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Republican primary

Iowa House majority leader ready to back Gingrich if he runs

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 06:20:00 AM CST

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to announce by March 1 whether he will run for president in 2012, and he's already got one endorsement in hand: Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer.

Background and first thoughts about Upmeyer's support and Gingrich's presidential prospects are after the jump.

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DNC confirms Iowa caucuses will be first in 2012

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 12:59:00 PM CDT

The Democratic National Committee voted today to keep the Iowa caucuses the first presidential nominating contest in 2012, according to Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach, who's attending the DNC meeting.

I'll update this post with more details as they become available. In July, the DNC Rules Committee approved the following calendar: Iowa caucuses on February 6, 2012; New Hampshire primary on February 14; Nevada caucuses on February 18; and South Carolina primary on February 28. All other Democratic nominating contests would occur in March or later. The Republican National Committee has adopted a calendar keeping Iowa first as well.

Any thoughts about the 2012 caucuses are welcome in this thread.

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Weekend open thread: 2012 Iowa caucuses edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 18:32:54 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend? We're already looking forward to the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 12-22. We may catch the state fair parade on August 11 if it's not too hot.

Iowa's first-in-the-nation status is secure under the presidential nominating calendar Republican National Committee members approved yesterday.

The vote passed by a two-thirds majority, a requirement for the measure drafters included to lend to its acceptance from RNC members. The measure received 104 votes of the 144 members voting.

The caucuses would likely be held Feb. 6, under the schedule, followed in February by the New Hampshire primary, caucuses in Nevada and the South Carolina primary.

All other states would be allowed to hold their primaries and caucuses in March or April. States going in March would be required to apportion their nominating delegates proportional to the vote a candidate received in that state. April states could award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis, an incentive for states hoping to be seen as delivering the nomination.

Any state that violates the proposed calendar would lose half its RNC delegates. What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Is that a big enough penalty to deter a large state from trying to jump ahead of Iowa?

I hope the calendar sticks so staffers and volunteers aren't forced to do canvassing and phone-banking between Christmas and New Year's Day, like we did before the January 3, 2008 caucuses.

At least two potential Republican presidential candidates are coming to Iowa in the next couple of weeks. Former Senator Rick Santorum is headlining a fundraiser for attorney general candidate Brenna Findley in Sioux Center on August 17, and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is coming to the Iowa State Fair. I can't believe Santorum would think about running for president after losing re-election in a purple state by double digits. I'm still shaking my head over the warm reception Iowa Republicans give Pawlenty despite his record on fiscal issues and state borrowing. Several of Pawlenty's other ideas strike me as proposals only the hard-core GOP base could love, like cutting entitlement spending to pay for extending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE: I forgot that Newt Gingrich is coming to Des Moines next weekend to raise money for a Republican women's group. Continuing his habit of being wrong about everything, Newt recently condemned Shirley Sherrod as a racist and a week later denounced the Obama administration for rushing to judgment about Sherrod. He also offered an "egregious and purposeful misreading of medieval history" as an argument against allowing a mosque to be built at the "Ground Zero" site in New York City.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Republican hypocrisy watch: Pawlenty and Culver edition (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 03, 2010 at 08:11:04 AM CDT

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty toured eastern Iowa over the weekend to raise money for several Iowa House Republican leaders and state Senate candidate Bill Dix. It was his fourth Iowa trip during the past year. Since Pawlenty is laying the groundwork for a future presidential bid, journalists covering his latest visit focused on what he is doing for Iowa Republicans, as well as his views on foreign policy, government spending and the economy.

I'm more interested in the way Iowa Republicans embraced Pawlenty. Naturally, they liked his message about retaking the state legislature, and GOP House leaders can really use the campaign cash. But it's surreal to watch Republicans promise their serious consideration for Pawlenty as a presidential candidate when you compare his record with the case conservatives make against Iowa Governor Chet Culver.

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Terry Branstad's spending promises don't add up

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 07:43:34 AM CDT

When Terry Branstad formally announced his candidacy in January, cutting the size of state government by "at least 15 percent" over five years was one of his central campaign promises. He needed to establish credibility with the Republican Party's conservative wing after his record of growing the state budget by far more than the rate of inflation during 16 years in office.

Branstad repeated his intention to cut state government by 15 percent in his early television commercials and on the campaign trail all winter and spring. He never provided a road map for keeping that promise, however. The budget cuts Branstad has specifically proposed so far (ending the preschool program, family planning funding, and reducing administrative costs at Area Education Agencies) would not reduce state budget obligations by 3-4 percent in the first year, which would be needed to work toward a 15 percent reduction over five years.

Since the June 8 Republican primary, Branstad has continued to hammer Governor Chet Culver on fiscal issues (using false claims), but to my knowledge he's avoided mentioning that promise to shrink government by 15 percent over five years. Nor have we seen any details about how Branstad would balance the budget while spending no more than 99 percent of projected state revenues.

