Saturday, July 21, 2012

Un-Convention-al Wisdom

It's nominating convention season, as the August 17 legislative filing deadline approaches and the parties take their last opportunities to fill the gaps on the ballot.

Most late starting nominated at convention candidates are Some Dudes, like I was when I went that route, and few if any win. But four current House freshmen, which must be a record, were convention nominees:
  • Democrat Dan Kelley was the replacement nominee when incumbent Paul Bell died;
  • Democrat Dan Muhlbauer was nominated after the original nominee dropped out;
  • Republican Bob Hager just got started late;
  • and Republican Brian Moore lost a Senate primary - a DEMOCRATIC Senate primary - before switching teams and winning the upset of the year.
Both parties have convention activity to report, both in districts that strongly favor the other team.

In Senate District 40, Democrats have nominated Pella school board member Tim Tripp. Technically this is a Democratic held seat; Oskaloosa incumbent Tom Rielly announced his retirement days before the filing deadline in March. But the lines have changed so radically it's difficult to even call this "Rielly's" district, and it's now the seventh most Republican seat in the state. Tripp, an attorney, has an uphill race against Mahaska County supervisor Ken Rozenboom, but looks like a credible candidate.

That's more than we can say about the Republican candidate in House District 33 -- because we don't have a name yet. Nevertheless, RPI chair A.J. Spiker has called a convention for August 1, and you don't do that without a candidate. House 33 is the solidly Democratic turf of House Democratic leader Kevin McCarthy. I'm thinking this is less about winning and more about trying to keep McCarthy at least a little bit occupied on his home front and a little bit distracted from helping his other candidates.

I haven't seen Chairman Spiker calling a convention yet in Senate District 34 to replace "united States Senator" Randi-Kaye: Shannon on the ballot. And that's after they tut-tutted at us Democrats last spring for not running a sacrificial lamb against, say, Randy Feenstra in Sioux County, while they bragged so much about having a Senate candidate in EVERY race. Obviously, quality control was not one of their bigger concerns.

Like I said: you don't call a convention without a candidate, and sometimes you're better off without one. In this case, that may be especially true: the only name to emerge so far in SD34 is Ryan Flood, the guy who was chairing Shannon's campaign.

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