IA-03: Six Democrats explain how they could beat David Young

Almost every day, I talk to Democrats who haven’t settled on a candidate in the third Congressional district, where six people are running against two-term Representative David Young. (Heather Ryan ended her Congressional campaign last month and will challenge State Representative Rick Olson in Iowa House district 31’s Democratic primary instead.)

Many of the contenders have supporters I respect and admire. I have no doubt they would represent us well in the U.S. House.

So as I try to pick a favorite from this strong field, I find myself circling back to one question: who has the best chance of beating Young?

At last month’s College and Young Democrats forum in Indianola, each candidate had three minutes to explain how they can win this race. I’ve transcribed their answers in full after the jump.

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The state of play in Iowa's most competitive Congressional race

It’s been too long since Bleeding Heartland checked in on the campaign in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Two-term Representative Rod Blum is not only our state’s most endangered U.S. House member, he is among the country’s most vulnerable GOP incumbents, according to leading election forecasters.

Recent revelations about Blum’s shady, undisclosed internet company may further undermine his election prospects. Tin Moon used Blum’s chief of staff in a fake testimonial, touted phony client “success stories” on its website, and solicited business by promising to make FDA warning letters harder to find in online searches.

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Flip the Iowa House

A view from the trenches by Christine Lewers, an organizer of a new group working to help Democratic candidates win Republican-held Iowa House districts. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Most Iowans don’t know who David Reid is. I didn’t either, until last spring, when the national Sister District Project sent an e-mail asking me to contribute to his campaign. I sent $20 and forgot about Reid until November 7, 2017, when Democrats in Virginia won fifteen Republican-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Reid’s win was among them.

That got me wondering. Why not do the same thing in Iowa? The Sister District idea is to move resources from safe blue regions of the country to places where it can have the most impact: state legislative races where a Democratic challenger is taking on an incumbent in a flippable district.

Unfortunately, Iowa is not currently a focus of Sister District’s 2018 political strategy. That shouldn’t stop Iowa’s Democrats from building a similar strategy to help win back the state House themselves. I’m part of a politically active group of friends, neighbors and family that during the past year has marched and protested and called and more. None of that is enough. Democrats must win elections.

That’s why my group and I started Flip It Iowa.

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Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Iowa Democrats are in a deep hole, controlling only 20 of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 41 of 100 in the House. On the plus side, strong candidate recruitment and a wave of Republican retirements are giving Democrats plenty of opportunities to pick up House seats. (The 2018 Iowa Senate map is less promising.)

Raising money can be challenging for leaders of a minority party, who don’t call the shots on legislation. Furthermore, Iowa Republicans have a natural advantage, since the policies they promote are often tailored to suit wealthy individuals or corporate interest groups. While money doesn’t always determine campaign outcomes, quite a few Democratic lawmakers and challengers lost in 2016 after being massively outspent on television commercials and direct mail (see here, here, and here for examples).

Yet the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.

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IA-Gov: Kim Reynolds below 45 percent against every Democrat

Governor Kim Reynolds leads five Democratic challengers but gains less than 45 percent support in every head to head matchup, according to the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. Reynolds leads State Senator Nate Boulton by 41 percent to 37 percent, with 11 percent of respondents unsure and the rest saying they would not vote or would support some other candidate. She leads Fred Hubbell by 42 percent to 37 percent, John Norris by 41 percent to 30 percent, Andy McGuire by 42 percent to 30 percent, and Cathy Glasson by 44 percent to 31 percent.

I would have expected larger leads for Reynolds, since she has much higher name recognition than the Democratic candidates, and she receives substantial news coverage for free. The governor is in positive territory on job performance (47 percent of respondents approve of her work, 33 percent disapprove, 20 percent unsure) and favorability (48 percent vies her favorably, 32 percent unfavorably, and 20 percent unsure). In addition, the Selzer poll found 49 percent of Iowans see the state moving in the right direction, just 39 percent on the wrong track. Those are decent numbers for an incumbent.

Another plus for Reynolds: she had $4.14 million in her campaign’s bank account at the end of 2017, and she’s hasn’t spent much of it so far. While Hubbell, Boulton, and Glasson have been running television commercials in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets, Reynolds and acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg have been touring the state, earning local media coverage while holding campaign-style events to tout their administration’s accomplishments. That “Unleashing Opportunity” tour–all billed to the state as part of the governor’s “official” duties–has stopped in Mason City, Marion, Muscatine, Davenport, Maquoketa, Ames, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake, Pella, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Newton, and Cedar Falls. None of those visits cost the Reynolds/Gregg campaign a dime.

Selzer surveyed 801 Iowa adults between January 28 and 31, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The respondents were not necessarily registered voters, let alone likely midterm election voters. So this representative sample of Iowa adults may or may not reflect the universe of Iowans who will cast ballots in November. CORRECTION: The gubernatorial race numbers were drawn from “the subset of 555 respondents who say they’re likely to vote in 2018. Those numbers have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points,” Jason Noble reported. Figuring out who will vote is one of the biggest challenges for any pollster. Self-reported intentions are a common screen, but not always an accurate one.

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