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Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day 2014



Dave Loebsack said he's been accused of pulling punches in his Thursday debate with opponent Mariannette Miller-Meeks, but the congressman told a Labor Day crowd at the Iowa City Federation of Labor picnic, "If you were wondering why I was holding back, that’s not gonna happen anymore.”

 City Federation of Labor president Jesse Case was more direct: “Loebsack’s opponent and the Koch brothers can kiss our ass.”

While Loebsack's demeanor is a bit more professorial, he said he was proud of his long support of organized labor.  “This is one congressman who’s not afraid to say the word Union, not afraid to say the word Labor” He said his priorities include ending wage theft, raising the minimum wage, and closing close tax loopholes. “My opponent will not stand against policies that send jobs overseas.”

The congressman was the leadoff speaker at the noon event and left promptly to attend other labor events in the Quad Cities and Burlington, but plenty of other political and labor figures filled the gaps between the burgers, brats and pot luck sides.

Today's event marked Case's first Labor Day as president of City Fed. He had been vice president until the death of longtime president Patrick Hughes on August 6, and was elected president two weeks ago.

Mark Patton of Habitat for Humanity announced that the group would build a home in honor of Hughes, a long time Habitat volunteer and part-time staffer.


Case is helping organize a labor action weekend for September 20. “Labor’s role in this election has to be more than just our name only and a little money," he said. "We need people at the doors.” 

“We will not hand out endorsements unless candidates understand our issues,” he added.


The was no Ready for Hillary presence but Jeff Cox spoke on behalf of Bernie Sanders, noting in a non-subtle shot at Clinton, “He’s never served on the board of Walmart.” Sanders is scheduled to attend the Johnson County Democrat's barbecue on October 5.

Other elected and candidates on hand included: Secretary of Agriculture candidate Sherrie Taha, State Senators Joe Bolkcom, Bob Dvorsky and Senate Candidate Kevin Kinney; Reps. Mary Mascher and Sally Stutsman and House candidates David Johnson and John Greener; Supervisors Rod Sullivan, Janelle Rettig and candidate Mike Carberry; Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, Recorder Kim Painter, and city council members Jim Throgmorton and Kingsley Botchway of Iowa City, Mitch Gross of Coralville, and North Liberty mayor candidate Amy Nielsen.

And County Attorney Janet Lyness, who topped things off with an Ice Bucket Challenge.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Courthouse Races Mostly Settled

It was overshadowed by sales tax language, but the county filing deadline passed Wednesday and three of the four courthouse races are uncontested. Janet Lyness won renomination with 69% over challenger John Zimmerman, and the loss seems to have driven Zimmerman right out of the state. Gregg Hennigan reports that Zimmerman has taken a public defender job in Missouri. In any case, Janet's win was convincing enough to deter any other rivals and she will begin a third term in January. Also uncontested are treasurer Tom Kriz and recorder Kim Painter. That means the only courthouse race is the supervisor contest for two seats. Republicans only nominated one candidate, special election winner John Etheredge. He faces a very different electoral climate than the low turnout race he won in March of last year. In a hotly contested, very partisan general election year, he starts as an underdog against the two Democrats, fellow incumbent Janelle Rettig and challenger Mike Carberry. In late surprises, two cities with special elections on the November ballot will see contested races. In North Liberty, appointed mayor Gerry Kuhl is being challenged by Amy Nielsen, who applied for the council vacancy created by Kuhl's appointment as mayor. Theory: after the bitterly divided era of North Liberty city politics during Dave Franker's tenure as mayor, Tom Salm was the anchor that held the city together. With Salm's sudden death, city factions are sorting themselves out again... In Solon, city council appointee Steve Duncan is being challenged by Kevin Samek, who served on the council 2003-07.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What we learned from PPP poll

The big news out of the Public Policy Polling survey of Iowa voters released yesterday wasn't the top of the story.

We already basically know that the US Senate race is a dead heat. Smart Iowa observers knew the day Tom Harkin retired that it was going to be extremely close, and remembered that through the months of the Republican primary. Both sides knew the race would get close as soon as Republicans had their nominee.

And we already knew that Jack Hatch has a good-sized gap to close, 13 percent in this survey.

Both these contests have been polled a lot and shown similar results before.

No, the  interesting part is that PPP also polled the down-ballot statewide races, where there's precious little information available both in terms of polling and for the voters.

Downballot state races often swing with the top of the ticket and with general party ID and mood of the year. Races get lost in the noise of the top ticket races. The constituency is too big for the shoe leather, mailings and local media most legislators use, and the budgets are too small for top of the ticket style TV spots. Name ID gives incumbents a big advantage, and straight tickets and party field work are the key factors in a lot of votes.

In most of this year's races, PPP told us what we already knew. GOP Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has a big lead over his hapless opponent, Democrat Sherrie Taha. Every cycle, Republicans make a target of eternal Attorney General Tom Miller (who FINALLY has a campaign web site), but late starting Republican Adam Gregg trails by 24.  Sam Clovis got some name ID from his Senate run and is popular with many in the GOP base, but he's 14 points behind State Treasurer For Life Mike Fitzgerald.

It's not terribly surprising that the hottest down-ballot race, Secretary of State, is a dead heat. But consider that Republican Paul Pate is a pseudo-incumbent with residual name ID from his earlier stint in the job, service in the legislature and as Cedar Rapids mayor, and a run for governor.

Also consider that Democrats are way way ahead in field efforts like absentee ballot requests, and are especially motivated in this race by Matt Schultz's antics the past four years, and Democrat Brad Anderson's one point deficit looks more like a winning number this far out.

But the biggest surprise is the state auditor race. Democrat Jonathan Neiderbach trails Republican Mary Mosiman by just 4 percent, 39% to 35%.

In many ways, Pate is more of an incumbent than Mosiman. She's never won or even won statewide; Mosiman was appointed 16 months ago by Terry Branstad on David Vaudt's resignation, and she's never run for office outside Story County where she was county auditor. Neiderbach has never run statewide either, but is at least known in Des Moines from his school board tenure.

So mark state auditor as One To Watch. If Neiderbach wins, it'll be one of Iowa's top upsets of all time. Even in the banner Democratic year 1964, when Iowa threw out five Republican congressmen, the Democrats failed to take state auditor. You have to go all the way back to 1936, the second FDR landslide, to see Charles Storm winning this race for the Dems. UPDATE: Neiderbach tells me that a lot of source material incorrectly identifies Lorne R. Worthington as a Republican. I thought it looked odd, a one term Republican serving 1964-66. He was in fact a Democrat, so the Dems have held the party TWO years since the New Deal, not ZERO. That's what you need in an auditor, a detail guy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

All The Legislative Races: House Edition

After a long weekend write-a-thon, I'm at last ready with the post that in a perfect world would have been up a week ago Saturday: a look at all 100 Iowa House races.

Republicans hold a 53-47 margin. 11 seats are open, but only four of those are competitive.

District number links go to maps. The voter registration district numbers below are simplified but a good comparison: Active registrations as of August 1, with "Most Democratic" measured by D Minus R. Remember, Republicans had a hot June primary statewide for US Senate and in two congressional districts, while the only big Democratic race was in the 1st CD, so that skews things to the right a bit.

Campaign finance reports are from July 19.

House District 1
Registration: D 3152, R 12141, N 5869, total 21179, R +8989
OPEN Jeff Smith (R) incumbent, retiring

Kevin Wolfswinkel primaried Smith from the right and from the new turf in 2012, and came close with 45%. Smith got the hint and retired. But Wolfswinkel couldn't close the deal and finished third and last in this year's primary.

The winner with 42%, powered by a big Dickinson County win, is John Wills, Vice President of the Okoboji Protective Association. Democrats see no point in the second most Republican district.
Vice President of the Okoboji Protective Association. - See more at: http://kicdam.com/news/170071-wills-running-for-house/#sthash.4dFgNEHM.dpuf
Vice President of the Okoboji Protective Association. - See more at: http://kicdam.com/news/170071-wills-running-for-house/#sthash.4dFgNEHM.dpuf
Vice President of the Okoboji Protective Association. - See more at: http://kicdam.com/news/170071-wills-running-for-house/#sthash.4dFgNEHM.dpuf
Vice President of the Okoboji Protective Association. - See more at: http://kicdam.com/news/170071-wills-running-for-house/#sthash.4dFgNEHM.dpuf

House District 2
Registration: D 5246, R 7002, N 7537, total 19812, R +1756
Megan Hess (R) incumbent

This is the least red district in this corner of the state but Hess comfortably beat a good Democratic candidate in 2012 when the seat was new. That was enough to avoid any 2014 competition from the Democrats. Some Dude Terry Manwarren, who lost an Emmetsburg school board race badly last year,filed as an independent.

