Battle of the Sackses

(A convincing argument. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

The reasons Christie Vilsack will run and win in the new 2nd

1)  She wants it.  She's made that pretty clear.  And the 2nd is her only viable option to Congress. Running in the 1st would be worse, running in the 3rd would be mutually assured destruction for her and Boswell.  The only other real option is the 4th and while she would be a hero for taking on King, it would be very tough to win and even tougher to hold.  Which district would you want to represent if you were her?

2)  Money won't be a problem.  She is married to the sitting Ag Secretary and is BFFs with the Clintons.  This is regardless of whether the DCCC supports Loebsack, which is an open question (it is not the same analysis as supporting Boswell because Loebsack is newer and the Dem will win the general regardless).

3)  She has a base in the 2nd.  Her husband ran up big margins in far SE Iowa during his Gubernatorial campaigns.  She still has a lot of connections down there.  Not only that, but Loebsack has been remarkably weak in those counties (Henry, Jefferson, Des Moines, Lee, Wapello, etc) and there are still a lot of Democrats down there.  Loebsack has no base.  Johnson County would be the closest thing to it and Iowa City  would obviously be the big prize in a primary, but she could compete there.


4)  It is a new district.  Switching Linn and Scott is a major shift.  I don't think either would have a name ID issue in a primary, but whatever edge he'd have is gone.  I think it's pretty ridiculous to say that someone named Vilsack would have a name ID issue in an Iowa Dem primary anyway.  Additional counties Loebsack has never represented:  Jasper, Marion, Mahaska, Keokuk, Clinton, Lucas, Monroe, Clarke and Decatur.

5)  The nature of the party.  The simple fact is that there are a lot more women in the Democratic Party than men.  I don't think she makes gender a big issue, and shouldn't, but it will be a major deciding factor for a lot of people.  Especially with the whole "Us and Mississippi" thing that everyone seems to be aware of.

6)  Rural Dems.  Which would you vote for if you were a rural Democrat?  The wife of the current Ag Secretary or the liberal egghead Professor?  Thought so.  

7) Redistricting as cover.  While some party people might be upset with her for running, the broader electorate doesn't view congressional seats as "belonging" to anyone.  Additionally, since he will have to move into the district, she can say that she has just as much claim to it as he does.  I personally tend to agree with these things on principle and I'm not alone.

8) She has a network.  She has been on the political circuit for years now.  She's done a ton of fundraisers for State House and Senate candidates and has a militantly loyal group of librarians all over the state (I kid you not, I've witnessed it over and over).  I also know that shes been visiting USDA offices regularly as well.

I honestly don't have a dog in this fight.  I don't live in the district currently and I think Loebsack has been a good progressive.  He may not "deserve" to be primaried, but a lot of people don't view it that way.  He inspires no passion from what I can tell and she does.  That is big in a primary.  It may not be "right" for her to run, but this is politics, not grade school.  She has the ambition and a path to get there, so I think she'll do it.  The only other eventuality I see is if she polls the new 4th and sees a path to victory there.  Lastly, I think a primary might not be all that bad as far as getting the most Democratic part of our state activated in the run up to a general in which apathy may be an issue on our side.

  • Further thought

    A lot of this is unknowable because it will depend upon what she wants ultimately.  If she wants a Congressional seat, she pulls the trigger on the 2nd this time.  If what she is really after is Governor or Senate, then she will run against King and become a hero of the party regardless of whether she wins or loses.  (This would also be a boon to the President's hopes statewide as Democrats in all districts would be heavily activated.)  

    Even with a loss, it would put her in a strong position to get a Gubernatorial or Senate nomination in 2014 (though I think Harkin will give it one more go).  

    The thing to keep in mind though, is that she is 60 and can't wait much past the next cycle.  Someone high up in the party structure is going to have to promise her something good down the line for her to take a pass on the 2nd.

    • I think she wants to be in Congress

      She said late last year she has more of a "legislative" personality--hint hint, no plans to run for governor.

      There's no guarantee a Senate seat will be open in 2014. Even if Harkin retires, or if Grassley retires in 2016, as I assume he will, Vilsack would be better positioned to seek the Democratic nomination as a member of Congress.

