Reynolds/Miller deal could encourage future Republican power grabs

May 24, 2019

I'm not as skeptical about the deal

as this post indicates. My cynicism is based in what I believe is a concerted Republican effort to build an electorate that returns them to office cycle after cycle.

The items Reynolds vetoed were focused on their main target, Attorney General Tom Miller. However something bigger is at stake: re-making Iowa as Republicans envision. The veto was not about policy, it was about culture, and that’s a fight in which we Democrats are not engaged as well as we should be.

First look at the Iowa House landscape for 2020

May 06, 2019

HD 73

I disagree with the comment “all bets are off,” if Bobby Kaufmann does not run again for state representative. The reason I say this is the Kaufmann family lives in this district and Jeff Kaufmann’s long investment in Cedar County, by representing it in the state house and on the board of supervisors, and consulting with his son during his campaigns, will continue the long control their family has had in the district for the next cycle. If no Bobby in HD73, what about his first younger brother who did heavy lifting as a door knocker when Bobby ran and also clerked for him (not sure how many times). After redistricting, we’ll have to see a map. As I pointed out elsewhere, Jodi Clemens didn’t even carry every precinct (of six) in Johnson County in 2018, and she had reasonably broad support among Johnson County Democrats. There is a winning coalition that voted both for Loebsack and Kaufmann in Johnson County. With both of them gone in 2020, the smart money says that coalition stays together and reforms around candidates they believe best represent their interests. If they are both Democrats, fine. Yet if they are both Republicans they wouldn’t be party-bound.

Kim Reynolds quietly signed unconstitutional immigration bill

Apr 12, 2018

It's not about bipartisan solutions, it's about party.

I’m one of the Johnson County liberals targeted by the Reynolds administration who tried to get the City of Iowa City to become a sanctuary city.

With a group of about 20 faith and labor leaders we advocated city council to become a Sanctuary City and they said no. As this article points out, there are no sanctuary cities in Iowa, including some of our most diverse places.

Senate File 481 is a solution looking for a problem. During senate debate, Senator Kevin Kinney, a former law enforcement officer, explained to Republican lawmakers promoting SF481 that the Johnson County Sheriff sends fingerprints to the Department of Criminal Investigation and ICE after arrests. Nothing is hidden from federal law enforcement authorities. The bill is without merit, he said.

In today’s Iowa City Press Citizen county sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek details his concerns. They are the same concerns he had when our group interviewed him back in 2011-2012. When ICE is interested in someone the county has arrested they issue a detainer request, instead of complying, the county communicates with ICE when the suspect will be released, giving them the option to arrest him or her if there is probable cause.

Why is a non-problem like immigration enforcement raising its ugly head with Republicans today? It is an election year and Republicans under pressure for their poor leadership seek to distract us from their follies and incompetence. It is a scare tactic proven successful in the past. What do they have to lose?

Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Feb 17, 2018

After sleeping on this post

The author does not have standing to comment on these individual house campaigns in a credible manner.

In Johnson County, my fear is Democrats, including elected officials, are doing too much for candidates outside our county, leaving the House District 73 race dangling without a challenger to the incumbent last cycle, and a lone, underfunded candidate in 2018.

The good news is last night Jodi Clemens raised $3,000 partly from those “content to stay in the minority forever.” Clemens has a clear path to the nomination and her Republican opponent can and will run a $120,000+ campaign to beat her if he deems it necessary.

I’ve commented previously about Dick Schwab’s 2012 fundraising prowess on this site. If you look at his list of donors, it includes a list of many major donors in Johnson County, including people who will contribute to causes outside their district and the county. Should these people be tapped the way sap comes from a sugar maple tree each year? I think they already are because I’ve seen a version of the donor list that gets circulated among campaigns in Johnson County. Fundraising is all about relationships, and when I compare some of Schwab’s targets for donors with what they actually gave, political donations are way less than other types of giving.

I don’t know who these “politically engaged progressives in Coralville” are but I suspect they are the same people who attended and donated to Senator Bob Dvorsky’s annual birthday party in Morrison Park there. Unless Dvorsky had a challenger, all of that money went to support party efforts to elect Democrats in the state. So what the author is suggesting reflects a lack of knowledge about local politics in Johnson County. Could Jacoby have turned up some new donors? Maybe, but Dvorsky has been a bigger draw for an annual event. Hopefully one of the three candidates to replace Dvorsky in this relatively safe seat will continue his practice of supporting broader Democratic efforts in the state. If this is about money, one should be pulling for Zach Wahls to win the primary for his fundraising prowess.

One has to admit the light of some Democratic legislators falls on the lazy part of the fundraising spectrum. However, in kind campaign work is equally valuable and not recognized in this post. In particular, a couple of the folks mentioned as “content” have been very active electing Democrats districts outside Johnson County. That counts for something.

What matters more is the answer to the question what have they been accomplishing in the legislature? If they are wringing their hands, saying we’re in the minority, and doing very little, that would be one thing. I work full time outside the home and don’t have a lot of time to follow the legislature. Even I know Vicki Lensing, Mary Mascher and Dave Jacoby named in this post are very active in working toward solutions with Democrats and Republicans alike. If you think Lensing is not doing the work, watch her appearance on last night’s Iowa Press (although I recommend hitting the mute button when David Yepsen speaks).

