Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving From All Of Us At WKRP

If you want to kill a huge amount of time through the slow news days, here's a couple suggestions: Daily Kos diarist Stephen Wolf asks: what if Appalachia was a state?

And check out this map that mashes up 2012 election numbers by TV market. Eight years later, Red State Blue State TV View State, in which I correctly predicted that 2008 Omaha electoral vote, is still the top-viewed post in Deeth Blog history.

Speaking of Deeth Blog history, just three weeks till Too Old To Be Cool Too Young Not To Care is permanently retired...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week In Review and Upcoming: November 18-December 2

Cheating this week and combining a pair of features. Our top story tonight: JFK is still dead.

Word of the week: Fili-busted.

Tweet of at least the month:
Must read of the weekend: Zaina Arafat's "The Problem With Being Palestinian On Thanksgiving."
Wary of a holiday that celebrates one group of people who seized land from another, I learned to love Thanksgiving only when our friends created an Arabized version of it. Now, as the Middle East falls into further turmoil, even that is threatened.
Was halfway through eating up every word when she noted she's currently based in Iowa City.

Don't give the Iowa City Council any ideas; In Brooklyn, Rowdy Bar Hikes Drinking Age to 25 to Pacify Neighbors. For some reason multiple people forwarded me that article.

Another 4-1 vote on the Board of Supervisors last week, as Republican John Etheredge opposes a project labor agreement supported by the four Democrats..

Speaking of labor we lost another great union Democrat last week with the passing of IBEW's Dennis Ryan.

Ex-Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a one-time Harkin Steak Fry keynoter, says the Full Grassley of visiting all 99 Iowa counties is on his bucket list. Hmmm....

Legislative announcements: 
  • At least two Republicans, retired attorney Stan Gustafson and ex-Madison County Supervisor Joan Acela, are running in the yet to be scheduled but probably January 7 House 25 special election. That'ss replace Julian Garrett who won last week's Senate 13 special to replace Kent Sorenson. It's Acela's third try for the seat. She lost the primary to Garrett when the seat was open in 2010 then primaried him again in 2012.
  • For next year: Altoona Democrat Joe Riding announced for a second term in House 30.
  • In the QC, Republicans Rep. Linda Miller and Sen. Roby Smith both announced for re-elect in overlapping House 94 and Senate 47.  Both won their seats via primary challenges. Miller knocked off moderate Joe Hutter in 2006; Smith defeated right winger Dave Hartsuch in `10. Democrat Maria Bribriesco, who ran a credible challenge to Miller in 2012, is challenging Smith for 2014.
  • Republican Ken Rizer is challenging Dan Lundby, the Democrat seeking a second term in Marion bnased House 68.
  • Democrat Laura Hubka, challenging GOP incumbent Josh Byrnes in House 51. 
I said this was a combo week in review/upcoming events, but the calendar is a little sparse for Thanksgiving week. Try not to encourage the stores that are starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving night.

Dave Loebsack is having a fundraiser at Dick Schwab's Celebration Farm, 4696 Robin Woods Lane NW on Sunday from noon to 2. Suggested donations start at $25.

Johnson County Republicans have their central committee meeting Monday December 2; top of the agenda is replacing chair Deb Thornton who's moving overseas for about a year.

And I'm just going to put this out there: If you're reading a blog like this you likely know that Iowa has caucuses in non-presidential years, too. They're set for January 21st at 7 PM. I'm looking for Democrats interested in chairing a precinct or otherwise helping out. Contact me if you're interested. Heck, if you're a Republican contact me and I'll get you in touch with them.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Other 50th Anniversary

I have nothing profound to add to today's retrospective of tragedy. But nothing heals music.

It's not part of American cultural memory. But in Britain, six time zones ahead of Dallas, millions of teens had gotten out of school, raced to record stores and were gathered around record players listing to their brand new copies of the second Beatles album, released that very day, when the news came from America.

We didn't pick up on the Beatles for a couple more months. There's been mountains of sociological scribbling that American Beatlemania was in some way a reaction to, or distraction from, the murder of the young president. Maybe. But that ignored the intense impact the Beatles were already having in their home country and across Europe.

And it ignores the timelessness of their music. An album of Beatle radio broadcasts, mainly from 1963, was just released and is sitting right now in the 21st century top ten.

I was about to be born in November `63, and thus I'm also too young to recall Beatlemania, but With The Beatles, in its American variation Meet The Beatles, was the first record I ever owned and central to so many of my earliest memories.

It's impossible to look back 50 years today without sadness, and even this joyful music is shadowed by the cruel irony that John Lennon would himself be killed by an assassin's bullets far too young. But these are the guys who a few years later said the love you take is equal to the love you make, and the love in these songs and those that followed is its own type of immortality.

So shed a tear for the Kennedys today, Then listen to this and feel alive.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Does Clinton Bandwagon Mean End of Caucuses?

Sen. Claire McCaskill admitted that she and her fellow Missourians are jealous of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.

“Why Iowa?” she said at the Linn County Democratic Hall of Fame Dinner Saturday night. “We’ve got corn. We’ve got pigs. We’ve got people who want to be talked to over and over again. We have all of that. But you all have the corner of the market.”

But the second-term senator had some bad news for Iowa.

“You’re not going to have as much action” in 2016,” she said.

That’s because as unusual as it is, the Democratic Party, she believes, already has found a nominee: Hillary Clinton.

“When she announces, for the first time I can remember when we have an open seat for the presidency, we won’t have a primary and she will be the consensus choice,” McCaskill said.

It was a good thing I skipped last weekend's Linn County Hall of Fame dinner.  I'm a long-time McCaskill fan but it almost seems like her words were calculated to send shivers up the spines of us locals who cherish, and frankly are very good at, our role as retail stand-ins for the nation when it comes time to choose presidents.

The caucuses are literally what brought me to Iowa, more than two decades ago, as an eager grad student intending to write the definitive academic study of them. I got sidetracked into participation instead, found the place that feels like home, and in the process wound up friends with the guy who wrote the book instead. And even in the off-cycle I'm busily getting ready for caucuses, two months from today.

So as an adoptive Iowan I defend Iowa's role, maybe more fiercely than the native-born. And McCaskill's remarks were especially unnerving for a contrarian like me, who bucked the current the last time there was a "consensus" nominee, the last time we heard people saying "we want to avoid a primary."  I love hopeless causes, as any reader knows, and it didn't make much difference, but I'm still proud that Bill Bradley carried MY county.

