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IA-01: First-quarter fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 12:18:31 PM CDT

Since the last quarterly fundraising reports came in, the Republican primary race in Iowa's open first Congressional district has settled into a predictable win for Rod Blum. The Democratic primary is still highly competitive, though, with all five candidates in a position to run a district-wide race before June 3.  
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IA-02: First-quarter fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 10:25:00 AM CDT

Three candidates qualified for the Republican primary ballot in Iowa's second Congressional district, but the latest fundraising reports suggest that Mariannette Miller-Meeks will get a third chance at beating Representative Dave Loebsack.

Follow me after the jump for details on the first-quarter reports each candidate in IA-02 filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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IA-03: First-quarter fundraising news roundup (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 17:24:28 PM CDT

Yesterday was the deadline for Congressional candidates to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. Because so many candidates are running for Congress this year in Iowa, I'm breaking up these posts by district rather than doing a statewide roundup.

After the jump I've enclosed highlights from the first-quarter fundraising and spending reports of Democratic candidate Staci Appel and the six Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in the third district. Spoiler alert: one of the GOP candidates is still carrying debt from a previous campaign.

I also added details below on what retiring ten-term Representative Tom Latham is doing with his substantial war chest.

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IA-04: Jim Mowrer out-raises Steve King for third straight quarter

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:55:09 AM CDT

If this has ever happened before in an Iowa Congressional race, I'm not aware of the precedent: Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer has raised more money than incumbent Representative Steve King for the third straight quarter in Iowa's fourth district. Not only that, during the first three months of 2014, Mowrer's fundraising eclipsed King's by even more than we saw during the third and fourth quarters of 2013.

Details from the reports both candidates filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission are after the jump.

UPDATE: The Iowa .Gif-t Shop weighs in. I really did laugh out loud.

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Monica Vernon's Latest Ad is Everything That is Wrong with Politics

by: everettbrowniv

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 15:20:40 PM CDT

I’ve lived in Cedar Rapids since high school (I attended the same high school at the same time of Monica’s daughters). Anyone who knows Cedar Rapids is fully aware that there are parts of town that have been depressed for many years. We know the neighborhoods on the southeast side of town that have been plagued with high crime rates and poverty. The folks in these neighborhoods who are working hard jobs for low wages are in the throes of an epic and unfortunate struggle.

I recently saw an ad released by Monica Vernon’s campaign that began with the narrator claiming Monica Vernon “understands the struggle.”  From what I know about Monica, she comes from a wealthy home, was the previous owner of a successful business, is married to a well-to-do attorney, and lives a stone’s throw from the country club.

My question to Monica Vernon is simple: what exactly do you know about the struggle? I came from extraordinarily humble beginnings, where you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a country club membership let alone a home right next to one. I’d like to know where Monica Vernon’s struggle experience originated.

Monica’s ad is everything that is wrong with politics because it is willfully dishonest and leads people to believe that she has experience with real struggles, and had to work doubly hard just to get by, and raise her daughters largely on her own. This is the sort of thing that cheapens our politics and Iowans deserve better.

In my opinion, Monica’s largest struggle will come after she loses this Primary and must decide whether or not to remain in the Democratic Party, or revert back to the Republican Party, where she undoubtedly is more comfortable. 

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

IA-03: First look at Robert Cramer's campaign messaging

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 08:27:24 AM CDT

With six candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Iowa's open third Congressional district, I've decided to focus on individual campaigns rather than news roundups on the whole field at once. Robert Cramer's up first, since he is already running his introductory ad on television.

Cramer is defining himself as the business mind in the field, not a bad place to be in a GOP primary. Although he is emphasizing his connection to "conservative principles and enduring values," he is downplaying his social conservative activism. If you need any proof that Bob Vander Plaats' ship has sailed, even in Iowa Republican circles, look no further than Cramer's case to primary voters.

