Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bye Felicia: Fiegen Leaves Democrats


No more long tedious talks at your county central committee. No more applause for holding up someone else's sign at an inappropriate time. No more F.E.E.T.

Last week, still smarting from his fourth straight electoral loss, a poor third place in the Senate primary, Tom Fiegen got on line and changed his registration to No Party. (The Cedar County Auditor confirmed the affiliation change today.)

The Iowa Democratic Party is FINALLY rid of Tom Fiegen.

But, since there is rarely justice on this earth, Fiegen may get the last laugh. At this point, I'd be more surprised if Fiegen DIDN'T run this fall as an independent or under some wacky label like the FEET Party or Jonathan Narcisse's Iowa Party (better known as the Narcissists, so Fiegen would fit right in.)

Many states have what are called "sore loser" laws. You run in a primary and lose, you're ineligible for the general. I like those laws. If you buy into a primary process, you buy into the outcome.

Iowa, however, does not have such a law.

I'm not going to ask - Fiegen has a habit of bashing and blocking people who ask questions he doesn't like - but he has hinted at it: "Iowa, unlike Minnesota and Wisconsin, has never sent an Independent to the U.S. Senate. Are we ready to change that? What would it take for those of you who are registered Democrats or Republicans to vote for an Independent?"

He's getting as many no's as yes's. I'm sure that if he doesn't get the signatures, he'll write himself in anyway.

If losers were barred from the ballot, Fiegen is now well past his three strikes. He won his only election in 2000, as an anti-choice Democrat challenging one of the last pro-choice Republicans, Sen. Jack Rife. Fiegen's term got cut short due to a redistricting pair-up in 2002. He lost that race, then a comeback attempt in 2004.

At this point, Fiegen's failed ambitions moved upward. He's been running for the US Senate almost nonstop for almost a decade, yet has actually slipped backwards, from 9.4% in 2010 to just 6.8% this month. He tightly tied his campaign to the Bernie Brand, mostly because he had no real campaign of his own, but as early as caucus night it was clear that most Sandernistas were not fooled and were backing Rob Hogg.

Meanwhile, his own state House seat, on the only turf he's ever actually won in Cedar County, is in Republican hands, and Bobby Kaufmann is unopposed this year.


I'm almost tired of punching down at Fiegen. But his personality is such that it's hard not to. Which is too bad. He was reasonably likeable a long time ago, before the grudges turned gangrenous. He's grown the ego of a Trump without the money or the primary wins.

The real turning point for Fiegen was in the fall of 2009. He and Bob Krause had been stumping the state for months to little avail. When Chuck Grassley looked vulnerable for a fleeting instant during the Obamacare fight, party leaders recruited Roxanne Conlin into the race. Fiegen, who seems to have a chip on his shoulder about female candidates, never got on board post-primary.

This year's story was very familiar. Grassley looked vulnerable over the Supreme Court, national leaders find a female candidate who can raise money. Fiegen did not take the results well: "Why do you support such corrupt inept politiicans (sic)? Why did only 96,000 of you vote in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, and 47,000 of you for BIG Pig Patty Judge?"

That quote, calling the female candidate who beat him a "big pig," captures the character of the man well.

In contrast, the guy who SHOULD have been pissed that national leaders recruited Judge into the race, Rob Hogg, conceded graciously:
As I told supporters last night at our election results party at the Starlite in Cedar Rapids, I encourage all Iowans to support Patty Judge in the United States Senate election this fall. She is a Democrat. Since Joni Ernst succeeded Senator Harkin in the 2014 elections, we have been missing a Democratic voice in the United States Senate from Iowa. We need that voice.
Moreover, Patty Judge knows that climate change is real and must be addressed. She understands that we need government to help safeguard our people and our property from disasters, regardless of cause. She believes we must do more to help working families, such as raising the minimum wage and expanding leave opportunities for workers. She wants to protect Social Security and Medicare and make those programs stronger. Perhaps most importantly, on Day 84 since the President made his nomination to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, she knows the United States Senate should hold hearings and provide an up-or-down vote for the President’s nominee. I hope you will vote for Patty Judge in the U.S. Senate race in Iowa.
Amazingly, even though Hogg is one of the leading environmentalists in the legislature, his record was somehow not perfect enough for Fiegen.

Granted, Patty Judge is not going to pass any CCI purity tests. I supported Hogg myself. But the Democrats of Iowa had their say and chose her, and when I got home from the state convention I replaced my Hogg sign with a Judge sign. She's a vote to put Chuck Schumer, not Mitch McConnell, in charge of the Senate agenda. She's a vote to fill the Supreme Court. She's not a platform committee kind of Democrat, but Patty Judge is a good Democrat.

Which Tom Fiegen no longer is.

If he ever was.

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