House District 3
Registration: D 3466, R 10076, N 6367, total 19935, R +6610
Daniel A. Huseman (R) incumbent

Huseman last saw an opponent in 2008 (he only won 58% but his new turf is redder). His biggest headache was redistricting, solved when Royd Chambers retired after they were paired up. Huseman's Democratic opponent this year is Greg Fritzche of Primghar. He ran for O'Brien County supervisor and lost, badly, in 2012. He's likely to lose badly again in the third most Republican seat...

House District 4
Registration: D 1467, R 13186, N 3440, total 18110, R +11719
Dwayne Alons (R) incumbent

...and this is the first. Or worst. I can't come up with a conservative turn of phrase that's the equivalent of "People's Republic of Johnson County" without violating Godwin's Law, but in Sioux County they think Steve King is maybe a little too moderate.

House District 5
Registration: D 3899, R 9111, N 6659, total 19696, R +5212
Chuck Soderberg (R) incumbent

A Some Dude ran against Soderberg in maybe 2008 and lost about 85-15%.

House District 6
Registration: D 5288, R 7244, N 6191, total 18765, R +1956
Ron Jorgensen (R) incumbent

Jorgensen had a serious primary from Matthew Ung in 2012 but gets a bye this time.

House District 7
Registration: D 5557, R 6514, N 8058, total 20145, R +957
Tedd Gassman (R) incumbent

Democratic veteran and ex-policeman Dave Grussing of Armstrong is challenging Gassman, who knocked off Democrat John Wittneben by just 44 votes in 2012.

Grussing has $2,996 cash on hand, which doesn't seem like much till you see that Gassman has just $5,341, weak for an opposed incumbent and almost all from an old self-loan.

House District 8
Registration: D 4621, R 8171, N 7051, total 19859, R +3550
OPEN Henry V. Rayhons (R) withdrew from race

The Henry Rayhons story is too sad to snark about. I hope some measure of peace and justice is found for the family. I'll just note that those issues only fully came to light after his abrupt withdrawal less than two weeks before the deadline, but were simmering for a long time and certainly explain it.

At the Republican nominating convention, held less than 24 hours before the filing deadline,  Terry Baxter defeated two 2012 primary losers: former senator Jim "Back In" Black, who lost the Senate 4 primary to Dennis Guth, and Bob Dishman, who had challenged Rayhons.

Baxter starts late but as a favorite over Democrat Nancy Paule Huisinga, an RN from Clarion who got into the race long before Rayhons withdrew. She had just $603 cash on hand on July 19.

House District 9
Registration: D 6972, R 4811, N 6408, total 18212, D +2161
Helen Miller (D) incumbent

Miller, who's been mostly safe since first winning in 2002, had a close race in wave year 2010 from a guy who'd announced as an independent before filing as a Republican. That looks like just a fluke now, as no Republican filed.

House District 10
Registration: D 4348, R 7571, N 8177, total 20133, R +3223
OPEN Tom Shaw (R) incumbent, retiring

Shaw must have gotten lonely without his Krazy Kaucus pals Kim Pearson and Glen Massie, who each bailed in 2012 after one term. The primaries up here have been contentious recently, but this time former (1998-2002) Republican senator Mike Sexton walked into the nomination with no opposition. He almost won the seat with no opposition, as no Democrat filed. But Libertarian Lynne Gentry will make this technically a contested race.

House District 11
Registration: D 4222, R 7155, N 7138, total 18530, R +2933
Gary Worthan (R) incumbent

Worthan overwhelmed his last Democratic opponent with 74% in 2010, which has scared off opposition since.

House District 12
Registration: D 5823, R 6215, N 8435, total 20521, R +392
Daniel Muhlbauer (D) incumbent

Businessman Brian Best, a Carroll Republican, is challenging Muhlbauer, who's  is probably the most conservative Democrat still in the House. He was never part of the original Six Pack that stymied Chet Culver and Pat Murphy in the glory days of the trifecta, though, since he didn't get elected till 2010.

And it was under odd and lucky circumstances: the seat was open on Rod Roberts' departure, Muhlbauer started late after another Democrat dropped out of the 2010 open seat race, and Republicans nominated a spectacularly bad candidate. Muhlbauer's also got a good family name in greater metro Carroll where his father also served in the legislature.

Muhlbauer has $12,491 on hand to Best's $7,876.

House District 13
Registration: D 5351, R 4827, N 5066, total 15288, D +524
Chris Hall (D) incumbent

Despite announcing months ago, Republican Nick Noyes, a student who co-chaired the Woodbury County Sam Clovis senate campaign, has not raised enough money to even organize a campaign committee. Hall has $42,783 available, and people with that much money in a sure thing race usually kick in to the party committees to help other candidates in tougher races.

Hall was one of those candidates last time. Redistricting left him in the only two House incumbent general election race in the state against Republican Jeremy Taylor. Hall won with 53% and should have a much easier time this year.

House District 14
Registration: D 6034, R 4124, N 4780, total 14973, D +1910
Dave Dawson (D) incumbent

Sioux City Democrat Dawson won an empty House 14 seat in 2012 - Jeremy Taylor's seat district without his precinct - with 59%. Republicans let this go this time.

House District 15
Registration: D 5476, R 4210, N 5753, total 15496, D +1266
OPEN Mark Brandenburg (R) incumbent, running for county recorder

House District 16
Registration: D 5123, R 5689, N 6142, total 17020, R +566
Mary Ann Hanusa (R) incumbent

Council Bluffs has elected Mike Gronstal to the Senate for 30 years, but was a weak spot for House Democratic recruiting in 2012.  Democrats have, however, have held both House seats within the last decade and this cycle they look much stronger.

House 15 Republicans had as close a primary as you can get:  John Blue beat Council Bluffs school board member Troy Arthur by ONE VOTE, 275 to 274. (129 Republicans voting in the hot senate and congressional primaries simply skipped this race.) Blue has just $442 on hand, and not because he spent it all on the primary either.

Democrat Charlie McConkey has $2,512, including a $1000 loan. But he's a labor guy and this is the more Democratic of the two Council Bluffs seats and it's open, so he's likely to have access to more. This looks like a good shot for a Democratic gain.

In House 16 attorney Marti Nerenstone is challenging Republican Mary Ann Hanusa. The two term incumbent has $11,198 on hand and can probably raise more easily if needed. Nerenstone has $4,230.

House District 17
Registration: D 4794, R 7504, N 6512, total 18834, R +2710
Matt W. Windschitl (R) incumbent

Democrat Kenneth Mertes of Onawa, a veteran and retired union guy, hopes to put a silencer on Windschitl, the legislature's leading gun absolutist. But Windschitl can make a lot of noise with $13,619 in the bank to Mertes $1,493.


House District 18
Registration: D 4543, R 7209, N 5689, total 17465, R +2666
OPEN Jason Schultz (R) incumbent, running for state senate

Steve Holt had a co-announcement when Schultz announced for the Senate, the very day Nancy Boettger retired. He annihilated student Dillon Malone in the primary 86-14%.

Democrats are running attorney Paul Thelen in this red seat. He has $3,061.51 cash on hand and has actually raised more than Holt, who seems to be running his campaign out of pocket. The Republican has $2,569 on hand but reports $8,010 of loans and $5,872 in unpaid bills, mostly to himself

House District 19
Registration: D 4824, R 8539, N 8582, total 21991, R +3715
Ralph C. Watts (R) incumbent

Massive population growth cut Watts' district in half, leaving him with just north and west Dallas County. Democrat Ken Herring held Watts to 58% in 2012, but this cycle Watts is unopposed.

House District 20
Registration: D 3863, R 8568, N 7255, total 19709, R +4705
Clel Baudler (R) incumbent

Baudler won with 58% last cycle. There were rumors that former Republican state central committee Joel Kurtinitis, of the Big Liberty faction, was planning to primary Baudler, the legislature's biggest barrier to medical marijuana. That didn't happen, unfortunately, and there's no vote-splitting big L Libertarian either in a place where it could make a difference...

Clel did get Democratic opposition from trails advocate - an interesting issue in an exurban area - Steve Roe of Panora. Roe is outraising Baudler, with $5,079 on hand to Baudler's $4,488.

