Friday, September 30, 2011

Wasserman Schultz kicks off Iowa Tour

Wasserman Schultz kicks off Iowa Tour

"This is a battleground state and you are going to see us here again and again, from the top of the ticket on down," Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told an Iowa City crowd as she kicked off a weekend long fundraising trip across Iowa.

The Florida congresswoman is following up with events for colleagues Bruce Braley and Leonard Boswell and challenger Christie Vilsack.

Wasserman Schultz said the job of DNC chair is largely messaging, "and I'm no shrinking violet." She was a regular fixture on talk shows through 2008, first for Hillary Clinton and then just as enthusiastically for Barack Obama once the nomination was settled. The president asked Wasserman Schultz to chair the DNC earlier this year, when former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine stepped down to run for U.S. Senate.

Obama "inherited the most problems of any president since FDR and Lincoln," said DWS (I'm going to abbreviate from here on out) "We short circuited the economic decline and began to turn things around. We have to focus on jobs and getting the economy turned around, and we need to pass the president's American Jobs Act. Every aspect of that bill has part proposed by people on both sides."

Loebsack agreed: "It's jobs and the economy. That's what people are talking about. People want us to work where we can with the other side without sacrificing our principles and our districts."

That can be difficult in today's House, said DWS. "It's hard to understand substantively why (Republicans) would oppose the president's bill. They're opposed because it would improve the economy and help re-elect the president. They only care about ONE job: his."

Loebsack credited DWS and other members of a House "30 Something group," which gave end of day House floor speeches in 2005 and 2006, with helping his upset win. ""That 30 Something group deconstructed the Bush administration and laid the groundwork for my victory and the House takeover of 2006."

But DWS cautioned Loebsack supporters gathered at Hy Joseph's west side home, "Let's not get too comfortable. They are coming after him. His district actually lost a couple points of Democratic performance."

DWS acknowledged progressive disappointment during Obama's first term. "I voted for the public option three times," she said, as Loebsack nodded approval. "The Senate wouldn't pass it. But I wasn't going to take my ball and go home without a health care bill, like some people suggested. That's what the other side does."

Loebsack informed DWS that Q & A time is mandatory in Johnson County. Some highlights:

  • "Don't believe the hype that this is the year that the Republican Party is going to cut into the Jewish vote" in Florida and elsewhere. ""We will make sure the Jewish community turns out strong and turns out for Democrats." DWS also added that swing state Florida's senior citizen community is "not where you want to be for abolishing Medicare."

  • In the post-Howard Dean era "the 50 state strategy has continued. I'm a huge backer of it not being a top-down approach."

  • Asked about Democratic messaging as opposed to tea party rhetoric: "The Democratic Party is never going to be the party of simple solutions to complex problems."

  • "There are 61 seats held by Republicans that were won by either Barack Obama or John Kerry. 47 of them were won by both. We have to win 25 to take back the House."

    Also on hand to rally the troops was Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky. Talk invariably turned to the Battle of Marion.

    "We heard about it at 8:00 Friday morning," said Dvorsky. We had a field plan for Senate District 18 by 10:00 and a website by noon. The governor didn't even announce the appointment till 5:00."

    Loebsack said Linn County Democrats "have talked to Liz Mathis for years trying to get her to run for office."

    "I don't think anyone knew the depth of the vitriol and the hatred that would be unleashed" by Obama's election, said Dvorsky. "But the people who lift that heavy load every day know that. The narrowness of the path and the heaviness of the lift is pulling Democrats together."

    (Pics look better at Facebook gallery; still suffering from the Hacked Layout Blues)
  • Florida Official for January 31

    Florida Official for January 31

    Get ready for January 2 or January 10, Iowans: Florida is officially flouting the rules and going a full five weeks early on January 31. And they have the nerve to point the finger elsewhere:
    Lopez Cantera said that if other states hadn't moved their primaries early, Florida would not have been "boxed in" and forced (sic) to move up its date.

    "I want to make it very clear out intentions of being fifth have been public for months,'' he said. "The narrative that is going to come out of this will probably be about Florida but it really should be about the other states -- Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona. When they moved their dates they kind of cornered us into this date based on our fully transparent intentions of being fifth in the country."
    Matt Strawn was swift to respond:
    The consequences of Florida's intransigence must be swift and severe, including the refusal by the RNC to credential or seat any member of Florida's presidential primary date commission at the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa
    Note that location. Want to get serious, GOP? Start talking about moving that convention.

    You know who else shouldn't be seated? The Democrat who made the motion to hold the primary January 3:
    The other Democrat on the panel, former Sen. Al Lawson of Tallahassee initially moved to set Jan. 3 as the primary date, arguing that the Florida shouldn't have to "take a back seat to any state. We are a mega state.'' he said. He withdrew the motion.
    To their credit, the two other Dems on the 6 R, 3 D panel voted for March 6. the first day allowed under rules agreed to by both parties.

    SO what does this do for us? Frontloading HQ offers multiple nightmare scenarios. (Post was written Wednesday; in the interim Georgia has opted to follow the rules and go on March 6.) Also noted:
    New Hampshire law, as mentioned above, requires a seven day buffer on either side of its primary. An exception was made in 2007, and another one may have to be made in 2011. Why? Well, the Nevada Republican Party over the summer tethered their caucuses to New Hampshire, requiring that the caucuses be set on the Saturday after New Hampshire. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has already said that that would not work for the Granite state.
    That exception, of course, was for us going five days before New Hampshire in order to stay in calendar 2008. But Gardner seems pretty adamant about seven days AFTER.

    So the best case scenario for Iowa:
    January 31: cheaters
    January 28: South Carolina, which has done non-Tuesday elections in the past
    January 24: Nevada
    January 17: New Hampshire
    Tuesday, January 10: us. Monday January 9 is the BCS championship which probably x's that date.

