# Matt Campbell

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


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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One day left for second-quarter donations

A friendly reminder to Iowa Democrats: candidates for federal offices face an important fundraising deadline tomorrow. If you are able, please consider donating to one of our Congressional candidates before midnight on June 30:

Roxanne Conlin for U.S. Senate

Bruce Braley for Congress (IA-01)

Dave Loebsack for Congress (IA-02)

Leonard Boswell for Congress (IA-03)

Bill Maske for Congress (IA-04)

Matt Campbell for Congress (IA-05)

This quarter I have donated to Conlin, Maske, Campbell and Boswell. I made my contribution to Boswell’s re-election campaign before he advocated for big telecom companies over the public interest on net neutrality. I probably won’t give him any more money, but he’s still a lot better than his Republican opponent, the not very well-informed Brad Zaun. The next FEC reports from Boswell and Zaun will be particularly important: a huge advantage for Boswell lengthens the odds of the cash-strapped National Republican Congressional Committee spending heavily for Zaun this fall. The NRCC simply does not have enough money to make a difference in every competitive U.S. House race.

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Steve King update

Representative Steve King ventured to Colorado to speak at two events on Saturday. A tea party splinter group hastily arranged the “United We Stand with Arizona!” rally in Loveland after Northern Colorado Tea Party organizers made clear King would not be welcome speaking at their “Remember November” rally later in the day. King told his followers on Twitter, “Colorado trip was a complete success. Turnout surpassed projections in both Loveland and Elizabeth. No better friend than Tom Tancredo.”

King didn’t have such kind words for Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate in Colorado’s fourth Congressional district. Last week Gardner canceled a fundraiser King offered to headline. Speaking to the Coloradoan newspaper, King declined to endorse Gardner for Congress. King’s buddy Tancredo expressed hope that Gardner would show “more spine in Congress” than he did reacting to King’s controversial remarks on race.

At the immigration rally, King spoke near a sign that said, “Political correctness = intellectual fascism.” Here’s a clip in which King describes his vision for protecting us from illegal immigrants. For the price of $2 million per mile, he claims, we could build a fence, a road, and a concrete wall (with wire at the top) running the whole length of our southern border. He characterized that as a bargain compared to the $6 million per mile the U.S. spends on our current border security policy. With an offensive flourish that has become his trademark, King boasted to his audience, “If you give me $6 million a mile there will not be a cockroach get across my mile.”

The group America’s Voice, which advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, has compiled this archive on King’s comments about immigration and ties to “anti-immigrant extremist groups.” He has indicated in the past that “his words are weighed ahead of time, never off the cuff and designed to stir discussion of key issues.” King succeeds in drawing national attention to himself and his agenda. But residents of Iowa’s fifth district pay the price, Democratic challenger Matt Campbell noted last week: “Instead of focusing on moving America forward, King is busy making polarizing statements. […] King’s polarizing statements and failure to lead is preventing the people he represents here in Iowa’s fifth district from having their needs met.”

King found time in his busy schedule yesterday to speak up for British Petroleum. He agrees with conservatives who feel President Obama has dealt too harshly with the corporation. They object to plans for BP to finance “a $20 billion escrow fund to pay out claims to individuals and businesses harmed by the spill” in the Gulf of Mexico. The way King sees it, Representative Joe Barton was right to apologize to BP for the “shakedown” (hat tip to Deeth). Many other Washington Republicans have distanced themselves from Barton’s views.

Please give some money or time to Matt Campbell for Congress if you are able.

Steve King embarrassing an ever-wider circle of people

I was offline for a few days and returned to find that Representative Steve “10 Worst” King has been shooting off his mouth again. Historically, King’s offensive outbursts have enhanced his reputation with the country’s right wing, but this time even some conservatives are troubled by his comments. On Monday, King went on G. Gordon Liddy’s talk radio show to talk about Arizona’s new immigration law. Apparently that topic wasn’t controversial enough, because King said of President Barack Obama’s administration,

When you look at this administration, I’m offended by [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder and the President also, their posture.  It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race.  And I don’t know what the basis of that is but I’m not a coward when it comes to that and I’m happy to talk about these things and I think we should.  But the President has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race – on the side that favors the black person.

The Media Matters Action Network’s Political Correction blog posted the audio clip here. Naturally, King misquoted Holder and distorted the meaning of his words. Over at The Atlantic blog, Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses the long American history of claiming your political opponent is “favoring black people.”