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Profiles in cowardice: Must-pass Medicare bill edition

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 19:35:23 PM CDT

Members of Congress sometimes go to astonishing lengths to avoid doing their jobs. Rarely working a full five-day week is old news; I'm talking about the procedural gimmicks that let members avoid tough votes on the record. House leaders occasionally move bills through the controversial "deem and pass" method when the majority know something needs to pass but would prefer not to be seen voting for it. In contrast, today Republican and Democratic leaders pulled a fast one on their own back benchers.
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NRCC picks Rod Blum in IA-01, not playing favorites in IA-02 or IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 16:03:18 PM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its latest batch of candidates for the "Young Guns" program today. Dubuque-based business owner Rod Blum, one of three GOP candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district, is among 50 Republicans on the bottom rung, called "on the radar." Candidates who meet certain benchmarks for fundraising and campaign organization have a chance to move up to "contender" status and perhaps eventually to "young gun" level, which entails more direct support from the NRCC.

During the 2012 primary in IA-01, the NRCC favored establishment candidate Ben Lange over Blum. At this point, Blum is the obvious favorite to win the GOP nomination, with State Representative Walt Rogers out of the race and the other contenders way behind Blum financially.

Last year, the NRCC put IA-02 on its long list of targets and indicated that it was ready to defend Tom Latham in IA-03. None of the three registered GOP candidates in IA-02 or the six registered candidates in the open IA-03 are on the NRCC's radar yet. Depending on fundraising, the winner of the IA-03 primary has a strong chance to become a "contender" or a "young gun" by this fall. The NRCC will almost surely spend money to defend that seat. I am skeptical that IA-02 will become a serious target for Republicans, though.

Any comments about Iowa's Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

DCCC flags Jim Mowrer in IA-04 as "emerging race"

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 14:34:00 PM CST

Jim Mowrer, the Democratic challenger to Representative Steve King in Iowa's fourth Congressional district, is one of twelve candidates the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considers to be "emerging races" in 2014. According to the statement from the DCCC, enclosed below, this category "highlights candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns which are becoming increasingly competitive." Mowrer's campaign out-raised the six-term Republican incumbent in both the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2013. He is running as a "common-sense" candidate more in touch with the values of Iowans than King, who gets bogged down in "reckless partisan politics." Mowrer's official comment on today's news is after the jump.

Candidates in "emerging races" do not receive as much financial or logistical support from the DCCC as the top-tier "Red to Blue" candidates, but in past years a fair number of these races were bumped up to "Red to Blue" status during the general election period. IA-04 is an uphill climb for any Democrat, with 123,932 registered Democrats, 174,879 Republicans, and 174,235 no-party voters as of March 2014.

Speaking of King, he has long been one of the House Republicans progressives most "love to hate," and he is commonly quoted in fundraising appeals by a wide range of Democratic Party committees and Democratic-aligned organizations. But he does have limits. I noticed last week that someone came up with an anti-gay bill that was too stupid and bigoted even for King to co-sponsor. Some idiot lobbyist claims five House Republicans and one senator are interested in co-sponsoring a bill to stop gay athletes from playing in the National Football League. King commented,

"I don't support the idea that we advertise our sexuality, whatever it might be," said King. "So, therefore I don't support the idea of legislation addressing anyone's unidentified, unadvertised sexuality."

King presumably doesn't have a problem with heterosexuals "advertising" their sexuality by appearing in public with their spouses.  

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IA-03: DCCC puts Staci Appel in "Red to Blue" program

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:20:52 AM CST

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced this morning the first wave of "Red to Blue" candidates running in U.S. House districts. Former State Senator Staci Appel, who is running for Iowa's open third Congressional district, is one of the sixteen candidates (including ten women) at the highest "Red to Blue" level. After the jump I've enclosed a press release from Appel's campaign.

Even before anyone suspected Representative Tom Latham would retire this year, the DCCC had promised Appel "early financial communications, operational and strategic support." Her strong fundraising and endorsements from many labor unions and progressive organizations make Appel the heavy favorite in the Democratic primary. Gabriel De La Cerda is the other declared candidate in IA-03.

Appel is likely to face one of the following six declared GOP candidates in IA-03: State Senator Brad Zaun, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, construction company leader Robert Cramer, former U.S. Senate staffer David Young, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw, and Des Moines-based teacher Joe Grandanette.

The latest official numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 154,061 registered Democrats, 160,782 Republicans, and 157,001 no-party voters.

