Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Random late night thoughts

I've been in the bubble of an election office for about 16 hours so my perspective is off and my knowledge base is incomplete. At this late hour it looks like Obama will sweep all swing states except North Carolina. In the Senate Dems will at LEAST hold even, and if they run the table of Montana (leading to hold) North freakin' DAKOTA (leading to hold in Upset Of The Night) and Nevada (trailing to gain a seat), there could yet be gains.

Unfortunately the Dems' only bad year in the last four cycles was 2010, and serious gerrymandering work has raised the US House bar really, REALLY high.

But my perspective is local. Serious number crunching late this week. Obama's percentage was down about two points from 2008, but Dave Loebsack held firm. Sally Stutsman takes a 60-40 win in the open House 77 seat - now we have an open supervisior seat coming up.

But Dick Schwab didn't get as big a Johnson County margin as he needed, and fell short in House 73. (A lot of local Dems are VERY mad at some locals who backed Schwab's primary challenger, never really got on board, and publicly trashed Schwab as recently as last month.)

Congrats to the No forces on the justice center. Though I supported it, I share many of their concerns. Not about size - we need to think long term - but about local and national law enforcement issues and bad laws. Three things need to happen locally for the justice center to pass on a future attempt, in order of importance.
1) Fire Iowa City police chief Sam Hargadine, if he doesn't skip town to a new job first. But firing would be a better message. He has no sensitivity to the concerns about minority arrest rates that the No forces legitimately raised, and the ICPD was the No side's best ally.

2) Fire Campus Security chief Chuck Green. The University's zero-tolerance crackdown fuels the myth that the jail is full of students. And related:

3) Repeal 21 bar. An 18 year old is an adult. These things will show that the community is serious about addressing progressive concerns. Do the City and the University want to be part of the solution, or do they want to be selfish about their own flawed interests?

I shed no tears for Leonard Boswell. Bye-bye, Blue Dog. I only wish he had lost in a primary rather than to a Republican. The chronically underperforming Boswell's stubborn refusal to step aside at an appropriate time just cost Iowa Democrats a congressional seat that a stronger candidate - say, Christie Vilsack? - could have held. (Vilsack, in a far worse district, won a higher percentage of the vote than Boswell. And the Vilsacks had moved to Des Moines when Tom left office) Notice that our two progressive Democrats won by bigger than expected margins. Proud to be a Loebsacker since 2005. Watch for a VERY hot Democratic primary in the 3rd CD in 2014 and may the best woman win.

Remember when Shawn Hamerlinck told students lobbying him on a bill to "go home"? Well, the voters just told Hamerlinck to go home.

And suck it, Vander Plaats: Wiggins survives and the Iowa Senate holds at at least 26-23 and possibly 27-22. The Senate 28 race is very close with Decorah Dem John Beard down just 37 votes. Provisional ballots and late-arriving absentees should favor a Democrat in a district with a college campus, and I expect this to be the recount of the year.

There's also the Dec. 11 special election in Senate 22 to replace the late Pat Ward. More on that after recuperation.

And if a re-elected Wiggins and a re-elected Democratic Senate isn't enough for BVP's nightmares, I have three words from the northeast: Senator. Tammy. Baldwin.


lebbenh said...

Well the good national news is that Tester and Heitkamp have/will win. Heitkamp has a 3,000 vote lead with all the votes in, and that will hold in a recount; last time I looked, votes were still trickling in for Tester/Rehberg, but Tester has a 15,000 vote lead, and one good county out there (Glacier County, a reservation county) and votes still in Yellowstone (Billings) where Tester is running even. Should be a win for him. Rehberg got killed by the Libertarian candidate, and perhaps being a "gentleman rancher" hurt him in his margins on the plains.

Bad news, if you don't know it, is that John Beard is down 37 votes. Maybe he can make that up with provisionals/late absentees. A real loss for Iowans who love to hunt and fish. John Wittneben falls into that category as well.

As for your comments on the IC police and UI security. I've long thought that they should just give incoming freshman an "interference with official acts" and a "public intox" cite with their orientation package. I'm glad I didn't go to the UI until I was older, so I avoided the worst of the treatment, but whenever someone calls Iowa City a liberal paradise, I think "not if you're 18-20". You're probably right that the new Justice Center is needed, but I hope voters demand serious reform in Johnson County as part of the deal (Ending the speed traps, stop hassling students unnecessarily,and show some respect for the 4th Amendment.)

idiosynchronic said...