House District 21
Registration: D 3863, R 8568, N 7255, total 19709, R +4705
Jack Drake (R) incumbent

Drake, who turned 80 this year and was first elected in 1992, was a 57% winner two years ago. He faces Democrat Tim Ennis of Corning, a farmer active in the National Farmer's Organization (the progressive alternative to Farm Bureau)

Drake has $6,436 in the bank, left over from the past (his only fund raising since May was 29 cents interest). In contrast, Ennis raised $6,855 from May to July and has $5,265 on hand. So good candidate, tough turf - the 10th most Republican seat.

House District 22
Registration: D 4651, R 10298, N 6548, total 21532, R +5647
Greg Forristall (R) incumbent

House District 23
Registration: D 3760, R 9551, N 6056, total 19394, R +5791
Mark Costello (R) incumbent

House District 24
Registration: D 3380, R 8571, N 5723, total 17691, R +5191
Cecil Dolecheck (R) incumbent

All three of these top 10 GOP seats in the southwest corner saw Republican primaries two years ago. This year, Forristall, Costello and Dolecheck all get byes.

House District 25
Registration: D 5665, R 7731, N 7414, total 20844, R +2066
Stan Gustafson (R) incumbent

Gustafson has won this seat three times already this year, so maybe he deserves a November walkover.

After incumbent Julian Garrett went to the Senate to replace Kent Sorenson, Gustafson beat former Madison County supervisor Joan Acela at the nominating convention, He then easily won the special election itself over Pam Deichmann (now challenging Garrett for the full Senate term).

But Acela, who primaried Julian Garrett when the seat was open in 2010 and again when he was an incumbent in 2012, seems to want this seat very badly.  So, naturally, she primaried the Warren-based Gustafson. But he prevailed easily with 60% and even beat Acela in Madison County.

House District 26
Registration: D 6426, R 6791, N 6956, total 20205, R +365
Scott Ourth (D) incumbent

Ourth, seeking a second term, is a strong candidate and a leadership-level fundraiser, with $46,823 on hand. But he lost in 2010 to tea partier Glen Massie so anything can happen on this swingy Warren County turf.

In the Republican primary, Des Moines policeman James Butler narrowly beat Eric Durbin of Indianola, 52-28%.  Butler has $4,376 on hand including a $1000 loan.

House District 27
Registration: D 4907, R 6196, N 6058, total 17183, R +1289
Joel Fry (R) incumbent

Fry knocked off Democrat Mike Reasoner in an unanticipated 2010 upset, then beat a Some Dude in the primary and independent ex-Democrat Ruth Smith (who failed upward into the US Senate race this cycle) in the general last cycle. He's proved to be a good fundraiser ($17,428 in the bank).

This term Fry has a strong on paper Democratic opponent in Fred Diehl, mayor of Osceola, who has $3,945.
 
House District 28
Registration: D 5347, R 6967, N 6973, total 19308, R +1620
Greg Heartsill (R) incumbent

First there was a primary, then there wasn't. Republican Jon Van Wyk filed against freshman Heartsill, then dropped out when his residency in the district was questioned.

Heartsill gets a rematch with Democrat Megan Suhr, who won 44% in the open seat 2012 race. She's also competitive in fundraising, with $14,773  to Heartsill's $16,636.

House District 29
Registration: D 7313, R 5447, N 6639, total 19417, D +1866
Dan Kelley (D) incumbent

Newton Republican Patrick Payton initially announced for state senate but withdrew from that race. Instead he's challenging two term Democratic incumbent Kelley, who won narrowly as a late replacement candidate in 2010 (after incumbent Paul Bell died) and more easily in 2012.

Danger Will Robinson: Kelley's coffers are down to $893, while Payton has $5,572.

House District 30
Registration: D 6557, R 7146, N 6726, total 20482, R +589
Joe Riding (D) incumbent

This seat long belonged to conservaDem Geri Huser, until the hard right Kim Pearson knocked her off in 2010. Pearson quit after one term and Democrats took the seat back in 2012 by 730 votes (about 3%) with Joe Riding, a former Altoona city council member.

Zach Nunn of Bondurant, who like Payton also started in the Senate 15 race, is challenging Riding. He has a strong $17,331 cash on hand, competitive with Riding's $20,054.

House District 31
Registration: D 7420, R 4466, N 5392, total 17326, D +2954
Rick Olson (D) incumbent

House District 32
Registration: D 7560, R 2601, N 4398, total 14615, D +4959
Ruth Ann Gaines (D) incumbent


No Republicans in either of these seats, but Libertarian Joshua James Herbert is challenging Olson.

House District 33
House District 33 Registration: D 7977, R 3071, N 4702, total 15803, D +4906
Brian Meyer (D) incumbent

House District 34
Registration: D 8424, R 3503, N 5156, total 17153, D +4921
Bruce L. Hunter (D) incumbent

The two halves of Jack Hatch's Senate district are deep blue. Meyer won House 33 in a special last fall after Kevin McCarthy's resignation, and has no opposition for his first full term. Bruce Hunter drew a late starting Some Dude Republican opponent, Thomas Hess.

House District 35
Registration: D 7188, R 2139, N 4023, total 13403, D +5049
Ako Abdul-Samad (D) incumbent

House District 36
Registration: D 9028, R 5119, N 5741, total 19979, D +3909
Marti Anderson (D) incumbent

Last cycle the Republicans recruited a whole mess o' Some Dudes and Big Liberty minions for the Des Moines seats, sometimes from the convention audience. Sometimes they were even having primaries for the right to lose. This year, not so much.

This Is Where Your District Went
Registration: D 5708, R 9094, N 7174, total 22049, R +3386
John Landon (R) incumbent

Landon is seeking his second term in This Is Where Your District Went, known to people who don't read my blog as Ankeny's House 37. Landon finished third in a six way primary, with just 16.5%, when the district was new in 2012, but won the nomination 12 votes to 11 at a convention. I expected that would lead someone to seek a rematch, but instead Landon drew no primary or general election opposition.

House District 38
House District 38 Registration: D 6226, R 6723, N 6204, total 19211, R +497
Kevin Koester (R) incumbent

Koester won a three way race with 52% last time, as perennial candidate Brett Nelson polled 4% in a sore loser run after getting stomped by Koester in the primary.

Democrats recruited Christine Sherrod, to challenge Koester for a seat that's right on the line for House control, #50 most Democratic. She started late and did not file a July 19 finance report; Koester had $10,461.

House District 39
Registration: D 5674, R 9019, N 7262, total 22019, R +3345
Jake Highfill (R) incumbent

Highfill was, under bizarre circumstances and apparently without a thorough vetting, the only one of a dozen GOP primary challengers to knock off an incumbent (Erik Helland) in 2012, and was almost the only incumbent knocked off in a 2014 primary. He was renominated with just 46% when two opponents split the vote. Watch this space in 2016.

As for 2014, Democrats recruited former Johnston city council member Tom Leffler late but he has already raised $10,210 with $9956 on hand. Highfill has $13,252 but performed below the party percentage in 2012 against a law student opponent (who nevertheless was seen as having the maturity edge).

House District 40
Registration: D 6365, R 7586, N 5919, total 19915, R +1221
John Forbes (D) incumbent

Republicans got a late start in Urbandale but nominated Ronda Bern at a convention to face freshman Forbes. Despite the red lean, Democrats won't let this seat go easily, at least not based on the incumbent's solid $18,752 cash on hand. Bern, starting late, has $1118 on hand.

House District 41
Registration: D 9517, R 4920, N 5080, total 19596, D +4597
Jo Oldson (D) incumbent

Typical lefty logic: run the only Green Party candidate at any level in the state, David Courard-Hauri, against a solid liberal like Oldson. I'd like to see a Green or Socialist Worker or big C Communist challenge someone like Dwayne Alons, and launch their campaign by trying to get gay married in Spanish in Sioux County, just to watch people's heads explode from the campaign tactic of total hostility to the electorate.

You'd have to leave town before getting tarred and feathered, of course, but the tactic might win you points for a successful run somewhere else. It's been proven to work in reverse. Jeff Renander: launched career with the Gerbil Quilt at Iowa City Gay Pride, now Cedar County Attorney.

That tangent is far more interesting than Oldson's inevitable 80-20 win over a Green and no Republican will be.

House District 42
Registration: D 6275, R 7194, N 6070, total 19613, R +919
Peter Cownie (R) incumbent

Cownie's 2012 opponent dropped out too late to get off the ballot, yet still won 43%. So in theory this could be competitive. However, Cownie's opponent this year, recent Iowa State grad Daniel Fessler of West Des Moines, has a dismal $715 on hand. Cownie has a leadership level $104,106, leaving plenty to spare for candidates in tougher races.

