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Thoughts on the primary polls in IA-01, IA-02, and IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 10:30:22 AM CDT

Loras College in Dubuque released its first-ever set of polls on Iowa Congressional primaries this week. Click here for the polling memo and here (pdf) for further details, including the full questionnaires.

After the jump I've posted my thoughts on what these polls tell us about the front-runners (or lack thereof) in each primary. Unfortunately, a big methodological flaw makes it more difficult to interpret the results.

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IA-03: First-quarter fundraising news roundup (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 17:24:28 PM CDT

Yesterday was the deadline for Congressional candidates to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. Because so many candidates are running for Congress this year in Iowa, I'm breaking up these posts by district rather than doing a statewide roundup.

After the jump I've enclosed highlights from the first-quarter fundraising and spending reports of Democratic candidate Staci Appel and the six Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in the third district. Spoiler alert: one of the GOP candidates is still carrying debt from a previous campaign.

I also added details below on what retiring ten-term Representative Tom Latham is doing with his substantial war chest.

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Schultz appeals to Iowa Supreme Court on voter citizenship checks

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 20:25:00 PM CDT

On behalf of Secretary of State Matt Schultz, the Iowa Attorney General's office has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to review last month's District Court decision invalidating a proposed rule that has been one of Schultz's priorities. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, the rule would allow the Secretary of State's Office to check Iowa voters' citizenship status against a federal database. Registered voters suspected of not being citizens would be informed by mail. Those who cannot prove their citizenship or do not respond within 60 days would be removed from the voter rolls.

Polk County District Court Judge Scott Rosenberg determined that Schultz overstepped his authority when he promulgated the rule. His decision in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens did not address a separate legal question: whether Schultz's rule violated the right to vote.

If the Iowa Supreme Court overturns last month's decision, that would mean only that the Secretary of State had the authority to establish the new rule in the absence of legislative action. Further litigation would determine whether the procedure Schultz envisioned could intimidate eligible voters or deprive them of their rights.

I expect the Iowa Supreme Court to uphold the District Court ruling. Regardless, the appeal may boost Schultz's standing with Republican primary voters in the third Congressional district. They will love this part of yesterday's press release from the Secretary of State's Office:

"I have fought for integrity and voter's rights.  We can't allow non-citizens to cancel out the vote of Iowans, but at the same time, anyone accused deserves due process.  My rule gives voters more due process and protects the integrity of the vote," Schultz said.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread. Schultz's use of the phrase "due process" suggests to me a fundamental misunderstanding of his role. The Secretary of State is an administrator, not a law enforcement official.  

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Iowa marriage equality five-year anniversary thread

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 10:40:00 AM CDT

Five years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court announced its unanimous decision in Varnum v Brien, striking down our state's Defense Of Marriage Act. Some Democratic politicians welcomed the change, while others were more circumspect or ducked the issue for a few days. The early Iowa Republican reaction to the court ruling will sound more pathetic and cowardly with each passing year.

At this point I can't see any realistic path for conservatives to undo marriage equality. Even if Republicans held their Iowa House majority and gained control of the state Senate (which I consider unlikely), passing a constitutional amendment in both chambers in two separately elected legislatures would be a heavy lift. Last year and this year, an amendment to ban same-sex marriages didn't even make it through committee in the Republican-controlled Iowa House.

Bob Vander Plaats spent most of 2009 and 2010 trying to take rights away from same-sex couples and force justices off the Iowa Supreme Court. Five years ago today, he was the front-runner in the GOP race for governor. Now he's out hawking a book. His standing among Iowa Republicans has fallen so far that he is essentially invisible in the Congressional campaign of Robert Cramer, a guy who donated $30,000 to "Team Vander Plaats" during the 2010 election cycle.

