Saturday, July 31, 2010

Democrats Take It To The Street

Dems Take It To The Street as Sue Dvorsky Rallies The Troops

Across the state Democrats are out at doors and on phones as part of a "Day of Action," with 94 days to go before the election. At the Iowa City headquarters volunteers got a pep talk from Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky.

"We are the hardest working organization in this state," said Dvorsky. "We have a 99 county strategy and we are going to win this a house and a voter at a time. This is exactly what makes us the Democratic Party: we all bring what we can bring."

Sue DvorskyJohnson County is getting a little extra attention this year with one of its own as party chair. Dvorsky is spending weekdays in Des Moines and Saturdays and Sundays - don't call it "weekend" because that implies days off and those don't seem to exist on Sue's calendar - spending Saturdays and Sundays back home.

"This is no off year," Dvorsky said of the so-called enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. "Don't let people freak you out with comparisons. 2008 was a presidential eletion with a generational shift, but this year is very similar to 2006. There is no 'off year' for the economy, for kid's health care, for families trying to struggle with elderly parents. When you're the Democratic Party you don't get to take an off year."

Full Phone Bank
Happiness is a full phone bank

"Terry Branstad has not been secretive at all about what he will do," Dvorsky said about the top of the GOP ticket. "This is a choice about how we want Iowa to look going forward. The people of this state do not want to talk about whether you are 'on the side of God.' Their message doesn't resonate. We have thousands of absentee ballot requests in auditor's offices, and the Republicans are still fighting their primary."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Conlin at Prairie Lights

Conlin at Prairie Lights

She didn't have a book to sell but Roxanne Conlin spent her Friday evening at Iowa City's landmark bookstore, speaking to about 60 supporters ans sharing a couple Iowa City memories.

"I marched for peace on that street right there," she said, pointing down to Linn street a floor below and tying the war of 40 years ago to the war of now.

"We don't belong in Afghanistan with guns. Were creating problems, not solving them."

RoxanneConlin offered supporters a mix of policy proposals, critiques of incumbent Chuck Grassley, and horse race optimism. "We've moved the needle in public polls 15 points with person to person campaigning," she said, urging supporters to promote her candidacy through their social networks, both real world and virtual. "It's free for the campaign, and it's free for you to do that on my behalf."

Conlin shows up multiple times a day on Facebook, and while her Twitter is nowhere near as well known as Grassley's, she did admit to accidentally Tweeting a picture of a cat.

In a sign of just how seriously Conlin takes that campaign model, she spent last weekend at the Netroots Nation conference. "It was a real treat for me," Conlin told me after the speech. "I think they represent a wide swath of the nation, and of course they've got influence over an even wider swath."

Team Grassley has been attacking Conlin over tax issues, but Conlin firmly believes that the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire: "Come on. People who make over $250,000 a year can stand to have their taxes raised. This will affect me and people in my family.Yes, I'm calling for raising my own taxes. I don't think that's hypocritical, I think that's what we 60s idealists do."

As for Grassley, Conlin said "52 years in public life is an awfully long time," and said she can appeal to independent voters on fairness issues.

"Grassley is marching in lockstep with his party on everything that would put people back to work," Conlin said. "His answer is no, no, no. We should be suspicious of government in the hands of people who hate it."

(More coverage from the Gazette's James Lynch.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dems Sweep County Fair

Dems Sweep Johnson County Mock Election

Chet Culver and Dave Loebsack appear to have lost no popularity at all in Johnson County, and Roxanne Conlin is well ahead of Chuck Grassley, according to results from the Johnson County Fair mock election.

It's all unscientific, of course; kids and outsiders get to vote in the annual event, and the third party vote gets slightly exaggerated since it doesn't really count. Yet the fair has, since 1999, indicated a general trend.

You might write it off as, well, that's just the People's Republic. But even in Johnson County, the fair draws an older, more rural, more conservative crowd.

Conlin, to be sure, still has a little work to do to catch up to the rest of the ticket. But her solid fair win shows that the Senate race is competitive. Grassley has slipped from the 51% he enjoyed at the 2004 fair to just 39% this year, dropping from a 10 point win to a 15 point loss.

(You can vote for Roxanne yet again in Dick Durbin's Senate Challenger Contest.)

Culver and Loebsack, meanwhile, enjoyed the kinds of two to one wins Democrats see in real elections here. The rest of the Democratic ticket, including newcomers Jon Murphy and (most interesting with a rural crowd) Francis Thicke, also pulled similar margins.

Complete results:

US Senate
Roxanne Conlin, Democratic Party 260 54%
Chuck Grassley, Republican Party 187 39%
John Heiderscheit, Libertarian Party 15 3%
Jim Hennager, Peace Party 20 4%

US Representative, 2nd CD
Dave Loebsack, Democratic Party 306 63%
Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Republican Party 150 31%
Gary Sicard, Libertarian Party 15 3%
Jon Tack, Constitution Party 14 3%

Governor / Lieutenant Governor
Chet Culver/Patty Judge, Democratic Party 283 58%
Terry E. Branstad/Kim Reynolds, Republican Party 150 31%
Wendy Barth/David Grimesy, Green Party 29 6%
Eric Cooper/Nick Weltha, Libertarian Party 12 2%
Rick Phillips/Ted Hee, Constitution Party 9 2%
Jonathan Narcisse/Rick Marlar, nom. by petition 3 1%

Secretary of State
Michael A. Mauro, Democratic Party 285 59%
Matt Schultz, Republican Party 157 33%
Jake Porter, Libertarian Party 37 8%

Auditor of State
Jon Murphy, Democratic Party 303 64%
David A. Vaudt, Republican Party 168 36%

Treasurer of State
Michael L. Fitzgerald, Democratic Party 319 67%
David D. Jamison, Republican Party 157 33%

Secretary of Agriculture
Francis Thicke, Democratic Party 283 61%
Bill Northey, Republican Party 184 39%

Attorney General
Tom Miller, Democratic Party 332 70%
Brenna Findley, Republican Party 141 30%

State Constitutional Amendment - Sales Tax use
Yes 247 60%
No 167 40%

State Constitutional Convention
Yes 150 36%
No 262 64%

Socialist Workers File

Is Иext on Capitalist Ballot: Socialist Woяќeяs

The Socialist Workers Party, who are really good at qualifying for the ballot and selling newspapers but not so much at getting votes, qualified two candidates for the Iowa ballot Thursday.

David Rosenfeld is the fourth candidate to officially join the governor's race, joining Chet Culver, Terry Branstad and Libertarian Eric Cooper. His running mate is frequent SWP candidate Helen Meyers.

Rebecca Williamson will run in the 3rd CD against incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell and Republican Brad Zaun.

The Socialist Workers finished fifth (and last) in the 2006 governor's race with 0.2% of the vote.

Update: O. Kay Henderson has the press release; they have a Sec of Ag candidate too but she didn't file yet.

In the day's other filing, Libertarian Christopher Peters makes his Senate District 15 run against Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) official. And one I missed from early July: Republican Brian Moore of Zwingle filed against Rep. Tom Schueller (D-Maquoketa) in House 25.

Thursday's Truths

Three Truths for Thursday

  • E.J. Dionne: "The wealthy in the United States -- the people who have made almost all the income gains in recent years -- are undertaxed compared with everyone else. "

  • Marc Ambinder among many others:
    The Democratic strategy in a nutshell is small enough to fit in one but has the protein of a good, tasty nut. The Republicans want to be mayors of crazy-town. They've embraced a fringe and proto-racist isolationist and ignorant conservative populism that has no solutions for fixing anything and the collective intelligence of a wine flask. This IS offensive and over the top, and the more Democrats repeat it, and the more dumb things some Republican candidates do, the more generally conservative voters who might be thinking of sending a message to Democrats by voting for a Republican will be reminded that the replacement party is even more loony than the party that can't tie its shoes.
  • But actually, we can tie our shoes - NYTimes: "Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government’s sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression.

    Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved..."
  • Bridge to Nowhere Anniversary

    Thanks But No Thanks, Chuck

    As the (last) 100 Days of Grassley continue, today is a particularly noteworthy milestone. As Roxanne Conlin kindly points out:
    Five years ago, on July 29 (2005), the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” was included in a pork-laden bill passed by the U.S. Senate and championed by Senator Charles Grassley. Fellow Republican John McCain, while campaigning for President, used that remote bridge in Alaska as an example of the worst types of pork barrel spending in Washington.

    “At the time, Senator Grassley was pleased with the massive transportation bill that contained the Bridge to Nowhere and many other similar projects,” noted Roxanne Conlin, candidate for the United States Senate. “He even praised his staff for their work on the bill containing more than $286 billion in spending.”

    The Bush Administration’s Secretary of Transportation said at the time that the bill was paid for using “accounting gimmicks” and “promised to spend money that did not exist.”

    “Today, Senator Grassley depicts himself as a 'penny pincher' and 'tightwad' in television commercials. The Senator needs to explain how a tightwad can waste millions of dollars in taxpayer money on Bridges to Nowhere and other pork barrel projects,” added Conlin.
    Stop by Prairie Lights tomorrow (5:30 - 7) to meet Roxanne. And there's still time today to get out to the Johnson County Fair for the mock election and vote "thanks but no thanks" on Grassley.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Dems Recruit Challenger for Kaufmann

    Dems Recruit Challenger in House 79

    No candidates filed with the Secretary of State today on Day Three for independents and third party state candidates, but it looks like the Democrats have found one more candidate.

    An August 10 party convention is expected to nominate John Archer of West Liberty to run against a member of the GOP leadership, Wilton's Jeff Kaufmann, in House 79.

    Archer looks like an unapologetic progressive in his letters to the West Liberty Index. Last month Archer wrote:
    Real progressives believe everyone should be free to walk on the street without being harassed because our skin is a different color. Progressives want everyone to be free to marry who we choose as our partner. Progressives believe in the freedom of women to make choices about their health, and believe in the freedom to understand the world we live in even if it’s not written in English. And yes, progressives believe in the freedom to enjoy a restaurant meal without having to inhale smoke.
    The Cedar County dominated district also includes the Highway 6 northern tier of Muscatine County from West Liberty to Wilton (where I got clobbered in 1996) and a small bit of eastern Johnson County.

    Dems let this district go in 2008; a self-starter candidate filed and dropped out months before the election but failed to file the withdrawal papers. She got a third of the vote (and actually WON the Johnson County part) as just a name on a ballot with a D after it.

    Before that, Democrats made several consecutive serious efforts against Kaufmann and predecessor Dan Boddicker, but they last held the Cedar County turf two redistrictings ago in the `80s, when it included Dave Osterberg's strip of southern Linn County.

    This recruitment, which fills the last gap, means Democrats will field a full slate of candidates in Johnson County.

    Wednesday clips

    Wednesday Clips

    You know how the internet's default cost of zero has driven print media to dino status? Advertising is next.

    Statistically showing what we all know: the Senate is officially more polarized than ever.

    In Oklahoma's primary yesterday, two women top the tickets for governor, and Don't Vote For My Dad guy comes in second out of three and goes to a general election runoff.

    And iowasnewzliter finds an old pic and can't decide if I was separated it birth from David Axelrod... or Tony Rezko.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Grassley's Priorities

    Grassley More Interested in Fox Noise Agenda Than Fair Campaign Finance

    It was a banner day for Chuck Grassley today; he joined every single Senate Republican in blocking a floor vote on the DISCLOSE Act. It wouldn't have gotten the post-Citizens United corporate cash out of the election process, it just would have required, well, disclosure.

    From Team Roxanne:
    Conlin Campaign spokesperson Paulee Lipsman said, “In voting against the federal DISCLOSE ACT, meant to provide Iowans with information on who is funding campaign attack ads, Senator Grassley has once more sided with the Wall Street bankers, insurance companies, corporations and other special interests who have filled his campaign war chest. The Senator is protecting those who want to anonymously produce the distortions and lies that are intended to influence voters.”
    So what DOES Chuck Grassley support? Faux News's fake scandal of the week: "voter intimidation" by the "New Black Panthers," who appear to be two dudes from Philly who like to see themselves on TV.

    Chuck took time away from voting no to join every single other Judiciary Republican in demanding more incestigation--even though the Senate has already investigated this. As that great philosopher Flavor Flav once said, don't believe the hype.

    (And don't forget Roxanne at Prairie Lights this Friday, 5:30.)

    Libertarian first to file

    Libertarian Cooper first to file
    Huser draws independent opponent

    Libertarian candidate for governor Eric Cooper was the first third party candidate to file with the Secretary of State today.

    Cooper and running mate Nick Weltha were the only Libertarians to file. The party is also looking at the US Senate race, Secretary of State, two congressional races and scattered legislative seats (including two in Johnson County).

    Cooper has said his goal is the 2% of the vote that would elevate the Libertarians from third party "organization" status to full party status equal to the Democrats and Republicans. Governor is the one and only office this year that can earn party status for the LP. (In presidential years, it's president.) He also hopes to move small government issues onto the front burner.

    The only other candidate to file on Day 2 - unusually, no one earned the bragging rights on Day 1 yesterday - was horse boarder Dan Nieland of Altoona, running as an independent ("nominated by petition" is the official nomenclature) in House District 42. The incumbent is conservaDem Geri Huser (whose loyalty has been questioned in recent weeks). Republican Kim Pearson is also in the race, but was scuttled by the Iowa Business and Industry association, which endorsed Huser. Huser also got one of the few Democratic donations from Iowans for Tax Relief, much to Steve Deace's dismay today.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Harkin steps up for Conlin Part 2

    Harkin steps up for Conlin Part 2

    Tom Harkin, Iowa's next senior senator, has put his name out there again for Roxanne Conlin, this time in a Conlin campaign video:

    (And yes, that opening shot was from the West Des Moines parade, and no, Krusty and his kommentators still don't get it.)

    The important part, as I said last month when Harkin lent his name to an email fundraising pitch:
    You might not think it's odd for Harkin to make a pitch for a fellow Democrat, and normally it isn't. But in the historically collegial ways of the Senate, it's unusual for same-state senators of opposite parties to campaign against each other beyond just the necessary lip service of party loyalty.
    We're 99 days from Election Day and Team Roxanne launched their 100 Days of Grassley program yesterday. The debut message: DAY 1 of 100: Did you know Grassley once told someone last year to get better and cheaper coverage like himself they should, 'go work for the government'???

    Sign up here or text 100 to 64336.

    Filling in the filing blanks

    Filling in the filing blanks

    Third party filing starts today for Iowa's state and federal offices. Before that gets going in earnest, let's look at what's changed since the June 8 primary.

    The only people who have been able to file since June 8th are Democrats and Republicans nominated at party conventions. The major parties have recruited five House candidates in the interim:

  • Most significantly, Newton Democrat Dan Kelley replaces Rep. Paul Bell, who passed away the day before the primary, in House 41. Republican Gabriel Swersie filed before Bell's death.

  • In Rod Robert's open Republican Seat, House 51, Dan Muhlbauer replaces dropout Dem Larry Lesle. Daniel Dirkx won a contested GOP primary; this is a potential Democratic pickup.

  • Republican Bob Hager is challenging first-term Dem John Beard of Decorah in House District 16. This blank on the GOP ballot was a surprise in the March primary filing period; Republican Chuck Gipp had held the seat nearly two decades before retiring in 2008.

  • Democrat Tim Pierce was nominated in open GOP-held House District 73, opposing Republican Julian Garrett for Jody Tymeson's spot.

  • And Burlington Republican Dave Selmon is challenging Rep. Dennis Cohoon in very Democratic House 88.

