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John Norris

Jackie Norris is fired up and ready to go for Hillary Clinton

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 14:45:23 PM CST

Of all the non-events to get major Iowa caucus coverage, this past weekend's "Ready for Hillary" meeting in Des Moines must be among the most ridiculous.

One significant piece of news emerged from the pro-Hillary super PAC's first foray to Iowa, though. Jackie Norris, who managed Barack Obama's 2008 general election campaign here, is now publicly on the Hillary bandwagon. In other words, one of the most important early Obama supporters in Iowa has just told any other would-be 2016 Democratic presidential contenders, "You're on your own."  

There's More... :: (12 Comments, 1417 words in story)

One of the "sustainable dozen" will replace John Norris at USDA

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jan 10, 2010 at 13:34:39 PM CST

I was pleased to read in the Sunday Des Moines Register that the new chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be Karen Ross, former head of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. Ross was one of the "sustainable dozen" candidates that Food Democracy Now recommended for under-secretary positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last January Food Democracy Now told its supporters that Ross was getting serious consideration for a USDA post.

It's encouraging to know that a voice for family farmers and sustainable practices will be running Vilsack's office. In recommending Ross for an under-secretary position at the USDA, Michael Dimock of Roots of Change wrote more than a year ago,

Karen will represent well the diverse crops of our nation's largest agricultural state. We know she will be a voice of innovation and adaptation that will support full expression of a sustainable agriculture over time. She did a great job shepherding the State Board's recent visioning process for agriculture that rendered what we see as a very constructive vision for our future. Karen has also been a defining and constructive voice in the [Roots of Change]-funded California Roundtable for Agriculture and the Environment.

The visioning process Dimock mentions was California Ag Vision, an "effort to develop a broad consensus on how California might arrive at a farming and food system that can be sustained by the year 2030."

Ross will replace John Norris, who did not come from an agriculture background but had worked closely with Vilsack for years in Iowa. He agreed to be Vilsack's chief of staff at USDA with the understanding that it would be a temporary position. Norris was pursuing a spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to which the Senate confirmed him in December. Having completed his work as Vilsack's chief of staff, Norris will start work next week at the FERC.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:08:56 AM CST

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor's race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state's major events of the decade.

After the jump I've posted links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn't manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent's compilation of "Iowa's most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009," as well as that blog's review of "stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010."

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 5197 words in story)

Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 14:56:38 PM CST

Following up on the diary I posted this morning, this post compiles links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage of national politics from July through December 2009. Health care reform was again the number one topic. I wish there had been a happy ending.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3389 words in story)

John Norris confirmed at FERC

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 11:17:33 AM CST

Catching up on some news from last week, the Senate confirmed more than 30 of President Obama's nominees right before Christmas, including Iowa's own John Norris for a spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Norris and his wife Jackie Norris were key early Obama supporters here. After Obama's inauguration, Norris served as chief of staff for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, but he always planned to move to the FERC if possible. He is well qualified for the position after spending several years on the Iowa Utilities Board.

Jackie Norris served as chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama for several months before moving to a senior advisor position at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

John Norris' confirmation was overshadowed by news that the Senate rejected six Obama nominees without even giving them a vote. The most prominent name on that list was Dawn Johnsen, Obama's choice to head the Office of Legal Counsel. For more on that story, read commentaries by Daniel de Groot at Open Left, bmaz at Firedoglake, and Turkana at the Left Coaster. Senator Ben Nelson helped Senate Republicans stall Johnsen's nomination in the spring.

UPDATE: Kay Henderson posted Norris' official bio and some statements reacting to his confirmation at the FERC.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

John Norris gets the Washington job he wanted

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 08:12:58 AM CDT

I saw at Radio Iowa that President Barack Obama has nominated important early Iowa supporter John Norris to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He's well qualified for the job, as you'll see from his official bio, which I've posted after the jump. Not only was Norris chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board from 2005 to 2009, he also handled different positions with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Organization of Midwest Independent System Operator States.

