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IA-Sen: Rob Hogg making Senate bid official

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 21, 2015 at 13:42:00 PM CDT

After two months of exploring a candidacy, Democratic State Senator Rob Hogg will make his bid for U.S. Senate official tomorrow, launching a three-day tour of twelve Iowa communities. His full announcement and tour schedule is after the jump. Hogg will kick off the campaign in Callender (Webster County), "a community 15 miles southwest of Fort Dodge."

"I will be making my announcement in Callender as a symbol of my support for small towns and rural Iowa," Hogg said.  "I am also announcing in Callender because my grandmother was born in Callender in 1902 and family is important to me."

Former State Senator Tom Fiegen and former State Representative Bob Krause are also seeking the Senate nomination and have appeared at numerous local Democratic events this year. Krause and Fiegen competed in the 2010 IA-Sen primary, finishing well behind Roxanne Conlin in that contest. This year, Fiegen is branding himself as a "Bernie Sanders Democrat," posting far more frequently on social media about the Sanders presidential effort than about his own Senate bid. Whether Democratic activists who are "feeling the Bern" will translate into a large base of support for Fiegen after the Iowa caucuses remains to be seen.

Although both Krause and Fiegen promote progressive values and policies, I plan to support Hogg in the Democratic primary. He has been fighting good fights in the Iowa legislature since 2003, sometimes battling bad legislation that had strong backing in his own caucus.

Whoever he may be, the eventual nominee will have an uphill battle against six-term incumbent Senator Chuck Grassley. Not only will the Senate Judiciary Committee chair likely be able to outspend his opponent, he has never lost an election and still has strong favorability numbers, according to most opinion polls. Speaking to Roll Call's Tom Curry last week, Iowa's senior senator speculated that Hogg would be the most difficult challenger for him to face: "I know him a little bit, not very much, but he will be a strong competitor."

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Wing Ding edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 16, 2015 at 15:37:38 PM CDT

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

More than twenty Iowa Democratic county committees put on a great "Wing Ding" in Clear Lake Friday night. The Surf Ballroom was packed to capacity, thanks to appearances by four of the five Democratic presidential hopefuls. Despite a fairly long list of speakers including candidates for U.S. House and Senate and State Senator Amanda Ragan, who was receiving an award, the Wing Ding amazingly finished ahead of schedule. I enclose below my take on all the speeches.

For those following the saga of three former Ron Paul campaign operatives, recently indicted for their role in making illegal payments to then State Senator Kent Sorenson: Russ Choma covered the prosecutors' latest court filing for Mother Jones. Prosecutors allege the operatives "were prepared to leak documents to harm Sorenson in 2012 if they couldn't obtain his endorsement for Ron Paul." An attorney for Jesse Benton acknowledged that in late 2011, his client "threatened to expose Mr. Sorenson, believing that Mr. Sorenson was trying to blackmail the 2012 RP Campaign, if Mr. Sorenson did not make up his mind on whether to commit to the Ron Paul Campaign." But the lawyer said Benton did not follow through on what he described as "a knee-jerk, emotional reaction." Of course, there would have been no reason to carry out the threat after Sorenson agreed to take the money in exchange for switching his allegiance to Paul.

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IA-Sen: Rob Hogg exploring challenge to Chuck Grassley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 08, 2015 at 12:40:00 PM CDT

Democratic State Senator Rob Hogg announced today,

I have formed an exploratory committee to consider becoming a candidate for the United States Senate in 2016.  Like many Iowans, I believe we need Congress to work better for all of our citizens and our country's future.  If we had a Congress that worked better, we could:

> Build a vibrant, full-employment economy that works for all Americans.
> Improve public health and public safety through prevention, prevention, and more prevention.
> Strengthen Social Security and Medicare and fulfill our commitments to seniors, veterans, and people living with disabilities.
> Confront the challenge of our century - climate change - through solutions that work for our economy, our health, and our environment.

Hogg didn't set a timetable for deciding on a U.S. Senate bid but said he will travel around Iowa in the coming weeks. His full press release and official bio are after the jump. His exploratory committee is on the web here. He's on Twitter @SenatorRobHogg and on Facebook here.