We Iowans are used to King embarrassing us from time to time, but some out-of-staters were apparently shocked this week. Republican candidate Cory Gardner, who is challenging a Democratic incumbent in Colorado’s conservative-leaning fourth district, quickly canceled a fundraiser King was planning to headline this weekend (more on that here). Meanwhile, the Northern Colorado Tea Party axed King’s scheduled appearance at its June 19 event, saying, “we do not feel his remarks align with the mission and vision of the Northern Colorado Tea Party, which focuses on promoting fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free enterprise according to Constitutional principles. The race debate does not have a place in the Tea Party movement or in politics today.” Gardner will be at the Tea Party event and presumably wanted to avoid being on stage with King.

King told an Iowa political admirer on Monday, “The fact that liberals have risen to attack me and call me names without rebutting my assertions concedes my point […] When they start calling you names you know they’ve lost the argument.”

No, Congressman, when even your supposed political allies can’t get far enough away from you, it proves you have lost the argument. How often do candidates cancel opportunities to raise money for a campaign?

In case you were wondering what King had planned to say about the Arizona law on Gordon Liddy’s talk show, I infer it’s something like what he said on the floor of the U.S. House Monday evening:

   KING: Some claim that the Arizona law will bring about racial discrimination profiling. First let me say, Mr. Speaker, that profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement. If you can’t profile someone, you can’t use those common sense indicators that are before your very eyes. Now, I think it’s wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it’s not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying that are violating the law. […]

   It’s just a common sense thing. Law enforcement needs to use common sense indicators. Those common sense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear – my suit in my case – what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accident [sic] they have, um, the, the type of grooming they might have, there’re, there’re all kinds of indicators there and sometimes it’s just a sixth sense and they can’t put their finger on it. But these law enforcement officers, if they were going to be discriminating against people on the sole basis of race, singling people out, that’d be going on already.

Something tells me King wouldn’t be so comfortable with racial profiling if law enforcement singled out people who look like him. But empathy has never been his strong suit. We’re talking about a guy who thinks deporting undocumented immigrants to an area devastated by an earthquake might be a good way to send extra relief workers.

Matt Campbell is the Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fifth district; go here to get involved in supporting his campaign. Rob Hubler, King’s opponent in 2008, spoke with the Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth last week about the challenges of campaigning in this huge district, which covers 32 Iowa counties. He noted that it’s particularly hard for a candidate to get a message out with so many media markets covering portions of the district.

UPDATE: The Political Correction blog followed up on this story today.

Also, King told Radio Iowa that he stands by his remarks. Campbell commented on the controversy too: “I think they’re reflective of a pattern of Mr. King saying polarizing things. I think collectively they preclude meaningful work on issues important to the development of western Iowa because of statements such as this.” Hard to argue with that one.

SECOND UPDATE: Representative Bruce Braley, a Democrat, said King’s comments about Obama favoring black people “were deplorable and an embarrassment to the state of Iowa.”

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn and third district Congressional candidate Brad Zaun declined to comment, and Zaun said repeatedly that he didn’t know exactly what King had said.

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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.

Events coming up this weekend and next week

With only five days left before the Iowa primaries on June 8, many candidates have a busy weekend ahead. Event details are after the jump. Please post a comment or send an e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you want to suggest an event for this calendar. Iowa Democratic candidates, please add me to your list for press announcements so that I can include your public appearances and fundraisers on these calendars. Also, let me know where you are having your election night parties if you would like me to add them to this post.

Although most of the competitive primaries this year are on the Republican side, please remind your friends and family to vote in the June 8 election. Democrats across the state have a choice to make in the U.S. Senate race between Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause. Democrats in 32 counties (the fifth Congressional district) will select either Matt Campbell or Mike Denklau to face Representative Steve “10 Worst” King. A few state legislative districts have multiple Democrats running too. County auditors’ offices are open for early voting today, tomorrow, Saturday and Monday.

Stay tuned for a Bleeding Heartland primary election prediction contest. I’ll post more details soon. As usual, no prizes will be awarded, but the winner gets bragging rights.

Most of our Democratic incumbents and challengers are out knocking on doors every weekend and often during the week. Please consider getting involved in an Iowa House or Senate race near you. Candidates for the state legislature can always use volunteer help, and summer parades and county fairs are not far off.

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IA-5 Primary, Newspapers Not Publishing Candidate Letters

This is a copy of a letter that I wrote to be published in my local newspapers, only to find out that the newspapers have decide they are no longer going to print candidate letters.   The reason I was given is that the publishers think that not printing them will increase ad revenue as people who want to express their support will buy ads.  It has been sent to the Des Moines Register and the Sioux City Journal in hopes that they will publish it before the election.

