Never mind the experts: Schultz keeps campaigning for voter ID law

In fewer than three months on the job, Secretary of State Matt Schultz has prompted the president of the Iowa county auditors association to express concern about being “dragged into a partisan fight.” Jennifer Jacobs covered Butler County Auditor Holly Fokkena’s extraordinary comments in Sunday’s Des Moines Register. Not only is Fokkena a Republican like Schultz, she is from a county that tilts strongly to the GOP. Yet she is worried about Schultz’s push to require all voters to show photo ID.

Background and recent developments on the photo ID controversy are after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Third district voters support campaign finance reform

About 70 percent of voters in Iowa’s third district disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on corporate spending in election campaigns, according a poll of 548 registered voters conducted by SurveyUSA in IA-03 between March 10 and March 14. Common Cause, Public Campaign Action Fund and Political Action commissioned the survey. The whole polling memo is here (pdf file). Full results and cross-tabs are here.

Asked, “Should corporations be able to spend money to support or oppose candidates for public office?” 70 percent of respondents said no, while just 21 percent said yes.

Two-thirds of respondents said Democrats have “not done enough to reduce the influence of special-interest money in politics,” while only 30 percent agreed that “Democrats have made a serious attempt to reduce the influence of special-interest money in politics.”

Respondents were asked about two different proposed laws in response to the Supreme Court ruling. One would require corporations to disclose the money they are spending in elections and would force the corporate CEO to appear in political advertising. A plurality of respondents said that would limit the influence of special interests “a little.”

The poll also asked about a law that would create a voluntary public financing system for elections, in which candidates could receive public matching funds if they reject special interest money and individual contributions exceeding $100. A plurality of respondents said that approach would limit the influence of special interests “a lot.” 40 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports that law, and only 22 percent said they would be less likely to re-elect a member of Congress who supports the law.

Representative Leonard Boswell sharply criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. I hope this poll receives his attention and prompts him to join the co-sponsors of the Fair Elections Now act. Click here for more information about that approach to campaign finance reform.

Continue Reading...

Oh good, a top ten list to argue about

John Deeth’s latest blog post for the Des Moines Register reviews the ten worst campaigns waged in Iowa during the past 20 years. I didn’t observe all of those campaigns first-hand, but he makes a convincing case for including most of the candidates on his list.

Two campaigns don’t belong on Deeth’s list, in my opinion. He ranked Congressman Neal Smith’s 1994 effort as number seven. Maybe Smith was slow to realize that Greg Ganske was a threat, but one thing destroyed Smith in that race, and it wasn’t incompetence. Redistricting after the 1990 census took Story County and Jasper County out of Smith’s district, replacing them with a bunch of rural counties in southwest Iowa he had never represented. Smith brought incalculable millions to Iowa State University over the years, and union membership in the Newton area was very strong. If Story and Jasper had still been in IA-04, Smith would have easily survived even the Republican wave of 1994.

Number two on Deeth’s list is Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Iowa caucus campaign. As I discussed at length here, I feel that Barack Obama won the caucuses more than Clinton or John Edwards lost them. Remember, Clinton started out way behind in Iowa. Whatever mistakes her campaign made, and they made plenty, you have to give them credit for getting more than 70,000 Iowans to stand in her corner on a cold night in January. That included many thousands of people who had never attended a caucus before. In the summer of 2007, almost anyone would have agreed that 70,000 supporters would be enough to win here. The turnout for Clinton is even more impressive when you consider that she did worse on second choices than Obama or Edwards. She didn’t win Iowa, but this wasn’t one of the ten worst Iowa campaigns by a longshot.

