Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pew-Pew Finger Shot Fired In Senate Primary

The first shots are being fired in the 2016 Democratic Senate primary.

Did you know we even HAD a Democratic Senate primary? Or even ONE candidate, let alone TWO?

Yes, we do, but it's between the two titans who got a quarter of the vote between them in 2010 against Roxanne Conlin, and who raised hundreds of dollars for the race: long ago legislators Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen.  And they're using heavy duty campaign weapons.  "Slingshots" is too stromg a word for social media posts and letters to the editor.  It's more like pointing fingers at each other and going pew! pew!

Here's Krause's letter in today's Iowa City edition of the Register Press Citizen:
Recently Tom Fiegen, a possible challenger to me for the Senate Democratic nomination, made a disturbing comment on his Facebook page. In response to a Des Moines Register article, he said: “Farm Bureau is the environmental equivalent of the Klu Klux Klan.” I have the utmost respect for the Iowa Farm Bureau, and completely renounce the comparison by Fiegen as not representative of the Democratic Party or hopefully the ultimate nominee.

As does Fiegen, I have marked disagreements with the Farm Bureau concerning its position of in support of total volunteerism on clean water initiatives in Iowa. However, I recognize that the only pathway to a common sense solution requires dialogue and civil debate. Name calling does not make a civil or productive debate.

The Ku Klux Klan is a proponent of racial terrorism. The Farm Bureau has no ties to the KKK or commonalities with it. The hyperbole by Fiegen is irresponsible and creates another barrier to a solution. In any future race for U.S. Senate, I will approach debate in ways that connect Iowans to issues and one another.

Bob Krause

As Iowa Democrats gather today to elect a new chair, our weakness in this top of the ticket race next year should be near the top of the priority list. As I've noted, this race could change very fast if Chuck Grassley pulls a last minute retirement.  Some of the state chair candidates are talking about a 99 County Strategy, and this race is important to that. 

And on a pragmatic level, I'll go so far as to say our weakness in the Senate race cost John Kerry the statewide win in 2004. That's not a slam at Art Small, who did us a favor by filling the ballot line.  It's a critique of those who didn't recruit someone stronger.

There's recent reports, that I'm not finding at the moment, that Tom Vilsack is poking his nose back into in-state politics, and looking for something to do post-cabinet and something to do to help Hillary Clinton.

Vilsack may not be a perfect progressive.  (No one is, though that seems to be the standard lately.)  The fact that he's been Secretary of Agriculture for six years without becoming a punching bag for the right will cause some environmentalists to be distrustful.  But he's credible and still has name ID, and could no doubt raise money. 

I don't think all things being equal he could BEAT Grassley, but he could run a serious race.  I handicap him at a base of 42-44%, far better than the 28 to 33% we've seen against Grassley in the past.  If he wants to help Hillary, this might be the best thing he can do.  Take one for the team and help her win here.  And he'd be well positioned in case lighting should strike.

With Chuck Grassley, the Let Sleeping Giants Sleep strategy won't work. Like Terry Branstad, he'll set out to run up the score and bring along down ballot people.

I'm not saying Tom Vilsack is THE person for this race.  Maybe it's Christie.  True, she failed in her own run and took some damage, but she's still pretty base-popular.

But my point is: we need to be thinking at that level, and not settling yet again for the fourth tier.

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