I think this policy change will cause less information to be shared with voters.  People are going to think twice about spending money to run an ad for a candidate, and a lot fewer people will participate.  Issues will not be discussed and the differences between candidates will not be expressed. 

What are your thoughts on my local papers not publishing candidate letters? Do you think that letters to the editor are an effective way to communicate with voters?  Any other thoughts?


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Fifth District Endorsements

In the U.S. House district five Democratic primary race, Matt Campbell has done well at picking up labor endorsements.  There is one thing that stands out to me about this race's endorsements.  The only endorsements by politicians have gone to Mike Denklau.  Two highly regarded former politicians, Roger Wendt and Berkley Bedell, believe Denklau to be the best candidate to represent our district.  The only politician endorsements Campbell has are the ones he wants to fool you into thinking he has.  Throughout the campaign, a large portion of photos on Campbell's website and on his literature show him with either Vice President Joe Biden or U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.  These are misleading as neither politician has endorsed him.  This type of political maneuver which can be successful, but also dishonest reminds me of the 2002 Newark, NJ Mayoral race.  Incumbent Sharpe James sent out literature with him pictured with Bill Clinton to trick people into believing he had been endorsed.  This tactic helped James defeat challenger Cory Booker.  I am not fooled by Campbell's tactics.  I will be supporting Mike Denklau, the honest candidate, on June 8th.

Iowa Democrats and Republicans holding district conventions tomorrow

This weekend, activists across Iowa have a chance to hear from their party’s candidates for Congress, the Iowa legislature, and statewide offices. The Iowa Democratic Party is holding conventions in all five Congressional districts on Saturday, April 24. These events are open to the public as well as the media. In other words, you do not have to be a convention delegate or alternate to attend. Here’s a list of Democratic convention locations and some scheduled speakers:

WHAT: 1st District Convention WHEN: 10:00AM WHERE: Northeast Iowa Community College 10250 Sundown Rd. Peosta, IA SPEAKERS: Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin, Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke, Congressman Bruce Braley

WHAT: 2nd District Convention WHEN:11:00 AM WHERE: Fairfield Arts and Convention Center 200 North Main St. Fairfield, IA SPEAKERS: Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin, Governor Chet Culver, Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke, Congressman Dave Loebsack, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan

WHAT: 3rd District Convention WHEN: 9:00 AM WHERE: Adventureland Inn 3200 Adventureland Dr. Altoona, IA SPEAKERS: Senator Tom Harkin, Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin, Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke, Congressman Leonard Boswell

WHAT: 4th District Convention WHEN: 10:00 AM WHERE: North Iowa Fairgrounds, Olson Building 3700 4th St. SW Mason City, IA SPEAKERS: Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Candidate for Congress Bill Maske

WHAT: 5th District Convention WHEN: 9:00 AM WHERE: Atlantic Middle School 1100 Linn St. Atlantic, IA SPEAKERS: Senator Tom Harkin, Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen, Governor Chet Culver, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Candidate for Congress Matt Campbell, Candidate for Congress Mike Denklau, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan

The Republican Party of Iowa is holding conventions in the second, third and fifth districts this Saturday, and in the first and fourth districts on Saturday, May 1. (Click here for event details.) GOP conventions are open to the media but not the public.

The second and third district conventions will be well-attended because of the competitive GOP Congressional primaries. If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, district conventions will have to reconvene in June to select the nominee. Seven Republicans are running against Representative Leonard Boswell in the third district, and at least four of them are campaigning actively.

According to Republican blogger David Chung, there is “unprecedented” interest in the second district convention because of the four Republicans running against Representative Dave Loebsack. Chung writes, “For the first time in my memory, Linn County has filled [its] delegation. We have never actually had as many paid delegates as we were allotted.” Chung considers it “likely” that a second district convention will need to reconvene to select Loebsack’s opponent. Some other people following that race closely expect the contest to be decided on June 8, with only two candidates as serious contenders: Rob Gettemy and Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Gettemmy has the most cash on hand and the support of many influential Linn County Republicans as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee. The 2008 GOP nominee, Miller-Meeks, has spent the most time campaigning around the district. She has more cash on hand than either Steve Rathje or Chris Reed and is likely to do particularly well outside Linn County, where her three Republican rivals are based.

The district conventions will also elect members of the parties’ State Central Committees. Former Republican SCC member Chung is seeking that position again and expects a “massive shakeup” on the committee, because “several current members have decided not to run” again.

