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IA-04: Democracy for America endorses Jim Mowrer

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

Democracy for America announced this morning that it has endorsed Jim Mowrer, Representative Steve King's Democratic challenger in Iowa's fourth Congressional district. I've posted the official statement after the jump. The progressive advocacy group Howard Dean created after his 2004 presidential campaign has 1 million members across the country, including 9,589 members in Iowa. Some of them may be more likely to volunteer for Mowrer knowing he has DFA'a backing.

The group's endorsement should also help Mowrer raise more money from inside and outside Iowa--although he's done quite well in that department already, raising more money than King the last three quarters. Recognizing the strong campaign Mowrer is building, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee already flagged IA-04 as an "emerging race" despite the uphill climb for any Democrat in this district.

Democracy for America has previously endorsed five other Democratic U.S. House candidates, including Staci Appel in Iowa's open third district.

UPDATE: I missed this last week; Mowrer informed supporters that his three-year-old son suffers from a rare degenerative neurological disease. Healing thoughts to the whole family.

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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-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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Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Iowa's corporate contributions ban

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 09:42:00 AM CDT

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear Iowa Right to Life's appeal challenging a state law that bans corporations from making campaign contributions, Colin Smith reported at the On Brief legal blog. Last summer, a panel for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Iowa's ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates while striking down some of the campaign finance disclosure rules Iowa Right to Life had challenged. You can read Iowa Right to Life's appeal to the Supreme Court here (pdf).

Smith commented,

There had been some interesting speculation that the High Court might decide to hear the plaintiff's arguments regarding the constitutionality of Iowa corporate contribution law on the merits, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court just handed down another blockbuster election law case this month. [...]

The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the Tooker challenge to Iowa's corporate contribution ban effectively means that Iowa's law will remain in place for now, although the Court's order today does not necessarily foreclose the possibility that another enterprising plaintiff might try another challenge in the future.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Weekend open thread: Horrible Supreme Court ruling edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 06, 2014 at 09:05:02 AM CDT

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

So much election-related litigation in the news this past week: the Iowa Supreme Court rejecting Jonathan Narcisse's quest for a spot on the Democratic primary ballot for governor, a Polk County District Court rejecting Ned Chiodo's efforts to knock Tony Bisignano off the ballot in Iowa Senate district 17, and Secretary of State Matt Schultz asking the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling on voter roll maintenance procedures.

I didn't manage to write up the country's most important election law story: on Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on individual donations to federal candidates and political parties. Click here (pdf) to read Chief Justice John Roberts' majority ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on behalf of four justices, Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion, and Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Breyer warned that the majority's ruling used "faulty" legal analysis based on "its own, not a record-based, view of the facts." Creating "a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate's campaign," the McCutcheon decision along with the 2010 Citizens United ruling (also a 5-4 split) "eviscerates our Nation's campaign finance laws" in Breyer's view.

Here are some good opinion and analysis pieces on the Roberts decision, from Lyle Denniston at the SCOTUS blog, Garrett Epps at The Atlantic, and Robert Weissman, president of the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen.

Not surprisingly, Iowa's Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley expressed support for the McCutcheon decision, equating money in politics to free speech. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin was discouraged, predicting that the ruling will diminish "public interest in politics" and continue the country's drift toward "more and more influence by the wealthy and those who have money in politics."  

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IA-Sen: Joni Ernst's first tv ad arrives at remarkably convenient time (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:27:40 AM CDT

In what may be merely a coincidence, two stories related to Iowa's U.S. Senate race made a big splash yesterday on national blogs and cable news networks as well as in local media.

In what may be merely a coincidence, State Senator Joni Ernst's campaign released its first television commercial on the same day the 501(c)4 group Priorities for Iowa released a video drawing national attention to a gaffe by Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

In what may be merely a coincidence, several prominent Ernst supporters run that 501(c)4 group, which was created a few weeks after Ernst's campaign launch.

It's common nowadays for candidates' campaigns to spend money spreading positive messages, while outside entities (political action committees, 501(c)4 advocacy organizations, or 527 groups) pay to get the best opposition research into the public sphere. But candidates are not allowed to coordinate messaging or timing with those outside groups.