While campaigning in Marshalltown this week, Branstad made an extraordinary pledge:

Branstad said that if elected governor again, he would look at moving some of the services that have been pushed onto the local governments, particularly mental health and school funding, and making those more state funded. Along with that, he would put on a caveat that mandates those levies be abolished, which he said would provide instant property tax reductions for all classes of property across the board.

He said he did something very similar when he was governor before, but critics have since tried to distort his record on those issues.

"That was property tax relief and they called it spending," he said.

Branstad is borrowing one of Bob Vander Plaats' key economic ideas here: helping counties provide property tax relief by having the state assume responsibility for mental health and some educational services. As a campaign tactic, it makes sense, because Vander Plaats nearly matched Branstad's vote total in Marshall County and carried several nearby counties (click here to download the GOP primary results by county).

But think about this for a minute. Branstad now proposes to have the state take over some big new funding obligations. How would he pay for that? He supports at least $80 million in corporate tax cuts and appears to reject using federal funds or reserve money to help balance the budget.

Maybe Branstad hopes that Iowans will forget his earlier campaign promises. But it's past time for Branstad to show how he would make the numbers add up. The final budget for fiscal year 2011 is now in effect. Let's see a rough budget document for fiscal year 2012, which doesn't dip into reserve funds, cuts general fund spending by 3-4 percent, and has the state take on more responsibility for funding mental health and education services.

Speaking of state budgets, did anyone else notice the Branstad campaign's silence last week regarding Iowa's improving fiscal condition? The Legislative Services Agency and the Department of Management both reported better than expected revenues and a larger surplus than anticipated at the close of FY 2010. The Branstad campaign said absolutely nothing. We know his staff keeps track of such reports, because a few days earlier they jumped all over a draft Legislative Services Agency document on school districts and property taxes.

Branstad has a habit of ignoring inconvenient facts. We're still waiting for him to say something, anything, about numerous documents showing he and senior staffers did Republican campaign work on the public's dime.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Kim Reynolds on the campaign trail

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 17:12:22 PM CDT

Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad announced last week that he would send his running mate, State Senator Kim Reynolds, to campaign in the 25 counties where Bob Vander Plaats received more votes than Branstad in last month's primary. (You can download the official canvass by county here.) Branstad told reporters, "My plan is to send Kim Reynolds to every area where Bob Vander Plaats was strong so they get to see her and know her because I think to know her is to love her."

Over the holiday weekend, Reynolds walked some of the state's largest parades with Branstad in Urbandale and West Des Moines, but she also covered parades in Dallas County, where Vander Plaats almost matched Branstad's vote, and in Humboldt and Jasper counties, where Vander Plaats racked up sizable margins on June 8.

Reynolds has made a point to meet with Vander Plaats supporters when visiting counties Branstad carried, such as Henry and Union. Reynolds' political experience relates mostly to fiscal matters, and economic and budget issues are at the forefront in her stump speech, but she makes sure her activist audiences know that she's "pro-life" and for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Yesterday Reynolds spoke to Republicans in Carroll, the only county carried by State Representative Rod Roberts in the GOP gubernatorial primary. After the event she told journalist Douglas Burns that she believes abortion is "equivalent to murder." She then dodged several follow-up questions regarding what she views as an appropriate penalty for women who have abortions or doctors who perform them.

Interestingly, Reynolds told Burns that while she believes marriage should be for one man and one woman, she's not necessarily against sother forms of legal recognition for same-sex couples:

"We could take a look at civil unions," Reynolds said. "There are other options maybe that I would be in favor of looking at."

She added, "They can do civil unions. I think they can get to some of the same place that they want to look at."

I suspect that position is not popular with the social conservatives Reynolds is courting. A University of Iowa Hawkeye poll taken in the spring of 2009 found that about 37 percent of respondents statewide opposed any legal recognition for same-sex couples. Presumably that group includes the Republicans most energized against gay marriage.

Reynolds' position might resonate with many moderates, because the same Hawkeye poll from 2009 indicated that about 28 percent of Iowans oppose gay marriage but support civil unions. (About 26 percent of respondents in that poll expressed support for same-sex marriage rights.) That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Branstad campaign walk back her comments on civil unions if they are widely reported. A few months ago, Branstad suggested that he was open to legal protections for gay couples as well as gay adoption. His campaign spokesman quickly backpedaled.

Share any thoughts about the governor's race in this thread.

UPDATE: That didn't take long. Conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart posted the Branstad campaign's reaction to Reynolds' comments on civil unions:

Sen. Reynolds' position on civil unions mirrors that of Gov. Branstad's. They do not favor state-sanctioned civil unions, but would not have the government step in to prevent private companies and entities from extending same-sex benefits if they so choose.

Vander Hart comments,

(Scratching my head)

That's not what she said.  If she doesn't favor state-sanctioned civil unions why would she say she is open to them?  There's a disconnect there.

While on one hand I'm glad she believes that Iowans deserve to vote on the definition of marriage, when she said "the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman from a religious aspect" she failed to acknowledge that the definition of marriage has civil and not just religious implications.

She pretty much articulated what Governor Chet Culver believes in the matter, or at least says he believes regarding the definition of marriage.

