IA-03: Moderate Republican endorses Boswell

Representative Leonard Boswell’s campaign held a press conference this morning to announce an endorsement from Mark Rees, who finished fourth in the seven-way Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district. Rees positioned himself as a moderate and mostly self-funded his campaign. He only won about 4 percent of the GOP primary votes. From a Boswell campaign press release:

“Boswell’s lifelong record of service to this state and our country is rarely seen in politics today,” Rees said. “His character, judgment, and integrity are without question. I trust Congressmen Boswell. I trust him to listen to his constituents and place our interests above his Party. I trust him to make sound, solid decisions void of any self-interest. And above all else, I trust him to always represent this state with honor and integrity.”

Boswell accepted the endorsement and praised Rees for representing a moderate voice in the GOP primary election.

“During the primary, Mark did not indulge in emotionally-charged rhetoric to score political points, and instead offered substantive policy viewpoints,” Boswell said. “His support is a testament to my history as a legislator in Congress, as I have always sought the middle ground in order to bring about solutions for our country. I look forward to working with Mark as we look toward the November election.”

WHO’s Dave Price reports that at today’s press conference, Rees “didn’t say anything bad” about Republican nominee Brad Zaun, but he did answer “yes” when asked “if Zaun was too extreme for the party.” The Republican Party of Iowa questioned whether Rees was really a Republican, noting that he voted in the 2006 Democratic primary. A statement from Zaun’s campaign suggested that Rees is a hypocrite for supporting “a 14-year, career politician who embodies ‘business as usual’ in Washington, DC” after claiming during the primary that voters he met were frustrated “with career politicians and business as usual in Washington.”

When the Boswell campaign announced Friday that a Republican would endorse the Democrat today, I was hoping for more of a game-changer than Rees, who isn’t well-known outside West Des Moines. That said, Rees may be able to help Boswell among moderate Republicans and independents in some swingy suburban precincts. About two-thirds of Rees’ votes in the GOP primary came from Polk County (where Zaun is unusually strong).  Within Polk County, Rees’ support came primarily from the western suburbs of Des Moines, especially West Des Moines, Clive and Johnston. Rees’ stands on the issues are a better fit for moderates than Zaun’s, so his support may help Boswell claim the center this fall. Meanwhile, Republicans will keep recycling their rhetoric about “liberal” Boswell serving Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco agenda, blah blah blah.

Continue Reading...

Iowa primary election results thread

Polls close at 9 pm, but I decided to post this thread early in case anyone wants to chat before results start coming in.

I’ll update later with returns in the key Iowa races. For now, share any anecdotes about voting or political talk today. I ran into a friend who was a Republican for most of her life, even voting twice for George W. Bush. She voted for Chet Culver in 2006 and plans to volunteer for his campaign this year, mostly because she doesn’t want Republicans to cut preschool funding and other social services for kids.

9:15 pm UPDATE: 9 percent of precincts reporting, Terry Branstad 47 percent, Bob Vander Plaats 46 percent, Rod Roberts 7 percent. I have no idea which part of the state has reported–if those are from northwest Iowa counties, Branstad probably doesn’t have anything to worry about, but if that’s from central or eastern Iowa, this could be a lot closer than I expected.

Brad Zaun leads the early returns in IA-03, but it seems like Polk County is coming in early.

9:40 pm UPDATE. The Associated Press has called the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate for Roxanne Conlin. She has about 80 percent of the vote in the early returns; Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen have about 10 percent each.

Branstad is opening up a lead on Vander Plaats, about 51-41.

Zaun is dominating the IA-03 primary with over 50 percent of the vote (about half the precincts counted).

10 pm UPDATE: Zaun is being called the winner in the IA-03 primary. He has about half the vote with about two-thirds of the precincts reporting.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads the IA-02 GOP primary in the early returns.

Matt Campbell leads Mike Denklau in the early returns for the IA-05 Democratic primary.

Conlin just finished giving her victory speech to her supporters.

Ako Abdul-Samad won the Democratic primary in Iowa House district 66 with about 75 percent of the vote.

10:35 pm UPDATE: The AP has called the gubernatorial primary for Branstad, who has 51 percent of the vote with about three quarters of the precincts counted. Matt Campbell won the fifth district Democratic primary.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks looks smart for not wasting money on tv ads in the IA-02 primary. She has been called the winner with 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race. The NRCC’s favored candidate, Rob Gettemy, may actually finish dead last.

Matt Schultz has a pretty big lead in the GOP secretary of state primary, about 47 percent so far. The big surprise to me is that Chris Sanger (who hardly raised any money) has almost as many votes as George Eichhorn, who had quite a few endorsements and has been active in Iowa politics for a long time.

Tea party candidate Tom Shaw has a narrow lead in the Republican primary in Iowa House district 8, but it’s too early to know if that lead will hold up.