House District 43
Registration: D 6727, R 7694, N 5513, total 19988, R +967
Chris Hagenow (R) incumbent

Hagenow won his first race in 2008 by a razor close 91 votes, and last cycle beat Susan Judkins by just 23. So he's loaded for bear with a solid $33,352 in the bank.

Two Democrats faced off for the right to challenge Hagenow. In an abysmal turnout primary, Kim Robinson of Clive easily beat Nicholas Dreeszen of West Des Moines, 277 votes to 87 (in part because Dreeszen seemed more interested in the Johnson County attorney race than his own contest). But Robinson will need to step up the fundraising as she was at just $1,319 on July 19.

House District 44
Registration: D 4533, R 8065, N 8816, total 21463, R +3532
Rob Taylor (R) incumbent

The other This Is Where Your District Went, in high-growth eastern Dallas County. Democrats made an effort here in 2012 when this seat was new but Taylor won easily enough to scare off challengers for this cycle.

House District 45
Registration: D 5690, R 4461, N 6604, total 16857, D +1229
Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D) incumbent

Libertarian Eric Cooper is making his EIGHTH consecutive run for office here. Cooper has run on the Libertarian line every two years since 2000. Six of those runs have been for the House, in varying Ames districts and against various opponents due to retirements and redistricting (under three different maps!) In 2010 he took a break from losing locally and lost statewide for governor.

The biggest factor in Cooper's results is the number of opponents. He  won 6% in a three way 2012 race against BW-K and Republican Dane Nealson. In 2008 he scored 21% as the only opponent of Democrat Lisa Heddens. Those scores are pretty typical of his many previous runs, and he'll probably be on the high end this year as there's no Republican candidate. 

House District 46
Registration: D 5542, R 4581, N 6308, total 16552, D +961
Lisa Heddens (D) incumbent

Lisa, you're just really lucky that redistricting moved Eric Cooper from your district to Beth's.

House District 47
Registration: D 5920, R 6413, N 7729, total 20097, R +493
Chip Baltimore (R) incumbent

In Boone, Baltimore upset Donovan Olson in 2010 and won the rematch in 2012 by a bigger margin. Hans Erickson won a pitiful turnout Democratic primary 175-135 over Mark Trueblood.

Baltimore has a solid incumbent $35,031 bank account. Erickson lags far behind with $762.

House District 48
Registration: D 5568, R 6958, N 7663, total 20232, R +1390
Rob Bacon (R) incumbent

Bacon spent two years in the Senate, then moved over to the House in 2012 after getting paired with Bill Dix, now leader, in redistricting. Smart move, as he coasts to an unopposed House re-election.

House District 49 Registration: D 4576, R 7242, N 7690, total 19556, R +2666
Dave Deyoe (R) incumbent

A rematch here, as Democrat Kevin Ericson of Maxwell is challenging Deyoe again. Deyoe won round one 60-40 in 2012. First elected in 2006, he has an incumbent solid $21,240 bank account. That gives him close to a 100 to 1 edge, as Ericson has $234.

House District 50
Registration: D 3859, R 8990, N 6944, total 19824, R +5131
Pat Grassley (R) incumbent
Congratulations, Pat. But you'll never Tweet as great as the master:
Making matters worse, Grandpa has already announced for a seventh term in 2016. If he changes his mind, you'll be the first to know.

As for Grassley the Younger's current post, Democrats had no candidate last cycle after the epic redistricting pair-up primary with Annette Sweeney. This year Grundy Center Democrat Doris Fritz is running, and in the last reporting period, she outraised Grassley. Not a typo.

The punchline: Grassley, with access to Grandpa's donors for his 2012 primary, has a bankroll of $28,476 left over, and thus only raised $250 in new money from May to July. In the same time frame, Fritz raised $385, technically MORE, but she has just $424 in the bank.  Assume Challenge Dead.

House District 51
Registration: D 5338, R 6211, N 7852, total 19420, R +873
Joshua Byrnes (R) incumbent

Laura Hubka of Riceville is the Democrat challenging Byrnes, and is working hard; watch this seat for a possible surprise. She has $5,416 on hand, competitive with Byrnes' $6,897 (though he's spent more already).

House District 52
Registration: D 6287, R 5151, N 8759, total 20212, D +1136
Todd Prichard (D) incumbent

Prichard was a comfortable special election winner when Brian Quirk quit immediately after getting re-elected in 2012, and goes into his first general election unopposed.

House District 53
Registration: D 6895, R 4488, N 8407, total 19816, D +2407
Sharon Steckman (D) incumbent

House District 54
Registration: D 4139, R 8568, N 7462, total 20185, R +4429
Linda Upmeyer (R) incumbent

One red seat, one blue seat, and no opponents, with all the excitement in the  Amanda Ragan vs. Shawn Dietz Senate race.

House District 55
Registration: D 5152, R 6485, N 6870, total 18547, R +1333
OPEN Roger Thomas (D) incumbent, retiring

A long discussed retirement got Officially announced late, though the locals were well aware. Thomas held on in 2012, after losing a lot of familiar turf in redistricting, to keep this tough seat, which could be even tougher in a non-presidential year.

Farmer Darrel Branhagen is the Republican and surprisingly has only $706 on hand, and not because he spent it yet. Democrat Rick Edwards is the former Decorah Parks and Recreation director and has $5,073.

House District 56
Registration: D 4993, R 7056, N 7253, total 19322, R +2063
Patti Ruff (D) incumbent

Patti Ruff now has the most Republican House seat held by a Democrat. Ruff knocked off one term Republican Bob Hager in 2012, who knocked off one term Democrat John Beard in 2010. Republican Lowell Engle of Harpers Ferry joined this race late.

House District 57
Registration: D 7482, R 5968, N 8239, total 21723, D +1514
Nancy Dunkel (D) incumbent

Dunkel took over this seat, technically held by Republican Steve Lukan but heavily redistricted, in 2012 without a primary OR general election opponent. It averages out because this year she gets two challengers.

David Snowden Overby has filed for the House of Lords here in the the Barony of Rural Dubuque County. Sorry, but that name is only a hyphen and a Smythe away from a peerage. Lord Snowden-Overby has filed on ye royal Libertarian Party ticket. Mind if we call you Dave to keep it simple, Dave? Pass the crumpets.

Overby hasn't filed a finance report, and Republican Ryan Kilburg of Zwingle didn't have to, with only $260 raised. And he's not a late starting convention candidate; he filed in March. Dunkel has $12,141 cash on hand.

House District 58
Registration: D 7302, R 4786, N 8685, total 20798, D +2516
Brian Moore (R) incumbent

Moore has the most Democratic seat held by a Republican. He won a fluke against Tom Schuller in 2010, than surprised a lot of folks by winning a rematch last cycle. Moore has $12,310 on hand.

Retiring Maquoketa superintendent Kim Huckstadt (male) is the Democratic challenger, and has $4,675.

House District 59
Registration: D 5541, R 5172, N 7626, total 18450, D +369
Bob M. Kressig (D) incumbent

Kressig is a perpetual target in Cedar Falls, and runs like it; he has $18,833 on hand. His
The latest challenger is Republican Rick Giarusso,who's down to $2,430 on hand but already spent over $7000.

House District 60
Registration: D 5959, R 7042, N 7798, total 20848, R +1083
Walt Rogers (R) incumbent

Rogers is going with Plan B after surprisingly ending his congressional campaign. He easily dispatched a primary challenge from Some Dude Jason Welch with 79%. Rogers is down to $2,268 in the bank but spent over $9000 in June and July.

Hudson School Board member Karyn Finn is in for the Democrats and hoping to become - not obvious from her name - the first Hispanic legislator.  She leads in cash on hand with $3,406, but without the early spending at the level Rogers has made.

House District 61
Registration: D 7204, R 3930, N 6830, total 18011, D +3274
OPEN Anesa Kajtazovic (D) incumbent, defeated in congressional primary

I was very proud to be a small part of the Anesa Kajtazovic campaign, and will be happy to help at the next opportunity. She's come back from much worse in her life than merely losing an election, and at 28 has a bright future.

In 2012 Kajtazovic was the only representative from this seat to get re-elected in a decade, and this Waterloo seat will now see its fifth representative in ten years (two straight general election defeats, a scandal and Anesa's run for Congress). Timi Brown-Powers took 68% in a three way primary and is a strong favorite over Republican veteran Nathan Bolton (not to be confused with Des Moines attorney Nate Boulton, a Democrat).

