DNC confirms Iowa caucuses will be first in 2012

The Democratic National Committee voted today to keep the Iowa caucuses the first presidential nominating contest in 2012, according to Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach, who’s attending the DNC meeting.

I’ll update this post with more details as they become available. In July, the DNC Rules Committee approved the following calendar: Iowa caucuses on February 6, 2012; New Hampshire primary on February 14; Nevada caucuses on February 18; and South Carolina primary on February 28. All other Democratic nominating contests would occur in March or later. The Republican National Committee has adopted a calendar keeping Iowa first as well.

Any thoughts about the 2012 caucuses are welcome in this thread.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Democrats, mark your calendars for February 6, 2012

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules Committee has recommended Monday, February 6, 2012 as the date for the next Iowa caucuses, according to Iowa Democratic Party executive director Norm Sterzenbach, who attended the meeting. The same body recommended February 14 for the New Hampshire primary, February 18 for the Nevada caucuses and February 28 for the South Carolina primary. All other Democratic nominating contests would occur in March or later.

Although we are unlikely to have real competition on the Democratic side in 2012, it’s good precedent to start the presidential nominating process in February rather than January. Having to knock on doors and phonebank between Christmas 2007 and New Year’s Day 2008 was insane.

The big question is how many states will try to jump ahead of the early states. The DNC rules committee recommends that states violating the proposed calendar would lose half of their delegates. The Republican Party adopted similar sanctions before the 2008 campaign, which didn’t deter Florida and Michigan from holding their primaries “too early.”

The 2010 Iowa caucuses were held on a Saturday afternoon, but off-year caucuses always have light attendance. A Saturday afternoon caucus in a presidential year was never likely, because observant Jews would be unable to participate.

I would like to see more reforms to the Iowa Democratic caucus process, including an absentee ballot option for shift workers who can’t get the night off or voters who are housebound. In Maine, Democrats can participate in the caucuses by absentee ballot.

Continue Reading...

More good news for marriage equality in Iowa

The result was overshadowed by other competitive races, but Democratic voters in Iowa House district 66 produced a big victory for marriage equality yesterday. Elder Clair Rudison, a socially conservative pastor, challenged two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. Rudison sent out at least five direct-mail pieces attacking Ako’s record, two of which mentioned gay marriage (I posted those here).

Most Iowa politics-watchers were confident Ako would win this primary, but in a low-turnout environment anything can happen, so I was relieved to see Ako won 75 percent of the vote yesterday. The result is important because the only Iowa House Democrat who has consistently worked with Republicans to bring a constitutional amendment on marriage to a vote is retiring this year. If Rudison had won the primary, Republicans would be able to continue to claim bipartisan support for their battle against equality and reproductive rights.

One Iowa released a statment on the House district 66 results. Excerpt:

Voters rejected the negative and divisive tactics he and the Iowa Family Policy Center used to try to smear his opponent. “We congratulate Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad on his decisive victory and welcome his continued leadership at the statehouse,” said Jenison.

Chuck Hurley and his followers at the Iowa Family Policy Center recruited Clair Rudison to run against long-time community activist and current state representative Ako Abdul-Samad in the Democratic primary simply because Abdul-Samad supports marriage equality for all Iowans.

“For more than a year, the Iowa Family Policy Center said repeatedly that the legislative elections in 2010 will be about one thing: gay marriage,” said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. “Tonight’s results prove them wrong. Iowans are not interested in writing discrimination into our constitution. They are concerned with creating jobs, improving our schools, and moving our state forward.”

The recent Research 2000 Iowa poll for KCCI-TV should be a warning to Republicans who think bashing gay marriage will be their winning ticket in November. About 53 percent of respondents said they favored marriage rights for same-sex couples, while only 41 percent opposed them. KCCI’s managing editor for internet broadcasting provided the cross-tabs for that part of the poll. They indicate that support for equality is stronger among women (57-36) than among men (49-46). The KCCI poll showed independents supporting same-sex marriage rights by 58-31, closer to the Democratic numbers of 81-17 than to the Republican respondents, who oppose marriage equality by 83-14.

Continue Reading...

Iowa likely to go first again in 2012 presidential race

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee met yesterday in Washington and approved a proposed calendar for the 2012 presidential nominating process. The DemRulz blog noted that the calendar “tracks the DNC Change Commission recommendations,” which state that all primaries and caucuses must be held in March 2012 or later, except for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, which may schedule their nominating contests in February 2012. In a statement released to the media, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Michael Kiernan hailed the vote as “another important step” that “will help us ensure that Iowa is First-in-the-Nation once again.”

The Republican National Committee has moved toward a similar calendar in 2012, with the same four states allowed to schedule primaries or caucuses in February, and all other states allowed to go beginning March 1. The final calendar may not reflect the RNC’s wishes, though; some states may try to jump ahead the way Florida and Michigan did in 2008.