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IA-02: Miller-Meeks officially launching campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:48:00 AM CST

Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks finally made it official: she is running for Congress a third time in Iowa's second district. Her campaign is on Facebook here and on Twitter here. After the jump I've posted excerpts from her announcement and details on the campaign launch tour Miller-Meeks has planned for February 26 and 27. She will hit twelve of the 24 counties in IA-02, as well as attending a West Des Moines meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She plans to focus on her "real world experience" as a doctor, as well as her work with Governor Terry Branstad over the past three years.

Although Miller-Meeks just filed papers with the Federal Election Commission within the last two weeks, she has been unofficially campaigning for some time. She has been meeting with GOP county officials around the district since at least the middle of last year, and she stepped down from her job in state government last month.

I think Miller-Meeks has a good chance to win the GOP primary. Although it may be challenging to convince some Republicans to give her a third chance at this seat, her competition looks weak. The only other announced candidate, State Representative Mark Lofgren, has raised very little money and doesn't have a reputation as a great communicator on the stump. Beating four-term Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack will be a taller order. Besides aligning herself with Branstad, Miller-Meeks will hope that the new Iowa map improves her prospects. During the 2010 midterm election, she lost to Loebsack by about 11,500 votes in a district where registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 48,000 on election day. The current district contained 166,022 registered Democrats, 135,770 Republicans, and 181,463 no-party voters as of February 2014.

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IA-02: Mariannette Miller-Meeks is in for the third time

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 13:55:00 PM CST

Catching up on news from last week, Mariannette Miller-Meeks filed a formal statement of candidacy in Iowa's second district with the Federal Election Commission (hat tip to Greg Hauenstein). An ophthalmologist based in Ottumwa, Miller-Meeks was the Republican nominee against Representative Dave Loebsack in both 2008 and 2010. She served as director of the Iowa Department of Public Health from early 2011 until resigning last month.

I have not seen any formal campaign announcement yet from Miller-Meeks, but she has been attending central committee meetings and other Republican events around the 24 counties in IA-02 for some time. During the past month, she has met with GOP central committee members in Johnson County, Marion County, and Mahaska County. She attended an off-year caucus in the Quad Cities (Scott County). Last week Miller-Meeks tweeted a photo of her campaign co-chairs in Muscatine County--the home base for State Representative Mark Lofgren, who announced his campaign in IA-02 last summer. Lofgren has a lot of support in the GOP establishment but has not raised much money for his Congressional bid.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

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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Iowans split as House approves clean debt ceiling hike

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 06:58:53 AM CST

I didn't see this coming: House Republican leaders brought a bill to the floor that raised the debt ceiling without attaching strings such as domestic discretionary spending cuts or entitlement reforms. Speaker John Boehner broke the news to fellow House Republicans yesterday morning; later he explained to reporters that whip counts showed leaders could not get 218 GOP votes behind plans to tie a debt ceiling hike to a bill on reversing a military pension cut by extending the "sequester" to certain Medicare payments.

Republicans wrangled big concessions out of the 2011 showdown over raising the debt ceiling. That deal led to the "sequester" spending cuts that went into effect in early 2013; some of them will stay in place for years. However, the foot-dragging over raising the debt ceiling during last October's partial shutdown of the federal government didn't advance the GOP policy agenda and hurt the party in Congressional polling, at least temporarily. President Barack Obama had vowed not to negotiate over future debt ceiling increases.

Yesterday afternoon, House leaders attached language raising the country's debt ceiling to an unrelated bill, which passed by 221 votes to 201. Iowans Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 193 Democrats who joined just 28 Republicans to pass the bill. Steve King (IA-04) was among the 199 GOP House members who opposed it. His official comment is after the jump.

The roll call shows that Iowa Republican Tom Latham (IA-03) was not present for the debt ceiling vote. He also missed earlier votes yesterday. I have not seen any explanation for his absence but will update this post with details, as available. UPDATE: Latham's Congressional office sent out a press release on February 11 about a Medicare bill he supports. I've posted it after the jump. The statement was datelined "Des Moines," but it's not clear whether Latham himself was in Iowa rather than Washington.

Conservative groups are already calling for Boehner to be replaced. It will be interesting to see whether he can remain speaker throughout this election year.  

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Iowans support House bill to reverse military pension cuts (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 16:44:00 PM CST

One of the most shameful provisions in last year's federal budget deal between Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan was a change in the cost of living adjustment for military pensions. The pension cut could never have passed in a stand-alone vote but got through as one small piece of what was perceived as a must-pass deal. At the time, an old friend and 20-year Navy veteran commented on Facebook, "This is a great bookend for why we are tired of being thanked for serving. Actions speak louder than mere words for the sacrifices made by people in uniform and their families."