    But if South Carolina insists on a Tuesday, we get:
    January 31: cheaters
    January 24: South Carolina
    January 17: Nevada
    January 10: New Hampshire
    Monday, January 2: us, or possibly Tuesday the 3rd.
    South Carolina won't announce anything today.

    Also in the mess; Missouri didn't manage to get its law changed it got caught up between the Democratic governor and GOP legislature over photo ID and other such issues. So they're on February 7, which was the 2008 Super Tuesday. But they've made it a no-delegate beauty contest and will have caucuses in March. And with Florida cheating so much worse, Missouri is no longer a factor in the early state dates.

    And I never trust Michigan (currently February 28) until everyone's date is 100% locked in.

    You know who we have to blame for this? The Democrats who refused to enforce the party rules last time. Michigan and Florida should have been booted from the convention. Then states would be following the rules this year. Dems don't have much say in it this year, but it's worth a mention to Debbie Wasserman Schultz if you run into her this weekend.

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    No Winners in Coup Attempt

    No Winners in Republican Coup Attempt

    That didn't last long:
    A state Republican senator’s call for a vote to oust his party’s leader who is on a 37th-anniversary trip in Italy with his wife has been canceled.

    The meeting was called for today by Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock.

    Dix, who has not returned calls this week and this morning seeking comment, did not specifically say in the e-mail that he is seeking to knock Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton from the top spot but his peers have said that is their understanding of his intention.
    Thus the third coup attempt against a sitting Iowa Senate Republican leader in five years has ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Craig Robinson at TheIowaRepublican says the attempt failed because Dix was "unable to secure the necessary votes to oust McKinley."

    Dix forgot the Ralph Waldo Emerson Rule about coup d'etats: "When you strike at a king, you must kill him." If he didn't have the votes, he shouldn't have called the meeting. (Or DID he have the votes, only to lose them when it went public?) The very public airing of dissatisfaction, followed by the failure, leaves the very ambitious Dix in a weakened position.

    But it's not a win for McKinley either, as his own weak position is exposed. Robinson again: "As the leader of his caucus, he is the number one fundraiser Republicans have, yet he’s vacationing, and major Republican donors have not heard from the Senate Republican Leader in months." There's a persistent rumor that big money is waiting to come into the Iowa Senate GOP's coffers, but it's contingent on new leadership.

    One more gem from Robinson:
    "There is no way to sugarcoat what has transpired in the last few days. If you don’t realize how dysfunctional things are, all you need to know is that the Republican House Leaders are leading the effort in Senate District 18, not Senate leadership."
    Some of that's an accident of geography, as half of Senate 18 is the district of Speaker Kraig Paulsen. But some of that is disengagement by the vacationing McKinley. In fairness, this is supposed to be off-season for legislative elections, but when you're in leadership and a situation like this occurs, you need to change plans.

    So Republicans are off to a bumpy start in the Battle of Marion. First, Senate 18 Republicans nominated the weakest and least well known of three candidates, now this. Meanwhile, Democrats are united, unanimously nominating a 100% name ID candidate, former TV anchor Liz Mathis, last night.

    Caucus seasons invariably divide parties, as usually stable alliances are splintered by the high stakes of the presidential contest,. But there's more going on here, and this week's events are just one more piece of evidence that the internal strife in the Iowa GOP is at seam-bursting levels.

    Day Four Of The Ugly

    Day Four Of The Ugly

    The unintended Deeth Blog redesign continues onto a fourth day, just as I get a big shout-out in the Daily Iowan. New visitors: it's supposed to look a lot nicer than this.

  • Democrats formally nominated Liz Mathis for the Battle of Marion last night. Missed this a few days back: right blog Under The Golden Gnome (heh) calls the GOP nomination of Cindy Golding a "debacle" :
    When it is abundantly clear that you need to swing for the fences to win the game for the home team (Pachyderms), make sure you don’t grab the bat nicknamed “Batshitcrazy”.
  • Great roundup in the Manchester Union Leader on New Hampshire reaction to Florida's calendar cheating. An infight among the official early states:
    Nevada Republicans during the summer quietly decided to hold their caucus on “the Saturday after New Hampshire,” regardless of when that occurs.

    “So if New Hampshire moves, we move,” wrote Nevada GOP Chair Amy Tarkanian, the daughter-in-law of former University of Nevada-Las Vegas men's basketball coach Jerry “Tark the Shark” Tarkanian, in an early September memo to her local party faithful.

    In New Hampshire, Gardner told us two weeks ago that his position on Nevada has not changed and he would set the New Hampshire Primary date at least seven days ahead of its caucuses.
    And political consequences:
    “This (Florida jump to January) effectively precludes Sarah Palin and anyone else from getting into the race, and it's unfortunate for the Republican Party and for democracy. It also makes it much more daunting for any candidate who doesn't have huge cash reserves to be able to compete and capitalize on an early state win.”
  • In UHeights, it's all about the condos.

  • And condolences to state senator Tom Rielly of Oskaloosa, whose father, retired judge James Rielly, passed away.
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Tech Update

    Tech Update

    Well the good news is that the good folks at Google/Blogger tech support have figured out what's wrong. The bad newses are 1) yes, my account was hacked and 2) no one's quite sure how to fix it yet.

    The part I can't figure out is why anyone would hack my account and then just mess with layout. I'd think they would have replaced all my content with REPUBLICANS RULE DEMOCRATS DROOL or something. (Bonus points for all who get the reference. Only parents will.)

    In the meantime, Craig Robinson has a must-read insider perspective up on the Dix vs. McKinley civil war.

    Florida wants January 31 primary

    Happy New Year In Des Moines

    Here we go again:
    Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon told CNN on Tuesday that a state commission exploring potential primary dates is likely to choose January 31 to hold the nominating contest.