House District 62
Registration: D 8810, R 2418, N 6419, total 17692, D +6392
Deborah L. Berry (D) incumbent

Biggest news here is that post-primary, Berry's district slipped from MOST Democratic to SECOND most Democratic.

House District 63
Registration: D 4785, R 6398, N 9163, total 20376, R +1613
Sandy Salmon (R) incumbent

Salmon, a 2010 primary loser, beat former Senator Bill Heckroth, probably the strongest possible Democratic candidate for the turf, in 2012. She's fundraising like an incumbent, with $16,931 in the bank.

Salmon faces Democrat Teresa Meyer of Waverly, a cardiology nurse who's competitive in fundraising at $14,757 on hand. So despite the partisan edge, Salmon is clearly a target.

House District 64
Registration: D 5618, R 4518, N 8157, total 18317, D +1100
Bruce Bearinger (D) incumbent

This seat was technically a Democratic gain for Bruce Bearinger last cycle. But the turf had changed a lot. Republican Dan Rasmussen retired at the last minute, and the GOP dropped the ball on candidate recruitment. Bearinger has a solid incumbent five figures on hand, $14,685.

Craig Johnson, head of the Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence, is running on the GOP side in House 64. This could split on both party and geographic lines, with Bearinger from Oelwein. He has $5,976 on hand but that includes a $1000 loan and nearly $2000 in outstanding bills.

House District 65
Registration: D 8622, R 4309, N 6139, total 19157, D +4313
OPEN Tyler Olson (D) incumbent, withdrew from governor's race

How different would everything in state politics be today if Olson's run for governor hadn't crashed? Olson opted not to get back into his House race, where two Democrats were already running. In a bit of an upset, Liz Bennett beat Cedar Rapids school board member Gary Anhalt in a Democratic primary that turned out to be the whole ball game.

House District 66
Registration: D 6998, R 5949, N 7100, total 20119, D +1049
Art Staed (D) incumbent

Staed won one term in 2006, lost by 13 votes to Renee Schulte in 2008, then came back to beat Schulte in 2012 after the new map improved the turf.  It's improved enough that Staed gets his first ever easy election: a free ride.

House District 67
Registration: D 5700, R 6956, N 7921, total 20635, R +1256
Kraig Paulsen (R) incumbent

Democrats made a game run at the speaker in 2012 with Mark Seidl, wholost a 2010 race to Renee Schulte on worse turf. This cycle, there's no local opponent to distract Paulsen from working for his other candidates, and he has half a million bucks to pass out.

House District 68
Registration: D 6544, R 6172, N 7972, total 20767, D +372
Daniel Lundby (D) incumbent

Freshman Democrat Daniel Lundby had a familiar name - his mom Mary was a legendary Republican legislator - and a district improved in redistricting, and knocked off GOP incumbent Nick Wagner in 2012. He's down to $6,943 on hand after spending $5,769 May to July.

Lundby has the only contested House race in the urban part of Linn County, and he's clearly targeted, as Republican Ken Rizer has $31,745 in the bank.

House District 69
Registration: D 7425, R 3757, N 7369, total 18620, D +3668
Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D) incumbent

House District 70
Registration: D 8150, R 4749, N 7383, total 20333, D +3401
Todd E. Taylor (D) incumbent

The west Cedar Rapids incumbents draw no opposition. Most interesting thing here this year is that Taylor's 2012 Republican opponent challenged Senator Wally Horn in the Democratic primary.

House District 71
Registration: D 5432, R 5101, N 6324, total 16869, D +331
Mark D. Smith (D) incumbent

Smith is making his first run since taking over the House Democratic leadership after Kevin McCarthy's resignation last fall. Of course, Mark's real job is to elect 50 colleagues so he can move from minority leader to Speaker, and as such he has a leaderly bank account of $164,285.

While his role is new his rival is not. Jane Jech (pronounced yeccch) is back for the fourth straight cycle. She lost to Smith in the 2008 and 2010 House races, but fell just 303 votes short the second time under similar lines as the present district. Jech then upset Larry McKibben in the 2012 Senate 36 primary, before going on to lose to Steve Sodders in a high priority race. All eastern Iowans remember the cheesy "No, Jane, no" ads that ran on broadcast TV that fall.

This cycle, Jech is back to challenge Smith again.She has a mere mortal $8,118 in the bank.

House District 72
Registration: D 5442, R 6322, N 8082, total 19872, R +880
Dean Fisher (R) incumbent

Fisher won an open House 72 fairly easily in 2012 after the Democrats' preferred candidate couldn't get through the primary. This cycle, Veterans Home employee Ben Westphal got the full House Dems Press Release roll-out that serious challengers get, and has raised a serious challenger's $11,639, just ahead of Fisher's $11,117.

House District 73
Registration: D 6286, R 5838, N 7486, total 19657, D +448
Bobby Kaufmann (R) incumbent

Bobby Kaufmann got a smooth handoff in 2012 with his dad's late decision to run for county supervisor instead, and also benefited from a nasty split within the local Democrats to hold a light blue seat for the GOP. With Jeff Kaufmann now state party chair, there's no way the GOP wants to see this seat slip away. Kaufmann the younger has $33,147 on hand including more than $20,000 raised May to July.

Still, on paper this looks like a good district to target, and House Democrats recruited former Cedar county supervisor Dennis Boedeker. But Boedeker failed to campaign and lost the primary by 33 votes.

The winner was 2012 primary Democratic primary loser David Johnson, who has never really stopped running since Map Day (not even between the 2012 primary and general). Johnson has $4,102 in the bank but this race isn't on the radar.

House District 74
Registration: D 8278, R 4090, N 5781, total 18223, D +4188
Dave Jacoby (D) incumbent

Jacoby's last opposition was a weird 2010 primary where the opponent dropped out and then back in; Dave prevailed by roughly 70 points.

House District 75
Registration: D 5124, R 5919, N 8787, total 19860, R +795
Dawn E. Pettengill (R) incumbent

Democrats seem to have given up taking serious shots at Pettingill, who switched parties in 2007. Democrat Steve Beck of Belle Plaine filed in March but had yet to file a campaign finance report.

House District 76
Registration: D 5494, R 6614, N 8469, total 20613, R +1120
Dave Maxwell (R) incumbent

Maxwell won a close 53-47 race against Rachel Bly when the seat was new last cycle. He has a solid $21,810 in the bank.

Former Grinnell school board president  Eric Pederson filed for the Dems and has $5216 on hand.

House District 77
Registration: D 7563, R 5324, N 7749, total 20689, D +2239
Sally Stutsman (D) incumbent

Rumor was that 2012 Republican challenger Steve Sherman would try again, or that one of the Senate 39 GOP primary losers losers would get in. But instead Stutsman's second House term is a free ride.

House District 78
Registration: D 4793, R 7308, N 6906, total 19045, R +2515
Jarad J. Klein (R) incumbent

After losing an upset to Democrat Larry Marek when this seat was open in 2012, Klein came back to win in 2010 and was unopposed last cycle. This year Democrats recruited a late starter, John Greener.

House District 79
Registration: D 3704, R 9197, N 6403, total 19338, R +5493
Guy Vander Linden (R) incumbent

Having gotten through a redistricting pairup, Vander Linden can settle in for as long as he wants in this top ten GOP seat.

House District 80
Registration: D 5908, R 6481, N 6708, total 19120, R +573
Larry Sheets (R) incumbent

Sheets narrowly beat Joe Judge of the Monroe County Judges in 2012 race when the seat was new and the priority high. It looked like a free ride this year until late. Ex-Republican Jared Godby filed in late July as an independent (too bad he didn't do that in 2012). And on deadline day, Democrat Deb Ballalatak, who lost a 2008 Senate race and a 2010 House race, filed on deadline day. But despite the relatively narrow partisan margin and the vote-splitting independent, the best shot was the open seat in the presidential year with the Judge name.

Sheets, prepping for a no contest, had not been fundraising and has $2,556 on hand; Ballalatak had not re-opened her committee on the July 19 report date.

House District 81
Registration: D 7764, R 4149, N 5692, total 17629, D +3615
Mary Gaskill (D) incumbent

Republicans here are putting all their effort into trying to save Mark Chelgren, and left Gaskill alone.

House District 82
Registration: D 6026, R 6529, N 5933, total 18562, R +503
Curt Hanson (D) incumbent

Jeff Shipley, a former Republican state central committee member of the Big Liberty wing, is challenging Hanson, who won the seat in an epic 2009 special election (the same year Shipley was running for the Iowa City council). Shipley filed in this seat last cycle but dropped out in time to get off the ballot.

Warning: Shipley has a solid $12,609, well ahead of Hanson at $4,190.
 
