Weekend open thread: Election prediction contest edition

It’s time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. No prizes will be awarded, but winners will get bragging rights. Can anyone dethrone American007, overall winner of our 2008 election contest?

Enter by answering the following questions. To qualify for the contest, your predictions must be posted as a comment in this thread by 7 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. This isn’t like The Price is Right; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low.

1. How many votes will be cast in the Republican primary for Iowa governor? (Hint: about 199,000 Iowans voted in the hard-fought 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.)

2. What percentages of the vote will Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts receive in the Republican primary for governor?

3. What percentages of the vote will Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen receive in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate?

4. What percentages of the vote will Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje and Chris Reed receive in the Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district? Remember, if you expect this nomination to be decided at a district convention, make sure your guess has the top vote-getter below 35 percent.

5. Who will be the top four candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district, and what percentages of the vote will they receive? Again, keep the top vote-getter below 35 percent if you expect this nomination to go to a district convention. Your possible answers are Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees, Scott Batcher, Jason Welch and Pat Bertroche.

6. What percentages of the vote will Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell receive in the Democratic primary in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district?

7. What percentages of the vote will Matt Schultz, George Eichhorn and Chris Sanger receive in the Republican primary for secretary of state? (I covered that campaign in this post.)

8. What percentages of the vote will Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens receive in the Republican primary for state treasurer? (The Iowa Republican blog has been covering this race from time to time.)

9. What percentages of the vote will State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and challenger Clair Rudison receive in the Democratic primary for Iowa House district 66? (Click here for background.)

10. What percentages of the vote will Tom Shaw, Stephen Richards and Alissa Wagner receive in the Republican primary for Iowa House district 8? (Click here and here for background. Keep in mind that although Wagner withdrew from the race and endorsed Shaw, her name will remain on the ballot.)

Don’t be afraid to make some wild guesses. You can’t win if you don’t play!

This is also an open thread, so share whatever’s on your mind.

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Rathje is first Loebsack opponent to go up on tv

With the June 8 primary just four weeks away, Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids is the first of the four Republican candidates in Iowa’s second Congressional district to start running television ads.

Rough transcript by me:

Rathje speaks to the camera: Congress and the president are no doubt lost as to how they’re going to compete with China. Hello folks, I’m Steve Rathje, and for more than 20 years, I’ve been working with companies all across the U.S. in an effort to eliminate waste, cut spending, and bring jobs back home to America.

It’s time to quit sending our jobs overseas and expect foreign countries to buy our debt due to our out-of-control spending. I approved this message because it’s time to compete, not retreat.

Male voice-over: Real-world experience. Steve Rathje Congress.

This strikes me as a very solid introductory ad, highlighting Rathje’s experience as CEO of a company that “find[s] people in Iowa who could make goods quicker, faster, better and cheaper than the foreign competitors.”

According to The Iowa Republican, Rathje is paying about $5,900 to run this commercial on Fox News and KCRG in Cedar Rapids for the week. He probably can afford to stay up on tv until the June 8 primary. At the end of the first quarter, Rathje’s campaign had $55,586 cash on hand, trailing Mariannette Miller-Meeks ($72,702) and political newcomer Rob Gettemy ($120,815 including a $100,000 loan from the candidate). I’m surprised Rathje was able to raise nearly as much money as Miller-Meeks, the 2008 GOP nominee against Representative Dave Loebsack. Gettemy probably has more potential for out-of-district donations now that the National Republican Congressional Committee has put him “on the radar.”

Loebsack’s Republican challengers don’t differ much on the issues. If three of them can afford paid media for the final month of the campaign, that will raise the chances for the nomination to be decided at a district convention. The fourth Republican candidate, Chris Reed, has little money to spend before June 8. He needs to hope that his far-right endorsers and team of volunteers are able to deliver a surprising number of grassroots votes.

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NRCC casts its vote for Gettemy in IA-02, Gibbons in IA-03

The National Republican Campaign Committee added Rob Gettemy to its list of “on the radar” candidates today. Gettemy is one of four Republicans running against Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s second Congressional district.

“The NRCC is committed to working with Rob Gettemy as he continues to meet the rigorous goals of the Young Guns program,” said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions. “Rob is an accomplished, independent leader who will fight to create jobs and rein in government spending. I am confident that Republicans will wage a strong fight against Dave Loebsack, a loyal Democrat who has repeatedly put his partisan agenda before a healthy economy.”

