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).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hillary to Iowa. Now what?

Yes. I KNOW.

I haven't been forwarded as many copies of the same story since Al and Tipper Gore split and the Onion depicted Al listening to Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics albums.

So Hillary Clinton has at last scheduled an event in Iowa. Assuming she and Bill land on the morning of September 14 to motorcade from the Des Moines airport to Indianola for the very last Harkin Steak Fry, it will be 2,446 days since her last step in Iowa on Caucus Night 2008.

Am I finally satisfied? Am I finally going to shut up about how much Hillary hates Iowa?

It's a good first step. And it exactly parallels Barack Obama's first Iowa visit of the 2008 cycle, at the `06 Steak Fry. (Though other candidates and potential candidates had been here earlier.)
But it's ONLY a first step, and it's far less than a real commitment to a genuine, retail, Iowa caucus campaign.

It's not quite my nightmare vision of a big distant airport rally. But it's close: a large staged event, almost certainly with no public Q and A. A real caucus event means some risk: a tough non-planted question about Palestine or Iraq or the finance industry or marriage equality or the drug war or climate change. The actual answers to those questions, whenever they do get asked, will also matter.

The Clintons will work the rope line, sure. But that's a touch the hem of her garment interaction, not a real chance for a reasoned critique. Any questions will be rushed and only overheard by the press with some luck and some blocking skill. (The media scrum will be insane.)

Speaking of the press corps: Is an opportunity for in-state media to meet with the Clintons on the agenda? (I'm sure an opportunity for high-dollar donors is.) Will we get to ask some questions? That was often lacking in 2007, and it'd be a nice second step toward peace with Iowa, following this first step of showing up.

The third step I would like to see out of this visit would be an in-speech positive reference to the Iowa caucuses, some statement about us staying first and some hint that "if" (ha ha) she runs she's all in.

And finally, I'd like to see a second and third and fourth trip, to help further down the ballot, like the Republican candidates are doing.

This development leaves me cautiously optimistic. Making it a joint event with Clinton 42 is a slight hedge of the bet, though as an event it's a nice plus. But Bill plus Hillary feels like Harkin valedictory, whereas Hillary alone would feel even more like 2016.

I'm still hoping for more. But for now: Welcome to Iowa, Hillary, and welcome back, Bill.

New Independent Whaaat?

Well this came out of nowhere Friday: Another party pops up with a slate of multiple candidates for the state level offices. The label "New Independent Party Iowa" is new, but the face is familiar.

Gubernatorial candidate Jim Hennager got his start in the Ross Perot trenches and was the winner of the only Reform Party primary in state history in 1998. He carried the party to less than 1 percent and loss of their full party status (the same year that Reform candidate Jesse Ventura actually won the election next door in Minnesota).

Hennager next surfaced as the congressional nominee of the "One Earth Party" (variously called "One Earth Federation") in 2002. Surprisingly, he's from Nevada, not Fairfield. Sometimes I miss the Natural Law Party.

Also filing on the NIPI ticket - is that pronounced Nippie as in Hippie and Yippee? - were Spencer Highland for secretary of state and Levi Benning for secretary of agriculture. (He may actually have a shot at second place against the hapless Sherrie Taha... Sorry, friends, but earthy-crunchy just doesn't play in a race for this office.) So that's three statewide candidates for the Nippies (suggested mascot: Wendy O. Williams), one more than Johnathan Narcisse's Iowa Party (aka the Narcissists).

The other surprise Friday: While Libertarian Jake Porter filed, making a second straight run for the office, two Libertarian congressional candidates, Gary Sicard in the 1st CD and Forest Johnson in the 4th, failed to make the ballot (no word on if they tried). That means only the 3rd District will have more than two candidates for Congress. Murphy-Blum, Loebsack-MMM, and King-Mowrer are one on one.

Also not filing for anything: the usually tenacious Socialist Workers. I thought they'd perfected petitioning: aggressively try to sell their Militant newspaper, settle for signature.

The US Senate race will have a crowd of six on the ballot, with Bob Quast filing as the "Bob Quast for Term Limits" candidate. His terms are likely to be limited to zero. But the six way race makes it more likely that whoever does win, Braley or Ernst, will do so with under 50 percent.

The most significant legislative development was on Thursday night in House District 8. Terry Baxter won the House 8 GOP convention to replace Henry Rayhons. 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 challenged Rayhons.

So Baxter filed Friday... and later Friday Rayhons' sudden drop out suddenly made much more sense. The lurid nature is hard to ignore, but obviously it's sad and tragic for all involved. Anyway, Baxter is a favorite over Democrat Nancy Huisinga.