  • the plot thickens

    From Kay Henderson's blog:

    Senator Tom Harkin & Congressman Bruce Braley are co-hosting a fundraiser for Congressman Dave Loebsack in the middle of Scott County.  Scott County is currently in Braley's first congressional district, but Scott County would be in Iowa's new second congressional district if legislators approve the redistricting plan.  [...]

    Congressman Leonard Boswell also has agreed to host a fundraiser for Loebsack in...wait for it...Jasper County.  Jasper is in the current third congressional district, which Boswell now represents, but it will be in the new second congressional district if the redistricting plan is approved.

    Eric Witte, an aide to Loebsack, says these two fundraisers should erase "any doubt about people's efforts to help Loebsack in the new Second CD should the map pass...Both Scott and Jasper are in the new 2nd CD as are 14 of the 15 counties Dave currently represents."

    • DL has so much institutional support

      I think the 8 reasons above are well stated and for the most part correct.

      However, the entire Iowa Democratic Congressional delegation is supportive of Loebsack, who indeed has been a good progressive.

      I just have never heard of anything like this happening before...maybe that's why I don't think it's going to happen.

    • Very interesting

      That pretty much proves that she's thinking about it and the big wigs know it.  Non-ideological primaries happen, maybe just not in Iowa because we like our incumbents.  I'm not saying it wouldn't be controversial, I'm not saying that she will win easily.  My point is that if she really wants it this is the least worst option for her.

  • Johnson County primaries

    Johnson County primary turnout gets driven more by courthouse races than by top of the ticket. We haven't had a Republican supervisor in 50 years, so the Democratic primary is "the real election." Best case in point is 1998: 1000 more votes for county recorder than for governor.

    • do you mean

      that Loebsack would be favored in a contested primary because Johnson County Democrats are more used to voting in primaries than Democrats in other parts of IA-02?

  • Johnson County primaries

    Johnson County primary turnout gets driven more by courthouse races than by top of the ticket. We haven't had a Republican supervisor in 50 years, so the Democratic primary is "the real election." Best case in point is 1998: 1000 more votes for county recorder than for governor.

  • Harkin

    A question that I have is whether Tom Harkin is doing these fundraisers for Leonard Boswell and Dave Loebsack because of their loyalty and friendship over the years or does he genuinely want to see them win in a contested primary against another high profile Democrat?  

  • RE: Battle of the Sackses

    Don't you people in Des Moines have a more productive way to spend your time?

    A person can make a hundred arguments why something would work. The proof is in the pudding and Vilsack, C. may want to run, but where was she when we needed a monied, well connected candidate against Grassley in 2010? Thank God for Roxanne.

    If y'all want her to run, I suggest you keep her in Des Moines, or let her run in DC where she now lives.

    Better yet, it is a free country, so let her make her own case about why she should displace other potential Democrats. That would be worth reading.

  • Keep Christie in DSM...

    We don't want her in the 2nd!

  • Battle of the Sackses

    It would be unwise for her to challenge Loebsack similar to her husband's embarassing run for president. If she were to lose to Loebsack, her future in politics is over. If she were to lose to Steve King, she would still have a future. Why challenge a progressive Democrat when we could get rid of a right-wing nut?  Pure self-interest.  

    • yes, it would be pure self-interest

      But if she wants to serve in Congress, it's now or never, and the best time to challenge an incumbent is now, when redistricting has scrambled things up. Also, if you're a Democrat, the best district to run in is not the only one McCain carried.

      I don't see Loebsack's voting record as particularly progressive, by the way.  

      • Framing Vilsack, C. as "Wife of xxx"

        Am I the only person who finds it objectionable to frame Vilsack, C. as not her own person, but the wife of Vilsack, T. as was done in the original post?

        It is ridiculous to say "now or never" in politics, and the new 2nd District looks a lot like the pre-2002 2nd District, so there is not much of a "scramble" as asserted.

        Reiterate my point above, "let her make her own case about why she should displace other potential Democrats. That would be worth reading."

