IA-03: More signs Chet Culver may run

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Former Governor Chet Culver "is getting closer" to joining the Democratic field in Iowa’s third district, Civic Skinny reports in the latest edition of the weekly Cityview.

He is looking at the numbers — the money numbers and the registration numbers — and lining up a staff. He is studying the issues and talking to longtime supporters. He is looking at the problems of running — and, he hopes, serving — while still being a good father to two teenagers and a supportive husband to a wife who works part-time as a lawyer in Des Moines. […]

Culver says he is getting in shape physically for a run and just got a good report from his doctor.

Last week, Culver made clear that he would enjoy returning to public service, views IA-03 as a "good fit," and is confident he could raise the resources to run a successful campaign.

Civic Skinny speculated that beating the other likely candidates in the Democratic field (Desmund Adams, Jim Mowrer, and Mike Sherzan) "probably wouldn’t be hard [for Culver], with his name recognition and zest for campaigning." But I would expect a battle royal in an IA-03 primary involving the former governor. Not only has Mowrer lined up support from many prominent local Democrats, he is rumored to have strong backing in labor circles. Culver’s uneasy relationship with organized labor dates to the 2006 gubernatorial primary, when some large unions including AFSCME endorsed his main rival Mike Blouin. The bad blood really set in when the governor vetoed a collective bargaining bill in 2008.

It’s also important to remember that for a Congressional race, Culver will not be able to collect very large donations from his strongest supporters. Individual contributions for federal candidates max out at $2,700 for the primary election and $2,700 for the general election (but that money can’t be used until after the June 2016 primary). During the first four months of 2006, Culver’s campaign for governor collected $25,000 gifts from three donors, $10,000 from five more donors, and $5,000 from more than a dozen others. Two more $10,000 gifts and some $5,000 checks came in during the final weeks before the 2006 primary. Culver’s 2005 campaign disclosure report included several $10,000 gifts and one for $15,000 as well.

Running a Congressional primary campaign will be less expensive than running for governor statewide, especially since about two-thirds of the registered Democrats in the district live in Polk County. Nevertheless, Culver will have a short time span to raise a lot of money in increments of no more than $2,700 from any one person.

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

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Loebsack, King cross party lines on bill halting refugees from Syria, Iraq


Today the U.S. House approved a bill that "would prevent any refugees from Syria or Iraq from entering the United States until the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence certify that none of them are dangerous," Cristina Marcos reported for The Hill. Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) was among 47 Democrats who joined 242 Republicans to pass the bill (roll call). Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) also voted yes, but Representative Steve King (IA-04) was one of only two House Republicans to vote no. His office has not yet responded to my request for comment or issued a statement explaining that vote.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which according to White House would "’provide no meaningful additional security for the American people’ and impose new certification requirements that effectively end the refugee program" to assist those fleeing Syria or Iraq. Marcos reported, "GOP aides noted that because of absences, the vote would have met the two-thirds requirement to override a presidential veto if that vote had been held Thursday. Still, there’s no guarantee that Democrats would vote to override the president if the bill comes back to the floor." Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sounds confident the bill will not clear the upper chamber.

I will update this post as needed with comments from Iowa’s Congressional delegation or other reaction to today’s vote. The epic fail of the day goes to the Republican Party of Iowa for sending out the press release enclosed below. In that statement, Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann "applauds King, Blum, Young on Refugee Vote." Check the roll call first, guys.

Note: most of the perpetrators of last week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris were French citizens.

UPDATE: King’s office provided the following statement: "I voted against the American SAFE Act because it fails to restore Congress’ Article 1 authority over admissions of migrants to the United States. How can we trust this Obama Administration who will not utter the words ‘radical Islamic jihad’ to accurately screen Syrian and Iraqi refugees as required in this bill? For that reason, I submitted an amendment to rules, which was ultimately not adopted, that would create international safe zones for refugees in their homeland. The safety and security of the American people is paramount. I respect the House trying to find a solution but I do not believe this was the right or strong enough one."

The Iowa GOP issued a corrected press release, blaming "incorrect press reports of a unanimous Republican vote" for their error. Always wait for the official roll call. I’ve added the new statement below, along with a screen shot of a tweet (since deleted) from state party co-chair Cody Hoefert thanking all three Iowa Republicans "for voting to strengthen our national security."

SECOND UPDATE: Blum’s statement is below as well.

THIRD UPDATE: Added Loebsack’s official comment on the vote. When I asked whether Loebsack would vote to override a presidential veto of this bill, his communications director Joe Hand responded, "Will have to see what happens in the Senate before we talk overriding any possible veto."

