# IA-SEN



Self-governance: It could be worse. It should be better

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

“It could be worse.”

At the start of 2022, friends may have uttered those four words to console or comfort us.

As the midterm elections approach, those four words may be prophetic.

Every election in a democracy —from township to presidency — is threatened by voters who are ill-informed, misinformed, and/or uninformed.

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New Selzer Iowa Poll points to "winnable" race for Democrats

Dan Guild is a lawyer and project manager who lives in New Hampshire. In addition to writing for Bleeding Heartland, he has written for CNN and Sabato’s Crystal Ball. He also contributed to the Washington Post’s 2020 primary simulations. Follow him on Twitter @dcg1114.

Ann Selzer commented on her latest Iowa Poll of the U.S. Senate race for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom: “It says to me that Franken is running a competent campaign and has a shot to defeat the seemingly invincible Chuck Grassley — previously perceived to be invincible.”

The gold-standard pollster‘s statement will shock many political observers. Forecasters that issue ratings on Senate races have uniformly discounted any chance that Chuck Grassley will lose. This race is simply not on the national radar. Since 2016, Iowa has seemingly marched inexorably toward becoming a red state.

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Iowa Republicans call Democrats extreme on abortion. Will voters buy it?

Republicans seeking Iowa’s federal offices take some important advantages into the November election. Most are incumbents with more money to spend than their challengers. Recent history suggests midterms favor the party out of power in Washington, and President Joe Biden has low approval numbers in Iowa.

One wild card complicates the equation for GOP candidates here, as in many other states. Republicans are on record supporting near-total abortion bans, while a majority of voters favor keeping abortion mostly legal.

Republican campaign messaging has emphasized other topics, such as inflation, taxes, or unpopular Washington politicians. When they can’t avoid talking about abortion, Republicans have claimed their Democratic opponents are the real extremists on the issue.

Several races may hinge on whether moderate voters buy into that distortion of the facts.

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Iowa's U.S. Senate race in 3-D

Herb Strentz examines Chuck Grassley’s recent political messaging and low points from his record in the Senate.

The home stretch of this midterm election campaign is unfolding in in 3-D format — Dire, Divisive, and Despairing. That’s particularly true of the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, seeking his eighth term at age 89, and Democrat Michael Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, who will be 65 on election day, November 8.

That 3-D nature of our Iowa politics was illustrated well in one of the Grassley campaign’s recent television commercials.

In a backhanded way, Grassley acknowledged why it is time for Iowans to vote him out of office.

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Five things not to do when running for office

U.S. Senate nominee Mike Franken faced every candidate’s nightmare on September 19 when the Republican-funded website Iowa Field Report published allegations that the Democrat kissed his former campaign manager Kimberley Strope-Boggus without consent.

The Des Moines Police Department’s incident report, dated April 12, described the events that led to Strope-Boggus’ complaint of simple assault. After consulting with an assistant Polk County attorney, Officer Abby Giampolo closed the case as “unfounded,” due to “insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal investigation.”

Since Franken and the staffer he fired in February were alone when the disputed events occurred, we will never know exactly what happened between them on the evening of March 18. Franken has denied the allegations, while Strope-Boggus told Bleeding Heartland and other reporters she is unable to comment at this time.

Every candidate can learn some lessons from this episode.

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Iowa Libertarians opt out of federal, most statewide races: What it means

Iowa’s filing period for the 2022 general election closed on August 27 with no third-party candidate qualified for the ballot in any federal race, or any statewide race other than for governor and lieutenant governor.

The landscape could hardly be more different from four years ago, when the Libertarian Party of Iowa fielded a full slate of federal and statewide candidates, and no-party candidates also competed in three of the four U.S. House districts.

The lack of a third-party presence could be important if any of Iowa’s Congressional or statewide elections are close contests.

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