IA-Gov: Boulton, Hubbell lead in early legislative endorsements

State Senator Nate Boulton and Fred Hubbell have locked up more support among state lawmakers than the five other Democrats running for governor combined.

Whether legislative endorsements will matter in the 2018 gubernatorial race is an open question. The overwhelming majority of state lawmakers backed Mike Blouin before the 2006 gubernatorial primary, which Chet Culver won. Last year, former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge won the nomination for U.S. Senate, even though about 60 current and 30 former Democratic lawmakers had endorsed State Senator Rob Hogg.

Nevertheless, prominent supporters can provide a clue to activists or journalists about which primary contenders are well-positioned. Where things stand:

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Rob Hogg for Iowa attorney general in 2018 (updated)

Before digging into posts about the Iowa elections that just happened, I want note for the record that State Senator Rob Hogg would be an excellent candidate for Iowa attorney general in 2018. Though incumbent Tom Miller has not disclosed his plans, he has reportedly told many Iowa Democrats privately that he does not plan to seek a tenth (!) term. An open race for attorney general would likely bring out several Democratic candidates, possibly including Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson and First Assistant Attorney General Kevin McCarthy, a former Iowa House majority leader. Hogg has a strong legal and public policy background, having clerked for two federal judges, practiced law in Cedar Rapids since 2000, and served in the Iowa legislature since 2003. He can speak knowledgeably about a wide range of issues, and he now has experience running a statewide campaign.

Hogg was gracious in conceding the U.S. Senate primary race to former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge this evening. He lost by about 8 percent of the vote against a candidate who started with much higher name recognition and was able to run television commercials during the final two weeks of the race. He was only half a percentage point behind the front-runner in Polk County.

Hogg will be up for re-election in Iowa Senate district 33 in 2018, so unlike this year, he would have to give up his seat in the legislature in order to seek higher office. I hope he will consider it. I enclose below the official bio from his Senate campaign website.

UPDATE: Several readers have suggested Hogg should run for governor in 2018. He would be a strong contender for the position too. I assume a number of Democratic state senators (Janet Petersen, Liz Mathis, Pam Jochum) will be looking at that race as well.

SECOND UPDATE: Multiple sources have contacted me to say Miller shows all signs of running for re-election in 2018. So either he has changed his mind, or sources who heard last year he was planning to retire were misinformed. In that case, many Democrats will be urging Hogg to run for governor in 2018.

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Joe Biden not running for president

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden announced earlier today that he will not run for president in 2016, because while his family has “worked through the grieving process” for his son Beau Biden, the window for “mounting a realistic campaign […] has closed.” Click through to watch Biden’s full statement from the White House Rose Garden. He vowed to stay involved in political discourse: “But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party, and where we need to go as a nation.”

Biden also urged other Democratic candidates not to run away from President Barack Obama as they seek office in 2016: “I believe that President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery, and we’re now on the cusp of resurgence, and I’m proud to have played a part in that. This party–our nation–will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy. […] Democrats should not only defend this record, and protect this record, they should run on the record.”

Any comments about the vice president’s announcement or the Democratic presidential race generally are welcome in this thread. I think Biden made the right choice. I don’t see the current Democratic field lacking the vision or the experience he would have brought to the table. Conventional wisdom suggests that Hillary Clinton will benefit more than Bernie Sanders from Biden staying out of the race. Martin O’Malley could gain ground too, because Democrats who were hoping the vice president would run again clearly were not satisfied with the current front-runners.

UPDATE: I enclose below reaction to Biden’s decision.

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Steve King backing Daniel Webster, not Kevin McCarthy, for House speaker (updated)

Representative Steve King (IA-04) announced on Twitter yesterday that he will support Representative Daniel Webster of Florida for House speaker, because Webster “will run a Membership driven” U.S. House. King nominated Webster for speaker in January. Both he and Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) voted for Webster that day, rather than to re-elect House Speaker John Boehner.

Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos reported yesterday for The Hill that the House Freedom Caucus endorsed Webster, “a bold move that raises serious doubts about whether Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy can cobble together the 218 votes on the House floor he needs to be promoted.” To my knowledge, King does not belong to the House Freedom Caucus, but Blum does. I haven’t seen any news release or social media posting from Blum this week about the speaker’s race; I am seeking comment from his office on whether he will support Webster again. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah is also running for the speaker’s position.

McCarthy has been the heavy favorite to replace John Boehner, but he drew criticism even from fellow Republicans after saying on Fox News that everyone thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable until House Republicans put together a special committee to investigate Benghazi. Clinton has been hammering McCarthy at her recent public appearances, including in Iowa yesterday, and featured his remarks in her campaign’s first national television commercial.

I will update this post as needed. Just for fun: last night, Stephen Colbert ran a devastating Late Show segment on McCarthy’s tendency to deliver word salad-like statements rather than coherent remarks on matters of national importance.

UPDATE: McCarthy dropped out of the speaker’s race on the morning of October 8. SECOND UPDATE: Michael Calderone reported for the Huffington Post on allegations that McCarthy dropped out after a conservative activist threatened to expose an extramarital affair. Both McCarthy and the other House Republican at the center of the rumors deny that they had an affair.

Blum’s office did not respond to my request for comment on whether he will support Webster for speaker again. Blum has not alluded to the speaker’s race on his Twitter account. He posted a link on Facebook to a report on McCarthy withdrawing from the race, but did not comment on that news or say whom he favors to replace John Boehner.

Representative David Young (IA-03) has not mentioned the speaker’s race on any of his social media feeds, to my knowledge.

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IA-01: "Middle Class Fighter" Pat Murphy is in

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy made his second Congressional campaign official this morning. In the shortest YouTube candidate announcement video I’ve ever seen (just fourteen seconds long), Murphy declared, “The truck’s up and running…and so am I.” A press release announced, “Middle Class Fighter to Take on [GOP incumbent Rod] Blum,” and a e-mail to supporters fleshed out Murphy’s case. Excerpt:

Teri and I discussed this race long and hard and the bottom line is that middle class Iowans deserve to have a voice in Congress, somebody who knows the struggles they face, and will fight for them.  I’ve done that my whole life, because that’s who I am.  And there’s no other candidate running – from either party – who has been on the right side of these fights from day one.

From raising the minimum wage and teacher pay, passing equal pay for women, to protecting women’s health care and all Iowan’s civil rights.  That’s my record.  Fighting for progressive Iowa values is in my blood, with your help, it’s exactly what I’ll do in Congress.

Murphy’s campaign is on the web at Pat Murphy for Congress, on Facebook here, and Twitter here. (His old campaign website is no longer functional.)

I enclose below the candidate’s full e-mail to supporters, as well as excerpts from the press release. It points to Murphy’s lead in a recent internal poll of Democrats in IA-01 and recalls his outright victory in the 2014 primary, despite being outspent by some of his four opponents. The press release also notes that in the general election, Murphy outperformed both U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Braley and the gubernatorial ticket of Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon. Vernon has been considered the front-runner for the 2016 primary in IA-01, on the strength of early fundraising and endorsements from Iowa-based and Washington Democrats. Gary Kroeger is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Former U.S. Representative Dave Nagle is backing Murphy for Congress again, as is the Blue America PAC, which supports progressive candidates in Democratic primaries as well as against Republicans in general elections. Murphy dominated the labor union endorsements before the 2014 primary. I’ll be interested to see whether Vernon picks up more labor support this cycle. So far, she has the backing of Teamsters Local 238, the “largest Teamster Local headquartered in the state of Iowa,” and the  Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council, which supported her during the 2014 primary. UPDATE: Added below a Vernon campaign press release “welcoming” Murphy to the race and listing her key endorsers. They include several Iowa House Democrats who served in the legislature while Murphy was speaker from 2007 through 2010. SECOND UPDATE: Added Kroeger’s statement below.

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