  • If she wants to serve in Congress

    she missed her opportunity by not challenging Grassley.

    What is the point in challenging another Democrat particularly one who commands a lot of respect in the district because he knocked off a 15-term Republican incumbent?  

    If she wants to serve in Congress she should try to knock off Steve King but she probably figures she'll lose?  She's not sure about Loebsack but she's willing to give it a try?

    Christie needs to move on and choose another avenue other than self-interest.

  • battle of the sackses

    We who live in the 2nd district think he's got a pretty good progressive record. Loebsack is the only Iowa Congressman to:

    1) be a member of the Progressive Caucus

    2) co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA

    3) co-sponsor HR 676, Rep. Conyers' single-payer bill

    How progressive will Christie Vilsack be?  


    • I have nothing against Loebsack

      and I am no fan of Christie Vilsack, but in the years I've been looking up the Iowa members of Congress at Progressive Punch's site, I do not ever recall seeing Loebsack among even the 100 most progressive members of the Democratic caucus, according to his voting record. Yes, he belongs to the Progressive Caucus, but his lifetime voting record currently makes him the 134th most progressive House Democrat, and there are fewer than 180 House Democrats.

      Here's his voting record broken into 14 different categories (each has a bunch of subcategories). He scores very well in some areas, like "Government Checks on Corporate Power" and the environment, less well in other areas, like family planning. Ironically, his "worst" area from a progressive perspective is the "war and peace" category. Take a look at the subcategories there. Loebsack is great if we're talking about funding the Peace Corps or programs that affect the well-being of military personnel, but he hasn't been a champion for getting us out of Afghanistan or reducing defense spending.

      Note: I am not saying Christie Vilsack should run in IA-02, or that I would vote for her in a primary, or that she is progressive.

      • Loebsack & Progressive Punch

        Thanks for pointing out Progressive Punch. I mostly avoid these vote tally sites, and prefer to make my own analysis of voting patterns. Maybe I can learn something.

        Regarding Loebsack, I looked at his record on War & Peace and he is exactly the congressman we sent to Washington in 2006. His view is that if we are going to send people in harm's way, they need to be supported financially so they have the equipment they need to do their jobs. I note PP gave him a 100% rating on "Well-Being of America's Military Personnel."

        Regrettably, his position here supports a military industrial complex that seems more interested in keeping the cash coming in more than slowing it down. A legislator can't support the troops (except by bringing them home) without supporting defense spending.

        Loebsack's worst score in this category on PP was regarding US intervention in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan, a war in progress for more than five years when Loebsack was first sworn in. A key ask many of us have had was for Loebsack to support following the president's initiative in exiting Afghanistan, something he is doing. His votes regarding Afghanistan and his resulting "low" score are consistent with this and with the views upon which he was elected.

        Note he gets a 100 in 6 categories, including Peace Corps as you mention, but also in relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia, Proliferation of Militarily Applicable Technology and General US Intervention overseas. All of these are important to progressives.

        Loebsack got a "low" score  in Missile Defense Systems, an issue I have spent time trying to understand. His one non-progressive vote on HR1 in 2011 makes sense, given the way PP framed the issue as progressive. Too, on categories like Arms Control Treaties, Loebsack missed voting June 10, 2010 when three of the five votes tallied by PP were held, giving him a "low" score. I have had several discussions with Loebsack on Arms Control Treaties and his position is clearly Progressive, despite the way PP frames his voting record.

        What is most relevant here is that not once was I able to get an audience with Loebsack's 30 year predecessor to have these discussions. If I am a progressive, Dave Loebsack had the courage to run against an entrenched Republican, won and give a voice to my concerns in Congress. As long as he continues to be the Dave Loebsack we worked to send to Washington in 2006, he will have my support against any challenger.

        • voting scorecards are flawed

          but Progressive Punch looks at a much larger number of votes than most interest groups do. I agree with you that being absent for a vote shouldn't count the same as voting the "wrong" way on that bill, but still, I wouldn't call Loebsack a progressive champion. It's great that he co-sponsored HR 676, but I don't recall him pounding the table demanding a better health care reform package. I receive all of his press releases, and he didn't send out anything about our military intervention in Libya for more than a week after we started missile strikes. You would think someone on the Armed Services Committee, who first went to Congress as an anti-war candidate, would have an opinion on that.

