# Jim Ross Lightfoot

Three Iowans in Congress support federal guarantee of marriage equality

Three of Iowa’s four U.S. House members were part of the bipartisan majority that voted to guarantee same-sex marriage rights across the country.

Every House Democrat, including Iowa’s Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03), voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed on July 19 by 267 votes to 157 (roll call). So did 47 Republicans, including Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02). Representative Randy Feenstra (IA-04) joined the majority of House Republicans in opposing the legislation.

The bill repeals the federal Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996 to protect states from having to recognize same-sex marriages, and to define marriage in federal laws and regulations as between a husband and wife. The Respect for Marriage Act also prohibits states from refusing to recognize any marriage due to the “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin” of the individuals involved.

House leaders brought the bill to the floor in response to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote in a concurring opinion to the Dobbs case that having overturned Roe v. Wade, the court should reverse other precedents. Among other cases, Thomas mentioned the 1965 Griswold opinion establishing a right to contraception and the 2015 Obergefell ruling on marriage equality. Like the Roe and Griswold decisions, the Obergefell majority relied on a legal analysis that recognizes some liberty interests (like privacy and the right to marry), even though the Constitution does not specifically mention those rights.

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IA-03: Monte Shaw's strengths and weaknesses as a candidate

State Senator Brad Zaun won a crowded primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district in 2010, and he has led the only public polls in IA-03 this spring, but my best guess is that Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw will end up becoming Staci Appel’s competition in the general election campaign. I assume no candidate will win 35 percent of the vote in tomorrow’s primary, forcing a special district convention to select the nominee. From where I’m sitting, Shaw’s strengths as a candidate outweigh his potential weaknesses with Republican voters and delegates.

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IA-03: David Young has the Congressional insider vote locked up

Ever since David Young first revealed his plans to run for the U.S. Senate, I’ve had trouble understanding how a professional Congressional staffer could win a Republican primary in Iowa. By all accounts Young is a bright, capable, hard-working Iowa native, but who is supposed to be his constituency? Candidates who have spent years building networks among conservative activists here will have a natural advantage over Young, who worked in Washington for 17 years before moving back to Iowa in 2013.

After Representative Tom Latham announced his retirement, Young switched from the U.S. Senate to the third district Congressional race, but that doesn’t change the fundamental weakness of his candidacy. He may be the contender best-prepared to work in Congress, but I doubt that’s what primary voters are looking for. When Young joined the Senate field, Robert Cramer praised him as “a ‘man of integrity,’ trustworthy and an ‘across-the-board conservative.'” But even though Cramer has known Young for decades and thinks highly of him, he’s not backing him in IA-03. On the contrary, Cramer himself is seeking the GOP nomination for Latham’s seat.

This week Young’s campaign announced its most prominent endorsements so far: former U.S. Representatives Tom Tauke and Jim Ross Lightfoot. I’ve posted the press release after the jump. Tauke represented northeast Iowa and hasn’t served in Congress since losing the 1990 U.S. Senate race to Tom Harkin. Lightfoot represented parts of southwest Iowa that are in the current IA-03, but he hasn’t been in Congress since losing to Harkin in 1996. He was last seen in this state blowing a big lead over Tom Vilsack in the 1998 gubernatorial race. Following that debacle, Lightfoot “became a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., [and] is now owner of Texas-based Lightfoot Strategies, a government relations consulting company.” Hard to see him having any pull with the Iowa Republican base today.

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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.