    State and federal candidates have till August 13 to file; local candidates file with county auditors from August 2 to 25.
  • No Doom and Gloom from Sue Dvorsky

    No Doom and Gloom from Sue Dvorsky

    If you want predictions of doom and gloom for Democrats this fall, don't ask Sue Dvorsky.

    I caught up with the Iowa Democratic Party chair at Saturday's ADA celebration in Iowa City and she says the fall is "loaded with opportunity."

    "Their message doesn't resonate," she said of the GOP. "We'll beat them on message and we'll kill 'em in the field." Locally, at least, that would seem to be happening; at last check Democrats had a 1057 to 42 lead over Republicans in absentee requests.

    (The Press-Citizen offers a mini-biography of Sue Dvorsky in today's edition that captures some of the facts, if not the sheer force of personality...)

    The Democrat's most endangered incumbent, by all accounts, is Governor Chet Culver, but Sue thinks his record contrasts positive;y with opponent Terry Branstad.

    "Infrastructure may not be sexy, but the I-JOBS are working. Compare that to Terry Branstad's 16 year race to the bottom with low paying jobs. I'd rather have our team on that challenge."

    As for Branstad, Dvorsky says, "He's not finished running his primary yet." Indeed, that endorsement from second-place candidate Bob Vander Plaats hasn't happened yet. Which reminds me, third party and independent candidate filing starts today at the Secretary of State's office. Stay tuned to this Bat-channel for more on that these next three weeks.

    Don't forget Roxanne Conlin at Prairie Lights 5:30 Friday... or mock voting at the county fair. And since it doesn't fit anywhere else, Bleeding Heartland takes one more look at campaign finance.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Smallest Farm Sunday

    Smallest Farm Sunday

    FINALLY, a decent day today to get some weeding done. I discovered my strawberry plants, alive and sending out runners under the weeds. And my carrots now can be clearly seen.


    The weekend's pickings included the first acorn squash. My squash family plants have been producing way too many male flowers, but now I'm starting to see a few squashes developing.


    The mighty bean fence is getting top heavy and needed extra support. During the week I cleared out the last of the dead cukes and today I planted my first-ever attempt at fall peas. We'll see if I have peapods for late September. I also tore out the spring pea fence and may try to get some salad in that spot.


    Any day now...

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Harkin, Loebsack at ADA Celebration

    Harkin, Loebsack at Iowa City ADA Celebration

    Twenty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law with a bipartisan majority and a signature from a Republican President (imagine THAT today), the bill's chief sponsor says the ADA has changed America, but there's still a way to do.

    "It's hard to imagine all the things we take for granted," Tom Harkin told the Iowa City crowd Saturday. "We are a fairer and richer country because we are bringing the talents of everyone in."

    But Harkin said more is needed.

    "Until we get personal attendant services, the primise of the ADA will not be complete. Everyone in America ought to have attendant services if they need them. That is not too much to ask. With a little bit of help, a person can become an income earner and a taxpayer. To say we can't afford it is penny wise and pound foolish."

    Congressman Dave Loebsack also addressed the Ped Mall crowd and urged people "never forget those with mental illness."

    Governor Chet Culver was scheduled to speak but was called away to deal with the Lake Delhi dam breach. His chief of staff, Iowa City's Jim Larew, stood in.

    "Only a handful of senators can say they literally changes the face of the nation," said Larew. "You cannot cross a street without seeing a curbcut or ramp that wasn't there 20 years ago."

    100 Days of Grassley

    100 Days, 100 D'OH!s

    As every campaign staffer knows from their marked calendar, Sunday marks 100 days to November 2. Team Roxanne is planning to count the days down Casey Kasem style- I'm a sucker for the countdown format - with some of Chuck Grassley's greatest hits.

    "100 Days of Grassley" is sure to include "Pull the Plug on Grandma," as well as Krusty's favorite, "Living Off The Public Tit." Like most greatest hits sets, it's likely to include some newly recorded material, as long as they let Chuck keep Twittering, anyway.

    To order yours, text '100' to the Conlin campaign at 64336.

    Boswell May Be Tossup

    Swing State Project: IA03 A Tossup

    Liberal leaning horse-race site Swing State Project has moved the 3rd CD race between Dem incumbent Leonard Boswell and GOP challenger Brad Zaun to the Tossup category.

    Iowa's four other House races are all listed as safe for the incumbents. The US Senate race between Roxanne Conlin is rated as Likely R, the lowest level competitive category. SSP rates the governor's race as Lean R Takeover.

    The Boz will be getting financial help this weekend from former President Clinton, who has a long memory of who backed Hillary at caucus time.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Roxanne Live at Netroots Nation

    Roxanne Live at Netroots Nation

    Video of Netroots Nation's panel discussion on "Why Women are the Key to the Future of Progressive Election Victories," featuring Roxanne Conlin.

    Liveblog: Conlin speaking @ 5:30 (that's about 30 minutes in if you want to skip ahead, but the other speakers are worth your time too.)

    Starts with her governor race. Notes that day after she won `82 primary, Register ran a multi-picture collection of her hairdos. And as followup she mentions Krusty's krude kolumn ("Last week, a very prominent Republican blogger devoted an entire post... to my breasts. With pictures."), to gasps from the mostly female crowd. "We have made progress. But are we there yet, no. But bloggers can help us to get there, men and women bloggers."

    "We have something to prove in Iowa," she says, mentioning the Iowa-Mississippi club. "When women in focus groups learned this, they became not only supportive, but protective. Nothing could move those women after that."

    "The new media is our chance to be heard through the static of things that don't matter." Social media has been "great fun, interacting directly with people with no intermediary."

    "But I don't have as many Tweet buddies as Grassley - though I suspect some of his followers are not supporters. I don't think I'm as entertaining."

    "Bloggers can create the buzz and start the narrative that even progressive women running against 30 year incumbents have a chance. Money comes along with buzz and persuasion."

    "I don't think I should spend my time chained to a chair raising money. I should be out talking to voters."

    National media is "fixated on Palinesque women." Notes that Haley, Whitman, Fiorina got much more attention than her own 78% win.

    When I ran in `82 "it was really bizarre" for a woman to run. When asked I always said it was worth it. "I got to introduce issues that would never have been discussed had I not been in the race." Helped build a generation of women operatives and candidates (drops the Vilmain name). "Lots of women and girls saw a women try, and fail, and come back."

    She wraps at 5:42. More speakers, all great, Q&A at 6:00 straight up.

    Roxanne gets asked about Krusty. "It was so stupid. It was like high school, it was so regressive." Notes that she often wears jackets because of stuff like that, "but it was 100 degrees that day." Says the remarks "really just rolled off my back. But I hope someone calls Senator Grassley on it," she asks the room full of bloggers. (I was first.) "Is he going to let people get away with saying things like that in the name of the Republican Party of Iowa?" (I'm paraphrasing a bit, but just a bit.)

    Last go-round, at 6:18, the woman before Roxanne says she's heard progressive women, post-Hillary, say they would vote for Palin before voting for another man ("though I wouldn't go that far"). Roxanne responds: "I vote values, not sex, and I would NEVER vote for Sarah Palin (applause) I would never vote for a woman or a man who would deprive women of reproductive choice."

    Way Too Soon For Doom And Gloom

    Way Too Soon For Doom And Gloom

    Here's a thought for the naysayers predicting death and demise for Dems. Rachel Maddow was chitchatting last night about the ongoing feud between MSNBC and Bill O'Reilly, and noted that O'Reilly bragged about his higher ratings:
    “Here Mr. O’Reilly has a point. You and Fox get great ratings. It is so awesome how great your ratings are. Here’s the score card from last night. It is in TV ratings speak, but I think it will be clear enough. Here’s Mr. O’Reilly that 757 would be him at 8:00, and that 245 would be me at 9:00, different hour, but you know same point, and don’t tell Susan’s mom whose actually pretty sensitive about these kinds of things, but we’re actually outrated by all kinds of shows. “Deadliest Catch,” that’s about fishing.

