Exclusive: Michael Mauro considering another run for Secretary of State

Iowa Labor Commissioner Michael Mauro is considering another run for secretary of state in 2014, he confirmed in a telephone interview yesterday. If he runs, he will face Brad Anderson in a Democratic primary.

Mauro had thirteen years experience as Polk County elections director and another ten years as Polk County auditor and commissioner of elections before winning the 2006 election for Iowa secretary of state. A long list of county auditors, including quite a few Republicans, endorsed him for re-election in 2010.

Soon after Mauro narrowly lost that race to current Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Governor-elect Terry Branstad praised his professionalism as secretary of state. Branstad eventually nominated Mauro for the position of Iowa labor commissioner, saying he "has been a dedicated and effective public servant for many years."

Here are a few of Mauro's accomplishments as secretary of state.

In 2009, Mauro worked closely with the Cerro Gordo County Auditor to make electronic poll books available for use in counties across the state. The electronic poll books will enhance Iowa precinct officials' ability to process voters effectively and consistently on election day. In addition, the poll books add an extra layer of security to the voting process.

During the 2008 General Election, Iowa saw the fifth highest percentage turnout in the nation i and had the highest rate of young voter participation (18- to 24-year-olds) ii. Secretary Mauro's office also took the honor of having the top elections website in the country during the 2008 election season according to a leading national election research group iii. In the fall of 2009, Iowa's election laws and procedures implemented by Secretary Mauro gained national attention when the state ranked first in a study focusing on the ease of voting for members of the military and U.S. citizens living overseas iv. [...]

Since Mauro took office, much progress has been made in the business services division. In 2009, the development of a new corporations database is paving the way for online corporate filings beyond the biennial report. Currently, the majority of business filings are done electronically and advancements for additional filings will continue.

The online business center allows business to be conducted 24-hours a day, seven days a week and currently provides access to over three million filed documents and a complete array of forms, applications, and searchable databases for businesses, lending institutions and interested citizens.

Mauro said yesterday that he will decide sometime later this year whether to run for secretary of state again. The filing period for statewide candidates ends on March 14, 2014, but Mauro would need to start raising money and laying the groundwork for the June 3 primary before then.

Nearly a year and a half before the primary, Brad Anderson rolled out a campaign steering committee including Senator Tom Harkin, U.S. Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, former Governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, former Lieutenant Governors Sally Pederson and Patty Judge, State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, several state legislators, and five former chairs of the Iowa Democratic Party. While Mauro holds a full-time job in state government, and therefore has limited time to campaign, Anderson will be able to do lots of events around Iowa this year. Many Democratic activists and volunteers are familiar with Anderson as the state manager for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign.

Anderson is a great campaign manager with access to the Obama For America database. Some may argue that makes him a better candidate to take on Matt Schultz, who has already defeated Mauro once.

I would counter that Mauro didn't lose by much (approximately 50 percent to 47 percent) in a horrendous year for many Democratic candidates in Iowa. He outperformed the top of the ticket.

Mauro has proven that he can do this job well. By all accounts Anderson is a bright and talented guy, and he's easily as qualified as some people who have been elected Iowa secretary of the state. But Mauro is on another level, and he doesn't view this job as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

The Democratic establishment will likely pressure Mauro to stay out of this race. In addition to the long list of notables on Anderson's steering committee, the Iowa Democratic Party's new chair Tyler Olson was an early Obama endorser, and the party's new executive director Troy Price worked closely with Anderson on the 2012 Obama campaign. Democrats who want Mauro to take on this challenge should encourage him to do so.  

  • to the victor go the spoils

    Clearly, some people feel that they know better.

    Why would Mauro expect Anderson, Price & OFA activists to cater to his ambitions? While he worked for a GOP administration after a loss that just shouldn't have happened, they busted ass getting results for the Dem ticket in 2012. Let's ask about what happens if he challenges the heir apparent, and if he were to win.

    Mauro ran a tight ship. I found his office to be extremely cooperative and also organized during a time that data was less accessible. Yes, I agree that he can take over immediately, seamlessly, but ...

    To the victor go the spoils. This happens all the time -- out with the old, in with the new. Since 2008, OFA has encouraged its own people to run for office. Too many Dem incumbents rely on OFA now, which is why you see all of the support for Anderson. For them, he is the better candidate. Not much else to this, except to say that Dems don't win statewide without robust participation by the voters who Anderson & Price were especially effective in organizing.

  • If the OFA data base

    would be available to Anderson in a general, but not Mauro, then the Democratic Party should have something to say about that. The Obama campaign left some local party people unhappy with its refusal to share its own resources, in 2010 and 2012.  

    • True,

      The Obama campaign left some local party people unhappy with its refusal to share its own resources, in 2010 and 2012.

      and not just in IA.  

      then the Democratic Party should have something to say about that.

      Who would this be? This leaves the impression that "the Democratic Party" is an entity separate from the OFA/Obama campaign.  

      • List

        To give Anderson such a list would presume that Anderson did all of the work on his own.  If he wants to come up with his own list, that's fine.  I think OFA could offer the list to all candidates for a fee and then donate the money to an Iowa charity for example.

        I'm betting there are Mauro supporters who worked passionately for President Obama over the last eight years.  If Obama himself wants to come in and cut a robo-call for Anderson, that's his choice.  The concept of giving a list to someone that was a collective effort is wrong though, unless the entire list was created by Anderson supporters.

