Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Harkin Page Playing Favorites With Legislative Races?

Harkin Page, House Caucus Favoring Incumbents With Primary Challenges?

With relatively few worries about re-election for the first time, Senator Tom Harkin is turning his efforts to helping state legislative candidates. A campaign email Monday steered Harkin supporters to a "Building Blue" page, where readers can enter their email address (thus building Harkin's list) and vote on which legislative candidates should receive up to $7,000 from Harkin.

But a look in the drop-down boxes shows that incumbents with primaries are listed, but their challengers aren't. A Harkin spokesperson said the list was provided by the House Democratic Caucus and did not constitute endorsement, but the House Democratic campaign director says otherwise.

"We gave the Harkin team our list of all the House candidates," House campaign director Kevin Boyd told Iowa Independent. "They made the decisions about who to include in their program and who not to include."

Iowa Democrats have primaries in nine state House seats and one state Senate race. Three incumbents face primary challengers, and Harkin's Building Blue page lists the incumbents but not the challengers.

  • In House District 22, Waterloo incumbent Deborah Berry is listed while primary challenger Don Shatzer is not.

  • In House District 42, Rep. Geri Huser of Altoona is included, and challenger Matt Ballard is not.

    "It's a continuation of the same thing I've faced with the House Caucus," Ballard told Iowa Independent. He said he had spoken with Harkin staff about the exclusion and while they were sympathetic, they said they were taking their lead from the House caucus. "This is the same House caucus that has denied me access to the VAN," the state party's database, Ballard said.

  • Des Moines incumbent Wayne Ford is listed in District 65. Challengers Tyler Reedy and Charles Hoffman are not.

    In one open seat, one candidate was briefly listed while his primary rival was not. On Monday, the Harkin site included Windsor Heights mayor Jerry Sullivan, but not his Democratic primary rival in open House District 59, Mark Matel. However, Harkin's spokesperson said Sullivan had been dropped from the page late Tuesday morning. The three incumbents with primary challengers were still listed.

    In the other five House primaries, and the one Senate primary, the Breaking Blue page lists no candidates.

    In the biggest contest of all, the not-quite-done presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Harkin is still neutral. In Iowa's next highest profile contest, Harkin has endorsed 3rd District Congressman Leonard Boswell over primary challenger Ed Fallon.
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