    We get killed by a show called “The Closer” about which I know nothing about except it kills us in the ratings, and we get smaller ratings than WWE Wrestling… Of course, all of those shows also kill Mr. O’Reilly’s show in the ratings as well as everything else on Fox, as do Sponge Bob, reruns of NCIS, and Hannah Montana Forever, which is totally understandable. They are all more watched than The O’Reilly Factor, which is totally irrelevant.”
    The universe of people tuned into politics is small. And the universe of people tuned into politics 100 days before a midterm election, even though it includes everyone I know except my kids, and even though it includes you reading a political blog, is really, really small.

    Which means it's really, really early.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Roxanne on the Rec List

    Roxanne on the Rec List

    Chuck Grassley tried today to slap a "special interest" label on the netroots activists meeting in Las Vegas this week. But Roxanne Conlin's jimping right in, liveblogging at Daily Kos in a chat that's currently on the front page "rec list."

    "Can you believe this? Senator Grassley attacked me yesterday for going to Netroots Nation while he's hosting a $2,500 a plate PAC breakfast fundraiser in Washington," Conlin begins (there's a press release version for the old media types.

    "The sponsors of Netroots Nation are special interest groups committed to electing liberals and it’s to them that Roxanne Conlin would be beholden," blasts Grassley staffer Eric Woolson, who says that like it's a bad thing.

    Conlin chatted with Kos readers, including some Iowans, for about 45 minutes. In one especially strongly worded section, she wrote:
    (Grassley's) grave concern about deficits is pretty sudden after he presided over the Finance Committee that passed two huge tax cuts, mainly for the very wealthy, fought two wars off the books and engineered a $400 Billion giveaway to big Pharma. We believe Iowans will not send such a hypocrite back to the U.S. Senate.

    For him to pretend that he has even modicum of fiscal responsibility is ridiculous. this is Charles Grassley's deficit and i intend to make sure the people of Iowa know it.
    While at Netroots Nation, Conlin will participate in a panel Friday on "Why Women are the Key to the Future of Progressive Victories," no doubt hoping that future includes her own. The topic came up during the chat as a reader wrote: "What's really great about this election cycle is that it's the 'year of the Women' again. But not for Republicans like its been touted, but for Democrats again. You, (NC Senate candidate Elaine Marshall NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alex Sink, running for Florida governor)"

    "Tell that to the national media - so I'm not the only one saying it," replied Conlin. "On the night I won a three way primary with 78%, they focused on Haley, Fiorina, and other anti-women women. They are simply overlooking the great successes that progressive women are having around the country."

    Touching on techie issues with the tech-savvy audience, the Microsoft lawsuit of course came up: "I directed $60 million into our schools to close the digital divide and make sure Iowa's kids are the leaders of the next generation."

    But it wouldn't be a live chat without a true moment of geek: after Conlin noted that Grassley first ran for office in 1958 - "When Bonanza was the top watched TV show" - a reply, complete with Wikipedia link, came back noting that Gunsmoke was actually the top show of '58.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Things Goin' On

    Things Goin' On

    Here's some upcoming stuff in the Greater People's Republic Area:

  • Chuck Grassley is comin' to town this Friday the 23rd for a $100 suggested donation fundraiser. 5:30 at the Sheraton. Maybe he'll hang out on the Ped Mall after to hear BF Burt & the Instigators.

  • Not to be outdone, Roxanne's coming to town the next week, also Friday (30) and also 5:30, but she's up the block at Prairie Lights and not asking for a hundred bucks. I'm sure she'd accept, though.

  • The county fair is next week and there will be mock electing.

  • And it's always caucus season: A week from Sunday (August 1) Tim Pawlenty will be in West Liberty at 4:30 for an event with state rep Jeff Kaufmann; suggesting $50.

    Campaign finance fallout continues. Bleeding Heartland has a very detailed look at money in the statewide races. At Iowa Republican, Craig Robinson offers the GOP spin on Culver's numbers. Krusty, meanwhile, is able to discuss REPUBLICAN female candidates like a grownup, and takes some cheap shots at Mike Mauro.
  • Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    WaPo: Grassley faces tough challenge

    WashPost: Grassley "faces tough challenge"

    Buried in the bottom of a "Republican lawmakers gird for rowdy tea party" article Sunday is Chuck Grassley's reax to the Mason City Hitler/Obama/Lenin billboard:
    The billboard also forced Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who faces a tough challenge from Democrat Roxanne Conlin, to issue a careful rebuke. "I believe that you should always leave personalities out of it and talk policy," he said in an interview.
    Which promped this response from Barbara Morrill at Kos: "Which apparently means Grassley would rather talk about health care reform versus genocide."

    But the part I like is the "faces a tough challenge from Democrat Roxanne Conlin" part.

    Conlin was swift with the press release after Grassley's Nay on the Judiciary committee re: Elena Kagan for Supreme Court:
    “Senator Grassley opposes Wall Street reform, he opposes extending unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Iowans and now he opposes filling the Supreme Court vacancy despite decades of support for past nominations. Senator Grassley's failure to act on unemployment benefits is costing Iowans food and shelter. He gave $700 billion to Wall Street but refused to hold them accountable and now he's casting only his second vote against a Supreme Court nominee in his thirty years in the U.S. Senate."
    Like they said: tough challenge.

    Tuesday clips

    Tuesday's notes

    One of my long time one-stop shops, Blognetnews, appears to be no more.

    What good is "seniority" when Chuck Grassley is voting NO on Wall Street reform, NO on health care, NO on Sotomayor (and you know Kagan next)... Here's an idea: let's make Tom Harkin Iowa's senior senator!

    And all my $1 bills still have Henry Paulson's name on them. When does Geithner start signing the money? I thought Obama hired him for his tiny handwriting so he can sign all the money...

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Money in Key Legislative Races

    A flurry of finance reports

    It's information overload time for political numbers junkies, and Iowa's state candidates had campaign finance reports due today. Here's a quick look at some of the more interesting legislative races.

    A LOT of qualifiers here. The parties are at the most brutal stage of their triage process, deciding which races to take seriously and which ones to let go. There's a lot of unopposed or barely opposed incumbents that you don't see here. Their money tends to go to parties, who then spend it on the critical races.

    There's a few gaps that I swear I'll fill in later (the biggest being Kent Sorensen in Senate District 37, challenging Staci Appel - now updated and Appel is waaay ahead). A few of the old-timers are grandfathered in and still get to submit hand-written reports instead of using the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board's online system; this is the last election cycle they get to do that. Those get scanned and that delays the posting. Here's the link so you can check out the races I skipped.

    (And kudos to Charlie Smithson and the IECDB folks for improvements the past few years, making it easier to find all this stuff.)

    I haven't looked at every single race and haven't included every race I looked at. My cutoff was about the five figure mark for challengers, plus races that both sides are mentioning. There's a few sleepers on this list and a few duds. Who'd have figured former Waterloo mayor John Rooff, running for Kerry Burt's open seat as a Republican, with only $629 on hand after a lame primary, vs. more than $10,000 in the bank for 20something Democrat Anesa Kajtazovic?

    Figures are cash on hand unless noted.

    Senate 1 (Open D, Steve Warnstadt)
    Rick Mullin (D) $20,749.15
    Rick Bertrand (R) $7887.17, but $17,749 in outstanding loans dating back to his 2008 House race.

    Senate 5
    Rich Olive (D, incumbent) $40,107.28
    Rob Bacon (R) $3,476.94

    Senate 9
    Bill Heckroth (D, incumbent) $18,444.50
    Bill Dix (R) $100,529.61, which is the biggest number I saw.