Hogg was just re-elected to his third four-year term in the Iowa Senate last November, so he would not have to give up his legislative seat in order to run for U.S. Senate in 2016. Most recently, he has chaired the Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee; before that, he chaired the Judiciary Committee. He is among the most outspoken Iowa lawmakers on climate change and other environmental issues.

Two Democrats have already announced plans to run against Grassley: former State Representative Bob Krause and former State Senator Tom Fiegen. They recently discussed their key issues with Mike Glover of the Iowa Daily Democrat. Krause and Fiegen also competed in the 2010 Democratic primary, which Roxanne Conlin won with about 77 percent of the vote.

UPDATE: Added below further comments from Hogg, via Iowa Starting Line.

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Kiernan resigning as head of the Iowa Democratic Party

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 13:33:19 PM CDT

The Des Moines Register reported this morning that Michael Kiernan is stepping down as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Kiernan is leaving because of personal reasons, [IDP Executive Director Norm] Sterzenbach said. He declined to go into details but noted that Democrats will hold a press conference at 2 p.m.

The Democratic State Central Committee will hold a special meeting Thursday night to vote on a new chairman.

I'll update this post after Kiernan's press conference today. UPDATE: Kiernan said he is resigning "because of personal health reasons. I am resigning so that I can focus on my family and my health. Believe me when I say that I would be here fighting to elect more Democrats every day if I could." I posted the complete statement released by the Iowa Democratic Party after the jump. I'm sure all Bleeding Heartland readers join me in wishing Kiernan a speedy recovery.

Kiernan was selected to chair the Iowa Democratic Party in January 2009. Under his leadership the party has been out-raising the Republican Party of Iowa. He also helped recruit Roxanne Conlin to run against Senator Chuck Grassley. Speaking to her supporters after winning yesterday's primary election,

Conlin told a story about January 2009.

"I was sitting there innocently with nothing on my mind but the concerns of my clients when an old dear friend insisted on an appointment," Conlin said.

The old friend, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan, told her that he wanted to talk to her about something.

"The something that he wanted to talk to me about was my running against Grassley. I thought he'd lost his mind. I said, 'You must be kidding me!"

As the crowd laughed, Conlin said: "So it turned out it was a good idea after all."

That was months before Bob Krause or Tom Fiegen had announced plans to run against Grassley. It showed a lot of foresight for Kiernan to be seeking out a high-profile challenger for that race.  

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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.

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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.

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Linkfest on the Iowa Democratic primary for U.S. Senate

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 09:28:21 AM CDT

Iowa's primary election is one week from today, and while most of the competitive races are on the Republican side, Democrats do have some choices to make as well. The Sioux City Journal's Bret Hayworth wrote a good summary of the campaign between Matt Campbell and Mike Denklau in Iowa's fifth Congressional district, which covers 32 counties.

In most other parts of Iowa, the only choice facing Democrats is on the U.S. Senate part of the primary ballot. Lots of links on the race between Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause are after the jump.

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IA-Sen: Roxanne Conlin launches first tv ad

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 24, 2010 at 09:24:11 AM CDT

Roxanne Conlin, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, begins television advertising across Iowa this week. I'm not able to embed the commercial, but click here to watch. The Conlin campaign released this transcript:

"I'm Roxanne Conlin. Taking on the special interests has been the cause of my life. Like taking on the big banks to help family farms at risk of foreclosure. I took on corrupt politicians and corporations who violated the public trust. I'm running for U.S. Senate to take this fight to Washington. Fight for relief on Main Street, not more bailouts for Wall Street. Because the special interests have had their turn. Now, it's our turn. I'm Roxanne Conlin and I approved this message."

I noticed a small omission from that transcript: in the commercial, Conlin says, "As a prosecutor I took on corrupt politicians..." That's important, because many Iowans may not remember that she served as U.S. attorney for Iowa's southern district from 1977 to 1981.

This ad is a shorter version of the introductory video Conlin's campaign released last fall, which I discussed here. It's a fairly basic message for Iowans who haven't heard of Conlin, and it makes sense for her to raise her profile just before the June 8 primary. Though this ad doesn't mention five-term Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, it starts building the case Conlin will make later in the campaign: Grassley has stood up for special interests throughout his career. I believe Grassley voted for the financial reform bill last week in order to undercut the narrative Conlin will build against him.

