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Throwback Thursday: Curt Hanson's crucial Iowa House special election victory

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 13, 2015 at 21:00:00 PM CDT

Today is State Representative Curt Hanson's birthday. Six years ago at this time, he was in the thick of the first state legislative campaign following the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage equality. Hanson's win in a highly competitive House district was probably the second most important special election in recent Iowa history (after Liz Mathis's victory in November 2011, which protected the Democratic Iowa Senate majority).

Kicking off an occasional "throwback Thursday" series, Bleeding Heartland takes a look at Hanson's first campaign for the Iowa House.

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One pro-choice Democratic woman's question for EMILY's List

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 31, 2015 at 13:18:12 PM CDT

Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon was the first Congressional candidate endorsed this cycle by the influential political action committee EMILY's List. The PAC's mission is straightforward: "We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office." EMILY's List did not get involved in the 2014 primary to represent Iowa's first district, in which three of the five candidates were pro-choice women. But the PAC's leaders have signaled they will fight to help Vernon win the IA-01 nomination in 2016.

As in the last election cycle, Vernon's main competition for the right to face Republican Rod Blum will be former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy. Even before Murphy officially entered the race last week, EMILY's List took the first shot at the 2014 Democratic nominee. Cristinia Crippes reported for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on July 20,

"Pat Murphy cannot be trusted to stand up for women and families across Iowa -- just look at his long record of trying to restrict women's access to health care and put politics in the middle of decisions that should be left between women and their doctors," Emily's List press secretary Rachel Thomas said in a statement.

On July 29, EMILY's List fleshed out that case with a graphic I've enclosed below, highlighting Murphy's "pro-life" votes and statements between 1996 and 2007.

This lifelong Democrat and third-generation supporter of reproductive rights in Iowa has one question for the EMILY's List strategists: Do you really want to go there?

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

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 23, 2015 at 12:59:45 PM CDT

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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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 16, 2015 at 15:17:30 PM CDT

Congressional candidates were required to file quarterly campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission by the end of July 15. Three of Iowa's four incumbents have no declared challengers yet, so most of the action was in the first district, where Monica Vernon's filing removed all doubt that Washington, DC Democrats want her to face first-term Representative Rod Blum, considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

Follow me after the jump for details from all of the Iowans' FEC reports. As happened during the first quarter, one would-be Congressional challenger out-raised each of the four incumbents for the reporting period.

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IA-01: Poll commissioned by Pat Murphy shows him leading Monica Vernon

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 15, 2015 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

While many establishment Democrats favor Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon to take on Representative Rod Blum, the 2014 Democratic nominee Pat Murphy has revealed one reason he is said to be leaning toward running for Congress again. Erin Murphy reported yesterday,

Murphy outpolled Vernon, 43 percent to 34 percent, in a survey of 350 likely Democratic primary voters conducted last week in Iowa's 1st Congressional District and released Tuesday by Murphy. Gary Kroeger was chosen by 12 percent of respondents.

The poll was conducted by Myers Research, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm that Murphy also solicited during his 2014 campaign.

I wouldn't read too much into partial results from an internal poll taken nearly a year before the Democratic primary, but as a general rule, I think competitive primaries help eventual nominees more than they hurt. If Murphy believes he can make a strong case for a second chance against Blum, let the Democratic voters in the first district decide, rather than leaving the choice to elected officials in Iowa or Washington.

Any comments related to the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added below a Murphy for Iowa press release about this poll. The July 15 statement says Murphy will "make a final decision about a 2016 campaign next week." The attached polling memo says Murphy's advantage over Vernon grows to 51 percent to 40 percent in a two-candidate race, and that Murphy leads among women as well as men in the sample.

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Pat Murphy would enter this IA-01 primary as the underdog (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 14:15:05 PM CDT

Both Iowa Starting Line and Roll Call are reporting today that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy is likely to run for Congress again in the first district. Murphy won the five-way 2014 primary with just under 37 percent of the vote.

Other Iowa Democrats have lost their first U.S. House race before winning a seat in Congress on the second try, including legends Neal Smith, Tom Harkin, and Berkley Bedell. Still, I am skeptical that northeast Iowa Democrats will want to give Murphy another shot at beating Republican Rod Blum.

