Iowa Senate district 16: Nate Boulton raised more money in four months than Dick Dearden did in seven years

When Nate Boulton announced his Iowa Senate campaign in September, he subtly indicated he would be a different kind of legislator than State Senator Dick Dearden, the longtime Democratic incumbent who is retiring this year. Boulton promised to “be an active and engaged representative of district interests” and to “bring bold progressive ideas and a fresh, energetic style of leadership to the Iowa Senate.”

Just a few months into his primary race against Pam Dearden Conner, the retiring senator’s daughter, Boulton sent a strong signal that he will be a more “active and engaged” candidate as well. Campaign finance disclosure forms show that Boulton raised $75,383 during the last four months of the year, a phenomenal total for a non-incumbent, first-time state legislative candidate in Iowa. Not only did Boulton out-raise his primary rival, he raised more than Dearden (a 22-year incumbent) has brought in cumulatively since 2008.

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Matt Schultz running in IA-03; Paul Pate running for Secretary of State

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz confirmed today that he will run for Congress in the open third district. He announced his decision at a press conference in Council Bluffs, where he served on the city council before winning the 2010 election for secretary of state. Council Bluffs is the second-largest city in IA-03. Schultz for Congress is on the web here and on Facebook here. The candidate’s Twitter handle is VoteMattSchultz. So far the website doesn’t contain detailed issue positions, just five section headings: “Protect against government overreach,” “Enact term limits for elected officials,” “Repeal Obamacare,” “Balance the federal government’s budget,” and “Protect our 2nd Amendment rights.”

I’ve posted background on Schultz after the jump, along with an excerpt from today’s official press release announcing his candidacy. It doesn’t mention what I suspect are the real reasons he is running for Congress instead of for re-election.

Meanwhile, Paul Pate announced today that he will seek the Republican nomination for secretary of state. He was elected to that statewide position in 1994 but left after one term to run for governor. Speaking to the Des Moines Register today, Pate said his experience gives him “a pretty good grasp of the office’s responsibilities,” allowing him to “hit the ground running.” He added that he can win the secretary of state’s race.

Pate said he already has strong name-ID with voters around Iowa, and a proven record of fundraising. The successful GOP candidate will need to raise at least $250,000, he said.

“Candidates need to recognize they won’t be able to run this on a shoestring budget,” he said.

Pate, who said he has “great respect” for Schultz, wants to make some changes to the secretary of state position.

“One key thing is my desire to bring more a nonpartisan approach to the office,” he said. “I think that’s something that Iowans and Americans have been clamoring for with all the gridlock going on in Washington.”

Pate flirted with running for Congress in IA-01 last year before opting out, citing family reasons. I’m curious to see whether he can clear the Republican field. My hunch is that he will be unopposed in the primary. I am seeking comment from State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa, who was the 2006 GOP nominee for secretary of state.

Brad Anderson is the likely Democratic nominee for this office, although former Secretary of State Michael Mauro has not ruled out running again in 2014. Mauro is currently Iowa’s labor commissioner.

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Iowa will never face the mess Virginia's in

Anyone else following the Virginia attorney general election saga? With some provisional ballots still to be counted, Democrat Mark Herring leads Republican Mark Obenshain by just 117 votes out of more than 2 million cast last Tuesday. Michael McDonald and Dave Wasserman have been posting frequent updates on the situation. No matter who holds a slight lead when the official canvass concludes, there will certainly be a recount. But as Brad Friedman points out,

Unfortunately, a “recount” in Virginia is much less than it might appear. Most of the state’s votes are cast on 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems, on which it is impossible after an election to know if any vote cast on them actually reflects the intent of any voter. Those votes will not be able to be “recounted” at all. Rather, according to § 24.2-802 (D) of the Code of Virginia [PDF], a “recount” of DRE votes consists of little more than checking the results tapes printed out by the machines at the end of Election Night once again. […]

So there is no way to know if any of the DRE votes, the majority of those cast, are actually accurate, as per any voter.