SECOND UPDATE: Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican blog sees the Branstad/Reynolds campaign as unprepared to deal with social issues:

The clarification offered by the Branstad campaign does little to clean up the situation.  The question that Reynolds was asked had nothing to do with private companies that provide benefits to same sex couples. The question that she was asked was about the impact that gay marriages have had on Iowa, and her position on the matter.  She is the one who brought up the term "civil unions."

When TheIowaRepublican.com reminded the Branstad campaign about Reynolds' exact statement, a spokesman responded by saying, "Kim used the reporter's phrase to describe what she was referring to, which is the ability of private entities to offer partnership benefits.  She does not support state-sanctioned civil unions."

Reynolds' answer and the Branstad campaign's attempt to clarify the matter raise a number of questions about their understanding of the marriage issue in Iowa and the campaign's ability to properly prepare Reynolds for the number of questions that she will face while on the campaign trail.

This is the second time since the June 8th primary that the Branstad campaign has stubbed its toe on social issues.  The first came when Planned Parenthood endorsed Governor Culver and the Branstad campaign failed to offer any comment to KCCI, central Iowa's highest rated TV news station.

THIRD UPDATE: Jason Hancock reviews more Iowa conservative reaction to Reynolds' comments.  

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Gingrich to train Republican candidates next week in Des Moines

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 10:04:44 AM CDT

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is bringing a candidate training workshop to Des Moines on Monday, July 12, Kathie Obradovich reported on her Des Moines Register blog today. Gingrich's organization American Solutions is running the workshop, and that group's CEO Joe Gaylord will accompany Gingrich on the trip. According to a press release, Gaylord has written a campaign manual geared toward "candidates at all levels, from local to Congressional, and for everyone in the campaign, from the candidate to the press secretary.  Each chapter of Campaign Solutions starts with how-to advice, and ends with what-not-to-do warnings and how-did-you-do scorecards." Gingrich and Gaylord are also "distributing a weekly podcast to candidates similar to the GOPAC education tapes that helped prepare a generation of GOP candidates for the campaign trail."

I'm guessing Gingrich and Gaylord won't advise candidates to spend 15 percent of the money they raise on chartered private air travel, as American Solutions did in recent years.

Gingrich came to Iowa in late May to raise money for several Republican organizations. Teaching candidates how to run professional campaigns will generate more goodwill among Iowa politicians who could be helpful to Gingrich if he runs for president in 2012. Even if Gingrich doesn't seek the presidency, his influence over Iowa Republicans' policy agenda may increase. American Solutions runs an "online information portal" that "breaks down policy problems and presents solutions lawmakers can utilize to create jobs, improve education and expand American energy." Tax cuts that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals are the centerpiece of Gingrich's action plan.

I wonder if any reporters will ask Gingrich about the unethical practices American Solutions employs to raise money from the conservative grassroots. Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com characterized a phone pitch I received last year as "a clear cut example of fundraising under the guise of a survey ('FRUGGing')". The Marketing Research Association considers FRUGGing unethical because

The use of a poll to conduct fund raising has raised the distrust of the public to a point where they refuse to cooperate with researchers trying to obtain the opinions of any number of issues, including political campaign, and government: federal, state and local research. In a country inundated with telemarketing and direct mail fund raising it is more and more difficult for marketing and opinion researchers to get accurate data.
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Iowa Republicans make big voter registration gains

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 06, 2010 at 13:21:38 PM CDT

Competitive primaries helped Iowa Republicans make "significant" voter registration gains between June 1 and July 1 of this year, Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro announced at a press conference today. Voter registration totals as of June 1 (pdf file) were 710,017 Democrats, 607,567 Republicans and 772,725 no-party voters. As of July 1, registered Democrats were down to 699,972, Republicans were up to 644,838, and no-party voters were down to 749,441. A press release from the Secretary of State's office noted that "these totals include both active and inactive voters."

Iowa law allows voters to change their registration on the day of a primary or general election, and there were many more competitive races on the Republican side this year. It appears that approximately 10,000 Democrats and 23,000 independents became Republicans in order to vote in the GOP primary on June 8. Mauro remarked that Republicans gained in voter registration in 2002, when three men sought the nomination for governor and two sought the nomination for U.S. Senate. By the same token, the number of registered Democrats increased substantially in 2006, when Chet Culver was running against Mike Blouin and Ed Fallon while Jim Nussle was unopposed for governor on the GOP side. But Mauro "couldn't deny that the momentum is on the GOP side."

Not every party-switcher is a guaranteed Republican vote in November. Some Democrats may have voted for the perceived weaker Republican candidate for governor, and I've known independents who vote in whatever primary is competitive, no matter whom they plan to support in the general. Nevertheless, it's not good for the Iowa Democratic Party's voter registration advantage to shrink by such a large amount, particularly since it will be challenging to turn out many of 2008's new voters, who were mobilized by Barack Obama's campaign. Approximately 1.5 million Iowans voted in November 2008, but only about 1.05 million voted in November 2006. I will be surprised if turnout this November exceeds 1.1 million.