UPDATE: I’ve been told that Thicke will be at the fourth district convention as well, and Senate candidate Bob Krause will be at some of these conventions too, but I don’t have details.

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Get to know the Democrats running against Steve King

Two Democrats are running for Congress in Iowa’s fifth district this year. It’s an uphill climb in a Republican-leaning part of the state, but I appreciate their commitment to challenge Steve King. While King’s embarrassing antics provide a lot of material for this blog, western Iowa deserves a representative who’s not a repeat winner of Keith Olbermann’s “worst person of the world” award.

Learn more about the candidates at their websites: Matt Campbell for Congress and Mike Denklau for Congress. Blog for Iowa recently interviewed both candidates about a wide range of issues. Here’s part 1 and part 2 of the Campbell interview. Here’s part 1, part 2 and part 3 of the Denklau interview.

I don’t plan to get involved in this primary, because from what I’ve read, both Campbell and Denklau seem highly capable, and either would be an enormous improvement over Steve “10 Worst” King. However, I encourage other Bleeding Heartland users to write diaries about the fifth district campaign. Feel free to advocate for your candidate, as NWIA Granny has done, cover a public appearance by either candidate, or compare where Campbell and Denklau stand on the issues.

This Thursday, April 1, from 7 pm to 8 pm, Ed and Lynn Fallon will cover the Steve King “phenomenon” on the Fallon Forum radio show. You can listen at 98.3 WOW-FM and on-line at www.983wowfm.com. If you want to call in to the show, the numbers are (515) 312-0983 or (866) 908-TALK. A podcast will be available later at this site.

Iowa candidate filings deadline thread

The filing deadline for statewide and state legislative offices closed at the end of business today. John Deeth has been covering the highlights at his blog. Click here to download a pdf file from the Secretary of State’s office for the full candidate list.

As I mentioned earlier, Governor Chet Culver has no primary challenger. All three remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates qualified for the ballot (Terry Branstad, Rod Roberts, Bob Vander Plaats).

There will be a three-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause.

Republicans have a full slate of candidates for statewide offices. Sadly, Democrats failed to find anyone to take on Auditor David Vaudt.

Four Republicans filed against Bruce Braley in Iowa’s first Congressional district, and four Republicans filed against Dave Loebsack in the second district. All seven declared GOP candidates qualified for the ballot in Iowa’s third district. I would not be surprised if a district convention ends up selecting Leonard Boswell’s opponent.

Bill Maske is the only Democrat running against Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. As expected, we will have a competitive primary in the fifth between Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell.

Most surprising statehouse district left uncontested: House district 16 in northeast Iowa. I had heard rumors that Republicans had no candidate against freshman State Representative John Beard, but I’m still shocked they left him unchallenged. That was a battleground race in 2008. Does anyone know whether a GOP district convention will be able to name a candidate for this race later?

Democrats didn’t leave any obviously competitive statehouse districts open. I’m a little disappointed we don’t have a candidate in House district 73, from which Republican Jodi Tymeson is retiring. It is a fairly strong GOP district, but I thought a candidate pounding the pavement there might help State Senator Staci Appel in her re-election campaign against Kent Sorenson (Senate district 37).

We found a candidate in House district 51 (Carroll County), which Rod Roberts is vacating to run for governor. Democrat Larry Lesle of Manning will face the winner of a three-way GOP primary.

Yesterday two-term incumbent Elesha Gayman surprised many people by announcing her retirement from House district 84 in Davenport. Gayman indicated that no one had been lined up to replace her, but today Shari Carnahan filed for that seat as a Democrat. She will face Gayman’s 2008 opponent, Ross Paustian.

Ruth Ann Gaines ended up being the only Democrat to file in Wayne Ford’s district 65 (Des Moines).

Six Democratic Iowa House incumbents have primary challengers. The people running against Dave Jacoby (district 30, Iowa City/Coralville) and Geri Huser (district 42, east side of Des Moines) appear to be backed by organized labor. A socially conservative pastor, Clair Rudison, is running against Ako Abdul-Samad in district 66 (Des Moines). Anesa Kajtazovic stepped up to the plate in House district 21 (Waterloo). Freshman Kerry Burt really should have retired from that seat. I don’t know what the deal is with Kenneth Oglesby, who is challenging Chuck Isenhart in district 27 (Dubuque). Likewise, I have no idea why Mike Petersen is running against Mary Gaskill in district 93 (Ottumwa). Please post a comment or e-mail me (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know the backstory.

