What was I saying just this morning about my "Pet peeve with all media: treating races with candidates who drop out but stay on the ballot as 'uncontested.'" Iowa Indy has the details as dropout House District 30 Democratic primary challenger John Stellmach pulls a rare simultaneous Ross Perot-Joe Lieberman combo: dropping back in, while also threatening to run as an independent if he loses to incumbent Dave Jacoby Tuesday.
Something always seemed fishy about Stellmach's "dropout"; the withdrawal came just before candidate forums, the yard signs never came down, and Stellmach never stepped up to offer an endorsement. But then, the initial premise of the campaign - a labor challenge to a legislator with a 94% pro-labor record - was also weird to begin with, a by-product of labor's frustration with a "six pack" of conservaDems who blocked labor legislation. (Ironically, Stellmach "moved" from Washington County, home of Six Packer Larry Marek, to challenge Jacoby.)
If labor's goal is to make an example of Jacoby, this is yet another bizarre move. Before the dropout, as I noted from campaign finance reports:
(Stellmach) reported raising a leadership-level $36,170.19 and, in a phenomenal burn rate, spending $33,326.29. Virtually all of the money was from labor: $30,000 from AFSCME and $4,000 from other unions. Who knows how deep that well would have been had he stayed in the race, but only two donations, totaling $600, were from within the district.For its part, the Jacoby campaign didn't let down its guard, and went ahead with mailings and calls. So, when will Iowa get a sore loser law that keeps people defeated in primaries from getting a general election do-over?
Stellmach's spending was also unusual, with more paid staffing that a typical legislative primary campaign. Staffer Dan Tallon was paid $7,000 for two month's work, and a James Stellmach was paid $1500 for canvassing. The candidate reported $563 in mileage (the Register reported that Stellmach moved into the district from Washington County just before filing), and loads of office equipment and GPS systems. Oddly, for a labor campaign, $941 of that stuff was bought at Wal-Mart. Oops.