Click here for updated voter registration numbers by county and by Congressional, state house and state senate districts. After the jump I've posted links to pdf files showing voter registration changes following the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Iowa primaries.

Iowa Democrats' ability to execute their early voter program will be critical again this year. Strong early voting has saved several Iowa House and Senate seats the last few cycles. But voter mobilization can only do so much if there is a large enthusiasm gap between the parties. I also hope that Culver's campaign has a game plan for bringing the dissatisfied Democrats home in November.

UPDATE: John Deeth doesn't think the registration gains are anything to brag about, because they grew out of a divisive, still-unresolved primary.

SECOND UPDATE: Bret Hayworth notes the registration numbers for active Iowa voters: 661,115 Democrats, 615,011 Republicans and 683,817 independents.  

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New thread on the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 10:27:03 AM CDT

It's time for another look at the Republican presidential contenders' prospects in Iowa. The 2012 cycle may seem like a long way off, but the serious candidates will probably start hiring staff in Iowa before the end of this year. Since the last time Bleeding Heartland covered this ground, several Republicans with presidential ambitions have spoken out on our GOP gubernatorial contest, visited Iowa or scheduled trips here during this fall's campaign.  

Lots of links and speculation are after the jump.

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Weekend open thread: GOP state convention edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 18:49:54 PM CDT

The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention today, but it wasn't the unity-fest Terry Branstad was hoping for.

Representative Steve King nominated Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor, and Reynolds emphasized socially conservative stands in her speech to the convention. Former gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts declined efforts to nominate him for lieutenant governor, endorsing the Branstad/Reynolds ticket.

State Representative Dwayne Alons (not the sharpest knife in the Republican drawer) nominated Bob Vander Plaats for lieutenant governor, saying, "This nomination is not about one person, one man or one individual. I believe I am speaking for a grassroots effort that has been going on since the beginning of Bob's campaign." Vander Plaats took up the challenge:

"I fully understand and respect Gov. Branstad's ability to recommend to [the delegates] who he wants as his lieutenant governor," Vander Plaats said in an address to the Republican Party of Iowa Convention. "But it would be hypocritical of me to spend more than a year championing government by the people, of the people and for the people and then ignore the will of the people."

The final delegate vote was 749 for Reynolds, 579 for Vander Plaats. I'm surprised Reynolds only managed about 56 percent of the delegate votes. I expected her to do better, especially after State Rep Kent Sorenson endorsed Reynolds for lieutenant governor last night. Sorenson thinks Chuck Grassley is too moderate and was such a passionate supporter of Vander Plaats for governor that he vowed in January never to vote for Branstad under any circumstances. As far as I know, Sorenson still hasn't officially endorsed Branstad for governor, but I imagine he will have to do so if he doesn't want to lose moderate Republican support in his campaign for Iowa Senate district 37 this fall. I stand by my prediction that Vander Plaats won't run for governor as an independent.

Branstad made a lot of promises in his speech to Republican delegates. For instance, he again said he'll veto any budget that spends more than 99 percent of projected state revenues. When will Branstad show Iowans how he would have balanced the current-year budget without using any money from federal stimulus funds or the state reserves?

Branstad promised to reverse former Governor Tom Vilsack's executive order allowing convicted felons to get their voting rights back, although this liveblog suggests he wrongly attributed that executive order to current Governor Chet Culver. Putting more restrictions on voting rights would help Iowa Republicans, in part because of the enormous racial disparity in Iowa prisons. I would like more details on whether Branstad would let any felons apply for their voting rights. If his running mate deserved the chance to stay in public life after two drunk driving citations, then surely others who have served their time should have the chance to exercise their voting rights.

This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. Anyone spent time at the downtown art festival? I hope to swing by tomorrow after I hit the art show at the fairgrounds.

UPDATE: Your unintentional comedy of the day comes from The Iowa Republican blog's top story for Monday, titled, "A Stronger Republican Party Emerges From Contentious Convention". Here's the lead paragraph by Craig Robinson:

Don't believe what you are reading in the newspaper or what you are seeing on the local news. The Republican Party in Iowa isn't divided. It's not coming off of a contentious convention. It matured and now is poised to make huge gains in November.

But Craig, you just described the convention as "contentious" in your own headline. How anyone  would try to spin Saturday's events as the sign of a party not divided is completely beyond me.

Branstad had some tough words for Vander Plaats on Monday: "Remember that the person who opposed [Reynolds] for the nomination has been running here for 10 years, has probably spoken to everyone in that room 10 times," Branstad said. "We took the risk of going to the most conservative base of our party, and we won it fair and square, just like I won the primary fair and square."

The head of Mike Huckabee's HUCK PAC, Hogan Gidley, told the Washington Post, "It would be disrespectful to Mr. Vander Plaats and to many of Governor Huckabee's friends and supporters in Iowa if he were to endorse Governor Branstad without Mr. Vander Plaat's [sic] having already done so."

Meanwhile, the Cedar Rapids Gazette's Todd Dorman wins the prize for headline of the week: "Branstad Handles the Vander Pout."