Boswell's campaign was a massive missed opportunity to replace Latham. Boswell still garnered 45% with a pretty incompetent run. The Iowa Democratic party this morning should be ashamed that they couldn't find a face-saving retirement for Boz and a fresh popular challenger. Latham's going to be much more difficult to remove as a real incumbent.

At the same time, Dems should feel confident that they have a accurate gauge of King's strength in the new 4th. His base is insanely strong - I don't know how you could scour up another 5 points here. Christie Vilsack ran an aggressive and professional campaign and her opponent was his usual asinine self.

Tom C said...

From Tom Carsner:
“But Dick Schwab didn't get as big a Johnson County margin as he needed, and fell short in House 73. (A lot of local Dems are VERY mad at some locals who backed Schwab's primary challenger, never really got on board, and publicly trashed Schwab as recently as last month.)”—From John Deeth’s blog November 7, 2012.

I know my friend John Deeth is reporting what he hears, but he has collected less than half the story. Let me take this opportunity to fill you in on the rest of the story.

My guest opinion in the PC was in response to the State Fire Marshal’s decision to grant Schwab a waiver from installing a sprinkler system in his Celebration Barn on Sugar Bottom Road. It was the latest chapter in a 10-year land use and safety issue.

The issue is simple: Commercial businesses are not allowed in improperly zoned areas, especially residential and agricultural zoned areas. And public assembly buildings built for a commercial business should comply with the International Building Code especially for proper construction and fire safety.

I have been an advocate of strong zoning, conservative land use, and proper road design in Johnson County for 20 years. The issues discussed in the guest opinion were nothing new, except for the State Fire Marshal buckling to pressure to give Schwab a waiver on the sprinkler system in his barn.

I have been accused of executing a vendetta against Schwab, but my concerns about the issues and passion for them existed long before he came on the scene, and will continue after he recedes. No rural resident in rural or agricultural zones should expect a commercial business to be built near them—nor should they expect their government to help to welcome it in. Inviting a business into a rural area is an inherently incompatible use that disrupts a neighborhood. I am frustrated that Democrats have turned 50 years of zoning upside down and ended up on the wrong side of a zoning, safety, and environmental issue important to thousands of rural residents, and it makes us vulnerable to attack from the right.

Look below for Part 2.

Tom C said...

From Tom Carsner Part 2:

I have been told that such land use issues are not important to anyone else. But that perspective ignores the fact that changing the zoning rules were of ultimate importance to Schwab as he relentlessly sought to change the ordinance after he was caught breaking the ordinance. He eventually got his cronies on the Board of Supervisors to rewrite the ordinance to allow him to continue operating his business in a rural and agricultural zoned area. On the way to his goal we were surprised to see a side of Schwab that was overly defensive toward his opponents.

Those angry at me should instead be angry at Schwab for being on the wrong side of an important issue. They should be angry at Schwab for being a vulnerable candidate who cracked under the pressure of a campaign. But no one asked my opinion.

The hubris and continued finger-pointing by Schwab supporters lead me to make four more points:
1. The Democratic candidate in House District 73 should be from Cedar County. Almost two-thirds of the voters in the district are from outside Johnson County. Regardless of party, Cedar County residents resent being represented by someone from Johnson County. A Democrat from Cedar County could count on crossover votes in Cedar County simply by being a local.

2. Kauffman should have been seen as, and treated as, a semi-incumbent due to his father’s service and reputation. That perspective would have caused the public intoxication charge against Kaufmann to be used in a moderate manner.

3. Due to his vulnerabilities, in the stress of a campaign, Schwab overreacted and launched an out of proportion attack on Kaufmann’s legal record. He tried to make something huge out of something medium-sized and voters saw through that. Schwab self-immolated and his attack on Kaufmann became the issue and at that point, the race was lost.

4. Schwab ran 12-14 percent behind Obama in both Johnson and Cedar County. Almost 2,000 voters split their ticket. No one except the candidates can have that much influence over voters in an election. A seat that could have been made close or won on the issues was lost due to Schwab’s vulnerabilities.