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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IA-05: Time to bring back the chicken suits

In 2008, supporters of Democratic Congressional candidate Rob Hubler donned chicken suits outside some of Representative Steve King’s events, to highlight the incumbent’s refusal to debate. At that time, King’s excuse was that the League of Women Voters and Sioux City Journal would not provide “neutral” forums. He cited the Journal’s alleged “attacks” on his character, perhaps referring to a July 2008 report on King’s weak record of legislative achievement.

This summer, Democratic candidate Matt Campbell has challenged King to debates on several occasions. King hasn’t responded. I could have told you (actually, I did tell you) that King wasn’t going to debate Campbell. King likes to speak on conservative talk radio or in other forums where he controls the agenda. He’s not going to stand next to a knowledgeable opponent answering hard questions about substantive issues.

Last week Campbell announced that he had accepted an invitation from KTIV in Sioux City to debate King on October 23. The Campbell campaign press release lists several times King has claimed to welcome debate with Democrats. As usual, King did not respond to Campbell. So the Democrat turned up at King’s town hall meeting in Sioux City yesterday. Bret Hayworth has the story and a video clip at his Politically Speaking blog.

After Campbell pressed King to agree to a debate, the Republican from Kiron, Iowa, replied: “…My answer to that is that judging by the way you have conducted yourself you have not earned it.”

King went on to say that Campbell’s press releases contain too many personal attacks.

“I have said this in the past and everybody in the district that’s paid attention knows this: There needs to be a campaign that’s run that addresses the issues,” King said. […]

King was asked after the meeting if debating a political opponent is indeed a vital part of the American campaign process, as Campbell contends. “I don’t know where that rule would be written. I debate people every day,” King said.

Campbell makes too many “personal attacks”? This coming from a guy whose hyperbole about Democratic leaders is legendary. Yesterday Campbell’s campaign issued another statement on the matter. Excerpt:

Campbell says, “Steve King has never held himself accountable to the voters of Iowa in eight years and needs to fulfill his responsibility to the Democratic process.  Steve King is playing games when in reality he’s the one not respecting the process.  Even a Tea Party member of the audience agreed King should debate me.”

“I cordially introduced myself to Steve King in Storm Lake as King indicates I should have and since then King has ignored letters and phone calls from my office to discuss his participation in a formal debate focused on the issues facing the country,” Campbell says.  “It’s been 8 years, and it’s high time he fulfills his responsibility to voters.”

Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky chimed in with these comments:

“The people of the 5th District deserve an open debate between Steve King and Matt Campbell. They have earned the right to hear from both candidates in a fair and public setting and Steve King is proudly standing in the way of that,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky. “Surely a four-term Congressman like Steve King is capable of debating the issues, the only question is why he feels his constituents don’t deserve the chance to make an informed decision in this election.” […]

“It’s disappointing that Steve King, who never misses an opportunity to comment on an issue, is hiding from a real debate with his opponent. The people of the 5th District deserve better, Matt Campbell will be a strong voice for hard working families across the district” added Dvorsky.

I agree with the sentiment, but King shouldn’t just be chided, he should be ridiculed.

Rent a few chicken suits and follow King around for the next two months to remind voters that their four-term representative is afraid to face his opponent in a debate.

In other news on the IA-05 race, I see Warren Buffett recently donated the maximum allowable amount to Campbell’s campaign. If you can afford to chip in a few bucks, donate here. If you live in the fifth district or within striking distance, you can sign up to volunteer for Campbell here. Learn more about Campbell’s and his political beliefs here.

UPDATE: Democratic Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin said today that Senator Chuck Grassley “should stop being a coward” and agree to one of the many outstanding debate invitations in that race. Grassley agreed to a 30-minute joint appearance on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press program, but has not accepted invitations from:

WHO-TV/Des Moines Register

KCRG/Cedar Rapids Gazette

KCCI/IowaPolitics.Com

WHO Radio

Iowa Public Radio

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Vote for Steve King!

…in the “worst Republican you know” contest, that is:

Two progressive political action committees, Blue America and Americans For America, have teamed up to do a series of video ads highlighting the worst the GOP has to offer. […]

This week we’re considering five more– and there’ll be others between now and November, of course. First up, though are five especially unsavory Republicans, 4 House incumbents– Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Steve King (R-IA)– plus one challenger for an open seat, Karl Rove protégé and disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin.

Here’s how you vote: just make a donation on the page dedicated to the culprit of your choice. If you click on the picture below, you go directly to their page. Because we’re progressives and not conservatives, a one dollar donation equals the same single vote as a one hundred dollar donation. […]

[…] all of the money raised through this little contest will be used to help voters understand that there’s a difference between the Republican and the Democrat running for the seat […]. Who do you think is the worst of the worst?

Click here to read the whole post at Down With Tyranny, or go directly to this ActBlue page if you want to vote with your wallet for King. I gotta say, he has tough competition in this contest.