    If that happens, it would almost certainly force the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to leapfrog Florida and move their primaries and caucuses into early- to mid-January.
    The RNC doesn't have the full death penalty Democrats has (but then didn't enforce) last cycle: the loss of all delegates. No matter when they go, they lose only half. But their is another powerful weapon:
    States that ignore the RNC rules are subject to losing half of their delegates -- party representatives who ultimately choose the nominee -- to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, next August.
    Calendar cheaters shouldn't get to be convention hoists.
    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and other GOP officials have been aggressively lobbying Florida Gov. Rick Scott and state legislative leaders to move the primary back to February 21 in a last-ditch effort to protect the integrity of the nominating calendar, sources told CNN.

    But members of the Florida commission remain wary of states like Colorado, Georgia and Missouri, which are threatening to hold primaries or caucuses before February 21.
    Unfortunately Florida, as the largest swing state, is kind of an 800 pound gorilla here. So what does this mean for me, Al Franken... I mean us, Iowa?

    We're in a little better shape than we were when it was Arizona looking at January 31, when everything had to dovetail perfectly to keep Iowa in calendar 2012. But we're also a little more confused. Remember, the Official order is Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, everyone else. Two basic scenarios:

  • South Carolina goes a week before Florida on January 24. This puts Nevada on Saturday the 21st or maybe Tuesday 1/17. New Hampshire will insist on a full week and a traditional Tuesday, which means the 10th. That puts us in the first week of January: Monday the 2nd if we insist on eight days, Thursday the 5th if we want to move away from New Year's Day a bit.

  • If South Carolina goes with a Saturday, which they've done before, make it the 28th. Put Nevada on Tuesday the 24th, New Hampshire on the 17th, and us in the second week of January: Monday 1/9, Tuesday 1/10, or Thursday 1/12.

    Saturday is the RNC's Official deadline for date picking... but who cares about rules anyway?
  • Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Dix Challenging McKinley

    Dozens of Iowa Senate Republican leaders spontaneously combust each year, it's just not widely reported

    It's been in the rumor mill for some time. Now, smack dab in the middle of he Battle of Marion, it's happening:
    Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, e-mailed Republican senators today to call for a meeting Thursday morning to discuss the special Nov. 8 election to fill the senate seat vacated recently by Democrat Swati Dandekar, who was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa Utilities Board.

    “In full disclosure, I will also be calling for a leadership election,” Dix wrote.
    Also heard in the rumor mill: The ambitious Dix, who ran for Congress in 2006, has his sights set higher than Senate leadership.

    Also also heard: There's $$$ targeted to the Senate Republicans--but it's money that's contingent on Paul McKinley getting replaced. Which is probably why this is happening now, in the middle of the special election. Still, isn't there a way to do it without me and every other Democrat in the state reading about it in the Register?

    Iowa Senate Republican leader has the job security of Spinal Tap drummer combined with a career advancement plan copied from the Klingon officer corps. You know, back when the Klingons were Bad Guys and not Noble Warriors.

  • End of the tied 25-25 2006 session: Stew Iverson deposed by Mary Lundby y a one-vote margin.
  • 2007: Lundby steps down for health reasons, replaced by Ron Weick.
  • After 2008 election: Weick blamed for losses, deposed by Paul McKinley.

    So McKinley lived by the sword and may die by the sword. Still, at three years tenure he's outlasted Gilderoy Lockhart, Remus Lupin and Fake Mad-Eye Moody combined.

    Notice that both of the deposed leaders left the Senate itself after their downfall. If McKinley's tossed, I'd bet on him NOT seeking re-election next year, which could lead to some seat shuffling on his GOP-friendly Iowa turf.

    This will move quick, and McKinley is on vacation out of the country. How conVENient. Who can count to 13 votes the fastest?
  • Fourth Contender in House 36

    McCormally Fourth Contender in House 36

    First up: Yes, I know the Deeth Blog looks weird today. Trying to get to the bottom of the tech issues.

    The line is starting to form around the block in open House District 36, a solid (registration edge over 4000) Democratic seat in northwest Des Moines that Janet Petersen is leaving for a pretty much sure thing Senate bid. And the world is so small that two contenders have ties to Attorney General Tom Miller's office.

    Candidate 4 is John McCormally, a prosecutor in the office. (Johnson County folks will remember him from a couple stints as a staffer and from his radio days.) Another candidate, Marti Anderson, is the former director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division and is married to Bob Brammer, longtime Miller spokesperson. The other twocontenders are Cara Kennedy-Ode and William Rock.

    Soon after Map Day, Kathie Obradovich noted that six names were in the mix. Four of them have since announced; the other two are Patty Link and Kent Sovern.

    Again, to hammer this point home: if no candidate gets 35% in the primary, the nomination gets settled at a convention of central committee members from the district, the same way they do it for special elections. And if you were a "Republican for a day" in January or December or next week or whenever the caucuses are, you won't be at that convention.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Fish may challenge Muhlbauer

    Fish and Tea

    No not a British menu: Carroll County ambulance director Bill Fish says he may be challenging Rep.Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manning, in Iowa House District 12, reports KCIM radio.

    The word comes from a Carroll County supervisors meeting, where Fish was looking for the okee-dokee from his boss(es): "Fish told the supervisors he would look to take a leave of absence from the EMS."

    Also of interest: the relationship between Fish and the tea party.
    Fish will run as a Republican and says he doesn’t want to be labeled a member of the tea party which he says isn’t a party it’s more of a conservative movement in the Republican Party. Fish believes in limited government and says he has issues with the state and their handling of some education issues and believes there are some federal issues with healthcare that he feels should be handled at the state level. Fish has spoke at Tea Party functions in Carroll and helped organize some aspects of the party in Carroll County.
    The Carroll, Iowa Tea Party site lists Fish as one of six "founding members." (Heading a government agency seems like an odd career path for a tea partier.)