    Senate 13 (Open D, Roger Stewart)
    Tod Bowman (D) $3,669.42 with $1000 outstanding loan, after winning a four-way primary.
    Andrew Naeve (R) $16,063.55

    Senate 27 (Open R, Ron Weick)
    Marty Pottebaum (D) $4,772.78
    Bill Anderson (R) $28,045.73

    Senate 37
    Staci Appel (D, incumbent) $78,231.36
    Kent Sorensen (R) $16,943.10

    Senate 45
    Becky Schmitz (D, incumbent) $33,101.84
    Sandy Greiner (R) $13,345.59, which includes a $10,000 self-loan

    House 1 (Open D, Wes Whitead)
    Dave Dawson (D) $15,741.19
    Jeremy Taylor (R) $6,217.57

    House 2 (Open D, Roger Wendt)
    Chris Hall (D) $23,078.90
    Cate Bryan (R) $5.59. You read that right. But there's a VERY important qualifier; she spent $15,000 on her close enough for a recount primary.

    House 7 (Open D, Marcella Frevert)
    John Wittneben (D) $10,033.26
    Lannie Miller (R) $5,189.63

    House 8 (Open D, Dolores Mertz)
    Susan Bangert (D) $5,560.04
    Tom Shaw (R) $2,252 after a hotly contested primary

    House 9
    McKinley Bailey (D, incumbent) $22,768.74
    Stewart Iverson (R) $16,039.48

    House 10
    Selden Spencer (D) $25,699.77
    Dave Deyoe (R, incumbent) $25,990.77

    House 13
    Sharon Steckman (D, incumbent) $9,776.87
    Brian Randall (R) $7,318.01

    House 14 (open D, Mark Kuhn)
    Kurt Meyer (D) $15,064.21
    Josh Byrnes (R) $1,641.98 after contested primary

    House 19
    Bob Kressig (D, incumbent) $11,762.53
    Darin Beck (R) $33,846.67

    House 20
    Doris Kelley (D, incumbent) $52,349.13
    Walt Rogers (R) $7,081.16

    House 21 (open D seat, Kerry Burt)
    Anesa Kajtazovic (D) $10,139.98
    John Rooff (R) $629.20 following a modestly contested primary

    House 23
    Gene Ficken (D, incumbent) $7,570.34
    Dan Rasmussen (R) $12,546.91

    House 26 (Open D, Polly Bukta)
    Mary Wolfe (D) $3,639.79
    David Rose (R) $21,234.04

    House 29
    Nate Willems (D, incumbent) $30,670.24
    Shawn Graham (R) $1,617.09

    House 31
    Ray Zirkelbach (D, incumbent) $2,717.77
    Lee Hein (R) $16,315.28

    House 37
    Mark Seidl (D) $6,326.74
    Renee Schulte (R, incumbent) $18,029.45

    House 48
    Donovan Olson (D, incumbent) $6,422.42
    Chip Baltimore (R) $19,925.43

    House 54 (Open R, Christopher Rants)
    Carlos Venable-Ridley (D) $5,000.34
    Ron Jorgensen (R) $43,817.55

    House 74 (Open R, Kent Sorensen)
    Scott Ourth (D) $38,621.92
    Glen Massie (R) $3,339.70

    House 75
    Eric Palmer (D, incumbent) $10,014.58
    Guy Vander Linden (R) $19,656.42

    House 80
    Nathan Reichert (D, incumbent) $13,327.58
    Mark Lofgren (R) $21,032.92

    House 84 (Open D, Elesha Gayman)
    Shari Carnahan (D) $27,101.01
    Ross Paustian (R) $19,512.94

    House 89
    Larry Marek (D, incumbent) $33,073.00
    Jarad Klein (R) $3210.18 after a 80-20 primary win

    House 90
    Curt Hanson (D, incumbent) $7,121.76
    Stephen Burgmeier (R) $7,994.61

    House 95
    Mike Reasoner (D, incumbent)
    Joel Fry (R) $8,194.75

    House 99 (open R, Doug Struyk)
    Kurt Hubler (D) $5,303.36
    Mary Ann Hanusa (R) $3,633.34

    Local Democratic Legislators Hold Money Leads

    Local Democratic Legislators Hold Money Leads

    State campaign finance reports are due in today and the three local Democratic incumbents with Republican opponents hold fundraising leads.

    In Senate 45, Sen. Becky Schmitz (D-Fairfield), near the top of the GOP target list, has $33,101.84 on hand. Her opponent, former legislator Sandy Greiner, has $13,345.59, which includes a $10,000 self-loan.

    In the overlapping House District 89, first-term Riverside Democrat Larry Marek has $33,073.00 on hand. His 2008 opponent, Jarad Klein, won a lightly contested primary by an 80-20 margin to earn a rematch, and has $3210.18 in the bank. David Smithers, who has announced his third party candidacy on a yet-to-be-named left label, has not opened a finance committee.

    That covers the southern end of the county. Up north in House 29, first term Lisbon Democrat Nate Willems has $30,670.24, while first time GOP candidate Shawn Graham has $1,617.09.

    The Libertarian opponents for Sen. Bob Dvorsky and Rep. Dave Jacoby, both of Coralville, have yet to form committees. Iowa City's legislators, Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Reps. Mary Mascher and Vicki Lensing, have no announced opponents.

    Check back later for a longer version that looks at some of the key contests around the state.

    Monday Clips

    Monday Clips

    As Iowa Indy reports that Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats are close to a deal (in that unique dynamic of losers making demands), Todd Dorman looks at the cost and dubs Terry "Vander Branstad." Thanks, Todd; mind if we borrow that?

    The Reg has focused in at least two parts, on the low-info judicial retention elections.

    And at Kos, this gem:
    The most unfortunate consequence of the sinking of John Edwards's political career is that his powerful narrative about "Two Americas" got submerged along with it. In fact, just as the now nearly abandoned phrase "third world" didn't account for grimmer conditions in a fourth and even fifth world of impoverished nations, "Two Americas" also doesn't quite cover the reality of the economic inequality that has been worsening in the United States. The terminology nonetheless resonated. If only it could be revived without the taint of being connected to you-know-who.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Smallest Farm Sunday

    Smallest Farm Sunday


    Major milestone on the Smallest Farm this week, as the first red tomato appears in the north garden. I'm felling lucky about that, too, as some kind of wilt has knocked out three plants, and the usual late-season brown crud is appearing early. I'm thinking it's a product of the over-wet weather. The healthe parts of the plant are now beyond head high.

    Oddly, the icky stuff is only on the plants I made an effort to plant. The volunteers all look healthy. But they're all doing better than the cucumbers, most of which have dried up and died the last couple weeks.


    The real farmers are saying the sweet corn is at about half of a normal year but I seem to be doing OK. Almost all the plants have tasseled, and the first ears are starting to appear.


    Over in Pepperland, my small hot pepper patch near the house, I'm starting to pick jalapenos. The habenero plants are going more slowly, but that's normal.

    Long bean

    The beans are plentify but here's one I haven't shown you before: an Asian style nicknamed "yard-long beans." They can get that big, but they taste better at 18 inches or so. Had some last night stirfroed with eggplant and zucchini.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Cardella Closes Committee

    Republicans Close Committees

    Remember six months ago when the Lori Cardella-Janelle Rettig special election was the hottest game in town? And remember how Cardella swore, after her 58%-39% loss, that she'd be back in the fall?

    Then you remember how the March filing deadline for the June primary came and went with no word?

    Sure, a convention is still a possibility. But last week, Cardella (R-Florida Solon) quietly closed her campaign's bank account (.pdf), donating her last hundred bucks to the Johnson County Republicans.

    The other Republican who looked at running for the Board of Supervisors, Chad Murphy, also closed his committee (.pdf again) last week, returning $170 to donors and the party.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Conlin Holds Her Own On Current Fundraising

    Conlin Holds Her Own On Current Fundraising

    It's federal campaign finance report day and O.Kay and Mike Glover look at the stats from the Senate race.

    Chuck Grassley has a huge cash on hand lead, sure, but most of that is from $5 million banked from 30 years of uncompetitive races, payment in kind for that Nay vote on Wall Street reform yesterday.