House District 83
Registration: D 8511, R 3162, N 6464, total 18173, D +5349
Jerry A. Kearns (D) incumbent

Kearns won this seat for as long as he wants in a 2008 primary.

House District 84
Registration: D 4468, R 7245, N 7152, total 18891, R +2777
David E. Heaton (R) incumbent

When Mt. Pleasant auto dealer Ralph Holmstrom filed, there was speculation that Heaton was stepping down after two decades. But a primary played out and Heaton made it look easy at 70-30%.

Heaton faces only an independent opponent, as perennial candidate Lee Harder breaks with the GOP. Harder lost Republican primaries for Congress in 2008 and state senate in 2012.

House District 85
Registration: D 10408, R 3927, N 7996, total 22513, D +6481
Vicki Lensing (D) incumbent

House District 86
Registration: D 9311, R 3241, N 6972, total 19647, D +6070
Mary Mascher (D) incumbent

Democratic registration spiked in Johnson County this spring with a hot courthouse primary, so Vicki Lensing reclaims the crown of Number One Democratic House District from Waterloo's Deb Berry. Mascher's district (and mine) remains third.

The only opposition Mascher or Lensing have seen this century is from independent Some Dudes, and not even that this time. Local Republicans will focus their efforts on Bobby Kaufmann, the Senate 39 race, and the top of the ticket.

House District 87
Registration: D 8655, R 3972, N 6288, total 18949, D +4683
Dennis Cohoon (D) incumbent

Cohoon won with under 50% in 2012 in a bizarre three way race where a sitting Democratic supervisor finished second running as an independent, and the Republican placed third. That must have been enough drama for two cycles, as the longtime (elected `87) Burlington incumbent is unopposed this year.

House District 88
Registration: D 5706, R 6038, N 6828, total 18595, R +332
Tom Sands (R) incumbent

Long range prediction: If and when Sands ever retires, this seat elects a Hispanic Democrat. The schools and several full towns in Louisa and Muscatine counties are already Latino majority.

Not this year. Sands either gets tough races or byes, and this year it's a bye. Sara Sedlacek held Sands to 53% in 2012, but that last 3 or 5 percent is a huge lift for the Democrats.  Rumors that Danville mayor Roger Doofenschmirtz is running as a write-in were unconfirmed by deadline.

House District 89
Registration: D 7119, R 4503, N 8419, total 20084, D +2616
Jim Lykam (D) incumbent

House District 90
Registration: D 7667, R 2756, N 7197, total 17683, D +4911
Cindy Winckler (D) incumbent

In 2012 Lykam overwhelmed a relatively serious challenger 2 to 1 while Winckler beat a last minute Liberty Republican and a perennial candidate running as an independent. This year, nothing for either.

House District 91
Registration: D 5512, R 5910, N 7351, total 18802, R +398
OPEN Mark S. Lofgren (R) incumbent, defeated in congressional primary

Lofgren made it closer than I thought he would against Mariannette Miller-Meeks. But he's out of the legislature and at one point there were briefly four Republican primary candidates. Lofgren's daughter Emily quit, and Mark LeRette dropped out after losing his city council seat last fall.

HON executive Gary Carlson easily beat the one remaining candidate, party activist Mark Cisneros, in the primary. Carlson will face 2012 Democratic nominee John Dabeet, chair of the Muscatine Community College business department. Carlson has $19,665 on hand, including a $7000 loan. Dabeet has $9,386. Democrat Nathan Reichert held this seat from 2004-10 and the margin is very close...

House District 92
Registration: D 5742, R 5691, N 8545, total 20015, D +51
Frank Wood (D) incumbent

...but not as close as the rematch in House 92. Both candidates have both won and lost here.

Wood, lifetime record 3-2, got knocked out of the Senate in 2008 and lost a supervisor race in 2010 before beating...

Walcott Republican Ross Paustian, now on his fourth straight run here, has a 1-2 lifetime score. He lost in a top-tier challenge to Democrat Elesha Gayman in 2008, then won when Gayman stepped down in 2010.

Paustian has the money lead with $20,510 in the bank, clearly indicating this as a targeted race. Wood has $10,913.

House District 93
Registration: D 6761, R 6221, N 7987, total 21026, D +540
Phyllis Thede (D) incumbent

Bettendorf rotary president Mark Ross is the Republican in House 93, challenging Democrat Phyllis Thede. She had a close race in 2010 then drew a weak 2012 opponent. Ross has $4,538 in the bank but $3000 of that is loans. Thede has $10,333.

House District 94
Registration: D 5492, R 8479, N 9162, total 23196, R +2987
Linda Miller (R) incumbent

Miller got a fairly serious race in 2012 from Maria Bribriesco but with Bribriesco in the Senate 47 race instead Miller ends up with her usual no opposition.

House District 95
Registration: D 6370, R 6292, N 8194, total 20919, D +78
Quentin Stanerson (R) incumbent

A top tier rematch in rural Linn County: Democrat Kristi Keast of Mt. Vernon lost to Stanerson by just 200 votes in 2012, and has a $13,982 bankroll. But Stanerson is ready with $17,011.

House District 96
Registration: D 4586, R 5932, N 8289, total 18818, R +1346
Lee Hein (R) incumbent

Hein moved in 2011 to stay with this district after getting just barely paired with fellow Republican Brian Moore. He had beaten Democrat Ray Zirkelbach in 2010 when the district was bluer.

Democrats have not tried since but this year there is a ex-Republican running as a Libertarian. Brian Cook lost the Senate 48 primary, badly,in 2012 to Dan Zumbach.

House District 97
Registration: D 5716, R 6278, N 8892, total 20921, R +562
OPEN Steven N. Olson (R) incumbent, retiring

Olson is retiring after six terms.  He had a closeish 56-44 race in 2008 but was unopposed in 2010 and easily beat a late starter in 2012.

In a low turnout Democratic primary labor activist Jay Saxon of Camanche beat Carl Boehl of LeClaire 202 to 87. Saxon leads cash on hand with $8,210.  Republican Norlin Mommsen of DeWitt has just $1,063 on hand.


House District 98
Registration: D 6610, R 3978, N 7721, total 18333, D +2632
Mary Wolfe (D) incumbent

If anyone in the legislature deserves a break this year, it's Mary Wolfe, and she gets one with no opponent. Wolfe won a close race when the seat was open in 2010 and beat an independent in `12.

House District 99
Registration: D 8784, R 4977, N 7088, total 20911, D +3807
OPEN Patrick Murphy (D) incumbent, nominated for Congress

House District 100
Registration: D 8113, R 3658, N 6318, total 18143, D +4455
Charles Isenhart (D) incumbent

In a bit of an upset, Abby Finkenauer beat attorney Steve Drahozal (who was presumed to be Murphy's choice) in the Democratic primary. Drahozal did not follow up and run as a Libertarian, which he was when he ran for a Johnson County House seat in 2000. Sorry. Never gets old.

Republicans recruited a late starter in Daniel Dlouhy, an attorney who looks like he's specializing in conservative activism. This seat was close in 2010 but that looks like a fluke caused by a really bad Democratic year and Murphy's role as then-Speaker.

In our last district Isenhart, elected in 2008 when Pam Jochum moved to the Senate, draws no opposition, same as 2012.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Freedom Summer Veteran Backs Brad Anderson

Emotional stories from 50 years ago upstaged Brad Anderson at his own event Thursday, but the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State didn't mind. Instead, Shel Stromquist's story underscored Anderson's message that the right to vote can never be taken for granted.

Stromquist, a retired UIowa history professor, is a veteran of Freedom Summer, the 1964 drive to register African Americans in the Deep South to vote.



Anderson and host Jim Larew listen as the focus is on Stromquist


"We thought we had won this battle," Stromquist said of the right to vote. "Clearly it is not over, and we have to do it again."

Stromquist, and many in the crowd of about 30 at the Jim Larew law office, choked up as he remembered attending training in Ohio with Andrew Goodman, one of three Freedom Summer workers murdered the very day Stromquist arrived in Mississippi.

"Vicksburg was a relatively liberal city," Stromquist said of his assignment. "They said they were going to bomb our Freedom House, and they did, but not until the fall after I was gone." He said the bombing failed to kill anyone because the bomb was planted directly under a huge pile of books collected for the project's Freedom School.

"So nobody was killed in Vicksburg. But people were beaten, lost their jobs, and had other consequences" for supporting the northern Freedom Summer volunteers or for trying to register to vote.