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Iowa Supreme Court dismisses case on Iowa Juvenile Home closure

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 29, 2015 at 09:35:00 AM CDT

This morning the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a lawsuit brought by Democratic state lawmakers and a public employee union leader to challenge the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home without legislative input in the middle of the 2014 fiscal year. The seven justices reversed a Polk County District Court ruling from February 2014, which had ordered the Branstad administration to reopen the home.

The full text of Justice Edward Mansfield's decision is available here (pdf). Follow me after the jump for key points and excerpts. The central factor in the ruling was the Iowa legislature's failure to appropriate funds to operate the Iowa Juvenile Home for the 2015 fiscal year.

Today's news is a classic example of elections having consequences. Had Democrats recaptured the Iowa House majority in 2012, which could easily have happened with better allocation of resources, lawmakers in both chambers would have funded the home for girls during the 2014 legislative session. That in turn would have prompted the Iowa Supreme Court to view the lawsuit over the juvenile home closure differently.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa marriage equality anniversary edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 05, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Happy Passover or Happy Easter to all who are celebrating this weekend. In past years Bleeding Heartland has posted links about those religious holidays. For today's open thread, I'm reflecting on the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling, announced on April 3, 2009.

Lambda Legal, which represented the Varnum plaintiffs, published a timeline of the case. The LGBT advocacy group filed the lawsuit in December 2005, banking on the Iowa Supreme Court's "extraordinary history" of independence and "civil rights leadership."

If Iowa lawmakers had approved a state constitutional amendment on marriage, the Varnum case might never have been filed (in anticipation of Iowans approving a ban on same-sex marriage, as voters had done in many other states). But during the 2004 legislative session, the marriage amendment failed by one vote in the upper chamber, thanks to the united Senate Democratic caucus, joined by GOP senators Maggie Tinsman, Don Redfern, Mary Lundby, and Doug Shull. All four Republican moderates had left the legislature by the time the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Varnum. Redfern retired in 2004. Tinsman lost her 2006 primary to a social conservative challenger. Shull retired from the Senate in 2006 and unsuccessfully sought a seat in the state House that year. Lundby retired from the legislature in 2008 and passed away the following year.  

Reading through the early Democratic and Republican reaction to the Varnum decision should make all Iowa Democrats proud. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and former House Speaker Pat Murphy deserve credit for their leadership at a time when some Democrats would have run for cover on an issue perceived to be unpopular. Minority civil rights should never be conditional on majority approval.

As for the Republicans in the Bleeding Heartland community, you can be proud that your party's state legislators seem less and less interested in fighting the losing battle to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

Three of the seven justices who concurred in Varnum v Brien (Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit) lost their jobs in Iowa's 2010 retention elections. Justice David Wiggins survived a campaign against his retention in 2012. The remaining three justices who concurred in the decision are up for retention in 2016: Chief Justice Mark Cady (author of the ruling), Justice Daryl Hecht, and Justice Brent Appel. It's not yet clear whether Bob Vander Plaats and his fellow-travellers will make a serious effort to remove them, or whether they will give up in the face of Iowans' growing acceptance of marriage equality.

The LGBT advocacy group One Iowa holds an annual gala around the anniversary of the Varnum ruling. Last night the group honored Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum and Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu, among others. I enclose below a statement from the group marking six years since gay and lesbian couples won the freedom to marry in Iowa.

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Bleeding Heartland 2014 general election prediction contest results

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 09:00:50 AM CST

The last U.S. Senate election of 2014 concluded over the weekend, with Republican Bill Cassidy defeating Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu. So, I was finally able to tabulate results from Bleeding Heartland's general election prediction contest.

Thanks to all who entered. Follow me after the jump for full results.  

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IA-01: Who should run against Rod Blum?

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 11:56:27 AM CST

Judging by the comments in this thread, Bleeding Heartland readers are eager to discuss who should take on Republican Rod Blum in the next election to represent Iowa's first Congressional district.