All three Democratic challengers to Grassley attended a Johnson County Democrats event over the weekend. John Deeth blogged the "Grassley retirement party" here and posted photos here. At Iowa Independent, Adam Sullivan posted video of Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen criticizing Conlin. I agree with Krause and Fiegen on many domestic policies, and I appreciate the way Krause has spoken out against our military involvement in Afghanistan. However, they are aiming at the wrong target in attacking Conlin now. No one's under the illusion that it will be easy to beat Grassley, but it's a stretch for Krause and Fiegen to suggest that they are stronger candidates than Conlin. She has more name recognition already and is in a better position to campaign statewide than they are.

Late last week Conlin called on Grassley to denounce Kentucky Republican Rand Paul's comments about civil rights. Paul suggested that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate. Without mentioning Paul's name, Grassley's spokesperson told Iowa Independent,

Sen. Grassley's position is that if a place is open for business it should be open for everyone.  You may know that Grassley was a co-sponsor of the 1982 and 2006 reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 companion to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  He was in the middle of the agreement reached on the 1982 legislation. Grassley also supported the 1991 extension of the Civil Rights Act.  That was the last major amendment to the Civil Rights Act.  It was broadened in 1972, after its passage in 1964.

Grassley is wise to put some distance between himself and Paul's views. As Assistant Iowa Attorney General in the 1970s, Conlin prosecuted the first cases under our state's civil rights law.  

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Biden in Cedar Rapids and other events coming up this week

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 16, 2010 at 18:23:04 PM CDT

Governor Chet Culver and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge are kicking off their re-election campaign this week with events all over the state. One highlight will be Tuesday's rally at noon in Cedar Rapids' Greene Square Park, headlined by Vice President Joe Biden. To RSVP for any of the Culver campaign events, click here.

Follow me after the jump for the whole event calendar. If you know of anything I've left out, please post a comment or send me an e-mail: desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 11, 2010 at 06:41:02 AM CDT

Governor Chet Culver kicks off his re-election campaign on Monday, May 17. The governor, First Lady Mari Culver, and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge will hold events in 41 counties over five days. Members of the public can RSVP to attend the Culver campaign events here.

Details on those and many other events can be found after the jump.

Bike to Work week also begins next Monday and runs through May 21. According to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition,

In 2009, 716 employers, 114 cities, and 2,395 commuters (22% first-timers) participated. Approximately 63,188 commuting miles were pledged, 3,510 gallons of gas saved, and $7,336.83 saved in fuel costs. Contact Mark Wyatt at (515) 309-2867 or mark@iowabicyclecoalition.org.

Here's hoping the bicycle commuters will get warm, dry weather next week.

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Big gains for Conlin and Culver in new KCCI poll

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 07, 2010 at 07:25:25 AM CDT

Democratic Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin and Governor Chet Culver markedly improved their position in the latest statewide poll by Research 2000 for KCCI-TV. The pollster surveyed 600 likely Iowa voters between May 3 and May 5, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

In the Senate race, five-term incumbent Republican Chuck Grassley leads Conlin 49 percent to 40 percent. The last time Research 2000 polled this race for KCCI in mid-February, Grassley led Conlin 56-35. The firm has not polled Grassley against either of the other Democratic Senate candidates, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause.

To my knowledge, Grassley has never been below 50 percent in a public poll before. The favorability numbers suggest that support for Conlin has more room to grow, because 20 percent of respondents didn't know enough about her to have an opinion. Only 5 percent of respondents said the same about Grassley. Michael O'Brien of The Hill declared Conlin "within striking distance" of Grassley.

In the governor's race, the new poll found former Governor Terry Branstad leading Culver 48 percent to 41 percent. Normally those numbers wouldn't look good for an incumbent, but in Research 2000's February poll for KCCI, Branstad's lead was twice as large (54-38). DavidNYC of Swing State Project quipped that Culver's numbers no longer resemble those of the 1962 New York Mets but look more like those of the 1963 Mets. Culver led Bob Vander Plaats 44 percent to 40 percent and Rod Roberts by 46 percent to 36 percent.

I frankly expected worse numbers in this poll. The three Republican candidates have been criss-crossing the state bashing Culver full-time for months now. Branstad, Vander Plaats and Roberts have held two debates and countless campaign events and media interviews in towns large and small. Furthermore, Branstad has been running paid television advertising statewide for a full month. Culver's campaign manager Donn Stanley emphasized that angle in his comment on the poll: "What is particularly surprising is that this poll comes out after weeks of Branstad's campaign airing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of television ads across Iowa. He is the only candidate in the race that is running television ads. This poll suggests those ads have not be resonating with Iowa voters."

