# Paul Pate



Iowa GOP candidates love state fair, shun DM Register Soapbox

Politicians love spending time at the Iowa State Fair, and many candidates for state and federal offices made multiple visits this year. But in a break with a long-running practice, Republicans seeking statewide and federal offices mostly shunned the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox.

Just three of the eleven GOP candidates invited to the Soapbox were willing to devote 20 minutes of their state fair visit to a public speech outlining their agenda. Every elected Republican official steered clear.

Avoiding the Register’s platform is another sign of growing Republican hostility toward traditional Iowa media. Other recent examples: some GOP candidates refused to meet with high-profile editorial boards in 2018 and 2020, and Iowa Senate leaders abandoned more than a century of tradition to kick reporters off the chamber’s press bench this year.

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Governor still using public funds to promote herself at Iowa State Fair

More than four years after signing into law a ban on using public funds to promote the name, likeness, or voice of Iowa’s statewide elected officials in a “paid exhibit display at the Iowa state fair,” Governor Kim Reynolds continues to spend part of her office budget on an Iowa State Fair booth plastered with her name and picture.

Neither the Republican-controlled legislature nor the state board charged with enforcing the self-promotion law have taken any steps to remedy the situation.

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Iowa Democrats face bigger challenges than voter registration numbers

Top Iowa Republicans crowed this month when the state’s official figures showed the GOP had expanded its voter registration lead over Democrats. At this point in the 2018 election cycle, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Iowa by around 24,000. The current disparity is more than three times as large. According to the latest numbers released by the Secretary of State’s office, Iowa has 681,871 active registered Republicans, 597,120 Democrats, and 555,988 no-party voters.

The voter registration totals should concern Democrats, but two other trends facing the party’s candidates in this midterm election should worry them more.

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Exclusive: New Iowa absentee rules disenfranchised hundreds in 2022 primary

New restrictions on absentee voting prevented hundreds of Iowans from having their ballots counted in the June 7 primary election, Bleeding Heartland’s review of data from county auditors shows.

About 150 ballots that would have been valid under previous Iowa law were not counted due to a bill Republican legislators and Governor Kim Reynolds enacted in 2021, which required all absentee ballots to arrive at county auditors’ offices by 8:00 pm on election day. The majority of Iowans whose ballots arrived too late (despite being mailed before the election) were trying to vote in the Republican primary.

Hundreds more Iowans would have been able to vote by mail prior to the 2021 changes, but missed the new deadline for submitting an absentee ballot request form. More than half of them did not manage to cast a ballot another way in the June 7 election.

The new deadlines will trip up many more Iowans for the November election, when turnout will likely be about three times the level seen in this year’s primary, and more “snowbirds” attempt to vote by mail in Iowa from other states.

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How Joel Miller won the Democratic race for Iowa secretary of state

Going into the June 7 primary, I anticipated a close Democratic contest for secretary of state. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller and Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker had few substantive disagreements and few opportunities to reach a mass audience. The campaign received relatively little news coverage, and the candidates didn’t get speaking time at the Iowa Democratic Party’s large fundraiser in April.

While Miller’s home base was in a larger county, Van Lancker had raised and spent much more on the secretary of state campaign. His team had a paid consultant, purchased the Iowa Democratic Party’s voter file, and began significant digital advertising two months before the primary. Van Lancker spent $5,863 on Facebook ads alone, making tens of thousands of impressions, according to Meta’s ad library. In contrast, the majority of Miller’s campaign spending went toward collecting enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The result was surprisingly lopsided: Miller received 97,896 votes (71.7 percent) to 38,602 (28.3 percent) for Van Lancker. The winner carried 98 counties, losing only Clinton, where voters had previously elected Van Lancker four times.

I interviewed Miller about his victory on June 8 and reached out to engaged Democratic voters for insight on how they picked a candidate for this race.

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Paul Pate hails primary turnout despite huge drop from 2020

Secretary of State Paul Pate often uses the #BeAVoter hashtag and has repeatedly claimed that he works to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat” in Iowa.

Since the June 7 primary election, Pate has spun the numbers as if they reflected a trend toward greater participation. In reality, this year’s primary turnout was way down compared to 2020, when Pate genuinely tried to make it easier for Iowans to vote during a pandemic.

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