Blum should be a one-termer. Unofficial results show he beat Pat Murphy by about 7,000 votes (51.2 percent to 48.7 percent) in a banner year for Iowa Republicans. Democratic turnout should be much higher for a presidential election than it was this year. Blum's record in Congress will also make him an easier target for the next Democratic opponent. He didn't campaign like an extreme right-winger, but he's about to start voting like one, which will hurt him with independents. The next Paul Ryan budget (which Blum will support) will include big cuts to entitlement programs. I wouldn't be shocked to see Blum help House Republicans shut down the federal government again.

Who should be the next Democratic nominee in IA-01? My first thoughts are after the jump.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of November 3)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 04, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CST

We won't know the final early voting numbers until the Iowa elections are certified a few weeks from now, but after the jump I've posted absentee ballot figures based on the final daily update from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

As of yesterday, more than 455,000 Iowans had already returned early ballots to county auditors, a huge increase on total early voting in the 2010 midterm election. Registered Democrats have returned about 8,000 more ballots statewide than Republicans have. If Democrats identified and mobilized more independents to vote early (as happened in 2012), Bruce Braley could go into election day tens of thousands of votes ahead of Joni Ernst. Iowa Republicans typically perform better on election day than Democrats; how much better is open for debate, since the GOP encouraged many more people to vote early this year who previously voted on election day.

Statewide, about 33,000 Democrats, 19,000 Republicans, and 23,000 no-party voters had requested absentee ballots that county auditors had not received as of yesterday. Not every unreturned ballot represents an Iowan who will not vote. Some people mailed ballots that hadn't reached county auditors by yesterday, but those will still count if they either arrive today or arrive before next Monday with a postmark on or before November 3. Other people will hand-deliver ballots to the county auditors today; those will be counted as long as they arrive by 9 pm.

While canvassing the last few days, I've met a bunch of people who plan to "surrender" their absentee ballots at the regular polling place today, then vote with a regular ballot.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of November 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 03, 2014 at 09:43:16 AM CST

More than 430,000 Iowans have already returned absentee ballots to county auditors, but nearly 90,000 absentee ballots requested statewide are still outstanding. If you have not yet returned your absentee ballot, either "surrender" it tomorrow at the polling place (and receive a new ballot to vote like everyone else on election day), or hand-deliver a completed ballot to your county auditor's office today or tomorrow by 9 pm.

Today is the last day for in-person early voting: all 99 county auditors' offices are open until 5 pm.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 30)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 31, 2014 at 10:13:49 AM CDT

Early voting by Iowa Democrats, Republicans, and no-party voters already exceeds the number of absentee ballots cast by each of those groups in the 2010 general election. Depending on how many more ballots are returned in time to be counted, this year's early vote may exceed 40 percent of the electorate.

Democrats lead in absentee ballots returned by about 7,000 statewide but have many more ballots outstanding (about 47,000) than do Republicans (about 30,000). Each 11,000 to 12,000 ballots left on the table represents roughly 1 percent of the expected statewide vote.

Although Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley have asked the U.S. Postal Service to put legible postmarks on all absentee ballots, I would not risk dropping a ballot in the mail now. If it arrives after election day with no postmark, it will not be counted. Safer to either take your ballot to the post office and demand a postmark on the envelope, or hand-deliver the envelope to the county auditor's office.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

The big question remains: which party has mobilized more voters who otherwise would not have participated in the midterm election? A new Des Moines Register analysis suggests Democrats have only a "thin edge" in early voting. But Nate Cohn of the New York Times' "Upshot" blog has a different take:

In Iowa, the overall early vote is nearly tied in a state where Democrats usually fare well in the early vote.

But Democrats insist that the Republicans are merely banking voters who would have voted on Election Day anyway, and back it up with data showing a lead among people who didn't vote in 2010, 40 to 29 percent. If the G.O.P. is faring better in the early vote by attracting voters who would have turned out anyway, then they diminish their ability to fare as well on Election Day as they have in the past.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2014 general election prediction contest

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 14:32:51 PM CDT

Time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. To enter, post your guesses as comments in this thread before 7 am on Tuesday, November 4. Predictions submitted by e-mail or social media will not be considered. It's ok to change your mind, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before the deadline.

