Two-term incumbent Dave Loebsack launched the first television commercial of this year's campaign on Thursday. The 30-second spot is playing district-wide (Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, Ottumwa-Kirksville, and Quincy, Illinois) on broadcast and cable networks. The campaign hasn't specified the size of the buy.
For now I can't embed the video here; you'll have to watch at his campaign website. LATE UPDATE: Video up on YouTube:
Here is my rough transcript:
Loebsack: I'm Dave Loebsack, and I approved this message.
Male voice-over: Raised in poverty by a single mother, Dave Loebsack knows first-hand the struggle just to get by. Starting at 16, Loebsack pulled himself up, worked at a sewage treatment plant, then through college as a janitor. It's why Loebsack is fighting to help small business create jobs and hold Wall Street accountable for recklessness and greed. Because Dave Loebsack will always stand up for what's right.
This ad doesn't break any new ground visually or in terms of content. The biographical piece emphasizing the candidate's humble beginnings and connection to ordinary people has become a staple of campaigns for all offices. The only unusual thing I noticed is the man with a pony tail talking to Loebsack near the end of the commercial. I'm not sure I've ever seen that in an Iowa political ad before. But it's hardly a radical fashion statement in a district with the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor as its population center.
Loebsack's campaign hasn't released any internal polling on his rematch against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, but I assume it's not too terrible if he's beginning with a positive ad. Many Democratic incumbents around the country are already running negative spots about the Republican challenger. Representative Leonard Boswell's opening radio advertisement contrasted his record on biofuels with statements by Republican Brad Zaun.
Among Iowa's five Congressional districts, IA-02 has the strongest Democratic lean (partisan voting index of D+7). In other words, Loebsack's district voted about 7 points more Democratic than the national average in the last two presidential elections. The Iowa City ballot measure regarding the ban on under-21s in bars will probably drive student turnout higher than in an ordinary midterm election, which has to be good for Loebsack.
The high unemployment rate in several of the 15 counties in the district works against the incumbent, however. Also, Mariannette Miller-Meeks has relatively high name recognition as a repeat challenger. It remains to be seen whether conservative Republicans will get behind Miller-Meeks. In October 2008, Iowa Right to Life unfairly accused her of being a "pretender" on the abortion issue. During her September 7 interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board, Miller-Meeks said she might support a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, after our international border has been secured and if the American people favor that policy. That reasonable stance will be anathema to segments of the Iowa Republican base.
Both Loebsack and Miller-Meeks held campaign events today before the big Iowa/Iowa State football game in Iowa City.
UPDATE: Thanks to corncam for flagging this disappointing article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette:
"Where rubber hits the road - because it's connected to the deficit issue, the debt issue - is what we do about those making over $200,000 and couples making $250,000?" he said. "I've said all along that I didn't want to extend those [Bush] tax cuts, but I'm rethinking that at the moment."
Extending the tax cuts for those top-earners would cost the federal treasury $700 billion over 10 years, but Loebsack is having second thoughts because of the impact ending the tax cuts for the wealthy might have on the economy.
"We have a weak recovery that needs to continue," Loebsack said. "Those folks at those top levels consume a pretty fair amount of what is consumed in this country and this is a demand-driven economy.
No, the folks at the top tend not to spend most of what they get back in tax cuts. In contrast, people who are struggling will spend all their extra money immediately. If Congress wants to "support the recovery" to the tune of $70 billion a year, they should extend unemployment benefits for the "99-ers" (those who have exhausted all 99 weeks of payments). Unemployment benefits are among the most stimulative forms of government spending.