McCaskill's remarks came just two weeks after another senator, New York's Chuck Schumer, rolled out his own Clinton endorsement, delivered in Des Moines at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

It's hard not to notice that even though it's insanely early, Iowa Republicans are not just getting surrogates visiting the state, they're getting actual potential candidates: Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul.

Hillary Clinton, however, has literally not set foot in Iowa since January 3, 2008, the night she finished third in the caucuses, and shows no signs of doing so. Her huge looming shadow is also keeping other potential presidents away, save for the indefatigable Joe Biden.

As an overwhelming front runner it serves Hillary's interest to keep would-be rivals guessing, to keep people from committing, to delay as long as possible. She wanted to delay longer in 2007, until the dynamic that became Yes We Can 2008 started building to the point where it could no longer be ignored, and she had to launch when not quite ready.

And one of the biggest failures in that launch was the Clinton campaign's shocking lack of preparation for the logistics of caucus states and the retail realities of Iowa.  As famously quoted in Game Change:
If Hillary was going to be competitive in Iowa, she would need to go all out. The problem was, she hated it there….

She found the Iowans diffident and presumptuous; she felt they were making her grovel. Hillary detested pleading for anything, from money to endorsements, and in Iowa it was no different. She resisted calling the local politicos whose support she needed.

One time, she spent forty-five minutes on the phone wooing an activist, only to be told at the call’s end that the woman was still deciding between her and another candidate. Hillary hung up in a huff. “I can’t believe this!” she said. “How many times am I going to have to meet these same people?”
Anti-caucus and anti-Iowa rhetoric started from the Clinton campaign long before the caucuses themselves. There was the widely publicized and denied Screw Iowa strategy memo. There was the Clinton campaign's flirtation with campaigning in Michigan and Florida, states that had broken the party's calendar rules in a challenge to Iowa and New Hampshire. There was results spin in the last days before the caucuses, implying that a caucus process was inherently unfair.

Finally, worst of all, there were the whispered accusations. The infamous caucus night quotes from Game Change are loosely attributed but capture the flavor:
How did this happen?… The turnout figures made no sense to them: some 239,000 caucus-goers had shown up, nearly double the figure from four years earlier. Where did all these people come from? Bill asked. Were they really all Iowans? The Obama campaign must have cheated, he said, must have bussed in supporters from Illinois.

Hillary had been worried about that possibility for weeks; now she egged her husband on. Bill’s right, she said. We need to investigate the cheating. “It’s a rigged deal,” Bill groused. Hillary was trying to rein in her emotions. The former president was not. Red-faced and simmering, he sat in the living room venting his frustrations.
After the national attention was gone and we locals were left to clean up, the accusations were quietly disproven. Only one, now off-line Register article noted that of the tens of thousands of new voter cards were mailed out post-caucus, only tiny handfuls came back with bad addresses. In my town that was mostly simple mistakes like missing apartment numbers. But the hard feelings about caucuses in general and Iowa in particular lingered late into that endless nomination process.

And apparently they linger still. Hillary Clinton is doing her best to maintain an Above Politics, Rose Garden type of strategy, which serves her purposes well because the longer she delays, the less traction a potential rival can get. But Bill speaks his mind, people make assumptions, and no one ever seems to take exception these days. Just a couple months ago, Clinton 42 told his old consigliere George Stephanopoulos:
I still think we have way too many caucuses. They’re not democratic. And unlike primaries, they have no legal enforcement. You can break the rules, nobody’s gonna say anything. I think there are way too many of them.
So it's not a stretch to imagine that the Clintons still have a bit of a chip on their shoulders about Iowa.

Going back two decades, Bill Clinton never did the real Iowa caucus thing, because Tom Harkin ran in the same cycle. Harkin's enthusiastic endorsement of Bill was unique among the other 1992 candidates; I still bet that Bob Kerrey and Jerry Brown wrote themselves in that fall. That Harkin support probably saved Iowa for the next couple cycles.

But that lack of a Bill Clinton 1992 caucus campaign meant there weren't the same kind of Clinton roots in the Iowa soil as Bill and by extension Hillary had in New Hampshire and other early states. Hillary's biggest allies from 2008 are gone now, the Vilsacks decamped for DC, Leonard Boswell in involuntary retirement.

And of course there's Iowa's almost unique history, shared only with Mississippi, of never electing a woman to Congress or a governorship. That's probably due more to the details of specific races than to special innate sexism above and beyond other similar states, but it stands out.

I don't want to sound all Vince Foster paranoid here. But the Cintons keep score, reward friends, shut out non-friends. Everyone in politics does to some extent, and the Clintons aren't quite Nixonian in their enemy list, but they have long memories. Hillary was out of the ball game doing her job in 2010 and 2012, but Clinton 42 made countless campaign appearances - almost invariably for people who had supported Hillary over Barack in spring 2008.

A lot of my discussion of 2016 and beyond is getting seen as an anti-Hillary thing, Absolutely not. I was for Obama in 2008, and I had crossed Hillary off my list early, not long after she said of her Iraq War vote “If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.” So I did.

So did a lot of other people. The context of election 2008 changed radically in the fall when the housing bubble went supernova, but in the trenches of Iowa in 2007 the Iraq War was Topic A.

Caucuses aren't inherently "unfair." Elections reward raw numbers but caucuses reward something different - strength among the most committed. It's the strength you need to fill the phone banks and walking lists that eventually fill the booths with the like minded but less committed.

And that was and is exactly where Hillary Clinton is weakest. Not that she didn't and doesn't have deeply committed supporters, both on issue specifics and on persona and experience and biography. We had a Solomon's Choice in 2008 of which historic barrier to break first, and that deep desire to shatter the last glass ceiling has grown stronger in the past six years.

Now after a stellar term as Secretary of State her foreign policy credentials are unassailable. But in a cruel irony, her weaknesses are now on the economic issues that were once her strength. In 2007 the left was defined by the war. But in 2013 it's defined by the terms raised by Occupy Wall Street: Too Big To Fail, the 99% vs. the 1%. It's a vulnerable spot an Elizabeth Warren could exploit.

None of this is to say I'm crossing Clinton off my 2016  list. I'll give her every consideration, even if the Overwhelming Favorite dynamic is such that my "every consideration" is just a tiny joke. I still expect someone else to step in, even if just to play the Bill Bradley role.