FOURTH UPDATE: I’ve seen lots of progressives criticize Loebsack’s vote on social media, and some of that feedback must be getting through. On Friday afternoon, Loebsack for Congress sent out an e-mail blast with the subject line "my vote." Scroll to the end of this post to read the full text. Most of the commenters on Loebsack’s Facebook status update about this vote criticized his stance. As of November 21, neither Loebsack nor his staff had responded publicly to the comments.

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IA-03: Mike Sherzan sounds ready to seek Democratic nomination

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A third candidate may soon join the Democratic field in Iowa’s third Congressional district. Mike Sherzan confirmed by telephone this morning that he has been talking to potential constituents about the race and will decide whether to run before the end of the year. Sherzan was the first Democrat to launch a campaign in IA-03 in 2013 but withdrew from the race two months later, citing health issues. Asked whether he is seriously considering another Congressional bid, Sherzan said today he is "farther along than that." He noted that he recently stepped down as president and CEO of Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp. in West Des Moines (positions he had held since 1991). According to Sherzan, it is "not possible" to run a company and run for Congress at the same time, because a campaign "takes everything you have and more."

Key political issues for Sherzan include the "huge gap in income levels in this country" and the worsening economic position of the middle class. He supports raising the minimum wage and is concerned about the gap between men and women’s pay. Sherzan also said we "should be able to talk about gun control," namely common-sense measures most gun owners would support. He identified college student debt as a major problem as well.

Sherzan has been successful in the business world and argued that his background in negotiations would help him work across the aisle. But he emphasized that he "comes from a Democratic background" and urged people not to "judge my positions based on my business experience." For instance, Sherzan believes "government was never meant to be a business"—a contrast to rhetoric often heard from corporate leaders who run for office. Click here for more background on the likely candidate.

This summer, Desmund Adams and Jim Mowrer became the first two Democrats to declare candidacies against first-term Representative David Young. So far, Mowrer has raised more money and has more backing from Iowa Democratic insiders. IA-03 covers sixteen counties in central and southwest Iowa and contains 150,549 active registered Democrats, 163,411 Republicans, and 165,750 no-party voters according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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Thoughts on the Iowa Democratic Party's final Jefferson-Jackson dinner

The Iowa Democratic Party held its final Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night, drawing some 6,000 activists to hear three presidential candidates speak in Des Moines. Last night’s spectacle won’t loom as large over the Iowa caucus campaign as the JJ did in 2007, when it took place in November and the caucuses were scheduled for early January, rather than February. But some new tactics emerged during the speeches by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Hillary Clinton. My thoughts on the evening’s highlights are after the jump.

I am a sucker for hand-made political signs, so I also enclose below my favorite pictures from the crowds in the bleachers. I put "Feel the Bern" in lights up top because I’ve never seen electrified signs at the JJ before.

While I see the value in supporters waving signs (or glow sticks, as many did last night) at a big rally, the "sign wars" some campaigns stage before multi-candidate events have always struck me as pointless. How does it demonstrate "organizational strength" to send a few staffers to put up printed materials in windows or along a road? Why would anyone want their volunteers to stand around yelling for hours before the dinner, rather than saving their energy and voices to show that enthusiasm inside the hall? For those who disagree with me and love the show, Pat Rynard chronicled the morning and afternoon activities by all three campaigns at Iowa Starting Line.

As for why I called it the "final" JJ, the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraiser will continue under a to-be-determined name honoring icons considered more inclusive. You can send your suggestion to the state party using this form through February 15, 2016.

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U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt stepping down, not running in IA-03

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After six years as U.S. attorney for Iowa’s Southern District, Nick Klinefeldt will leave that position next month to go back to private law practice. I enclose below the full press release on his departure. Among other things, the former defense attorney highlighted his work on national committees "to update and expand discovery policies to ensure defendants [in federal courts] receive all of the information they need to adequately defend themselves, and revamp sentencing practices to ensure the end result of a prosecution is fair." He also

developed a comprehensive discovery policy for the Southern District of Iowa that ensures criminal defendants receive even more information about the case against them than is required by the rules and that they receive it quickly. This policy included the development of a Stipulated Discovery and Protective Order that is now universally used in all criminal cases across the district. United States Attorney Klinefeldt also changed the way the office utilized mandatory minimum sentences, to ensure that they were only used when absolutely necessary.

U.S. House race-watchers had their eye on Klinefeldt earlier this year as a possible Democratic candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district, but I have never heard of Klinefeldt signaling any intention to run. In recent weeks, the local Democratic establishment has been consolidating around Jim Mowrer, one of two declared challengers to first-term Representative David Young. Today Klinefeldt confirmed that he is not planning to run for Congress, Grant Rodgers reported for the Des Moines Register.

UPDATE: Michael Gartner wrote an excellent commentary on Klinefeldt’s record for the Des Moines-based weekly Cityview. Scroll to the end of this post for excerpts.

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