Thursday, July 15, 2010

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.

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