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IA-01: Is the Democratic primary Pat Murphy's to lose?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 09:26:05 AM CST

By some measures, the race for the Democratic nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district looks wide open. All five candidates have raised enough money to run credible campaigns. None are rookie candidates: four have been elected multiple times to either local government or the state legislature, and the fifth has prior experience running for Congress.  

For various reasons, I've long felt that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy was best positioned to win the Democratic nomination, whether it's decided in the June 3 primary or at an IA-01 district convention (if no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the primary votes).

Last week Murphy's campaign released partial results from an internal poll showing a "commanding lead" against his four Democratic rivals. I've enclosed the polling memo below, along with a few thoughts on its findings and the dynamic in this race going forward.

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Mid-week open thread: Stimulus anniversary edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 19:57:00 PM CST

What's on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? Here's an open thread: all topics welcome.

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the federal stimulus) into law. Bleeding Heartland has long held that the stimulus mitigated the impact of the "Great Recession," in part because the package saved Iowa and other states from enacting deep cuts in public services and . The stimulus had flaws, stemming primarily from the president aiming too low on the size of the package and concessions made to win a handful of conservative votes in Congress.

After the jump I've posted more links on the recovery act's impact.

P.S. - The dumbest thing I've read this week was Kevin Hall's comment for The Iowa Republican blog about former State Senator Swati Dandekar, a candidate for Congress in the first district. "Swati Dandekar is obviously an intelligent and accomplished woman. However, she speaks in broken English and I don't think that translates very well to a wide electorate." Reality: Dandekar's English is very fluent. Having a noticeable accent is different from not speaking a language well. I would like to hear Hall try to talk in a non-native language.  

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IA-01 4Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CST

Last week I never got around to posting highlights from the year-end Federal Election Commission reports for candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district. Better late than never.

On the Democratic side, the money race remains highly competitive; all five candidates entered the election year with more than $100,000 to spend before the primary. The Republican race in IA-01 provided another reminder that establishment support does not necessarily translate into strong fundraising.  

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Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:13:58 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I've posted some highlights after the jump. The "news" of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn't the most interesting part of his speech.

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IA-01: First labor endorsement for Anesa Kajtazovic, five more for Pat Murphy

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 19:34:00 PM CDT

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic received her first labor endorsement this week in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa's first Congressional district. The United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 431 and 1149 decided to support Kajtazovic because "she understands better than anyone the concerns of Iowa's working families," and "She shares the experience of arriving to Iowa as an immigrant with many of our members." According to the press release I've posted after the jump, the UFCW Locals 431 and 1149 represent more than 2,500 workers living in IA-01.

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy had seven organized labor endorsements going into this week. Today his campaign announced that Murphy has the backing of five more labor unions: the Iowa State Association of Letter Carriers, the Iowa Statewide American Postal Workers Union, Iowa Statewide United Transportation Union (SMART Union), Statewide Ironworkers Labor Union Local 89, and the Teamsters Local 90. I enclose the full press release below. It does not mention the number of members who live in IA-01.

The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council endorsed Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon last month. The other two Democrats running in IA-01 are Dave O'Brien, who supports organized labor's agenda, and Swati Dandekar, who was not known as a pro-labor member of the Iowa House and Senate.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 08:15:00 AM CDT

All Congressional candidates had to file third-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission by October 15. After the jump I've posted details on the fundraising by Iowa's candidates for U.S. House.

The Senate reports are not online yet at the Federal Election Commission's website, so those numbers will come later.

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More Iowa Congressional voting and reaction to the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 12:19:06 PM CDT

It's time for a new post on how Iowa's representatives in the U.S. House and Senate are handling the ongoing shutdown of non-essential federal government operations. (Click here for details on Congressional votes and Iowa political reaction up to October 1.)

Thousands of Iowans who work for the federal government or serve in the National Guard still have no idea when they'll receive their next paycheck. The best news I've heard all week is that an estimated 66,000 Iowa women and children who receive benefits through the WIC program will get their checks for October, at least.  

