Former NH GOP Chairman: So Long Iowa!

On Friday, Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party wrote an article in the Union Leader which basically said what we've all been thinking: Iowa Republicans are currently driving their party off a cliff and are hurting our entire state by marginializing our caucus system.

This article, "So long Iowa, it was nice knowing ya," is a must read for everyone who has been watching with dred as social conservatives pushed out fiscal conservatives, and presidential candidates began to "reevaluate" their early state strategy.

Here are some of the important excerpts:

Two conditions make the early states in the presidential nominating process work. First, all candidates must believe they have an equal opportunity to succeed. They might not be happy with the outcome — most of them lose, after all — but they all have to feel like they had their shot and were given a fair hearing by voters. Second, the electorates have to be broadly representative of the party as a whole. This gives a win meaning and legitimacy.

The Iowa caucus may once have met those conditions for Republicans, but today it does not. Iowa Republicans have marginalized themselves to the point where competing in Iowa has become optional.

… This week came another troubling sign that Iowa Republicans are outside the party mainstream: a birther epidemic. A Public Policy Polling survey found that 48 percent of Iowa Republicans don’t believe President Obama was born in the United States, and another 26 percent said they weren’t sure if he was or if he wasn’t. It’s hard to talk about real issues when three quarters of the audience wears tin foil hats.

…Iowa Republicans didn’t set out to marginalize themselves, but it’s happened — to New Hampshire’s benefit. With several major candidates likely to bypass Iowa, and the odds rising that Iowa’s skewed caucus electorate could support candidates with limited general election appeal, the likelihood of New Hampshire being called upon to make a correction grow.

Currently, reporters in Iowa continue to ignore the harm that far-right Republicans are doing to our state with their social litmus tests. We’ve seen a few bold Republicans like Doug Gross and Kevin Hall speak out publicly, but they are few and far between.

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Now we are six

Iowa is now one of six states where same-sex marriage is legal.

Congratulations to everyone who worked to bring marriage equality to New Hampshire. Today the state House passed a revised bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and Governor John Lynch signed it immediately. More details are all over the web, including at Pam’s House Blend and Blue Hampshire.

Share your thoughts in this thread, and remember, Iowa got there first! Actually, “first” in the sense of third, after Massachusetts and Connecticut—but the important thing is, before New Hampshire!

Update on cabinet appointments and confirmations

The Senate confirmed Eric Holder as attorney general today by a vote of 75-21. Both Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley voted yes, as expected. I always thought Holder would be confirmed, but I am pleasantly surprised that he was approved by a larger majority than Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. I believe Holder will turn out to be one of President Barack Obama’s better cabinet appointments.

For reasons I cannot fathom, Obama appears ready to appoint Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, a conservative Republican, as Secretary of Commerce. Chris Bowers concisely explains why this is an awful choice:

So, for some reason, in the wake of total Republican intransigence on the stimulus bill, the Obama administration will respond by putting a Republican in charge of one the federal departments overseeing the economy. Judd Gregg himself has said he will oppose the stimulus package. That is certainly an, um, interesting way for the Obama administration to incentivize Republican opposition. Oppose President Obama, and he will reward you by giving you a cabinet position.

It is worth noting what sort of ideas Judd Gregg has for the economy: a commission of center-right insiders operating in secret and circumventing Congress in order to destroy Social Security and Medicare.

Senate Republicans continue to hold up Hilda Solis’s confirmation as Labor Secretary, and Obama responds by appointing Gregg to the cabinet?

Democrats won’t even get a Senate seat out of the deal, because the Democratic governor of New Hampshire has promised to appoint a Republican to serve out Gregg’s term. The only upside is that the appointee may be easier to beat in 2010 than longtime incumbent Gregg would have been. But that’s not worth handing over control of the Commerce Department to a conservative, in my opinion.

All I can say is, Gregg better not screw around with the Census Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In a dispatch from bizarro world, Politico’s David Rogers still isn’t convinced that Obama is serious about bipartisanship, even though Gregg will become the third Republican in his cabinet and will be replaced by a Republican in the Senate:

Obama, while talking a good game about bipartisanship, is draining the Senate of the very talent he needs to achieve this goal.

If only Obama were merely “talking a good game about bipartisanship.”

Speaking of Senate Republicans, Kagro X put up a good post on prospects for a filibuster of the economic stimulus bill, and Chris Bowers posted a “whip count” here, concluding that

Overall, it seems highly likely that the stimulus will pass without Republicans forcing major changes. However, given the narrow margins, this is not a guarantee.

The Senate will likely vote on the bill on Wednesday. Grassley has already spoken out against what he calls the “stimulus/porkulus bill.”

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GOP takes "first step" toward keeping Iowa caucuses first

I am surprised to hear that the Republican National Committee’s Rules Committee has approved a proposed 2012 nominating calendar that would keep the Iowa caucuses first, followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada:


I had assumed that the GOP establishment would have the knives out for Iowa, since Mike Huckabee’s triumph here hurt establishment favorite Mitt Romney, while this year’s nominee John McCain, another establishment favorite, finished a distant fourth place.

Keeping Iowa first is not a done deal:

The measure, which passed 28-12, must now be approved by the rules committee meeting in August, scheduled for the week before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Finally, the measure must be approved by delegates to the convention.

Still, it’s interesting that this calendar has support within the RNC rules committee for now.

Since Barack Obama seems very likely to become the Democratic nominee, I would assume that the Iowa caucuses are safe if he wins the general election. If he loses to McCain, however, I expect members of the Democratic National Committee to change the calendar. A lot of angry Democrats will blame Iowans for picking a loser again.

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New Hampshire recount shows no systemic problems so far

The hand recount in New Hampshire is about a third of the way to completion, and if you want to know what’s been uncovered so far, I recommend this informative diary at Daily Kos or this informative diary at Blue Hampshire.

I applaud Dennis Kucinich for asking for this recount. If it helps restore confidence in the election machinery (in New Hampshire, at least), it will have been $60,000 very well spent.  

Must-read analysis of IA and NH results

I urge all of you to click on this diary by MyDD user Silver Spring, who analyzed the county-level results from Iowa and New Hampshire.

I am not convinced by all of the arguments in this diary, but it is a great piece of work. I have asked Silver Spring to cross-post here, so I can promote it to the front page. In the meantime, you all should head over to MyDD and read it for yourself.

I haven’t yet had a chance to dig into the county-level results from Iowa, so I greatly appreciate this effort.

This kind of in-depth analysis sets the blogs apart from superficial mainstream media coverage.

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