They’ll have to do more than that to convince me that this D+7 district will be competitive in the fall. The real reason for putting Gettemy “on the radar” is to signal to Republican donors that he’s the guy to support in this race. It’s a slap in the face to 2008 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks, not to mention the other two Republicans running in IA-02 (Steve Rathje and Chris Reed). Gettemy joined the race last but has the most cash on hand thanks to a $100,000 loan he made to his own campaign.

If no candidate wins 35 percent in the June 8 primary, NRCC support could help Gettemy at the district convention that would decide the Republican nominee. Gettemy already has backing from many prominent Linn County Republicans.

In the NRCC’s three-tiered system for candidates in supposedly competitive races, the next step up from “on the radar” is “contender.” Jim Gibbons’ campaign announced today that the NRCC has elevated him to that level. Gibbons became an “on the radar” candidate in February. If Gibbons can meet certain benchmarks, the NRCC may later elevate him to the top “Young Gun” level, for candidates deemed to have the best chances of winning Democratic-held House seats.

Getting a pat on the back from the NRCC will help Gibbons raise money, particularly from out-of-district donors who don’t know the political terrain in Iowa’s third district. Gibbons outraised the other Republican candidates in IA-03 by a substantial margin in the first quarter, and being a “contender” will probably help him extend that financial advantage in the second quarter. The Gibbons campaign press release is not subtle:

By achieving ‘Contender’ status, Gibbons has already proven his ability to build a successful campaign structure and achieve vital fundraising goals.

Gibbons added, “This recognition shows that our campaign is ready to take down Leonard Boswell in the fall.  I am the only candidate in this race that has shown the financial heft and organization structure to compete and win in November.  I am running for Congress to bring Iowa values back to Congress,” said Jim Gibbons.

I have to laugh to see Gibbons bragging about support from Washington party leaders a week after he tried to attack incumbent Leonard Boswell for getting help from the head of the DCCC.

Many people on the ground in IA-03 expect State Senator Brad Zaun to win the Republican nomination. Zaun appears to have an early advantage in name recognition as well as a base in vote-rich Urbandale. On the other hand, Zaun has raised only a little more than $80,000 for his Congressional campaign, about $50,000 of that in the first quarter. It may not be enough for strong district-wide advertising and direct mail before the June 8 primary. A majority of Republican voters haven’t yet decided on a candidate, according to a recent poll commissioned by Zaun’s campaign.

If no candidate wins 35 percent in the primary, Zaun could be well-positioned to win the nomination at a district convention, having much more background in Republican politics. But Gibbons could point to the NRCC’s backing as an argument in his favor. Party leaders in Washington are less likely to commit resources to this district if Zaun is the candidate.

A final word on Zaun’s meager fundraising. His defenders claim that his fundraising has lagged because he was tied up in the state legislature from January through March. I’m not buying it. Zaun announced his candidacy against Boswell in early December, more than a month before the 2010 legislative session began. If Rod Roberts could raise more than $50,000 in the kickoff event for his gubernatorial campaign, Zaun should have been able to raise much more at his kickoff event in late December (before the legislative session began). Zaun is a former mayor of Urbandale, a community with much more wealth and more Republicans than the Carroll area Roberts has represented in the Iowa House. Zaun should have a large pool of major donors to tap.

Share any thoughts about Congressional races in Iowa in this thread.

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Iowa reaction to health insurance reform bill passing

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the health insurance reform bill on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Iowa politicians from both parties have been responding to last night’s votes in the House of Representatives. After the jump I’ve posted lots of reaction quotes, plus some bonus embarrassing comments from Steve King.

The president is coming to Iowa City this Thursday to promote the health insurance reform bill:

Iowa City was where candidate Obama announced his health-care plan before the 2008 caucuses, when he was in a scrap with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for the party’s presidential nomination.

A White House official said today the president will be in the state to “discuss how health insurance reform will lower costs for small businesses and American families and give them more control over their health care.”

I’ll be curious to see the public polling on this issue in Iowa. A new nationwide CNN poll released today showed that 39 percent of respondents support the Senate bill just approved by the House. Some 43 percent oppose the bill because it is “too liberal,” while 13 percent oppose the bill because it is “not liberal enough.” In other words, more than half the respondents either support the bill or (like me) feel it doesn’t go far enough.  

