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Nick Ryan puts the writing on the wall for Rick Santorum in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 11:41:25 AM CDT

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has visited Iowa lots of times since (barely) winning the 2012 GOP caucuses, but discouraging signs for his presidential aspirations continue to mount. He has been outshined by Senator Ted Cruz and others at several events drawing large conservative crowds here. One of his former Iowa staffers jumped ship for Cruz before eventually taking a position with former Texas Governor Rick Perry's political action committee. The most recent polls by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics indicated that Santorum is the first choice of only 3 percent or 4 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers.

Yesterday Maggie Haberman of the New York Times broke disastrous news for Santorum: Nick Ryan will lead a super-PAC for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee during the upcoming presidential campaign. Iowa's dark money king is best-known for leading the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, but in 2011 Ryan created and led a super-PAC which spent millions on Santorum's behalf before the presidential caucuses and primaries. He has also had close ties to The Iowa Republican blog's publisher Craig Robinson, who provided mostly favorable coverage to Santorum's campaign before the 2012 caucuses. The Iowa Republican has leaned toward other candidates Ryan favored in past elections, such as Jim Gibbons in the 2010 GOP primary to represent Iowa's third Congressional district and Mark Jacobs in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary.

Ryan aligning with a rival candidate is as significant as longtime Mitt Romney consultant David Kochel joining former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's political action committee a couple of months ago.

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IA-01: EMILY's List backing Monica Vernon

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 27, 2015 at 09:40:30 AM CDT

A leading political action committee for pro-choice Democratic women has endorsed Monica Vernon in Iowa's first Congressional district. EMILY's List announced their support today in a statement I've posted after the jump. The PAC didn't endorse any of the three women who sought the IA-01 nomination in 2014, but donated $10,000 and bundled another $233,283 to Staci Appel's campaign in IA-03.

Vernon finished second in the 2014 primary and is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination this cycle. However, she may not be the only pro-choice woman in this race. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar, who finished third in last year's primary, is considering another Congressional bid.

Please share any comments about the IA-01 campaign in this thread.

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Three reasons Brad Zaun should give up on IA-03 primary challenge

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 20:40:00 PM CDT

When State Senator Brad Zaun came out "110 percent" behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for president recently, I inferred that Zaun probably won't run for Congress again. But this week the Urbandale Republican told the Des Moines Register that he is keeping "all my options open" regarding a primary challenge to Representative David Young.

Iowa Republicans aren't in the habit of seeking my advice, but for what it's worth: Zaun should stop dreaming about representing the third Congressional district.

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Swati Dandekar considering another campaign in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 10, 2015 at 16:22:05 PM CDT

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar appears to be leaning toward another run for Congress in Iowa's first district, Richard Springer reported for the India West newspaper yesterday. Follow me after the jump for first thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses Dandekar would take into a second Congressional campaign.  
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Scott Walker's Iowa endorsements: Solid head start or Pawlenty redux?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 12:37:53 PM CDT

Late last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rolled out his first batch of prominent Iowa supporters: four Republican state senators and two central Iowa county officials.

The support for Walker follows two recent opinion polls showing him leading the pack of likely presidential candidates among Iowa Republican caucus-goers. If the last presidential campaign is any guide, though, early legislative endorsements tell us nothing about candidate performance on Iowa caucus night.

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Kent Sorenson sentencing delayed as he cooperates with federal investigators

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 20, 2015 at 06:45:00 AM CST

Nearly six months after he pled guilty to receiving hidden payments for endorsing Ron Paul, former State Senator Kent Sorenson still hasn't been sentenced and won't be for some time. Jason Noble reported for the Des Moines Register,

In a [February 19] hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt, attorneys for the government and for Sorenson agreed to delay sentencing in the case until April. The reason, Justice Department lead attorney Robert Higdon Jr. said, was that the government was "engaged" and "making progress" on a "larger investigation" into the 2012 presidential race. [...]

It is unclear exactly who may be the target of the ongoing investigation, but questions have been raised about top aides in Paul's 2012 campaign.

Sorenson received shady indirect payments from Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign for months, but his guilty plea was related to a payment scheme he negotiated with Ron Paul supporters. Russ Choma reported last year for the Open Secrets blog,

Sources say two grand juries are looking into the 2012 campaigns of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), whom Sorenson originally endorsed, and Paul, to whom Sorenson switched his support just days before the Iowa caucuses. A number of individuals confirmed to OpenSecrets Blog that they had been interviewed by FBI agents, the grand juries, or both.