Somehow my hetero union has survived five years of sharing rights with Iowa's LGBT couples. And it's not just my marriage soldiering on: the latest statistics show Iowa's divorce rate at its lowest point since 1968. Several factors account for the trend, including the high cost of divorce and more couples delaying or forgoing marriage. Regardless, it's nice to see the divorce rate falling, because if the trend were going the other way you can be sure self-styled "marriage defenders" would blame the "homosexual agenda," among other things.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. Highlights from the latest Des Moines Register poll findings on gay marriage are after the jump.

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IA-03: First look at Robert Cramer's campaign messaging

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 08:27:24 AM CDT

With six candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Iowa's open third Congressional district, I've decided to focus on individual campaigns rather than news roundups on the whole field at once. Robert Cramer's up first, since he is already running his introductory ad on television.

Cramer is defining himself as the business mind in the field, not a bad place to be in a GOP primary. Although he is emphasizing his connection to "conservative principles and enduring values," he is downplaying his social conservative activism. If you need any proof that Bob Vander Plaats' ship has sailed, even in Iowa Republican circles, look no further than Cramer's case to primary voters.

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Weekend open thread: Liberty movement missing in action edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:30:00 AM CDT

Here's your weekend open thread: all topics welcome.

I'd like to hear views from the Bleeding Heartland community on a question that's been on my mind lately, as the "Liberty" movement ceases to be the dominant force in the Republican Party of Iowa. Why haven't more people from the large contingent of Ron Paul/Rand Paul admirers stepped up to run in this year's Iowa Republican primaries?

Despite plenty of speculation, no one associated with Ron Paul's presidential campaign went for Iowa's first open U.S. Senate seat in 40 years. Why not? This opportunity won't come around again soon, not with Senator Chuck Grassley already planning to seek a seventh term in 2016. Did fundraising concerns or some other factor keep Drew Ivers, David Fischer, or others from believing they could run a strong Senate campaign?

In Iowa's open third Congressional district, none of the six Republican candidates publicly endorsed Ron Paul for president, as far as I know. Nor did any of the three Republicans running against Representative Dave Loebsack in IA-02.

Iowa's most prominent "Liberty" candidate is Rod Blum in the open first Congressional district. There are a few Paulinistas running in GOP primaries for the Iowa House and Senate, but not as many as I would have expected, given the Liberty movement's takeover of the Iowa GOP apparatus in 2012.

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Rick Santorum not ready to back Sam Clovis in IA-Sen race (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:00:00 AM CDT

Politics ain't beanbag. As a talk radio host with a sizable conservative audience in northwest Iowa, Sam Clovis must have been a valuable ally for former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum during the 2012 Iowa caucus campaign. Clovis has explicitly modeled his U.S. Senate campaign on Santorum's grassroots effort. But speaking to Iowa reporters yesterday, Santorum indicated that for now, he is staying out of the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

"I have a very, very good friend who's in the race - Sam Clovis who's a terrific guy, is a good friend and someone who was a great support of mine, you know, Sam's a #1, top-flight kind of guy," Santorum says. "Right now I have sort of not gotten engaged in that race. I may."

But Santorum said he is being selective about his endorsements because, he said, "the more you do, the less effective you are."

You mean, less effective like endorsing State Representative Walt Rogers for Congress, only to see Rogers bail out of the IA-01 primary?

Santorum was in town yesterday to raise money for Secretary of State Matt Schultz's Congressional campaign in IA-03. I wasn't surprised when Santorum backed Schultz, but arguably, Clovis did a lot more to promote Santorum's presidential aspirations than Schultz with his 11th hour endorsement. For sure Clovis was more influential than Rogers during the Iowa caucus campaign.

Unfortunately for Clovis, money talks, and he hasn't raised enough of it to run an effective statewide Senate campaign. How tough to be blown off by Santorum, though. As a consolation prize, Clovis got the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum yesterday. I wonder how many rank and file Iowa Republicans remember Schlafly, a conservative icon of the 1970s and 1980s.

UPDATE: David Bossie's group Citizens United just endorsed Clovis as "the only full-spectrum conservative" in the IA-Sen race.