But for me, the caucuses are an issue in the caucuses. Parochial? Perhaps. But it's not just or even mostly about 2016. It's about 2020 and 2024 and beyond.

Iowan's fates are tied together, Democrats and Republicans, and an incumbent president has near-absolute influence over internal party politics. (Witness the squashing of the Middle East platform plank at the 2012 Democratic convention. Remember the "booing God" controversy? The boos weren't for the God reference. They were for Netanyahu.)

A president determined to change a nominating process to, say, ban ALL caucuses and require primaries only, could probably make it happen, at least in her own party, and often parties follow suit within states.

On some anti-caucus issues Clinton had some high ground. Caucuses are a party meeting, not an election. But caucus states need SOME very limited provision for the truly absent: not as easy as the no fault absentee voting we have in Iowa's elections, because that would turn the town meeting into a months long absentee chase. But enough that the troops and the true shut-ins could participate by proxy.

The problem is, New Hampshire is as determined to hang onto its co-First In The Nation status as Iowa. And any process that involves absentee voting, or that releases a hard vote count like Iowa Republicans have tied to a delegate count like Iowa Democrats have, gets close enough to an "election" that New Hampshire declares war. And probably wins, because the national media hates Iowa's process and distance from DC.

I'm concerned that the combination of Hillary Clinton's dislike of caucuses per se and her poor relationship with Iowa, based on her past statements and actions, means that a President Clinton 45 would move to change the nomination process to ban caucuses, which would mean Iowa would be voting in a meaningless June primary in 2020, 2024 and forever.
Our well-honed skills at questioning and evaluating candidates up close, which despite recent Republican stumbles have served the nation well in the long run, will be wasted in 2024 on a vote between Presumptive Nominee Chelsea Clinton and the ghost of Lyndon LaRouche.

There's a real shot that, between the second coming of Hillary Inevitability and the general dysfunction in Iowa's other party, that we may be at the end of our run, that the caucuses may no longer matter, that we'll be just another flyover state again. Which might make some Beltway types happy, but our rivals like Florida and Michigan are too big for one to one politics. It would be a loss for democracy to close down the last retail store on the town square and exchange our intimate events for tarmac rallies, completing the Walmartization of the national process.

Sure, we're used to lavish attention, and we get that Hillary doesn't "need" to do that. But a lot of this anxiety could be eased by just a few kind words. Iowans are a forgiving folk. If Hillary is willing to let bygones be bygones, so are we. Fair warning: we'll give everyone else a fair shot, too. Madame Secretary, if you're reading, we've got a barbecue scheduled for October 4, 2014. You're warmly invited, and bring Bill.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Garrett win means another special election

Not a surprise last night as Republican Rep. Julian Garrett easily defeated Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Davitt to move up to the Senate 13 seat vacated by the scandalized Kent Sorenson.

This seat never seemed to be on the front burner for Democrats the way the Liz Mathis race was in late 2011. It was a GOP held seat, of course, and we all knew our best shot at taking back the seat that was in Democrat Staci Appel's hands from 2006-10 was if the toxic Sorenson had somehow survived to make it to next November's ballot.

Garrett's win sets up yet another special election for the House 25 seat he's vacating. (Given the ease of his 60-40 win, you wonder why he didn't take the high road and save the cost by resigning so the elections could be combined, the way Bob Dvorsky did when he went from the House to Senate in 1994.)

This is the more Republican half of the district, based largely in Madison County. There was a Madison vs. Warren dynamic in the last two primaries, as Garrett was Warren-based. On the Republican side we're likely to see some of the same faces we've seen the last two primaries and nominating convention. As for the Democrats, Davitt was from the other half of the district, as was the only other name mentioned for the Senate Race, Scott Ourth.

Within five days after Garrett resigns, Terry Branstad sets the election date, and he has to give at least 40 days notice. Assuming a canvass and resignation next week, and since the legislative session starts Monday, January 13, that almost certainly makes the date January 7. Maybe the 14th if they can't get things done fast enough.

That means a convention and election process running through the heart of the holidays, disadvantaging anyone with less name ID and complicating the absentee efforts so often critical in low turnout specials.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cheer Up, Swisher... could be worse.

So your mayor quit and your meetings are contentious. But you could be Toronto where they mayor WON'T quit...

and is actually tackling city council members? Hey, Does Rob Ford remind you of anyone?

How's He Doing?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Upcoming events: November 18-25

The week's big event happened 50 years ago and as math would have it the 1963 and 2013 calendars synch up so November 22 is again a Friday. Barring a fresh tragedy with its own somber theme music, prepare to have the current news cycle stomped on by All Kennedy All Weekend. Locally, Larry Baker is organizing a commemoration noon Friday, pretty close to the actual time, in Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

Here in the 21st century a couple items:

Steven Jenison, who helped create New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program and served as its first medical director, will host “A Conversation about medical marijuana in Iowa” at  the Iowa City Public Library at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday is also the Senate 13 special election between GOP Rep. Julian Garrett and ex-rep Mark Davitt for the Dems. This is the Kent Sorenson replacement elecdtion.

Wednesday Bruce Braley is in greater metro Solon for a house party at 3763 Cottage Reserve Rd., NE, 5:30pm until 7:30pm.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week In Review: November 11-17

After a week's post-election hiatus I'm trying to reheat this feature.

The biggest thing Obama got wrong in the mea culpa (that's Latin for "eat... ummmm, crow")  press conference: "Buying health insurance is never going to be like buying a song on iTunes." That assumes that people still actually pay MONEY for music. Even in a week with new Lady Gaga AND a from-the-vaults Beatles release.

Tom Harkin deviated from the conventional wisdom on the Obamacare rollout, arguing firmly that ending junk policies was a GOOD thing, indeed a better thing than "if you like your plan you can keep it." But the applause line at Prairie Lights on Friday was: "Had I been president, we'd have gone for single payer."

Harkin's main purpose for the visit was to promote Senate passage of the Employer Non-Discrimination Act and turn up the heat on the House, particularly Tom Latham and Steve King though he left the names unsaid.

Republicans are already seeing potential presidential contenders showing up in Iowa, like Paul Ryan last night at a Terry Branstad event. We Democrats, however, are only getting Hillary Clinton surrogates. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill told Linn County Democrats last night,  "In 2016 you will rise to the occasion and nominate Hillary Clinton."

