Weekend open thread: Not ready for prime time edition

Earlier this month, State Senator Brad Zaun agreed to attend an event organized by an anti-abortion extremist, then withdrew from the event at the last minute because of a problem with the invitation wording. Here’s a clue for one of the leading Republican candidates in Iowa’s third Congressional district: the reason not to do an event with Dave Leach isn’t some technicality, it’s that Leach thinks assassinating abortion providers is justifiable homicide.

Speaking of Zaun, how does an experienced campaigner who works in real estate and is a former mayor of a wealthy Des Moines suburb raise just $52,780 CORRECTION: $50,305 for his Congressional campaign in the first quarter? It’s not as if he tapped out a huge donor base already; in the fourth quarter of 2009 Zaun only raised about $30,000. He’ll need more money than that to compete with seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell–if he can get through the crowded primary.

Speaking of that primary, Jim Gibbons issued one of his more idiotic press statements last week (and for him that’s saying something). Gibbons’ latest attack is that Boswell is relying on support from “D.C. insider” Chris Van Hollen. This from a guy who is the favorite of the Washington-based National Republican Congressional Committee, who bragged about how many members of Congress attended his own Washington fundraiser, and had former House Speaker Dennis Hastert headline an event for him in the Des Moines area. Gibbons has raised the most money in the Republican field, but he doesn’t impress me as a campaigner, unless you’re into pandering to Christians before Easter.

Another Republican who doesn’t look ready for prime time is Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. He said this week that he’s against the proposed financial reforms because they would be “an extra layer of regulation.” As Kevin Drum says, that’s “like saying that you don’t want better brakes on your car because ‘they’re going to slow me down.'” But Brown had more empty talking points to share:

   Brown left open the possibility that he could support a compromise.

   “I want to see when it’s going to come up, how it’s going to come up,” he said. “I’m always open to trying to work something through so it is truly bipartisan.”

   Brown, whose vote could be critical as Democrats seek to find a GOP member to avoid a filibuster, assiduously avoided talking about specifics.

   When asked what areas he thought should be fixed, he replied: “Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me. And then I’ll get a team and go fix it.”

Give me a break. The guy has no idea what’s in the bill or why Republicans are supposed to be against it, but he wants to make sure you know he’s all for teamwork and being “bipartisan.”

Who did I miss on the not ready for prime time front? Let me know in the comments, or share anything else that’s on your mind this weekend.

If you’re interested in the upcoming British elections, you can watch the recent party leaders’ debate here (hat tip to Christian Ucles, who is following the campaign closely).

UPDATE: Had a great day out at Whiterock Conservancy today. Saw some friends there, watched a presentation featuring five snakes native to Iowa, took a long nature walk ending near a field with bison. Stopped for locally-made ice cream at Picket Fence Creamery on the way home. Who could ask for anything more?

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  • Question

    Shouldn’t we just put Glass Steagall back in place or does it not regulate things like derivatives closely enough?  It would get rid of this talking point of more bureaucracy that Brown is using, they are going to use it regardless, but with GS they have less of a leg to stand on then this new legislation.

    One of the major blemishes on Jim Leach’s record was the destruction of GS, but I’d still prefer him to Loebsack.  

    • we should put Glass Steagall back in place

      but from what I’ve read, further regulations are necessary as well because of all the new derivatives that didn’t exist 15-20 years ago.

      I’m not the expert on this subject, but I assume whatever comes out of Dodd’s committee will be an improvement in some ways but insufficient to tackle the real problems. Dodd has never gone against Wall Street interests in any significant way.

      • Dodd

        I don’t think Dodd or anyone should wage an all out war against Wall Street.  There are a lot of good people on Wall Street who do make an honest living and the same can be said for corporate America more broadly.

        Class warfare is not going to get us anywhere as a nation.  I don’t like free trade policies, I do believe in a progressive or socialistic tax structure, but the concept of blocking people from forms of income does get dangerous.  

        • it's not "class warfare"

          to say that Congress utterly failed in regulation of Wall Street in the 80s, 90s, and this decade. Many of those firms have been making a killing even during the most severe recession since WWII.

          To cite just one example, there is no reason hedge fund managers are able to shield so much of their income from taxes. These are among the highest-paid Americans in any field, and their marginal tax rate is practically nothing.

          • I'm aware of their tax rate

            If they employ a lot of people at their firm, they should have to pay something around the twelve percent that I do on a yearly basis.  

            • not only that

              effective corporate tax rates are at historic lows, and the percentage of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country is at the highest point since 1928. Meanwhile, real wages haven’t gone up for a very long time. It’s not “class warfare” to try to reverse some of these trends.

        • speaking of wealth disparity

          I saw at the Seeing The Forest blog that in the U.S., the top 10% control nearly 70% of wealth. The bottom 50% control about two percent of the wealth. The gap has been widening ever since Reagan’s day.

  • and the answer is.......

    …Zaun, unlike his main competitors, was representing his district in the capitol while each of his opponents was out raising money on a FULL TIME basis.  (Gibbons, Funk, and Rees all being unemployed with no conflicts!)

    Too bad you didn’t read Cityview magazine this week, who did a very nice analysis of the status of Zaun fundraising now that he finally CAN go out and do that 8 hours a day like his opponents, and the new impact of his hire from the Greater DSM Partnership, an very well respected former senior official that will assist him in fundraising now that the legislature is over.

    • here's that Cityview link

      on the Zaun hire:

      Shar Pardubksy served as Senior Vice President of Affiliate Relations at the Greater Des Moines Partnership for more years than Skinny can count. She was known, at times, to be outspoken and abrasive, even a bit cranky. She could also be kind hearted and sincere, and she continually worked for the best interests of those she served. When she was squeezed out by the Partnership about a year ago, many were shocked. The Partnership was going through other changes at the time, including an increase in dues from the affiliates (a fancy name for the suburban chambers of commerce that the Partnership needs). And with Pardubsky serving as the liaison from the affiliates to the Partnership, some chamber execs in the ‘burbs told Skinny they felt they were stuck paying more and getting less. One of those who spoke loudly in support of Pardubsky was Brad Zaun, a state senator representing all of Urbandale and portions of northwest Des Moines. Zaun, while he still has some cash, is running for the Republican seat in Congress to take on Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s 3rd District. Pardubsky found a home in Zaun’s campaign, we hear, and will certainly help with her aggressive approach and list of contacts for potential donors.

      I’m sure she will help him raise money, mirage, but he’s got less than 8 weeks before the primary.

      But you’ll be pleased to know I saw the first Zaun yard sign in my precinct this morning–at the home of a former Windsor Heights mayor.

      • pleased as punch...

        …the Zaun yardsigns are popping up all over this weekend!

        …spring is here!

        • yes, I saw a couple more today

          while out and about. The only other IA-03 candidate who seems to have yard signs up is Rees–I don’t believe I’ve seen any for Gibbons or Funk yet.

    • technically

      Rees is retired, not unemployed, as far as I know. I have no idea whether he’s aggressively fundraising or just self-funding.