Branstad's campaign spokesman Tim Albrecht told KCCI, "Polls will go up and down, but what's unchanged is that Governor Branstad is the Republican who can beat Chet Culver in November."

One problem with the poll is the partisan makeup of the sample: 33 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and 38 percent Independents. That's quite different from the proportion of Iowans who cast votes in the 2006 general election (pdf file available here): 37 percent were Democrats, 37 percent were Republicans, and 26 percent independents. I would be very surprised if the voter universe this November had a plurality of no-party voters.

Both Grassley and Branstad led comfortably among no-party voters in the new KCCI poll, so if that poll over-sampled independents, the Republican leads in the Senate and governor's race might be even smaller than they appear. On the other hand, there's no guarantee that this November's voter universe will contain more Democrats than Republicans, as this poll assumes. Iowa Democrats still have a voter registration advantage of about 100,000 over the GOP, but Republicans may benefit from an "enthusiasm gap."

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?

UPDATE: Secretary of State Michael Mauro released the latest Iowa voter registration numbers today: 602,768 Republicans, 711,106 Democrats, and 774,005 no-party voters. The total number of registered voters is 2,089,561. Approximately 1,050,000 Iowans voted in the 2006 general election.

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New Rasmussen poll on the Iowa Senate and governor races

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 03, 2010 at 15:03:05 PM CDT

A new Rasmussen poll finds Senator Chuck Grassley's lead shrinking against Roxanne Conlin and Terry Branstad still over 50 percent against Governor Chet Culver. Rasmussen surveyed 500 Iowa likely voters on April 29, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

In the Senate race (survey questions and toplines here), Rasmussen found Grassley ahead of Conlin 53 percent to 40 percent. Grassley led Conlin 55-36 in Rasmussen's previous Iowa poll, taken in mid-March. Rasmussen's summary notes that Grassley "now leads Conlin by only five points among women."

Grassley leads Democrat Bob Krause by 57 percent to 31 percent, the same as in Rasmussen's March poll. He leads Tom Fiegen by 57 percent to 30 percent, a slightly smaller margin than his 57-28 lead in March.

This race is still Grassley's to lose; Rasmussen finds 63 percent of respondents have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the incumbent, while only 34 percent have a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion. The corresponding numbers for Conlin are 44 favorable/30 unfavorable.

However, a few stumbles by Grassley could make this race highly competitive in a hurry. At the very least Conlin is going to make it a lot closer than any other Democrat has against Grassley in the last 25 years.

I expect Conlin to have little trouble winning the Democratic primary on June 8. Not only is she the best-known candidate, she out-raised Grassley in the first quarter and had about $1 million cash on hand as of March 31. According to FEC reports, Krause had $352 and Fiegen had $582 on hand at the end of the first quarter. The Des Moines Register recently profiled Conlin, Fiegen and Krause.

Rasmussen's numbers on the governor's race continue to point to a tough road ahead for Culver. He trails Branstad 53 percent to 38 percent, little changed from Branstad's 52-36 lead in Rasmussen's March poll. Bob Vander Plaats leads Culver 45-41 in the new poll, up from a 42-40 lead in the March poll. Culver is barely ahead of Rod Roberts in the new poll, 43-41, little changed from the 40-38 lead Culver had against Roberts in the previous poll.

It's not encouraging for an incumbent to be stuck around 40 percent against all challengers. Culver needs to bring up his own numbers and get out there to tell voters about his administration's successes. For a preview of the case Culver will make with Iowa voters, watch his appearance on Chuck Todd's MSNBC program last week.

Assuming Branstad will be the Republican nominee, Culver's campaign will have to take him on aggressively. The race is bound to tighten up, but as long as Branstad is polling above 50 percent the odds are against Culver. Perhaps the governor can needle Branstad and provoke the same kind of response Vander Plaats got during the second Republican debate.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?

UPDATE: At Daily Kos, Steve Singiser comments, "is it possible that one of the most invulnerable Senators in recent American history is really within striking range. Looking at the Rasmussen poll in Iowa, it appears so."