    Muhlbauer scored the only legislative seat gain for Iowa Democrats last year, by a solid margin. The Carroll-based seat opened up with Rod Roberts' run for governor, and Republicans went hard right with "worst candidate ever" Daniel Dirkx. This created an opening for Muhlbauer, whose dad preceded him in the legislature.

    Muhlbauer has cut a conservaDem path in the House. He voted with the GOP on marriage equality and nuclear power votes, and was the only Democrat to support Kim Pearson's total abortion ban bill that even most Republicans opposed.

    Carroll County still dominates this swing district. Muhlbauer also keeps a more or less the same chunk of a few townships in western Crawford, up to but not including Denison. He drops the small piece of Sac (which he lost to Dirkx) to Republican Gary Worthan and instead gets all of Audubon County. The changes turn a 195 Republican registration edge into a 495 voter advantage to the Democrats.

    Mullen to Challenge Ward in Senate 22

    Mullen to Challenge Ward in Senate 22

    Senator Pat Ward isn't going to get away with her move into Senate District 22 without a fight. Christianist megachurch pastor Jeff Mullen has announced a primary... well, kind of a challenge.

    Ward found herself paired up in redistricting with Democrat Matt McCoy in a strong Democratic district, and announced on Map Day afternoon (March 31) that she was moving west into this friendlier (R+ 3389) turf.

    But the right wasn't satisfied with Ward's relatively moderate record. (Bleeding Heartland has an excellent overview.) At one point it was rumored that radio host Steve Deace, who lives just blocks outside the lines, was interested.

    Instead the right seems to be going with Mullen, of Point of Grace Church in Waukee. This is a political parish: Michele Bachman stopped by last month, and Mullen followed up with a gay-bashing sermon.

    This is a new district both in the political sense and in the just constructed, no big old trees in the yard sense. Waukee grew from just over 5,000 people in the 2000 census to nearly 14,000 in 2010. Ward keeps Clive, Windsor Heights and the Dallas County piece of West Des Moines.

    Amidst all this tea and cat fud on the GOP side, Democrat Desmund Adams waits. This is the kind of seat that should be solid for the Republicans but can turn blue with the right Democrat, the right climate aand the wrong Republican.

    Colorado Cheating on Caucus Date

    Colorado Cheating on Caucus Date

    Throw out your old calendars and start from scratch. With a Saturdat "deadline" from the Republican National Committee for setting primary and caucus dates, this week is thw two minute drill for the calendar cheaters.

    The latest entry: Colorado, which scheduled itself for February 7. Which, as you know, is the day adter the Official We Really Mean It date for Iowa. Missouri is also in the mix for that first Tuesday in February, which was √úberdeinstag in 2008.

    If Colorado gets away with it, and Florida sticks with We Want To Be Fifth, we're back to an early January caucus.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Saturday Tab Clearout

    Saturday Tab Clearout

    Here's a few things I tweeted earlier or which otherwise don't rate a whole post:

  • Michele Bachmann was all eager to help Cindy "The Other One" Golding in the Battle of Marion, but Golding isn't so sure she wants the "help."

  • Leonard Boswell casts another Blue Dog vote.

  • With the dropout of 45 year old Thaddeus McCotter, "Obama is likely to still be the youngest candidate in the field as all of the Republican challengers who have announced a bid for their party’s nomination are older than he is."

  • The calendar cheaters in Florida still aren't picking a primary date.

  • How the GOP became the anti-SCIENCE! party: "These four factors — anti-liberalism, anti-intellectualism, religious conservatism, and corporate self-interest — create a such a climate within the Republican Party that even those inclined to accept scientific evidence feel cowed or remain silent. Or like Jon Huntsman, they can run for president and garner a mere one percent in the public opinion polls."
  • Friday, September 23, 2011

    Fraise Retires in Senate 42

    Fraise Retires in Senate 42

    Longtime Sen. Gene Fraise (D-Ft. Madison) has announced he will retire next year after 26 years, which means an open seat race in Senate District 42.

    Not a huge surprise here: Fraise turns 80 before election day 2012. The seat has a good Democratic Registration edge of 3500. Fraise had a bit of a close call in 2004, held to 53%, but ahainst the same opponent in 2008 increased the lead to 57%. The entire old district - exactly Lee and Henry counties - is in the new turf; a couple townships in Washington County are added.

    Republican Larry Kruse, a Lee County supervisor, has already announced.

    City Races in Johnson County

    City Races in Johnson County

    Challenges to mayors in Coralville and Tiffin and a contested open seat mayor's race in Hills are highlights in candidate filing for nine Johnson County cities yesterday. (Iowa City and UHeights, with a primary system, had a September 1 deadline.) The specifics:

    Coralville: Looks like our hottest contest. 16 year council member John Weihe is challenging 16 year mayor Jim Fausett for the two year term. Issues? It's my turn? Jim had some health problems?

    Anyway, that opens up one of the two council seats (four year terms). Incumbent Mitch Gross is running again. Gross finished first in 2007, ahead of Weihe and bumping off Jean Schnake. Thus Coralville has had an all male council for four years, but there will be a woman on board again; the two new candidates are Jill Dodds and Lynn Snyder.

    Hills: Mayor Russ Bailey is stepping down. Current council member Tim Kemp and former member Steve Cook are facing off for the two year term. (Trivia: Hills had a TIED mayor election in 1995.) Four candidates are running for three four year council terms: incumbents Merle Hill and Cathy Knebel, and new candidates Bruce Endris and Steve Harris.

    Lone Tree: Yawn. No opposition for mayor Rick Ogren, council member Sandra Brown and new candidate Mitch Swinton (replacing Mary Larsen). But the Tree has seen successful write-in efforts in the past, even beating candidates listed on the ballot, so keep one eye open.

