# Christopher Reed

NRCC credibility on the line in Iowa's second and third districts

Washington Republicans have been talking up their chances of retaking the House of Representatives for months, and the National Republican Congressional Committee claims many recruiting successes in competitive House districts. However, Republican primary voters haven’t always sided with candidates favored by the Washington power-brokers. Last month a tea party candidate defeated “top national GOP recruit” Vaughn Ward in Idaho’s first district. In Kentucky’s third district, the NRCC’s candidate finished third with 17 percent in the primary; the winner had over 50 percent. In Pennsylvania’s fourth district, the NRCC-backed candidate was out-raised and eventually beaten 2-1 in the Republican primary. In Alabama’s fifth district, the NRCC backed party-switching Representative Parker Griffith, who proceeded to get crushed in his new party’s primary.

In Iowa, the NRCC has tipped its hat to two Republicans in competitive primaries. In the third district, Jim Gibbons was named an “on the radar” candidate in February and bumped up to “contender” status in April. In the second district, the NRCC put Gettemy “on the radar” about six weeks after he declared his candidacy.

Both Gibbons and Gettemy are newcomers to campaigning, and both are facing at least one more experienced politician in their primaries. Gibbons’ main rival, State Senator Brad Zaun, has won several elections in Urbandale and Iowa Senate district 32. All three of Gettemy’s opponents have run for office before, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Christopher Reed both won Republican primaries in 2008.

If Gibbons and Gettemy fail to top the voting in their respective primaries, the NRCC’s ability to identify candidates with strong potential will again be called into question. The “young gun,” “contender” and “on the radar” lists are important signals to NRCC donors about where their money could be most helpful. People who wrote checks to Gibbons or Gettemy without knowing anything about the local landscape may be upset if their money went to a losing candidate.

Iowa Republicans who recruited Gibbons and Gettemy and talked them up to GOP leaders in Washington also have something to lose if today’s primaries don’t go their way. Key members of the Iowa Republican business elite have supported Gibbons, and Gettemy had the backing of prominent Cedar Rapids area Republicans. Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler, who heads the Iowa Christian Alliance, is also said to be close to Gettemy, though Scheffler has made no formal endorsement in this year’s primaries.

Both the IA-03 and IA-02 primary battles may end up being settled at GOP district conventions, so Gibbons and Gettemy could conceivably win the nominations if they don’t finish in first place today, as long as no other Republican receives at least 35 percent of the vote. However, they may have an uphill battle persuading district convention delegates.

WEDNESDAY AM UPDATE: Add IA-02 and IA-03 to the list of districts where the NRCC sure doesn’t know how to pick ’em.

Zaun won 42 percent of the vote in the seven-way IA-03 primary, while Gibbons managed just 28 percent. Tea Party favorite Dave Funk didn’t raise enough money for a significant paid media campaign, but he finished not far behind Gibbons with 22 percent. Gibbons did carry several of the smaller counties in IA-03, but Zaun dominated Polk County, containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs. Zaun’s ground game defeated Gibbons’ superior “air power.”

Miller-Meeks won the IA-02 primary in dominating fashion with 51 percent of the vote. She led in all of the district’s 11 counties. Gettemy finished dead last with 13 percent of the vote. Even in his home county (Linn), he came in third. Gettemy won fewer votes across the district than Christopher Reed, who raised very little money and is best known for for calling Senator Harkin “the Tokyo Rose of Al-Qaeda and Middle East terrorism” during the 2008 campaign. All of Gettemy’s tv ads and connections to Cedar Rapids movers and shakers delivered fewer votes than Reed managed with his band of way-out-there wingnut endorsers.  

Rathje is first Loebsack opponent to go up on tv

With the June 8 primary just four weeks away, Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids is the first of the four Republican candidates in Iowa’s second Congressional district to start running television ads.

Rough transcript by me:

Rathje speaks to the camera: Congress and the president are no doubt lost as to how they’re going to compete with China. Hello folks, I’m Steve Rathje, and for more than 20 years, I’ve been working with companies all across the U.S. in an effort to eliminate waste, cut spending, and bring jobs back home to America.

It’s time to quit sending our jobs overseas and expect foreign countries to buy our debt due to our out-of-control spending. I approved this message because it’s time to compete, not retreat.

Male voice-over: Real-world experience. Steve Rathje Congress.

This strikes me as a very solid introductory ad, highlighting Rathje’s experience as CEO of a company that “find[s] people in Iowa who could make goods quicker, faster, better and cheaper than the foreign competitors.”

According to The Iowa Republican, Rathje is paying about $5,900 to run this commercial on Fox News and KCRG in Cedar Rapids for the week. He probably can afford to stay up on tv until the June 8 primary. At the end of the first quarter, Rathje’s campaign had $55,586 cash on hand, trailing Mariannette Miller-Meeks ($72,702) and political newcomer Rob Gettemy ($120,815 including a $100,000 loan from the candidate). I’m surprised Rathje was able to raise nearly as much money as Miller-Meeks, the 2008 GOP nominee against Representative Dave Loebsack. Gettemy probably has more potential for out-of-district donations now that the National Republican Congressional Committee has put him “on the radar.”

Loebsack’s Republican challengers don’t differ much on the issues. If three of them can afford paid media for the final month of the campaign, that will raise the chances for the nomination to be decided at a district convention. The fourth Republican candidate, Chris Reed, has little money to spend before June 8. He needs to hope that his far-right endorsers and team of volunteers are able to deliver a surprising number of grassroots votes.

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Convention scenario could spell trouble for Iowa GOP

As many as seven Republican candidates may be competing for the chance to face seven-term Representative Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third district this year. John Deeth noticed yesterday that Scott Batcher was the first to file for the Republican nomination in IA-03. Batcher’s campaign website highlights extensive experience in business, including 15 years as a healthcare consultant. He’s been running a low-profile campaign, but collected enough signatures “at high school basketball games and coffee shops” to attempt to qualify for the ballot.