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Obama in SE Iowa and other events coming up during the next two weeks

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 25, 2010 at 14:53:04 PM CDT

President Barack Obama is coming back to Iowa this Tuesday with stops scheduled in Fort Madison, Mount Pleasant and Ottumwa. More details on those and other events coming up during the next two weeks can be found after the jump.

The Republican Party of Iowa is organizing a "Stand Up 4 Freedom Rally" on Monday at 5:00 in Ottumwa's Central Park.

Congratulations to everyone elected to the Iowa Democratic Party's State Central Committee at the district conventions this weekend.

First district: Jean Pardee, Sue Frembgen, Michael Blackwell, Jerry Lynch, Bruce Clark and Jane Lawrence

Second district: Ebony Luensman, Judy Stevens, Melinda Jones, Norm Sterzenbach, Kory May and Al Bohanan

Third distict: Dori Rammelsberg-Dvorak, Mary Campos, Linda Olson, John McCormly, Bill Brauch and Glen Rammelsberg

Fourth district: Susan Seedorff-Keninger, Karen Pratte, Lois Jirgens, Chris Petersen, Tom Harrington and Don Ruby

Fifth district: Monica McCarthy, Penny Rosjford, Marcia Fulton, Tim Bottaro, Dennis Ryan and Dick Sokolowski

Consider this an open thread for discussing anything on your mind this weekend.

A British historian of Russia got caught hiding behind a pseudonym on Amazon in order to post nasty reviews of rival historians' work while praising his own. One of the historians he trashed responded here. Fortunately, Bleeding Heartland has had few problems with sock-puppetry. Thanks to everyone who respects this community's rules of engagement.

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Iowa Democrats and Republicans holding district conventions tomorrow

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 08:22:49 AM CDT

This weekend, activists across Iowa have a chance to hear from their party's candidates for Congress, the Iowa legislature, and statewide offices. The Iowa Democratic Party is holding conventions in all five Congressional districts on Saturday, April 24. These events are open to the public as well as the media. In other words, you do not have to be a convention delegate or alternate to attend. Here's a list of Democratic convention locations and some scheduled speakers:

WHAT: 1st District Convention WHEN: 10:00AM WHERE: Northeast Iowa Community College 10250 Sundown Rd. Peosta, IA SPEAKERS: Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin, Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke, Congressman Bruce Braley

WHAT: 2nd District Convention WHEN:11:00 AM WHERE: Fairfield Arts and Convention Center 200 North Main St. Fairfield, IA SPEAKERS: Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin, Governor Chet Culver, Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke, Congressman Dave Loebsack, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan

WHAT: 3rd District Convention WHEN: 9:00 AM WHERE: Adventureland Inn 3200 Adventureland Dr. Altoona, IA SPEAKERS: Senator Tom Harkin, Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin, Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke, Congressman Leonard Boswell

WHAT: 4th District Convention WHEN: 10:00 AM WHERE: North Iowa Fairgrounds, Olson Building 3700 4th St. SW Mason City, IA SPEAKERS: Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Candidate for Congress Bill Maske

WHAT: 5th District Convention WHEN: 9:00 AM WHERE: Atlantic Middle School 1100 Linn St. Atlantic, IA SPEAKERS: Senator Tom Harkin, Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Candidate for Congress Matt Campbell, Candidate for Congress Mike Denklau, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan

The Republican Party of Iowa is holding conventions in the second, third and fifth districts this Saturday, and in the first and fourth districts on Saturday, May 1. (Click here for event details.) GOP conventions are open to the media but not the public.

The second and third district conventions will be well-attended because of the competitive GOP Congressional primaries. If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, district conventions will have to reconvene in June to select the nominee. Seven Republicans are running against Representative Leonard Boswell in the third district, and at least four of them are campaigning actively.

According to Republican blogger David Chung, there is "unprecedented" interest in the second district convention because of the four Republicans running against Representative Dave Loebsack. Chung writes, "For the first time in my memory, Linn County has filled [its] delegation. We have never actually had as many paid delegates as we were allotted." Chung considers it "likely" that a second district convention will need to reconvene to select Loebsack's opponent. Some other people following that race closely expect the contest to be decided on June 8, with only two candidates as serious contenders: Rob Gettemy and Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Gettemmy has the most cash on hand and the support of many influential Linn County Republicans as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee. The 2008 GOP nominee, Miller-Meeks, has spent the most time campaigning around the district. She has more cash on hand than either Steve Rathje or Chris Reed and is likely to do particularly well outside Linn County, where her three Republican rivals are based.