Click through for more speculation on angles federal investigators may be pursuing.

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Democrats should skip Bruce Rastetter's Iowa Agriculture Forum

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 17:58:09 PM CST

Seven potential Republican presidential candidates have accepted Bruce Rastetter's invitation to attend an "Iowa Agricultural Forum" in Des Moines next month, Erin Murphy reported yesterday. The seven are Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and national laughingstock sorry, entrepreneur Donald Trump. No doubt more Republicans will show up to be heard as well.

Rastetter also invited U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as well as a half-dozen Democrats who may run for president this cycle or in the future: Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former U.S. Senator Jim Webb. So far no Democrats have accepted the invitation.

I hope they all steer clear of this event.

It's a bit late for Rastetter to reinvent himself as some kind of non-partisan elder statesman. He provided the seed money for the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, which quickly grew into one of the biggest-spending and most deceptive dark money groups on the right. After leading an effort to bring Terry Branstad out of political retirement, Rastetter became the top individual donor to Branstad's 2010 campaign, landing a prestigious appointment to the influential Board of Regents. As a Regent, he has thrown his weight around more than most of his predecessors. In what many viewed as a conflict of interest, Rastetter continued to pursue a business project involving his biofuels company and Iowa State University in an extensive land acquisition in Tanzania. Later, he tried to get the University of Iowa's president to arrange a meeting where biofuels industry representatives could educate a prominent professor whom Rastetter considered "uninformed" about ethanol. Rastetter was also involved in the fiasco that eventually led to Senator Tom Harkin pulling his papers from Iowa State University.

Early in the 2012 election cycle, Rastetter led a group of Iowa businessmen who tried to recruit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for president. Although he is now cultivating an image as a corporate leader who is above the political fray, he will always be seen as a Republican power-broker in Iowa. I don't see much upside to any Democrat showing up to kiss Rastetter's ring. At best, the national and local reporters covering the Agriculture Forum will write about the "frosty reception" Democratic speakers got from a conservative audience. Or more likely, disruption by hecklers will overshadow any Democratic message on agricultural policy.

Democrats who may run for president will have lots of opportunities this year to address Iowans who might actually listen to them.  

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50 "most wanted" Iowa Republican discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Dec 21, 2014 at 20:45:00 PM CST

Following up on last week's look at "most wanted" Iowa Democrats, Jennifer Jacobs wrote a feature for today's Sunday Des Moines Register on "50 of Iowa's makers and shakers for the Republican presidential caucuses." Any comments about the list or GOP politics in general are welcome in this thread.

It seems like Jacobs couldn't decide whether she was making a list of the 50 most influential Iowa Republicans, or the people who will be most sought out by presidential candidates. A lot of names in the top ten will almost certainly not endorse any candidate before the Iowa caucuses (Governor Terry Branstad, Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, Branstad's chief of staff Matt Hinch). For that reason, I expect some of the presidential campaigns to do far more courting of donors and activists who are lower down on Jacobs' list. Big money men (they are all men) who will be highly sought after include Kyle Krause, Pete Brownell, Bruce Rastetter, Gary Kirke, Jim Cownie, David Oman, and Robert Haus.

I was surprised Jacobs put David Kochel and Sara Craig Gongol so far down the list at numbers 36 and 39, respectively. Not only were they deeply involved in Romney's 2012 campaign in Iowa, millions of dollars passed through dark money groups those two ran during this year's U.S. Senate race. To my mind, they will be among the go-to Iowa Republicans for people who want to slime a less-preferred candidate before the caucuses, but don't want their fingerprints on the job. Kochel and Craig aren't shy about skating close to the edge when it comes to federal rules designed to ban coordination between campaigns and outside groups making independent media expenditures.

I was also surprised Jacobs left out talk radio host Steve Deace. Along with Sam Clovis and a few leaders of megachurches, he will be a loud voice in the Iowa GOP's social conservative wing, and I'm sure several presidential candidates will work hard to win his endorsement.

UPDATE: I thought it was strange that former Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants made Jacobs' list--he hasn't been speaker since 2006, and he retired from the legislature in 2010. James Lynch pointed out that it's even more odd for Rants to be there, given that Jacobs did not mention current Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen or Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix. Paulsen endorsed Newt Gingrich shortly before the 2012 caucuses. Dix did not endorse any of the contenders.

