How many more Iowa GOP women will find their voice on Donald Trump?

Melissa Gesing reached her limit this week. Four days after a 2005 video showed Donald Trump telling a reporter he could "do anything" to women, two days after Trump insisted in the second presidential debate that those comments were merely "locker room talk," Gesing stepped down as president of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women. In her October 11 resignation letter, she described her move as a "last resort," saying she can’t "look at myself in the mirror each morning if I do not take a stand against the racism, sexism, and hate that Donald J. Trump continues to promote." She explained her decision at greater length in a blog post called "Ending this bad and unhealthy relationship."

So far, no other woman in the top echelon of Iowa Republican politics has jumped ship. The Iowa Federation of Republican Women named a new president today and restated its support for the Trump-Pence ticket.

But how long can that last, with more women coming forward every day to say Trump kissed or groped them without consent, and used his position of power to walk in on women or underage girls undressed?

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Iowa GOP absentee ballot surge happened just in time for the Trump tape

Good news for Iowa Republicans: their second major early vote mailing produced a surge in absentee ballot requests. President Barack Obama won this state in 2012 thanks to votes cast before election day, so shrinking the Democratic advantage in absentee ballots has been a key goal of the GOP’s turnout program.

Bad news for Iowa Republicans, though: tens of thousands of GOP voters received their absentee ballots just in time for Donald Trump’s 2005 videotape to become one of the most talked-about political stories of the year.

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Ken Rizer becomes first Iowa House Republican to abandon Trump

Republican State Representative Ken Rizer announced on Facebook Saturday evening that he "can’t in good conscience" vote for Donald Trump and will write in Mike Pence for president. Rizer, who supported Jeb Bush before the Iowa caucuses, said he had "aggressively prosecuted Airmen who sexually assaulted women" and is aware of "groping" and "lewd conduct" his college-aged daughters face. He concluded that Trump’s comments in a recently-released 2005 video "reveal an arrogant lack of character unfitting for a college undergrad, for an Airman, and most certainly for our Commander in Chief."

Rizer represents House district 68, a swing seat in the Cedar Rapids suburbs. He defeated Democrat Daniel Lundby in 2014, but Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney here in the last presidential election cycle by 54.45 percent to 44.08 percent. The latest voter registration numbers show the district contains 6,596 active registered Democrats, 6,103 Republicans, and 7,384 no-party voters. As of October 7, Democrats in Rizer’s district lead Republicans in absentee ballots requested by 1,698 to 844 and lead in early votes cast by 672 to 221.

I enclose below more comments from Rizer this evening, a map of House district 68, and background on the incumbent and his Democratic challenger Molly Donahue. She’s on the web here and on Facebook here.

The precincts in House district 68 also lie in Iowa Senate district 34, where Democratic State Senator Liz Mathis faces Rene Gadelha in a race both parties are targeting.

I will update this post as needed if other sitting Iowa Republican lawmakers announce that they won’t support Trump. On the morning of October 8, State Senator Jack Whitver posted on Twitter, "The comments and actions by Donald Trump are inexcusable and despicable. He should step down." However, Whitver did not clarify whether he will vote for Trump, assuming he stays in the race.

Also on October 8, State Senator David Johnson issued a statement calling on Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to "condemn Trump publicly" now that "Trump’s true anti-women sickness has been revealed." Johnson is the only Iowa legislator affiliated with neither party, having left the GOP in June to protest Trump’s impending nomination for president.

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Weekend open thread: Des Moines Register poll and latest Trump uproar

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 43 percent to 39 percent in the new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register. It’s the first Selzer poll here since before the June 7 primary elections, and its findings are in line with other recent statewide surveys showing Trump ahead. Some 6 percent of respondents favored Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2 percent Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

This poll was in the field from October 3-6, before Friday’s explosive news that Trump was videotaped in 2005 bragging to an entertainment reporter about how he liked to assault women he found attractive ("I just start kissing them. […] I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. […] Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything"). Jason Noble’s write-up notes that Trump’s attitude toward women was already among the biggest concerns for Iowa voters about the GOP nominee.

I enclose below excerpts from that story and from others about the latest Trump uproar. A separate post is in progress about the hole Iowa Republican leaders have dug for themselves by fully embracing Trump’s candidacy. All of our state’s top GOP elected officials are standing behind their party’s nominee, even as they condemn his comments in the 2005 video.

At tonight’s Reagan dinner in Des Moines, Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann said the country has "two flawed candidates" but confirmed he will vote for Trump. Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler offered a prayer expressing hope that people will understand "elections are not always about perfection." U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley didn’t mention Trump in his speech, which framed the election as a battle over the direction of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. Senator Joni Ernst bashed Clinton’s character while not discussing Trump, whom she praised at the Republican National Convention and invited to headline her biggest event of the year. Governor Terry Branstad, whose son Eric is Trump’s campaign manager in Iowa, told the Reagan dinner crowd, "We need to elect Donald Trump and Mike Pence to make America great again!"

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. UPDATE: Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson posted the audio from most of the Reagan dinner speeches. The featured guest speaker, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas,

said Trump has let the GOP down “again.”

“The words on that tape were demeaning and they were shameful,” Cotton said and, as he continued, one woman yelled “Impeach Hillary” and others grew agitated. “Donald Trump doesn’t have much of a choice at this point. Tomorrow night at that debate, he needs to throw himself on the mercy of the American people. He needs to take full responsibility for his words and his actions and he needs to beg for their forgiveness and he needs to pledge that he’s going to finally change his ways.”

If Trump will not act contrite, Cotton said Trump needs to consider stepping aside so an “elder statesman” may run in his place. That declaration was initially greeted with silence, then many in the crowd applauded.

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Coward Chris Hagenow running false personal attack against Jennifer Konfrst

Iowa House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow has plenty of reasons to worry about being re-elected in House district 43. During the last presidential election year, he won his race by fewer than two dozen votes, and the district has fewer registered Republicans now than it did in November 2012. His well-qualified challenger Jennifer Konfrst has been working hard, and Democrats in the district have submitted nearly 1,000 more absentee ballot requests than have Republicans.

Hagenow didn’t run any positive television commercials during the 2012 election cycle and only started airing a misleading ad against his opponent in late October.

In contrast, a few weeks ago the majority leader went up with a bizarro world tv ad portraying himself as an advocate for education. That spot was ludicrous on several levels, as Bleeding Heartland discussed here and Iowa Starting Line chronicled here. Hagenow has been part of a leadership team that for several years in a row ignored Iowa law on setting K-12 education funding. He and his fellow House Republicans have repeatedly refused to appropriate enough money to help school districts keep up with rising costs. Although Hagenow postures as a supporter of preschool in his tv ad, he voted to eliminate the state preschool program in early 2011. Furthermore, because House Republicans insisted on only a small increase in K-12 school funding this year, the West Des Moines school district (where most of Hagenow’s constituents live) cut its 3-year-old preschool program.

But as deceptive as Hagenow’s positive ad is, the hit piece he started running against Konfrst on October 5 is even more mendacious.

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Donald Trump paid a price for not doing his homework

Donald Trump’s unrehearsed speaking style has been an asset for most of this campaign. People want to watch a guy who could say any off-the-wall thing at any moment.

Perhaps for that reason, or perhaps because he has a short attention span, Trump spent a lot less time preparing for last night’s debate than Hillary Clinton did. His aides didn’t try to hide that fact. His spokesperson mocked Clinton’s intense prep sessions. Trump himself needled his opponent about it during the debate.

Not doing his homework turned out to be a big mistake.

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