          • Press releases from the Iowa Delegation

            represent an opportunity for improvement across the board. During Loebsack's 2006 campaign, I tried to help and do not recall him running as an "anti-war candidate," although I presume a case could be made that he was. His views on all of it, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya has remained constant as far as I can tell. Perhaps Loebsack's strength as a congressman and campaigner is that he is always talking to people in the district so we don't have to rely upon press releases to know where he stands. He explained his position on Libya and

            I reiterate my comment (which must be getting old by now) that we need to hear from Vilsack, C. on the matter to say anything meaningful of the Battle of the Sackses.

            Best regards, Paul

            • I don't think we need a campaign announcement

              from Christie Vilsack to speculate about an IA-02 primary any more than I need to wait for Tom Latham to close on a house before speculating on an IA-03 race against Boswell. What are political bloggers for?

              • Apparently my ability to

                spell and use proper grammar are vaporized when posting on this site.

                I went digging through the archives and there was speculation about Vilsack, C. back in July 2010 on Politico.

                It is really the news hook of the redistricting that has us chattering about this topic now, that is unless you are saying Vilsack, C. asked you to post about this. Knowing your previous statements about intermingling with the politicians, I don't believe that is the case.

                there is a question for speculation: Would Vilsack, C. put out a trial balloon using the blogosphere?

  • Sack Race

    I totally agree that if Christie Vilsack wants to run for something, she should run where it will count if she wins.  Why challenge Loebsack, who has gained a strong following and generally supports good policy?  

    Imo, the Vilsacks ought to re-locate in the 4rth/5th District and go after Latham/King.  Yes, it's harder for the Dems to win there, but she would be doing more good than initiating an in-house challenge to a well-respected Dem incumbent.  That alone would make me wary of supporting her.  <

  • I completely agree with hhartus

    and to put a finer point on the possibility of a Vilsack v. Loebsack primary, this illustrates one of many examples of the stupidity of Democrats: attempting to sack a worthy member of Congress from your own party.

  • Typical democrat loser move

    Bravo Vilsacks! Typical democrat loser-move. Challenge your own guy. Drain the bank account on the primary.  Lose the general because you bloodied up the encumbent and now he's broke and you still have King in Congress. Priceless.  

  • Why "battle" one of your own?

    * Does Loebsack deserve to be retired?  No.

    * Is there evidence that Christie Vilsack would be a better Representative in Congress than Dave Loebsack?  No.

    * Would a primary battle strengthen the Iowa Democratic Party?  No.

    * Would a contested primary battle be expensive?  Yes.

    * Would an expensive primary battle benefit Republicans?  Yes.

    I think highly of Christie Vilsack, but I hope that she does not challenge Dave Loebsack.

  • Loebsack won't lose a general election

    The Quad Cities which he picked up aren't exactly a place where conservatives thrive and although Linn County is a loss for him, he would be fine.

    Dave gets caught up with rural voters because he doesn't have the folksy nature of a Leonard Boswell.  When he talks immigration issues, he simply goes into a pro-guest worker stance and right there it has you in trouble with some conservative leaning Democrats.  I'm not saying Loebsack's answer to immigration matter doesn't make sense, he doesn't give the best political answer however.

    There's simply an enthusiasm gap with Dave and it isn't necessarily because of the issues amongst rural Dems, it's just that he doesn't inspire people.  He lulls you to sleep to be honest in many ways.  I've heard Tom Harkin and Bruce Braley and regardless of whether you agree with them all of the time or not, they can give a barn burner of a speech.  I think I've learned over the five years of Loebsack's tenure I have learned that attorneys can give a better political speech.  

  • Rumor

    Heard a rumor at the Capitol yesterday that both Christie Vilsack and Dave Loebsack are calling state legislators in the new 2nd dsitrict, just to say hi.  

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