In the end, this post is an irritating fact salad that doesn’t tie the theme together in any actionable way. I can agree Democrats need all hands on deck. This post doesn’t come close to defining what that means.

Next For Iowa Democrats

Dec 06, 2016

Last Thoughts on This Topic

I sincerely appreciate the platform to present my ideas about restructuring the Iowa Democratic Party. I have no hope or illusions that anyone outside the blogosphere will pay much attention to what I say here but there has been some internet chatter about my post.
This statement was curious:
“This post does not say how to ‘blow up the party and start over.’”
Let me make it clear.
Withdraw from participation in the first in the nation caucuses and move presidential preference to the June primary.
Reduce IDP staffing to 4-5 paid employees focusing on leadership, communications and information technology.
Get rid of the targeted canvass and GOTV process.
Decentralize control of the party to counties, hopefully reducing the Polk County influence.
Empower local Democrats with information that can be used in our daily lives.
Renew focus on party recruitment by local Democrats.
Sixty-somethings like me should find another way to contribute and step back so young leaders can build the party they want to see.
If that’s not blowing up the current structure, I don’t know what is.
Thanks again to DesMoinesDem for providing this platform.

Next For Iowa Democrats

Dec 03, 2016

Funding the IDP - Unpacking the Idea

Here’s what I wrote above:

“Iowa Democrats have a paucity of large donors. There just aren’t that many in the state. The chair plays a role in party fundraising, but the effort would be better served by delegating it to prominent Democrats on a volunteer basis. The idea some have proposed of requiring the chair to spend a percent of time fund raising belies the chair’s more important role in party building.”

The response was quick

“That’s been tried several time,” Norm Sterzenbach (the younger) tweeted. “Problem is the vols don’t follow through and it just puts the party further behind.”

And then the editor of Bleeding Heartland chimed in:

“Who’s going to do the fundraising if not the party chair?” desmoinesdem tweeted.

In response, here’s what’s inside this paragraph:

What the heck is he talking about? The state party chair is traditionally responsible for fundraising.

It is time to break with tradition. The chair will always be responsible for the major activities of the state party headquarters, including fundraising. The question is how should his or her responsibilities be prioritized? In my view the chair will continue to have a daily call list for those donors where the chair’s involvement makes a difference. Most of the fundraising work would and should be done by others.

The main purpose is not to create a fundraising shortfall, but to get firm commitments from prominent Democrats who are also experienced fundraisers to help manage the financial need for income. That should enable the chair to work more on party building.

Who the heck is Paul Deaton and what does he know about fundraising?

My main experience in political fundraising was working with Dick Schwab in his campaign for state representative. Schwab had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for numerous enterprises including non-profits and businesses. When it came to raising over $100,000 for his political campaign he already had the network in place to tap people for donations. He lost the election but it wasn’t for lack of money.

In the years after the election I was approached three times about raising money for other candidates in the district based on my experience with Schwab. What I told them is relevant to this post. “The donor list is a matter of public record, but Schwab had a relationship with most of the people who contributed to his campaign. Neither I nor likely you can replicate that.”

Would Schwab be one of those “prominent Democratic volunteers” I mentioned? I don’t know but he serves as an example.

The Iowa Democratic Party needs dozens of this kind of volunteer — that have a Rolodex and relationships — who are willing to commit to fundraising. Maybe they do one event per cycle. Maybe they work longer to hunt the elephant that will feed the whole village. Maybe they work in a decentralized group. Based on my experience, it is unreasonable to rely on the single Rolodex and relationships of a party chair for fundraising. Cold calling lists provided by others is no substitute for existing relationships. There is a need to broaden the fundraising base by recruiting the prominent Democrats who are willing to play.

What the heck is all this money for?

The main point of my original post was “our quadrennial coalition building relies less on political parties and more on the places we go every day: church, schools, work, daycare, the grocery store and in our neighboring yards, gardens and apartments.” The commitment needed to run this kind of campaign is much broader into the electorate and boils down to what kind of people will we be as Democrats and can we get to know and recruit people in our circle of influence to join us? How much money is needed for that? Not much.

An eye opener for me came during the 2008 general election. One of my neighbors had a list of everyone in the neighborhood. It was her job to canvass them all, along with others persuade those she could, and get all of the Democratic supporters to vote early or on election day. Toward election day, we discussed every name on the list and made sure they either had voted or were still with us. It is election work as it should be, as I am proposing be supported by the Iowa Democratic Party.

The main needs from the party headquarters to support such an operation are a strong communications team and a stronger information technologies team. If done right, this decentralized approach can come at a very reasonable price.

Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump in campaign expenditures $450 million to $239 million. This broke the unwritten rule that the campaign with the most money wins the election — the origin of which is often attributed to Bill Clinton. Clinton was outspending Trump on TV ads 7-1 and 5-1 some weeks. After 2016 one should question the efficacy of political TV advertising, and every expense incurred during the course of the campaign. That is, if we want to elect Democrats to public office.

I hope this explains the idea.

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