The district conventions will also elect members of the parties' State Central Committees. Former Republican SCC member Chung is seeking that position again and expects a "massive shakeup" on the committee, because "several current members have decided not to run" again.

UPDATE: I've been told that Thicke will be at the fourth district convention as well, and Senate candidate Bob Krause will be at some of these conventions too, but I don't have details.

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Conlin releases strong fundraising numbers (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 10:59:45 AM CDT

Roxanne Conlin gave her U.S. Senate campaign $250,000 during the first quarter of 2010 and raised nearly $630,000 from other donors. From this morning's press release:

Conlin Campaign Raises More than all of Grassley's Past Challengers Combined
Has $1 Million in the Bank
Banked $879,615 in First Quarter with NO PAC or WASHINGTON LOBBYIST MONEY

Des Moines - Roxanne Conlin's grassroots campaign for the US Senate has more than $1 million in the bank.  Iowans made up 81 percent of the campaign's contributors and she has not accepted one penny from Washington lobbyists or PACs.

"I'm humbled by the outpouring of support for our campaign," said Conlin. "Our grassroots effort has reached 93 counties and we will reach the remaining six this weekend.  Iowans keep telling me, Chuck Grassley is not the same man they sent to Washington decades ago.  We need a fighter who will stand up for Main Street and not bail out Wall Street."

No PAC or Washington lobbyist funds.
81 percent of donors are Iowans.
78 percent of contributions are $100 or less.


Campaign to date raised:                                    $1,483,191
First Quarter 2010 raised:                                   $629,615
Candidate contribution:                                      $250,000
First Quarter PAC Money:                                  $0
First Quarter Federal Lobbyist Money:               $0
First Quarter 2010 total:                                      $879,615
Cash on hand:                                                      $1,000,455

Those are impressive numbers for a challenger, especially since Grassley is not considered one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents. Grassley's last Democratic opponent, Art Small, only raised about $136,000 during the whole 2004 campaign, and about $70,000 of that total came from the candidate himself.

I haven't seen Grassley's latest fundraising numbers yet. He raised about $810,000 during the fourth quarter of last year and began 2010 with about $5 million on hand. While Grassley will surely have a big cash-on-hand edge over Conlin, she will have the resources to run a statewide campaign.

UPDATE: Grassley raised $613,577 in the first quarter and has about $5.3 million cash on hand. I am surprised that Conlin was able to out-raise the incumbent for the quarter even if you don't count her own large contribution to the campaign.

I haven't seen first-quarter numbers for the other Democratic candidates, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen, but at year-end Fiegen had about $400 on hand, and Krause had about $3,500.

Jason Hancock covered a recent dustup among the Democratic candidates over debates before the June 8 primary. I hope we will see some debates in addition to candidate forums. I plan to vote for Conlin, whose work I have long admired and who is best positioned to make the race competitive. Not only has she raised money, she will have a strong volunteer base. Just in my own precinct I know several Democrats who are not inclined to volunteer for Governor Chet Culver but will knock on doors or make phone calls for Conlin. By next Monday she will have held campaign events in all 99 counties.

I respect the Democrats who prefer Krause or Fiegen, and I understand why some people were annoyed by Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan's apparent favoritism last year. Competitive primaries are often healthy for a party, and I particularly appreciate that Krause has kept his message focused on his good ideas and Grassley's flaws as a public servant. I hope the final eight weeks of the primary campaign will not become too divisive.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Grassley still misleading Iowans on health reform

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 17:11:24 PM CDT

Senator Chuck Grassley is still misleading Iowans about what's in the health insurance reform bill Congress passed last month. On April 1 he had this to say in Mason City:

Several residents were worried about what would happen to their health care premiums now that the president has signed the health care law. The mandate requiring everyone to purchase health insurance was also a worry.

"It's questionable whether the federal government can require you to buy anything," Grassley said.

One woman asked Grassley if federal funds connected to the health care law could be used to pay for abortions.