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NRCC picks Rod Blum in IA-01, not playing favorites in IA-02 or IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 16:03:18 PM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its latest batch of candidates for the "Young Guns" program today. Dubuque-based business owner Rod Blum, one of three GOP candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district, is among 50 Republicans on the bottom rung, called "on the radar." Candidates who meet certain benchmarks for fundraising and campaign organization have a chance to move up to "contender" status and perhaps eventually to "young gun" level, which entails more direct support from the NRCC.

During the 2012 primary in IA-01, the NRCC favored establishment candidate Ben Lange over Blum. At this point, Blum is the obvious favorite to win the GOP nomination, with State Representative Walt Rogers out of the race and the other contenders way behind Blum financially.

Last year, the NRCC put IA-02 on its long list of targets and indicated that it was ready to defend Tom Latham in IA-03. None of the three registered GOP candidates in IA-02 or the six registered candidates in the open IA-03 are on the NRCC's radar yet. Depending on fundraising, the winner of the IA-03 primary has a strong chance to become a "contender" or a "young gun" by this fall. The NRCC will almost surely spend money to defend that seat. I am skeptical that IA-02 will become a serious target for Republicans, though.

Any comments about Iowa's Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

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Matt Schultz spins voter fraud acquittal as success

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 10:52:34 AM CDT

Most people familiar with the criminal justice system understand that a jury acquittal after less than an hour is an embarrassing loss for the prosecutor and a sign that the case should never have come to trial.

Then there's Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Having spent major political capital (not to mention hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars) to spin simple errors into grand criminal conspiracies, he managed to claim victory yesterday when a Lee County jury declared an ineligible voter not guilty of perjury.

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Bipartisan group pushing Iowa legislative study of medical marijuana

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 09:58:09 AM CDT

What a difference a month makes. Four weeks ago, State Senator Joe Bolkcom declared his bill to legalize the medical use of cannabis dead on the same day he introduced it. Now five Republican senators have joined Bolkcom and four other Iowa Senate Democrats seeking to advance the conversation about medical marijuana before next year's legislative session.

Click here to read the full text of Senate Resolution 112, which requests the creation of an interim study committee "to make recommendations on the feasibility of establishing a medical cannabis program in this state allowing qualifying resident patients to purchase and possess cannabis for medical purposes, and to file a final report including recommendations with the general assembly by December 30, 2014." If the Senate approves the resolution, the Iowa Legislative Council led by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal will likely approve a study committee to evaluate medical marijuana later this year.

Depending on the study committee's conclusions, a medical marijuana bill might garner more bipartisan support during the 2015 legislative session. Kudos to Democrats Bolkcom, Matt McCoy, Bill Dotzler, Jack Hatch, and Tom Courtney, and Republicans Ken Rozenboom, Mike Breitbach, Brad Zaun, Amy Sinclair, and Charles Schneider for supporting this resolution. It's worth noting that all five Republican co-sponsors were elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012 and therefore will not face re-election again until 2016. Consequently, all five will be serving in the Iowa Senate next year, regardless of which party controls the chamber after the 2014 elections.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hatch has long been on record supporting medical marijuana in Iowa. Earlier this month, Governor Terry Branstad warned of "unintended consequences" and said much more study of the issue is needed.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that while Zaun isn't up for re-election to the state Senate this year, he is one of six GOP candidates running in Iowa's third Congressional district. I wonder whether any of his rivals in IA-03 will criticize this stance.

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IA-03: DCCC puts Staci Appel in "Red to Blue" program

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:20:52 AM CST

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced this morning the first wave of "Red to Blue" candidates running in U.S. House districts. Former State Senator Staci Appel, who is running for Iowa's open third Congressional district, is one of the sixteen candidates (including ten women) at the highest "Red to Blue" level. After the jump I've enclosed a press release from Appel's campaign.

Even before anyone suspected Representative Tom Latham would retire this year, the DCCC had promised Appel "early financial communications, operational and strategic support." Her strong fundraising and endorsements from many labor unions and progressive organizations make Appel the heavy favorite in the Democratic primary. Gabriel De La Cerda is the other declared candidate in IA-03.