SECOND UPDATE: Shane Vander Hart commented n the Jacobs list at Caffeinated Thoughts. I largely agree with his take, especially this part:

Being an effective campaign staffer doesn't (necessarily) equal influence. [...] There are some people who are on this list who are great at the work that they do.  Tim Albrecht is an effective communications/PR guy, Phil Valenziano, Grant Young, they are great, hardworking campaign staffers, but influencers?  That can be debated and it depends on how you define influence and/or who the target of the influence is.  
 
Vander Hart also pointed out that WHO radio host Jan Mickelson was left off the list, even though he has a large audience around the state: "Mickelson doesn't endorse, but he is a great conduit to grassroots Republicans and candidates need to shoot straight with him (ask Mitt Romney)."  
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Iowa Farm Bureau: Voice of Hypocrisy and Big Business

by: Mark Langgin

Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 10:36:57 AM CST

(The facts about the Farm Bureau should be more widely known. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

(*Cross-Posted from Op-Ed by Mike Delaney, President of Citizens for a Healthy Iowa)

As the new year approaches, many of us resolve to better align our actions with our best selves, by supporting organizations that help to build healthier families and stronger communities, and seeking to make our world a better place. This week, against this backdrop, the Iowa Farm Bureau (IFB) hosts its annual convention in Des Moines.

(for the full report and background go to www.FarmBureauExposed.com

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Five political realities that should worry Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 12:19:45 PM CST

Two weeks after election day, political junkies like me are still processing what happened. Losing control of the U.S. Senate was the most obvious bad outcome for Democrats, but maybe not the most concerning one. The Senate map for 2016 gives Democrats a lot of opportunities to make up ground.

Five other political realities have been bothering me more.  

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Twitter was used in "cutting edge" scheme to evade campaign finance laws

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 23:00:00 PM CST

The Federal Election Commission rarely enforces laws against coordination between political campaigns and groups making independent expenditures for and against candidates. Meanwhile, outside spending is exploding to the point that in some races, independent expenditures dwarf money spent by the candidates.

As a result, each election cycle brings more actions that raise suspicions of campaigns and outside groups coordinating their work. In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, Joni Ernst's campaign magically knew exactly when to launch a very small ad buy to maximal effect--on the same day an outside group released a months-old unflattering video of Bruce Braley. Later on, a super PAC came into existence solely to run a $1 million television commercial targeting Braley, and that super PAC just happened to be headquartered in the same office as a senior consultant for Ernst's campaign.

CNN's Chris Moody reported today on a newly uncovered, brazen scheme to share information between campaigns and political advocacy groups. Click through to read his whole piece about Twitter accounts that communicated polling data from competitive U.S. House races.

At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP. [...]

The accounts that CNN reviewed were active in the months ahead of this month's election, which gave Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate. They were live until Nov. 3 but deleted minutes after CNN contacted the NRCC with questions. [...]

The tweets captured by screenshots stretched back to July, but the groups have communicated in this manner for four years, the source said. Staffers for each group deleted individual tweets every few months, so only the past few months of data were available when CNN first viewed the Twitter accounts.

Deleting online content minutes after a journalist starts asking questions sends a strong signal that these operatives knew they were doing something shady. Moreover, Philip Bump noticed that the American Action Network was one of the biggest outside spenders in the Congressional race in Florida's 26th district. That race was the apparent focus of at least one now-deleted tweet containing polling data, which showed a very close race in FL-26.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 13:33:28 PM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, the third-quarter campaign finance reports for Iowa's four Congressional districts are all online at the Federal Election Commission's website. My big takeaways:

In the open seat race in IA-01, Democrat Pat Murphy has out-rased Republican Rod Blum, both during the third quarter and in the election cycle to date. But Blum went into the home stretch with a cash advantage, for two reasons: 1) he has put more than $200,000 of his own money into the campaign, and 2) he didn't have to spend heavily before the June primary--unlike Murphy, who had to spend most of the early money he raised to get past four Democratic rivals.

In IA-02, Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack ended the quarter with far more money to spend than his GOP challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks. One reason is that as of September 30, Miller-Meeks had not put much of her own money behind her third Congressional bid. In contrast, she put more than $500,000 into her 2010 Congressional campaign.

In IA-03, David Young would be dead in the water without his personal loans to the campaign and the immense support he is getting from corporate and conservative political action committees. He entered the last five weeks of the campaign with more debts than cash on hand.

