# Dave O'Brien

Harkin recommends O'Brien, Romano, Klinefeldt for federal judgeships

Two federal judges in Iowa plan to retire next year, and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin has recommended that President Barack Obama choose among three possible replacements. Cedar Rapids-based attorney Dave O’Brien is Harkin’s choice to replace U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett, who presides in Sioux City. O’Brien finished fifth in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa’s first Congressional district. I’ve posted background on his legal credentials after the jump.

Harkin suggested two possible nominees for the position to be vacated by James Gritzner, chief district judge for Iowa’s Southern District: Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano and Nick Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. A former prosecutor in Polk County, Romano became an Iowa District Associate judge in 1996 and a District Court judge in 2001. She has been on Harkin’s short list before, and I’ve posted more background on her after the jump.

I hope Obama chooses Romano to fill this vacancy, as she has much more relevant experience than Klinefeldt. On Harkin’s recommendation, Obama appointed Klinefeldt to be U.S. attorney in 2009. The Senate confirmed him to that position about four and a half years ago. His official bio is below as well.

Romano was in the news last November after her ruling put a temporary stay on the Iowa Board of Medicine’s rule banning the use of telemedicine to provide abortion drugs to Iowa women. Social conservatives including Bob Vander Plaats’ FAMiLY Leader organization threw a fit, but I have little doubt that the state board’s rule will not stand up in court when Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit is heard on the merits.

Ryan Foley of the Associated Press observed, “It is unusual for Iowa, a state that only has five active district judges, to have two pending vacancies for the lifetime judicial positions at the same time.”

Continue Reading...

IA-01, IA-04: DCCC put Murphy and Mowrer in "Red to Blue" program

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Jim Mowrer (IA-04) in the latest group of candidates promoted to the highest level of the “Red to Blue” program. (Staci Appel, the Democratic nominee in the open IA-03, was already promoted in the Red to Blue program earlier this year.) Mowrer is running in a tough district for any Democrat but raised more money than incumbent Steve King for the last three quarters. The DCCC had previously named IA-04 as an “emerging race.”

Murphy just won a five-way primary in the Democratic-leaning first district. His opponent will be Rod Blum. Technically, IA-01 isn’t a “Red to Blue” district because it’s not Republican-held now; it’s the open seat Bruce Braley is vacating in order to run for U.S. Senate.  

Red to Blue candidates are eligible for the highest level of support from the DCCC, although the committee won’t necessarily spend much money in every named district. Last week the DCCC reserved television air time in IA-03 and IA-04, though ad buys are subject to change. Details are after the jump.

To my knowledge, the DCCC hasn’t reserved any air time in IA-01 media markets. I doubt Murphy will need major independent expenditures to beat Blum. By the way, Murphy’s four rivals in the Democratic primary endorsed him in statements released by the Iowa Democratic Party today. I’ve enclosed that press release below as well.

Continue Reading...

Iowa primary election results thread

Polls close at 9 pm, and I’ll be updating this post regularly with primary election results. Rumor has it that turnout was relatively low, even on the Republican side where there are hard-fought primaries for U.S. Senate and the third Congressional district. According to the Polk County Auditor’s office, as of this afternoon only 1,506 absentee ballots had been requested and 1,350 absentee ballots received for today’s GOP primary. Keep in mind that roughly half of all Republican voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, and six campaigns were competing for their votes. Not to mention that five U.S. Senate candidates should have been locking in early votes in Iowa’s largest county.

By comparison, 2,883 Democratic primary absentee ballots were requested in Polk County, and 2,296 of those returned by today. The lion’s share were from Iowa Senate district 17 in Des Moines, where three candidates are seeking to replace Jack Hatch (2,475 absentee ballots requested and 1,950 returned). Democratic campaigns have long pushed early voting more than Republicans, but still–that’s a shocking failure to GOTV by the various Republican campaigns.

Share any comments about any Iowa campaigns in this thread, as well as any interesting anecdotes from voting today.