I'm not saying someone from the Ernst campaign gave Priorities for Iowa a heads-up on when they were planning to release their tv ad. I'm not saying someone from Priorities for Iowa let Ernst staffers know ahead of time when they planned to drop their bomb on Braley. I'm just saying, the clip from a two-month-old speech by the Democratic candidate couldn't have been released at a better time for Ernst to capitalize on her attention-getting "castration" spot.

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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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IA-Sen: Now or never for Sam Clovis

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 12:53:42 PM CST

Sam Clovis dodged what could have been a fatal blow to his U.S. Senate campaign when Bob Vander Plaats decided not to run. But to have any hope of winning the GOP primary, the Sioux City-based college professor and former radio host needs to raise real money and consolidate social conservative support quickly.  
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IA-Sen: Whitaker up on television (sort of)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 09:55:16 AM CST

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker was the first Republican to enter the race for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat but has struggled a bit in the fundraising department. Whitaker ended 2014 with $232,092.45 cash on hand in his campaign account, including $50,241.07 in loans from the candidate and $28,525 that can't be spent until the general election period (if Whitaker were to win the Republican primary).

Considering that Whitaker's campaign spent just under $60,000 during the last three months of 2013 without running television or radio commercials, it's clear that Whitaker won't be able to afford much (if any) television advertising before the June primary.

However, campaign commercials aren't the only way for a candidate to raise his name recognition. Central Iowa viewers of the winter Olympics on NBC Sports have seen a lot of Whitaker these past couple of weeks. The cable tv ads are promoting his law firm, not his Senate campaign, but they hit on several themes that will resonate favorably with rank-and-file Republicans. Follow me after the jump for my unofficial transcript of the spot for Whitaker, Hagenow and Gustoff LLB. I would like to know whether any Bleeding Heartland readers living outside the Des Moines media market have seen the same commercial on cable, either during Olympics coverage or at other times.

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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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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-03: Staci Appel has fundraising head start on GOP field

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:47:30 AM CST

What a difference a retirement makes. If Staci Appel were still running against ten-term incumbent Representative Tom Latham, she would have ended the year at a big disadvantage in campaign cash. Now she is poised to come out of the Democratic primary with a money lead over the eventual Republican nominee in IA-03.

Details from the candidates' year-end Federal Election Commission reports are after the jump.

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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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IA-Gov: Branstad campaign announces more than $4 million cash on hand

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:10:00 AM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's re-election campaign collected more than $3.4 million in contributions during 2013 and ended the year with more than $4.1 million cash on hand and no debts, the campaign announced yesterday. I've posted the press release after the jump. The huge war chest means that the governor's campaign will be able to pay for an extensive GOTV program, if (as appears likely) the Republican Party of Iowa lacks the funds to do so later this year.

The first real test of the Branstad campaign's vaunted organization will be the off-year caucuses on January 21. The governor's team are encouraging supporters to attend precinct caucuses with a view to being elected delegates to Republican county conventions, district conventions, and eventually the state convention. The goal is to undercut any potential state convention challenge to Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds as the governor's running mate. Last week an Iowa caucus GOTV piece from the governor's campaign hit Republican mailboxes (you can view it here).

Speaking of the lieutenant governor, some Iowans suspect that Branstad intends to step aside at the last minute and allow Reynolds to file as a candidate for governor this March. I don't believe in that scenario for several reasons, not least because under Iowa law, the Branstad campaign could not simply transfer its enormous bank balance to a Reynolds for governor effort.

The press release I've posted below quotes Reynolds as "pleased with the progress we've made to bring 137,000 jobs to Iowa." That alleged job creation figure is highly misleading, because it counts only jobs gained and not jobs lost in recent years. The upshot is that the Branstad administration claims credit for job "gains" even in months when Iowa had a net loss of jobs. In any event, no matter who is governor, fluctuations in Iowa's unemployment rate track closely with changes in the national unemployment rate.

Final note on the Branstad campaign: its new spokesperson is Tommy Schultz. His predecessor Jimmy Centers moved to the position of communications director for the governor last month after Tim Albrecht (who ran communications for Branstad's 2010 gubernatorial campaign) left the governor's office to join a new political marketing firm called Redwave Digital, a partnership with longtime Republican strategist David Kochel.

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Five reasons Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will go for IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 13:09:18 PM CST

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz confirmed on Tuesday that he is seriously considering running for the open seat in Iowa's third Congressional district. He'll make up his mind during the next few weeks.