11:25 pm UPDATE: It’s official, Gettemy finished dead last in IA-02. Miller-Meeks won that four-way primary with an impressive 51 percent of the vote. Will Republicans unite behind her?

Zaun is sitting at about 43 percent with most of the IA-03 votes counted.

Branstad is still leading with 51 percent of the vote, to 40 percent for Vander Plaats. If the Club for Growth had invested $1 million in Vander Plaats, this could have been a nail-biter.

Matt Schultz did win the secretary of state primary with 47 percent of the vote. Political veteran George Eichhorn got 27 percent, and Chris Sanger got 26 percent despite spending almost no money.

Dave Jamison easily won the GOP primary for state treasurer with about 67 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Jim Heavens.

Campbell has a very big lead in the IA-05 Democratic primary, with about 76 percent of votes counted so far.

In Iowa Senate district 13, Tod Bowman easily won the four-way Democratic primary with more than 60 percent of the vote. He had key union endorsements. This should be an easy hold for us in November.

Anesa Kajtazovic won the House district 21 Democratic primary with more than 90 percent of the vote (Kerry Burt dropped out of the race this spring).

Democratic incumbents Chuck Isenhart, Dave Jacoby and Mary Gaskill easily held off primary challenges in House districts 27, 30 and 93, respectively. All won more than 80 percent of the vote.

In Iowa House district 8, tea partier Tom Shaw is officially the Republican primary winner over Stephen Richards, who almost beat Dolores Mertz in the 2008 election. I like our chances of holding a seat that should have been the GOP’s best pickup opportunity in the Iowa House.

Check the AP’s page for results in the other statehouse primaries (mostly GOP).

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot to mention the results in Senate district 41. State Senator Dave Hartsuch, who defeated incumbent Maggie Tinsman in the 2006 GOP primary, got a taste of his own medicine when he lost the Republican primary to Roby Smith by a 52-48 margin. Rich Clewell won the Democratic primary with 56 percent to 44 percent for Republican-turned-Democrat Dave Thede. Scott County readers, do you think these results improve our chances of winning this district? It has historically been Republican, but registration numbers have been trending toward Democrats, evening things out.

Continue Reading...

Weekend open thread: Election prediction contest edition

It’s time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. No prizes will be awarded, but winners will get bragging rights. Can anyone dethrone American007, overall winner of our 2008 election contest?

Enter by answering the following questions. To qualify for the contest, your predictions must be posted as a comment in this thread by 7 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. This isn’t like The Price is Right; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low.

1. How many votes will be cast in the Republican primary for Iowa governor? (Hint: about 199,000 Iowans voted in the hard-fought 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.)

2. What percentages of the vote will Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts receive in the Republican primary for governor?

3. What percentages of the vote will Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen receive in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate?

4. What percentages of the vote will Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje and Chris Reed receive in the Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district? Remember, if you expect this nomination to be decided at a district convention, make sure your guess has the top vote-getter below 35 percent.

5. Who will be the top four candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district, and what percentages of the vote will they receive? Again, keep the top vote-getter below 35 percent if you expect this nomination to go to a district convention. Your possible answers are Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees, Scott Batcher, Jason Welch and Pat Bertroche.

6. What percentages of the vote will Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell receive in the Democratic primary in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district?

7. What percentages of the vote will Matt Schultz, George Eichhorn and Chris Sanger receive in the Republican primary for secretary of state? (I covered that campaign in this post.)

8. What percentages of the vote will Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens receive in the Republican primary for state treasurer? (The Iowa Republican blog has been covering this race from time to time.)

9. What percentages of the vote will State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and challenger Clair Rudison receive in the Democratic primary for Iowa House district 66? (Click here for background.)

10. What percentages of the vote will Tom Shaw, Stephen Richards and Alissa Wagner receive in the Republican primary for Iowa House district 8? (Click here and here for background. Keep in mind that although Wagner withdrew from the race and endorsed Shaw, her name will remain on the ballot.)

Don’t be afraid to make some wild guesses. You can’t win if you don’t play!

This is also an open thread, so share whatever’s on your mind.

Continue Reading...

Boswell's opponents are not ready for prime time

Iowa Republicans are deluding themselves if they think Representative Leonard Boswell is highly vulnerable this year. The more I see of the Republican primary campaigns, the less worried I am about holding Iowa’s third Congressional district in the Democratic column.

Four of the seven Republicans running against Boswell have no chance of winning the nomination. Jason Welch hasn’t attended any candidate forums, and I wonder why he went to the trouble of qualifying for the ballot. Pat Bertroche and Scott Batcher are ill-informed sideshows who will be lucky to win 5 percent of the vote. Mark Rees seems to have the firmest grasp of the issues, but there aren’t enough moderate Republicans anymore for someone like Rees to win a primary. Rees could affect the election, because a strong showing for him (10 to 20 percent of the vote) would increase the chance that no candidate receives at least 35 percent in the primary. But whether Republicans pick a winner on June 8 or at a district convention later, Rees will not be Boswell’s general election opponent.

