# Attorney General



Self-governance: It could be worse. It should be better

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

“It could be worse.”

At the start of 2022, friends may have uttered those four words to console or comfort us.

As the midterm elections approach, those four words may be prophetic.

Every election in a democracy —from township to presidency — is threatened by voters who are ill-informed, misinformed, and/or uninformed.

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Brenna Bird's tv ad is over the top

Bruce Lear highlights misguided messages in Republican attorney general candidate Brenna Bird’s tv ad, now airing in heavy rotation.

The old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” seems true. TV executives find the formula for a hit medical show and then order five more imitators. If one Marvel movie superhero captures our imaginations, why not dig a little deeper into the comic book vault for a dozen more?

Political commercials also imitate. For example, how many right-wing politicians shooting guns can the voters watch? How many east or west coast politicians running for president do Iowans need to see dressed in flannel shirts sitting on bales of hay proclaiming their undying love for ethanol? If it worked once, consultants repeat, repeat, and repeat again.

One political imitation ad recently caught my attention. It tries to catch the vibe of Joni Ernst’s “Make ’em squeal” ad from her first U.S. Senate campaign in 2014. Shock the viewer with crude humor, but with smiles all around. After all, if it worked for a little-known state senator from Red Oak, maybe it will work for a little-known county attorney from Guthrie County.

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Statewide candidates deserved better from Iowa Democratic Party

Democratic candidates for U.S. House, U.S Senate, and governor were given speaking time at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Liberty and Justice Celebration on April 30.

But the party’s three statewide elected officials and candidates for other statewide offices were relegated to pre-recorded videos. Even worse, those videos seemed designed for comic relief, rather than as a way for candidates to connect with hundreds of activists who attended the Des Moines fundraiser.

The missed opportunity was especially regrettable for Joel Miller and Eric Van Lancker, who are competing against each other in the June 7 primary for secretary of state.

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How could this happen?

During a suspenseful meeting on March 29, the State Objection Panel allowed just enough signatures to stand for U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer, Attorney General Tom Miller, and State Representative Jeff Shipley to stay on the ballot.

Finkenauer needed at least 100 valid signatures from at least nineteen counties and hit nineteen exactly, with 100 in one county and 101 in two others. The Republicans who challenged her candidacy are seeking to reverse the outcome in court.

Miller needed at least 77 signatures from at least eighteen counties, and barely made it with 78 signatures in the eighteenth county.

Shipley needed at least 50 signatures from the Iowa House district where he is seeking re-election and was left with 52.

Many Iowa politics watchers have been wondering how these experienced candidates ended up hanging by a thread.

Bleeding Heartland asked all three campaigns why they didn’t give themselves more of a cushion by collecting far beyond the minimum number of signatures. Only one candidate answered the questions.

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This one neat trick saved Tom Miller's candidacy

Attorney General Tom Miller can remain on the Democratic primary ballot, the State Objection Panel affirmed on March 29, after determining his campaign had collected at least 77 valid signatures in eighteen counties, as required by Iowa law.

If he had been knocked off the ballot, Miller could have been nominated at the Iowa Democratic Party’s statewide convention in June. However, failing to qualify would have been an embarrassing misstep for a longtime office-holder.

Almost all of the legal arguments Miller’s representative advanced failed to convince a majority of the three panel members: Secretary of State Paul Pate, Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, and State Auditor Rob Sand. But one neat trick forced the two Republicans to accept enough Story County signatures for the campaign to cross the threshold.

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Lopsided governor's race imperils whole Democratic ticket

The filing deadline for campaign finance disclosures is always an exciting day for political reporters. My plan for this week was to write a series of posts about fundraising and spending for each of Iowa’s statewide races: governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, state auditor, and secretary of agriculture.

I shifted gears after reviewing the latest reports for Governor Kim Reynolds and Deidre DeJear, the only Democrat actively campaigning for governor.

Unless things change dramatically in the coming months, Reynolds will be able to use most of her war chest to help down-ballot Republicans.

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