I want to share one anecdote about Jim Ross Lightfoot’s gubernatorial campaign in 1998, which rightfully claimed the top spot on Deeth’s list. Lightfoot blew a huge lead over little-known Tom Vilsack in September and October. Here’s how stupid this guy was. According to several people who witnessed the event, Lightfoot advocated for school prayer at a candidate forum organized by Temple B’Nai Jeshurun in Des Moines. Not only that, Lightfoot told that room full of Jews that majority rule should determine the prayer. For instance, in a town that’s 90 percent Danish, why not let them say Lutheran prayers in school?

Terry Branstad showed horrible judgment by endorsing Lightfoot in the 1998 primary, when he could have supported his own highly capable Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning.

Go read Deeth’s post, then share your own thoughts about the worst Iowa campaigns in this thread.

Also, check Deeth’s own blog regularly this month for updates on Iowa candidate filings. March 19 is the deadline for state legislative and statewide candidates to submit nomination papers.

Continue Reading...

Redistricting 2011: Iowa

(Thanks for the cross-post! In December I handicapped the 2012 U.S. House races in Iowa. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: Click here for further discussion about where this map came from and why it appeared on this site.


At Daily Kos, I've been posting a series of diaries taking an early look at redistricting after the 2010 Census in each state. Today I posted a diary mapping possible scenarios in Iowa and Ohio, and was encouraged to post the Iowa portion here.

Read my proposal for Iowa below the fold…

Continue Reading...

Tell President-Elect Obama to Support Verified Voting

(Verified voting has been on my mind lately, so thanks to Sean for posting this diary.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

We have an opportunity to make sure that President-elect Obama hears from citizens about the importance of verified voting. The Presidential transition team has set up a system called “Open for Questions” on Citizens submit questions of their own, and vote on other questions. The transition team will gather the responses and post answers in the New Year.

You can help by recommending this question for consideration:

“President-elect Obama has cosponsored two bills* that would eliminate unverifiable voting in federal elections. Will he ask the 111th Congress to pass a law requiring paper ballots and random hand audits of computer vote tallies?”

You can recommend as many questions as you like, so you will not lose other opportunities to share your ideas by doing this.

Tips for recommending a question on the flip.

Continue Reading...

Don't even think about it

It would be a terrible mistake for the Des Moines school board to go down the path outlined in the Des Moines Register on Friday:

Fine print in a new statewide election law gives the Des Moines school board the option to cut short controversial member Jon Narcisse’s three-year term, a move he says would be “an assault against democracy.”


Eric Tabor, chief of staff for the Iowa attorney general’s office, said the Legislature has the authority to alter school board terms. Secretary of State Michael Mauro said there was “absolutely, unequivocally, no intent to put any board member in any district in jeopardy.”

Boards are instructed to consider the number of votes board members received in the last election when they decide how to meet the law’s requirements. Patty Link won 4,021 votes and Narcisse 3,029 in September.


Phil Roeder, spokesman for the district, said a few options would comply with the law:

– Shorten Narcisse’s and Link’s terms by one year, with re-election in 2009.

– Decrease Narcisse’s term and increase Link’s by one year, with re-election in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

– Alter the 2008 election terms so that one or two members are elected to one-year terms; Narcisse and Link would then be up for re-election in 2009 and 2011, respectively, or both in 2011.

I don’t care what the law allows them to do–any solution that appears to favor Link (a well-connected and well-liked white woman) over Narcisse (an outspoken critic of district policies who is also the only African American on the board CORRECTION: Teree Caldwell-Johnson, who is African-American, also serves on the Des Moines school board) would be a disaster.

If the goal is to get Narcisse off the board sooner, I doubt making him into a martyr is going to achieve that. He was elected precisely because of his criticism of past leadership on the school board and in the district administration.

I know people involved in the Save & Support Our Schools organization who strongly backed Narcisse’s candidacy. They felt that too many Des Moines school board members had failed to ask tough questions of superintendent Eric Witherspoon over the years. (The current superintendent, Nancy Sebring, seems to be more responsive to community concerns.)

The school board should find a way to implement this new law without appearing to single out Narcisse for punishment.  

Continue Reading...
View More...