In IA-04, Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer out-raised six-term Representative Steve King yet again. Even more impressive, Mowrer raised more from individuals this quarter than any other Iowa candidate for the U.S. House. But King went into the home stretch with more cash on hand, after waiting much longer than Mowrer to start running television commercials.

Follow me after the jump for many more details from all eight major-party candidates' filings. Bleeding Heartland will cover the independent expenditures in to four U.S. House races in a future post. IA-03 continues to be the main focus for outside groups, but more money is coming into IA-01 as well. The bad news for Miller-Meeks is that IA-02 isn't drawing a lot of interest this year, in contrast to 2010.  

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IA-Sen: First Braley/Ernst debate liveblog and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 28, 2014 at 16:59:26 PM CDT

In a few minutes Representative Bruce Braley and State Senator Joni Ernst will start their first debate at Simpson College in Indianola. You can watch the debate on KCCI-TV in the Des Moines viewing area and on C-SPAN across the country (in central Iowa that's channel 95).

I previewed what I see as the biggest potential pitfalls for each candidate here. I'll be liveblogging after the jump and will also update later with some reaction to the debate.

UPDATE: KCCI has posted the debate video online. I cleaned up some typos and filled in gaps in the liveblog below.

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IA-03: Republicans try oldest trick in the book against Staci Appel

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 14:42:37 PM CDT

UPDATE: Appel's response ad is here.

For decades, Republicans have tried to win elections by painting Democrats--especially Democratic women--as soft on crime or weak on national defense. So no one should be surprised by the smear at the heart of the National Republican Congressional Committee's latest attack on Staci Appel in Iowa's third district. Taking out of context comments Appel made during her first debate with David Young, the NRCC is claiming Appel supports "passports for terrorists."

Background and details are after the jump, along with the latest ads from both sides. Politico's "Morning Score" reported on September 18 that David Young's campaign has "gone dark"--not airing any television commercials--for the time being. It's not clear whether the Young campaign is running short of funds or simply taking a break while the NRCC does the heavy lifting. Typically candidates will run positive ads while outside groups run attacks. The NRCC already has a positive spot running about Young as well as the misleading ad they've launched against Appel.

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Weekend open thread: Political corruption edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 13:10:56 PM CDT

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

I've been reading about the recent convictions of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell on federal corruption charges. Both are likely to do prison time for accepting money and favors for personal benefit. Incidentally, McDonnell refused a deal that would have required him to plead guilty to just one charge, sparing his wife from prosecution. Iowa's own former State Senator Kent Sorenson showed more chivalry--or was it wisdom, for once?--when he agreed to plead guilty on corruption charges, protecting his own wife from prosecution in connection with illegal payments.

While I have no problem with prosecuting greedy politicians, it occurs to me that the McDonnells' outrageous actions (such as letting a wealthy businessman cater their daughter's wedding) were less damaging to the public welfare than many more prevalent forms of "legal corruption." No governor will be prosecuted for appointing wealthy donors to powerful state positions, where they may promote their own businesses or interfere with those they see threatening their industry. No governor will ever be prosecuted for giving interest groups undue influence on public policy, either covertly or openly. In the August 31 Sunday Des Moines Register, Richard Doak wrote an excellent piece on how Governor Terry Branstad has "put state government at the service of one segment of the people: the business community." I've posted excerpts after the jump. Doak's not talking about criminal activity, but he cites policies that have harmed Iowa more than any luxury vacation for the McDonnells could ever harm Virginia.

On a related note, the Brennan Center for Justice recently published a disturbing report on trends in federal campaign spending:

In recent cases like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Supreme Court has been narrowing what counts as corruption in campaign finance cases to mere quid pro quo corruption. Quid pro quo is Latin meaning "this for that." In other words only explicit exchanges of gifts for votes or campaign cash for official acts will count as corruption for the Roberts Supreme Court. But a new study entitled, "The New Soft Money" from Professor Daniel Tokaji and Renata Strause calls this narrow read of corruption into question.  

Speaking of "dark money," Iowa's third Congressional district was among thirteen tossup U.S. House races examined in a separate Brennan Center report on outside political spending. A growing trend (not yet seen in IA-03) is for a super-PAC to be formed supporting a single Congressional candidate, giving "big donors a way of evading federal contribution limits."

UPDATE: Over at the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's blog, Adam Rappaport illustrates another example of legalized corruption: "issue ads" funded by dark money, which are clearly intended to influence elections. Although the "tax code plainly says section 501(c)(4) organizations must be 'exclusively' engaged in non-political activity," the IRS interpretation allows dark money groups to fund blatant electioneering communications.  