Appel is likely to face one of the following six declared GOP candidates in IA-03: State Senator Brad Zaun, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, construction company leader Robert Cramer, former U.S. Senate staffer David Young, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw, and Des Moines-based teacher Joe Grandanette.

The latest official numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 154,061 registered Democrats, 160,782 Republicans, and 157,001 no-party voters.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Republican state delegate intrigue edition (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:13:28 AM CST

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

Republicans in Governor Terry Branstad's orbit tried to rig the game to ensure that the March 8 Polk County GOP Convention ratified a long list of at-large delegates to the third Congressional district and state conventions later this year. Shane Vander Hart provides good background at Caffeinated Thoughts. Activist Kim Schmett, who was the GOP challenger to Representative Leonard Boswell in 2008, complained to the Des Moines Register, "Some unknown person is coming up with an ultimate list. Why have a county convention at all if 40 percent of your delegates are hand-picked ahead of time?"

Sounds like Branstad's team was not satisfied with results from their efforts to turn loyalists out to the off-year precinct caucuses in January. The governor needs to prevent any serious challenge at the state convention to Kim Reynolds' nomination for a second term as lieutenant governor. I am convinced that if re-elected, he will step down in the middle of his sixth term to ensure that she becomes governor.

State convention delegates may also end up selecting the GOP nominee for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat, if no one wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June primary. Similarly, a third Congressional district convention may select the GOP nominee if none of the six declared IA-03 candidates wins at least 35 percent of the primary votes.

The Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson worked with Polk County GOP Chair Will Rogers and two Branstad campaign staffers to resolve concerns over delegate selection. As a result, the at-large slate was reduced from 100 to 50 delegates guaranteed to be at the district and state conventions. Vander Hart commented, "While I'm glad they responded to the backlash it should be the Polk County Republican Executive Committee, not the Branstad Campaign, determining this list." Obviously.

The Polk County GOP addressed the controversy in a Facebook post I've excerpted after the jump. UPDATE: Added some comments below from Dave Chung, an Iowa GOP State Central Committee member. SECOND UPDATE: Added excerpts from Craig Robinson's commentary.

And now for something completely different: music geeks may enjoy Seth Stevenson's analysis of the strange time signature of the theme from the original Terminator movie, which (amazingly) is 30 years old this year.

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IA-Sen: Rod Roberts rules out running

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 19:06:00 PM CST

It's been nearly ten months since former State Representative Rod Roberts confirmed that he was considering a campaign for U.S. Senate. I've long been a skeptic that Roberts has any niche or large constituency in a statewide Republican primary. In fact, I'd forgotten he was still thinking about the race. This week Carroll-based journalist Douglas Burns got the scoop in an interview: Roberts will not run for Senate, or Congress in the open third district, or for Iowa secretary of state in 2014. He cited family reasons and said he plans to continue his work as director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. In late 2010, then Governor-elect Terry Branstad offered Roberts that position without considering any other candidates, even though Roberts had not applied for the job.

Burns has long been high on Roberts as a possible Senate candidate, but for once I agree with Steve Deace: "Rod didn't offer a reason other than, 'I'm Rod Roberts and I'm a nice guy.' What's your plan? [...] Offer people something." In his latest column, Burns floats the scenario of Roberts emerging as a compromise Senate nominee at a statewide convention if none of the current candidates receives 35 percent of the vote in the June primary.

Not bloody likely.

I do largely agree with Burns' assessment of Mark Jacobs, though. Many Iowa Republicans will be skeptical of a candidate who only recently moved back to the state. Nor will they cut Jacobs slack for giving money to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Corzine in 2000, on the grounds that Corzine was CEO of Goldman Sachs, where Jacobs worked at the time.

I have a post in progress with more news on the Jacobs campaign. Meanwhile, any comments about the U.S. Senate race are welcome in this thread.