We WILL, huh? Iowans like to be asked, not told. I think I'm being seriously misunderstood on this point. I have nothing against Hillary Clinton as a potential nominee. I have a few issue concerns related to Big Wall Street and to Middle East policy, but not enough to make me non supportive of her should she win. (And no one is going to make me happy on the Middle East anyway.)

My concerns are strictly parochial. I'm an Iowan (by choice rather than birth), I love our caucuses, I want to keep them. Hillary Clinton has been hostile to caucus processes in general and to Iowa in particular, and Clintonworld believes in payback. I'd like to see her come here and mend some of those things.

Maybe she won't, and maybe she can win without doing so. But I, personally, am not going to caucus for anyone who runs with a Screw Iowa strategy, and if that means Uncommitted, so be it.

While Matt Schultz was partying is Switzerland, auditors across the state were at work, finishing their canvasses and meeting in Des Moines. Waterloo recounted its mayors race and one vote changed. A 1% margin may be the legal standard in Iowa, but the likely shift from re-feeding the same ballots into the same or similar equipment is more like 0.01%. Errors in results are much more likely to be human errors than machine errors. And a machine count, despite what people want to believe, is more accurate than a hand count. Sure, people have the right, not disputing that. But too often it's accompanied by false hope.

No recounts in Johnson County but drama in Swisher as the mayor and city clerk suddenly resign. Odds are good for a special election there.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Harkin Staying Busy

Ya know, I'm looking forward to Bruce Braley, but nevertheless I'll miss Tom Harkin.

Still quacking but showing no signs of limping, Harkin was on the job and not in Switzerland, both before and after the president's press conference, making the progressive case against junk insurance plans.
"If it had been up to me, I am not certain I would have made this decision, but the President felt it was important to do," Harkin said in a statement. "My hope, however, is that everyone who has received a cancellation notice will fully and carefully consider their options."

Harkin said that the canceled plans typically don't give consumers the best coverage.

"In the vast majority of cases, they will find that the coverage that they were paying good money for is not worth the paper it was printed on," he said. "If they go to the marketplace, however, they can get quality coverage – in some cases paying a little more, perhaps, but getting many more benefits."
This was always going to be the hardest moment of selling Obamacare, harder even than passage: the point when the young and healthy had to buy in, and one of the reasons I was and am a single-payer guy.

(The president was realistic about the difficulties today, with one notable exception: "Buying health insurance is never going to be like buying a song on iTunes," he said, assuming people actually still PAY for music.)

As luck would have it, Harkin is in our fair Iowa City tomorrow, for an event sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and OneIowa celebrating Senate passage of the Employer Non-Discrimination Act.
“ENDA marks another historic step in the long march to full equality for all Americans,” Harkin said. “By voting to outlaw discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity, we are saying to our LGBT brothers and sisters that they are fully included and respected members of our American family. Eight out of 10 Americans already think such discrimination is illegal and by moving to pass this into law, we can ensure that workplaces across the country are open and welcoming to every qualified worker eager to contribute to the economy. I thank my colleagues in the Senate on both sides of the aisle for making this possible and urge the House to move swiftly to pass this bill and send it to the President’s desk for his signature.”
Intoducing Harkin tomorrow is Iowa City's own Zach Wahls. 3:00, Prairie Lights.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Airing Now - Talking With


In which Adam Sullivan and I are talking with Yale Cohn on the city elections, the Koch Brothers, and seeking a better class of drunks.

Things that happen pretty much every election cycle

As canvasses - official certification of votes - happen across Iowa and in other states, I'm hearing ha-ha cutesey stories I've heard before.

1) A tie with winner drawn from hat, or, more colorfully in some western states, with a game of chance.

2) A dead winner. Usually with no opponent.

3) An unnecessary recount demanded by a sore loser when the margin doesn't really call for it. We recounted 73,000 ballots a few years ago when the winning margin was five hundred. Five VOTES changed.

Case in point: Waterloo mayor just got recounted. Original margin was 87 or 88 votes out of maybe 9000. That's close but not recount close. The recount changed ONE vote. We had the same one vote change in roughly the same size election as Iowa City in 1999, except there the original margin of 3 shrank to 2. THAT, my friends, that is recount close.

4) Write in winners. Usually when no one's on the ballot.

There's so many elections in so many places, it's bound to happen somewhere. These things are only weird when they happen to you or happen in a really big scale race.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warren Piece

We're in the midst of a by-gosh genuine boomlet, maybe two years too soon but still something to talk about, for Elizabeth Warren for president.

The mothership of this boomlet is a long must-read by Noam Scheiber in The New Republic: "Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren." It's counter-intuitive, maybe wishful thinking, yet somehow convincing:
All of which is to say, if Hillary Clinton runs and retains her ties to Wall Street, Warren will be more likely to join the race, not less. Warren is shrewd enough to understand that the future of the Democratic Party is at stake in 2016. At 64, she knows that if Hillary wins and populates yet another administration with heirs to Robert Rubin, it will be at least eight years before there’s another chance to reclaim the party. “She has an immense—I can’t put it in words—a sense of destiny,” says a former aide. “If Hillary or the man on the moon is not representing her stuff, and her people don’t have a seat at table, she’ll do what she can to make sure it’s represented.”
In any case, it's started a flurry of pieces from pundits who, perhaps already bored with GOP-only speculation, are looking for a contested Democratic 2016 race. (Remember, journalistas are storytellers and thus the REAL bias of the press is toward a good story.)

Chris Cillizza says Clinton should be scared...
As Clinton learned in 2008, a candidate that appeals to voters’ hearts can beat a candidate that appeals to their heads.  And Clinton, for all of her built-in advantages in a 2016 race, will be hard pressed to ever be the heart candidate of the party base. Elizabeth Warren would be that candidate the minute she signals her interest in running.
...and Ben White and Maggie Harberman say Wall Street should be scared.
A Warren candidacy, and even the threat of one, would push Clinton to the left in the primaries and revive arguments about breaking up the nation’s largest banks, raising taxes on the wealthy and otherwise stoking populist anger that is likely to also play a big role in the Republican primaries.
 In a similar vein, Joshua Green notes that Clinton's very strength is Warren's opportunity.
What Clinton lacked in 2008 and appears to still lack today is an overarching rationale for why she should be president. Casting herself as inevitable flopped. The speeches she’s given recently on protecting voters’ rights, while laudable, haven’t cohered into anything larger.