Although there has been no progress toward an agreement on a continuing spending resolution, I've noticed one big change in Iowa Congressional voting during the last few days. Whereas Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were sticking with most of their fellow Democrats in earlier votes on federal spending, this week both Braley and Loebsack have joined House Republican attempts to fund the federal government in bits and pieces. Follow me after the jump for more details.

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Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 10:38:19 AM CDT

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it's not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I've enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

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IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic campaign rollout

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:10:00 AM CDT

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic kicks off her Congressional campaign today with events in Marshalltown, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and Dubuque. I enclose her campaign's press release after the jump. Like rival first district candidate Swati Dandekar, Kajtazovic emphasizes her life story as an example of the American dream. Like outgoing U.S. Representative Bruce Braley, Kajtazovic lives in Waterloo, and she describes herself in today's announcement as a "Bruce Braley Democrat" who "will grow on his progressive legacy" in Congress.

I will update this post later for clips from Kajtazovic's events today. Earlier this month she launched her campaign website and completed a "listening tour" of all 20 counties in the first Congressional district.

I highly recommend watching KWWL journalist Ron Steele's interview with Kajtazovic, which aired over the weekend: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. The district leans Democratic with a partisan voting index of D+5. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, IA-01 contains 162,447 active registered Democrats, 136,290 Republicans, and 192,715 no-party voters. Kajtazovic will compete in the Democratic primary against former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and three candidates from Linn County: former State Senator Dandekar, Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, and Cedar Rapids-based attorney Dave O'Brien.  

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 747 words in story)

Quick hits on the five Democratic candidates in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:35:00 AM CDT

The Democratic primary in the open first Congressional district will be one of Iowa's most interesting elections next year. In addition to separate posts on major developments in the race, I plan to update Bleeding Heartland readers periodically on how all five Democrats are campaigning. The winner of the primary will go into the general election as the slight favorite given the partisan lean of this D+5 district and the voter registration advantage for Democrats there.

Follow me after the jump for recent news about each of the contenders.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 800 words in story)

IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic launches campaign website, ActBlue page

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 07:38:48 AM CDT

I haven't seen any official announcement or press release, but State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic has launched an Anesa for Iowa campaign website, as well as a fundraising page for a Congressional campaign on ActBlue. As of Friday evening, her Facebook page features a new photo of an Irish-themed "Anesa Kajtazovic for Congress" logo in honor of the Irish fest scheduled for this weekend in Waterloo.

Kajtazovic is the fifth Democrat seeking the nomination in Iowa's first district, which Bruce Braley is vacating to run for the U.S. Senate. State Representative Pat Murphy was the first to declare, followed by Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O'Brien, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar. 

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

IA-01: Patty Judge advising Swati Dandekar's campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 14:25:00 PM CDT

Former Lieutenant Governor and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge is advising former State Senator Swati Dandekar's campaign for Iowa's first Congressional district, James Q. Lynch reports for the Cedar Rapids Gazette today. The article also includes comments from Dandekar and Judge on perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Dandekar's candidacy: the perception that she risked the Iowa Senate majority in 2011.

After the jump I've posted excerpts from Lynch's article and a few thoughts about why accepting a position on the Iowa Utilities Board will likely be a problem for Dandekar in the IA-01 primary.

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IA-01: Swati Dandekar launches campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 14:20:00 PM CDT

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar launched her Congressional campaign yesterday in Marion, saying she is a "testament that the American dream is alive." I've posted her official bio and news release after the jump; her campaign is online at Swati Dandekar for Congress. James Q. Lynch reported on yesterday's event, where Dandekar emphasized her commitment to education and helping to create "jobs that pay living wages."

Dandekar won multiple elections in swing Iowa legislative districts. While her moderate image may have crossover appeal, getting through the Democratic primary will be a major challenge. Dandekar said yesterday that she was encouraged by conversations with voters across IA-01. But key factions in the Democratic base resent aspects of her legislative record and the fact that she put the Iowa Senate majority at risk by accepting a position on the Iowa Utilities Board in 2011. Furthermore, the Democratic primary competition in IA-01 includes Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, a onetime Republican who will draw support from Linn County moderates.

Any comments about the IA-01 campaign are welcome in this thread.