No money's at stake here, just bragging rights like those enjoyed by Bleeding Heartland users ModerateIADem (twice), American007, Johannes, and tietack. This isn't "The Price is Right"; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether they were a little high or low.

Even if you have no idea, please try to take a stab at answering every question. We had no clear winner in this year's primary election prediction contest; the best guessers on some races were way off on other races.

Minor-party or independent candidates are on the ballot for some races, so the percentages of the vote for Democratic and Republican nominees need not add up to 100. You can view the complete list of candidates for federal and state offices in Iowa here (pdf).

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 29)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CDT

Roughly 50,000 registered Iowa Democrats, 35,000 Republicans, and 35,000 no-party voters have requested but not yet returned absentee ballots. The Iowa Secretary of State's Office sent out a press release yesterday on deadlines for returning those ballots. Excerpt:

Absentee ballots returned by mail and received in the county auditor's office by 9 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4 are eligible for counting. Absentee ballots returned by mail and received by the auditors office after the polls close must be postmarked by November 3 or earlier and be received by the auditor before noon on Monday, November 10.  Mail is not always postmarked so it is important to return the ballot as soon as possible. Absentee ballots can also be returned to the county auditor's office in person no later than 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4.

I would not simply drop a ballot in the mail at this point. The risk of it arriving late without a postmark is too great. Either take it to the post office and demand a postmark on the envelope, or hand-deliver it to the county auditor's office.

If you make a mistake while filling out your absentee ballot, or your ballot gets lost or damaged, or you realize after mailing that you forgot the secrecy or affidavit envelopes, call your county auditor's office. In many cases you will be able to come in, sign a form to void your original absentee ballot, and fill out a new absentee ballot right there.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 28)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CDT

As of yesterday, the number of registered Republicans who had returned absentee ballots to county auditors (138,362) exceeds the total early Republican vote in the 2010 Iowa general election (136,243). Ballots returned by registered Democrats and no-party voters are likely to exceed 2010 early voting levels today or tomorrow.

Statewide, Democrats have returned about 5,000 more absentee ballots to county auditors than Republicans have, but they also have a lower return rate. Roughly 56,000 Democrats have requested but not yet returned absentee ballots, compared to about 38,000 ballots outstanding for Republicans and 38,000 outstanding for no-party voters. Every 11,000 to 12,000 ballots left on the table represents roughly 1 percent of the expected total vote in the 2014 general election.

For Iowans who have not yet returned their absentee ballots, the safest options are to hand-deliver the completed ballot to the county auditor's office, or to take it to the post office and demand a postmark for the envelope. Late-arriving mailed ballots with no postmark will not be counted.

Iowans cannot turn in completed absentee ballots at their regular polling place on election day. However, they may go to their precinct polling place next Tuesday, surrender their unreturned absentee ballot to poll workers, and receive a new ballot to fill out like other election-day voters.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 27)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 28, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

A week before election day, early voting is on track to well exceed the total number of absentee ballots cast in the 2010 Iowa general election. I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Republicans lead in ballots requested and returned in the fourth Congressional district. Democrats lead in the other three districts, by the largest margin in IA-02 (where Representative Dave Loebsack is facing Mariannette Miller-Meeks) and by the smallest margin in IA-03 (the open-seat race between Staci Appel and David Young).

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Iowa caucus hopefuls eager to serve as campaign surrogates

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 17:55:02 PM CDT

With the 2016 caucuses only a bit more than a year away, many potential presidential candidates have been paying their dues in Iowa this fall. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headlining events for Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids and Davenport on Wednesday, while her husband, President Bill Clinton, will campaign with Braley in Des Moines and Waterloo this Saturday. Vice President Joe Biden was in Davenport today with Braley and Representative Dave Loebsack.

Others who might run for president (if Hillary Clinton opts out) have been here lately too. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got large crowds of Democrats going in Iowa City and Des Moines last weekend. This past Saturday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley recently visited Iowa for the fourth time since June, headlining events for Braley, Loebsack, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and Steve Siegel, the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 41.

