The Iowa secretary of state campaign looks like a nail-biter. Neither Democrat Brad Anderson nor Republican Paul Pate has had a lead outside the margin of error in any public poll I’ve seen. The new Loras College statewide survey shows Anderson barely ahead of Pate by 39.9 percent to 39.0 percent. That survey did not include the other two candidates running for secretary of state, even though Libertarian Jake Porter received about 3 percent of the statewide vote in 2010.
When Anderson and Pate appeared jointly on Iowa Public Television earlier this month (in a “job interview” that resembled a debate), major differences between the candidates were apparent. Pate would continue outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s crusade for a voter ID law, an expensive “fix” to a non-existent problem, which risks disenfranchising voters. Anderson proposes several ideas to improve the voter file and maintain security, without depressing turnout.
During the same “Iowa Press” program, Pate hedged on whether former employees of the Secretary of State’s Office should pay back the state for salary and benefits they received for doing no work. I’ve enclosed that exchange after the jump. I would guess that 90 percent of Iowans agree with Anderson: it’s a “no-brainer” that these people should pay back the money.
Pate’s campaign website is mostly devoid of policy ideas. His case to voters is simple: he has more experience, having served as secretary of state before, he supports voter ID requirements, and he is a “non-partisan leader,” as opposed to his “partisan political operative” opponent. Never mind that Pate once sought the position of Iowa GOP chair.
Compared to Pate, Anderson has proposed more specific ideas for improving the work of the Secretary of State’s Office. (For that matter, so has Porter.) Anderson’s campaign website includes not only ideas to make Iowa number one in voter turnout, but also proposals to make it easier to start a business, create a new registry for veteran-owned businesses, improve the integrity of the Iowa caucuses, make it easier for overseas and military voters to cast ballots, and most recently, an address confidentiality program that would allow survivors of domestic abuse or sexual violence “to register to vote, cast a ballot, and go about daily life without fear for safety.” (Pate’s campaign quickly announced that the Republican also supports “Safe at Home” measures.)
Anderson and Pate are still running the television and radio commercials Bleeding Heartland covered here. In addition, a group I’d never heard of called iVote has spent just under $30,000 to run a tv ad opposing Pate. Democratic strategists created the new political action committee to get involved in several secretary of state races. When I saw iVote’s spot for the first time during a lunchtime local newscast, the unorthodox style caught my attention. I’ve enclosed the video and transcript below. The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s fact-checker rated this ad “true.”
Speaking of the Gazette, that newspaper endorsed Anderson today, saying he would offer “a clean break” from the “sorry chapter” of Schultz’s tenure as secretary of state. Click through to read the whole editorial, or scroll own to read excerpts. How embarrassing for Pate not to get the support of his hometown newspaper. He’s been a local business owner for decades as well as a former Cedar Rapids mayor and former state senator representing part of Linn County.