If you’re tired of seeing someone from Iowa repeatedly named one of the worst members of Congress, please support King’s Democratic challenger, Matt Campbell. He’s opening a second campaign office in Council Bluffs this week and has several public events scheduled (details here). Campbell’s been campaigning actively around the fifth district this summer. I saw on his e-mail blast of July 30 that he has several recent high-profile endorsers, including Norm Waitt Jr. (co-founder of Gateway Computers), former Democratic Congressman Berkley Bedell and former Republican Lieutenant Governor Art Neu: “Art sees the need for new leadership that will work in a constructive manner to benefit Western Iowa.” Campbell’s campaign website is here; you can donate or sign up to volunteer for the campaign, or just learn more about our Democratic nominee.  

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Iowa Congressional candidates 2Q fundraising roundup

Candidates for federal offices were required to submit Federal Election Commission reports on campaign fundraising and expenditures by July 15. Those reports covered money raised and spent between May 20 and June 30. “Pre-primary” reports, which were due in late May, covered the period from April 1 through May 19.

The second quarter numbers are particularly important for challengers, who need to show that they will have the resources to wage serious district-wide or statewide campaigns. Although candidates continue to raise money during the third quarter, they typically have less time for fundraising as they spend more time campaigning. Mike Glover of the Associated Press noted, “The cash-on-hand numbers are closely watched by strategists because candidates traditionally use the summer months to build up a cash reserve that they begin spending on television advertisements around Labor Day.”

Follow me after the jump for the second quarter numbers.  

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Don't hold your breath waiting for Steve King to debate

Democratic Congressional candidate Matt Campbell has challenged incumbent Steve King to a series of three debates this year. Campbell’s press release notes that King “has never formally debated an opponent” since his first election to Congress in 2002.

Don’t expect this year to become the exception that proves the rule. King ignored Campbell’s request that he apologize for making racially polarizing remarks about President Barack Obama, and he’s probably going to ignore Campbell’s request for debates on the issues.

Why would King agree to take questions from a panel of journalists while Campbell points out how little the incumbent has accomplished for his fifth district constituents? The status quo is very comfortable for King. Conservative interest groups pay to fly him all over the country. He gets one softball question after another from right-wing talk radio hosts. Even when sensible Republicans are embarrassed by his presence, he can find a receptive audience for his wrong-headed comments.

Douglas Burns put it well at the Carroll Daily Times Herald:

In evaluating employees one of the more important measures is time management. […]

We can debate whether King is accurate with his portrayal of Obama as a closet black militant. But, really, is this the sort of business we want Mr. King, our $174,000-a-year employee, doing for us on the job?

The time King spends on this matter is time he’s not devoting to the great sweep of land that is the 5th Congressional District. A self-described insomniac, King can claim that he has time to be a right-wing talk-show darling and a reliable piñata for MSNBC’s liberal commentators whose eyes light up like kids seeing candies and other sweets every time they see the Kiron Republican’s lips jiggle into their default position of flapping about.

But at the end of the day, there’s no getting away from the fact that it takes time and energy and political capital to play the role of Congressman Steve King as he’s written the part. […]

More important, when King is chasing the lights, cameras and action of the spit-scream arena of modern political talk entertainment shows what is he neglecting in Cherokee or Carroll or Creston or Council Bluffs? What agricultural or economic-development issue is getting less attention than it would otherwise have?

The most important choice we make in life is how to use our time. It is a limited commodity. King is on our clock and he’s spending our time in ways that have little to do with real life in western Iowa.

I would bank on Campbell’s handshake with King at the Storm Lake 4th of July parade being the only meeting between the two candidates this year.

In related Steve King news, this week he claimed the closure of a voter intimidation case in Philadelphia proved he was right to claim the Obama administration has a “default mechanism” favoring racial minorities. For context about the New Black Panther Case dropped by Obama’s Justice Department, read this piece by Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker. Conservatives like King are making “whistle-blower” Christian Adams out to be a hero, but Josh Marshall reminds us how this guy got his DOJ job in the first place:

Adams was one of the attorneys US Attorney firing scandal luminary Bradley Schlozman hired when he was purging the Civil Rights Division of female, minority and non-right wing attorneys and replacing them with “good Americans.”

Basically, Adams was one of the guys who got in during the bad old days when the crooks and bamboozlers then running the DOJ were purging career attorneys and replacing them with right-wing activists like Schlozman himself. And remember, Schlozman’s role at the Bush DOJ was getting US Attorneys to bring bogus ‘vote fraud’ cases to further the effort to suppress minority and low-income voter turnout.

Let’s see, what else was one of the 10 worst members of Congress wrong about lately? Oh yes, King agreed with a right-wing talk show caller who claimed Obama’s not helping Louisiana cope with the BP oil spill because that state’s governor is a Republican. In the process he falsely accused the president of failing to waive the Jones Act. Pat Garofalo explains here why the right-wing Jones Act talking points are false.

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