Five declared Republican candidates have filed Federal Election Commission reports on fundraising for the IA-03 race, so I assume they will follow through and qualify for the ballot: Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees and Pat Bertroche. A seventh Republican, Jason Welch, was rumored to be getting into this race too, but what turns up on Google searches as Welch’s official website hasn’t been working when I’ve clicked on it.

The second Congressional district Republican primary will be nearly as crowded, with four declared candidates likely to qualify for the ballot: Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Chris Reed and Steve Rathje. (So far only Rathje has filed nominating papers.)

If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, district conventions would select the Republican nominee in IA-02 and/or IA-03. In 2002, a fifth district convention selected Steve King as the Republican nominee for Congress after no one in the four-way primary cleared the 35 percent threshold.

Republican county conventions scheduled for this weekend will select delegates for the district conventions, which will be held later this spring. If no winner emerges from the June primary, the second or third district conventions would have to reconvene to select a Congressional nominee. That could happen during the state convention, to be held on June 26 in a location not yet determined. The convention usually takes place in Des Moines but has occasionally been held in Cedar Rapids. This year, Sioux City is also in the running as a venue. That would be a three to four hour drive from the counties in IA-03 and a four to seven hour drive from the counties in IA-02.

Western Iowa is the most Republican area of the state, but the bulk of the Iowa population still lives in the eastern counties. Former GOP State Central Committee member David Chung, who lives in Cedar Rapids, sounded the alarm on his Hawkeye GOP blog:

Even if hotels are short in Des Moines, holding the convention in Sioux CIty almost guarantees that a large number of delegates will need hotel rooms. I do not know whether there will be a major pre-convention event but if there is, it will be impossible for 1st and 2nd Republicans to attend without taking a whole day off from work.

Even worse, given the number of candidates for the 2nd and 3rd district congressional races there is the real possibility that the nominee will be chosen at a district convention. The state convention has been scheduled long enough after the primary to make resolving nominations at the convention possible. I cannot stress how bad a decision it would be to decide the 2nd CD race in Sioux City! The turnout from our district will be greatly suppressed if Siouxland is the choice.

Krusty Konservative also warned yesterday that many Republican delegates will not bother to attend a state convention in Sioux City.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks had a hard time uniting second district Republicans even after winning the 2008 primary. Be prepared for lasting hard feelings if a small group of party activists ends up choosing the GOP nominee in IA-02 or IA-03 this year. King wasn’t hurt by his path to the nomination in 2002, but he was fortunate to be running in heavily Republican IA-05. In contrast, Boswell’s district leans slightly Democratic (D+1) and Dave Loebsack’s district leans strongly Democratic (D+7).

P.S.- I took my kids to see a game at the Iowa girls’ state basketball tournament on Wednesday. A bunch of teams in the Des Moines metro area made the 4A quarterfinals. I noticed that NRCC “on the radar” candidate Jim Gibbons had an ad scrolling occasionally (nothing special, just “Jim Gibbons for Congress, www.gibbonsforcongress.com”). Unfortunately for him, the teams from Republican-leaning Ankeny and Johnston were eliminated in the quarter-finals, so their fans who live in IA-03 won’t be back to see more of the Gibbons ads later this week. Des Moines East advanced to the semis, but I don’t think many GOP primary voters live on the east side of Des Moines. The other teams in the semis are Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Kennedy (IA-02) and Waukee (IA-04).

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Fourth Republican joins second district Congressional primary

Rob Gettemy, an entrepreneur from the Cedar Rapids suburbs, announced today that he is running for Congress in Iowa’s second district. His campaign website here, and he is @RobGettemy on Twitter. He will compete against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Chris Reed and Steve Rathje in the Republican primary. His first press release as a Congressional candidate contains what passes for “vision” in today’s GOP:

In my gut, I believe our country has reached a tipping point. We must decide now what country we are. Are we the country of our founders? The country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (not a guarantee of happiness). Are we a country that gives us a right to fail…which is necessary if we want an opportunity to succeed?

Or, are we a country that looks to Washington, DC, or Des Moines, Iowa to solve so many of our basic problems? When we pick this path, we give up our liberties. We become enslaved as we become dependent.

Lynda Waddington wrote a good piece on Gettemy at Iowa Independent. Excerpt:

Rob Gettemy, 44, attends Antioch Christian Church in Marion, as do several members of the Linn County Republican Executive Board. He and another member, Jim Mayhew of Vinton, launched a Christian t-shirt and ministry business in 2008 dubbed “1M4JC,” or “One Million For Jesus Christ.” He is an instructor at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at University of Iowa and serves on the board of directors for Aid to Women, a local anti-abortion pregnancy crisis center. […]

From a purely horse-race perspective, the entrance of Gettemy likely does the most harm to Reed. Not only does it pull the hometown base Reed hoped to energize, but it sends a definite signal that Reed, who had attempted to position himself as the only true social conservative in the race, was found to be lacking.

Due to Gettemy’s entrepreneurial and business background, it is also feasible that he could melt support that has been slowly building for Rathje, who has emerged as the predominant fiscal conservative.

Waddington mentions that several prominent Linn County Republicans belong to the church Gettemy attends, including “Linn County GOP Chairman Tim Palmer and Vice-Chairman Brent Schulte, a minister at Antioch, and Schulte’s wife, state Rep. Renee Schulte.” The kingmakers in the local GOP don’t appear to be sold on any of the three previously declared candidates, even though all have tried to position themselves as conservatives (see also here).

Miller-Meeks probably has the most name recognition, having been the 2008 nominee against Congressman Dave Loebsack. Rathje has raised the most money. Reed has the wingnuttiest endorsements so far.