Grassley said he believes that the subsidies the poor will receive to purchase insurance could be used to pay for abortion. Democrats believe an executive order signed by President Obama at the insistence of Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak stops any federal funds from being used for to pay for abortions.

"I think he was sold a bill of goods that an executive order would take care of it," Grassley said. "I am pro-life and that's how I feel about it."

Grassley conveniently failed to mention that he supported a health insurance mandate in 1993, in 2007 and even last summer. He only started questioning the legality of a mandate last fall. Contrary to what he told the Mason City crowd, legal scholars don't think much of the constitutional arguments against health reform. It's also ludicrous for Grassley to charge that federal funds will be used for abortions. On the contrary, Obama's executive order is likely to end all private insurance coverage of abortion, even for women who don't receive a dime in government subsidies.

Grassley is smart enough not to call health insurance reform "socialist", but when someone in the Mason City audience asked about the government taking stock in General Motors and some large banks, Grassley drew applause by saying, "If you're listed in the Yellow Pages, I guess the president thinks that the government ought to nationalize you."

As far as I can tell, Grassley is no longer claiming that health insurance reform will let the government "pull the plug on grandma." A poll taken in late February found that a majority of Iowans think Grassley "embarrassed" our state by making that allegation last summer. In the same poll, only 42 percent of respondents said Grassley should be re-elected. The poll results were released this week; Iowa Independent analyzed the results here, and Senate Guru did the same in this guest post at Bleeding Heartland.

The Senate race still looks like Grassley's to lose, but Iowans are aware that the senator stretched the truth about end-of-life counseling. We need to call him out on his other distortions too, like his claims about student loan reform. According to Grassley's pretzel logic, ending big federal subsidies to banks will somehow impose a "tax" on students.

I encourage all Iowa Democrats to get involved in supporting one of Grassley's challengers: Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause.

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

Events coming up during the next two weeks

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

This April is shaping up to be a relatively quiet month in Iowa politics, with the legislature already adjourned for the year. However, after the jump you'll find details for many events coming up soon. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I've left out.

I have also posted information about an internship opportunity for women who would like to work on a sustainable farm, as well as a grant opportunity called "Iowa Sun4Schools." It's for Iowa schools that may want to install a solar array: "In addition to supplying electricity to the facility, the solar array will serve as an educational and research tool, and as a symbol of the schools commitment to saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint."

UPDATE: Iowa nonprofit, charitable and government organizations have until April 16 to nominate people for the Governor's Volunteer Award.

SECOND UPDATE: The Fred Phelps freak show is coming back to Des Moines on April 10 to protest a constitutional law symposium on same-sex marriage at Drake University. Click here for details about counter-protests being planned.

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Will Iowans buy Grassley's balancing act on health reform?

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 27, 2010 at 09:07:38 AM CDT

Many Republicans in Congress are calling for repeal of the new health insurance reform law. They know that won't happen, but it's good political posturing, because the GOP base is fired up and ready to go against "socialist" Obamacare.

Senator Chuck Grassley is taking a more nuanced approach. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, he played a prominent role in crafting the bill. Now he is taking credit for a few aspects of the new law while drawing attention to a populist-sounding provision left out by Democrats.

After the House passed the Senate's heath insurance reform on Sunday, most Iowa Republicans condemned the effort in broad terms. In contrast, Grassley released an oddly specific statement about an amendment he planned to offer to the bill containing "fixes" to health insurance reform. Grassley called for the president, White House staff and senior Congressional staff to be covered under the new health insurance system. As expected, Senate Democrats voted against all Republican amendments to the reconciliation bill, hoping to avoid another House vote on the legislation. That prompted this press release from Grassley's office: "Senate approves unfair double standard by rejecting Grassley amendment to apply health care reforms to White House and all of Congress." (Not every failed amendment offered by Grassley leads to a press release. I don't recall his office drawing attention to one he offered in October, which would have cut benefits for poor people and legal immigrants in order to save private health insurers $7 billion a year.)

Grassley got some media play this week for his "double standard" framing, but a different statement from his office attracted far more attention. That release noted, "The health care legislation signed into law yesterday includes provisions Grassley co-authored to impose standards for the tax exemption of charitable hospitals for the first time."

Anyone following this issue knows that Grassley delayed the Senate Finance Committee's work on the health reform bill for several months, pretending to seek compromise while fundraising on a promise to defeat Obamacare and spreading false claims about what the bill would permit. Grassley then voted against the bill in the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate floor.