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Iowa political fundraising roundup

Financial reports for the end of 2009 were due with the Federal Election Commission on January 31. Here are some highlights.

The Iowa Democratic Party announced yesterday that it raised about $2.47 million across all accounts in 2009, while the Republican Party of Iowa raised $1.46 million. IDP chair Michael Kiernan said the party had met its goal of securing “the resources needed to win this November.” Details:

IDP filed $1.23 million in the state report. RPI filed $450,137 in the same report.

Filed 19 January 2010. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

http://iowa.gov/ethics/

IDP filed $148,574 in State Party Building Fund Report. RPI filed $177,365.

Filed 28 January 2010. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

http://iowa.gov/ethics/

IDP filed $1.09 million filed in Federal Year-End Report. RPI filed $837,406.

Filed 31 January 2010. Federal Elections Commission.

http://fec.gov

The money reported in the federal year-end report can be used to support any candidates and campaigns. The money in the state fund can be used on statewide races or Iowa House and Senate races. The State Party Building Fund money can’t be used on candidates or campaigns, but only on expenses for the building where the party headquarters is located (such as equipment or maintenance).

The Iowa GOP responded that it entered 2010 with about $100,000 more cash on hand than Iowa Democrats, but I don’t know whether its cash is in restricted or unrestricted accounts. (UPDATE: The Iowa Democratic Party disputes this claim. Adding the amounts from all three reports filed, the IDP has $449,334.94 on hand, while “RPI has $265,281.06 on hand between all three reports filed.”)

As for the federal races, Senator Chuck Grassley raised about $810,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009, spent about $156,000 and ended the year with about $5 million cash on hand. That’s about ten times as much as Democrat Roxanne Conlin has on hand for her campaign. Democrats Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen reported approximately $3,500 and $400 on hand, respectively.

IowaPolitics.com posted numbers for the Congressional candidates here. I was most interested in the numbers from the second and third districts. In IA-02, two-term incumbent Dave Loebsack raised $94,479 in the fourth quarter, spent $36,572 and ended the year with $336,311 cash on hand.

Surprisingly, Steve Rathje led the money race on the Republican side, raising $59,130 in the fourth quarter, spending $12,648 and ending with $46,242 cash on hand. The 2008 GOP nominee, Mariannnette Miller-Meeks, raised $20,660 (including $4,000 she gave herself), spent $39 and had $20,620 on hand. IowaPolitics.com didn’t mention numbers for Chris Reed, but The Iowa Republican blog reported that Reed raised “a miniscule $2,833.75 in the last quarter of 2009,” ending the year with “just over $2000 cash on hand.”

In the third district, seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell raised $169,377 in the fourth quarter, spent $50,643 and had $462,193 cash on hand. Most of his money came from political action committee contributions.

Jim Gibbons led the crowded Republican field, thanks to support from heavy-hitters like Bruce Rastetter as well as a number of political action committees. Gibbons raised $207,310, spent $2,240 and ended the year with $205,069 on hand and $2,686 in debts owed. Craig Robinson of the Iowa Republican blog is ready to declare victory for Gibbons in the primary already, based on these numbers. However, Bleeding Heartland user mirage (a supporter of State Senator Brad Zaun) noted in the same thread, “About $51,000 of Gibbons funds will be restricted (meaning they can’t be used against Zaun in a primary), and about $130,000 came from outside the 3rd district.”

Speaking of Zaun, he raised $30,600, spent $93 and ended 2009 with $30,507 on hand. Presumably he has raised more money since January 1, because he made a television ad buy last week. But as Robinson noted triumphantly, “Even if [Dave] Funk or Zaun raised $1000 everyday between now and the primary, they still wouldn’t match what Gibbons currently has in his campaign account.”

Funk, the IA-03 candidate favored by the Tea Party crowd, raised $22,685 in the fourth quarter, spent $19,553 and ended the year with $16,507 on hand. According to mirage, much of Funk’s remaining money is restricted for use after the primary. I don’t think he’ll be needing that.

Mark Rees, who is running as a more moderate Republican, raised $3,100 and loaned his own campaign $52,647. He spent $3,247 and ended the year with $52,500 and $52,647 in debts owed to himself. I don’t know how much of a moderate GOP base is left in the Des Moines suburbs, but if conservatives divide their support among three or four candidates, Rees could slip through.

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