IA-Gov: John Norris releases first batch of high-profile endorsers

Gubernatorial candidate John Norris announced a statewide steering committee yesterday with more than 90 “current and former state legislators, public officials, party activists and officers, farmers, educators, students, labor leaders and business owners.”

State Representatives Marti Anderson and Jo Oldson became the first two Iowa House Democrats to back Norris, joined by former State Representatives Brian Quirk, Andrew Wenthe, Mark Kuhn, Deo Koenigs, and Roger Thomas, and former State Senators Daryl Beall, Bill Hutchins, and Lowell Junkins (who was the 1986 Democratic nominee for governor).

Other notable endorsers include Brad Anderson, who managed Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign in Iowa and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for secretary of state, former Iowa Democratic Party executive director Norm Sterzenbach, and Marcia Nichols, the longtime political director for the public employee union AFSCME. Candidates won’t release their fundraising reports until January, but I doubt these three would publicly back Norris unless they were confident that he would have the resources to compete on a statewide level before the primary. Anderson, Sterzenbach, and Nichols were part of State Representative Todd Prichard’s leadership team earlier this year. Prichard left the governor’s race in August and endorsed Fred Hubbell yesterday.

I’ve posted below the full Norris steering committee list, along with a November 20 e-mail blast from Brad Anderson and a Facebook post by Marti Anderson.

Bleeding Heartland readers may recognize the names of other Norris endorsers, such as Jess Vilsack (the former governor’s son), former Vilsack aide Dusky Terry, 2016 Iowa House candidate Heather Matson, and Kevin Techau, who was U.S. attorney for Iowa’s Northern District from 2014 until this March. Dave Swenson and Matt Russell have been occasional guest authors at this site. Emilene Leone is one of the newly-engaged Scott County activists profiled in this post. Bill Sueppel represented Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson during her impeachment hearings and later in her civil lawsuit, resolved last month in her favor.

Any comments about the governor’s race are welcome in this thread. Bleeding Heartland previously posted audio and transcripts of stump speeches by all seven contenders and a comprehensive list of current or former state lawmakers who have endorsed a gubernatorial candidate.

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Five red flags about the Iowa Democratic Party's Caucus Review Committee

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucus Review Committee will hold its first meeting “for purposes of organization” on Saturday, May 7. Members of the public may attend the event, which begins at 10 am at the Airport Holiday Inn (Iowa Conference Rooms B & C) at 6111 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The meeting will likely run well into the afternoon as the 26 committee members hear from speakers including Republican Party of Iowa officials, who will share what they learned from their review of the 2012 caucuses.

Whether Iowa will ever be able to hold meaningful caucuses again is an open question. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has allies in national circles who share her belief that the party should require “simpler” and “more democratic” primaries for the purposes of presidential selection. If forced to abandon caucuses, Iowa would probably be relegated to the end of the nominating process in June, unless our state’s leaders manage to lobby for an earlier primary date.

Assuming the caucuses continue as an important event in presidential campaigns, the Iowa Democratic Party should address some of the current system’s major shortcomings. Based on what I’ve heard (and not heard) from various Caucus Review Committee members, the exercise seems destined to produce minor improvements in how the caucuses are managed, as opposed to big changes to address the caucuses’ disenfranchising and unrepresentative features.

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IA-01: Ravi Patel to benefit from Iowa's first candidate-specific super-PAC?

Pat Rynard broke an interesting story today at Iowa Starting Line: a super-PAC is being created to support Ravi Patel’s campaign in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Patel is one of three declared Democratic candidates seeking to challenge Representative Rod Blum. He has already raised a shocking amount of money for a first-time candidate–more than half a million dollars by the end of March. That haul included funds from some 80 people who maxed out to Patel’s campaign for the general election as well as for the primary. Congressional campaigns can’t spend more than $2,700 from any individual donor before the 2016 primary, but a super-PAC could collect and spend as much as anyone wants to donate, anytime.

Rynard quotes Patel adviser Norm Sterzenbach (a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party) as saying, “There is already one Super PAC operating in this race. EMILY’s List came out early with their support of Monica Vernon and we fully expect them to run a considerable independent campaign on her behalf.” Yes and no.

EMILY’s List did endorse Vernon early. Technically, that group is a regular political action committee, not a super-PAC. The Women Vote! super-PAC is associated with EMILY’s List, and it spent quite a bit of money during the last election cycle, but mostly not on expenditures for women in competitive Democratic primaries for U.S. House seats. It remains to be seen how much money EMILY’s List will put behind Vernon; I would guess not nearly as much as a super-PAC would spend for Patel or against his rivals. EMILY’s List gave $10,000 directly to Staci Appel’s 2014 campaign in IA-03 and bundled another $233,283 in contributions to Appel, who had no competition in her primary.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. P.S.- If Rynard’s sources are correct, Jeff Link will lead the super-PAC for Patel.  

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