I still find it remarkable that Republicans think they can win Iowa’s second district with a far-right candidate. IA-02 has a partisan lean of D+7, meaning that in the last two presidential elections, the district voted about seven points more Democratic than the country as a whole. Only two Republican-held House seats in the entire country have this strong a Democratic lean. One of those is a fluke; Joseph Cao was able to win in Louisiana’s second district because the Democratic incumbent had stashed $90,000 in his freezer. Delaware’s at-large seat (D+7) is held by pro-choice, pro-gun control former Governor Mike Castle. The obvious play for Republicans in IA-02 would be to nominate a moderate in the Jim Leach mold, who could focus on economic issues. Instead, the GOP primary keeps getting more crowded with social conservatives.

Miller-Meeks couldn’t crack 40 percent against Loebsack in 2008. In a Republican wave year, the GOP nominee should do somewhat better, but I doubt a down-the-line conservative can win a district dominated by Johnson and Linn counties. Feel free to argue with me in the comments if you’re so inclined.

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Iowa political fundraising roundup

Financial reports for the end of 2009 were due with the Federal Election Commission on January 31. Here are some highlights.

The Iowa Democratic Party announced yesterday that it raised about $2.47 million across all accounts in 2009, while the Republican Party of Iowa raised $1.46 million. IDP chair Michael Kiernan said the party had met its goal of securing “the resources needed to win this November.” Details:

IDP filed $1.23 million in the state report. RPI filed $450,137 in the same report.

Filed 19 January 2010. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.


IDP filed $148,574 in State Party Building Fund Report. RPI filed $177,365.

Filed 28 January 2010. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.


IDP filed $1.09 million filed in Federal Year-End Report. RPI filed $837,406.

Filed 31 January 2010. Federal Elections Commission.


The money reported in the federal year-end report can be used to support any candidates and campaigns. The money in the state fund can be used on statewide races or Iowa House and Senate races. The State Party Building Fund money can’t be used on candidates or campaigns, but only on expenses for the building where the party headquarters is located (such as equipment or maintenance).

The Iowa GOP responded that it entered 2010 with about $100,000 more cash on hand than Iowa Democrats, but I don’t know whether its cash is in restricted or unrestricted accounts. (UPDATE: The Iowa Democratic Party disputes this claim. Adding the amounts from all three reports filed, the IDP has $449,334.94 on hand, while “RPI has $265,281.06 on hand between all three reports filed.”)

As for the federal races, Senator Chuck Grassley raised about $810,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009, spent about $156,000 and ended the year with about $5 million cash on hand. That’s about ten times as much as Democrat Roxanne Conlin has on hand for her campaign. Democrats Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen reported approximately $3,500 and $400 on hand, respectively.

IowaPolitics.com posted numbers for the Congressional candidates here. I was most interested in the numbers from the second and third districts. In IA-02, two-term incumbent Dave Loebsack raised $94,479 in the fourth quarter, spent $36,572 and ended the year with $336,311 cash on hand.

Surprisingly, Steve Rathje led the money race on the Republican side, raising $59,130 in the fourth quarter, spending $12,648 and ending with $46,242 cash on hand. The 2008 GOP nominee, Mariannnette Miller-Meeks, raised $20,660 (including $4,000 she gave herself), spent $39 and had $20,620 on hand. IowaPolitics.com didn’t mention numbers for Chris Reed, but The Iowa Republican blog reported that Reed raised “a miniscule $2,833.75 in the last quarter of 2009,” ending the year with “just over $2000 cash on hand.”

In the third district, seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell raised $169,377 in the fourth quarter, spent $50,643 and had $462,193 cash on hand. Most of his money came from political action committee contributions.

Jim Gibbons led the crowded Republican field, thanks to support from heavy-hitters like Bruce Rastetter as well as a number of political action committees. Gibbons raised $207,310, spent $2,240 and ended the year with $205,069 on hand and $2,686 in debts owed. Craig Robinson of the Iowa Republican blog is ready to declare victory for Gibbons in the primary already, based on these numbers. However, Bleeding Heartland user mirage (a supporter of State Senator Brad Zaun) noted in the same thread, “About $51,000 of Gibbons funds will be restricted (meaning they can’t be used against Zaun in a primary), and about $130,000 came from outside the 3rd district.”

Speaking of Zaun, he raised $30,600, spent $93 and ended 2009 with $30,507 on hand. Presumably he has raised more money since January 1, because he made a television ad buy last week. But as Robinson noted triumphantly, “Even if [Dave] Funk or Zaun raised $1000 everyday between now and the primary, they still wouldn’t match what Gibbons currently has in his campaign account.”

Funk, the IA-03 candidate favored by the Tea Party crowd, raised $22,685 in the fourth quarter, spent $19,553 and ended the year with $16,507 on hand. According to mirage, much of Funk’s remaining money is restricted for use after the primary. I don’t think he’ll be needing that.

Mark Rees, who is running as a more moderate Republican, raised $3,100 and loaned his own campaign $52,647. He spent $3,247 and ended the year with $52,500 and $52,647 in debts owed to himself. I don’t know how much of a moderate GOP base is left in the Des Moines suburbs, but if conservatives divide their support among three or four candidates, Rees could slip through.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Rathje joins GOP primary to face Loebsack (updated)

Cedar Rapids-based businessman Steve Rathje confirmed on January 2 that he will run for Congress in Iowa’s second district. A press release posted to his Facebook page emphasizes his experience cutting waste and creating jobs as a business owner. He is scheduling appearances around the district for later this month, and his campaign website is here.

Rathje is best known as one of the Republican candidates in the 2008 U.S. Senate primary. He finished third but not far behind Christopher Reed and George Eichhorn. His website indicates that he will be running as a more conservative alternative to Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was Congressman Dave Loebsack’s opponent in 2008 and is running again this year.