    North Liberty: Three incumbents - Coleen Chipman, Terry Donahue and Chris Hoffman - running for four year terms; new candidate Matt Zacek is challenging. Also on the ballot is the issue of electing members by ward rather than at large. The same issue lost overwhelmingly in a 2007 special election, but that was less about wards and more a de facto attempt to recall then-mayor Dave Franker (who immediately after the ward election resigned and moved out of state). And this one is also, to some extent, about other issues as well (the UI Credit Union land deal).

    Question: if there's enough dissatisfaction in North Liberty to merit a change in government format, why aren't there more challengers? And why is the one challenger, Zacek, from the same Fox Run neighborhood as Hoffman and Donahue?

    Oxford: 30-year mayor Don Saxton is signing up for two more years unopposed. Four candidates are trying for three four-year council seats: incumbent Gary Wilkinson, former member Mary Sue Jiras (stepped down in 2007), and first-timers Lorena Loomis and Sara Morlan. Incumbents Ed Kasper and Twyla Morlan are not running.

    Shueyville: There will be two write-in winners. Only one candidate, incumbent Mickey Coonfare, filed for the three seats. Incumbents Larry Ilg and Jennifer Winter did not file.

    Solon: Mayor Rick Jedlicka is stepping down, and mid-term council member Cami Rasmussen is unopposed for the job.This means her council seat will open up in January. Two council seats are up for four year terms. Incumbent Brad Kunkel is running; Susan Ballantyne is not. The new candidate is Ronald Herdliska

    There are two other items on the ballot. Appointed council member Mark Krall is up against Chuck Panzer for the last two years of the term. There's also a bond issue to buy the Brosh Funeral home for a new city hall. That takes 60%.

    Swisher: Mayor Scott Grabe is stepping down and council member Tim Mason is stepping up; he's the only candidate for the four year term. For council, there are four candidates for three four year terms: incumbents Mary Gudenkauf and Scott Huston Sr. and newcomers Matthew Myers and Sandra Fults.

    Tiffin: Steve Berner is challenging mayor Royce Phillips for a two year term. For council, four people are running for two four year terms: incumbent Mark Petersen, former member Michael Ryan (who won on a 1997 write-in and left in 2001) and new candidates Jim Schmidt and Peggy Knowling Upton.

    Friday Clips

    Friday Clips

    Yesterday was city election filing deadline in most Iowa cities (except the handful that have primaries like Iowa City and University Heights). Check back later for a Johnson County roundup; Gazette has the Cedar Rapids field.

    Missed last night's GOP debate, so for me the big news was Thaddeus McCotter dropping out. Did anybody other than Chris Rants even know he was in? In any case the Thad has endorsed the Mitt, which should add about 0.01% to Romney's polls.

    This one never made sense. I mean, Bachmann makes a sort of sense; she's a junior House member but a high profile one with strong fund raising skills. McCotter is an obscure back bencher and though he's clearly a bright guy, he has an odd speaking style. Oh, well. Back to Michigan.

    Cross a name off the Democratic 2016 watch: as soon as Rahm Emanuel was anounced as the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson keynoter, the press corp started hearing Hail To The Chief. This prompted a very firm denial:
    “No, never, not. Not interested,” Emanuel said.

    “I’ve done two trips already at the request of the . . . president’s re-election campaign. They’ve asked me to be a surrogate. I’ll do it. [But] I’m not interested [in running for president]. I love this job. I love the people of the city of Chicago. I love working on behalf of the taxpayers. Not interested.”

    Not even in 2016?

    “[Not] even if you did that dance step you just did,” the mayor told an overzealous TV reporter. “I’m NOT” interested.
    The ellipsis and brackets are in very interesting places. I'm guessing these quotes are the Family Newspaper version of what the notoriously profane mayor actually said.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Linn Republicans Choose Golding

    Linn Republicans Choose Golding

    Wow. Just wow.

    Given the choice between 1) a former US Attorney with Harvard Law on the resume and 2) "the governor's choice" with a well known family and business name, Senate District 18 Republicans chose 3) the other one. The party activist.

    Linn County GOP vice chair cringe CO chair Cindy Golding is now the Republican candidate in the Battle of Marion. Democrats meet next Wednesday, but no one is expected to challenge former TV anchor Liz Mathis for the nomination.

    The special election nominating system itself is the best explanation for this seemingly odd result. In a pre-convention piece that didn't make a prediction, Craig Robinson wrote:
    While county GOP leadership elections are not typically competitive contests, Golding’s position with the county party shouldn’t be over looked. It means that the most ardent activists know her or know of her. That’s not necessarily the case with the other candidates, and county activists tend to favor one of their own over someone they don’t know.
    Remember, tonight's voters were mainly party activists who went to the 2010 caucuses on a Saturday afternoon, the hardest core of the hardest core, and they voted for one of their own. I've seen this in conventions in my party, too. A core group of party activists can be pretty insular and sometimes resents "outsiders" swooping in just when the stakes are greatest. The special election nomination process is one of the few places where the party activists have real, tangible power.

    So they picked the strongest possible Linn County Republican... but the weakest candidate for the election. In a district with a long tradition of choosing above the fray moderates of both parties, an angle Mathis was already taking in her announcement press release, the GOP chose someone with "Republican co-chair" as her main credential.

    Complicating things more, Golding lives in the old Senate District 18, where this election is being held... but NOT in the new Senate District 34, which includes the vast majority of Old 18. So if she wins, she either moves to stay with her voters, or stays put and runs in a very different district that has none of Marion and most of Jones County. (Robinson: "Moving will not be easy since Golding lives in a very expensive home.") That's Senate 48, with a dead-even party balance; Rep. Nate Willems (D-Lisbon) is already running there.

    But that's next year. For now, this is about time and money and ground game.

    Thursday Clips

    Thursday Clips

    Two sets of candidate news today: the filing deadline for most cities and the Republican nominating convention in the Battle of Marion.

    In the former, Coralville is set for a contested mayor's race: "Jim Fausett has faced competition at different points in his 15 years as mayor of Coralville but probably none he knows as well as his current opponent. Coralville City Councilor John Weihe filed his nomination papers to run for mayor Tuesday."

