Pawlenty in, Daniels out and other presidential campaign news

After a slow start, the Republican presidential campaign is ratcheting up in Iowa. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally announced his candidacy in Des Moines today. Over the weekend former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain made his campaign official too.

Arguably the biggest news of the past few days was Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ruling out a campaign. Many Republican insiders had hoped he would beef up the weak declared field against President Barack Obama.

Links, quotes, and analysis are after the jump.

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Another poll shows Huckabee's the one to beat in Iowa

A third poll this month finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with an early lead among Iowans likely to participate in the 2012 Republican caucuses. James Q. Lynch brought the latest poll to my attention. Strategic National surveyed 410 Republican Iowa caucus-goers on January 18 about their preferences for the next presidential campaign. Huckabee led the field with 27.5 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 18.5 percent, 17.6 percent undecided, 12.4 percent for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 12.2 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 4.4 percent for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, 3.7 percent for Representative Michele Bachmann, 1.95 percent for Senator John Thune, just under 1 percent for former Senator Rick Santorum, and 0.24 percent for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Strategic National has worked for various Republican candidates, but I know nothing about the Michigan-based consulting firm as a pollster. I wonder whether “410 Republican Iowa caucus voting answers” means 410 people who said they will go to the GOP caucuses in 2012, or 410 people who have caucused in the past, or whether some other likely voter screen was used.

Earlier this month, Public Policy Polling and Neighborhood Research both found Huckabee leading Iowa Republican caucus-goers, with Romney in second place.

My hunch is that Huckabee won’t run for president in 2012, for reasons I discussed here. Also, his 2008 campaign manager Chip Saltsman just took a job on the Hill, although Saltsman says he would be available if Huckabee runs for president again.

If Huckabee decides to challenge Obama, he’ll probably get in the race late. Iowa caucus-goers aren’t known for rewarding late starters, but Huckabee already has high name recognition here. In addition, a large portion of GOP caucus-goers have a conservative evangelical orientation. Strategic National’s poll found that nearly 68 percent of respondents said the earth was created in six days, and 45 percent agreed that the earth is about 10,000 years old.

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New thread on the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses

It’s time for another look at the Republican presidential contenders’ prospects in Iowa. The 2012 cycle may seem like a long way off, but the serious candidates will probably start hiring staff in Iowa before the end of this year. Since the last time Bleeding Heartland covered this ground, several Republicans with presidential ambitions have spoken out on our GOP gubernatorial contest, visited Iowa or scheduled trips here during this fall’s campaign.  

Lots of links and speculation are after the jump.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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I have good news and bad news

The good news is, the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event on Saturday night raised close to $200,000, twice as much as the Republican Party of Iowa brought in with last Thursday’s “Night of the Rising Stars.” Even better, Democrats paid reasonable prices (starting at $35, I believe) for heavy hors d’oevres and a ticket to hear Tom Vilsack, Christie Vilsack and Sally Pederson. In contrast, Republicans paid $100 ($50 for those under 35) for Chex mix, a cash bar and Haley Barbour.

Now for the bad news, courtesy of Paul Deaton at Blog for Iowa:

Governor Culver bragged about the success of the event’s fund raising efforts, saying that more money had been raised this year than in any of the previous years of the Hall of Fame event. What Chet Culver does not understand is that it is false success when among the 2009 Hall of Fame Hosts are listed the powerful interests that stymie the efforts of the progressive movement to do what is right in Iowa and in Washington.

One asks what do Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, MidAmerican Energy, Planned Parenthood, the Iowa Medical PAC, Mediacom, the Iowa Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and other political action committees, business associations and corporations want with their donation besides access and favorable attention to advance their agendas? The Iowa Democratic Party, despite statements made during the speeches, is far from being the grassroots party we need it to become. Grassroots activism, in my view, needs to eliminate the influence of the large, moneyed entities. A good place to start would be to cease accepting corporate sponsorship of party events. This seems unlikely in a Culver administration.

It’s normal for corporate interests to cozy up to the party in power, and why shouldn’t they? Look how well things turned out for the nursing home industry in Iowa this year.

I recognize the pressure Democrats are under to keep pace with Republican fundraising, but leaving big problems unaddressed for fear of offending business groups will not keep newly registered Democrats excited about voting and volunteering next year.

Looking further ahead, the corporate sponsors that made this weekend’s event a success may keep Culver from becoming the great governor he wants to be.

I don’t have an answer other than supporting individual Democratic candidates who stand for my beliefs and organizations working toward real campaign finance reform. If you have any better ideas, please post them in this thread.

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Iowa Republicans more like "Party of Hoover" than party of future

The Republican Party of Iowa is celebrating its “rising stars” tonight at an event featuring Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Judging by what we’ve heard lately from Iowa GOP leaders, they’re gonna party like it’s 1929.

Case in point: Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley. The possible gubernatorial candidate’s weekly memos continue to whine about spending and borrowing by Democrats (see also here). Republicans would rather slash government programs and provide “targeted” one-year tax credits.

The lessons of Herbert Hoover’s presidency are still lost on these people. I apologize for repeating myself, but excessive government spending cuts can turn an economic recession into a depression. Since state governments cannot run budget deficits, it makes sense for the federal government to help the states “backfill” their budgets. That was the express purpose of the state transfer funds in the stimulus package.

In addition, it is prudent to spend federal funds on projects with long-term benefits. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was in Des Moines on June 23 to highlight the first installment of what will be $41 million in stimulus funds for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in Iowa. Energy efficiency programs in particular will have huge collateral benefits, saving consumers money while helping the environment.

No matter how many times Republicans repeat their misleading talking points about the I-JOBS state bonding initiative Democrats passed this year, it is prudent to borrow money for worthwhile projects when interest rates are low. I don’t hear McKinley or other Republican leaders telling businesses not to borrow money to make capital improvements.

Share any thoughts about Republican ideas, rhetoric, or career lobbyist Haley Barbour in this thread.

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