Rathje and Reed will have an uphill battle in the primary, as they will be splitting the votes of Republicans for whom Miller-Meeks isn’t right-wing enough. I doubt either of them can beat her, but Reed probably has a better chance to make the primary competitive than Rathje. Not only has Reed already announced his candidacy in IA-02 and lined up a bunch of county coordinators, he has also received quite a few wingnut endorsements: former presidential candidates Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter, the National 9/12 Patriots, the Minutemen Patriots and America’s Independent Party.

Any thoughts on the upcoming campaign in IA-02 are welcome in this thread. I still find it remarkable that there isn’t a social moderate running in the GOP primary in this D+7 district.

UPDATE: John Deeth took a closer look at Reed’s county chair list and noticed Johnson County supervisor candidate Lori Cardella. When I clicked on the list again, I saw that Reed’s Jefferson County chair is Stephen Burgmeier, the unsuccessful GOP candidate in last year’s special election in Iowa House district 90.

The shrinking Republican tent (part 1)

Iowa’s second Congressional district is the most Democratic-leaning of our five districts. It has a partisan voting index of D+7, which means that in any given year, we would expect this district to vote about 7 point more Democratic than the country as a whole. In 2008, Dave Loebsack won re-election in IA-02 with about 57 percent of the vote against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who couldn’t crack 40 percent.

Today Republican blogger Craig Robinson previews the GOP primary to take on Loebsack. His piece is a good reminder of how small the Republican tent has become in a district once represented by Jim Leach.  

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Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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Update on new leadership for Iowa Republicans

Iowa Senate Republicans voted out Ron Wieck as minority leader on Tuesday. New leader Paul McKinley of Chariton promised “to rebuild this party from the ground up.”

Wieck, of Sioux City, was selected for the job by Senate Republicans in 2007 after Sen. Mary Lundby of Marion chose to step down from the leadership role. He will continue to serve in his District 27 seat.

McKinley, former owner of the textile company Neely Manufacturing, stressed that all Republicans will continue to work together. Senate Republicans will focus on being a spending watchdog for the state, retaining Iowa’s pro-business economy, providing tax relief and advocating for smaller government, he said.

Last week Iowa House Republicans picked Kraig Paulsen to replace Chris Rants as minority leader.

No consensus candidate seems to be emerging to take on the unenviable job of rebuilding the divided Republican Party of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register’s David Yepsen wrote in his latest column,

Republicans are looking for a new state party chairman. The challenge for the party is to find a chair who is acceptable to social conservatives but who can raise money from more moderate business types. The new leader must look good on TV and execute a management turnaround, all while working for a board of directors that too often squabbles and micromanages.

Good luck. Polk County chairman Ted Sporer is running, but he may be too hot and scrappy for some. His critics say the Polk County GOP organization he heads isn’t impressive. He says it’s better than when he started.

Former state Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell is also mentioned. He’s a smart, well-liked guy but may be too much of a social conservative for a party that needs to broaden its appeal. Carroll’s also lost two consecutive legislative races.

Another former state representative, Bill Dix of Shell Rock, gets mentioned but may be more interested in another run for office someday.

If you’re wondering why anyone would consider Sporer “too hot and scrappy,” read his take on the Tom Harkin/Christopher Reed debate.

Appearing on Iowa Public Television the weekend after the election, Republican moderate and former gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross described his dream candidate:

Gross: Well, I can think of 1964 we had a debacle, the Goldwater debacle and Johnson won in a landslide.  The democrats took over the governorship in both houses of the legislature.  And then we brought in a young Des Moines attorney by the name of Bob Ray to run the party as a guy that understood the importance of communication, appealing to all factions of the party and worked his tail off to help rebuild the organization.  That’s the kind of person we need as party chair again.  What we don’t need is someone whose is ideologically pure on one side or the other, that’s not what we should have.

Yepsen: Have you got some names?

Gross: Do I have some names?  I’m looking for Bob Ray’s sons but he only has daughters but the daughters would be alright too.

Feel that inclusion, Republican ladies?

Even if Bob Ray had a son, I doubt a pro-choice moderate who welcomed increased foreign immigration to this state would have a prayer of winning a leadership contest in today’s GOP.

Here’s a tip for conservatives, though: Governor Ray was just about the only Republican my mother ever voted for.

For more speculation on a possible new leader for the Iowa GOP, read this post or this post at the Krusty Konservative blog. Check out the comments too. The conservatives sure are angry.

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Update on the Congressional races

It’s time for a new thread on the Congressional races across the country.

First, I need to make two corrections. I reported late Tuesday night that Tom Harkin had won all of Iowa’s 99 counties. That was based on a map on the election results page of the Des Moines Register’s website, which showed all of Iowa’s 99 counties in blue. However, the Daily Kos election scoreboard shows the true picture (click on “Senate,” then on Iowa). Harkin won “only” 94 Iowa counties. He lost Page County in southwest Iowa as well as Sioux, Lyon, O’Brien and Osceola in the northwest corner.

Second, I have reported that EMILY’s List provided no financial support to Becky Greenwald’s campaign in the fourth Congressional district. However, Bleeding Heartland commenter Bill Spencer pointed out that Greenwald’s third quarter FEC filing shows a $5,000 contribution from EMILY’s List on September 22 (a few days after the group endorsed Greenwald).

It’s worth noting that when EMILY’s List strongly commits to a race, they invest considerably more than $5,000 in the candidate.

Earlier this year, EMILY’s List backed Nikki Tinker in the Democratic primary in Tennessee’s ninth district against Steve Cohen, who had a perfect pro-choice voting record. I have not been able to confirm a number, but EMILY’s list was reported to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars advocating for Tinker.