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

What's the smart play for Vander Plaats?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 12:06:06 PM CDT

Bob Vander Plaats had a strong showing in the Republican primary for governor, winning 41 percent of the vote despite being massively outspent by Terry Branstad. He hasn't endorsed Branstad yet, and the post-primary meeting between the two candidates reportedly "did not go well". That sparked chatter about Vander Plaats running for governor as an independent candidate. He ruled out that option during the Republican primary campaign, but notably has said nothing during the past week to dispel the rumors. I figured he was trying to keep Branstad guessing in the hope that Branstad would choose a Vander Plaats loyalist as a running mate (perhaps retiring State Representative Jodi Tymeson). But no one from the Vander Plaats camp even made Branstad's short list, and the final choice, Kim Reynolds, looks straight out of the playbook of the religious right's nemesis Doug Gross.

Vander Plaats will be the featured guest on Steve Deace's WHO radio program today at 5 pm, on the eve of the Iowa GOP's state convention in Des Moines. Like Terry Branstad, I won't be listening to Deace's show, but I do enjoy a little scenario spinning about the options facing Vander Plaats.

UPDATE: Vander Plaats said he hasn't decided yet whether to run as an independent candidate. First thoughts on his comments today are after the jump.

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New Rasmussen poll shows largest-ever lead for Branstad

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 12:28:21 PM CDT

The Republican pollster Rasmussen finds Terry Branstad enjoying a post-primary bounce against Governor Chet Culver. A survey of 500 "likely Iowa voters" on June 14 found Branstad leading Culver 57 percent to 31 percent, with 6 percent of respondents not sure and 6 percent saying they would support some other candidate. Rasmussen's previous Iowa poll, taken about six weeks ago, showed Branstad ahead 53-38.

Click here for survey questions and toplines from this week's poll. President Obama's approve/disapprove numbers are 50/48, but Culver's are 41/58. Even if you assume that Rasmussen's Republican-leaning "house effect" skewed these numbers by a bit more than the stated 4.5 percent margin of error, this is obviously a bad poll for Culver.

I assume we will see some other pollsters survey the Iowa governor's race soon. I am surprised that the Des Moines Register hasn't published any new numbers on this matchup lately. Selzer and Co. conducted an Iowa poll for the Register the first week of June, but the newspaper's coverage so far has focused a subsample of GOP primary voters.

Although Rasmussen has polled many primary contests around the country this year, he never released a survey testing Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts before the Republican primary. Post your theories about reasons for the omission, or any comments about the Iowa governor's race, in this thread.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Iowa primary election results thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 20:00:00 PM CDT

Polls close at 9 pm, but I decided to post this thread early in case anyone wants to chat before results start coming in.

I'll update later with returns in the key Iowa races. For now, share any anecdotes about voting or political talk today. I ran into a friend who was a Republican for most of her life, even voting twice for George W. Bush. She voted for Chet Culver in 2006 and plans to volunteer for his campaign this year, mostly because she doesn't want Republicans to cut preschool funding and other social services for kids.

9:15 pm UPDATE: 9 percent of precincts reporting, Terry Branstad 47 percent, Bob Vander Plaats 46 percent, Rod Roberts 7 percent. I have no idea which part of the state has reported--if those are from northwest Iowa counties, Branstad probably doesn't have anything to worry about, but if that's from central or eastern Iowa, this could be a lot closer than I expected.

Brad Zaun leads the early returns in IA-03, but it seems like Polk County is coming in early.

9:40 pm UPDATE. The Associated Press has called the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate for Roxanne Conlin. She has about 80 percent of the vote in the early returns; Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen have about 10 percent each.

Branstad is opening up a lead on Vander Plaats, about 51-41.

Zaun is dominating the IA-03 primary with over 50 percent of the vote (about half the precincts counted).

10 pm UPDATE: Zaun is being called the winner in the IA-03 primary. He has about half the vote with about two-thirds of the precincts reporting.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads the IA-02 GOP primary in the early returns.

Matt Campbell leads Mike Denklau in the early returns for the IA-05 Democratic primary.

Conlin just finished giving her victory speech to her supporters.

Ako Abdul-Samad won the Democratic primary in Iowa House district 66 with about 75 percent of the vote.

10:35 pm UPDATE: The AP has called the gubernatorial primary for Branstad, who has 51 percent of the vote with about three quarters of the precincts counted. Matt Campbell won the fifth district Democratic primary.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks looks smart for not wasting money on tv ads in the IA-02 primary. She has been called the winner with 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race. The NRCC's favored candidate, Rob Gettemy, may actually finish dead last.

Matt Schultz has a pretty big lead in the GOP secretary of state primary, about 47 percent so far. The big surprise to me is that Chris Sanger (who hardly raised any money) has almost as many votes as George Eichhorn, who had quite a few endorsements and has been active in Iowa politics for a long time.

Tea party candidate Tom Shaw has a narrow lead in the Republican primary in Iowa House district 8, but it's too early to know if that lead will hold up.

