Hubler criticizes GOTV effort

Rob Hubler sent this e-mail to his supporters today:

Dear [desmoinesdem],

The highest appreciation that can be given a person in the Navy is "Well done!" To all of you I give my sincerest "WELL DONE!"  I cannot be prouder of all your efforts and your response to this campaign. Everyone went above and beyond their capabilities.

I want to share my thoughts about what went right, and what went wrong, so we can learn from events and continue to build a progressive force in the Fifth District, and I need to ask you for a little extra help to close out this chapter.  But first I offer some words from an essay by Tim Wise, that describe the work that has just begun with the election:

   "...And so it is back to work. Oh yes, we can savor the moment for a while, for a few days, perhaps a week. But well before inauguration day we will need to be back on the job, in the community, in the streets, where democracy is made, demanding equity and justice in places where it hasn't been seen in decades, if ever. Because for all the talk of hope and change, there is nothing--absolutely, positively nothing--about real change that is inevitable. And hope, absent real pressure and forward motion to actualize one's dreams, is sterile and even dangerous. Hope, absent commitment is the enemy of change, capable of translating to a giving away of one's agency, to a relinquishing of the need to do more than just show up every few years and push a button or pull a lever.

   This means hooking up now with the grass roots organizations in the communities where we live, prioritizing their struggles, joining and serving with their constituents, following leaders grounded in the community who are accountable not to Barack Obama, but the people who helped elect him. Let Obama follow, while the people lead, in other words..."

We all know things did not go as we had all wanted and anticipated. It is far too early to get a complete handle on what happened. With the effort you put into our campaign the results should have been better.  We did receive more votes then any 5th district candidate has in the past, but the percentage was about the same as in previous races. We had considerable impact with Republican and independent voters--a tribute to your efforts. This was always a major effort of our campaign and we succeeded.

The early indication is that we did not do as well as we should have with Democrats.   Anecdotal evidence suggests that the GOTV effort we all worked so hard on was not directed to the folks that would have boosted our Democratic total and helped the down ticket.  Democrats across the district and the state did not win where we should have.  Kurt is one example of a Democrat who should have won, given the demographics of his district, but lost by fewer than 400 votes.  A better GOTV effort would have helped him.

The good news is that our campaign leaves a greatly improved Democratic organization in the 5th. There is a new sense of identity and a new willingness to improve on the infrastructure you all built. We have the foundation of a viable two-party system in our district. We can build and be competitive at the local and state level. Clearly we will throw away an opportunity if we do not unite behind our newly-energized party, and position ourselves to do even better than we did this year. These gains can be expanded and I will be working toward making this happen.

The bad news is that we must pay off a remaining debt of $10,000. You were one of those who were so generous and helped our campaign. I am asking you to contribute once again to eliminate the debt I have incurred, which is mostly owed to the staff. You all saw a staff that was totally dedicated to the campaign, and devoted great energy and sleep time to our effort.  As a past campaign staffer, I know how many times campaigns close without paying what is owed to staff members. I know it is my personal responsibility to fulfill my agreements with them, but I have expended all of my personal resources already and must depend upon you to help. A $25 or more contribution by you would be very much appreciated.

I look forward to the next two years of helping President Obama to answer the challenges we have been talking about in this campaign, and continuing our vigilant watch on Steve King. He is the only elected official who celebrated the election by being combative and disgraceful.  He is in stark contrast to John McCain's gracious call for bipartisanship, and the need for cooperation in these trying times for our nation.  Whether King runs for reelection in 2010 or runs for Governor, we in the Fifth must continue to dog him and hold him accountable.  I know you will join me in this effort.

This is not an announcement of a campaign for 2010.  I am not going to even think about running again for a long time, if ever.  I am making this commitment to stay in the fight, however, no matter who is running for Congress in the election years to come.  This race was never about me, it was about real representation for the Fifth District, and it was about you.  My commitment to you will not waver.