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Kent Sorenson pleads guilty over hidden payments scheme (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 13:39:46 PM CDT

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that former State Senator Kent Sorenson has pleaded guilty to two charges related to hidden payments in exchange for supporting Ron Paul for president. When he abandoned his position as Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign chair to endorse Paul less than a week before the 2012 Iowa caucuses, rumors immediately circulated about alleged payments for his support. Sorenson repeatedly denied those rumors. However, he has now admitted that he received $73,000 in concealed payments after endorsing Paul. As part of his plea agreement, he also admitted lying to journalists and giving false testimony to an independent counsel appointed to investigate various charges. Sorenson resigned his Iowa Senate seat last October, the same day that independent counsel filed a devastating report. Federal authorities have been investigating the case since last year.

After the jump I've enclosed the full Department of Justice press release, with more details about the plea deal. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. As far as I can tell, these charges are unrelated to any payments Sorenson allegedly received from the Bachmann campaign earlier in 2011. A former Bachmann campaign staffer made those claims in complaints he filed with the Federal Election Commission and with the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee. Another former Bachmann staffer signed an affidavit containing details on Sorenson's compensation for work supporting that campaign.

One mystery I hope someone will solve someday is whether Sorenson's attorney, Ted Sporer, lied on behalf of his client, or whether Sorenson lied to Sporer along with everyone else. Even on the day he resigned from the state legislature, Sorenson maintained he was an innocent victim of a "straight-up political witch hunt." A separate lawsuit that had alleged Sorenson stole a valuable e-mail list from a Bachmann staffer's computer was eventually settled without any admission of wrongdoing by Sorenson.

UPDATE: Russ Choma has more details at Open Secrets, including the full plea agreement. Highly recommend clicking through to read that whole post. I've enclosed excerpts below.

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Who's right about impeachment prospects: John Boehner or Steve King?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 21:40:00 PM CDT

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner doesn't want to impeach President Barack Obama. His plan to sue the president is a gambit to appease Republicans bent on fighting the president's alleged failure "to faithfully execute the laws." At this week's meeting of the House GOP caucus, both Boehner and Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged colleagues not to talk about impeachment, saying such talk only helps Democrats. Today, Boehner assured a roomful of reporters, "We have no plans to impeach the president," claiming that such speculation was "all a scam started by Democrats at the White House."

There's no question Democrats have been hyping the impeachment speculation, to remarkably successful effect. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in $2 million over four days from e-mail appeals warning of Republican plans to oust the president.

But it's a stretch for Boehner to claim Democrats dreamed up the impeachment "scam." Dave Weigel posted a good overview of Republicans inside and outside Congress calling for impeachment within the past year, and especially within the past month.

Just a few days ago, Iowa's own Representative Steve King predicted House Republicans will be motivated to launch impeachment proceedings if President Obama uses executive orders to give "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants. After the jump I've posted excerpts from those comments, as well as King's latest op-ed piece on immigration policy (which does not mention impeachment).  

To put it mildly, King and Boehner don't always see eye to eye on political messaging. With House leadership strongly opposed, I'm skeptical Republicans aligned with King would be able to force a vote on articles of impeachment, let alone pass such a measure. Too many people remember how calls to impeach President Bill Clinton backfired during the 1998 midterm elections. But it's worth noting that House Republicans proceeded with efforts to remove Clinton despite the verdict voters delivered in 1998. A recent national poll indicated that even as Obama's approval ratings remain low, two-thirds of Americans oppose impeaching him. The same poll suggested that a majority of Republican respondents favor impeachment.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Great piece by Lynda Waddington on King saying, in effect, that Obama can't feel true patriotism because "he was not raised with an American experience."

UPDATE: Added new comments from King below. He isn't currently pushing for impeachment but thinks the president might want to be impeached because of a narcissistic personality and "messiah complex."

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Weekend open thread: Cashing in

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 09:58:10 AM CDT

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

Most political campaign staffers are overworked and underpaid, and the prevalence of unpaid internships in Congressional offices leaves few opportunities for people who are not independently wealthy. Now two veterans of Barack Obama's 2012 presidential campaign have come under fire for launching what looks like "a 'pay to play' system for would-be campaign staff." Participants pay $5,000 for five days of intensive training, followed by five weeks of unpaid work on a campaign. Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird claim their consulting firm is just looking to recoup costs through this program, which is "focused on an international audience" rather than American progressives. They also deny they are charging people to volunteer. Rather, they say they are training participants in "organizing, data analytics, digital, and communications strategy and tactics coupled with immersion on a campaign."