    In the latter, GOP blogger Shane Vander Hart gives the edge to Democrats: "None of the three declared GOP candidates has even remotely close to the same name recognition that Mathis has, and that plays in her favor with the short time frame before the November 8th election."

    Check back tonight and tomorrow for more on those. And in a routine re-elect announcement, Burlington's Tom Courtney is going for another term in solidly Democratic Senate District 44.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Democrat Friedrichsen announces in House 18

    Democrat Friedrichsen announces in House 18

    Jason Schultz will get his first-ever Democratic opponent next year: "Denison native Kasey Friedrichsen announced today that she will run for state representative in District 18, which includes Shelby County and parts of Crawford and Harrison Counties."

    Friedrichsen offers a symbolically powerful argument against Team Branstad 5.0:
    Friedrichsen, 24, worked at an the Denison unemployment office until last month when the office was one of 36 that closed after Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed a legislative allocation to keep the offices open.

    Schultz, R-Schleswig, voted for a budget to keep the unemployment office but later declined to challenge the governor’s veto.

    Friedrichsen also has a background dating back to high-school on anti-smoking issues (frankly, not my favorite "progressive" cause).

    Schultz won his first term as the more conservative contender in a contested 2008 primary, after incumbent Clarence Hoffman was persuaded to retire by Iowans For Tax Relief. Democrats didn't run that cycle or in 2010, so this will be his first general election test. The new turf has a GOP registration edge of about 1300, which is chaallenging but not insurmountable.

    Michigan J. Leapfrog Revisited

    Michigan J. Leapfrog Revisited

    Everybody do the Michigan rag. Or at least I will. The chronic calendar cheaters are at it again:
    Michigan lawmakers have continued votes to confirm Feb. 28 as the date for the state's 2012 Republican presidential primary.

    The Republican-led House passed a measure confirming the date Tuesday by a 63-45, mostly party line vote. The Republican-led Senate has passed the bill and likely soon will send it to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
    Looking like a big pile-up on Feb. 28. Michigan joins Arizona on what is supposed to be South Carolina's day (Refresher on the rules: Both parties agreed that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, in that order, get February dates, and no one else goes before March 6.)

    But it's still too soon to lock in our caucus night. The next moves are up to South Carolina and another chronic cheater, Florida, whose Republicans want to be the fifth state.

    As I keep saying: if South Carolina is content with Feb. 21 and less than a week before and after, and Florida is willing to vote on a non-Tuesday (Thursday 2/24 or Saturday 2/26), Iowa could still be caucusing in February, either Tuesday 2/1 or Thursday 2/3. That puts New Hampshire on 2/8 and Nevada on Saturday 2/18.

    If that falls apart, then at least we're dealing with late January rather than Monday 1/2 or even December.

    Here's the real shocker in the Michigan news:
    Michigan Democrats voting against the election plan say the $10 million cost is wasteful. They're choosing presidential delegates by caucus.
    Last cycle it was the Michigan Democrats driving that state's rule breaking, and not even so much because they wanted to go early: it was because Michigan's most powerful Democrats want to dethrone Iowa and New Hampshireas the lead-off states. Carl Levin, John Dingell and Debbie Dingell care less about whogoes first than they do about who DOESN'T go first.

    But of course this cycle little is at stake in the Democratic nomination process so they're just keeping their powder dry for 2015.

    Pearson Plans Primaries

    Pearson Plans Primaries

    Register has story this AM about Rep. Kim Pearson (T-Altoona) looking for primary challenges to Insufficiently Pure Republicans. A handy checklist to where she may be looking can be found in the May vote on her Roe-Wade challenging Total Abortion Ban bill. Column on the right, ironically, is the Republican NO vote.

    Yes: 24 Republicans
    Rep. Dwayne Alons
    Rep. Richard Anderson
    Rep. Mark Brandenburg (paired with Hanusa)
    Rep. Royd E. Chambers
    Rep. Betty R. DeBoef (paired with Klein)
    Rep. Cecil Dolecheck
    Rep. Joel Fry
    Rep. Pat Grassley (paired with Sweeney)
    Rep. Chris Hagenow
    Rep. Bob Hager
    Rep. Ron Jorgensen
    Rep. Jared Klein (paired with DeBoef)
    Rep. Kevin Koester
    Rep. Brian Moore
    Rep. Glen Massie
    Rep. Dan Muhlbauer (D)
    Rep. Kim Pearson
    Rep. Dawn Pettengill
    Rep. Walt Rogers
    Rep. Jason Schultz
    Rep. Tom Shaw (paired with Tjepkes)
    Rep. Jeff Smith
    Rep. Chuck Soderberg
    Rep. Annette Sweeney (paired with Grassley)
    Rep. Jeremy Taylor

    No: 33 Republicans
    Rep. Rich Arnold
    Rep. Chip Baltimore
    Rep. Clel Baudler
    Rep. Josh Byrnes
    Rep. Peter Cownie
    Rep. Dave Deyoe
    Rep. Jack Drake
    Rep. Greg Forristall
    Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa (paired with Brandenburg)
    Rep. Dave Heaton
    Rep. Lee Hein
    Rep. Erik Helland
    Rep. Lance Horbach (retiring)
    Rep. Stewart Iverson
    Rep. Jeff Kaufmann
    Rep. Mark Lofgren
    Rep. Steven Lukan
    Rep. Linda Miller
    Rep. Steven Olson
    Rep. Kraig Paulsen
    Rep. Ross Paustian
    Rep. Scott Raecker
    Rep. Dan Rasmussen
    Rep. Henry Rayhons
    Rep. Thomas Sands
    Rep. Dave Tjepkes (pair with Shaw)
    Rep. Linda Upmeyer
    Rep. Jim Van Engelenhoven (retiring)
    Rep. Guy Vander Linden
    Rep. Nick Wagner
    Rep. Matt Windschitl
    Rep. Gary Worthan

    Also noted: Third Democrat to announce in House 36 is Marti Anderson, former director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office in the Iowa Department of Justice. Spouse alert: married to Bob Brammer, longtime spokesperson at AG's office. Between the two, that Tom Miller endorsement should be forthcoming. But now that there are three, we're in that zone where the 35% requirement for a nomination matters. If no one gets it, the Dems go to convention. All the more reason to stay in your own party's caucus, Beaverdale...

