Weekend open thread: 50 "most wanted" Iowa Democrats edition

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Iowa Democrats are chattering away on social media about the "50 Most Wanted" list Jennifer Jacobs wrote for today's Sunday Des Moines Register.

The Iowans who made the "50 most wanted" list are influencers who can slap together a house party and get more than 40 people to show up to meet their candidate. A dozen are paid political operatives - the ones who not only know the Iowa terrain best, but also know how to organize a 99-county campaign, build buzz and a perception of momentum, and win over caucusgoers. Dozens more influencers not mentioned here will be highly sought after for their guidance.

Jacobs' list includes many household names but also donors and activists who rarely attract public notice, even though they are influential in their communities (such as Kim Weaver in northwest Iowa and Kurt Meyer in northeast Iowa). State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal is number one on the list, and while he is certainly the most powerful Iowa Democrat overall, he's probably not the most important "get" for a presidential campaign. The rest of the top ten: U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack, Attorney General Tom Miller, retiring Senator Tom Harkin and his wife Ruth Harkin, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie Vilsack, Iowa secretary of state candidate Brad Anderson, major donor Jerry Crawford, and Dr. Andy McGuire, a possible future Congressional candidate or perhaps chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Incidentally, Jacobs put Bruce Braley's Senate campaign manager Sarah Benzing in the number 50 slot, but I believe she will be more sought after by future Democratic candidates than many others who are higher up on this "most wanted" list. The Braley campaign's biggest problems can't be pinned on Benzing. Moreover, she has run three successful U.S. Senate races, including Sherrod Brown's 2012 campaign in Ohio--a state with a notoriously weak and dysfunctional Democratic Party.

The huge bill to keep the federal government funded through next September has drawn most of the political news coverage this weekend. Retiring Representative Tom Latham was the only Iowan to support this bad bill in the U.S. House. Both of Iowa's U.S. senators voted against it last night.  

  • IDP Chair

    The candidates for state party chair spoke to the state central committee yesterday. They will be voting next month. Some committee members were impressed by candidate Kurt Meyer, but I've been seeing some old blog posts from when he was a candidate which basically accuse him of being a carpetbagger from MN. One thing is for sure - Dems need to do something different, and I would be looking hard at staff. Also, the central committee itself could use some new blood. Traditionally they haven't been real active. But if I were a betting man, I would put my money on nothing much changing.  The thinking is that 2016 will take care of itself. But I'm skeptical.

    Would be interested to hear impressions from those who sat through the presentations yesterday.  Th

    • at one time

      Tom Vilsack could have been considered a carpetbagger from PA. Kurt Meyer has spent plenty of time in Iowa, and what supporters of a rival Congressional candidate said six-plus years ago is irrelevant. The work that Meyer has done for the Tri-County Democrats contributed to Mary Jo Wilhelm's narrow victory in the Senate district 26 race in 2012 (and without that there would be no Democratic majority in the Iowa Senate).

      Also, Mitchell County, Iowa was the whitest county in the country to go for Barack Obama. Clearly a lot of factors contributed to that but local Democratic activists must have had something to do with it.

  • Top 50?

    Does anyone know how much (if any) time the Harkins and Vilsacks plan to spend in Iowa after their retirements? I think their influence will be muted if they aren't in the state most of the time.

    As for the list, there are more than a few head scratchers on there. I think the success of the Des Moines Dems can be attributed to labor and their elected officials more than the CC or its chair. Now I will say that the Braley campaign had many issues (the candidate being one), but someone signed off on the strategy, the press, and the voter contact program that ABR'd republicans. I have seen a lot of poor campaigns in 30 years, but none as bad as Braley for Iowa when you adjust for inflation. Ms. Benzing needs to reconsider her career choices

    I think the IDP needs to relocate to Iowa City. Eastern Iowa is where the future of the party is. Polk County can't win their U.S. House seat, and the current party wastes too much time on Steve King. (He's there for life folks. Deal with it.)

    Also, Hillary needs a serious challenger in Iowa, if for no other reason than to spur democrats to become active.

    • `bout time

      someone gave the People's Republic some credit! While the rest of the state was tanking we were the only place that met the numbers Braley needed to win. Not just the most Democratic county in the state; the most by a LOT.

  • Braley

    Braley had to do what he could to raise his own numbers as well.  Dude was skipping events in Lee and Des Moines Counties to do fundraisers in Florida.  

    I was at a Harkin retirement victory lap in September and loyal Democrats in Keokuk still had no real idea who Bruce Braley was, at that time in the campaign!

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