# Use It Or Lose It

Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I've linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I'll do a review of Bleeding Heartland's 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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Action: Ask Dave Loebsack to pay his DCCC dues

Chris Bowers of Open Left has officially launched the Use It or Lose It campaign to get safe Democratic incumbents to pay their dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He developed a spreadsheet showing dues owed by 54 House Democrats, along with contact information for their campaigns.

Iowa’s own Dave Loebsack is on the list. Apparently, he owes $125,000. Contact information for his campaign:

319-351-3283 (phone)

info@loebsackforcongress.org  (e-mail)

Bowers gives good advice here:

We will ask for the members of Congress to pay all, or at least some, of their remaining dues in order to build a larger Democratic majority. We will be polite, and we will call their campaign offices, as it is inappropriate to ask for campaign money when calling a congressional office.

Leonard Boswell is not on Bowers’ spreadsheet, and I’m trying to find out whether that’s because he has paid his DCCC dues. Bowers removed names of members who’ve paid, but also took off those designated by the DCCC as “frontline Democrats.” Boswell was put in that category during the third district primary campaign, but he obviously is not facing a serious challenge during the general election. If he hasn’t given to the DCCC, he should be added to the Use It or Lose It effort.

If all 54 Democrats on the spreadsheet pay their dues, the DCCC would have an additional $6.5 million to spend in the final week. That would support a lot of ad buys in a lot of districts where we have good challengers.

If you live in the second district, please call Loebsack’s campaign and politely ask him to give to the DCCC. Then post a comment reporting what you’ve been told, or send me a confidential e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

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Harkin launches new "Building Blue" competition for county GOTV efforts

This summer Senator Tom Harkin held a “Building Blue” contest for Democrats running for the Iowa legislature. Representative Eric Palmer and Senator Tom Rielly received the most votes on Harkin’s website, and their campaigns each received $5,000 from Harkin’s campaign fund. Another four House and four Senate candidates each received $2,000.

Today I received an e-mail from Harkin announcing a new Building Blue contest for county Democratic parties:

Dear [desmoinesdem],

There are just a few short weeks before Iowans go to the polls and there’s still plenty of work to be done.

You may remember that several months ago, we conducted a Building Blue contest that raised thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates across the state of Iowa.  Now, we need to continue to build upon our grassroots infrastructure for this November’s election.

To help do so, we have launched a second Building Blue contest on tomharkin.com.  This time, my campaign will provide $9,000 to support the get out the vote efforts of County Democratic Parties throughout the state.

We’re calling it Building Blue II: Counting the Counties.

Please visit www.tomharkin.com and nominate your county to receive up to $3,000 for November’s campaign.

The nomination round is open to all of Iowa’s 99 counties.  It begins today and runs until October 15th, so please forward this email and tell your friends and family to vote for your county today.

The ten counties receiving the most votes will each receive $500 and move on to the second round.

In the second round, which will run from October 15th until October 22th, the counties with the second and third most votes will get another $500 and the winning county will be awarded a grand prize of $2,500 for their fall campaign.

Please support your county today by taking part in the Building Blue contest and helping us continue to build a solid foundation for November 4th.

Thank you for your support and good luck!

This is an open thread to discuss which counties most deserve a little extra funding to support Democratic turnout efforts.

Let’s think strategically.

Should we try to steer Harkin’s donations toward the most populous counties? Those counties have the largest potential number of voters to reach. Then again, maybe those counties already have substantial GOTV operations in the works. Certainly they all have field offices from Barack Obama’s campaign.

Should we nominate counties where neither Obama nor any Congressional candidate has a field office? Maybe those counties need more help.

Should we nominate counties in the fourth or fifth Congressional districts, where we’ve got a chance to unseat Republicans?

Should we nominate counties where the most competitive statehouse races will take place (such as Scott County and Mahaska County)?

In other Harkin-related news, I have heard but not yet independently confirmed that Harkin donated $250,000 from his campaign fund to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the end of September. (The next round of Federal Election Commission reports will come out on October 15.)

Good for him. More and more Senate races are becoming competitive, and the DSCC needs the resources to help our strong candidates in states like Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi.

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Update on the Loebsack/Miller-Meeks race

I haven’t written much about the race in Iowa’s second Congressional district, not because I have anything against Dave Loebsack. I simply don’t consider this race competitive.

IA-02 has a partisan voting index of D+7, meaning that the presidential vote in the last two elections in the district was seven points more Democratic than the national average. That was before Democrats made massive gains in voter registration in Iowa. In 2004 registered Republicans slightly outnumbered Democrats in this state. Now there are about 100,000 more registered Democrats.

Furthermore, Barack Obama is going to win handily in this district and in its population centers (Johnson County and Linn County). John McCain has reportedly shut down his field office in Iowa City.

As if that weren’t enough, Loebsack’s main opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, faced a tough three-way Republican primary that depleted her cash on hand. As of June 30, she had $16,458 in her campaign account, while Loebsack had nearly $470,000 on hand. (The latest round of Federal Election Commission financial reports cover the period through September 30 and are not yet publicly available.)

What has Loebsack been doing with all that campaign cash? I saw on his website that he is running this television commercial:

It’s a fairly standard positive message about what he stands for, without much detail about what he has accomplished. Bleeding Heartland readers in the second district, are you seeing this ad a lot? Have you seen other Loebsack spots on tv? Is he up on the radio? Does he have lots of yard signs out?

Note: Although Loebsack didn’t get help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, I’d like to see him donate at least 10 percent of his cash on hand to the DCCC this fall so that they can get behind more strong challengers.