11:25 pm UPDATE: It's official, Gettemy finished dead last in IA-02. Miller-Meeks won that four-way primary with an impressive 51 percent of the vote. Will Republicans unite behind her?

Zaun is sitting at about 43 percent with most of the IA-03 votes counted.

Branstad is still leading with 51 percent of the vote, to 40 percent for Vander Plaats. If the Club for Growth had invested $1 million in Vander Plaats, this could have been a nail-biter.

Matt Schultz did win the secretary of state primary with 47 percent of the vote. Political veteran George Eichhorn got 27 percent, and Chris Sanger got 26 percent despite spending almost no money.

Dave Jamison easily won the GOP primary for state treasurer with about 67 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Jim Heavens.

Campbell has a very big lead in the IA-05 Democratic primary, with about 76 percent of votes counted so far.

In Iowa Senate district 13, Tod Bowman easily won the four-way Democratic primary with more than 60 percent of the vote. He had key union endorsements. This should be an easy hold for us in November.

Anesa Kajtazovic won the House district 21 Democratic primary with more than 90 percent of the vote (Kerry Burt dropped out of the race this spring).

Democratic incumbents Chuck Isenhart, Dave Jacoby and Mary Gaskill easily held off primary challenges in House districts 27, 30 and 93, respectively. All won more than 80 percent of the vote.

In Iowa House district 8, tea partier Tom Shaw is officially the Republican primary winner over Stephen Richards, who almost beat Dolores Mertz in the 2008 election. I like our chances of holding a seat that should have been the GOP's best pickup opportunity in the Iowa House.

Check the AP's page for results in the other statehouse primaries (mostly GOP).

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention the results in Senate district 41. State Senator Dave Hartsuch, who defeated incumbent Maggie Tinsman in the 2006 GOP primary, got a taste of his own medicine when he lost the Republican primary to Roby Smith by a 52-48 margin. Rich Clewell won the Democratic primary with 56 percent to 44 percent for Republican-turned-Democrat Dave Thede. Scott County readers, do you think these results improve our chances of winning this district? It has historically been Republican, but registration numbers have been trending toward Democrats, evening things out.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Secretary of State candidate runs against Obama, "Chicago way"

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 15:56:24 PM CDT

Republican secretary of state candidate Matt Schultz launched a second television commercial CORRECTION: web ad called "Not the Chicago Way":

Transcript by me:

I'm Matt Schultz, and I'm running for Iowa secretary of state because I'm worried about the future of my children and the future of your children and grandchildren. It's time for new leadership in Des Moines, and I'm prepared to stand up and fight for fair and honest elections. Vote early, vote often might be the Chicago way, but it's not the Iowa way. I'm Matt Schultz, and I approved this message because I'm a conservative Republican fighting to protect the most important right of all: your right to vote.

Like Schultz's first ad, this commercial raises the specter of voter fraud without any evidence that this has been a problem in Iowa.

When Schultz says, "Vote early, vote often might be the Chicago way," the visual is a smiling Barack Obama in front of Obama/Biden campaign signs. The hint is sure to play well with Republican primary voters, many of whom may believe the 2008 election was stolen. That's easier to accept than the reality of a Democratic presidential candidate clobbering the Republican.

Journalists should ask Schultz if he really believes (as this commercial implies) that Barack Obama got where he is because of Chicago-style election fraud. Then they should ask him to prove that "vote early, vote often" has happened even once in Iowa during the past decade or two.

When Schultz says "I'm Matt Schultz, and I approved this message," the visual shows the words, "TRUST BUT VERIFY." Schultz used the same Ronald Reagan catch phrase in his first ad, although the Republican icon's famous words have nothing to do with voter fraud.

Your unintentional comedy of the day comes from Polk County Republican Party chairman Ted Sporer's blog, commenting on Schultz's commercial:

The only reason to oppose photo ID for voting is to perpetuate fraud. No other good faith explanation is possible. Although we are lucky to have the rarest of animals, an honest and competent Democrat, serving as Iowa's SoS, Mike Mauro's Democrat colleagues are your more garden variety and ethically challenged L/S/Ds.

As I discussed here, photo ID laws threaten to disenfranchise large numbers of voters (the 12 percent of the population lacking a photo ID) in order to solve a virtually non-existent problem (impersonating another voter at a polling place). That's why advocacy groups who work to protect "the most important right of all, your right to vote" almost universally oppose photo ID laws.

In case you were wondering, L/S/Ds means "Labor/Socialist/Democrats" in "the real Sporer" lingo.

Schultz may pander his way to his party's nomination, but his rhetoric ignores a fact that even Sporer grudgingly acknowledges: Secretary of State Mike Mauro is honest and highly competent. No one active in politics today has done more to safeguard fair and honest elections in Iowa than Mauro.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

How did Terry Branstad do it?

by: ghbraves

Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 14:33:51 PM CDT

(A lot of good points in here. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

This diary is actually a response to a desmoinesdem post earlier today.  I was going to make a comment, but my response was more robust, so here are my two cents that attempts to answer the burning question:

How did former Governor Terry Branstad avoid a Tea-Party challenger, when so many other Republicans around the U.S. have not?

