John Norris: Why he may run for governor and what he would bring to the table

With the exhausting battles of the 2017 legislative session behind us, Iowa Democrats can turn their attention to the most pressing task ahead. Next year’s gubernatorial election will likely determine whether Republicans retain unchecked power to impose their will on Iowans, or whether some balance returns to the statehouse.

A record number of Democrats may run for governor in 2018. Today Bleeding Heartland begins a series of in-depth looks at the possible contenders.

John Norris moved back to Iowa with his wife Jackie Norris and their three sons last year, after nearly six years in Washington and two in Rome, Italy. He has been touching base with potential supporters for several weeks and expects to decide sometime in May whether to become a candidate for governor. His “concern about the direction the state’s going” is not in question. Rather, Norris is gauging the response he gets from activists and community leaders he has known for many years, and whether he can raise the resources “to make this a go.”

In a lengthy interview earlier this month, Norris discussed the changes he sees in Iowa, the issues he’s most passionate about, and why he has “something significantly different to offer” from others in the field, who largely agree on public policy. The native of Red Oak in Montgomery County (which happens to be Senator Joni Ernst’s home town too) also shared his perspective on why Democrats have lost ground among Iowa’s rural and small-town voters, and what they can do to reverse that trend.

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How the Iowa caucuses work, part 4: What a precinct captain does

Continuing a six-part series. Part 1 covered basic elements of the caucus system, part 2 explained why so many Iowans can’t or won’t attend their precinct caucus, and part 3 covered Democratic caucus math, which sometimes produces strange results.

Axiom of Iowa politics: the key to winning the caucuses is to “organize, organize, organize, and then get hot at the end.” Although paid staff do much of the ground work, a successful presidential campaign needs a large number of volunteers at the precinct level. I haven’t been engaged as a volunteer this cycle, because for the first time in my life, I remained undecided until shortly before the caucuses. But I spent many hours trying to turn out neighbors for John Kerry in 2004 and for John Edwards in 2008. During the past thirteen years, I’ve talked with hundreds of Iowa Democratic activists who volunteered locally for presidential candidates.

This post focuses on how precinct captains can influence outcomes on caucus night.

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Front Runners Beware

Thanks to fladem for this historical perspective on late shifts in Iowa caucus-goers’ preferences. If you missed his earlier posts, check out A deep dive into Iowa Caucus History and Iowa Polling 45 days out: Let the Buyer REALLY beware. -promoted by desmoinesdem

This is a continuation of an article I wrote about Iowa polling in November. At the time I noted how unpredictable the Iowa Caucuses are. This article is going to look at the last 48 hours. There are two lessons you can draw:

Front Runners Beware

Expect someone to come from nowhere

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Belated Harkin Steak Fry discussion thread

I didn’t make it to the Harkin Steak Fry this year, but I’m sure lots of Bleeding Heartland readers were there. Feel free to share your thoughts and observations in this comment thread. Thanks to O.Kay Henderson who posted the audio at Radio Iowa, I finally had a chance to listen to the speeches by Ruth Harkin, Senator Tom Harkin, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Vice President Joe Biden. Harkin was funny and passionate, as usual. Castro’s message about protecting the American Dream wasn’t particularly creative or memorable, but he delivered it well.

Listening to the vice president brought back a lot of Iowa caucus memories. From what I’ve observed, most Iowa Democrats love Joe Biden, even if he didn’t do well on caucus night 2008. He stayed for a long time to talk with and pose for pictures with Iowans who came to the Warren County fairgrounds. I don’t see him running in 2016 if Hillary Clinton takes another shot at the presidency, but if she doesn’t run next time around, he would be tough to beat in the caucuses. Incidentally, to my ear Biden’s praise of Secretary of State John Kerry (in the context of the recent crisis in Syria) did not come across as a slap at Clinton.  

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