Norris has been Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's chief of staff since January, but he requested an appointment on the FERC in November, before Obama had named Vilsack to head the USDA. Although Norris has worked closely with Vilsack before as the governor's chief of staff, the FERC position seems like a better fit for the more recent focus of Norris's career.

I'm guessing that FERC commissioners also work less insane hours than chiefs of staff do. Norris and his wife Jackie Norris have three sons under the age of six. Jackie Norris recently was replaced as First Lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff and will serve as senior adviser to the Corporation on National and Community Service.

LATE UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reported on June 21,

Norris said he always planned to move on from the USDA, because his real goal was a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an appointment he now has in hand. He's waiting for Senate confirmation for that position.

Norris said Vilsack asked him to take the USDA job, knowing it would be temporary. He "wanted someone who knew him and someone he trusted to get set up at USDA."

Norris said he tried to set up a staff that would work together across their various areas of responsibility, avoiding turf wars. "This isn't a speedboat. It's a tanker and you have to slowly bring it around," he said.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 298 words in story)

Jackie Norris wanted out of running first lady's office

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 01:04:40 AM CDT

Thursday's White House statement announcing Jackie Norris's replacement as chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama did not make clear whether Norris resigned or was pushed out. My hunch was that Norris wanted out. I considered it unlikely that the first lady would have wanted to fire Norris, who has proved herself to be highly capable of managing a complex organization.

On Friday an unnamed source told Politico,

The staff shakeup in the East Wing - with Jackie Norris out as chief of staff to Michelle Obama - came because Norris wasn't enjoying the bureaucratic part of the job and wanted a change, a senior administration official said. [...]

Norris, who bonded with Obama in Iowa as an organizational force in Barack Obama's caucus victory, didn't like the management and scheduling duties, and the intense social component of the job, the source said.

Who can blame her?

Norris will be a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which does good work. It's a less prestigious title than chief of staff for the first lady, but I hope it will be a more fulfilling and enjoyable job.

LATE UPDATE: The "Civic Skinny" political gossip columnist for Des Moines' alternative weekly Cityview heard a different story:

Iowa's Jackie Norris apparently lost her job as chief of staff to Michelle Obama because she - Norris - turned out to be not much of a team player. If she didn't get her way, insiders say, she pouted or fumed or cried or threatened to hold her breath until she turned blue or whatever. That was no surprise to political people who had worked with her when she was Iowa state director for the Obama campaign - or earlier when she worked on the Al Gore and John Kerry campaigns in Iowa. But you don't always get your way in a White House full of smart and strong-willed people. Further, she wasn't part of the Chicago gang that runs things there - and her successor is.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Jackie Norris taking a new job in Washington

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 10:12:21 AM CDT

The White House announced on Thursday that Susan Sher will replace Jackie Norris as First Lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff. Sher is a White House attorney and longtime friend of Obama's from Chicago. Radio Iowa posted a press release containing statements from Michelle Obama, Sher and Norris.

Norris will head serve as senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps and other programs. She and her husband, John Norris, were among Barack Obama's key early supporters in Iowa. Jackie Norris also directed Obama's Iowa campaign during the general election. John Norris is now chief of staff for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

I wish Jackie Norris the best of luck in her new position. The Corporation for National and Community Service has the potential to improve countless Americans' lives.

UPDATE: An unnamed senior administration official told Politico that Norris wanted out of the job.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Background on new Iowa Utilities Board Chairman Rob Berntsen

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 07, 2009 at 07:57:06 AM CST

Governor Chet Culver made two appointments to the Iowa Utilities Board this week. He named Rob Berntsen as the IUB's new chairman, replacing John Norris. Norris stepped down from the IUB in order to serve as chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Culver also reappointed Krista Tanner as one of the IUB's three members. Culver appointed her in 2007 to serve out the remainder of someone else's IUB term, which expires at the end of April. Now she will serve out the remainder of Norris's term, which ends in April 2011.

The governor named Berntsen for the full six-year term that begins on May 1 and expires in 2015. (The third IUB member, Darrell Hanson was appointed by Culver in 2007 for a term that expires in 2013.)