    But a challenger doesn't need to match an incumbent dollar for dollar. Conlin often says she knows she'll be outspent ("I've probably sued every one of the Fortune 500"), but she just needs to raise enough to be credible and visible. And in current fundraising the reflects the political climate of now rather than 1992, Roxanne is holding her own.

    She keeps this up maybe Grassley will have to condescend to debating more than twice.

    Triage Begins

    Triage Begins in Legislative Races

    All legislative races are not created equal. Both parties have their targeted races and marshal their resources as best they can to get to the magic numbers of 26 senators and 51 representatives. That means some races get left out in a brutal triage process.

    That process is getting started in earnest this week, as campaigns file finace reports, one of the key tangible benchmarks of a "serious"" race.

    Endorsements are beginning, too, and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) gives us a sneak peek at Republican priorities with their list.

    ABI is, not surprisingly, a GOP-leaning bunch, and most of their endorsements are for Republicans. But the interesting stuff here is on the fringes: which races got included, which ones got left out with a "no endorsement," and which handful of Democrats got their nod.

    On the Senate side, the targets look like Bill Heckroth, Staci Appel and Becky Schmitz, plus Steve Warnstadt and Ron Weick's open seats in Sioux City. Democrat Matt McCoy, the only out legislator, actually gets the business endorsement over insane Republican Dave Leach. And maybe the biggest surprise: Landslide Rich Olive, a 62 vote Democratic gain in 2006, gets ABI's nod.

    On the House side, the five members of the "Six Pack" of Democrats who opposed labor legislation (McKinley Bailey, Geri Huser, Brian Quirk, Doris Kelley, and Larry Marek) get ABI endorsements, perhaps in thanks. ABI is targeting the open seat of Dolores Mertz, but that's to be expected. Kelley is an interesting endorsement as it's a big slap at her GOP opponent Walt Rogers, who came within a handful of votes of Senator Jeff Danielson two years ago.

    Also dissed: Stu Iverson's comeback effort against Bailey.

    Indeed, the only GOP challenger on the House side I see with an ABI endorsement is Dan Rasmussen, making a comeback attempt against Gene Ficken, who knocked him off in 2008. There's big omissions, starting with Steve Burgmeier, who narrowly lost last year's Fairfield special to Curt Hanson in House 90. Also forgotten: Guy Vander Linden over Democrat Eric Palmer, in the Oskaloosa-Grinnell seat that's been hot the last few cycles, and Mark Lofgren in Muscatine's House 80, challenging Nate Reichert.

    So does this mean Republicans are trying to take the House on open seats? Or is ABI, by endorsing the Five Pack, hedging its bets? In either case, the open seat targets include the Sioux City races, Mary Ann Hanusa in Turncoat Doug Struyk's old turf, and Ross Paustian in Elesha Gayman's House 84.

    And in Waterloo, former mayor John Rooff gets no love in House 21, with a no endorsement over Democrat Anesa Kajtazovic in the open Kerry Burt seat.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Conlin's Main Street Not Wall Street Tour

    Conlin's Main Street Not Wall Street Tour


    testing 1 2 3 hello Cleveland!

    OK the technical difficulties are out of the way and I'm at the Waypoint School/Shelter Auditorium in downtown Cedar Rapids for Roxanne Conlins "protect Main St Not Wall St" event. Timely with Grassley's announcement that he's a NO on the financial reform bill.

    It's a vintage turn of the century (19th to 20th) venue and the only electricity is right at the stage. So I'm scrunched over to the side to stay out of the TV shots. One crew is here, presumably channel 9 (we're two blocks from the office)

    With that Rep Kirsten R-M handles the intro and Roxanne is on. Other honorables on hand include Bob Dvorsky, Supe Lu Barron and House challenger Mark Seidl.

    After that, praise for the volunteers and bits of the bio. ("I have been hungry because there was no food in the house," the bad ear, etc.) "I am so proud that after decades and decades the US has decided that health care is a right and not a privilege" gets good applause from the crowd of 60 or so. She's threading the biography through the contemporary issues.

    "I am the American dream," she says of her legal success. "I represent human beings, people who have been hurt and need justice. It has been a great way to spend my life and I had no intention of changing that." References the M$ case and notes that CR schools got about 6 million from that.

    "But then Senator Grassley came home after pretending to work for a bipartisan solution..." and dropped the Pull The Plug On Granma bomb. "He made me mad enough to run against him."

    "Today underlines another reason Grassley needs to find his way back to Butler County," she says getting to the billed headline. "Why didn't we give the bailout money to the families who couldn't pay their mortgages so the assets wouldn't be toxic anymore?" The banks haven't done what they promised; paid themselves instead.

    "Today Grassley announced that even though he voted to give Wall Street $700 billion, he's not going to vote to hold them accountable." (Crowd hisses in response.) "Senator GRassley is not paying attention to what the people of IA need. His face is turned to Wall Street."

    "We can't solve the deficit until people get back to work. Let's do that first." Notes that Bush tax cuts and Medicare Part D were on Grassley's watch.

    Wants to cut oil tax breaks and steer it to extended unemployment and green energy.

    "I'll spend all day every day not thinking about what's good for big oil or Wall Street, I'll be thinking about what's good for the people of IOwa. Special interests have had their turn, now it's our turn."

    Q & A: first questioner asks if Rox would want Obama to campaign for her; "absolutely." "It's going to take a little time to undo the last eight years."

    Questioner says Grassley's trying to make it sound like he thinks the wall street bill is too weak. "That's just an excuse for doing what Wall Street wants him to do."

    Debates question (Rox wants 12 Chuck offers 1 or 2) "Relying on 30 second ads doesn't help you to understand what each of us will do. We have an educated electorate and the senator should debate all across the state so he can tell the people why he felt it should be illegal for the govt to negotiate drug prices." And other items of the Grassley record. (such as Lilly Ledbetter bill) "His priorities are upside down."

    Crowd is younger than I usually see at a CR event.

    Next ? is financial stress of foster care. "Kids and families first for me if I'm your senator. Do you give tax breaks to the wealthy or shoes to kids? We need to reflect our values and priorities."

    Questioner challenges Rox for attacking Grassley on bailout bill. "Senator Obama voted for that bill," says questiner. "I'm aware many Democrats including my friend Tom Harkin voted for that bill, but that doesn't make it right." Did it work? No. "If we'd done t my way people would still be in their homes."

    Pitches signing up on the web site "so I can find you when the 30 second ads start, and they will be bad."

    "Senator Grassley still supports privatizing Social Security and do not let people forget that."

    We're winding down with the volunteer pitch. She'll be doorknocking in Marion 7/31. "Reach out to your own networks of people. You, personally, need to talk about this campaign and tell people how we can beat Chuck Grassley. It's co important that each of you take personal action to change our upside-down priorities." Bob Dvorsky makes the Vote Early pitch.

    So we wind down after about an hour.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Branstad Unites The Party

    The Great Unificator

    Terry Branstad is uniting the party.

    No, not his own party, where the number three guy from the primary thinks it's 50-50 that the number two guy from the primary will number two all over Branstad and run third party.

    No, the party Branstad is uniting is the Democratic Party.

    When he lists labor bills and says “All of those ideas are dead when I become governor,” and when he pledges to end project labor agreements, the unions that have been lukewarm to Chet Culver come home in droves.

    NPR moves Iowa Senate Race

    Another handicapper moves Conlin up a notch

    Roxanne Conlin continues her slow and steady climb, as another horserace handicapper rates the Iowa Senate race as more competitive.

    NPR's "Political Junkie" Ken Rudin, an electoral trivia geek with a sense of humor, wrote on Friday:
    I can't imagine Sen. Charles Grassley (R) not being returned to office. But he does have a serious opponent, and so I'm moving this from Safe Republican to Republican Favored.
    Conlin starts a two-day "Protect Main Street Not Wall Street" town hall trip tomorrow to emphasize "Grassley's support for Wall Street over the interest of Iowans."