Stromquist also helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, a parallel structure to the state's official, white-only Democratic Party. He said the initial event was organized much like the Iowa caucuses, with the goal of electing a national convention delegation to be seated instead of the white-only delegation.

"We arrived at the location, and nobody, no one was there," said Stromquist. "Our hearts sank and we thought, well, we tried. Then once they saw us people started coming out of the woods. They had been hiding in the woods. They wanted to come, but they wanted to make sure we were there first."

Ultimately, Freedom Summer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party failed in their immediate stated goals of registering voters and being seated at the convention. Stromquist still bristles as he remembers how Lyndon Johnson failed to support the Freedom Democrats. But he said the attention brought to vote suppression in 1964 by Freedom Summer and the Freedom Democrats, and the next year at the Selma march, were the biggest catalysts in passing the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

"Mississippi went from last in the nation, with 6% voter registration, to 60% in just a couple years," said Stromquist. But, Stromquist cautioned, he had recently visited Mississippi for a Freedom Summer reunion "and there's a lot left to do."



Larew, Dvorsky and Anderson

Anderson said recent prosecutions in Iowa prompted by outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz are part of a larger pattern of vote suppression. He cited the recent Lee County case where a woman who had voted in an uncontested city election and thought her rights had been restored though they were not was a particularly egregious example.

"If the time line of her story had been one year earlier, she would have fallen under Governor Vilsack's restoration" in 2005, said Anderson, "none of it would have happened. "

"Threatening our voters is un-Iowan, and it is ending the day I take office," said Anderson.

Republicans have criticized Anderson for bringing up Schultz, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress instead of seeking re-election, and is now running for Madison County attorney. But as host Larew noted, GOP nominee and former Secretary of State "Paul Pate has said he wants to continue with the same design as Schultz, and he's smarter about how he wants to do it."

And the critique has a point, said former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky: "We cannot fully repudiate Matt Schultz's message until Brad Anderson is Secretary of State."

Other politicos on hand were state senator Joe Bolkcom and Supervisor candidate Mike Carberry.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sanders to Iowa City October 5

Breaking: Senator Bernie Sanders will visit Iowa City on October 5, with a stop at the Johnson County Democrats' fall barbecue.

The visit to the JCDems biggest annual event was confirmed to day by county supervisor Rod Sullivan, a former county party chair who has been working on Sanders to attend for some time.

The event will mark the Vermont senator's third trip to Iowa this year, following a May event in Clinton and a planned September 13-14 trip to Dubuque, Waterloo and Des Moines.

The October trip is yet another sign that Sanders, despite calling his status as an independent socialist, is taking a long hard look at a run in the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses. And it's worth noting that the confirmation comes just two days after the announcement that Hillary Clinton will make her first Iowa visit in 6 1/2 years at the Harkin Steak Fry on September 14.

A Johnson County group supporting Sanders, led by `80s era county chair Jeff Cox, has held several recent meetings.

Earlier, Johnson County Democrats had also announced Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow as a guest. Stabenow is not considered a likely presidential candidate but is doing other Iowa events that weekend in support of Bruce Braley.

The barbecue is the county party's traditional fall fundraiser and has hosted many presidential candidates and prominent Democrats in the past, including five presidential candidates in 2007, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Howard Dean in 2003, and Paul Wellstone in 1997, Tickets are $15 for individuals and $30 for families.

All The Legislative Races: Senate Edition

No, Hillary's return to Iowa has not given me writer's block. I've been writing, a LOT, on my every cycle look at All The Legislative Races, with some delay due to a brief vacation.

I've gotten through the Senate (and about a third of the House) and so rather than leave my readers empty-handed while I research to separate the serious from the Some Dudes, I'll split the update into a two parter.

The Senate, of course, is critical, the only leg of Iowa government held by Democrats and by a tenuous 26-24 margin. Mike Gronstal is the only thing keeping Terry Branstad from being Scott Walker, and if you don't think he'd get all Wisconsin on AFSCME the second he got a trifecta, then you don't know your 1990s history.

District number links go to maps. The voter registration district numbers below are simplified but a good comparison: Active registrations as of August 1, with "Most Democratic" measured by D Minus R. Remember, Republicans had a hot June primary statewide for US Senate and in two congressional districts, while the only big Democratic race was in the 1st CD, so that skews things to the right a bit.

Campaign finance reports are from July 19. In general I only looked closely at seriously contested races.

Senate District 1
Registration: D 8398, R 19143, N 13406, total 40991, R +10745
David Johnson (R) incumbent

Senate District 3
Registration: D 9187, R 16355, N 12850, total 38461, R +7168
Bill Anderson (R) incumbent

No action in these deep red northwest seats. All the excitement was years ago and outside the ballot box: the map coaxing a retirement out of Democrat Jack Kibbie who was paired up with Johnson, and Anderson clearing the field in 2010.

Senate District 5
Registration: D 11320, R 12382, N 14585, total 38345, R +1062
Daryl Beall (D) incumbent

Beall faces Republican Tim Kraayenbrink in a top tier race. Beall won a third term last year in old district 25 with 54%, but loses about 900 Democrats this map. He keeps Ft. Dodge and Calhoun County and goes go north into new, redder turf in Pocahontas and Humboldt.  Beall's personal popularity should help overcome the on-paper Republican edge.

Beall had $33,704 on hand on the July 19 report. Kraayenbrink had $8,301 but seems to be spending earlier.

Senate District 7
Registration: D 11385, R 8951, N 9846, total 30261, D +2434
Rick Bertrand (R) incumbent

Bertrand narrowly won a contentious to the point of litigious race in 2010 - litigiousness he's still pursuing all the way to the US Supreme Court - and has always had a target on his back. He even stepped down from leadership to focus on re-election. But he catches a lucky break.

Democrat Jim France beat Maria Rundquist in a reasonably close but low turnout (599 to 483) primary. But the seemingly clueless Rundquist, apparently convinced she can win, has filed as an independent. Such "sore loser" campaigns are illegal in most states, but not in Iowa. She won't draw many votes, but it won't take many to have an impact. Bertrand won by just 222 votes in 2010 under very similar lines.

Bertrand had a solid $51,646 on hand while France had just $3,575, not much more than Rundquist at $1,858.

Senate District 9
Registration: D 9337, R 14713, N 12201, total 36299, R +5376
OPEN Nancy J. Boettger (R) incumbent, retiring

That was easy: House 18 Rep. Jason Schultz announced here the same day Boettger retired, and drew no primary or general election opposition.

Senate District 11
Registration: D 8514, R 18866, N 13803, total 41241, R +10352
OPEN Hubert Houser (R) incumbent, retiring

Decided in the primary along city vs. country lines. Tom Shipley of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association overwhelmed Art Hill, finance director for the city of Council Bluffs. Hill made it close on the edge of town, but Shipley overwhelmed him in Adams, Cass and Union counties. Democrats aren't trying in this deep red seat.

Senate District 13
Registration: D 12091, R 14522, N 14370, total 41049, R +2431
Julian Garrett (R) incumbent

Waaaay less interesting than it was a year ago. Democrats had a shot against the controversial and damaged Kent Sorenson; Staci Appel won this seat under very similar lines in 2006 when it was open.

But Sorenson resigned, under pressure yet defiant.  Rep. Julian Garrett won the Republican convention over three other candidates, and easily beat ex-Rep. Mark Davitt for the Dems.

Garrett will face Iowa Public Health Association president Pam Deichmann in the fall. Libertarian Tom Thompson is also on the ballot. Deichmann was the Democratic nominee in the January House special to replace Garrett, but lost 70-30%. Deichmann was one of the state workers squeezed out by Terry Branstad, but that issue seems to be getting little traction. Surprisingly, though, she leads in cash on hand, with $5,486 to Garrett's $4,691 (and $10,000 debt left from the special). Still, the Democrats would have had a far better chance against Sorenson.

Senate District 15
Registration: D 13870, R 12593, N 13365, total 39899, R +277
OPEN Dennis H. Black (D) incumbent, retiring

Black stepped down during filing week in this Newton-Altoona seat, after 32 years in the legislature. Former Newton Mayor Chaz Allen promptly announced for the Democrats, so this had likely been in the works for a bit.

The GOP field started big even before Black's retirement, but two candidates sidetracked to the district's two House races. In the primary, Crystal Bruntz, an HR executive with Kum & Go, easily defeated Mitchellville mayor Jeremy Filbert. But remarkably, she has just $314 cash on hand, compared to Allen's $5,985.

