Where does our state need good candidates to run? (An open question)

(Good question. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Since we're starting to hear about more and more announcements being made by candidates running for election in 2010, I became curious about where we should encourage more folks to consider running.  

Often, in the places where a fresh face is needed the most, a candidate steps into the race very late in the game because no one else had stepped up.  Activists in the area sometimes fail to ask good candidates to run and end up holding their nose and voting for the weak (electorally or ideologically) candidate who finally stepped up to the plate and became the de facto nominee.

So, perhaps this time around, with just over 12 months until next years election, we can avoid this problem by identifying seats where progressives can, should, or must win. 

By the way, I'm not sure I can really contribute that much to the discussion, besides asking the question, as I've recently relocated to an area I don't know particularly well.  But I encourage you to talk about your communities below and others about which you're familiar.

About the Author(s)


  • County Auditor

    Mary Mosiman, in Story County, is someone I would like to face a stronger opponent, but she’s not up for election again until 2012 if I remember correctly.

    However, I mention her because I think County Auditor is an often overlooked seat where a good candidate can make a huge difference.  A bad auditor can be a huge obstacle to a smooth election if he or she is more focused on stopping “election fraud” (which is EXTREMELY rare) than on encouraging citizens to vote.

    • Auditors

      aren’t up. Treasurers, recorders and county attorneys are in the governor year; auditors and sheriffs are with president.

      • thanks.

        I didn’t know whether they were all on the same schedule or not.  Good to know how that works.

  • I would still like to see

    primary challengers to a few House Democrats (Huser in HD 42, Quirk in HD 15, Mertz in HD 8, maybe also Kelley in HD 20). I know the IDP is against that, but I think strong primary challengers can move incumbents toward better legislative votes.

    We absolutely need someone in HD 21; I do not think Kerry Burt is viable for the next election.

    Mark Kuhn is retiring in HD 14, so we need a good Democrat there.

    In terms of Republican-held seats, we should go after the districts we narrowly lost in 2008. That means someone to run against Renee Schulte in HD 37 (Linn County) and Chris Hagenow in HD 59 (Polk County). Jodi Tymeson is retiring in HD 73 (Warren and Madison Counties), so if we don’t already have a candidate there, we need one. Kurt Hubler didn’t fall short by far against Doug Struyk in HD 99 either (Pottawattamie).

  • Personally,

    I would love to see a real Democrat primary Chet Culver.  Ol’ Hoss seems more determined to present himself as the Other Terry Branstad than as someone determined to preserve the state infrastructure.  If the Flat Earth wing of the GOP destroys itself in an eight- or nine-way primary next year, and Branstad emerges as the nominee by virtue of being the only candidate who’s not thoroughly insane, Hoss is going to have a very hard time selling himself to an electorate stung by massive cutbacks in vital state services, when Branstad isn’t associated in the electorate’s now well-aged memory with any such pain.  They’re going to look at Hoss and Branstad and think, you know, the only difference between them is about 120 lbs.

    • sorry, no

      but I’m curious what kind of “real Democrat” you have in mind. Culver has said all tax credits have to be on the table in the coming session, but given the revenue shortfall right now I see no alternative to some spending cuts.

      • Somebody who's willing to level with people

        Back during the dot-com boom of the late ’90s, the GOP cut taxes every time the state ran a surplus.  The end result was a revenue stream that’s only adequate in boom times.  Whenever there’s a burp, you have to sacrifice a bit more of the public service infrastructure to Grover Norquist.  Democrats took back the legislature but seem to live in such fear of the ghost of Ronald Reagan, or the wrath of Chris Rantz, that they’re incapable of rebuilding the state’s revenue structure.  Culver invoked the magic words “fiscal conservatism”, the mantra of the Democrat-Republican-wannabe in justifying his across-the-board cuts.  It’s swell that he’s willing to put those $400 million-plus tax credit giveaways to business on the table, but putting them on the table is a far cry from calling for their repeal.