    In another sign that Conlin's being taken more seriously... she's being taken less seriously. I don't want to give this more attention than it deserves, but the Iowa rightosphere is fixated on Conlin's figure. My thoughts at the Register; Krusty and iowasnewzliter are unrepentant.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Linux Monday

    Linux Monday: Software anarchy in the UK

    From David Cameron's suggestion box:
    Annul the government’s agreement with Microsoft to provide software and operating systems (OS) to government departments and switch to open source software and Linux based operating systems. This would reduce costs by: Reducing the need to update hardware in line with new Microsoft OS releases. Linux OS and open source software has a lower whole life cost and is less susceptible to viruses. Support a more diverse spectrum of the IT industry, instead of one corporation; generating additional UK tax revenue.
    Apparently being taken seriously.

    For the super geeky, the anatomy of the kernel.

    Ans some speculative fiction that's worth working through the Babelfish translation: if, in an alternate universe where Linux is the ruling OS, how would we react to Windows?

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Marek draws challenge from left

    Marek draws challenge from left

    One of the toughest Iowa House races just got tougher for one of the "six pack" of conservative Democrats who opposed several must-pass labor bills. Rep. Larry Marek (D-Riverside) has drawn a challenge from left.

    David Smithers of Wellman says he is running on a platform of economic justice. "I have run for about a dozen elections in my lifetime. I always place last," he told Facebook friends. "I will run to win. But I've already staked out a position that a lot of people will not accept. I'm jut gonna be a teacher, and see what happens."

    Smithers initially announced his candidacy on the Green Party line, but now says he may use the label "Iowa Labor Coalition." Either way, 50 signatures gets him on the ballot.

    The third party candidacy adds a new twist to the rematch between Marek and Republican Jarad Klein. Marek prevailed by just 157 votes in the banner Democratic year of 2008, to take over Sandy Greiner's open Republican seat. Thus the loss of just a handful of votes could seal Marek's fate.

    The district includes all of Washington County, which had about 70% of the voters. The rest are in southwestern Johnson County and northeast Jefferson County.

    The challenge from the left comes late, but is not a total shock. There was some buzz last winter about finding a primary challenger for Marek.

    Marek had all-out top-tier party support in 2008. This year, area Democrats are emphasizing support for two Fairfield Democrats: Sen. Becky Schmitz, who has a hot race against Greiner, and special election winner Rep. Curt Hanson, who has a rematch with Steve Burgmaier. The seemingly deliberate omission of Marek, who represents the northern half of Schmitz's turf, is glaringly obvious.

    The case against a drinking age

    The case against a drinking age

    I'm not a big fan of the privatize the street lights school of libertarianism, and I shudder at the words "Austrian school." But every so often the anarchists of the right get it:
    Somehow, and no one seems to even imagine how, this country managed to survive and thrive before 1984 without a national minimum drinking age. Before that, the drinking question was left to the states. is only because we are somehow used to it that we accept the complete absurdity of a national law that prohibits the sale of beer, wine, and liquor to anyone under the age of 21. This is a restriction unknown in the developed world. Most countries set 18 as the limit, and countries like Germany and Austria allow 16-year-olds to buy wine and beer.
    Must-read for all Iowa Citians between now and November 2...

    Friday, July 09, 2010

    Dems talking 2012 calendar

    Too. Damn. Early. That's. More. Like. It.

    UPDATE 2 from Norm: "February 6, 2012 is the recommended date." From too. damn. early. to the early edge of reasonable.

    Dems talking 2012 calendar
    Iowa would hold its caucuses on Jan. 12, Nevada on Jan. 16. New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary would be Jan. 19, with the South Carolina primary on Jan. 26.

    All others would hold their primaries and caucuses after Feb. 2, 2012. Scofflaw states would see their influence within the party slashed by half.
    UPDATE: Norm Sterzenbach of IDP responds VERY quickly: "This not the date. AP is wrong. Using old rules not proposed rules."

    And that's now, a year and a half out. What happens when Michigan decides to prove its point (whatever that is besides Iowa Sucks) again? And how does this mesh with Republican plans to have the early states (at least it's the same four states) in February, not January?

    And the 50 percent penalty didn't stop states from leapfrogging on the GOP side in 2008. Nor will it work on the Democratic side, not after the last-second cave-in to Florida and Michigan in 2008. You get no delegates... oh, wait, I guess you get all your delegates after all.

    January 12 is a Thursday, like January 3, 2008 was. (That also puts New Hampshire on a Thursday, very unusual for any sort of American election.) February 6 is back to the traditional Monday. I thought that having the caucus on a weekend, like we did in 2010, was supposed to be a big part of the plan to stay first. Perhaps the Jewish Sabbath issue was a factor. Or maybe the extra-low attendance at the 2010 Saturday caucuses-though if we had a real nomination fight we could have them at 3 AM and people would show up.

    My gut check is that none of this matters much, since the 2011-12 cycle is going to be Republican-driven anyway.

    The other development:
    The panel also prepared to discuss superdelegates, the party elders who can back candidates regardless of voters' wishes. In 2008, about a fifth of the delegates to the nominating convention in 2008 were superdelegates.

    "It will reduce the overall percentage" of super delegates, said Alexis Herman...
    Notice she said "overall percentage," not raw number. So, does that mean, instead of taking those plum superdelegate seats away from the pezzonovante, they increase the number of elected delegates above and beyond the current way too huge size? Apparently so:
    ...Add 81 unpledged add-on delegates to the base pledged delegate total and convert 614 alternates to pledged delegates – this would add about 700 delegates...
    Like I've long said: the problem with getting rid of superdelegates entirely is that the congressman doesn't have to run against the 19 year old kid, because the congressman will win and look mean.

    Thursday, July 08, 2010

    What Enthusiasm Gap?

    What Enthusiasm Gap?

    Not with Sue Dvorsky in charge. Dems new Fearless Leader talks to Glover and Obradovich and the energy jumps off the page. How many party chairs have you heard talk about the gnats gnibbling the field staffers?

    We're also glad to know Bob's safely back from Scotland.

    Meanwhile, The GOP circular firing squad is still at it. Kim Reynolds, apparantly tring to win over BVP supporters by visiting Pizza Ranches, is getting bashed for not being anti-choice enough:
    "I’m also troubled by her inability to see at the very least the moral equivalency between an abortion and somebody getting stabbed outside Pizza Ranch. Actually, abortion is worse in that in most cases the person outside Pizza Ranch can cry for help, fight back, etc. An unborn baby can’t even do that. Senator Reynolds’ position(s) do not appear to be undergirded with a well thought out worldview"

    Tuesday, July 06, 2010

    Chutzpah Award to Iowa GOP

    Iowa GOP Tries to Brag about Divisive Primary

    Ever hear the old joke about the lawyer who has to defend the guy who murdered his parents, and pleads for mercy from the jury because his client is an orphan? The latest Iowa GOP press release reminds me of that one.

    After a high turnout primary so divisive that, a month later, the number two guy not only hasn't endorsed the winner but is still threatening to run third party, the press flacks are bragging about their registration numbers increasing.

    That's like saying your store's business is up because so many people are coming through the front door, but half of them are lined up at the complaint counter. How many of those folks will be taking their business across the street, or not shopping at all, this fall?

    Football Favors Incumbents?

    Go Hawks - I think

    From the too dumb to make this up files:
    The success of major college teams in the two weeks before an election can have a measurable impact on how well incumbent politicians do at the polls...
    Well, more accurately there's a correlation. Much as Pastafarians blame global warming on the decline in pirates.
    The researchers found that wins in the two weeks before an election boosted the vote share of incumbents in the county where a school is located by 1.05 to 1.47 percentage points - enough to make a difference in a close race.