Join me after the jump for more background on the new IUB chairman, along with some speculation about what can we expect from the board.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 877 words in story)

Norris to leave Iowa Utilities Board, work for Vilsack again

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 20:56:40 PM CST

John Norris will become Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's chief of staff at the US Department of Agriculture, Iowa Independent reported today. Norris was Vilsack's chief of staff early in his first term as governor.

In November, Norris's wife, Jackie Norris, accepted an offer to become chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama.

Before Barack Obama announced his plan to nominate Vilsack to run the USDA, John Norris indicated that he was interested in being appointed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Norris's departure means that Governor Chet Culver will need to make two appointments to the three-member Iowa Utilities Board this spring. Norris currently chairs the IUB. Someone will need to fill the remainder of his term, which expires in April 2011.

IUB member Krista Tanner has been serving out the remainder of a term that expires in April 2009. I do not know whether she will ask to be reappointed to a full six-year term on that body.

Last year Tanner and Norris cast the deciding votes to approve an application to build a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown. However, the IUB has yet to issue a ruling on ratemaking principles for that plant. Reuters reported last March,

Ratemaking principles define how construction costs will be recovered in utility rates throughout the life of the generating facility. [Interstate Power and Light] is requesting a 12.55 percent return on common equity as part of the filing.

Several environmental organizations have intervened with the IUB regarding the ratemaking for this proposed plant. The board's decision could affect whether Interstate Power and Light proceeds with this project or abandons it as unprofitable. LS Power recently announced that it no longer plans to build a coal-fired power plant near Waterloo.

If you know any qualified candidates who are interested in serving on the Iowa Utilities Board, encourage them to submit their resumes and supporting materials to the governor's office as soon as possible.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 31, 2008 at 22:00:00 PM CST

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I've linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I'll do a review of Bleeding Heartland's 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 5859 words in story)

DNR should strictly limit pollutants from proposed coal plant

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 14:43:27 PM CST

Ever since the Iowa Utilities Board voted 2-1 to approve Alliant's application to build a new coal-fired power plant outside Marshalltown, environmentalists have been hoping the Iowa Department of Natural Resources would be strict when issuing a draft air permit for the plant.

Coal-fired power plants are not only a major source of carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, they are also one of the leading sources of fine particulate matter linked to asthma and other respiratory problems.

Neila Seaman, director of the Sierra Club's Iowa Chapter, wrote an op-ed column published in the Des Moines Register on Monday, and she doesn't sound optimistic about the DNR's likely action in this case:

To regulate greenhouse gases and particulate matter 2.5, the DNR should require Alliant to perform a "best available control technology" analysis, known as a BACT analysis. The analysis considers all control technologies available on the market, evaluates what would control the pollutants for this type of facility and takes into account the technology already installed to control the pollutant. With that information, the best technology installed is used to set limits. The limits that are set in the permit would result in the best control of that pollutant. Without this analysis, the permits will not control the pollution from particulate matter 2.5 and greenhouse gases at all.

In other words, without the best-available-control-technology analysis, there will be no regulation of the pollutant in the air permit. With no regulation in the air permit, Alliant will be able to spew unlimited amounts of greenhouse gases and particulate matter 2.5 into the atmosphere.

Currently, the DNR appears to be unwilling to require a best-available-control-technology analysis, asserting rules specifically regulating these pollutants are not in place. The Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club respectfully disagrees. The DNR also maintains that particulate matter 10 - a larger soot particle - is being regulated and, therefore, there is no need to regulate particulate matter 2.5. Although the DNR does control limits on particulate matter 10, particulate matter 2.5 is much smaller in size and a more serious health hazard, but will not necessarily be controlled by the particulate matter 10 limits.

Federal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, recent court decisions, and even DNR's own regulations require regulation of particulate matter 2.5 and greenhouse gases. And yet, it appears the DNR is not going to require a best-available-control-technology analysis for particulate matter 2.5 and for greenhouse gases.

I don't understand why the DNR would decide against regulating the fine particulate matter produced by this plant, given the proven impact of emissions from coal facilities on public health.