In a legislature too divided to pass laws, Warren’s power in the Senate has been using her celebrity to set the agenda, at least on financial matters. The mere suggestion that she would go after Summers led him to drop out. That power would be magnified manyfold in a Democratic primary, especially against a front-runner so vulnerable in this area. If Warren were to issue a platform, her policies would almost certainly become a litmus test in the eyes of Democratic primary voters for what constitutes a true Democrat. Clinton would have no choice but to co-opt them—but doing so would also supply the purpose she has always lacked as a presidential candidate.
Ezra Klein says the difficulty for Warren is less Clinton's strength and more about getting her issue up front.
The danger for Clinton is if Warren is able to persuade Democrats that cracking down on Wall Street reform is the key to helping the middle class or -- perhaps more plausibly -- opposing inequality. On a policy level, that's a harder case to make. But on an emotional, who's-on-your-side level, it might work.
Warren's age is significant: It makes 2016 her one and only shot but more big-picture significant it makes age a non-factor in a race against Hillary Clinton.  I've seen a real tension between political women who came of age in the first feminist generation and younger women born in the 70s and 80s. (You can see this in relief in Monica Vernon vs. Anesa Kajtazovic). But Warren is less than two years younger than Clinton, which factors that out in a way it wouldn't if the challenger were, say, 40something Kristen Gillibrand.

I may just be seeing what I want to see here - an actual contested nomination with a path that runs through Iowa -  but if that's true so are all these other writers.

Cillizza does note one factoid that everyone else is ignoring because, as Cracked noted earlier this week, the first film blows a huge plot hole in the sequel. Warren, along with every other female Democratic senator, signed on to a letter urging Clinton to run.

But even as we're listening to Chris Christie denying higher ambition, I've never once seen candidates held to pledges or commitments like this. Politicians are asked about their higher ambition and even the most naive apolitical observer expects to hear "I'm fully committed to doing my job as dog catcher for East Pole Bean County." It's like saying "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver, that Brussel sprout pie was delicious, I'm just too full for another piece." No one believes it and it would only be notable if someone said the opposite.

In 1990 Bill Clinton pledged to serve his full term as governor. In 2005 Barack Obama said he was not interested in running for president. Things change. Didn't hurt them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Upcoming Events: November 11-18

I completely punted on Week In Review for the first time since I launched the feature, but as my excuse it would have been pretty much a cut and paste of the election reviews anyway.

So back on track with the upcoming events, though with election season over the calendar is getting slimmer.

Johnson County's vets memorial just south of the Admin Building is being dedicated at 11 today. Convenient bicycle parking just a few steps away.

Senator Pam Jochum is coming to town for a Joe Bolkcom fundraiser Wednesday. Joe just announced for re-election - not that there was much doubt. Sanctuary, 5 to 6:30.

On the other team, 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee is in Des Moines Thursday at a fundraiser for "Informed Choices of Iowa" (sic).

The Center For Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (CWJ) is celebrating its 1st Anniversary with an open house on Saturday from 2-6pm at 940 South Gilbert Court in Iowa City.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Bars More Interesting Than People

We had some great candidates this election, even the ones I didn't like. I think Yogi Berra said that first.

But the buzz was all about the bars, and the numbers prove it.

Every time we have an election where you vote for multiple candidates and get more than one winner, the pre-election scuttlebutt and post-election analysis turns to "bullet votes," a colloquialism describing the tactical choice of using less than all of your votes to maximize your number one choice's chance of winning.

Also, some races are simply more interesting than others. You see it clearly in general elections. The top races get almost complete participation, but by the bottom of the second side, barely half of voters are marking the soil and water commissioners.

This week, we have a little of each. The 800 pound gorilla of the 21 Bar vote makes it almost impossible to measure the impact of bullet voting in the four candidate, vote for two at large race.

The last 21 bar vote coincided with the 2010 general election. In an unheard of statistical quirk, there were about 2000 more total voters than votes for governor and US Senate, the "top" races on the ballot. My best back of envelope math indicated that roughly 2500 voters, primarily student early voters, marked ONLY the bar issue and nothing else, while about 500 people marked straight party tickets and skipped the non-partisan items like the judges and bar issue.

We see the same thing this year. The table below shows the total voters in each precinct and what percentage of the available votes - two in the at large and one in District B and 21 Bar - they used in each race.

Precinct Voters At Large B 21
Early Voting 5141 67.4% 73.8% 99.0%
IC01 Lemme 565 87.7% 90.8% 99.5%
IC02 Horn 265 85.7% 83.4% 99.6%
IC03 Quad 40 62.5% 75.0% 100.0%
IC04 Lincoln 301 91.0% 84.4% 98.7%
IC05 UI Library 40 76.3% 87.5% 100.0%
IC06 Mercer 369 89.3% 92.7% 99.7%
IC07 West High 135 87.4% 83.0% 96.3%
IC08 Weber 307 82.9% 81.8% 99.0%
IC09 Hall of Fame 207 86.5% 87.0% 100.0%
IC10 Parks/Forestry 135 87.4% 88.9% 98.5%
IC11 Courthouse 45 68.9% 73.3% 97.8%
IC12 Grant Wood 160 90.0% 92.5% 98.8%
IC13 City Transit 44 94.3% 90.9% 97.7%
IC14 Twain 260 89.4% 96.2% 97.3%
IC15 Tate 147 79.9% 89.1% 95.9%
IC16 Mercer 345 87.4% 89.0% 98.6%
IC17 City High 476 90.2% 88.0% 99.2%
IC18 Longfellow 477 92.2% 92.0% 99.4%
IC19 Rec Center 35 70.0% 74.3% 97.1%
IC20 Senior Center 115 80.0% 82.6% 98.3%
IC21 Horace Mann 274 90.5% 87.2% 99.6%
IC22 Shimek 209 89.7% 88.5% 98.6%
IC23 Regina 487 90.9% 93.8% 99.0%
IC24 St. Patrick 349 88.1% 90.3% 99.7%
TOTAL 10928 78.3% 81.8% 99.0%

Look at the At Large and District B races in the student-heavy early voting and student areas. A quarter to a third of the ovals were just left blank. Which isn't a surprise based on past years and based on the anecdotal, "do I have to vote for everything?" questions.

(Note: there's never going to be a breakout of absentee results by precinct. We only get that in general elections.)

But even in the townie precincts , in neighborhoods like Windsor Ridge and Oaknoll and Manville Heights 10 to 15 percent of candidate choices were null. 