Doesn't sound like "change we can believe in" to me. If Stewart and Bird hope "to equip grassroots advocates with the key skills and best practices," they should seek donations from wealthy progressives to cover costs, rather than charging a fee few aspiring activists could afford.

As selling out goes, though, Stewart and Bird's gambit bothers me less than Obama's 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina advising the Tory party in Britain, or another group of 2012 Obama campaign wizards applying their marketing talents to lure more suckers to a Las Vegas casino.

On a related note, the Ready for Hillary super-PAC has somehow convinced 90,000 people to give them money. Most of these donors probably feel they are doing something tangible to help Hillary Clinton become president. The reality is, they are just helping a small group of insiders build a list that will later be sold to a Clinton campaign.

If you can afford to give money to political causes, it's better to donate directly to a worthy candidate's campaign, or to non-profits that are committed to a mission besides enriching the founders.

Which is not to say there's any shame in talented people getting rich. Case in point: Weird Al Yankovic. His new album deserved to hit number one on the charts. The lyrics for "Tacky" and "Word Crimes" are hysterical. They inspired me to go back and listen to some of Weird Al's classics. My favorites include "Six Words Long" (a parody of George Harrison's "I Got My Mind Set On You") and "The Saga Begins" (a Star Wars-themed version of Don McLean's song "American Pie"). I don't know whether he plans to tour in support of his new album, but if he does, I hope he comes through central Iowa. I was fortunate to see him play Des Moines as the opening act for a Monkees reunion tour during the 1980s. Hilarious.

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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup, with a few surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 13:24:37 PM CDT

With all four U.S. House districts in Iowa targeted by one or both parties this year, and competitive primaries happening in three of the four races, I was eager to see where the nominees stood at the end of the second quarter.

Highlights from the Federal Election Commission filings are after the jump. After lackluster fundraising the last three quarters, six-term Representative Steve King finally managed to out-raise his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, but to my surprise, Mowrer retained a big advantage over King in cash on hand as of June 30.  

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All four Iowa Congressional districts to be targeted races in 2014

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 15:12:59 PM CDT

All four Iowa Congressional districts are being targeted by at least one of the major-party committees focused on U.S. House races. This week the National Republican Congressional Committee moved three Iowa candidates to the top tier of its "Young Guns" program: Rod Blum (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and David Young (IA-03). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee moved IA-03 nominee Staci Appel to the top tier of the "Red to Blue" program in March and elevated Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Jim Mowrer (IA-04) to that status shortly after the June 3 primary.

So far the DCCC does not appear concerned about four-term Representative Dave Loebsack's race against Miller-Meeks, whom he defeated by a large margin in 2008 and a narrow margin in 2010. In contrast to the last election cycle, Loebsack has not been added to this year's "Frontline" program for vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Likewise, the NRCC has not put six-term incumbent Steve King in its "Patriot" program for vulnerable Republican House members, despite the fact that Mowrer has out-raised King for the last three fundraising quarters.

Not every candidate named to the "Young Guns" or "Red to Blue" program will receive the same level of financial assistance. I expect the DCCC and NRCC to spend more money in IA-03, generally considered the only "tossup" race in Iowa, than in the other three districts combined.

Any comments about this year's Iowa Congressional races are welcome in this thread. After the jump I've posted the latest voter registration totals for all four districts. Those numbers explain in part why various forecasters have categorized the seats in IA-01 and IA-02 as leaning or likely Democratic, while Republicans are favored to hold IA-04.

Next week, federal candidates must file financial reports for the second quarter. I'll be particularly interested to see how much Murphy, Young, and Miller-Meeks were able to raise between the June 3 primary and the end of the quarter. Although Young had to spend heavily and loan his own campaign $250,000 to get through the GOP primary, I expect his connections to Senator Chuck Grassley's network and multitudes of career lobbyists and Congressional staffers will allow him to keep pace with Appel, who has raised a lot of money and didn't have to spend much in her uncontested Democratic primary. I'm skeptical that Blum will be able to match Murphy in IA-01, even though Murphy wasn't the strongest fundraiser in the Democratic field there. I also wonder whether we'll see signs of King taking Mowrer's challenge more seriously than he has up to now.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 73 words in story)
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