We have a daunting task before us as a district, a state, and a nation. Barack Obama is a visionary who is up to the task. Senator Tom Harkin, Gov. Culver, Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, Leonard Boswell, our Democratic State House and Senate will all join with our new President to tackle the tasks at hand. We will bring real rural development to Iowa. We will stand with working families, family farmers and ranchers, the middle class and those who have no voice. And as we continue to do our part, collectively, we will bring back the respect the people of the 5th want and deserve.  It will not be easy but we have a good start. Let us continue what we have begun and work together to make our district a place of justice and not a national laughing stock.

I hope you will continue with me in our fight. The new page is turning even here. We have taken many steps and we must continue our journey until our job is complete.  We were not defeated. We have only been further challenged. We are up to the task. Let's continue till we arrive at victory.

Thanks again for joining this campaign for Justice and peace. Step by step we will get there.

Peace and Justice,

Rob Hubler

(712) 352-2077

P.S. Your contribution of any amount helps us finish this campaign with the integrity from which we started it. I sincerely appreciate your assistance from the beginning to the end.

What Hubler says here about the GOTV effort is similar to what I am hearing from people all over this state. We lost statehouse races we should not have lost, races the House Democrats felt confident about going into the election. I have not crunched the numbers myself to confirm, but some are saying that the "drop-off" (that is, the number of people who cast a vote for president but not for state House or Senate candidates) was much greater this year than in 2004.

If anyone out there who worked in an Obama field office would like to give me your side of the story regarding the turnout effort or help provided to down-ticket Democrats, please contact me at desmoinesdem AT

The "Kurt" referred to in this message is Rob Hubler's son Kurt Hubler, Democratic candidate in House district 99 (Pottawattamie County). He lost narrowly to Doug Struyk, a former Democrat who switched parties and was one of the candidates supported by the American Future Fund during the final days of the campaign.

Looking at the election results, I noticed that only about 11,000 votes were cast in Kurt Hubler's race, which is a lot less than the more than 16,000 votes cast in my own district 59. That's one side effect of the generally lower turnout in Pottawattamie County, compared to 2004. Polk County, where district 59 is located, had higher turnout this year than in 2004.

I encourage you to help Hubler retire his campaign debt by donating one last time. He put tremendous effort into running a real campaign in a very tough district for Democrats.

  • Hubler is right.

    The Obama campaign was focused on Obama.  The late doorhangers had the state rep and the sheriff candidate in 8 point type.  Becky Greenwald was maybe in 9-point, all on a giant strip of paper with Obama all over it.  A lot of the lit drops were pre-stuffed with several different kinds of Obama lit, and lit from the other candidates was hit or miss.  The Obama campaign handed out lists of their identified supporters and leaners to call and visit, but did not make calls to GOTV Dems generally.  

    I think that turning over the state IDP to the Obama campaign was a mistake that cost other candidates.  Shutting off the 527s was a mistake.  I wrote Jackie Norris early on about both of these concerns and she never responded.  I think she carries a lot of the blame for what happened in Iowa.  She will probably have a soft landing in the new administration, but I question whether she should be rewarded for her performance.  The campaign was an Obama campaign, not a combined campaign.

    • I was concerned about this

      the moment I heard about the plans for GOTV:


      Unfortunately, we ended up with a convincing victory for Obama in Iowa, but not fully capitalizing on that in the down-ticket races.

      I would like to hear the other side of the story from people involved with the Obama campaign--anyone from Jackie Norris and Tripp Welde down to field organizers in the smallest Iowa offices.

  • I can share my perspective..

    Obviously this only applies to me...

    I volunteered for and donated to the Obama campaign but had little or no interest or enthusiasm for down ticket Democrats.

    First, I live in Boswell's district.  I don't think I need to elaborate.  I had to force myself to vote for him and not protest with a vote for the socialist candidate.  

    I was encouraged by the Dem controlled legislature last year regarding some issues (anti-bullying bill etc.)  But failure to pass the fair-share bill and then Culver's bizarre veto of the collective bargaining bill.  

    We have some (not all, just some) very poor democrats in elected office in Iowa.  

    • I have also been disappointed

      by some of the choices made by the Iowa House and Senate leadership--more by the issues they haven't acted on than what they have done.

      I think the collective bargaining bill was handled poorly in the legislature, and Culver should not get all the blame for that mess:



      I hope the Democrats can pass that bill again in 2009 the normal way. If they do I would expect Culver to sign it.

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