintenance).
The Iowa GOP responded that it entered 2010 with about $100,000 more cash on hand than Iowa Democrats, but I don't know whether its cash is in restricted or unrestricted accounts. (UPDATE: The Iowa Democratic Party disputes this claim. Adding the amounts from all three reports filed, the IDP has $449,334.94 on hand, while "RPI has $265,281.06 on hand between all three reports filed.")
IowaPolitics.com posted numbers for the Congressional candidates here. I was most interested in the numbers from the second and third districts. In IA-02, two-term incumbent Dave Loebsack raised $94,479 in the fourth quarter, spent $36,572 and ended the year with $336,311 cash on hand.
Surprisingly, Steve Rathje led the money race on the Republican side, raising $59,130 in the fourth quarter, spending $12,648 and ending with $46,242 cash on hand. The 2008 GOP nominee, Mariannnette Miller-Meeks, raised $20,660 (including $4,000 she gave herself), spent $39 and had $20,620 on hand. IowaPolitics.com didn't mention numbers for Chris Reed, but The Iowa Republican blog reported that Reed raised "a miniscule $2,833.75 in the last quarter of 2009," ending the year with "just over $2000 cash on hand."
Speaking of Zaun, he raised $30,600, spent $93 and ended 2009 with $30,507 on hand. Presumably he has raised more money since January 1, because he made a television ad buy last week. But as Robinson noted triumphantly, "Even if [Dave] Funk or Zaun raised $1000 everyday between now and the primary, they still wouldn't match what Gibbons currently has in his campaign account."
Funk, the IA-03 candidate favored by the Tea Party crowd, raised $22,685 in the fourth quarter, spent $19,553 and ended the year with $16,507 on hand. According to mirage, much of Funk's remaining money is restricted for use after the primary. I don't think he'll be needing that.
Mark Rees, who is running as a more moderate Republican, raised $3,100 and loaned his own campaign $52,647. He spent $3,247 and ended the year with $52,500 and $52,647 in debts owed to himself. I don't know how much of a moderate GOP base is left in the Des Moines suburbs, but if conservatives divide their support among three or four candidates, Rees could slip through.
Five Republicans are competing in the primary to face Leonard Boswell in Iowa's third Congressional district. Zaun is the first to go up on television. The ad hits very safe themes, with Zaun promising to "restore trust" and "common sense conservative values." He also calls for ending deficits and "corporate bailouts" and notes that he will listen and believes the Constitution "means something." I will update this post if I receive more details on the ad buy. I heard it is running on the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, but I don't know yet about cable networks.