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IA-01: Dave O'Brien joins Democratic field

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 13:38:00 PM CDT

Dave O'Brien launched his campaign for the open seat in Iowa's first Congressional district this week. Speaking in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, O'Brien said he's "sick and tired of playing defense" and ready to "go the on offensive with an aggressive and progressive policy agenda." He called for policies oriented toward building the middle class and improving our infrastructure.

O'Brien's campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter. I've posted his campaign announcement and official bio after the jump. He emphasizes that he's a "lifelong progressive Democrat"--an unspoken contrast with Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who was a Republican until 2009, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar, long known as one of the more conservative Democrats in the Iowa legislature. Vernon kicked off her Congressional campaign last month, and Dandekar appears likely to announce later this summer. Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy has been running for months, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic recently formed an exploratory committee.

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Department of short-sighted cheap shots

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 10:45:00 AM CDT

The typical division of labor in campaigns nowadays is for the candidate to stay mostly positive when communicating with voters, while political parties or outside groups do the hatchet work on opponents. That pattern is already developing in the race for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat. Democratic candidate Bruce Braley is touting his record and his stands on the issues as a way to get his name out and identify supporters. Meanwhile, the Iowa Democratic Party has taken a few shots at candidates seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

If future salvos look anything like the website the Iowa Democratic Party created to mock David Young, Braley might be better off without their help.

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IA-01: Swati Dandekar resigns from Iowa Utilities Board

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 14:25:00 PM CDT

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar has resigned from the Iowa Utilities Board, effective July 22. Her resignation letter (pdf) does not give any specific reason for the decision but thanks Governor Terry Branstad for the opportunity to serve. The governor accepted Dandekar's resignation and will search for her replacement. Branstad appointed Dandekar to the three-member Iowa Utilities Board in September 2011, forcing a special election in her swing Senate district (suburban Linn County). Democrat Liz Mathis won that election and was re-elected to a four-year term in 2012.

Dandekar's term on the utilities board was to run through April 2015. I assume she would not leave that position unless she has decided to run for Congress in the open first district. I am surprised that she seems ready to follow through, because there have been few public signs of life from her exploratory committee since it was created two months ago. For example, there have been no postings on Facebook or twitter since May 9, nor am I aware of any press releases. In my opinion, the Democratic primary will be an uphill battle for Dandekar.

Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O'Brien has events scheduled for July 10 in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo. Assuming he and Dandekar both announce candidacies in IA-01, that makes five Democrats seeking to replace Bruce Braley: three from Linn County (Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, Dandekar, and O'Brien), State Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo (in the exploratory committee phase for now). I believe at least one or two of those candidates will end up not filing for the ballot next March.  

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic forming exploratory commitee

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 14:01:00 PM CDT

Two-term Iowa House Democrat Anesa Kajtazovic announced today that she is exploring a run for Congress in Iowa's first district. She plans a "listening tour" in the 20 counties. I haven't seen a campaign website yet, but Kajtazovic has a Facebook page here. I've posted her official bio after the jump. Kajtazovic was first elected to an Iowa House seat covering part of Waterloo in 2010. Her primary challenge prompted then-incumbent State Representative Kerry Burt to retire under pressure. She has long been considered a "rising star" in Iowa Democratic circles. Running for Congress would mean that she cannot seek re-election in House district 61 next year. She tweeted on July 3, "'Sometimes the riskiest decision we make can turn out to be the best' a friend once told me......"

If elected, Kajtazovic would be one of the youngest members of the U.S. House (she turns 27 next year). She might also become the only Bosnia native in Congress. Her family fled the war in former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, and she commented today, "I was always pasionate about policy, and just what goes on in the world around. I think I was influenced at a young age that it really does matter, after going through war."

The other declared Democratic candidates in IA-01 are former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon. I haven't seen much sign of activity from former State Senator Swati Dandekar's exploratory committee. State Representative Tyler Olson hasn't ruled out running for Congress yet, but most expect him to announce a gubernatorial campaign soon. Like Vernon, Dandekar and Olson are from Linn County. Kajtazovic's home county, Black Hawk, is the second-largest by population in IA-01, followed by Dubuque.

John Deeth is on board with Kajtazovic already. I'll be happy to see any strong candidate emerge from a clean, competitive primary. It can't be bad to have several Democrats pounding the pavement to ID supporters next spring. IA-01 leans Democratic but isn't a safe seat, especially in a midterm election year. As of July 2013, the 20 counties contained a total of 162,549 active registered Democrats, 136,259 Republicans, and 192,142 no-party voters. UPDATE: Added Kajtazovic's official announcement below.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 784 words in story)

State Senator Jeff Danielson not running in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:45:00 AM CDT

State Senator Jeff Danielson e-mailed supporters Monday evening to announce,

I will not be seeking any office during the 2014 elections. I've received tremendous support and encouragement by Iowans from all walks of life to run for either Congress or statewide office. It's been overwhelming for an Iowa kid from humble beginnings.

I have obligations to family, work and community here in the Cedar Valley that I enjoy and want to devote my energy to at this moment in time.

Thanks again for your continued support and I look forward to working with you to keep Iowa pro-growth & progressive for years to come.

Iowa's first Congressional district covers 20 counties, including the Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area in Black Hawk County. State Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in that district, left open when Representative Bruce Braley decided to run for U.S. Senate. Cedar Rapids City Council Member Monica Vernon is a likely Democratic candidate, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar, also of Linn County, has formed an exploratory committee.

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IA-01: Jeff Danielson still considering it

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 31, 2013 at 17:20:00 PM CDT

Democratic State Senator Jeff Danielson told the Des Moines Register this week that he will not run for governor in 2014. I asked Danielson today whether he is still considering running for Congress in the open first district. Having just been re-elected to a four-year term in Iowa Senate district 30, Danielson could run for higher office next year without giving up his Senate seat. Regarding the IA-01 race, Danielson responded,

I have not made a decision. I have no timeline. My decision will be independent of who's in or who's out on either side of the ticket.

State Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in IA-01. Cedar Rapids City Council Member Monica Vernon is planning to run, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar, also of Linn County, has formed an exploratory committee. No Democrat from Black Hawk County has entered the race. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, where Danielson lives, is the second-largest metro area in IA-01.

After the jump I've posted voter registration totals for all 20 counties in the first Congressional district. Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread.

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New IA-01 candidate speculation thread

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

It's time for a new thread on the open first Congressional district seat. So far former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy is the only declared Democratic candidate. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar formed an exploratory committee last week. State Senator Jeff Danielson of the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area has said he's keeping his options open. I expect a decision relatively soon after the legislative session wraps up.  

Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon "is nearly ready to announce" her candidacy, Rick Smith reported. She was first elected to the council in 2007, switched parties in 2009, and was re-elected in 2011. Cedar Rapids plaintiff's attorney Dave O'Brien may also run, Jennifer Jacobs reported. O'Brien's background is similar to Bruce Braley's before his first campaign in 2006.

State Representative Tyler Olson, who also chairs the Iowa Democratic Party, hasn't ruled out running for Congress, but some Polk County Democrats believe that if he runs for higher office next year, it will be against Governor Terry Branstad.

On the Republican side, Cedar Rapids business owner Steve Rathje and Dubuque business owner Rod Blum are already seeking the nomination in IA-01. Once the legislature adjourns for the year, my hunch is that a Republican lawmaker will join the race. State Representative Walt Rogers of the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area confirmed earlier this year that he's thinking about it.

The Iowa Republican's Kevin Hall reported last month that former Secretary of State and Cedar Rapids Mayor Paul Pate is "90 percent" likely to run for office in 2014. I think Pate would be a strong general election candidate but might have trouble winning an IA-01 GOP primary. It's also possible that he may run for Secretary of State again if Matt Schultz goes for the open U.S. Senate seat.

Current Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is running for re-election and seems to have ruled out the IA-01 race, judging from his recent comments to Todd Dorman.

After the jump I've posted the latest voter registration numbers for the 20 counties in IA-01. Linn County is the largest by population, but it doesn't dominate the district. About 30 percent of the registered Democrats, 28 percent of the Republicans, and 27 percent of the no-party voters in IA-01 live in Linn County.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 24 words in story)
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