UPDATE: Polls are now closed and updates will continue after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2014 Iowa primary election prediction contest

I forgot to put up this year’s primary election prediction contest earlier this week, but better late than never. To enter, post your answers to the twelve questions after the jump as a comment in this thread sometime before 7 am central time on Tuesday, June 3. It’s fine to change your mind about some or all of your answers, as long as you post a comment with your new predictions before the deadline.  

Only comments posted in this thread will be valid contest entries. Predictions submitted by e-mail or twitter will not be considered. Please try to answer every question, even if it’s just a wild guess. We’re all guessing anyway, since few polls have been published about these races.

The winner receives no cash or other prizes–just bragging rights in the Bleeding Heartland community. Can someone stop ModerateIADem from “three-peating”? He won both the 2010 and the 2012 primary election prediction contests.  

Continue Reading...

New polls show Pat Murphy, Rod Blum favored to win IA-01 nominations

Loras College has released its latest polls of the Democratic and Republican primaries in the first Congressional district. On the Democratic side, not much has changed the first Loras poll in April: State Representative Pat Murphy has a big lead and is close to the 35 percent he would need to win the primary outright on June 3. The latest poll memo is here, and full results are here (pdf). Among 300 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed on May 14 and 15, 34.7 percent plan to support Murphy, with 28.7 percent undecided. The next three candidates are still bunched close together: Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon and former State Senator Swati Dandekar both have 11.3 percent support, State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic has 9.3 percent, and Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien has 3.3 percent. Some may argue that Loras doesn’t have a track record of Iowa polling. But it’s notable that first-quarter financial reports indicated that all of the Democratic candidates had paid for survey research, yet only Murphy’s campaign has released partial results from internal polling.

All five Democrats are running paid advertising and direct mail in the final weeks before the primary. Bleeding Heartland will survey the main messages from each candidate in a future post. The other candidates need to hope that no candidate wins 35 percent on primary day, though even in that scenario, I think the nomination would go to Murphy.

The latest Loras Republican poll in IA-01 shows a big shift toward Rod Blum since last month’s survey. Among the 300 Republican respondents surveyed on May 15, 48.7 percent are undecided, but Blum is knocking on the door with 31.4 percent support. Steve Rathje is far back at 15.6 percent, and Gail Boliver barely registers at 2.4 percent. For months, I haven’t doubted Blum’s ability to win the GOP nomination. He is the only candidate in  a position to run a strong district-wide effort, and the National Republican Congressional Committee recognizes that fact.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. Most election forecasters, with one exception, see this open seat leaning Democratic. The latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office indicate that the 20 counties in the Congressional district contain 158,580 active registered Democrats, 133,229 Republicans, and 192,921 no-party voters.

If Blum and Murphy win their respective party’s nominations, the Dubuque area would be sending its first resident to Congress since Republican Tom Tauke (coincidentally a Loras College graduate) represented the area from 1979 through 1990.

Thoughts on the primary polls in IA-01, IA-02, and IA-03

Loras College in Dubuque released its first-ever set of polls on Iowa Congressional primaries this week. Click here for the polling memo and here (pdf) for further details, including the full questionnaires.

After the jump I’ve posted my thoughts on what these polls tell us about the front-runners (or lack thereof) in each primary. Unfortunately, a big methodological flaw makes it more difficult to interpret the results.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: Is the Democratic primary Pat Murphy's to lose?

By some measures, the race for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s first Congressional district looks wide open. All five candidates have raised enough money to run credible campaigns. None are rookie candidates: four have been elected multiple times to either local government or the state legislature, and the fifth has prior experience running for Congress.  

For various reasons, I’ve long felt that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy was best positioned to win the Democratic nomination, whether it’s decided in the June 3 primary or at an IA-01 district convention (if no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the primary votes).

Last week Murphy’s campaign released partial results from an internal poll showing a “commanding lead” against his four Democratic rivals. I’ve enclosed the polling memo below, along with a few thoughts on its findings and the dynamic in this race going forward.