Let’s be clear.  Everyone knows that Terry Branstad was not a pure conservative while he was governor of Iowa.  However, this year we have seen several candidates who were challenged from the right because many believed that they were not conservative enough, whether it be Charlie Crist in Florida, or Senator Bob Bennett in Utah.  To be clear, this is happening on the Democratic side too (i.e. Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania), so this is not only one party’s quest for purity.  However, this post is about the GOP.
There's More... :: (10 Comments, 866 words in story)

New Register poll sees Branstad cruising in GOP primary

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 08:37:03 AM CDT

About 57 percent of likely Iowa Republican primary voters support Terry Branstad, according to a new poll by Selzer and Co. for The Des Moines Register. Just 29 percent plan to vote for Bob Vander Plaats, and 8 percent plan to vote for Rod Roberts. The Des Moines Register poll surveyed 1,793 Iowans at least 18 years old, and the sub-sample of Republican primary voters included 501 people. (That included independents who said they planned to vote in the GOP primary; Iowa allows people to change their party registration on primary election day.) The poll was in the field from June 1 through June 3, and results for the likely Republican voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Two other recent Iowa polls by Public Policy Polling and Research 2000 for KCCI have found Branstad comfortably ahead of Vander Plaats and Roberts but below 50 percent. In the 2002 Republican primary, Vander Plaats did much better than his final poll numbers, but he benefited that year from a highly negative campaign between Steve Sukup and Doug Gross.

This primary might have played out differently had Vander Plaats had more resources to make his case. About 34 percent of likely Republican primary voters weren't sure whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, and 60 percent said the same about Roberts. Branstad not only is much better known, he also scored highest on attributes like "best ideas for bringing new jobs to Iowa" and "best able to curb government spending" (which is laughable when you consider Branstad's record on fiscal issues).

I will never understand why the Club for Growth and other national right-wing organizations decided not to get involved in the Iowa governor's race. Given the way the national conservative movement pushed Marco Rubio against Florida Governor Charlie Crist, you'd think they would have some issues with Branstad (who received a "D" grade from the Cato Institute when he was governor).

Selzer's poll for the Des Moines Register also asked likely Republican primary voters several questions about gay marriage. While 77 percent of them agreed that "Iowans should have a chance to vote on changing the constitution to specifically ban gay marriage," I was surprised to see that 20 percent of likely Republican voters disagreed with that statement.

Meanwhile, only 50 percent of likely GOP primary voters agreed that "Iowans should vote to remove current Supreme Court justices from their office because of their decision on gay marriage." An amazing (to me) 45 percent disagreed with that statement. Regarding the statement, "Some Iowans have overreacted to this issue, and having gay marriage in Iowa is just not that big a deal," 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters agreed, while 62 percent disagreed.

Share any thoughts about the Des Moines Register's poll in this thread.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Weekend open thread: Election prediction contest edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 19:30:09 PM CDT

It's time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. No prizes will be awarded, but winners will get bragging rights. Can anyone dethrone American007, overall winner of our 2008 election contest?

Enter by answering the following questions. To qualify for the contest, your predictions must be posted as a comment in this thread by 7 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. This isn't like The Price is Right; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low.

1. How many votes will be cast in the Republican primary for Iowa governor? (Hint: about 199,000 Iowans voted in the hard-fought 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.)

2. What percentages of the vote will Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts receive in the Republican primary for governor?

3. What percentages of the vote will Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen receive in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate?

4. What percentages of the vote will Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje and Chris Reed receive in the Republican primary in Iowa's second Congressional district? Remember, if you expect this nomination to be decided at a district convention, make sure your guess has the top vote-getter below 35 percent.

5. Who will be the top four candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa's third Congressional district, and what percentages of the vote will they receive? Again, keep the top vote-getter below 35 percent if you expect this nomination to go to a district convention. Your possible answers are Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees, Scott Batcher, Jason Welch and Pat Bertroche.

6. What percentages of the vote will Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell receive in the Democratic primary in Iowa's fifth Congressional district?

7. What percentages of the vote will Matt Schultz, George Eichhorn and Chris Sanger receive in the Republican primary for secretary of state? (I covered that campaign in this post.)

8. What percentages of the vote will Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens receive in the Republican primary for state treasurer? (The Iowa Republican blog has been covering this race from time to time.)

9. What percentages of the vote will State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and challenger Clair Rudison receive in the Democratic primary for Iowa House district 66? (Click here for background.)

10. What percentages of the vote will Tom Shaw, Stephen Richards and Alissa Wagner receive in the Republican primary for Iowa House district 8? (Click here and here for background. Keep in mind that although Wagner withdrew from the race and endorsed Shaw, her name will remain on the ballot.)

Don't be afraid to make some wild guesses. You can't win if you don't play!

This is also an open thread, so share whatever's on your mind.