        As to what he should have done:  Democrats at both the state and national levels have done a pathetic job of educating the American people about what their tax dollars actually pay for.  They seem to have conceded the debate to Ronald Reagan’s ghost, whose litany of mythical welfare queens driving Cadillacs poisoned people’s minds about taxes (oops … I mean “tax-and-spend” … sorry).  He could’ve pointed out that Republicans all over the country led the charge to strip state governments of the ability to run deficits in times like these, when government expenditures can mean the difference between hard times and disaster.  He could’ve pointed out that increasing our state income taxes enough to restore the revenue stream to a necessary level, or even just to cover this shortfall, involves trivial amounts of money.  I gross $63.5k a year; increasing my state income taxes 10 percent would cost me about $20 more a month.  Whatever Chris Rantz says, $20 a month isn’t going to bankrupt anyone making my income.  But instead, Hoss was determined to depict himself as some sort of sugar-free Republican, a “fiscal conservative”.

        So what I would like is a Democrat who’s willing to stand up in front of the public and say that the GOP has worked hard and long to destroy the state government’s ability to fund important government services, like public safety and education, and to brainwash all of us about what our taxes actually buy us, which is safe streets and education leading to a better future for our kids.  And I would like that Democrat to point out that our state taxes don’t amount to grand theft of our take-home pay; the amounts involved are small, especially in comparison to what we, and our children, and our communities, get in return.  But Chet Culver isn’t that Democrat.  I gave him a lot of money, and worked hard for him, back in 2006, under the impression that he was that kind of Democrat, but clearly I was mistaken.  I won’t be mistaken again, at least not about him.

        • I agree to an extent

          Culver’s not a “profile in courage” kind of politician, especially not on the tax issue.

          But at this point, we have a big revenue shortfall in the current-year budget. There’s no way the governor could quickly implement a tax hike to make up for the lost revenue. To balance this year’s budget, spending has to be cut. I would have preferred a special legislative session to make those choices, but either way we weren’t getting any tax increases in the 2009 fiscal year.

          The Democrats who run the legislature are just as much to blame as Culver for the problems you describe. Since winning back the majority, have they listened to the Iowa Policy Project and others who pointed out the need to address inequities in the tax system and the exploding cost of tax credits? Where is this mythical Democrat who would have accomplished what you were looking for?

          The Democrats did try to make some good changes to the tax system in this year’s legislative session, but not enough to address the points you raise. Anyway, they couldn’t get the votes in the Iowa House to pass the tax reform.

          I am concerned that the “Terry Loves Taxes” strategy will eliminate any chance for Democrats to restructure the tax system if Culver does win re-election.  

          • You're right

            There isn’t any quick way to implement any tax increases.  Here at UNI, spending is being cut, by about $8.5m, though the details remain to be defined.

            And I emphatically agree that the Democratic majorities in the Legislature bear substantial responsibility, with Culver, for this situation.  And I’ve conveyed exactly that point to both my Democratic House member, and my Democratic Senator, with whom I’m friends, and to whom I have given both large sums of money in past election cycles, and large amounts of time.  I told them that, sorry, but I’ve given like Croesus and worked like a mule to support you in some very difficult election cycles, but now that I need you, where are you?  They know that there will be no donations from me, and no volunteer time, until they show support for the public infrastructure.

            This is the only leverage we have over them, and I see no reason not to use it.  I think it’s called “politics”.

  • Fed tax deductability

    It is plain inexcusable that the Dems couldn’t pass it in the House.  Huser needs to be taken out in particular.  She is not helpful on anything important.  Unfortunately she has money and connections in Altoona. I’d move and run tomorrow if I thought I could beat her.  Surely someone could.  The failure to address this issue means that revenues will go down even further when Obama lets the Bush tax cuts expire next year.  It is obvious that this will only benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class.  Any Dem that votes against it, especially a revenue neutral version, deserves to be primaried.  

  • House District 73 is vital

    Kent Sorenson, one of the most obnoxious and radical right wingers in this state, has decided not to defend his seat in House District 74, and instead is running against Senator Staci Appel in Senate District 37.  Jody Tymeson is not running for reelection in her old seat, House District 73.  House districts 73 and 74 together make up Senate District 37.  The Dems do have a great candidate for HD 74 in Scott Ourth, but so far, no Democrat has stepped forward in HD 73.  

    It is vital that a good Democratic candidate run in this house district, since the senate match-up between Sorenson, an ultra-conservative, and Staci Appel, a progressive candidate if there ever was one (and wife of Brent Appel, one of the State Supreme Court justices who handed down the same-sex marraige decision) is going to be the marquee race in the 2010 election. The Senate battle is going to generate national money and attention from both sides, and it will be a lot more difficult for Staci Appel if she doesn’t have a credible Democratic candidate to work with in HD 73.