Continue Reading...

IA-01 4Q fundraising news roundup

Last week I never got around to posting highlights from the year-end Federal Election Commission reports for candidates in Iowa’s open first Congressional district. Better late than never.

On the Democratic side, the money race remains highly competitive; all five candidates entered the election year with more than $100,000 to spend before the primary. The Republican race in IA-01 provided another reminder that establishment support does not necessarily translate into strong fundraising.  

Continue Reading...

Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I’ve posted some highlights after the jump. The “news” of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn’t the most interesting part of his speech.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: First labor endorsement for Anesa Kajtazovic, five more for Pat Murphy

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic received her first labor endorsement this week in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa’s first Congressional district. The United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 431 and 1149 decided to support Kajtazovic because “she understands better than anyone the concerns of Iowa’s working families,” and “She shares the experience of arriving to Iowa as an immigrant with many of our members.” According to the press release I’ve posted after the jump, the UFCW Locals 431 and 1149 represent more than 2,500 workers living in IA-01.

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy had seven organized labor endorsements going into this week. Today his campaign announced that Murphy has the backing of five more labor unions: the Iowa State Association of Letter Carriers, the Iowa Statewide American Postal Workers Union, Iowa Statewide United Transportation Union (SMART Union), Statewide Ironworkers Labor Union Local 89, and the Teamsters Local 90. I enclose the full press release below. It does not mention the number of members who live in IA-01.

The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council endorsed Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon last month. The other two Democrats running in IA-01 are Dave O’Brien, who supports organized labor’s agenda, and Swati Dandekar, who was not known as a pro-labor member of the Iowa House and Senate.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising roundup

All Congressional candidates had to file third-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission by October 15. After the jump I’ve posted details on the fundraising by Iowa’s candidates for U.S. House.

The Senate reports are not online yet at the Federal Election Commission’s website, so those numbers will come later.

Continue Reading...

More Iowa Congressional voting and reaction to the government shutdown

It’s time for a new post on how Iowa’s representatives in the U.S. House and Senate are handling the ongoing shutdown of non-essential federal government operations. (Click here for details on Congressional votes and Iowa political reaction up to October 1.)

Thousands of Iowans who work for the federal government or serve in the National Guard still have no idea when they’ll receive their next paycheck. The best news I’ve heard all week is that an estimated 66,000 Iowa women and children who receive benefits through the WIC program will get their checks for October, at least.  

Although there has been no progress toward an agreement on a continuing spending resolution, I’ve noticed one big change in Iowa Congressional voting during the last few days. Whereas Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were sticking with most of their fellow Democrats in earlier votes on federal spending, this week both Braley and Loebsack have joined House Republican attempts to fund the federal government in bits and pieces. Follow me after the jump for more details.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it’s not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I’ve enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic campaign rollout

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic kicks off her Congressional campaign today with events in Marshalltown, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and Dubuque. I enclose her campaign’s press release after the jump. Like rival first district candidate Swati Dandekar, Kajtazovic emphasizes her life story as an example of the American dream. Like outgoing U.S. Representative Bruce Braley, Kajtazovic lives in Waterloo, and she describes herself in today’s announcement as a “Bruce Braley Democrat” who “will grow on his progressive legacy” in Congress.

I will update this post later for clips from Kajtazovic’s events today. Earlier this month she launched her campaign website and completed a “listening tour” of all 20 counties in the first Congressional district.

I highly recommend watching KWWL journalist Ron Steele’s interview with Kajtazovic, which aired over the weekend: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. The district leans Democratic with a partisan voting index of D+5. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, IA-01 contains 162,447 active registered Democrats, 136,290 Republicans, and 192,715 no-party voters. Kajtazovic will compete in the Democratic primary against former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and three candidates from Linn County: former State Senator Dandekar, Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, and Cedar Rapids-based attorney Dave O’Brien.  

Continue Reading...