Let's hope Seaman's pessimism turns out to be unfounded.

Speaking of the coal plant, I contacted the Iowa Utilities Board to find out whether its chairman, John Norris, plans to serve out his term, which expires in 2011. (His wife Jackie Norris recently accepted an offer to become First Lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff.) Staff at the Iowa Utilities Board told me Norris has not announced a decision. I will write a separate post for this blog once I hear whether he plans to stay or go.

UPDATE: Thanks to Bleeding Heartland user RF for pointing me to this Des Moines Register article:

Iowa Utilities Board Chairman John Norris, whose wife has been named chief of staff to incoming first lady Michelle Obama, said Monday he is interested in an appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Norris, a veteran Democratic campaign operative, said he would consider serving on the commission or as chairman of the agency with jurisdiction over electricity sales, wholesale electric rates and other energy sales regulation. [...]

"It would be fair to say I'm interested in either FERC chairmanship or a commissioner spot," Norris said. "There are other things I'm interested in and the transition team is rightly focused on filling Cabinet posts and putting together an administration. I'm respecting their timetable and would consider whatever position in the administration where I can be most helpful."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Jackie Norris to head Michelle Obama's staff

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 17:28:37 PM CST

Congratulations to Jackie Norris, who has accepted an offer to be chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama, according to the Washington Post.

She was among Barack Obama's key early supporters in Iowa and headed Obama's Iowa campaign during the general election.

I will update this post when I find out whether her husband John Norris plans to stay on the Iowa Utilities Board after the family moves to the Washington area. Governor Tom Vilsack appointed Norris to that position in 2005.

UPDATE: I just remembered that John Norris ran Jesse Jackson's Iowa campaign before the 1988 caucuses (that was before he and Jackie were married).

He never could have imagined that just 20 years from then, his future wife would be hired to run the first lady's office in the administration of America's first black president.

What a great day for the Norris family, and for the country.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Iowa Democratic Party announces delegation to National Convention

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 20:06:25 PM CDT

The Iowa Democratic Party posted a press release announcing the Iowa delegation to the Democratic National Convention on its website.

I've reposted the release after the jump. It lists not only all of the delegates and alternates, but also members of the various National Convention Standing Committees.

I hadn't realized that Iowa Utilities Board chairman John Norris was on the Platform Committee. Maybe someone in Denver will be able to persuade him that we have better options on energy policy than building more coal-fired power plants or expanding our use of nuclear power.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 533 words in story)

Sierra Club and Steelworkers jointly endorse Obama

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 04:34:41 AM CDT

The leaders of the Sierra Club and United Steelworkers appeared in Cleveland on Friday with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown to endorse Barack Obama for president.

The joint endorsement and accompanying press release emphasized Obama's support for "a clean energy economy," which would create jobs while protecting the environment.

It's a welcome contrast to John McCain's energy policy, which calls for investing $2 billion in so-called "clean coal" and constructing 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.

The Sierra Club and United Steelworkers created the Blue Green Alliance in June 2006. The alliance has sought to draw attention to "economic opportunities that could come from a serious investment in renewable energy."

This work is very important for the progressive movement. Too often the labor and environmental communities have found themselves on opposite sides of controversial issues. We saw that in Iowa earlier this year, when key labor groups backed plans to build a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown.

The full text of the Sierra Club's press release on the Obama endorsement is after the jump. In addition to Obama's energy policy, Sierra Club drew attention to:

-his opposition to further oil drilling in the Arctic Naitonal Wildlife Refuge;
-his opposition to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada;
-his promise to undo many of George Bush's bad executive orders on the environment;
-his support for more regulation of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs); and
-his efforts to reduce children's exposure to lead.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 636 words in story)

Don't overlook conservation as a way to meet electricity needs

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 17:00:54 PM CDT

The Des Moines Register published a long interview with the three members of the Iowa Utilities Board on Monday.

As you may recall, Democrats John Norris and Krista Tanner recently voted to approve an application to build a new coal-fired power plan near Marshalltown. Republican Darrell Hanson opposed the coal plant.

