Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Incumbents Miss Harkin's Cut

Incumbents Miss Cut in Harkin Contest

The three incumbents with primary challengers who were included in a Tom Harkin campaign contest failed to make the second round of voting, thus resolving what at least one primary challenger considered an unfair advantage.

The "Building Blue" page at Harkin's campaign site allowed voters to choose the top 20 state House candidates and top 10 state Senate candidates to be eligible for up to $7,000 in campaign money. Voters needed to enter their email addresses, which could prove useful to Harkin as he seeks re-election this year. The Harkin campaign will announce the top five House and top five Senate candidates on June 4.

The contest listed no candidates in districts with contested primaries and without incumbents. But three House incumbents with primary challengers -- Deborah Berry, Wayne Ford, and Geri Huser -- were listed, while their primary rivals were left off.

The Harkin campaign said the list of candidates was provided by the House Democratic Caucus, while a Democratic Caucus staffer said the decision on who to include or exclude was made by the Harkin campaign.

Matt Ballard of Altoona, Huser's primary challenger, held the House Caucus responsible and considered the snub just one of many exclusions he's faced running against an incumbent of his own party. An informal survey Sunday of Altoona's main drag showed Huser winning the yard sign war, but Ballard maintaining a noticeable presence.

Several campaigns are using their own email lists and actively soliciting support in the contest, including Nate Willems (open House District 29), Gretchen Lawyer (open House District 36), and Frank Best (challenging GOP incumbent Tom Sands in House District 87).

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