Very close elections for state legislative seats or local offices are routine in Iowa, and we could easily have a statewide contest decided by a margin as narrow as the Herring/Obenshain race. But at least Iowa would be able to recount the ballots cast, because in 2008, our state legislature approved and Governor Chet Culver signed a law requiring paper ballots to be used in all Iowa counties. Before that law passed, some counties had already invested in touchscreen machines, but Secretary of State Mike Mauro strongly lobbied for paper ballots everywhere in the state. The governor initially favored a plan that would have involved retrofitting rather than replacing touchscreen voting machines. But he relented, and Senate File 2347 eventually passed by 47 votes to 1 in the Iowa Senate and 92 votes to 6 in the Iowa House.

Thanks to the advocates and all the Iowa elected officials who made sure the nightmare unfolding in Virginia would never happen here.

P.S. – We could do more to improve our system of post-election audits.

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AFSCME endorses Pat Murphy in IA-01, Staci Appel in IA-03

The elections arm of Iowa’s largest labor union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announced five endorsements for the 2014 elections today. I’ve posted the whole statement from the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 PEOPLE Committee after the jump. The biggest news is AFSCME coming out early for former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy in IA-01. Two other Democrats are already campaigning for that open seat, probably to be joined soon by State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic and former State Senator Swati Dandekar.

In IA-03, AFSCME will back former State Senator Staci Appel, who voted for a number of pro-labor bills during her four years in the legislature. Gabriel De La Cerda is also running in the Democratic primary and was an Iowa political coordinator for the United Steel Workers Union during the 2012 general election campaign. No one will be surprised to see AFSCME supporting four-term incumbent Dave Loebsack in IA-02 or Jim Mowrer in IA-04, where no other Democrat is likely to take on Steve King.

AFSCME hasn’t endorsed a Democratic challenger to Governor Terry Branstad yet. The only statewide candidate named in today’s release is Brad Anderson for Iowa secretary of state. He has the backing of most of Iowa’s Democratic establishment and may not face any competition in the primary, although former Secretary of State Michael Mauro hasn’t ruled out a comeback attempt.

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Matt Schultz rules out IA-Sen, will seek re-election as secretary of state (updated)

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced on twitter this morning, “I am humbled by all of the encouragement to run for Senate, but I love serving Iowans as Secretary of State… I intend to run for SOS.” Earlier this month, Schultz traveled to Washington to speak with Republicans about the open U.S. Senate seat. I’m not surprised he decided to stay in his current office, where he will not be challenged in the GOP primary. Fundraising has never been Schultz’s strong suit, and in a Senate race he would be competing against at least two Republicans with the potential to raise big money (Matt Whitaker and David Young), plus a possible self-funding candidate in Mark Jacobs.

Schultz’s likely opponent in the secretary of state’s race is Brad Anderson, who has been raising money and building a campaign organization with the support of many heavyweights in the Iowa Democratic establishment. Iowa Labor Commissioner Michael Mauro, who served four years as secretary of state before losing to Schultz in 2010, has not ruled out running in the Democratic primary next year.

UPDATE: Added Brad Anderson’s comment on today’s news after the jump.

SECOND UPDATE: Schultz’s full written statement is below as well.

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Brad Anderson has head start in secretary of state's race

When Brad Anderson announced plans to challenge Secretary of State Matt Schultz, many influential Iowa Democrats quickly jumped on board, noting Anderson’s skills and experience as manager of President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in Iowa.

While Schultz considers running for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat next year, Anderson has begun building what may become the largest campaign organization for a statewide office in Iowa other than governor. Last week Anderson announced raising $102,186 for his campaign since he formally launched his candidacy. That may not sound like much money for a statewide race, but Matt Schultz didn’t even raise that much during his entire 2010 candidacy. In January 2013, Schultz’s re-election campaign reported $29,505.62 cash on hand but also $17,071.34 in unpaid bills.

Former Secretary of State Michael Mauro wasn’t a huge fundraiser even as an incumbent seeking re-election in 2010. Mauro has not ruled out running for secretary of state again. Although he did a fantastic job in that office, he would start a Democratic primary campaign against Anderson at an organizational disadvantage.

After the jump I’ve listed Anderson’s 99 “county captains,” along with members of his campaign steering committee. Anderson commented in a press release from April 25, “The 2012 election proved a strong organization is just as important as fundraising, and I am pleased some of the best organizers in the state have joined our team and are ready to help us win this important race.”

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