Todd Prichard officially exploring run for governor (updated)

Saying Iowa needs “new vision,” “fresh leadership,” and “better than what we have seen during this legislative session,” State Representative Todd Prichard announced today that he is “considering” a gubernatorial campaign. The rollout leaves little doubt that Prichard will eventually join the Democratic field. His campaign website now features a Todd Prichard for Governor campaign logo. His “leadership team” includes heavyweights like Marcia Nichols, former political director of AFSCME Council 61; Brad Anderson, who ran Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Iowa; former Iowa Democratic Party state chair Sue Dvorsky; and State Senator Bob Dvorsky.

I enclose below Prichard’s news release and background on the candidate from his website. Last month Prichard discussed his life experiences and values at a Democratic gathering in Des Moines; you can read or listen to that speech here. Prichard talked more about his work and thoughts about a 2018 Democratic campaign message with Iowa Starting Line. Prichard has a political page on Facebook and is on Twitter @RepPrichard.

Two other Democrats launched gubernatorial campaigns earlier this year: Rich Leopold and Jon Neiderbach. (Neiderbach spoke to the Northwest Des Moines Democrats group on March 21, and Bleeding Heartland will soon post excerpts from his stump speech.) Former Iowa Democratic Party chair Andy McGuire is widely expected to announce a gubernatorial campaign in the coming months.

UPDATE: Prichard spoke at the Our Future–Iowa Starting Line event in Des Moines on March 23. Here’s the full audio, for those who want to listen.



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If Todd Prichard runs for governor, his stump speech will sound like this

State Representative Todd Prichard spoke to a packed room at last night’s Northwest Des Moines Democrats meeting. Now in his third term representing Floyd and Chickasaw counties in the Iowa House, Prichard is ranking member on the Agriculture Committee and also serves on Natural Resources, Veterans, and Ways and Means, as well as on an Appropriations subcommittee. Pat Rynard recently profiled the army veteran and former prosecutor who may run for governor in 2018.

I’ve transcribed most of Prichard’s remarks from the Des Moines gathering below and uploaded the audio file, for those who want to listen. He speaks directly and fluidly without coming across as rehearsed or too polished, a common problem for politicians.

At one point, Prichard commented that Republicans didn’t spend a million dollars trying to defeat him last year, as the GOP and conservative groups did against several Iowa Senate Democratic incumbents. Republicans tested some negative messages against him with a telephone poll in August, but apparently didn’t sense fertile ground. Prichard’s opponent Stacie Stokes received little help from her party, compared to some other GOP candidates for Iowa House seats, including a challenger in a nearby district.

Based on the speech I heard on Tuesday, I would guess that if Prichard runs for governor, Republicans may regret not spending a million dollars against him in 2016.

One more point before I get to the transcript: Prichard is living proof that retiring lawmakers should not be allowed to hand-pick their own successors. When State Representative Brian Quirk resigned to take another job soon after winning re-election in 2012, he wanted his former high school football coach Tom Sauser to take his place. As a Bleeding Heartland reader who’s active in Floyd County described here, Prichard decided to run for the House seat shortly before the special nominating convention and barely won the nomination.

Prichard had a chance to start his political career because several days elapsed between his learning about Quirk’s preferred successor and the House district 52 nominating convention. Too often, Iowa Democratic legislators announce plans to retire only a day or two before candidates must submit papers to the Secretary of State’s Office. If Quirk had retired right before the March 2012 filing deadline, as three House Democrats did last year, his friend with the inside track would have been the only Democrat able to replace him. Nothing against retired teachers, but Sauser was not a potential future leader of the party, as Prichard is becoming.

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At least seven people considering run for Iowa Democratic Party chair (updated)

For many election cycles, either Senator Tom Harkin or the Democratic governor of Iowa would choose the Iowa Democratic Party chair, and the State Central Committee would rubber-stamp that decision. But in January 2015, the state party had its first competitive leadership election since I’ve been following Iowa politics. Andy McGuire edged out Kurt Meyer on the third ballot, largely because of strong support from establishment figures.

Iowa Democrats were trounced up and down the ballot on Tuesday. In my lifetime, we’ve never been beaten so badly in a presidential year. When President Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale by nearly 100,000 votes here in 1984, Democrats held on to their majorities in both legislative chambers, and Harkin beat incumbent U.S. Senator Roger Jepsen. This week, the party lost six Senate seats, mostly by large margins, and lost ground in the state House.

State Central Committee members will choose a new party leader in December January. At least seven people are either running or seriously thinking about seeking the position. UPDATE: Added a few more names below.

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Final Iowa early vote numbers: Is Clinton's lead large enough?

Most election forecasters see Iowa likely to go to Donald Trump, based on the preponderance of opinion polls taken here in the past month.

However, Michael McDonald, who closely tracks early voting for the U.S. Elections Project, concluded that Iowa leans to Hillary Clinton, based on the ballots cast before election day.

How can that be, given that the current Democratic lead in ballots returned to county auditors is significantly smaller than what President Barack Obama carried into election day 2012?

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Five red flags about the Iowa Democratic Party's Caucus Review Committee

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucus Review Committee will hold its first meeting “for purposes of organization” on Saturday, May 7. Members of the public may attend the event, which begins at 10 am at the Airport Holiday Inn (Iowa Conference Rooms B & C) at 6111 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The meeting will likely run well into the afternoon as the 26 committee members hear from speakers including Republican Party of Iowa officials, who will share what they learned from their review of the 2012 caucuses.

Whether Iowa will ever be able to hold meaningful caucuses again is an open question. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has allies in national circles who share her belief that the party should require “simpler” and “more democratic” primaries for the purposes of presidential selection. If forced to abandon caucuses, Iowa would probably be relegated to the end of the nominating process in June, unless our state’s leaders manage to lobby for an earlier primary date.

Assuming the caucuses continue as an important event in presidential campaigns, the Iowa Democratic Party should address some of the current system’s major shortcomings. Based on what I’ve heard (and not heard) from various Caucus Review Committee members, the exercise seems destined to produce minor improvements in how the caucuses are managed, as opposed to big changes to address the caucuses’ disenfranchising and unrepresentative features.

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