Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Random Thoughts On Latham Retirement

The implications of Tom Latham's retirement are too big for me to wrap my head around at the moment, especially as I'm simultaneously engaged in an online pissing match over one of the sidebars to the story.

Much like January's Tom Harkin retirement this has ripple effects all up and down the ballot - all the way to the Speaker's office. The simultaneous retirement of Latham and fellow Boehner ally Frank Wolf of Virginia may be tea leaves to read about the future of House GOP leadership.

That's above my pay grade. Here in Iowa it potentially shakes up legislative races and especially the crowded Republican US Senate primary. Senate candidates Matt Whitaker, Joni Ernst, David Young and Mark Jacobs all live in the 3rd CD, as does Secretary of State MAtt Schultz. Biggest loser: Latham's tea party primary challenger Joe Grandanette, whose hopes of a fluke anti-incumbent win, slim at best, are now none.

Jack Hatch catches a bit of a break: any prominent Democrat considering jumping in after Tyler Olson's dropout will now look at this race instead.

Democrat Staci Appel now faces a critical few days of trying to consolidate support. An entire generation of Polk County Democrats - Matt McCoy, Hatch, etc. - waited and waited for Leonard Boswell to realize, as Latham put it in his release, "For me, this is the time." Boz never did, and paid for it with a career-ending loss.

(In retrospect, that was Latham's job here: take one for the team, run one more race in the redistricting year to get rid of Leonard, then retire in peace.)

When it looked like an uphill fight against a successfully relocated Latham, Democrats were all too eager to twist Appel's arm to get her into the race, even after she demurred once. But now are they going to stick with her? She does have a head start, and that loss of her Senate seat to Kent Sorenson in 2010 now feels less like a demerit and more like: told ya so.

Sidebar: AFSCME's Marcia Nichols was quick to play up the already endorsed Appel:

Pro tip: If you're going to brag about breaking glass ceilings in one race, don't endorse a straight white male over three women in another. The hypocrisy is unbecoming, Marcia.

Gabriel de la Cerda is also running on the Democratic side; his long shot looks longer. As for other names: McCoy ran for this seat briefly once, in 2001, until Boswell carpetbagged in. Janet Petersen is in mid-senate term so could run without risking her seat. Chet? Lord, no.

On the GOP side I expect a clown car and maybe even another convention. A lot to watch the next few days; don't expect a holiday hiatus.

What I DO expect is a lot of attention for Iowa from national folks next fall, with three major open seat races. The Republican presidential wannabees will all be here - and maybe I'll be able to remove that Hillary Clinton clock I just added to the page.

No comments: