How third-party candidates fared in Iowa's 2010 elections

This summer, the Libertarian Party in Iowa embarked on a “10 percent strategy,” hoping to win 2 percent of the vote for governor in order to secure major-party status in 2012. Iowa lacks a tradition of strong third-party voting like our neighbor to the north, and the unofficial results indicate that no alternative to Terry Branstad and Chet Culver cleared the 2 percent threshold in the governor’s race. Iowa Party candidate Jonathan Narcisse came closer to that mark than Libertarian Eric Cooper.

Although no third party is set up to have a larger statewide impact in 2012, minor party candidates received an unusually high share of the vote in some areas. In a few races, the votes for third-party candidates exceeded the difference between the Democrat and the Republican.

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IA-05: Closing arguments for Steve King and Matt Campbell

Lots of Democrats have had a tough year, but few candidates faced a more difficult task than Matt Campbell. He’s challenging Representative Steve King, who won his previous four elections in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district with 62 percent, 63 percent, 59 percent, and 60 percent of the vote. Campbell isn’t just running for Congress in a Republican year, he’s running in Iowa’s most conservative U.S. House district (partisan voting index R+8). IA-05 also happens to be Iowa’s largest Congressional district (32 counties) and the most expensive district for advertising. Campbell’s opportunities for raising his name recognition were limited, because King maintained his perfect record of never debating an opponent. All four other U.S. House incumbents debated their challengers at least once.

King was so relaxed about his re-election campaign that he spent most of last week touring other parts of Iowa with the anti-retention Judge Bus.

Follow me after the jump for video clips, transcripts and some comments about King and Campbell outreach to voters in IA-05.

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Weekend open thread: Newspaper endorsements edition

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

The weather’s been dry and unseasonably warm this October, ideal for candidates and volunteers. It’s not too late to spend a few hours helping a campaign near you. The state legislative candidates can especially use help with phone-banking and door-knocking. Even if your home district is a shoo-in for one party, you probably live near one of the two dozen Iowa House districts or four Iowa Senate districts considered competitive.

For instance, the Des Moines area has basically no swing districts, other than House district 59 in the western suburbs, but it’s easy for Democrats in the metro to volunteer for State Senator Staci Appel’s campaign in Senate district 37. You don’t even have to drive down to Warren or Madison County. Volunteers can make phone calls for Appel at the AFSCME Local 61 office (4320 NW Second Avenue in Des Moines) on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 pm to 8 pm, on Saturdays from noon to 6 pm, or on Sundays from 1 pm to 6 pm. I did this one evening, and it’s so easy.

If you want to help but don’t know how or where, I recommend calling your county Democrats or the Iowa Democratic Party (515-244-7292). Volunteers will also be needed on election day for phone-banking and contacting likely Democratic supporters who haven’t voted yet.

Newspapers across the state have been weighing in on the elections. I’ve been browsing the endorsement editorials, and a few have left me wondering what the editors could have been thinking. Some examples are after the jump.

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Steve King cheers socialized medicine's expansion in Carroll

No Republican in Congress has been more vocal about repealing “Obamacare” than Representative Steve King. He has tried to make undoing everything in the health insurance reform law the top priority for Republicans. Speaking to the Spencer Daily Reporter’s Gabe Licht in August, King asserted:

“I think we’ve lurched to the left so hard that we’re nearly off the cliff into the abyss of socialism … We should keep in mind so many things I think should be undone.”

Topping that list for King is what he calls nationalization of health care.

“When I say nationalization, I mean under the ownership, management or control of the federal government,” he said. “Now our skin and everything inside it has been nationalized by ‘Obamacare.’”

That may sound like an extreme interpretation of a law that gave health insurance industry interests almost everything they wanted, but remember, we’re talking about Steve King. He has derided the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (which pays for kids’ medical care but doesn’t dictate where they must receive it) as Socialized Clinton style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see this press release from Representative King’s office a few days ago:

Congressman Steve King has released the following statement in support of the Veterans Affairs Department’s decision to locate a new Veterans’ Community Based Outpatient Clinic at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, Iowa.

“The VA has wisely chosen to locate its new VA clinic at St. Anthony Hospital. The Carroll community and the providers, administrators, and staff at St. Anthony have made significant investments in the hospital in recent years, and the veterans who will be making regular visits to the new clinic will be the beneficiaries of many of the improvements that have been made,” said King.

“St. Anthony Hospital has served as an important anchor in the Carroll community for decades, and it makes sense for the VA to turn to it to facilitate the opening of a new clinic to better serve the many veterans who live in the area. In the past few years, I’ve worked with the VA to increase Fifth District veterans’ access to health services through the establishment of new VA clinics in both Spirit Lake and Shenandoah. Setting up this new clinic in Carroll will make it even easier for western Iowa’s veterans to get the care they were promised. It has been a privilege to be part of the process and the credit goes to St. Anthony’s administration and staff. I’m pleased the VA has finally put its stamp of approval on this proposal. Congratulations to our veterans, St. Anthony’s and the Carroll community. I look forward to the ribbon cutting.”

Nothing in the United States resembles socialized medicine as much as the VA. The government runs the veterans’ clinics, employs the doctors and other staff, and uses its bulk purchasing power to reduce some costs. (Medicare is sometimes described as socialized medicine but is actually a single-payer system, in which the government pays for care but doesn’t control the health care providers.) The health insurance reform law King detests didn’t even create a minimal government-run insurance plan, nor did it permit Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

I think King is smart enough to understand the inconsistency between welcoming the VA’s expansion in his district and warning that Obamacare has given the government control over “our skin and everything inside it.” It reminds me of how he hailed new funding for Highway 20 in northwest Iowa, hoping no one would notice that he voted against the 2009 stimulus bill which provided those funds. When it’s politically expedient, he’ll get behind “big government” spending and services that will be popular with his constituents.  

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Iowa Corn Growers hedge their bets

The Iowa Corn Growers Assocation’s political action committee announced its support for 66 Iowa candidates today. Unlike the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, which endorsed 64 Republicans and just three Democrats, the Corn Growers’ PAC is supporting 33 candidates from each party.

For the governor’s race, the corn growers took the unusual step of endorsing both Governor Chet Culver and his Republican opponent, Terry Branstad. Nearly all of the other endorsed candidates are incumbents: Republican Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Senator Chuck Grassley, and all five U.S. House incumbents: Democrats Bruce Braley, Leonard Boswell and Dave Loebsack, and Republicans Tom Latham and Steve King. Boswell’s campaign was quick to hail the endorsement in a press release, with Boswell promising to use his position on the House Agriculture Committee to be a strong voice for farmers and ethanol producers. Boswell’s first campaign advertisement this year focused on Republican challenger Brad Zaun’s pledge to do “nothing” to help Iowa’s biofuels industry.

The Corn Growers’ PAC endorsed 17 candidates for Iowa Senate, 10 Democrats and 7 Republicans. In races expected to be competitive, the corn growers are backing Democrats Rich Olive in district 5, Staci Appel in district 37, both candidates in district 9 (incumbent Democrat Bill Heckroth and Republican Bill Dix), and both candidates in district 45 (incumbent Democrat Becky Schmitz and Republican Sandy Greiner). Dix and Greiner have served in the Iowa legislature before.

All 40 Iowa House candidates endorsed by the corn growers are incumbents. Republicans have a slight edge with 22 endorsed candidates, but many of the 18 Democrats on the list hold seats the GOP is targeting: McKinley Bailey (district 9), John Beard (district 16), Andrew Wenthe (district 18), Bob Kressig (district 19), Ray Zirkelbach (district 31), Donovan Olson (district 48), Eric Palmer (district 75), Nathan Reichert (district 80) and Michael Reasoner (district 95). The Corn Growers’ PAC did not make an endorsement in any of the open-seat Iowa House races.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association press release containing the full list of endorsed candidates is after the jump.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that the Iowa Farmers Union gave Culver its “Friend of the Farmer award last week.  According to the Marshalltown Times-Republican, “Gregg Heide, vice president of the IFU, said Culver’s backing of the Iowa Power Fund, renewable energy and biofuels were the main reasons he was being honored.”

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