House and Senate members are eager to reverse this pension cut, but so far can't agree on how or whether to offset the $6 billion that would have been saved during a ten-year period of screwing over veterans on full pensions.

Today House leaders attached military pension language to an unrelated bill and quickly passed it under a suspension of normal House rules. The roll call shows that Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republican Steve King (IA-04) were all part of the 326 to 90 majority who voted yes. Tom Latham (IA-03) was not present for the vote. The 19 Republicans and 71 Democrats who voted no had different reasons, Pete Kasperowicz reported.

Some Democrats said they opposed not only the speed with which the bill was rushed to the floor, but the way Republicans are offsetting the $6 billion cost of the bill. The legislation pays for the restoration of benefits by extending sequester cuts to mandatory spending under Medicare for one year, through 2024 instead of 2023. [...]

Republicans had their own reasons for opposing the measure - many GOP members have said they disapprove of the idea of paying for current spending by promising cuts 10 years out.

When Congress approved the Murray-Ryan budget deal in December, three of Iowa's four House members voted yes, with King the odd man out. Senator Tom Harkin supported the deal, while Senator Chuck Grassley voted against it.

UPDATE: Added a statement from Braley below.

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IA-02: Loebsack supports another Republican anti-regulation bill

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 09:13:54 AM CST

Catching up on news from last week, Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) continued his pattern of voting for certain Republican bills aimed at undercutting federal regulations, especially in the environmental area (see also here). The latest example came when the U.S. House approved a bill "aimed at reducing the federal government's restrictions on hunting, fishing and sport shooting on federal land."  
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Steve King reviving battle against immigration reform

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 12:05:00 PM CST

I thought Representative Steve King's faction of the House Republican caucus had decisively won the war against comprehensive immigration reform in this Congress. But House leaders are trying to nudge Republicans toward moving on the issue before the midterm elections.

Just like last year, King is ready to stand and fight. In recent days, he's been working conservative public opinion on several fronts.  

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IA-03: Brenna Findley won't run in 2014

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 13:15:00 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley told the Des Moines Register yesterday that she has decided not to run for Congress in the open third district. She indicated that she plans to continue her work in the governor's office and teach a course at the University of Iowa law school.

I would guess that the early conservative endorsements for Matt Schultz were in part intended to deter Findley from entering the GOP primary in IA-03. Not only was she seriously considering the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee had reserved the domain name BrennaFindleyforCongress.com. Findley has strong conservative credentials as a product of homeschooling and a longtime staffer for Representative Steve King before running for Iowa attorney general in 2010. She has repeatedly spoken out against illegal immigration and the mandate to purchase individual health insurance. She has arguably helped steer the Branstad administration's policies to the right on abortion and gun-related issues.

Although Findley won't run for Congress or statewide office this year, I expect Iowans will see her name on a ballot again sometime before the end of this decade. We may have an open race for attorney general in 2018 if Tom Miller decides to call it quits after nine terms.  

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Door wide open for Miller-Meeks in IA-02

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:10:39 AM CST

Can someone please explain Mark Lofgren to me? If you're going to the trouble of getting in a Congressional race early and lining up a bunch of endorsements (presumably to deter would-be rivals in your own party), why wouldn't you work hard on fundraising? Lofgren's year-end financial report was even weaker than his third-quarter Federal Election Commission filing, which is saying something.

Lofgren isn't giving four-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack a thing to worry about, and he's leaving the door wide open for Mariannette Miller-Meeks to come in and take the Republican primary to represent IA-02. Follow me after the jump for details from the FEC reports.  

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IA-04: Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer out-raises Steve King again

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:56:00 AM CST

In the past, I've pulled together highlights from Congressional candidates' quarterly financial reports in a single post, but with so many candidates running for Congress in Iowa, I've decided to separate the races. Year-end reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show that for the second quarter in a row, Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer raised more money than six-term incumbent Representative Steve King (IA-04).

Follow me after the jump for details.

UPDATE: The Hill's Cameron Joseph and Alexandra Jaffe named King one of five Congressional incumbent "fourth quarter fundraising losers."

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