On the Republican side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did an event for Representative Steve King before headlining Governor Terry Branstad's "birthday" bash in Des Moines on Saturday. (King helped Christie out of a jam once.) The New Jersey governor will be back later this week to campaign with Branstad, Senate nominee Joni Ernst, and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Burlington. Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky came to Cedar Falls for an event with IA-01 GOP nominee Rod Blum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry made stops in Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids area for attorney general nominee Adam Gregg, Blum, and Ernst. Former Senator Rick Santorum did an event for King last week too, and Donald Trump did earlier in October. Senator Marco Rubio is coming back to eastern Iowa tomorrow to raise money for the Scott County Republicans and for Blum.

I've heard that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have recorded radio ads for Sam Clovis, the social conservative favorite who is running for state treasurer. However, I haven't heard those spots on the radio yet. Speaking of social conservative heroes, Dr. Ben Carson (possibly the new "flavor of the month" for Iowa Republicans) is slated to keynote the FAMiLY Leader's fall fundraiser on November 22.

Any comments about the next presidential race in Iowa are welcome in this thread. P.S. Imagine if any Democratic candidate or elected official followed Branstad's lead and moved his "birthday party" up from November 17 to October 25 for political reasons. There would be a chorus of outrage from pundits: Phony! Not acting like a real Iowan!  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 26)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 08:47:57 AM CDT

In all likelihood, at least a quarter of the Iowans who will participate in this year's midterm election have already returned completed ballots to county auditors. Another 150,000 voters have requested ballots but not yet returned them. To anyone planning to vote by mail: send your ballot back as soon as possible. Iowa law says any ballot mailed by the day before the election (in this case November 3) is valid, but county auditors will not count late-arriving ballots without postmarks. Unfortunately, post offices no longer routinely put postmarks on all mail that passes through. Iowans who are worried about their ballots arriving on time should either take them to a post office this week and ask for a postmark, or hand-deliver completed ballots to the county auditor's office.

Don't forget to seal the ballot in the secrecy envelope, seal the secrecy envelope in the affidavit envelope, and sign the affidavit envelope before mailing. If you make a mistake on your absentee ballot, don't erase or cross anything out. Contact your county auditor about the procedure for getting a replacement ballot.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa newspaper endorsement edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Oct 26, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM CDT

Iowa newspapers have been publishing their endorsements for the midterm election during the past week or two. While few voters blindly follow the lead of any editorial board, endorsements can be newsworthy when they go against expectations.

Of the largest Iowa newspapers, Joni Ernst met with only one editorial board: the Sioux City Journal. That was a safe bet, because to my knowledge, that newspaper has endorsed exactly one Democrat for IA-Sen in the last 30 or 40 years: Tom Harkin in 2008 only (when his GOP challenger was a joke). I am not aware of any Democrat running for president or Iowa governor ever getting the Sioux City Journal's endorsement. Ernst also met with the Omaha World-Herald, a widely-read paper in southwest Iowa and a slam-dunk for endorsing Republicans.

Although the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, and Quad-City Times endorse more Republican candidates than Democrats, Ernst did not agree to meet with any of those newspapers. A few days ago, she also backed out of a scheduled meeting with the Des Moines Register, which had endorsed her in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate. Ernst's handlers are clearly terrified to let her participate in an hour-long conversation about public policy, with good reason. She has about 90 seconds of memorized talking points on any given issue and gets in trouble quickly after that.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette endorsed Braley last weekend. The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and Des Moines Register did so today. I am convinced that Ernst could have had any of those endorsements if she had participated in the process.

After Iowa media and even some national reporters noticed that Ernst was dissing Iowa newspapers, the Ernst campaign scheduled a "meeting" by telephone with the Quad-City Times editorial board. I don't think the editors should have agreed to those terms. How do they know she won't be reading off cue cards supplied by her staff the whole time?

This is an open thread for discussing newspaper endorsements or any other issue that's on your mind. P.S.: The Register's decision not to endorse either Terry Branstad or Jack Hatch for governor was quite a cop-out.

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