One notable exception: Precinct 14, where 96 percent of voters marked the District B race. Royceann Porter worked the Twain neighborhood hard and she won that precinct.

Now. Look at the right column, the 21 bar issue. In a typical "big" ballot issue on a multi-contest ballot, at least 10 percent of voters skip it - IF the election is candidate-centered.

But this election wasn't. It wasn't the "city council" election. It was the "21 Bar" election.

Only ONE voter at St. Pats, the Windsor Ridge precinct, skipped the bar issue. NONE of the 200+ Precinct 9 voters skipped it. City wide, 99 percent of people marked a Yes or No. To give you perspective: in a typical general election 3 to 5 percent are skipping the US House race, the second or third line on the ballot. In a PRESIDENTIAL race, a half a percent even skip president.

In the school board election, the numbers made it clear that a lot of Coralville voters were skipping a third choice and marking just two candidates. But the near-unanimous participation rate on 21 Bar makes it impossible to ferret out how many bullet votes the at-large candidates drew. You can't tell how many ballots have just one of two choices marked when so many have NO choices marked.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Abbreviated Analysis

Well, now I'm at least on speaking terms with TWO Iowa City council members.

I'm still too bitter to look too closely at the 21 bar numbers and in landslides there's not much to gain from looking at them. Most of my thoughts are in last night's post, most of which I wrote about six days before the election.

(Side note on positive change in county government: my pieces would not have run in print, and Kingsley Botchway's candidacy would not even have happened, a year ago.)

I knew 19 was going to lose about two hours into the first satellite site, when the student turnout wasn't materializing. Just a steady shift: townie precincts that were in the 50s and 60s for 21 in 2007 were in the 60s and 70s in 2010 and in the 70s and 80s yesterday.

Watch for George Wittgraf and the Union Bar to get "randomly" checked more than random chance would predict. The last guy who fought this fight was Mike Porter and he got driven out of business and out of town.

So on to the council races. All the at large percentages look low because of heavy under-voting by students. Haven't had time to crunch those stats yet. Susan Mims inoffensively finished first and carried most of the outlying precincts, though not with the near-consensus numbers Matt Hayek got two years ago.

Kingsley Botchway was closer to Mims in first than to Champion in third, falling just 111 votes short of a number one finish. Kingsley won big in the core liberal/progressive areas on the north and near east side - precincts 17, 18 and 21 - and also carried precinct 13 on the near west and, the biggest surprise, east side precinct 6 which includes some big senior complexes. Still not my dream of an undergrad on the council, but at 28 Botchway is the youngest winner since David Perret, who won the first of two terms at age 26 in 1975..

Who were the 900 people who voted for Kingsley Botchway but not Rockne Cole? Hard to say; my guesses are 1) Kingsley picked up a fair number of second votes from Mims voters and 2) Kingsley had a bigger purely personal constituency that brought in new voters while Cole's personal base of support overlapped a lot with the traditional every election progressive voters.

Cole finished first in a handful of negligible turnout student precincts. Still, he earned more votes in fourth place than second place winner Michelle Payne got two years ago.

Despite finishing last, Cole comes out of this election with name ID and a respectable result, positioning himself well for the future. UPDATE: Cole tells Facebook friends: "Hang onto those sunflower yard signs!! You'll need them again in 18 months. We're starting early next time!"

The same can't be said for third place Catherine Champion, who finished ahead of Cole but is the biggest loser. Her best shot was this handoff attempt from Mom (remember: Connie almost lost in 2009) combined with the townie pro-21 vote. Likewise, Cole would have fared better without the 21 vote.

The pattern appears to to be Champion steadily 5, 20, 30 votes below Mims everywhere. She finished first only in the south side precinct 10.

In the District B race, Terry Dickens ran up huge scores on the east and far west side, peaking at 77% at Weber, 75% at St. Pats and 74 at Lemme. He'll feel validated and settle back in to his role as curmudgeon of the council, maybe even more so with Champion Sr. gone, a Dean Thornberry for the 21st Century.

Royceann Porter won the liberal precincts, 17 18 and 21, and the Twain area. She ran almost 1000 votes below Botchway, another indication that Kingsley has a big personal constituency even though Porter made great efforts to include the unincluded. She's helped lay groundwork for someone else in the future. Again, higher turnout this year meant Porterwon nearly as many votes as Payne won in 2011.

What does this mean for the council? No progressive sweep so no Mayor Throgmorton, but  we're swapping Connie Champion for Kingsley Botchway and that's at least an incremental improvement. Not enough to shift a majority but enough to shift the discussion. It's also a personal tie between city and county government which at least opens the lines of communication.

Coralville has mostly been written elsewhere: the backlash to the outside money, the congratulatory calls from Joe Biden. Note for people with love in their hearts for the Iowa caucuses: Joe Biden called Mayor-elect John Lundell, and two weeks ago called Brian Meyer after his legislative special election win. Hillary Clinton didn't.

The third place win for Laurie Goodrich, a long-time city staffer, tells me that Coralville Pride was the deciding factor. I thought the vote totals for the Americans For Prosperity slate would have been bunched closer together, but instead Mark Winckler ran well ahead of the other two.

University Heights may finally be settled. 2011 was a dead heat split decision in 2011, with a one vote margin for the last seat. This year the Build It Bigger side swept all five seats, knocking off three incumbents, and the winning margin on the last seat was 26 votes. Unbelievably, turnout increased yet again.

Two Republican legislative candidates lost city council seats last night. In Tiffin, Senate 39 candidate Royce Phillips finished a weak fifth of five, though I think Tiffin's internal politics had more to do with that than partisanship. In Muscatine, Mark LeRette, running for House District 91, lost his seat.

Close race of the night was Shueyville. With record turnout, Markus Cannon ousted mayor Bryan Bredman by two votes.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

We Still Need To Talk

(Written and prepared ahead of time. Didn't need to change it.)

I had it backwards.

In May I supported the pragmatic benefits of the justice center, but voters decided to use that local issue to protest larger justice system problems.

This election, I saw the 21 bar vote as a place to oppose the drinking age. But this time I was supposed to be “practical” and endorse the ordinance’s success in better enforcing a bad law. Since my support is the kiss of death, I may endorse Terry Branstad’s re-election.

The people have spoken and I’m on the short end. That’s fair. But after 21 bar elections in 2007, 2010 and this year, our community has yet to seriously discuss the law itself.