James L. of Swing State Project compiled this comprehensive chart showing independent expenditures in House races across the country. Look at how much EMILY’s List spent in some other districts: more than $160,000 in IL-11, nearly $150,000 in CO-04, nearly $60,000 in OH-15, more than $30,000 in NH-01, $19,000 in FL-13, $16,500 in NY-26.

That only counts the money EMILY’s List itself spends on behalf of Congressional candidates. The group can also raise substantial funds for candidates through their mailing list. Donors to EMILY’s List receive direct-mail and e-mail appeals regularly, asking them to contribute directly to key candidates from around the country. These letters contain short bios of the candidates EMILY’s List is backing. I have confirmed from more than one source that EMILY’s List did not send out any direct-mail or e-amil appeals urging members to contribute to Greenwald’s campaign.

So, while I was wrong to write that EMILY’s List provided no financial support to Greenwald, it is accurate to say that they did little to help her beyond issuing a press release very late in the game.

Getting to the big picture, Democrats have picked up six U.S. Senate seats: Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia. Three races have yet to be called. Norm Coleman leads Al Franken in Minnesota by 236 votes (out of more than 2.5 million cast) at the latest count. There will be a mandatory recount in this race once the initial count has been completed. I read last night that Franken can win if even one extra vote for him is found in every eight Minnesota precincts.

We may be headed for a recount in Alaska, although it seems unlikely that Mark Begich can overcome convicted felon Ted Stevens’ narrow lead. There is some speculation that Stevens will resign or be expelled from the Senate, in which case a different Republican (Sarah Palin?) could take the seat.

By the way, the election results in Alaska diverged from pre-election polling in an almost unprecedented way, not only in the Senate race but also in the presidential voting and in the race for Alaska’s at-large seat in the House. Further investigation is needed to figure out whether all polls in Alaska (and Alaska alone) were way off, or whether there was any tampering with the vote counting.

Georgia will hold a runoff in December between Jim Martin and the Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. I don’t have high hopes for this one, since Georgia is a Republican state to begin with and I think the GOP base will be motivated to reduce President Obama’s working majority in the Senate. However, anything can happen. On a related note, there are some anomalies in the turnout figures in Georgia that will require further analysis.

As for the U.S. House, Democrats picked up 23 seats on Tuesday and lost four for a net gain of 19 and a total of 255. Seven races have not been called, all of them in Republican-held districts. Democratic candidates are leading in only two of those (MD-01 and VA-05). Republican leads are extremely small in OH-15 and CA-04, but the picture looks more discouraging for our side in CA-44 (a real under-the-radar race), WA-08 and Alaska’s at-large seat.

If all the candidates currently leading are eventually declared the winners, Democrats would hold 257 House seats and Republicans 181. Crisitunity posted these charts showing Republicans in blue districts and vice versa. Note that the partisan voting index for every Congressional district will have to be recalculated, tossing the 2000 presidential voting and adding the 2008 presidential voting. But using the current partisan voting index numbers (which are based on the 2000 and 2004 presidential voting), only nine Republicans in the whole country represent districts with any Democratic lean at all. One of them is Iowa’s own Tom Latham.

In contrast, at least nine Democrats represent deep-red Congressional districts with a partisan index of at least R+10 (for perspective, Iowa’s fifth district is R+8). Many more Democrats represent districts with only a slightly less Republican lean. We lost incumbent Nancy Boyda in KS-02 (R+7) but picked up Betsy Markey in CO-04 (R+9).

What does Crisitunity’s post mean for Iowans? I take away two lessons.

First, there’s no question that Latham will be tough to beat in 2010, but if he vacates the seat IA-04 becomes a top pickup opportunity for Democrats. I would be very surprised to see him run for governor, but if Chuck Grassley were to retire for any reason I think Latham would take a shot at the Senate race.

Second, looking at the nationwide picture, Democrats are far more competitive in red Congressional districts than Republicans are in blue districts. I am confident that the Republicans have very little chance of recapturing IA-01 and IA-02.

Also, a new Democratic candidate will be favored to hold IA-03 whenever Leonard Boswell retires, even if redistricting after the 2010 census somewhat reduces the Democratic lean in this district.

This is an open thread for any commentary on any of the U.S. House or Senate races.

New thread on Iowa election results

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that overall turnout in Iowa in 2008 was lower than it was in 2004. That is surprising, given the well-documented surge in new voter registrations.

Which people who participated in 2004 stayed home yesterday, and how did that affect the results?

Tom Harkin won all 99 counties, which is remarkable considering that John McCain beat Barack Obama in 46 or 47 of Iowa’s counties. Even in Republican areas, they’re looking for more in a U.S. senator than trash talk and smackdowns. Does anyone remember whether Chuck Grassley carried all 99 counties in 2004?

(UPDATE: The Daily Kos election scoreboard shows Christopher Reed beating Harkin in Page County in the southwest part of the state and in the four counties in the northwest corner. There may be a mistake on the Des Moines Register’s map, which shows all 99 counties in blue for the Senate race.)

The words “idiot” and “insane person” will be removed from the Iowa Constitution.

Speaking of idiots, Steve King got away with barely campaigning in the fifth district, winning by at least 20 points. Politics can be cruel, and I feel for Rob Hubler, who worked so hard for so long to give fifth district residents a credible candidate.

Nationwide, many Democratic challengers in districts like IA-05 fell far short. Nancy Boyda, a surprise winner from 2006 in KS-02, was a surprise loser last night. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested millions of dollars in other similarly Republican districts like MN-06 and AZ-03, and our challengers lost those too.

After beating Kim Schmett by 57 percent to 42 percent (about double his margin of victory in 2006), third district Congressman Leonard Boswell immediately vowed to run for re-election in 2010. Can’t some Democratic heavy-hitters who are on good terms with Boswell encourage him to retire? Barring that, is there anyone willing to start fundraising for a 2010 primary challenge who would have some establishment support?