Democrats also recruited one last candidate Friday: Deb Ballalatak will challenge GOP freshman Larry Sheets in House 80. Deb Ballalatak lost a 2008 Senate race and a 2010 House race. This was a top tier, close, open seat race in 2012, but without Joe Judge of the Monroe County dynasty on the ballot it's likely to be lower on the radar.

Libertarian Clair Tom Thompson (?) filed in Senate 13 where short-time GOP incumbent Julian Garrett is a favorite over Democrat Pam Deichmann.

In Senate 17, independent Jim Bollard, a neighborhood association activist, joined the field. He and Republican Jonathan Lochman will both try to capitalize on the bitter Democratic primary in Jack Hatch's solid Democratic district. Des Moines folks, help me out: is Bollard a live round? Or did Tony Bisignano win this in June?

(This installment was delayed due to a brief actual vacation. The traditional All 125 Races roundup is in progress and will be ready when it's ready. Also, I suggest not Googling Nippie at work.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Plan B For Matt Schultz

One day left before the final filing deadline in the single term of lame duck secretary of state Matt Schultz, and he stole the headline from his office.
A Madison County Republican convention nominated Schultz Tuesday for county attorney, as opposed to the 3rd District convention which eliminated Schultz first among the serious candidates. He'll face Democratic incumbent Julie Forsyth in November. A rumor that his campaign slogan will be "More Felons = Less Voters" was unconfirmed at press time.

Schultz's elected office prior to his upset 2010 win over Mike Mauro was 119 miles west of Madison County, on the Council Bluffs Council. (Almost as bad as Iowa City City Council. Or Iowa City, Iowa, City Council?) He listed a Madison County address for his congressional campaign. He finished third in the county in the congressional primary. Madison County was the only county carried by eventual convention winner David Young.

Schultz also announced an 8:30 a.m. "press conference regarding the Iowa Constitution" tomorrow.

Compared to the Schultz announcement, the filings in his office today are anticlimactic. The top of the Libertarian ticket, Lee Heib for governor and Douglas Butzier for US Senate, filed.

Ruth Smith of Lamoni has the unique distinction of losing races to both Kim Reynolds and Joni Ernst in the same Senate district. Those runs, and a couple prior lossess for supervisor, were as a Democrat. She's filed for US Senate as an independent, so she gets to lose to Ernst again.

Smith appears to have become disaffected with the Democrats sometime after her loss to Ernst in the early 2011 special election to replace new Lt. Gov. Reynolds. In 2012 she ran as an independent, despite the lack of a Democrat in the race, against Rep. Joel Fry. Her amateurish web site emphasizes campaign finance reform.

Watch tomorrow for the nominee in tonight's House 8 Republican convention to replace Henry Rayhons, a couple more Libertarian US House candidates, and any other under the radar surprises.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ruff Draws Republican Rival

Four more names on the ballot the last two days, and the lowest down is of the most significance.

Republican Lowell Engle of Harpers Ferry filed in House 56. He hopes to make McGregor freshman Democrat Patti Ruff the third consecutive one-termer in the state's northeast corner.  Ruff beat freshman Republican Bob Hager in 2012. Hager, in a very different map, had bumped off first term Democrat John Beard in 2008.

As predicted, two more candidates are on the ballot for the open 3rd CD, and both may hurt Republican David Young.  Bryan Jack Holder of Council Bluffs failed to make the GOP primary ballot and filed as an independent. Libertarian Ed Wright, former state party chair, also made the ballot. Libertarians also have recruits in the 1st and 4th CDs, the senate and governor's race, and for secretary of state who have yet to file.

Last and least, we have a second sore loser. Perennial candidate Brett Nelson won just 21%, typical for him, in a Republican primary challenge to incumbent Jack Whitver in Ankeny's Senate 19. Undeterred, Nelson has filed against Whitver again as an independent. Nelson also lost twice in 2012, primary and general, to Kevin Koester in House 37. (So parties in Iowa are not only unable to keep a primary loser off the fall ballot; they can't keep a party quitter from coming back two years later and doing the same thing to them again.)

Democrats are more realistic about their chances against Whitver and don't have a candidate.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Persistence Breeds Failure

Until this week it look like the race for Iowa candidate futility was close between Democrat David Johnson and Republican Jane Jech, who are each on their fourth runs for the Iowa Legislature after three losses.

But the one candidate who filed Monday has lost more elections than Johnson and Jech combined, and without the one fluke primary win and actual election to lower office (city council for Johnson, community college board for Jech) that each has scored.