If the ballot question had simply been “do you like obnoxious drunks,” even I would have voted No. But laws don’t work like that. As the late supervisor Pat Meade used to say, “you can’t legislate out stupid.” You need an objective standard, and so we stare at a huge contradiction.

For most things - military enlistment, marriage, contracts, voting -  the age of adulthood is 18. We felt strongly enough about it that in the middle of our most unpopular war, we put the 18 voting age into the Constitution itself.

Only alcohol has a special adult-plus age, enforced by a dubious federal highway funding mandate. We’ve lived with the contradiction almost 30 years. Our attitude is summed up by one comment online: “Nobody cares if those under 21 drink so long as they behave themselves.”

If nobody cares, why is it illegal?  I don’t like nudging and winking until there’s another problem, then using a rarely enforced law as a tool to punish other illegal behavior. It makes people take the law, all law, less seriously.

The drinking age is an orphaned issue, which is why I keep on about it despite knowing I’m a bit of a laughing stock on the issue. It only affects three years worth of people, who are among the least connected to politics. By the time they’re active voters they no longer care. As we’ve seen in these three elections, attitudes change drastically at age 21: I got mine, screw the sophomores.

Which leaves it to us old folks. Do we take rights away from people and set the uniform adult age at 21? Too many people, especially Iowa City townies, would like that. But as long as an issue is partisan, and these days young voters are heavily Democratic, there’s not the consensus-level support a Constitutional amendment needs. And I prefer expanding rights to reducing rights.

So I say apply the consistent 18 to the drinking age, and try to teach responsibility in a context that also includes rights. Limiting access to alcohol by age makes that access more valuable to the youngest adults, and encourages abuse when that access is available. It’s the worst possible context for an inexperienced drinker.

Too many elected officials – and yes, I specifically mean our city council and legislative delegation - are content to simply live with the contradiction and point the finger at the federal government. But anyone representing thousands of young people, even if they can’t or won’t directly legislate, has a responsibility to take a stand.

21 Makes Sense (sic) flatly refused to discuss the drinking age during the three campaigns, declaring it off topic because they knew it was their weak point. OK, powers that be: you won. We still need to talk.

Election Day Pre-Cap

So it's Election Day. Routine stuff that I take for granted but get asked:
  • Polls open 7 AM except Oxford and Shueyville at noon. All polls close 8 PM.
  • Only voters who live in cities can vote. There's no county issue. Yes, the supervisors are TALKING about the justice center, but there's no plan, no election date, and frankly no consensus.
  • Only voters who live in IOWA City vote on the bar thing.
  • Early voting ended at 5:30 yesterday. Go to your REGULAR polling places. (School elections confuse everyone for all elections). Exceptions: Lone Tree, Hills and Iowa City 16 have temporary sites. Not a secret:Those temporary sites might get made permanent in the spring. Also North Liberty for this one election has a vote center at South Slope. That's not permanent, it's kind of a test. Here's the whole list.
Now, a look at the early voting numbers.

Iowa City had 5356 absentees - a lot by normal standards but well below the 7255 from 21 Bar Round 1 in 2007. That year set a city turnout record of over 15,000; it's already clear we won't see that tomorrow.

Much of that dropoff was among young voters. In `07 there were 5235 early voters 18 to 24. This year that's down to 2376, less than half. And only 1895 of those are under 21. Opinions shift fast as soon as voters turn 21, and indications are the under-21 vote isn't as solidly pro-19 as it used to be. The townies, for their part, voted about 60-40 pro-21 in 2007 and are probably even more opposed to 19 now.

Is that outcome pre-determined? Watch the turnout from student precincts - 3, 5, 11, 19, 20 - but by mid-day we'll know.

How does that ripple into the overshadowed council races? The student ballots are probably blank in the council races. The old guard "Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students" types will likely vote for the incumbent/pseudo incumbent slate of Dickens, Mims, and Champion Jr. The public health do-gooder faction thinks 21 is In The Student's Best Interest; they may be reachable for the challengers Kingsley Botchway, Rockne Cole and Royceann Porter. The three are as united a "progressive" slate as we've seen since the mid-90s.

Coralville saw 709 early voters in an election so big that, as you may know by now, even the New York Times took interest. Coralville's turnout record is 2097 from 2003, when the Iowa River Landing, then in the embryonic stages, was also an issue. Between controversy and a decade of growth, look for that record to fall. 

Despite the big conservative investment in the election, the early voting turnout is showing the usual 2 to 1 Democratic breakout that one would expect in Johnson County, and Coralville, based on registration. Partisan lines aren't a perfect measure, of course, but if the plan was working we'd be seeing an obvious Republican turnout spike like we saw in the March supervisor election. Instead, it looks more like the "outside influence" backfired.

If the incumbents - Tom Gill and Bill Hoeft for council and John Lundell looking to move up to mayor - all do well, the question is who gets the third council seat. The third votes are likely to split between Jean Schnake, Laurie Goodrich and John Weber. That could let one member of the three council candidate Americans for Prosperity slate - Mark Winckler, David Petsel or Chris Turner - win, but the vote totals for those three will likely be lock-step close.

If you're wondering: ties are broken by drawing a name out of a hat. No, it's not the beret. I'll suggest Travis Weipert's Uncle Sam hat. Speaking of ties:

The split in University Heights is remarkable not just for how deep it is, but how EVEN it is. Amazingly, a 2011 election with two clear slates produces a split decision and a one-vote margin for the fifth and last seat. This year's 250 early votes are down slightly from the 298 from 2011. We're still looking at governor-level turnout and a close margin as we go into the fourth straight election with the split over what to do with the St. Andrew church lot. Punch line: the church is the polling place.

At the state level: Iowa Republican chair A.J. Spiker again dubbed local election day "Tax Hike Tuesday" and urged votes against local money measures (of which our county has none). 
On many of the ballots voters are being asked to vote on bond issues that will raise local taxes.

You see, local governments often use these bond issues as a way to raise taxes without raising a stink.

Off year elections have notoriously low turnouts and it's much easier to sneak in tax increases.

That's why it's so important to be aware of these sneaky tax increases and protect your family budget.

And even if you don't live in a town that's holding city-wide elections, remember that county-wide bond issues affect all voters.