Political blogs quickly publicized Grassley's effort to brag about good things in a bill he tried to stop. The senator was even featured in a segment on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program: "Republicans farcically flustered by health reform's passage". Two of the Iowa Democrats running for U.S. Senate seized on Grassley's hypocrisy as well. I posted a press release from Tom Fiegen and a memo from Roxanne Conlin's campaign after the jump.

Grassley's balancing act on health reform makes some political sense. He doesn't need to play to the crowd that despises Obamacare, because the filing deadline for federal candidates in Iowa passed earlier this month. It's too late for a conservative to mount a primary challenge against the five-term incumbent.

Meanwhile, the news media have reported many details about the new law this week, and some of the provisions are likely to be quite popular. Why should Grassley loudly condemn a law that gives tax credits to small businesses, closes the Medicare "donut hole" and lets young adults be covered on their parents' insurance policies? If he's trying to impress swing voters, he's better off railing against the "double standard" of Washington elitists.  

On the other hand, swing voters might be repelled to see Grassley claim credit for reforms after he tried to "pull the plug" on health insurance reform. The senator defended himself as follows:

"So overall even though it's got a lot of good things in it, even a lot of things that I wrote, even a lot of things that I thought up myself to help health care delivery, the bad outweighs the good, it's just that simple."

When the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee slammed Grassley's posturing, Grassley's office responded that DSCC Chairman Bob Menendez has also taken credit for provisions in bills he voted against. We've heard similar "two wrongs make a right" arguments from Grassley before. It doesn't sound statesmanlike to me.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 553 words in story)

Rasmussen poll finds little change in Senate race

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 11:48:41 AM CDT

The Republican polling firm Rasmussen conducted a one-day survey of 500 "likely voters" in Iowa on March 17. Click here for topline results.

Senator Chuck Grassley still leads all his Democratic challengers, with no statistically significant change in his lead since Rasmussen's last Iowa poll in February. He leads Roxanne Conlin 55 percent to 36 percent (the February numbers were 53-36). Grassley leads Bob Krause 57-31 (55-33 in February), and he leads Tom Fiegen 57-28 (56-28 in February).

Instead of asking respondents whether they approved of Grassley's work in the Senate, Rasmussen asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable impression of the senator. He was at 66 percent very or somewhat favorable, 31 percent very or somewhat unfavorable. (The latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register measured Grassley's approval at 54 percent, but favorability numbers can often run ahead of approval numbers.)

Clearly the Senate race is still Grassley's to lose, but he's not likely to be re-elected with the huge margins he's had in the past. There is also plenty of time for the race to tighten up if Grassley makes big mistakes. As Senate Guru reminded us in this diary, the current fundraising quarter ends March 31. I encourage Democrats to get involved and support one of Grassley's challengers. Here are links to donate to the Conlin campaign, the Fiegen campaign and the Krause campaign.

Other notable findings from the latest Rasmussen poll: President Barack Obama's approve/disapprove numbers were 50/49, but Governor Chet Culver is still in negative territory at 41 percent approve/57 disapprove. About 45 percent of respondents said they favored "the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and the congressional Democrats," while 53 percent said they opposed it. Remember, this poll was in the field before Congress gave final approval to the bill Obama signed yesterday. I am curious to see future polling on the issue. A quickie USA Today/Gallup nationwide poll released yesterday was the first in a long time to show net positive approval for health care reform: 49 percent of respondents said it was a "good thing" that Congress passed the bill over the weekend, while 40 percent said it was a "bad thing."

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Events coming up this week

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 14:19:53 PM CST

I didn't manage to compile calendars the past couple of weeks, but I wanted to get back on track today, because there are lots of newsworthy events happening in the coming week around Iowa.

I don't think I'll be able to make it to the DAWN's List reception honoring outstanding Iowa Democratic women tomorrow. I'd appreciate it if someone who attends would post a comment or a diary here about the reception.

Other notable events this week include a symposium in Des Moines about Iowa's 2008 floods, a sustainable communities conference in Dubuque, and a public workshop in Ankeny about competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Details on those and other happenings are after the jump.

Keep checking John Deeth's blog for news about statewide, Congressional and state legislative candidate filings, which continue through March 19.

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