    And for teams they termed "powerhouses" the impact was even greater, giving the incumbents between 2.30 and 2.42 percentage points more than in years when the local team lost. Powerhouses were defined as teams that had won a national football championship since 1964, or were among the teams with average attendance of 70,000 or more from 1998 to 2008.
    The Hawkeyes are just on the cusp of that powerhouse status, with Kinnick at a capacity of just over 70,000 and almost always full.

    In any case, the Hawks have home games the last two Saturdays before this election. So incumbents Chet Culver and Dave Loebsack may be cheering loudly to boost that margin out of Johnson County, but challenger Roxanne Conlin is in a tough spot.

    As for me, I was convinced that the Packers beating the Redskins in Washington was the key to sweep John Kerry to victory.

    Linux Tuesday: Practical Application

    Linux Tuesday: Practical Application

    We skipped Linux Monday last week, no doubt to the relief of some readers, because I was in the midst of a large and actually practical Linux project. For the first time in about five years, my basement is free of computers in semi-working condition. With the investment of $15 or so in some used hard drives (Goodwill Reboot, good deals on parts) a half-dozen Linux machines are up and flying at Democratic HQ, appropriately being used to elect Microsoft-suer Roxanne Conlin and the rest of the ticket.

    Biggest bump in the road was on a really ancient machine (400 MHz processer, started with 96 meg of memory but I upgraded to 512). I managed to install Ubuntu 10.04 but it was painfully slow, so I downgraded to the previous long term support release, 8.04.

    We could still use a couple monitors.

    I don't think anyone down at HQ will be rocking the command line but if they were here's a half dozen Command Line Tools for Linux Performance Monitoring. If things are running slow on desktop Linux, 99 times out of 100 Firefox is the culprit.

    Matt Hartley is not an Ubuntu fan and recommends three other distributions.

    FOr the really, really specialized, here's 12 unusual distros.

    Finally, Linux from hell. Literally.

    Monday, July 05, 2010

    Smallest Farm Monday

    Smallest Farm Monday

    My whole schedule for the week is off but here's what's happening in the garden.


    The pumpkin patch is stretching aggressively south and west, with possible interference to the path behind the tomatoes. But we do have our first little giant pumpkin.


    Two of the tomato plants got some kind of funky wilt-rot thing and I had to pull them. Watching the neighbors closely to see if it spreads. But the survivors - both the deliberately planted and the too many to count volunteers - are producing nicely.

    Still having wabbit issues with the peppers and now the eggplants. I think the tomatoes and squash family are are the only major crops I can get away with outside the fencing. If I have time in November - it's a narrow opportunity between the election and the snow - I may move the fencing of the north garden to the south.

    We're within a week, I'm guessing, of the first pickable zucchini.

    The peas are pretty much done. In three or four weeks I'm going to try a second crop; I've never succeeded in fall peas but snap peas are my favorite eating thing in the whole garden.


    My gavorite growing thing is pole beans. In the south garden I picked the first beans Friday and more Sunday, and July 3 is the earliest I've ever picked beans by at least two weeks. Keeping up will soon be a major effort, but with the mulberries now nearing the end of season bean picking should replace berry picking.

    I failed to get a decent photo of corn and my knees yesterday (that old adage predates modern hybrid varieties anyway) but my tallest stalks are more like waist height.

    Sunday, July 04, 2010

    4th of July in Coralville

    4th of July Dems in Coralville


    The Johnson County Dems had a big name guest in this year's Coralville parade: Governor Chet Culver. That bumped us up way near the front of the parade, so we were done before some of the units were even out of the parking lot.

    As usual I ran backwards and took the pictures, and lots of good Democrats didn't happen to be in my shots that turned out.


    Here's Bob Dvorsky just strolling out of the shot near the governor.


    It's not the 4th in Coralville without Dick Myers in the white suit.


    Continuing the fine tradition of motorcycling legislators from Coralville, we have Dave Jacoby.



    In the crowd

    Here's what it looked like in the middle of the Dems contingent. (Our up front slot meant I never got a good look at the other team.)

    Further back

    Great to have Brian Flaherty back from his international adventures; here he is with the Rosemans.


    Joe Bolkcom and Sue Dvorsky with the governor.

    Front  row

    Representing for the courthouse on the front row: Sullivan, Harney, Kriz and Painter.


    Mary Mascher at the wheel.

    Post-parade we had a nice get-together with the governor over at the Dvorsky home, before Culver had to take off for the Iowa Falls parade (which, unfortunately, got rained out).

    Saturday, July 03, 2010

    Bar Group Picks Funny Name

    Bar Group Picks Funny Name

    So the pro-21 group is called 21 Makes Sense. That's hilarious.

    There's almost universal off the record acknowledgement, including from multiple members of said committee, that the 21 year old drinking age doesn't make sense, both because of its inconsistency with other ages of majority and because it's an unworkable failure. Even in public, the strongest defenses boil down to "well, it's the law" and the usual excuses about federal highway money.

    Still, it's not as hilarious as Student Health Initiative Taskforce was.

    I don't believe there's an "underage" drinking problem in downtown Iowa City. There's a problem with the drinking age. There's also an alcohol abuse problem, but that's a separate issue that can't be addressed effectively or realistically until we deal with the problem of the bad drinking age law. But neither side seems to be interested in going there.

    Friday, July 02, 2010

    Libertarians to oppose Dvorsky

    Libertarians to oppose Dvorsky

    The Libertarian Party seems to be on a candidate recruiting roll this week and now has a second legislative candidate in Johnson County.

    Christopher Peters, a surgeon with Mercy Hospital, has announced his candidacy against Senate Appropriations chair Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) in Senate District 15.

    Peters says he is unlikely to win but wants "to use this campaign as an opportunity to discuss issues.

    "There was no particular reason for running against Senator Dvorsky," said Peters. "If there were an incumbent Republican in the same seat, who also failed to exemplify core Libertarian principles, I would have run against him or her."

    "Now, more than ever, we need Iowans to reaffirm their individual sovereignty, and to demand that our State Government reassert its sovereignty, to protect our rights and promote our prosperity," Peters writes on his web site.

    Peters is the second Johnson County Libertarian to announce this week. He joins Dustin Krutsinger, who plans to oppose Rep. Dave Jacoby in House District 30 (which is the southern half of Senate 15). The two have until August 13 to file.

    The Libertarians have never opposed Dvorsky before, but have run state House candidates in the two halves of his district before. They drew 16 percent against Dave Jacoby in House District 30 in 2004, and 20 percent against Ro Foege in House 29 (then numbered 50 with slightly different lines) in 2000. For their part, Republicans (who still have no legislative candidates in the five core Iowa City/Coralville districts) last ran against Dvorsky in 2002 and came away with 39%.

    Peters is currently registered as a Republican, and attended the Democratic caucuses in January 2008. He said he was raised as a Republican but grew disgusted by George W. Bush's presidency. "We changed our party allegiance to Democrat. I caucused for Obama (my wife for Clinton), and both of us voted for Obama in the general election in 2008. Since then, we have felt that Obama is simply carrying on Bush's policies, and that there is little of substance between the two parties," said Peters, who says he changed to Libertarian but then changed again to Republican to vote in the recent primary, and intends to change again soon.

    "This year's primary season was largely about Republican candidates. In the future, if the reverse is true, I imagine I will find myself switching party allegiance to Democrat to vote in their primaries," he said.

    Thursday, July 01, 2010

    Narcisse Picks Running Mate

    What, Vander Plaats Wasn't Available?

    Jonathan Narcisse picks Republican primary loser for running mate. Just not the one you know:
    Narcisse, 46, selected Wayland resident Rick Marlar as his lieutenant governor running mate. He plans to gather more than 1,500 signatures to get is name on the ballot before an August deadline, he said.

    Marlar, 57, is a truck driver and former pilot. He ran unsuccessfully this year in a Republican primary for a state Senate seat.
    Unsuccessful as in 12 percent in a three way race that Sandy Greiner won with 2/3 of the vote. He's also unsuccessful at breaking thoughts into paragraphs.