Support the candidates in your local election that support limiting the size and scope of government.
Looks like a shot at the Polk County courthouse issue on today's ballot. Spiker took a similar shot at school funding renewals in September only that time it was "Tax CUT Tuesday." The big issues in that election, funding measures for Des Moines Area Community College, passed.

You know the drill: I'm at work so analysis and numbers will be very late.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Upcoming Events: November 4-11

An election.

I was tempted to leave the post at just that but to elaborate:

Last early voting is today at the auditor's office 7:45 to 5:30. Voting tomorrow is 7 to 8 at regular polling places (with a couple temp moves). Questions I get asked: If you live outside a city you don't vote. If you live outside IOWA City you don't vote on the bar thing, you vote on your own mayor and city council.

Also tomorrow being 11/05 is a good day to dine out for the 1105 Project.

Thursday Democrats have their monthly central committee meeting, 7 PM at the school district office.

Next Monday is Veteran's Day. Johnson County is dedicating its vets memorial just south of the Admin Building, near the site of the old National Guard Armory.

And of course, the week's highlight is tonight: Packers-Bears on Monday Night Football!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Week In Review Tangents Into An Endorsement

The big story out of last night's Jefferson Jackson Dinner is Chuck Schumer endorsing Hillary Clinton. Fair enough. But I'd rather see Hillary ask Iowa herself.

It's already clear Clinton is continuing the 2008 Strategy of Inevitability: controlled settings, avoiding media Q & A and especially public Q and A, getting surrogates to do the leg work, and delaying. And most of all avoiding Iowa. We all got the memo last time.

And maybe that's the smartest strategy for her. And maybe MY vote doesn't matter. But it's mine. Anyone who wants it is welcome to come to Iowa and ask. I'm still solidly uncommitted.

I skipped out on JJ because I'm in the local election bubble. I don't get paid to write, I do get paid to close satellite voting sites, I made the easy choice.

Through the end of Saturday Iowa City had 4752 early votes, up from a normal year but down from 21 Bar Round 1 in 2007. My last age breakdown is from end of Thursday when Iowa City was at 4135 total. 1838 of those are under age 21, and 2265 are under 23. And 19 can't count on those older young votes; past polling shows support for letting 19 year olds stay in bars late drops dramatically the instant a voter turns 21. I got mine.

That, plus the fact that the average voter I see looks to be about 75, had me in despair roughly Wednesday. But I was able to get my mojo back and get some writing done along with some work for candidates. There's little I can do for 19 since I've already said my bit and since my usual skill set is of no use to them.

21 Makes Sense (sic) dropped a second and THIRD mailing this week. Our house got two copies of each even though A) Koni and I had both already voted and 2) I've kind of told people what I think. You'd think SOMEone would look at the mailing list and go: "DEETH!?! Aaack, save the postage!"

Unintentional humor: the third mailing said "Bar owners are counting on a low turnout to turn the clock back." Thus, apparently, coming out against Daylight Savings Time.

For a lot of reasons I wish this vote wasn't happening. Alcohol, particularly problem drinking by young people, is a big problem. But this is a deeply personal issue for me, and the approach Iowa City is taking is in direct contradiction to my own difficult experience. So it's been emotionally exhausting.

I may be the strongest 19 advocate without a direct financial interest. (Things we already knew: Libertarians are mostly young rich white guys.). But even I have to admit this vote is a sideshow to the real action, the city council race. And a counterproductive one: It's getting out the old guard vote and probably boosting Dickens, Mims and Champion.

A Deeth Blog Endorsement

I can't remember the last time - and remembering elections is one of those special skills I have - that Iowa City voters have had such a clear, stark choice.

Terry Dickens and Susan Mims are facing their first true test with voters, as they got a de facto bye in 2009 with the only opposition a couple of under-funded students. (2007, 2013: 21 bar vote, no student candidates. 2009, 2011: student candidates, no bar issue. Wouldn't it be interesting to see both at the same time?)

Dickens quickly settled in as the curmudgeon of the council, a Dean Thornberry for the 21st Century. Get off my lawn, or at least my ped mall.  He's arrogantly skipped out on candidate forums sponsored by progressive groups, as if to underscore a message. Mims has been relatively quiet in comparison, but has rubber-stamped the plans of the noisier members. And Catherine Champion hasn't really distinguished how she'll differ from her mother.

I spent a lot of time looking at the finance reports and there's a lot of overlap between all three; solid support from the downtown retail, east side old guard, developer driven clique that's run the city since long before I arrived a couple decades ago.

A lot of other people have arrived in the last 20 years, a population Iowa City hasn't seen before. Working class rather than academic, looking for affordable housing and living wages and a fresh start on life, and increasingly black and Hispanic.

Royceann Porter advocates strongly for this population. "This is our home," she says, "we're here to stay." It's hard to imagine a starker contrast between Porter, who advocates for the poorest of the poor, and Dickens, whose first priority after getting elected was to shoo the homeless away from his jewelry store.

Kingsley Botchway and Rockne Cole have the law-school polish that Porter lacks, but they've both straonly advocated continuing the discussion of disproportionate minority police contact that started with the justice center elections. They offer some relative youth to a largely late middle age council. They have a vision of the city that goes beyond big-scale development and the historically over-represented downtown retail sector. 

(Hint: Downtown Iowa City will never again be destination retail shopping. Not till you raze the Ped Mall, make it a giant flat free parking lot, and figure out a magic way to keep it from getting filled by 7 AM each day with University faculty staff and students.)

I don't agree with all three on every issue. I kinda like tall buildings, and none of them are taking my 18 Is Adult stance on the bar vote. But then, no one is, even on the 19 side.

I still yearn to see the day when a genuine traditional age undergrad wins a seat. But as the strong but just short Raj Patel campaign proved, realistically that won't happen without a re-write of the city charter. In lieu of that, Botchway, Cole and Porter are as strong a progressive slate as the present system can produce and I was happy to vote for all three.

The most interesting factoid to me on the campaign fiance reports was actually out of Coralville. Bill Vernon of Cedar Rapids kicked in $250 to Koch Brothers backed mayor candidate Matt Adam. Not surprising if you know Bill used to be on the GOP state central committee. More interesting if you know that spouse Monica Vernon is a DEMOCRATIC candidate for Congress.

Those things can be issues in primaries. Maybe Democrats aren't as purist as Republicans. But in `08 a 2002 Peter Teahen donation to Democrat Julie Thomas was the last straw, and the excuse "she saved my kid's life" didn't fly.