Quick hits on the five Democratic candidates in IA-01

The Democratic primary in the open first Congressional district will be one of Iowa’s most interesting elections next year. In addition to separate posts on major developments in the race, I plan to update Bleeding Heartland readers periodically on how all five Democrats are campaigning. The winner of the primary will go into the general election as the slight favorite given the partisan lean of this D+5 district and the voter registration advantage for Democrats there.

Follow me after the jump for recent news about each of the contenders.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic launches campaign website, ActBlue page

I haven’t seen any official announcement or press release, but State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic has launched an Anesa for Iowa campaign website, as well as a fundraising page for a Congressional campaign on ActBlue. As of Friday evening, her Facebook page features a new photo of an Irish-themed “Anesa Kajtazovic for Congress” logo in honor of the Irish fest scheduled for this weekend in Waterloo.

Kajtazovic is the fifth Democrat seeking the nomination in Iowa’s first district, which Bruce Braley is vacating to run for the U.S. Senate. State Representative Pat Murphy was the first to declare, followed by Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar. 

IA-01: Swati Dandekar launches campaign

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar launched her Congressional campaign yesterday in Marion, saying she is a “testament that the American dream is alive.” I’ve posted her official bio and news release after the jump; her campaign is online at Swati Dandekar for Congress. James Q. Lynch reported on yesterday’s event, where Dandekar emphasized her commitment to education and helping to create “jobs that pay living wages.”

Dandekar won multiple elections in swing Iowa legislative districts. While her moderate image may have crossover appeal, getting through the Democratic primary will be a major challenge. Dandekar said yesterday that she was encouraged by conversations with voters across IA-01. But key factions in the Democratic base resent aspects of her legislative record and the fact that she put the Iowa Senate majority at risk by accepting a position on the Iowa Utilities Board in 2011. Furthermore, the Democratic primary competition in IA-01 includes Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, a onetime Republican who will draw support from Linn County moderates.

Any comments about the IA-01 campaign are welcome in this thread.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: Dave O'Brien joins Democratic field

Dave O’Brien launched his campaign for the open seat in Iowa’s first Congressional district this week. Speaking in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, O’Brien said he’s “sick and tired of playing defense” and ready to “go the on offensive with an aggressive and progressive policy agenda.” He called for policies oriented toward building the middle class and improving our infrastructure.

O’Brien’s campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ve posted his campaign announcement and official bio after the jump. He emphasizes that he’s a “lifelong progressive Democrat”–an unspoken contrast with Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who was a Republican until 2009, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar, long known as one of the more conservative Democrats in the Iowa legislature. Vernon kicked off her Congressional campaign last month, and Dandekar appears likely to announce later this summer. Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy has been running for months, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic recently formed an exploratory committee.

Continue Reading...

IA-01: Swati Dandekar resigns from Iowa Utilities Board

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar has resigned from the Iowa Utilities Board, effective July 22. Her resignation letter (pdf) does not give any specific reason for the decision but thanks Governor Terry Branstad for the opportunity to serve. The governor accepted Dandekar’s resignation and will search for her replacement. Branstad appointed Dandekar to the three-member Iowa Utilities Board in September 2011, forcing a special election in her swing Senate district (suburban Linn County). Democrat Liz Mathis won that election and was re-elected to a four-year term in 2012.

Dandekar’s term on the utilities board was to run through April 2015. I assume she would not leave that position unless she has decided to run for Congress in the open first district. I am surprised that she seems ready to follow through, because there have been few public signs of life from her exploratory committee since it was created two months ago. For example, there have been no postings on Facebook or twitter since May 9, nor am I aware of any press releases. In my opinion, the Democratic primary will be an uphill battle for Dandekar.

Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien has events scheduled for July 10 in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo. Assuming he and Dandekar both announce candidacies in IA-01, that makes five Democrats seeking to replace Bruce Braley: three from Linn County (Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, Dandekar, and O’Brien), State Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo (in the exploratory committee phase for now). I believe at least one or two of those candidates will end up not filing for the ballot next March.  

Page 1 Page 2