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Emanuel to Keynote JJ November 19

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Keynote Dems JJ Dinner November 19

    Your next m*%$#!&f*&#ing mayor is coming to Iowa:
    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2011 Jefferson Jackson dinner, party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky announced today. The dinner will take place on November 19th in Des Moines.
    But will he bring his sidekick Quaxelrod? And will we get the R-rated speech or just the PG-13? In any case, congrats to Sue and the IDP team for getting an A-list keynoter.

    Liz Mathis Likely Democrat in Senate 18

    Liz Mathis Likely Democrat in Senate 18
    Oleson squeezed out?

    This started percolating through the rumor mill yesterday, now Todd Dorman has it public:
    Democrats are trying to stay mum, although it appears that former KCRG and KWWL anchor Liz Mathis will be their candidate. No announcement has been made, and the formal nominating convention is Saturday.
    UPDATE: Official announcement from Iowa Democratic Party came at 1:35.
    “People all over are trying to get back on their feet from this lingering national recession,” Mathis said. “They need jobs and they need stability for their families, and all we’re getting from our government is gridlock. It must change. I pledge to work with Democratic and Republican legislators and Governor Branstad to make a difference for the people in District 18.”

    Mathis added: “We need new policies that will help our Main Street businesses thrive, bring in business and spur job growth in our local communities. My husband and I have experienced that first-hand in our family’s business. That’s one of many reasons I’m running. We also need to stop short-changing our educational system and we need to address support of our area’s most vulnerable children who are affected by poverty and neglect. I am passionate about those things.”
    Mathis left channel 9 in mid-2007 and is now listed as Chief Information Officer at Four Oaks in Cedar Rapids. She lives in Robins, which is both in the old Senate District 18 where the November 8 special will be held and in the new Senate District 34 where next year's election will be held.

    Following Dorman's post, the IDP officially announced the convention for Wednesday the 28th in Hiawatha, "following the Linn County Democrats’ Central Committee meeting." Eligible convention voters are "precinct committee people from Senate District 18 who were duly elected at the 2010 precinct caucuses or the precinct committee persons who have been duly elected by the Linn county Democratic central committee since the 2010 precinct caucuses." That includes people duly elected to vacancies at the central committee meeting immediately before the convention.

    There's still no word from Mathis herself, but the rumors seem reliable. That would give Democrats a candidate with near-100% name ID in a swing district. It's hard not to draw the parallel with Tami Wiencek, the former KWWL anchor who was probably the only Republican to knock off a Democratic incumbent in 2006, in a solidly Democratic Waterloo House seat. So that can get you in the door, but not necessarily keep you there, as Weincek lost in `08.

    Also of interest in Dorman's post:
    When word of Dandekar’s departure broke, one of the first names I thought of was Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, who represents much of Senate 18, including Marion, and was chief of staff to Mary Lundby, who represented Marion in the state senate for 14 years.

    But Oleson said he was contacted by several Republican leaders/activists in Des Moines who informed him in no uncertain terms that his candidacy would not be warmly received. Do not run was the message. He didn’t name names.

    “They said I wouldn’t get past the convention because of my support for (Project Labor Agreements) and the marriage amendment issue,” Oleson said. “They want someone without a record.”
    The denials and accusations are already popping up in the comments. Dorman, a district resident, has been the go-to guy in the straight press so far this race.

    Perry to Tiffin October 7

    Perry to Johnson County GOP BBQ October 7

    The Platypus in Tiffin:
    Annual Fall Barbeque
    Time: Friday, October 7 · 5:30pm - 8:30pm
    Location: Clear Creek-Amana High School, Tiffin, IA
    Created By: Johnson County Republicans of Iowa

    Gov Rick Perry will be our Keynote speaker.
    The entire 'new' Second District and our neighbors Linn & Iowa Counties have been invited, 26 counties in all.

    We will serve from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. Barbeque beef, cole slaw, applesauce, baked beans, beverages, ice cream from Dane's Dairy and desserts.

    Please RSVP before October 1st.

    Cost: $20 single, $35 couple, $40 family 4, $10 College students
    This'll be Perry's second Johnson County stop, following an August 15 Hamburg Inn visit.

    GOP Convention Thursday in Senate Special

    GOP Convention Thursday in Marion Senate Special

    Things are moving fast in the Battle of Marion. Republicans will meet Thursday night to choose their nominee in the November 8 special election to replace Swati Dandekar and, they hope, tie the state Senate.

    Three names have emerged in public and TheIowaRepublican had good profiles of each:

  • Cindy Golding, current co-chair of the Linn County GOP (why why WHY do Iowa Republicans call their number two post "CO-chair"?!? You either have a chair and a vice chair or you have a pair of co-chairs, but no, the GOP calls it "chair" and "co-chair.")

  • Businesswoman Mary Rathje: "While Governor Branstad has not publically endorsed any candidate, it is rumored that Rathje is his candidate of choice." Sister in law of perennial primary loser Steve Rathje, now seen running against Bruce Braley.

  • Former US Attorney Matt Dummermuth: Harvard Law, just like Barack Obama. (Health care for the entire universe? Even Osama bin Laden?)

    Just as interesting as the ins, the outs: "Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, former U.S. Senate nominee Chris Reed, and Linn County activist Todd Henderson all told that they would not be seeking the nomination." From the moment the Dandekar resignation hit the net, I had assumed Oleson was lined up already. He's been rumored to be planning a run against Dandekar already. WRONG!