We may have to run against Tom Latham in a redrawn third district in 2012, and it would be helpful to have a new Democratic incumbent in place before that happens.

Bruce Braley was the incumbent re-elected by the largest margin, 64 percent to 36 percent. I agree with John Deeth that Republican moderates are going to challenge Dave Hartsuch in his 2010 state senate primary.

Dave Loebsack won big in the second district, by 57 percent to 39 percent. The hill in this D+7 district is just too steep for a Republican candidate to climb. Mariannette Miller-Meeks would be better off seeking a different political office in the future, although the Iowa GOP may encourage her to run for Congress again in 2010. Loebsack won’t have the Barack Obama turnout machine cranking in Johnson and Linn counties two years from now.

Iowa Democrats are looking at small net gains in the House and Senate. Dawn Pettengill got away with switching to the GOP after the Iowa Democratic Party worked hard to elect her. A couple of races may have a different result once the absentee and provisional ballots are counted. Deeth has more details.

Jerry Sullivan has not ruled out requesting a recount in House district 59, although it seems unlikely to me that there are enough provisional and absentee ballots outstanding for him to reverse Chris Hagenow’s 141-vote lead (out of more than 16,000 votes cast).

UPDATE: Johnson County voters narrowly approved a controversial bond measure. The proposal was designed to generate

$20 million in a 20-year period to conserve open space.

By collecting taxes for two decades, the Johnson County Conservation Board will have the funds to buy and preserve remnant areas of land scattered throughout the county from willing sellers.

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Help Greenwald and Hubler ride the wave

Survey USA released a new Iowa poll today, conducted for WHO-TV in Des Moines and KAAL-TV in Mason City. Barack Obama leads John McCain 55 percent to 40 percent. The poll reveals a massive gender gap. Among men, Obama leads 48-46, and among women he leads 61-34. Perhaps most significant,

Among the 32% of respondents who tell SurveyUSA they have already cast ballots, Obama leads by 40 points […].

Tom Harkin leads Christopher Reed by 61 percent to 35 percent.

We ought to be able to elect a lot of down-ticket Democrats in this kind of environment. The election in Iowa is a lost cause for John McCain, and that may depress Republican turnout on Tuesday (despite Sarah Palin’s planned rally in Dubuque on Monday).

Give what you can to Becky Greenwald and Rob Hubler so they can run ads on tv and radio during the final stretch. The biggest hurdle for a challenger is almost always name recognition.

People across the country are noticing that these races are winnable. Here’s a post from the Down With Tyranny blog, and here’s one from Open Left.

On a related note, you can replay a live chat the Des Moines Register hosted with Hubler yesterday by clicking here.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that you can view Greenwald’s final ad here and read the script here. Hubler’s tv ad is here (scroll down past the text of the Des Moines Register’s endorsement editorial).

The Ames Progressive blog recently featured these races too.

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Reed blows it in debate with Harkin

When you step up to challenge a safe and popular incumbent, you have two options.

You can make a straightforward case for your party and against your opponent’s record. Doing so will earn you the goodwill of your political allies who are grateful to have someone on the ballot they can feel proud voting for (like David Osterberg, who ran against Chuck Grassley in 1998).

If you are young, running a hopeless race with dignity will increase your name recognition and bring useful campaign experience for a future bid for public office.

Alternatively, a candidate with no chance of winning can lash out at his popular opponent in an over-the-top way, while bitterly complaining about his own party not helping him enough. This path will energize partisans who hate the incumbent but will probably limit future political options.

Christopher Reed chose door number 2 in a joint forum with Senator Tom Harkin yesterday. Iowa Public Television will broadcast the debate tonight at 7 pm. Judging from initial reports, I don’t think we need to worry about Reed becoming a rising star for Iowa Republicans.

Radio Iowa had the liveblog first yesterday, and the phrase that leapt out at everyone was “Tokyo Rose.”

The headline of the Des Moines Register’s piece was “Reed Says Harkin Gives Aid to Enemy.” Excerpt:

“We’re taking advice from somebody who has an eight-year history of becoming the Tokyo Rose of al-Qaida and Middle East terrorism,” Reed said, referring to his Democrat opponent. […]

Reed, seeking his first public office, said Harkin’s support for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq on a scheduled timetable was the same as “providing aid and comfort to the enemy.”

“The white flag of surrender, accusing our Marines of torture, voting to defund our troops while they are in harm’s way, those are all records of having an anti-American policy,” said Reed, a Marion businessman.

Opponents of a timetable for withdrawing troops contend that announcing the time frame would allow Iraqi insurgents and Islamic terrorist groups in Iraq to go underground, only to return when the United States is gone.

Reed stopped short of accusing Harkin of treason, when asked by moderator David Yepsen, the Register’s political columnist, to clarify his remarks. “No. I’m accusing him of giving our enemies the playbook,” Reed said.

John Deeth nailed it by calling Reed’s comment “a sure entry” in Keith Olbermann’s nightly Worst Person In The World contest. Deeth also passed along this tidbit from the comments at the blog of Polk County Republican Party Chairman Ted Sporer (UPDATE and clarification: the commenter at Sporer’s place pulled it from this blog post by David Yepsen):

After the cameras were turned off, Harkin calmly told Reed: “you’re a nice young man and I thought you had a political future ahead of you but that just ended your political career right there” and walked away. Reed said nothing.

Harkin’s campaign has already sent an e-mail to supporters denouncing Reed’s “vile” attack. Throwing around words like “Tokyo Rose” against a Navy veteran is the kind of mistake that will haunt Reed if he wants journalists to take him seriously in the future. Yepsen observed, “I’ve covered politics in Iowa for 34 years and I’ve never heard a candidate make that kind of serious charge about an opponent.”