        • it's been in the press

          politico, for example, right after the election, that OFA is treating all the info they amassed as proprietary. Let's call this a "database."

          I would imagine that a "list" is no big deal as all who voted in 2012 are registered and marked as having voted, yes? This is accessible to anyone for a fee.

          Quoting 2lane -- I think resources is a different issue. This includes information on specific tactics to persuade otherwise difficult to mobilize voters, for example.  

          • Fair enough

            I'll come clean and say right now that I don't want Anderson as the nominee and I certainly don't want his people discouraging anyone from getting into the race.  I think the fact that the Secretary of State's race may be our most heated contest just shows how dangerous politics has become.  

            • understandable

              I don't want Anderson as the nominee

              he comes off as a bit slick, for one, although we haven't heard much from him yet.

              All candidates would like to clear the field, and when that doesn't happen, it's usually made clear who the heavyweight is. You could argue that Conlin was not an ideal IA-SEN candidate, yet I doubt very much that Krause & Fiegen received a fair share of resources & support from party channels.

              I read Marti Anderson's endorsement of Brad Anderson:

              Brad Anderson for Iowa Secretary of State is the best news I've heard since November 6. Brad led and won Iowa for President Obama. Now he will run himself and make sure we have strong, open, and honest voting in Iowa.

              and what I hear is that to the victor go the spoils. Sure, you can talk about some old school volunteers who put in time to re-elect Obama, but the credit always goes to the top of the pyramid.

              The "experience" argument can also be interpreted as code for maintaining the status quo, which Hillary Clinton found out the hard way in 2008. OFA has a strong focus on the historically underrepresented along with active participation by same. An argument could be made that so many have been shut out of the political process for so long that perhaps keeping certain resources private, or for insiders, is necessary for social change. Brad Anderson may be an imperfect standard bearer, but he led the charge in Iowa. I don't agree that there are "Democrats" and then OFA, which should stand at the ready to support Democrats. OFA is today's Democratic Party, and that's not going to be limited to supplying votes on command, IMO.

  • I would be happy to see Mauro run.

    He has already shown that he is competent at the job.  Anderson is good at running campaigns--different skill set.  

    • except for

      He has already shown that he is competent at the job.

      getting re-elected, which some consider part of the job. If he were SOS now, his name would be on some Steering Committee for a different race. Instead, he's been collecting a paycheck from the Branstad administration. It's not hard to see why some would support a strategist from the trenches.

      He can run and make the case that he was competent at the job from 2006-2010 in 2014, but I don't think he'd win the general, assuming that he wins the primary, of course, which isn't clear-cut, either.

    • in a primary

      I would support Mauro as best-qualified for the job. In the general I would support the winner of the Democratic primary regardless. As for who would be best positioned to beat Schultz, that could be argued either way.

  • The main issue for me:

    Who has the best chance to beat Mike Schultz?

    • if there's a primary

      I'm sure each candidate will make his case. Anderson could say: Mauro had his chance and lost, I know how to run a winning statewide campaign. On the other hand, Republicans could depict Anderson as unqualified and just seeking the job so he can rig Iowa elections for Democratic candidates.

    • I am not looking forward to the ads

      depicting Anderson and Link Strategies as complicit in voter fraud. Which they are not.  But when did that ever matter?  Cokie's Law. I wish he had not picked Secretary of State as the office to launch his political career.

      • not a lot of options

        Iowa hasn't had a Democratic state auditor for ages, and Anderson's not in a position to run against Northey. Schultz may not be easy to beat, but he's the weakest link.  

        • Mauro

          Is Mauro qualified to run for Auditor?  People asked Fiegen to run for Auditor in 2010 and he got kind of upset.  

  • timing matters

    It's too bad Mike didn't get his name out sooner... but the train seems to have already pulled out of the station

    • I'm for letting the primary voters decide

      not a few dozen people who agreed to be on a steering committee. If the primary voters prefer Anderson, more power to him.

      The IDP won't want a primary, because no one will want to stand up and say Anderson would be a better secretary of state than Mauro, and at the same time no one will want to stand up and say we know Mauro's more qualified, but we need that OFA database.

      • The press should be asking about the database

        in advance of any primary election.  Let OFA say that some Democrats are more equal than others.  If they threaten to make it harder for the nominee to win if they don't get the nominee they want, the primary voters should take that into consideration in whatever way seems appropriate.

        • voter lists

          are available to anyone, including voter histories.

          If they threaten to make it harder for the nominee to win if they don't get the nominee they want, the primary voters should take that into consideration in whatever way seems appropriate.

          There'll be no threats, just 2010 turnout.

          What OFA has said for a long time is that there are Obama voters/supporters who are not particularly interested in the Democratic party. I would agree. It's probably a given that the OFA organization is better positioned to turn them out, but success is not certain either, as Obama will not be on the ticket.

          You expect them to behave like yellow dog Democrats, when that's what they're not.


      • then, go get it!

        we know Mauro's more qualified, but we need that OFA database.

        nobody is denied a voter list and voter histories.

        Quoting myself:

        Dems don't win statewide without robust participation by the voters who Anderson & Price were especially effective in organizing.


        • the list

          it is not just a list of voters and voter history. It is a database with a record of every contact a staffer or a volunteer has ever made with a voter. It also includes microtargeting consumer info and issue preference data that can be used to persuade a voter or to turn them out to vote.  

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