That leaves the Washington establishment candidate Jim Gibbons, State Senator Brad Zaun and tea party favorite Dave Funk. After watching yesterday’s forum featuring six of Boswell’s opponents, Graham Gillette argued that Funk, Gibbons and Zaun “are all capable of putting together a strong general election effort.” After the jump I explain why I disagree.

Continue Reading...

Zaun campaigns as "proven conservative"

Republican State Senator Brad Zaun’s Congressional campaign launched new radio and television advertising this week. Here is the tv ad:

The script:

Brad Zaun: There’s a plan for most of the problems that face America, it’s called the Constitution, I’m Brad Zaun.

We need limited government, which means a repeal of Obamacare, and let’s get back to the 10th Amendment and put the power in the hands of the people.

Anncr: Under Brad Zaun, Urbandale had the lowest tax rates and as Senator Brad Zaun has been recognized by business groups with a 100% pro-jobs voting record. Brad Zaun a proven conservative, getting it done.

Brad Zaun: I’m Brad Zaun and I approve this message.

This commercial is nowhere near as slick as Jim Gibbons’ opening tv ad, but it’s an improvement on the first Zaun commercial, which aired briefly in January. Zaun is still hitting very safe Republican themes, but unlike the first ad, the new commercial cites Zaun’s record as mayor and state senator. None of the six other Republicans running for Congress in the third district has ever held elective office before. Zaun’s opening radio ad also emphasizes his record:

BZ: You learn a lot when you own a hardware store for eighteen years, I’m Brad Zaun. I learned to meet a payroll, listen to my customers and during tough times, cut expenses. And that’s what our country needs today.

Anncr: Under Brad Zaun’s leadership as Mayor, Urbandale tightened its belt and enjoyed the lowest tax rates in the metro area and as Senator, Brad Zaun received a 100% rating from the Iowa Association of Business and Industry for supporting job creation.

BZ: In Congress, I’ll vote to repeal Obamacare and support real health care reform that is market-driven and puts you in control of your own healthcare decisions. I will also vote to end wasteful earmarks…if you’re looking for pork barrel spending; I’m not your candidate. And I’ll push for a balanced budget amendment to force Washington to end the out of control spending. Let’s take our country back. I’m Brad Zaun and I approve this message.

Anncr: Brad Zaun…Conservative…Republican….Proven Results. Paid for by Zaun for Congress

Gibbons has also talked about how his career has influenced his political beliefs and has made vague promises to “stop wasteful spending, lower taxes and grow Iowa jobs.” But Zaun has a dash more “tea party” in his campaign message, bringing up the 10th amendment and “Obamacare” in the tv ad and bashing earmarks in his radio ad. Earmarks make up a miniscule and declining portion of federal spending, but it’s a safe bet Republican primary voters aren’t aware of that.

Zaun won’t be able to run as many commercials as Gibbons before the June 8 primary. Republican insider Doug Gross has predicted Zaun will have a stronger ground game than Gibbons, while tea party favorite Dave Funk has support from the “ideologues.” I am curious to see whether Gibbons ever makes a case against any of his Republican rivals. For now he seems to be relying on fame from his wrestling days and a large advertising budget.

The next debate featuring the third district Republican candidates will be hosted by the Des Moines Tea Party this Sunday evening, May 16. Funk and moderate Republican Mark Rees should probably try to do something to stand out from the crowd. If each of them can win 10-20 percent of the vote on June 8, it becomes much more likely that a district convention will decide which Republican will face Representative Leonard Boswell in November.

For what it’s worth, most of the Democrats I talk to expect Zaun to be the eventual nominee, but if it goes to convention Funk cannot be counted out.

UPDATE: According to Kathie Obradovich, Gibbons, Rees, and Jason Welch (who hasn’t campaigned at all) won’t attend this Sunday’s Tea Party debate. Gibbons declined because he doesn’t do campaign events on Sundays.

SECOND UPDATE: In the comments, mirage says Gibbons has done campaign events on Sundays. Meanwhile, Rees explains why he is declining the Tea Party invitation to debate:

My initial concerns with the debate are of fairness and credibility. Although the Des Moines Tea Party has said it will not officially endorse a candidate in the Primary, one of my opponents is widely known and commonly accepted to be, “the Tea Party candidate.” Furthermore, his campaign has been managed by a key organizer and leader of the Tea Party movement in Iowa. I believe these facts raise a large and legitimate red flag as to whether this debate will indeed provide a fair and level playing field for all of the candidates.

Next, recent news reports, along with my own interactions with Tea Party activists during this campaign, have left me deeply troubled by the tone, demeanor, and tactics of the movement.

Continue Reading...
View More...