IA-04: Nick Ryan looking for a Republican to run against Steve King

Representative Steve King is among the leading Iowa Republicans basking in reflected glory from Ted Cruz’s big win in the caucuses. His endorsement in mid-November was a catalyst for Cruz’s rise in the Iowa polls. He ran interference when Cruz came under attack for his stands on the ethanol mandate and an amendment to a 2013 immigration bill. In the final hour before the Iowa caucuses convened, King tweeted, "[Dr. Ben] Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope." (Today King expressed regret for "any miscommunications" but pointed to a CNN story asserting that Carson was planning "a break from campaigning.")

Cruz’s win after trailing in the last ten polls before the caucuses cements King’s status as a hero to many Iowa Republicans. By the same token, King has disappointed some conservatives who supported him in the past.

In particular, King’s efforts on behalf of Cruz made an enemy out of Nick Ryan, who has led various super-PACs and dark money groups. Ryan is looking for a credible candidate to challenge King in a GOP primary to represent Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

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Iowa GOP caucus-goers deliver big hit to Terry Branstad's clout

Donald Trump was the obvious Republican loser last night. Despite leading in the last ten Iowa polls released before the caucuses, Trump finished more than 6,000 votes and three percentage points behind Ted Cruz, widely perceived before yesterday to have peaked too soon. Record-breaking turnout was supposed to be a winning scenario for Trump, yet a plurality of caucus-goers cast ballots for Cruz as attendance surpassed the previous high-water mark by more than 50 percent.

For Iowa politics watchers, another big takeaway jumped out from the caucus results: Governor Terry Branstad’s advice doesn’t carry much weight with rank and file Republicans.

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Details on President Obama's executive orders on guns, with Iowa reaction

In an emotional White House address, President Barack Obama announced today new executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence, including suicides as well as homicides and other crimes.

• Background Checks: Require all gun sellers — including online and at gun shows — to have a license and perform background checks. Have the FBI overhaul the existing background-check system.
• Enforcement: Improve the use of America’s existing gun laws, and add 200 new agents to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
• Mental Health: Remove barriers that can keep states from reporting and sharing information about people barred from owning guns for mental health reasons, and spend $500 million to increase access to mental health care.
• Technology: Push for research in gun safety technology, such as “smart guns” that can only be fired by authorized users. The research would be done by the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security. The White House notes the federal government is “the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country.”

I enclose below more details on steps the president ordered as well as Iowa political reaction. I will update this post as needed, since some of the Iowans in Congress neither released statements on this issue nor responded to my requests for comment.

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Thoughts on the Iowa Democratic Party's final Jefferson-Jackson dinner

The Iowa Democratic Party held its final Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night, drawing some 6,000 activists to hear three presidential candidates speak in Des Moines. Last night’s spectacle won’t loom as large over the Iowa caucus campaign as the JJ did in 2007, when it took place in November and the caucuses were scheduled for early January, rather than February. But some new tactics emerged during the speeches by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Hillary Clinton. My thoughts on the evening’s highlights are after the jump.

I am a sucker for hand-made political signs, so I also enclose below my favorite pictures from the crowds in the bleachers. I put "Feel the Bern" in lights up top because I’ve never seen electrified signs at the JJ before.

While I see the value in supporters waving signs (or glow sticks, as many did last night) at a big rally, the "sign wars" some campaigns stage before multi-candidate events have always struck me as pointless. How does it demonstrate "organizational strength" to send a few staffers to put up printed materials in windows or along a road? Why would anyone want their volunteers to stand around yelling for hours before the dinner, rather than saving their energy and voices to show that enthusiasm inside the hall? For those who disagree with me and love the show, Pat Rynard chronicled the morning and afternoon activities by all three campaigns at Iowa Starting Line.

As for why I called it the "final" JJ, the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraiser will continue under a to-be-determined name honoring icons considered more inclusive. You can send your suggestion to the state party using this form through February 15, 2016.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising roundup

U.S. Capitol photo Fotolia_45139367_XS_zpsfdhhn9cd.jpg

October 15 was the deadline for Congressional candidates to report details on their donations and expenditures between July 1 and September 30 to the Federal Election Commission. Highlights from the FEC filings are after the jump.

I didn’t see any big surprises in this quarter’s fundraising numbers from Iowa, though one challenger raised more money than any of the four U.S. House incumbents, which I don’t ever remember happening before longtime GOP Representative Tom Latham retired in 2014.

None of the incumbents spent lavishly on their campaigns between July and September, but Representative Rod Blum was remarkably thrifty.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Wing Ding edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

More than twenty Iowa Democratic county committees put on a great “Wing Ding” in Clear Lake Friday night. The Surf Ballroom was packed to capacity, thanks to appearances by four of the five Democratic presidential hopefuls. Despite a fairly long list of speakers including candidates for U.S. House and Senate and State Senator Amanda Ragan, who was receiving an award, the Wing Ding amazingly finished ahead of schedule. I enclose below my take on all the speeches.

For those following the saga of three former Ron Paul campaign operatives, recently indicted for their role in making illegal payments to then State Senator Kent Sorenson: Russ Choma covered the prosecutors’ latest court filing for Mother Jones. Prosecutors allege the operatives “were prepared to leak documents to harm Sorenson in 2012 if they couldn’t obtain his endorsement for Ron Paul.” An attorney for Jesse Benton acknowledged that in late 2011, his client “threatened to expose Mr. Sorenson, believing that Mr. Sorenson was trying to blackmail the 2012 RP Campaign, if Mr. Sorenson did not make up his mind on whether to commit to the Ron Paul Campaign.” But the lawyer said Benton did not follow through on what he described as “a knee-jerk, emotional reaction.” Of course, there would have been no reason to carry out the threat after Sorenson agreed to take the money in exchange for switching his allegiance to Paul.

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