When I watch the debate, I’ll be listening closely for different comments alluded to at The Real Sporer blog. Apparently Reed criticized the Republican Party of Iowa for not supporting him enough. Deeth wrote a good piece recently on the controversy within Republican circles over the party’s support for Reed. Some claim Republican officials have even sabotaged his campaign. During John McCain’s Davenport rally this month, Reed was not invited to speak and not mentioned from the podium. According to Deeth, there weren’t even Reed signs visible at the rally. (I have seen exactly one Reed yard sign in the Des Moines area this year.)

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for Reed to have party officials ignoring his campaign and perhaps even undermining it. However, a televised debate is not the place to air that dirty laundry. Depending on what Reed said, that’s the kind of comment that could deter leading Republicans from supporting his future political efforts.

All in all, not a successful debate for the rookie. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I don’t think Reed helped himself yesterday.

Speaking of debates, I forgot to mention a few days ago that Congressman Dave Loebsack debated his Republican challenger, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, in Cedar Rapids. Here is Essential Estrogen’s liveblog. Deeth liveblogged here and published this write-up later. It was the second debate between Loebsack and Miller-Meeks, but the first included Green candidate Wendy Barth and independent Brian White and had a very restrictive format limiting answers to 45 seconds.

All incumbents should agree to debate challengers, like Harkin and Loebsack did this week. Unfortunately, Leonard Boswell and Steve King have declined all invitations to debate this year. (CORRECTION: Boswell ducked all invitations to debate his primary challenger Ed Fallon but will debate Republican Kim Schmett on Iowa Public Radio on October 29.) Chickens have shown up from time to time at King’s events urging him to debate Rob Hubler.

Tom Latham debated Becky Greenwald twice on the radio but has declined to reschedule a planned joint forum on Iowa Public Television. That forum was postponed while Congress was considering the bailout.

Bruce Braley will debate his Republican challenger, David Hartsuch, on KUNI radio from noon to 1 p.m. on October 27.

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Tom Harkin is serious about expanding the field

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been pushing safe Democratic incumbents to “use it or lose it” by giving 10 percent of their cash on hand to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

A source close to Tom Harkin’s campaign tells me that the senator gave $250,000 from his campaign committee to the DSCC this week, after giving $250,000 to the DSCC at the end of September.

Although I have no official confirmation, Harkin could certainly afford to do that in light of these figures from the latest FEC reports:

Tom Harkin (D) *

Raised: $8,775,771

Spent: $5,150,979

Cash on Hand: $3,956,998

Last Report: September 30, 2008

Christopher Reed (R)

Raised: $46,720

Spent: $24,628

Cash on Hand: $22,092

Last Report: September 30, 2008

Democrats are poised to win between five and nine Senate seats currently held by Republicans. They will be more successful if the DSCC can put resources behind the emerging challengers such as Jim Martin in Georgia, Bruce Lunsford in Kentucky and Ronnie Musgrove in Mississippi.

If you see Senator Harkin campaigning around the state, thank him for doing the right thing.

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Overview of 3Q FEC filings for U.S. House candidates in Iowa (updated)

Congressional candidates’ third-quarter campaign finance reports were due today (October 15), so I went over to the Federal Election Commission site to see how things stand.

For some reason, I was unable to find reports for Senator Tom Harkin or his opponent, Christopher Reed. I will cover their FEC filings in a separate post when data become available. UPDATE: The National Journal’s Hotline blog published the basic information from all Senate candidates’ FEC filings.

Tom Harkin had total receipts of $635,915 during 3Q, spent $495,136, and had $3,956,998 cash on hand as of September 30.

Christopher Reed had total receipts of $34,956 during 3Q, spent $13,156, and had $22,092 cash on hand left.

All of the incumbents have large cash-on-hand advantages over their opponents going into the final stretch of the campaign.

Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) has given generously to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: $25,000 in July and another $50,000 at the end of August.

I could not find any donations from Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) to the DCCC. I hope someone from his staff will correct me if I am wrong. He certainly can afford to donate to the DCCC, running in a D+7 district in what looks like a very strong year for Iowa Democrats. On the other hand, the DCCC did nothing to help him two years ago when he was running against Jim Leach, so maybe he is less inclined to support the committee’s efforts.

I also could not find any record of donations from Leonard Boswell (D, IA-03) to the DCCC. Again, I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong. But if this is correct, it’s a disgrace for Boswell. The DCCC has spent heavily on Boswell’s behalf in several previous election cycles. The least he could do would be to help them support other Democratic candidates.

Iowa’s two Democratic challengers had very strong fundraising quarters. Becky Greenwald out-raised Tom Latham during the reporting period, which is phenomenal. However, she spent more than she raised, leaving her with relatively little cash on hand. The DCCC has added her to its Red to Blue list, so she presumably will be getting some help from them as well as from EMILY’s list, which endorsed her last month. She will need that help in order to stay on tv for the remainder of the campaign.

Considering that the fifth district is not widely acknowledged to be up for grabs, Rob Hubler’s haul for the quarter is impressive. No wonder the DCCC put him on the Emerging Races list. He went up on the radio last week and presumably will be able to stay on the radio for the duration of the campaign. It’s not clear whether he will have enough money for tv ads before election day. Steve King just went up on tv today and only went up on the radio a day or two earlier. I’m surprised King waited so long. Latham has been advertising heavily on television for the past few weeks and put up his first radio ad during the summer.

Here is the basic information from the candidates’ FEC filings. Click the links to access the full reports.