Libertarian Eric Cooper is making his EIGHTH consecutive run for office, filing against Beth Wessel-Kroeschell in House 45. 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 2002 Cooper ran for state senate and in 2010 he was the candidate for governor, finishing fourth with just a hair over 1%, about half what he needed to earn full party status for the Libertarians.

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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hawaii Election Has Iowa Precedent

Hawaii's Democratic Senate Primary was held Saturday and the result is unclear. Not just in the usual close election, possible recount way. No, in Hawaii there's still votes left to cast.

Two precincts on The Big Island had the election delayed because of storm damage to the polling places. And with appointee incumbent Brian Schatz holding a slim lead over challenger Colleen Hanabusa, voters in those two precincts will go to the polls (rather, they'll vote by mail) knowing that their votes will make the difference.

It's a scenario that was reduced to the absurd in the Kevin Costner movie Swing Vote, where one voter decides the presidency. But in real life?
Yes. Yes I can. And it was right here in Iowa, and you've probably heard of or even know the candidates. Step into the Wayback Machine and check the June 30, 1974 Des Moines Register:
TAMA. IA. — Within minutes of arriving in Tama. a visitor may be solicited by eager young campaign workers. "Would you like a Johnson bumper sticker?" they ask. Store fronts are plastered with campaign posters. Yard signs — green for Johnson, red for Rapp — are sprouting like July corn. Candidates have canvassed Tama and the surrounding country so thoroughly that by late last week they were beginning to run into voters they had already given their pitch to.

Blame Each Other

Both sides blame the other for starting it — a bitter rematch in miniature for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Iowa's Third District.

Voters in four Tama County precincts will decide the nominee for the entire 17- county congressional district in an unusual special election Tuesday. It all began when Stephen Rapp a 25-year-old state legislator, upset nationally prominent Nicholas Johnson in the regular June 4 primary election, apparently winning the nomination in a field of four candidates...
The Ames Tribune (July 1, 1974) picks up the trail from there:
Rapp, who was the apparent winner of the nomination after the June 4 primary, had his lead of 62 votes trimmed to only 10 after the results from three Tama County precincts were thrown out.

The special election was called when a suit was filed in federal court in Cedar Rapids on behalf of Indians on the Mesquakie Indian Settlement claiming there had been no polling place set up for the Indians and in three other precincts which surround the settlement.
One difference between Tama and the current situation in Hawaii: the Tama do-over arose AFTER the regular election day due to the lawsuit. In Hawaii, voters went into Saturday's primary knowing that the two precincts would have a delayed vote.

The do-over picked up a fair share of national attention both for its unusual nature and for the significance of the open seat. The curmudgeonly incumbent, Republican H.R. Gross, was retiring, and in the Watergate climate it looked like there was a chance for Democrats to claim the seat for the first time in decades.

But which Democrat?

In the end, it all came to nothing. The Tama do-over widened Rapp's margin to 129 votes.  Rapp went on to lose in November, but both he and Johnson have gone on to prominent legal careers.

But the ultimate winner wasn't even a lawyer, he was a farmer from Iowa. Yes, it was Chuck Grassley who won this race.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Slow Second Week Filing

The second week of a three week filing period is usually deadly dull. You get a big wave on Day One, and things ramp up in the last two or three days, but who files in the middle?

Pretty much no one. Just four third party filings during the whole week, none above the state House level, and none even possible spoilers in three way races.

Two tea partyish candidates who've lost Republican primaries in past cycles are running against Republicans this year.

Lee Harder was an also ran in the 2nd Congressional District in 2008 and got stomped in the Senate 42 primary in 2012. This year he's an independent in House District 84 against longtime incumbent Dave Heaton. 

Brian Cook was clobbered by Dan Zumbach in the Senate 48 primary last cycle. Cook is now challenging House 96 incumbent Lee Hein as a Libertarian. There's no Democrat in either of these races.

Third party contenders also filed in two Des Moines seats, against incumbent Democrats. Libertarian Joshua Herbert will challenge Rick Olson in House 31. And David Courard-Hauri appeard to be the only Green candidate in the state in House 41, against Jo Oldson. (On Friday I tweeted that the Green was challenging Lisa Heddens in Ames. Oops.) No Republicans in either contest.

There's at least one nominating convention scheduled next week. Rep. Henry Rayhons made his withdrawal official in House 8. He had cited family concerns, and sadly his wife Donna passed away on Friday. Condolonces to Rep. Rayhons and his family.

The Republican convention to replace Rayhons on the ballot will be Thursday, the day before the filing deadline. Terry Baxter of Garner has announced. (Does this mean no Stu Iverson comeback?) The convention winner will face Democrat Nancy Paule Huisinga in a red district.