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

Two Iowa polls: so alike, yet so different

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 11:57:39 AM CDT

KCCI-TV in Des Moines released a new Iowa poll conducted by Research 2000 yesterday. I can't find details about the sample or when it was in the field, but topline results were in this report. The numbers for the Republican gubernatorial primary and the Democratic U.S. Senate primary were similar to those found in a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday. KCCI's poll found that Terry Branstad has 44 percent support in the GOP primary, Bob Vander Plaats has 29 percent and Rod Roberts has 12 percent, with 15 percent undecided. Public Policy Polling had Branstad with 46 percent, Vander Plaats with 31 percent and Roberts with 13 percent.

In the Senate primary, KCCI's poll shows Roxanne Conlin way ahead with 48 percent, Bob Krause with 13 percent, Tom Fiegen with 12 percent and 27 percent undecided. PPP had Conlin with 48 percent support among Democratic primary voters, to 13 percent for Krause and 8 percent for Fiegen.

In the general election matchup for governor, KCCI's new poll has Branstad leading Governor Chet Culver, 51 percent to 42 percent, with 7 percent undecided. Those aren't good numbers for Culver, but they're slightly better than PPP's poll showing Branstad ahead 52-37.

When the pollsters tested Conlin against Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the results were shockingly different. KCCI's new poll by Research 2000 has Grassley at 50 percent, Conlin at 42 percent and 8 percent undecided. Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling has Grassley leading Conlin 57-31 and concludes that Grassley is safe for re-election.

The KCCI poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. PPP's poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent. One of these pollsters is way off on the Senate race. I have no idea which one, and I don't know whether it has something to do with the sample or the weighting. It's strange for two polls taken around the same time to show similar numbers in some races but hugely different numbers in one contest. PPP found that Conlin "is an unknown to 53% of voters in the state," which sounded like a high number to me. I haven't seen KCCI's numbers on Conlin's name recognition.

I will update this post with more details about the KCCI/Research 2000 poll when those become available.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Sarah Palin just made a big mistake

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 09:50:39 AM CDT

If Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she will regret endorsing Terry Branstad yesterday in the Republican primary for governor.

First thoughts on how this will play out are after the jump.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 1177 words in story)

New poll shows Branstad with big lead over Culver

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 14:42:52 PM CDT

Public Policy Polling's new poll on the Iowa governor's race has a lot of bad news for Democratic incumbent Chet Culver. The poll was in the field from May 25 to 27 and surveyed 1,277 Iowa voters, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.

Former Governor Terry Branstad, the likely Republican nominee, leads Culver 52 percent to 37 percent. Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts lead the governor by smaller margins, 43-38 and 40-38, respectively, but it's bad for an incumbent to be below 40 percent against all challengers. Only 28 percent of PPP's respondents approved of Culver's performance, while 56 percent disapproved.

I don't have much to add to PPP director Tom Jensen's comments:

[Branstad] has a 49-33 advantage among independent voters, and wins 20% of the Democratic vote while losing only 7% of the Republicans to Culver. Branstad's not overwhelmingly popular, with 42% of voters viewing him favorably to 37% with a negative opinion. But more important than the way voters view Branstad may be the way they see Culver, and the current Governor's approval rating is only 28% with 56% of voters giving him bad marks. His approval with independents is 22% and with Republicans it's 4%, and even among Democrats he stands only at 56%. [...]

It's a long way until November but for now Republicans are in pretty good shape in this race. Culver can't get reelected with these approval numbers- he will somehow have to make voters change their minds about him.

You can download PPP's polling memo (pdf file) here or read it at Iowa Independent.

To my knowledge, 28 percent is the lowest approval rating ever recorded for Culver by any pollster. Incumbents below 50 percent approval are usually considered vulnerable, and incumbents below 40 percent are highly vulnerable. If Culver's approval really is 28 percent, calling this election an uphill battle would be an understatement.

Branstad needs to make this race a referendum on the incumbent, while Culver needs to make it a choice. Branstad's record has yet to come under much scrutiny, and he keeps throwing stones from his glass house. Under Culver and the Democratic-controlled legislature, Iowa's fiscal health has been strong during difficult times for state budgets across the country. In contrast, "Mastercard Governor" Branstad kept two sets of books and borrowed money to pay bills.

PPP's numbers on the Branstad-Culver matchup are similar to what Republican pollster Rasmussen found a month earlier (though Culver's approval rating wasn't nearly as dismal in the Rasmussen poll). So much for the conspiracy theory about PPP being in cahoots with Iowa Democrats. Unfortunately, the recent Research 2000 poll for KCCI showing Branstad ahead of Culver 48-41, with Culver's favorability in the mid-40s, looks like an outlier.

I keep waiting for the new Selzer and Co. Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register. The last one was in January, and most years Selzer conducts an Iowa poll in May.  

Any comments about the governor's race are welcome in this thread.

Final note on polling: the Cedar Rapids Gazette's Todd Dorman fired up the wayback machine and discovered that in the 2002 Republican primary, Vander Plaats significantly outperformed his final poll numbers. He'll need some GOTV magic to overcome the 46-31 lead PPP found for Branstad in the latest survey. I doubt the one-two punch of James Dobson and Chuck Norris can get the job done for Vander Plaats.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)
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