Bruce Braley: $184,854.12 raised during 3Q, $107,099.90 spent, $402,586.60 cash on hand

Dave Hartsuch: $25,163.00 raised during 3Q, $30,447.28 spent, $7,391.01 cash on hand


Dave Loebsack: $110,442.10 raised during 3Q, $116,561.03 spent, $456,656.96 cash on hand

Mariannette Miller-Meeks has not yet filed her report; I will update with that when available. Her report for the second quarter is here. UPDATE: She reported $108,599.26 raised during 3Q, $61,944.50 spent, $83,274.27 cash on hand


Leonard Boswell: $133,045.34 raised during 3Q, $198,211.79 spent, $325,757.93 cash on hand

Kim Schmett: $56,294.35 raised during 3Q, $61,306.22 spent, $23,537.30 cash on hand

Note: According to his 3Q filing, Ed Fallon has paid off most of his debt from the third district primary against Boswell.


Becky Greenwald: $308,452.01 raised during 3Q, $354,422.07 spent, $24,476.99 cash on hand

Tom Latham: $290,815.32 raised during 3Q, $269,858.03 spent, $774,671.45 cash on hand


Rob Hubler: $95,235.42 raised during 3Q, $56,168.81 spent, $64,654.06 cash on hand

Steve King: $191,689.27 raised during 3Q, $91,993.28 spent, $351,239.55 cash on hand

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Another Iowa poll shows double-digit lead for Obama

The Des Moines Register features its latest Iowa poll in the Sunday edition, showing Barack Obama leading John McCain 52 percent to 40 percent among likely voters. The poll surveyed 801 Iowans by telephone, including 616 who said they would definitely vote in November.

If you click the link you can read the exact wording of questions asked, but it’s not clear whether the likely voter screen involved anything other than whether a person said he or she would definitely vote.

It’s the second poll in a row to show Obama above 50 percent in Iowa, with a double-digit lead. A Time/CNN poll taken after McCain selected Sarah Palin but before Palin and McCain spoke at the Republican convention showed Obama beating McCain 55-40 in Iowa, leading in every region of the state and even among rural voters.

Other findings from the Des Moines Register’s new Iowa poll:

Just 18 percent of respondents think the country is headed in the right direction, while 74 percent say it is on the wrong track.

George Bush is at 25 percent approval, 71 percent disapproval. Repeat after me: most unpopular president in history!

Tom Harkin leads Christopher Reed in the U.S. Senate race by 53 percent to 34 percent.

Chuck Grassley’s approval rating is still high at 69 percent. Democrats’ only hope is to pick up so many Senate seats this year that Grassley decides to throw in the towel before the 2010 election. He hasn’t been getting along too well with Iowa Republicans lately, and it’s never fun serving in the minority in Congress.

I love that McCain and Sarah Palin will waste part of this Thursday campaigning at the Eastern Iowa Airport outside Cedar Rapids. Sorry, but Iowa is not really a swing state in this year’s presidential race.

Fringe benefits of hopeless campaigns

Life has to be a little discouraging for Christopher Reed, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa. Everyone in the election forecasting business has labeled this seat safe for Tom Harkin. The available polling shows Harkin with a comfortable lead.

According to Open Secrets, Harkin has raised more than $8 million since he was last re-elected to the Senate. The incumbent had $4.1 million cash on hand as of June 30.

In contrast, Reed has raised a total of $11,765 for his Senate campaign and had $292 on hand as of June 30.

But look on the bright side: Cityview went through Reed’s FEC filings and found that the Republican has used about $600 in campaign funds to buy new clothes. Also, he’s had several haircuts on the campaign’s dime this year.

Presumably Reed ran for Senate to build his name recognition among Iowa Republicans for future races. But even if he never runs for office again, he’ll have a few suits, shirts and ties to show for his trouble.

GOP Senate primary ends without challenge

George Eichhorn conceded the GOP Senate primary on Friday, clearing the way for little-known Christopher Reed of Marion to get walloped by Tom Harkin this November.

It had to hurt for Eichhorn. Not only did Reed win by less than 1 percent of the vote, he only barely crossed the 35 percent threshold. If no candidate had won 35 percent of the vote, the Iowa Republican Party’s state convention would have selected the nominee. With his background in the state legislature, Eichhorn would have been the favorite to win among the GOP’s state delegates.

I’m guessing Harkin will spend a lot of time this fall campaigning on behalf of other Iowa Democrats.

Which Iowa incumbent will win by the biggest margin?

This is just for fun.

For the first time ever, Republicans are not putting a lot of resources into challenging Senator Tom Harkin. Unless a recount changes the outcome of the GOP primary, Harkin will face little-known Marion businessman Christopher Reed, who has not even raised enough money to file an FEC report. Harkin has more than $3 million to spend on this race. More on Reed here:


The Real Sporer thinks the GOP Senate nomination could still go to a state convention, if recounts and challenges push Reed’s percentage of the vote below 35 percent. He won with about 35.3 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

Congressman Bruce Braley will face State Senator Dave Hartsuch in Iowa’s first district. Hartsuch has raised less than $6,000 for his campaign, according to the latest FEC report.

Congressman Dave Loebsack will probably face Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the second district, unless a recount overturns her 109-vote victory in the primary:


There may be lasting hard feelings among the Republicans in that district, considering the hard-fought primary and Peter Teahen’s very narrow loss.

Congressman Leonard Boswell will face Republican Kim Schmett in the third district. Schmett has raised about $54,000 so far, according to FEC filings.

Congressman Tom Latham will face Becky Greenwald in the fourth district. She had raised about $56,000 as of the last FEC filing. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted this district in its “red to blue” program. Count on pretty much every major Democratic donor in Iowa to contribute to Greenwald too, with Harkin and Boswell presumably out of danger now. EMILY’s list may also get involved on Greenwald’s behalf.

Congressman Steve King will face Rob Hubler in the fifth district. Hubler has raised over $100,000 for this race, but it’s a steep uphill climb for any Democrat in this district.

Take the poll after the jump: which of these incumbents will win in November with the largest share of the vote?

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