The whole piece is worth your time, but this was the key passage for me:

Q: For base-load power, it seems as if there aren't many other options for Iowa than coal right now. Longer term, what's on the horizon for base-load power?

Tanner: That is why I ultimately ended up voting for [the plant]. Even if all these things end up happening, the most aggressive standards we're talking about are 30 by 30 [30 percent of electricity generated by renewable sources by 2030], and I'm really concerned about what does that other 70 percent look like. In my opinion, it's coal or nuclear. [Nuclear is] not without its problems, because it is expensive. I am on the [Iowa] Climate Change Advisory Council, and we put that as an option to study. There's a lot of resistance to it in the public, more so than coal, even though it's a lower carbon-generating source.

They are pursuing ways to store the carbon to make coal more viable. I don't think that will happen in the next five to 10 years. I saw this plant as almost a bridge technology, because it is more efficient. My thought is that if we're going to have coal, it better be the most efficient plant we can have and have a potential for biomass. While it may be an incremental step in carbon reduction, it's a step that we can take today.

Norris: At least for the foreseeable future, it's going to be nuclear or coal. My preference certainly is to reduce greenhouse gases. For the long term, that's nuclear, but it's extremely expensive to build right now and an extremely lengthy process to build.

Q: Is there anything the state can do to encourage construction of nuclear plants or is that solely a federal responsibility?

Norris: We're certainly open to a nuclear application, but still don't expect it tomorrow. I know Mid-American looked closely at it, but decided costs, the time and the building issues are just prohibitive. Mid-American is a very progressive company in looking at new alternatives. It makes me a little concerned about how the country as a whole is going to solve our base-load problems. Nuclear certainly will help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Some people have suggested to me that John Norris would prefer for the coal plant not to be built, but his comments to the Des Moines Register do not support that speculation. It sounds as if he is resigned to expanding our use of coal because the utilities are not currently pursuing the alternative he prefers, nuclear power.

I believe that renewable energy technologies like wind and solar power can meet more of our electricity needs than IUB members expect.

But we also need to aggressively pursue conservation through government regulations, incentives and public-education campaigns. Conservation measures can dramatically reduce the demand for electricity, and do it quickly.

Residents of Juneau, Alaska cut their electricity use by about 30 percent in a week this spring. Click the link to read about how Brazilians reduced their use of electricity by 20 percent in two months in 2001.

The IUB is not in charge of our state's energy policy, but maybe its members would not be inclined to approve new coal-fired power plants if they believed that future demand for electricity would be lower than currently projected.

State legislators and officials should take more steps to promote energy efficiency and conservation, as well as increasing our use of wind and solar power.

Here are some easy ways for individuals to reduce their own use of electricity. Simple things like unplugging appliances you are not using can save a lot.

P.S.--I cannot agree with Norris's implication that expanding nuclear power would be the best way to meet demand for electricity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is a link to a 74-page report from the Union of Concerned Scientists on nuclear power. But if you're too busy to read it, here is the key finding in less than 30 words:

The life cycle of nuclear power results in relatively little global warming pollution, but building a new fleet of plants could increase threats to public safety and national security.

A position paper on nuclear power and global warming notes that

Prudence dictates that we develop as many options to reduce global warming emissions as possible, and begin by deploying those that achieve the largest reductions most quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.

Friends of the Earth makes even stronger arguments against expanding nuclear power as a response to global warming:

It Would Set Back the Fight Against Global Warming: Experts suggest that we must triple the number of nuclear reactors in the U.S. in order to make a dent in global warming.  With a price tag of $5 billion per reactor and a historic construction timeline around 10 years, we're not likely to see the 200-300 needed new reactors anytime soon.  (We currently have just over 100 reactors and many of those would have to be replaced as they reach retirement age.)  Alternatives, like wind, solar and conservation programs can produce results more quickly and affordably.