Senate District 17
Registration: D 16401, R 6574, N 9858, total 32956, D +9827
OPEN Jack Hatch (D), nominee for governor

In a Des Moines district where they know politics ain't beanbag, we saw the ugliest primary in the state. Ned Chiodo challenged Tony Bisignano's right to run because of a January OWI. That made Chiodo the Bad Guy, pushing Chiodo into third place.  The beneficiary was the third candidate. Nathan Blake, who almost pulled off the upset but fell just 18 votes shy.

The district is solidly Democratic, but Republicans nominated Jonathan Lochman just in case. At the last minute, neighborhood association activist Jim Bollard, who applied for a city council vacancy last year, also filed. Could split some votes off, but with the district's incumbent topping the Democratic ticket, Bisignano is still a safe bet to return to the Senate.

Senate District 19
Registration: D 11934, R 15817, N 13378, total 41260, R +3883
Jack Whitver (R) incumbent

Whitver gets to beat the same Some Dude twice in one cycle. He stomped perennial candidate Brett Nelson 79-21 in the primary, but Nelson is trying again in the general. Democrats are more realistic about their chances than Nelson and are sitting this one out.

Senate District 21
Registration: D 15792, R 12114, N 11150, total 39209, D +3678
Matt McCoy (D) incumbent

This district is less Democratic than the one McCoy last won in 2010, but Democratic enough that the Republican he was paired with on Map Day, Pat Ward, moved out. (She won a tough primary one district west, but died before the general election.) And Democratic enough that the GOP is letting it go.

Senate District 23
Registration: D 11232, R 9042, N 12912, total 33409, D +2190
Herman C. Quirmbach (D) incumbent

Quirmbach drew a seemingly serious primary challenge from Cynthia Oppedal Paschen, but won easily with 73%. Republicans have high hopes here for former Ames city council member Jeremy Davis, and he has $17,264 on hand, competitive with Quirmbach's $25,299. But the primary was probably the bigger risk for Quirmbach.

Senate District 25
Registration: D 8435, R 16232, N 14634, total 39380, R +7797
Bill Dix (R) incumbent

The Minority Leader is in District 25. But 26 is the number he wants. He won't have to spend any time on his own uncontested race, and he's got $189,207 in his bank account to spread around.

Senate District 27
Registration: D 11034, R 13056, N 15869, total 40001, R +2022
Amanda Ragan (D) incumbent

Ragan has the most Republican seat held by a Democrat. But she won her first race on tougher turf than this, and Democrats are confident she can hold the seat.

Former sheriff Timothy Junker carried his Butler County turf, but the Republican primary winner, former Hampton mayor Shawn Dietz, overcame that in Cerro Gordo and Franklin. Dietz spent a little on the primary and is down to $1,583 on hand, to Ragan's solid for an incumbent in a must hold tough seat number: $51,297.

Senate District 29
Registration: D 14784, R 10754, N 16924, total 42521, D +4030
Tod Bowman (D) incumbent

Bowman was the only Democratic freshman in annus horriblis 2010, winning by just 71 votes in a Clinton-based district. He makes his first re-election run on much-changed turf in Senate 29. He keeps his Maquoketa base but goes north into rural Dubuque County.

In the Republican primary, tea partyish James Budde of Bellevue beat former Dyersville mayor Jim Heavens. Budde had just $50 cash on hand on July 19. No, there's not a digit missing. Fifty five zero. Bowman has $15,874.

Senate District 31
Registration: D 16014, R 6348, N 13249, total 35703, D +9666
Bill Dotzler (D) incumbent

Waterloo's Dotzler moved over to the Senate in 2002 after three terms in the House and has had easy races in the number 3 Democratic seat, winning with 63% in 2010 and 100% in 2014.

Senate District 33
Registration: D 15620, R 10258, N 13239, total 39276, D +5362
Robert Hogg (D) incumbent

Hogg, first elected in 2006, drew a late Some Dude Republican opponent, Harry Foster.

Senate District 35
Registration: D 15575, R 8506, N 14752, total 38953, D +7069
Wally E. Horn (D) incumbent

Horn saw his first opponent of any sort since 1990 in the primary. Challenger Lance Lefebure was a late starting 2012 House candidate in half of this district - as a REPUBLICAN challenging Todd Taylor. Was 65% against such an opponent a good win or not? Doesn't matter, as Horn has no November opposition and will extend his string as the senior senator, 32 years and counting after spending the 70s in the House.

Senate District 37
Registration: D 14564, R 9928, N 13267, total 37880, D +4636
Bob Dvorsky (D) incumbent

Cedar County Republicans grumbled when, in a quirk of the redistricting law, they went six years without voting on a senator.  As a smaller county with larger neighbors, they were pulled out of Jim Hahn's even numbered Muscatine based district, which voted on the presidential cycle, and moved into Dvorsky's Coralville based odd-numbered seat, voting on the governor cycle.

But that concern didn't go as far as actually finding an opponent for Dvorsky, who eases into a sixth full term.And Bob helps the team by shedding some excess Democrats into the next district below...

Senate District 39
Registration: D 12356, R 12632, N 14655, total 39734, R +276
OPEN Sandra H. Greiner (R) incumbent, retiring

This is the ball game: a big enough deal that potential presidential candidates (Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Rick Perry) are dropping in for fund raisers.

Greiner's retirement was not shocking. She'd already retired once in 2008 and was unhappy enough with a district based half in Johnson County that she was the only senator to vote no on the map.

Republicans saw a three way primary. Johnson County split, with the local GOP leadership backing former county party chair Bob Anderson but a sizable chunk supporting former Tiffin mayor Royce Phillips. The beneficiary with a 49% win was Mike Moore, the sole Washington County candidate, who runs a care center and has been on school board and city council.

In the Democratic primary, Kevin Kinney of Oxford, a deputy sheriff and Clear Creek Amana school board member, easily beat Rich Gilmore of Washington.

Kinney has $13,844 on hand. Moore, with a more competitive primary, was down to $5,146, most of that from a $5000 self-loan. I'd call this the best shot at a Democratic gain, if it weren't for...

Senate District 41
Registration: D 13790, R 10678, N 11625, total 36191, D +3112
Mark Chelgren (R) incumbent

The most Democratic seat held by a Republican is Senate 41. Mark "Chickenman" Chelgren, best known for naked RAGBRAI rides, caught the wave and, in the fluke upset of the year, blindsided Democrat Keith Kreiman by just 10 votes in 2010.

Rather than adapt to a blue district. Chickenman doubled down with conservative rhetoric and an abrasive style, so he's had a target on him from Day One. Long time county supervisor Steve Siegel was a 71% winner in the Democratic primary over former Ottumwa superintendent Tom Rubel.

Chickenman leads cash on hand with $13,907. Siegel has both raised and spent more, with $11,230 on hand (and has already spent $16,042 through the primary and early general).

Senate District 43
Registration: D 19719, R 7168, N 14968, total 42160, D +12551
Joe Bolkcom (D) incumbent

The core Iowa City district (where I live) is the most Democratic seat in the state and has not seen a Republican candidate since 1986, three maps and two senators ago. Bolkcom beat an independent three to one in 2006.

Senate District 45
Registration: D 14786, R 7259, N 15616, total 37767, D +7527
Joe M. Seng (D) incumbent

Seng's record is too conservative for this deep blue Davenport district, and he made a lot of enemies with his bizarre 2012 primary challenge to Dave Loebsack, which he lost 80-20%. But his only 2014 opposition was Some Dude Mark Riley in the primary. It was a rematch of the 2010 general, when Riley ran as a Republican.  Seng carried it with 82% and pitiful turnout.

Senate District 47
Registration: D 12253, R 14700, N 17149, total 44222, R +2447
Roby Smith (R) incumbent

Smith was the first Republican to escape a primary in the Bettendorf district in a couple cycles. (David Hartsuch knocked off Maggie Tinsman in 2006, but lost to Smith in 2010.)  Democrat Maria Bribriesco lost a 2012 House race to Linda Miller, but scored 44.5% in the tougher half of the Senate seat.

Bribriesco has a respectable $15,667 on hand. But if she starts to threaten, Smith can tap into an $80,850 war chest.

Senate District 49
Registration: D 12326, R 10256, N 16613, total 39254, D +2070
Rita Hart (D) incumbent

This was the only odd-number seat with no incumbent after redistricting, so Clinton Democrat Rita Hart ran for a shortened two year term in 2012. Now with the seat back on the governor year cycle, she faces Clinton County Republican supervisor Brian Schmidt and despite the margin, the seat seems to be targeted.

Hart has $12,216 on hand. Schmidt has $7,168.50 on hand and already spent $9,049.50 (I hate rounding).