I suspect Iowa’s representatives will have to fight hard to maintain our early position for the 2016 campaign. Democrats in several larger states resent the outsized influence of Iowa and New Hampshire, which are small and predominantly white. The calendar doesn’t matter much on the Democratic side for 2012, because it’s unlikely anyone will challenge Barack Obama for the nomination, but the next cycle will certainly be competitive, whether or not Obama wins a second term.

Continue Reading...

New early voting numbers for the Iowa primary election

Secretary of State Michael Mauro’s office released new numbers today for Iowans voting early in the June 8 primary election.

As of today, 9,209 ballots have been received by county auditor offices across the state. The breakdown by political party is as follows:

Absentee Ballots Received: 9,209

Democrats – 2,140

Republicans – 7,069

Absentee Ballots Sent: 20,269

Democrats – 5,305

Republicans – 14,964

To view these numbers by Congressional district, visit www.iowavotes.gov.

The deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot is June 4 at 5:00 p.m. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before June 7. Voters may still request absentee ballots in-person at their county auditor’s office until close of business on June 7, the day before Primary Day.

On Saturday, June 5, county auditors’ offices will be open for in-person absentee voting. Voters may check with their county auditor for business hours on this day. In addition, voted absentee ballots requested by mail may be hand-delivered to the county auditor’s office until the close of the polls at 9:00 p.m. on Primary Day.

Secretary Mauro encourages those voters who have received absentee ballots to be sure to return completed ballots to their county auditor’s office prior to the deadline.

In order to participate in Iowa’s Primary Election on June 8, eligible voters will need to register either as a Democrat or as a Republican.

For more information on the 2010 Primary Election, visit www.iowavotes.gov.

Note: the number of “absentee ballots received” includes people who have voted early in person, either at a satellite voting location or at their county auditor’s office.

The disparity between ballots requested by Republicans and Democrats is expected, since Democrats have relatively few contested primaries going on (the U.S. Senate race, the fifth Congressional district, a few Iowa House districts and Iowa Senate district 13). Republicans have a three-way primary for governor, two candidates for state treasurer, three candidates for secretary of state, crowded primaries in the first, second and third Congressional districts, and many competitive primaries in Iowa House and Senate districts.

I am surprised there aren’t even more Republican absentee ballots outstanding. From what I’ve heard and read, Terry Branstad’s campaign is making a major push on the absentee ballot front. Supposedly Brad Zaun has been working on turning out third district Republicans to the satellite voting location in Urbandale. I would have expected more than 22,000 Republicans across the state to have voted early or requested an absentee ballot by now. (Approximately 200,000 people voted in the 2002 Iowa Republican primary.) Maybe there will be a surge of voters in the last two weeks before election day, or maybe Republicans just reject early voting on principle.

If you are voting by mail, you can track your absentee ballot through a new feature on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. I prefer to vote early in person; it only took me a few minutes at the Polk County Auditor’s Office.

UPDATE: Melissa Walker posted a good story on this at IowaPolitics.com. She has numbers and return rates for several large counties. According to Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, “many of the early ballots are from the Urbandale area,” which may favor Zaun in the third district primary.

Continue Reading...

Please help re-elect Ako Abdul-Samad in Iowa House district 66

Two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad is one of three Iowa House Democrats still facing active primary challengers. He has long been active in the community as founder of the Creative Visions Human Development Center. Elected to the Des Moines School Board in 2003, Abdul-Samad ran for the Iowa House when Ed Fallon, who represented district 66 for 14 years, vacated the seat to run for governor in 2006. The district (map) includes downtown Des Moines, west side neighborhoods including Sherman Hill, Mondamin and the Drake area, part of the east side including the “east village” and the area around the state capitol, and part of the south side near Gray’s Lake.

In February, Clair Rudison announced plans to run against Abdul-Samad in the Democratic primary. An ordained minister who had a pulpit in Fort Dodge before moving to Des Moines to work with the Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention, Rudison characterized himself as “pro-family, pro-life and pro-marriage.” However, his campaign is emphasizing other issues like employment, housing and health care. Rudison also claims he would provide “a clear alternative to mediocrity.”

Ako (as he is generally known in Des Moines) has a solid voting record and a history of community involvement. From what I hear, he is working hard to contact voters, and I expect him to win the primary, but in a low turnout environment anything can happen. I urge Bleeding Heartland readers to help re-elect him. Now that Dolores Mertz is retiring, the last thing we need is a new Iowa House Democrat who will work with Republicans against marriage equality and reproductive rights.

If you have friends or family in this district, please encourage them to vote for Ako in the primary. Election day is Tuesday, June 8, but people can vote earlier by absentee ballot (click here to request a ballot) or simply stop by the Polk County Auditor’s office on any weekday. The auditor’s office is on Second Avenue just south of Court, right in House district 66. I voted a couple of weeks ago at the auditor’s office, and it took less than 10 minutes.

To get more involved, sign up to volunteer for Ako’s campaign here or join his Facebook page.

Continue Reading...
View More...