Most surprising retirement: Republican Doug Struyk in district 99. The GOP candidate for secretary of state in 2006, Mary Ann Hanusa, is running for the Council Bluffs-based seat instead. She will face Democrat Kurt Hubler, who nearly defeated Struyk in 2008. Struyk was first elected as a Democrat but switched parties several years ago. His departure will leave only one turncoat in the Iowa House. We failed to field a candidate against Dawn Pettengill (district 39), who switched to the GOP in 2007.

More posts are coming soon on some of the battleground statehouse races. Meanwhile, post any relevant comments in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that we will see seven or eight rematches in Iowa House races. Republicans are running Josh Thurston and Stephen Burgmeier and 2009 special election winners Kirsten Running-Marquardt (district 33) and Curt Hanson (district 90). Also, in district 23 first-term Democrat Gene Ficken will face the Republican he beat in 2008, Dan Rasmussen. Republican Jane Jech is taking another shot at incumbent Mark Smith in district 43. The district 89 race may be a rematch as well if Jarad Klein wins the GOP primary to face first-term Democrat Larry Marek. In House district 60, first-term Republican Peter Cownie faces 2008 Democratic candidate Alan Koslow. Not only will Koslow be at a severe financial disadvantage, his endorsement of Jonathan Narcisse for governor won’t win him friends among the Democratic base. Democrat Pat VanZante is taking another shot at Jim Van Engelenhoven in district 71 (assuming Van Engelenhoven doesn’ lose to his GOP primary challenger). Republican Dave Heaton will face his 2008 opponent, Ron Fedler, in district 91.

SECOND UPDATE: Republicans are crowing that they are fielding candidates in 88 of the 100 Iowa House districts, while Democrats are fielding candidates in only 75 districts. I would like to challenge Republicans everywhere, but it’s only natural that Iowa Democrats are going to focus more on defense this year. We already have the majority, and it could be a tough cycle for incumbents at all levels.

Two Democrats have stepped up to challenge Steve King

This week Matt Campbell made the official announcement he’s been planning for some time: he will seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district. Bret Hayworth was there for the Sioux City Journal. I agree with Campbell’s observation that four-term incumbent Steve King has “no major legislative accomplishments” (unless you count that House resolution recognizing the importance of Christmas in the Christian faith).

Campbell joins Mike Denklau, who announced his candidacy in IA-05 last October. Denklau responded to Campbell’s announcement with a press release emphasizing his background in business and finance, as well as his earlier start for this campaign.

You can learn more about both candidates at their campaign websites. Campbell is an attorney specializing in tax-related issues, and Denklau has professional experience in the banking world. Both have deep family roots in Iowa. To learn about the candidates’ policy priorities, read the issue pages on Campbell’s site and on Denklau’s site.

Running for Congress isn’t easy. I give full credit to these two Democrats who have stepped up to challenge King. The fifth district is unfortunately safe Republican territory for now; Rob Hubler ran hard for nearly two years and still lost to King by more than 20 points in 2008. However, we should not give any Republican incumbent a pass, especially one as offensive and ineffective as King. Last year King made the list of voices fellow Congressional Republicans said they would most like to “mute,” according to a survey by the National Journal. He tends to make the news in embarrassing ways and is proud of things that would make others feel ashamed.

Assuming Campbell and Denklau fight fair this spring and agree to support the eventual winner of the primary, it will help the Democratic Party in western Iowa to have two candidates out there mobilizing moderates as well as liberal voters. I hope both campaigns will work to register new Democratic voters before the primary, and both candidates will stay involved in Iowa politics no matter who goes on to the general election.

UPDATE: On February 2 State Representative Roger Wendt of Sioux City endorsed Denklau.

We have a candidate in the fourth district

UPDATE: CQ Politics reports that Maske “has filed candidacy paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.”

At the Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Saturday I was pleased to meet Bill Maske of Truro (Madison County), who is running against Representative Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. I don’t know whether there will be a contested Democratic primary; I didn’t see stickers or campaign literature for any other Democrat looking at this race. After the jump I’ve posted excerpts from the material Maske’s volunteers were handing out. He plans to make a formal campaign announcement soon.

Latham is generally considered a safe incumbent after beating Becky Greenwald last year by 20 points in a district Barack Obama won. Still, it will be important to have a Democrat out there highlighting Latham’s bad votes. In 2012, Latham will either be thrown into the same district as Steve King or, more likely, will have to run in a new third district containing Polk County. We can’t afford to leave him unchallenged next year.

Speaking of King, it looks like there will be a contested Democratic primary in the fifth Congressional district. Attorney Matt Campbell has put up a campaign website for this race. He joins Mike Denklau, who has already started campaigning.

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