That was a long post-script, but we need to get out of the mindset that nuclear power is a solution to global warming, especially since both John McCain and Barack Obama are open to expanding nuclear power in this country.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

More thoughts on important early Obama supporters

by: desmoinesdem

Sat May 24, 2008 at 08:48:52 AM CDT

Reflecting on Ben Smith's post at Politico about early Obama supporters, it occurred to me that he forgot John and Jackie Norris, and I should write something about that.

Bleeding Heartland user RF was on the same wavelength. After reading my post last night, he put up this comment:

On the list of prominent early Obama supporters, I think John Norris should be there instead of Gordon.  Like you pointed out, Gordon was not onboard that early.  I saw Norris at various Obama meetings and at his IA headquarters very early.  With his background, I also suspect his input had more to do with Obama's success than anything Gordon did.

John Norris ran John Kerry's Iowa operation during the last presidential campaign. As a precinct captain for Kerry, I can confirm that Norris did a lot to hold that campaign together during several months of one discouraging poll after another. He made sure his field organizers kept doing their jobs and lining up precinct captains, and they made sure precinct captains didn't panic and kept lining up supporters.

John Norris initially backed Tom Vilsack for president. He had worked on Governor Vilsack's staff and been appointed by Vilsack to serve on the Iowa Utilities Board.

The day Vilsack ended his presidential campaign, Jerome Armstrong observed, "Whoever lands John Norris will be the winner from Vilsack dropping out."

Norris did not take an official position with the Obama campaign, but his wife Jackie Norris joined the Obama staff in Iowa very soon after Vilsack left the race.

As RF noted, John Norris's input must have been quite helpful to Obama's team as they set up their campaign operation in Iowa.

In addition, I am certain that having the Norrises on board helped Obama win over many Iowans who had caucused for Kerry in 2004.

On at least one occasion, I remember a field organizer for Obama telling me that John Norris was supporting Obama after she learned that I had been a precinct captain for Kerry.

I remember talking with an active Democratic volunteer from a neighboring precinct sometime last summer. She also had supported Kerry in 2004 and was undecided at the time we talked. She mentioned that it made a big impression on her that Jackie Norris quit her job to go work for Obama.

I haven't seen that woman in a while and don't know which candidate she eventually picked. But I wouldn't be surprised if Obama field organizers were advised to bring up the Norrises whenever they encountered former Kerry supporters.

Ben Smith mentioned that the people who backed Obama early in the campaign "could be expected to have real access, and in some cases major jobs, in an Obama White House."

Whether or not Obama chooses John or Jackie Norris for a job in his administration, Obama's support would be a huge asset to John Norris if he runs for any political office. Norris ran for Congress against Tom Latham in 2002, and I expect he will seek some elective state or federal office in the future.  

With potential backing from Obama, Vilsack (who I doubt would hold a grudge over Norris not supporting Hillary Clinton) and labor unions who appreciated his deciding vote in favor of a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown, Norris would have a leg up on rivals in a Democratic primary.

The environmental community would probably not support Norris in a primary, but I'm sorry to say that I am not aware of any Iowa Democrat whose political career suffered from not protecting the environment enough.  

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

The Democrats on the Iowa Utilities Board let us down

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 05, 2008 at 08:08:49 AM CDT

I held back this diary for several days so as not to publish something written hastily in anger.

But five days after the fact, I remain disgusted that the only member of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to vote against the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown was Darrell Hanson, the lone Republican on the panel.

Putting Democrats in positions of power is supposed to be good for the environment. Unfortunately, John Norris and Krista Tanner failed to deliver "the change we need" when they voted to approve the application of the Interstate Power and Light Company (a subsidiary of Alliant Energy).

Here are few things you should know:

1. The IUB punted instead of seizing an opportunity to kill this proposal, and thousands of Iowans may suffer the consequences.

2. The conditions the IUB put on the plant's construction may have been well-intended, but they do not eliminate the harm that would be done by burning more coal near Marshalltown.

3. It is still possible that the plant will never be built. However, that in no way excuses the IUB's action, which prolonged this process and harmed environmental and public-health advocates, as I will explain below.

Join me after the jump for more on why IUB chairman Norris will never get my support in any Democratic primary for any office he may seek in the future.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 1140 words in story)
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