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Chet Culver rules out running for IA-03 or for governor

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 13:14:00 PM CST

Multiple Bleeding Heartland readers have told me that former Governor Chet Culver was seeking input on a possible Congressional campaign this year. I was skeptical, given Staci Appel's big lead in fundraising and backing from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Since Representative Tom Latham announced plans to retire, many labor unions and interest groups have confirmed their support for Appel as well.

Today Culver released a statement to the Des Moines Register confirming that he won't run for Congress or for governor this year.

"While my passion for serving Iowa remains as strong as it's ever been, timing is everything, and I will not be a candidate for public office in 2014," he said. "I am excited to support the Iowa Democratic Party's great ticket of candidates up and down the ballot, and I look forward to continuing to work now and in the future to make Iowa an even better place to live, work, and raise a family."

So far, Appel's only competition in the IA-03 Democratic primary is Gabriel De La Cerda, a first-time candidate who hasn't raised much money. State Senator Jack Hatch is the leading Democratic candidate for governor. Jonathan Narcisse and Paul Dahl have also announced plans to run for governor as Democrats this year.

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IA-03: Brenna Findley won't run in 2014

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 13:15:00 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley told the Des Moines Register yesterday that she has decided not to run for Congress in the open third district. She indicated that she plans to continue her work in the governor's office and teach a course at the University of Iowa law school.

I would guess that the early conservative endorsements for Matt Schultz were in part intended to deter Findley from entering the GOP primary in IA-03. Not only was she seriously considering the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee had reserved the domain name BrennaFindleyforCongress.com. Findley has strong conservative credentials as a product of homeschooling and a longtime staffer for Representative Steve King before running for Iowa attorney general in 2010. She has repeatedly spoken out against illegal immigration and the mandate to purchase individual health insurance. She has arguably helped steer the Branstad administration's policies to the right on abortion and gun-related issues.

Although Findley won't run for Congress or statewide office this year, I expect Iowans will see her name on a ballot again sometime before the end of this decade. We may have an open race for attorney general in 2018 if Tom Miller decides to call it quits after nine terms.  

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IA-03: Staci Appel has fundraising head start on GOP field

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:47:30 AM CST

What a difference a retirement makes. If Staci Appel were still running against ten-term incumbent Representative Tom Latham, she would have ended the year at a big disadvantage in campaign cash. Now she is poised to come out of the Democratic primary with a money lead over the eventual Republican nominee in IA-03.

Details from the candidates' year-end Federal Election Commission reports are after the jump.

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IA-03: David Young has the Congressional insider vote locked up

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:45:00 AM CST

Ever since David Young first revealed his plans to run for the U.S. Senate, I've had trouble understanding how a professional Congressional staffer could win a Republican primary in Iowa. By all accounts Young is a bright, capable, hard-working Iowa native, but who is supposed to be his constituency? Candidates who have spent years building networks among conservative activists here will have a natural advantage over Young, who worked in Washington for 17 years before moving back to Iowa in 2013.

After Representative Tom Latham announced his retirement, Young switched from the U.S. Senate to the third district Congressional race, but that doesn't change the fundamental weakness of his candidacy. He may be the contender best-prepared to work in Congress, but I doubt that's what primary voters are looking for. When Young joined the Senate field, Robert Cramer praised him as "a 'man of integrity,' trustworthy and an 'across-the-board conservative.'" But even though Cramer has known Young for decades and thinks highly of him, he's not backing him in IA-03. On the contrary, Cramer himself is seeking the GOP nomination for Latham's seat.

This week Young's campaign announced its most prominent endorsements so far: former U.S. Representatives Tom Tauke and Jim Ross Lightfoot. I've posted the press release after the jump. Tauke represented northeast Iowa and hasn't served in Congress since losing the 1990 U.S. Senate race to Tom Harkin. Lightfoot represented parts of southwest Iowa that are in the current IA-03, but he hasn't been in Congress since losing to Harkin in 1996. He was last seen in this state blowing a big lead over Tom Vilsack in the 1998 gubernatorial race. Following that debacle, Lightfoot "became a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., [and] is now owner of Texas-based Lightfoot Strategies, a government relations consulting company." Hard to see him having any pull with the Iowa Republican base today.