On the Miller-Meeks campaign website there are several videos on the front page. Two look like positive television spots about the Republican candidate’s background, and one sounds like a 60-second radio ad slamming Loebsack for “not getting the job done.” I’d appreciate comments or private e-mails from second district residents about how visible the Miller-Meeks campaign is in the media.

The great blog about campaigns and elections, Swing State Project, does a weekly roundup of independent expenditures in Congressional races. I noticed in the latest edition that OPHTHPAC, the Political Action Committee of the American Academcy of Ophthalmology, is spending $12,500 on behalf of Miller-Meeks. Has anyone seen or heard these ads, or any other ads by independent groups supporting Miller-Meeks?

Looking at the page on OPHTHPAC at campaignmoney.com, this PAC seems to donate to a large number of incumbents in both parties. I assume they are supporting Miller-Meeks because she is an eye doctor, but I am curious about whether they are promoting her or making a case against Loebsack (and if so what case they are making). They’ve given to dozens of Democratic incumbents this election cycle.

This is an open thread for any comments or observations about the race in IA-02.

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This weekend, tell safe Democratic incumbents to Use It or Lose It

No doubt many of you plan to attend the Jefferson-Jackson dinner this Saturday. Most elected Democrats from Iowa will be there, and if you happen to speak with any who are in uncompetitive races, I hope you will ask them to donate a portion of their campaign funds to be used in competitive districts.

Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell are all running in Democratic-leaning districts in a year when Democratic voter registration has surged in Iowa, and Obama leads John McCain.

Tom Harkin will certainly defeat Christopher Reed by double digits and could conceivably win by 20 points.

If you meet any member of our Congressional delegation, please ask him to donate 10 percent of his campaign fund to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

If Iowa’s representatives in Congress give more to the DCCC, there is a better chance of the DCCC getting involved on behalf of Becky Greenwald and Rob Hubler.

Outside Iowa, more and more seats are in play as well. For instance, Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are within striking range in states like Kentucky and Georgia (see the Swing State Project blog to keep up to date with all the latest polls).

If every safe Democratic incumbent gave just 10 percent of his or her cash on hand to the DCCC or the DSCC, millions more dollars could be put to work electing Democrats in tossup or lean-Republican races.

Just 10 percent–that’s all we ask. Please pass along this message to Braley, Loebsack, Boswell and Harkin.

For more information on the Use It or Lose It campaign, read this piece by Lucas O’Connor and this piece by Sven at Silver State.

Speaking of Use It or Lose It, here’s an excerpt from an e-mail Senator John Kerry sent out on Tuesday:

We need the strongest Democratic majority possible to get the change we need in Washington. We need to make sure a handful of Republican Senators can’t block President Obama as he tries to get our country back on track.

It’s time to push even harder to completely change Washington. We need to aim to get 60 votes in the Senate to push real change in our country.

So I have an announcement: I just gave a million dollars from my campaign to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to try to make this happen. I’m making this announcement to you here in the johnkerry.com community first because I want you to join me in my commitment to get this change.


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Tell Leonard Boswell to give more to the DCCC

I haven’t written much about Leonard Boswell since the Democratic primary for the third Congressional district, because there hasn’t been much to say. He hasn’t been campaigning much, nor has he needed to. IA-03 is not a competitive House district according to any of the people who follow Congressional races closely (for instance, Swing State Project, the Cook Report and Open Left).

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent money to defend Boswell in 2004 and 2006 but hasn’t seen the need for that this year.

So I was more than a little annoyed to receive a fundraising solicitation from Dody Boswell this week:

Dear Friends,

First, thank you all for your support with Leonard’s campaign.  I know we’ve all been working hard for the last few months and now we only have 50 days to go!  It’s great to know so many of you have already gone online to donate.

It is truly with urgency, that I need to ask you again to help out my husband.  The election is closing in and we need to raise enough money to buy some media for the last few weeks of the campaign.  We also have the reporting deadline in two weeks on September 30 and need to show the press that we have the funds to compete.

Our goal is within reach and I know if everyone donated at least forty-two more dollars we will make that goal!!!  You can donate at www.boswellforcongress.com or click on the link below.


I can personally tell you how hard Leonard works for us.  And that he appreciates everything that you do to allow him to continue his efforts on our behalf in Washington.

I thank you so very much,


PS – Your small contribution of $42 really will make all the difference!

Boswell for Congress

P.O. Box 6220

Des Moines, IA 50309

Excuse me, Boswell needs “to show the press that we have the funds to compete”?

As of June 30, Boswell had $393,852 on hand, while little-known Republican challenger Kim Schmett had $28,768. Boswell has held several fundraisers since then.

He should not be asking constituents for more money. He should be handing over a large chunk of his campaign account to the DCCC so they can use it to play for more Republican-held seats and to defend truly vulnerable incumbents (the way the DCCC helped Boswell in past years).

You can reach Boswell’s Congressional office at (202)225-3806.

You can reach his campaign headquarters at (515)883-2254 or Campaign@BoswellForCongress.com.

Tell his staff that you want him to give at least 10 percent of his campaign’s cash on hand to the DCCC.

For more on this year’s Use It or Lose It campaign, read this post by Lucas O’Connor. If every safe House incumbent handed over 10 percent of his or her campaign account, the DCCC would have an additional $8.3 million to use in competitive races.

On a different subject, I called Boswell’s Congressional office yesterday and was told he did not have any statement yet on the bailout proposal. What do you want to bet he was among the Blue Dogs who urged Nancy Pelosi today to move toward the position of the Bush administration and corporate lobbyists?

I’ll fill in that oval next to Boswell’s name on the ballot, but he won’t get a dime from me.

I’m giving as much as I can afford to Rob Hubler and Becky Greenwald.

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