Two ways to vote early in Iowa's June 7 primary

Early voting for Iowa’s Democratic and Republican primaries began today, 40 days before the June 7 election. Several candidates held events to mark the occasion. Jim Mowrer’s campaign had a presence in the morning at the Polk County Elections Office, while his third Congressional district Democratic rival Mike Sherzan was first in line to cast an early ballot in Dallas County. Iowans have two options for voting early in the primary.

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Iowa Congressional 1Q 2016 fundraising news roundup

You’d never guess Representative Steve King was facing a primary challenger backed by Iowans with deep pockets by looking at Federal Election Commission filings alone. King isn’t raising money like an incumbent who’s worried about getting re-elected, and his Republican opponent Rick Bertrand didn’t disclose any fundraising or spending.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from all the first quarter FEC reports from Iowa’s U.S. House candidates. One Democrat out-raised all four of our state’s incumbents, and another Democrat nearly did so.

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IA-01: Monica Vernon first to go up on tv

image from Monica Vernon’s debut television commercial

Today Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon launched the first television commercial of this year’s campaign in Iowa’s first Congressional district. I enclose below the video and transcript from "The Schumachers," which features three generations of a Iowa family that owns the Cobble Hill restaurant in Cedar Rapids.

Vernon faces former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy in the June 7 Democratic primary. Compared to the introductory spot for Vernon, Murphy’s four television commercials before the 2014 primary focused more on his own biography and political record. Those ads are still available on YouTube: "Story" (which began running the second week of April 2014), "Joint Effort" (starting in late April), "Voice" (starting in mid-May), and "Right Choice" (starting in late May).

Murphy’s budget for television commercials is likely to be more limited for this year’s race, judging by his year-end financial report. We’ll know more once Congressional candidates have disclosed their fundraising and expenditures for the first quarter of 2016. Those reports are due on April 15; Bleeding Heartland will cover them shortly thereafter.

UPDATE: Added below the Murphy campaign’s statement on this ad, which touched on his main argument against Vernon’s candidacy: she was a registered Republican until 2009.

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IA-01: Blum releases internal poll showing him ahead of Vernon, Murphy

First-term Representative Rod Blum, one of the top Democratic targets in this year’s U.S. House races, released partial results from an internal poll showing him with 12-point leads over either Pat Murphy or Monica Vernon, his two challengers in the first Congressional district. I enclose below the campaign’s statement, which says Blum leads Murphy by 45 percent to 33 percent and Vernon by 43 percent to 31 percent among 500 "likely voters" in IA-01. In the same survey, 43 percent of respondents said they approved of Blum’s work, while 27 percent disapproved.

It’s not clear what likely voter screen the polling co, inc used for this survey. Blum’s campaign has not responded to my request for further information, including the gender and partisan breakdown of the sample, the question wording, and what questions were asked before the ballot tests. Also unknown: whether this poll was in the field before or after Blum made headlines for wishing a recession on Washington, DC.

Former Iowa House Speaker Murphy was Blum’s general election opponent in 2014, and Cedar Rapids City Council member Vernon was the runner-up in that year’s five-way Democratic primary. Murphy takes higher name recognition into this year’s race, while Vernon has raised more funds and has more support among the establishment in Iowa and Washington, DC. This week, her campaign rolled out endorsements from State Senator Jeff Danielson and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes 75 House Democrats. Vernon’s campaign also announced that it brought in more than $335,000 during the first quarter of 2016 and had $774,000 cash on hand as of March 31. Bleeding Heartland will follow up on Iowa Congressional fundraising after the April 15 deadline for candidates to file reports with the Federal Election Commission; year-end numbers are here.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 160,106 active registered Democrats, 139,973 Republicans, and 181,173 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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IA-01: Rod Blum distancing himself from Chuck Grassley on Supreme Court nominee? (updated)

First-term Representative Rod Blum received unflattering attention last week in Iowa and nationally for opining on social media that Washington, DC "needs a recession," because various construction projects in the city are "Being built on the backs of US taxpayers." Blum hasn’t backed down from those comments, despite intense criticism.

However, little-noticed remarks he made in his district over the weekend suggest that Blum wants to avoid political fallout from the ongoing controversy over the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.

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Guidelines for Bleeding Heartland guest authors advocating for candidates in Democratic primaries

This morning I wrote about a state legislative race where two Democrats are seeking the nomination.

This afternoon I received a robocall from Pat Murphy’s campaign in Iowa’s first Congressional district, directing me to the GOP Monica website to "get the facts" about rival candidate Monica Vernon’s Republican past.

Earlier this week, I wrote two posts about the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, which is getting much more attention in Iowa and nationally now that Patty Judge has entered the race.

Meanwhile, supporters of U.S. Senate candidate Tom Fiegen posted two guest pieces here in two days on behalf of their favored candidate.

All of which reminded me that it’s time to post guidelines for writers advocating for Democratic candidates at Bleeding Heartland. Unfortunately, competitive elections can bring out bad behavior on political blogs.

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