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How much can Rick Santorum help Matt Schultz in IA-03? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 14:22:13 PM CST

To no one's surprise, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum endorsed Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz's campaign in Iowa's third Congressional district today. The official statement, enclosed below, mentions that Santorum supported Schultz's campaign for secretary of state in 2010, and that the following year, Schultz became the only statewide elected official to endorse a candidate before the Iowa caucuses, picking Santorum with less than a month to go.

I had to laugh at Santorum praising Schultz for "insuring each vote counts" only a day after news broke that at least three eligible Iowa voters had their ballots wrongly tossed out in 2012. (A separate post is in progress on that story.)

For now, let's briefly consider how much Santorum and his Patriot Voices PAC can help Schultz in a primary against five other declared candidates, and possibly more before the filing deadline in March.

UPDATE: The Freedom Works PAC also endorsed Schultz this week. Added more details at the end of this post.  

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2014 State of the Union discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 19:48:27 PM CST

President Barack Obama addresses both houses of Congress tonight. The big policy news will be a new executive order requiring federal contractors to pay workers hourly wages of at least $10.10. The move could affect hundreds of thousands of workers. Last year the president proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, but Senator Tom Harkin and other liberal Democrats argued for raising the wage to $10.10. Obama indicated his support for that wage level in November.

I will update this post later with highlights from tonight's speech and reaction from Iowa's Congressional delegation. Meanwhile, this thread is for any comments about the substance or the politics of the State of the Union address.

On a related note, I hope Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is right about the president refusing to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

UPDATE: Click here for the full transcript of the president's speech, as prepared. I've added some Iowa reaction after the jump.

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Brad Zaun makes it official in IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 16:36:03 PM CST

State Senator Brad Zaun announced today that he will run for Congress again in Iowa's third district. Radio Iowa posted the audio from his press conference. At this writing, I don't see any news release on Zaun's Facebook page. I will add that to this post when I get it. The campaign is on twitter here. So far the campaign website has no content, just a sign-up for supporters and volunteers. Zaun's already been campaigning around the district, attending the Pottawattamie Republican Party debate for U.S. Senate candidates and a "Speak for Life" event in Council Bluffs earlier this month.

Zaun was mayor of the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale before being elected to the Iowa Senate for the first time in 2004. He won the crowded 2010 GOP primary in IA-03 despite being outspent by a candidate with more establishment support. Here's a link to Zaun's paid advertising from that primary. After losing the general election to Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell, Zaun co-chaired Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign in Iowa and stuck with her even as her poll numbers declined. During the spring of 2012, he endorsed a couple of candidates who eventually lost competitive GOP primaries in northeast Iowa. After the jump I've posted Zaun's official bio and a statement from the Iowa Democratic Party.

Though stranger things have happened, I doubt Republicans would nominate a candidate this year who couldn't beat Boswell in the massive GOP landslide of 2010. I think another strike against Zaun is his failure to raise a lot of money for fellow Iowa Senate candidates when he served as the Senate Republican minority whip. How do you not raise big money when you represent Urbandale, which includes some of Iowa's wealthiest precincts? Zaun gave up his Senate minority leadership position shortly after the 2012 election, when Republicans failed to win a majority in the upper chamber.

Any comments about the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread. Zaun's current competitors in the Republican primary are Senator Chuck Grassley's former chief of staff David Young, construction business owner Robert Cramer, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw, and Des Moines teacher Joe Grandanette. My gut says that Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley will stay out of this race, but if she runs, she has a pretty good story to tell conservative activists.

UPDATE: Appearing on Simon Conway's WHO radio show this afternoon, Zaun said he would vote no to raising the debt ceiling, because "we have to pay our bills." Which is ironic, because the U.S. can't service its debt or meet other spending obligations already approved by Congress without further increases in the debt ceiling.

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