The more I think about the potential risks and benefits for Schultz, the more I think he will go for it.  

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IA-Sen: Mark Jacobs up on radio (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 07:28:00 AM CST

Only one Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa seems to have the financial resources to run paid advertising statewide, and Mark Jacobs is poised to exploit that advantage. Jennifer Jacobs (no relation) reported for the Des Moines Register that the Jacobs campaign is running a 60-second radio spot.

In the ad, Jacobs talks about being born and raised in Iowa, "growing up around a small family business," and early jobs delivering newspapers and working at Hy-Vee. A voice-over repeatedly refers to Jacobs as a leader in the business world, adding that Jacobs was "educated in Iowa schools." The language touches on major themes of the Jacobs campaign while addressing one of his big weaknesses--having lived outside Iowa for a few decades. I've posted the script after the jump and will add the audio if the candidate posts it on his YouTube channel or campaign website.

Speaking of websites, whoever is running Jacobs' "news" page needs to stop posting the full text of newspaper articles about the candidate. I'm not an attorney, but my understanding is that "fair use" under copyright law would involve a link to the original publication in the Fort Dodge Messenger or the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, plus an excerpt of a few paragraphs. Currently the Jacobs campaign website rips off the entire texts of newspaper profiles, then adds a useless link at the bottom: "View article as it originally appeared here." No one's going to click through once they've read the whole piece already. Unless Jacobs has explicit permission from the original publishers, his website should post shorter excerpts.

UPDATE: Scroll to the end of this post to listen to the audio.

SECOND UPDATE: Jacobs was a guest on the December 8 edition of Dave Price's program "The Insiders" on WHO-TV. Toward the end of the show, Jacobs said he had never voted for any Democratic candidate. Asked about the 2012 Iowa caucuses, Jacobs said he did not support anyone in those caucuses--but tactfully did not mention that he didn't move back to Iowa until later that year.

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Sources say FBI raided Kent Sorenson's house (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 12:35:00 PM CST

Former State Senator Kent Sorenson's political career is over, but his legal problems may be deepening. Robert Wenzel reported today at the Economic Policy Journal blog that two sources have confirmed "the FBI was at Sorenson's house for 7 hours" one day last week. "They took Sorenson's computers and the school-related computers of Sorenson's children. Notebooks and diaries were also taken."

In order to evade Iowa Senate ethics rules, Sorenson is alleged to have received payments from third parties for work promoting presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul. (See volume one and volume two of the lengthy report by special investigator Mark Weinhardt.) Some of those payments may have violated federal campaign finance laws. Wenzel discussed some possible national political reverberations from the FBI investigation. Assuming his sources are correct, I suspect this case will be a powerful deterrent to any Iowa lawmaker tempted to seek money for a future political endorsement.

Hat tip to Democratic State Senator Steve Sodders.

UPDATE: Sorenson's attorney said the search happened on November 20 and added,

"We were not notified that he was the target of any investigation," attorney Theodore Sporer told the [Des Moines] Register. "They took computers and things that would be used to verify or validate communications with presidential entities."

"It wasn't a 'raid,'" Sporer told the Register. "They executed a search warrant that, frankly, we anticipated was coming."

SECOND UPDATE: Enjoyed the Iowa .Gif-t Shop's take on this story.

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IA-Sen fundraising reveals the opening for Mark Jacobs

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 20:21:25 PM CST

Mark Jacobs officially launched his campaign for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat today. I'll post a roundup of news clips and early thoughts on his strengths and weaknesses tomorrow.

First, I want to highlight the biggest reason Jacobs will be a serious contender for the nomination: the poor fundraising by other declared Republican candidates for Senate.

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Will Nick Ryan and the American Future Fund own up to campaign finance violations?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 08:45:00 AM CDT

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced yesterday that her office and "the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) have jointly secured a $1 million civil settlement against two out-of-state organizations for violations of the California Political Reform Act." In addition, a political group registered in Iowa called the "California Future Fund for Free Markets" is supposed to to pay a $4.08-million penalty to the state of California. The 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, run by longtime Iowa Republican operative Nick Ryan, was the sole source of funding for the now-defunct California Future Fund for Free Markets.

Follow me after the jump for details on the scheme to evade California's campaign finance disclosure rules last year.

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