100 weeks to 2018 Elections

Looking forward to later installments in this series. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Yesterday marked 100 weeks until the 2018 midterm elections. It seems like a long time from now, but it is only one number greater than the number of county Democratic organizations that need some serious rebuilding if we are ever to put a Democrat in Terrace Hill, Democrats in control of the legislature and in Iowa’s congressional delegation. The same number of weeks as there are members in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Starting next Tuesday, and ending at the 2018 elections, I am going to try to post a diary each week talking about the demographics and political statistics of each of Iowa’s 99 counties. Starting with the smallest county (Adams) in terms of population, to the largest (Polk). A bit of trivia: Polk County is 123 times the size of Adams County.

Continue Reading...

Branstad going to China: Let the IA-Gov speculation commence

Jennifer Jacobs reported for Bloomberg last night that Governor Terry Branstad has accepted President-elect Donald Trump’s offer to become the next U.S. ambassador to China. Jacobs cited three unnamed sources, and an unnamed member of Trump’s transition team confirmed the news to the Washington Post this morning. I expect Trump to make the official announcement during his Thursday “thank you” rally in downtown Des Moines. (By the way, many central Iowa Democrats as well as Republicans received a robocall invitation to that rally, featuring Donald Trump, Jr.)

I wish Branstad well in his new adventure. He’ll have a lot to contend with: the president-elect’s recent overture to Taiwan was destabilizing; Trump’s threats to punish China for supposedly unfair trade and currency practices could spark a trade war; and horrific air pollution has made Beijing “almost uninhabitable.”

Kim Reynolds is the fifth woman to hold the office of Iowa lieutenant governor and will soon become the first woman governor in our state’s history. Branstad has been saying for years he wanted her to succeed him, and many Democrats expected him to step down before the end of his sixth term, to give her the advantages of incumbency going into the 2018 campaign. The domain KimReynoldsforgovernor.com has been registered since 2012, Mark Langgin pointed out today.

Reynolds will select the next lieutenant governor, and she may use that power to neutralize a potential rival, such as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. (Why Northey would agree to that arrangement is a mystery to me.) I don’t expect Reynolds to clear the field for the 2018 Republican primary, but as governor, she will be able to raise more money and possibly deter some ambitious people. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett has been laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign for years. I don’t know how many major donors would back him now that Reynolds will be the incumbent, though. Running a credible campaign against her would require millions of dollars.

Many Democrats were delighted to read this morning that Representative Steve King told The Hill’s Scott Wong he is thinking about running for governor himself. I suspect this will play out like the early months of 2013, when King attracted a lot of attention by saying he might run for U.S. Senate. I never believed then and don’t believe now that King will run for higher office. However, two recent developments may have changed the equation for him.

First, Iowa’s sharp turn to the right this November may have convinced King he has a chance to win a statewide election, which didn’t appear to be the case a few years ago. Second, he and Branstad are not on good terms. King was a leading surrogate for presidential candidate Ted Cruz, whom Branstad attacked shortly before the Iowa caucuses. Reynolds and many other prominent Iowa Republicans endorsed King before this year’s GOP primary in the fourth Congressional district, but Branstad didn’t join them. Adding to the insult, soon after King defeated State Senator Rick Bertrand in that primary, the governor’s son Eric Branstad hired some of Bertrand’s former staffer to work on Trump’s campaign.

Any thoughts about Branstad’s prospects in China or the 2018 campaign are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The Des Moines rumor mill sees State Representative Peter Cownie as a likely lieutenant governor choice for Reynolds. Further updates are after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Democrats will need to fend for ourselves in 2018 and 2020

Since election day, I’ve spoken with many Iowa Democrats and have observed many conversations and debates on social media. People process grief in different ways. Some Democrats are still bogged down in arguments over who is to blame (e.g. centrist or “establishment” Democrats, the FBI director, political journalists). Some are despairing over how Republicans will use total control over state government to destroy safety net programs and erode civil rights. Some have already moved on to pondering how we can create a stronger statewide party, and how Democrats could mitigate the harm Congressional Republicans will be able to inflict on Americans.

I applaud the forward-thinking people who are preparing for the tasks ahead. At the same time, I’m concerned that many Democrats haven’t absorbed the long-term consequences of what happened here on November 8.

For decades, politically-engaged Iowans have enjoyed the attention that comes with being first in the nominating process and a swing state later in the year. Our popular vote tracked closely to the national popular vote margin in six straight presidential elections. Both major-party nominees campaigned here and paid for field networks to get out the vote, with collateral benefits for down-ticket candidates.

We need to recognize that during the next couple of election cycles, we will likely be on our own.

Continue Reading...

Weekend open thread: Branstad to China?

For years, I’ve predicted Governor Terry Branstad would step down before the end of this term in order to allow his chosen successor Kim Reynolds to run for governor as an incumbent in 2018. My thinking was influenced by political reality: the lieutenant governor has neither a strong ideological or geographical base nor the stature in Iowa Republican circles to win a statewide primary from her current position.

I saw two likely windows for a Branstad resignation: soon after the 2016 general election, or immediately following the 2017 legislative session. Either time frame would give Reynolds a boost on fundraising and other incumbency advantages going into a gubernatorial primary against rivals such as Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

In recent months, I’ve become convinced Branstad would serve out his sixth term after all. At least a dozen sources have independently indicated that the governor sounds open to running for re-election again in 2018. The resounding Republican victories in this year’s Iowa House and Senate races give Branstad another reason to stick around: the chance to work with a GOP-controlled legislature for the first time since 1998.

Yet President-elect Donald Trump has hinted Branstad might be his pick to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. Speaking to reporters before his birthday party/fundraiser last night, Branstad said, “I’m not ruling anything out.”

I don’t see it happening.

Continue Reading...

Record-breaking showing gives Libertarians political party status in Iowa

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson received 58,796 votes in Iowa, about 3.8 percent of ballots cast.

Before this year, the most successful Libertarian ticket in Iowa gained 1 percent of the vote, way back in 1980. Although Johnson wasn’t able to maintain his much higher polling numbers from the late summer, he more than quadrupled his 2012 raw vote total and share of the vote here.

The result gives the Libertarian Party full “political party status” in Iowa. What does that mean in practical terms?

Continue Reading...
View More...