    I have no clue on the status of the deciders: Linn GOP central committee in the Old Senate 18 precincts. Remember these are folks who were elected either at the microscopic turnout 2010 caucuses (yes, Iowans caucus in gubernatorial years) or chosen by the party committee to fill vacancies. Who showed up? The regulars? The Ron Paul folks? Team BVP? The platform nerds? People who don't care about things like "Branstad is rumored to favor"?

    (And I can't say this enough, would-be cross-overs: conventions like this are a very important reason to caucus in your own party.)

    Meanwhile, if the rumor mill is to be believed, Democrats have lined up a strong candidate with extremely high name ID. Stay tuned.
  • Monday, September 19, 2011

    Back in Black: One Year Senator Makes Comeback

    Back in Black: One Year Senator Makes Comeback

    I had this one WRONG! but so did everyone else:
    Jim Black, a former senator, announced this morning that he is running again for the Senate.

    Black, 51, a Republican, is running for the newly created Senate District 4, which includes Emmet, Kossuth, Winnebago, Hancock and Wright Counties in northern Iowa. After this year’s redistricting, no incumbent was left in the district.
    B-b-b-b-but, hasn't everyone assumed since Map Day that this was Stew's path back to the Senate?
    Rep. Stew Iverson, R-Clarion, will work as Black’s campaign chairman...
    I see. So presumably he stays and runs in House District 8 demoinesdem reminds me that Henry Rayhons has already announced in the once tripled-up HD08. So now I'm more confused.

    ...and Black has also received encouragement from Gov. Terry Branstad, a long-time friend, according to today’s press release.
    New Senate 4 is in fact very similar to the turf Black held for one year, 1997, before abruptly resigning "after his first year in office, citing family troubles." Or perhaps Terry Branstad gave him a job.

    Four counties are the same: Kossuth, Winnebago, Hancock and Wright. In the new seat, Emmett replaces Humboldt. (This area also includes Branstad's original home stomping grounds.)

    Black may face a primary from Tea partier Dennis Guth, who should bring a lot of comic relief to the race. Democrats have a solid recruit in Bob Jennings, information director for Algona Municipal Utilities and is a former news director for KLGA radio in Algona.

    By the numbers, the edge goes to the GOP, with a registration lead of 2700. Last map, this area was split between retiring Democrat Jack Kibbie and Republicans Rob Bacon (now making a Senate to House move) and Merlin Bartz.

    Ahoy! It be some readin'

    Ahoy! It be some readin'

    A Monday Mornin' ARRRRRRRRRR to all o' ye on International Talk Like A Pirate Day. In honor of the event, The Pirate Party won 15 seats yesterday in elections for state parliament in Berlin. That's not a joke, that's an actual result. And here's an always useful link for all your piracy needs.

    Let's see what else we can raise up the mast next to the Jolly Roger:

  • Best coverage of discussion at the Harkin Steak Fry of Friday's bombshell Swati Dandekar resignation comes from... The Iowa Republican? It's a pretty straight piece that's not all that different than what I would have written. (Except for the usual fallacy about party registration shifts meaning more than a competitive primary on one side.)

  • Jonathan Bernstein goes after the electoral college, not from the usual pro-popular vote angle. Instead he argues that it's not performing its traditional role as the big states' counterbalance to the Senate.

  • Stuart Rothenberg casts the GOP nomination battle as Democrats 2004, with Perry as Dean and Romney as Kerry. And Bachmann as Dennis Kucinich? Or perhaps, in spite of her bus music, as the evil opposite of Elvis, the anti-Elvis?

  • Finally, Paul Abrams wraps up Pennsylvania's electors by district move, photo ID laws, and Citizens United into one big Weimar America package and decleares 2012 the "Last Election Ever?"
  • Friday, September 16, 2011

    The Battle Of Marion

    Dandekar to Resign - Special Election Could Tie Senate

    Under The Golden Dome had it first, now in the Register:
    Swati Dandekar is stepping down from her Senate seat for a seat on the Iowa Utilities Board. Looks like Terry Branstad was able to buy her off for a $137,000 salary and open up a competitive Senate district before the 2012 election.

    One more sign that Branstad 5.0 is not your father's Branstad. It's a dramatic high stakes move that, if successful, means a tied Senate for the 2012 session. (He sets the date, too. UPDATE 2 He has: November 8. Better than two days after Christmas or two days before Thanksgiving, and the same day as city elections.)

    And this tied Senate will be very different than the 2005-2006 version. Tom Vilsack was in Terrace Hill then, and Mike Gronstal was sharing leadership with Stew Iverson, a guy he could occasionally work with. Paul McKinley, or whoever follows, are a different breed of cat.

    You know that Wisconsin recall we had last month? The near-presidential turnout, the all-the-marbles dynamic? Yeah, that's all coming to Marion. I believe this is under OLD lines which are very close to dead even (GOP registration edge of 175). The new district is slightly more GOP.

    Dandekar -- and hey, thanks a lot -- is the only Democrat in recent memory to win the seat, first for three terms in the House then in 2008 for the Senate. Dem Gretchen Lawyer lost the House race in 2008; Republican Nick Wagner won and was unopposed in 2010. Democrat Daniel Lundby, son of Dandekar's predecessor Republican Mary Lundby, is running in the House race. Also hailing from the area: Linn County supervisor Brent Oleson and former holder of multiple offices Paul Pate.

    This will also be happening right in the middle of caucus season, with all the organizational and guest appearance significance that implies.

    But all that's OK. Democrats: there's no choice here. We just have to win.

    Every Democrat not just in Linn County but in the STATE needs to help on this one. Johnson County Democrats: This is a 40 minute drive away. Dubuque: a nice straight shot down 151. We are one senator away from being Wisconsin. The Battle of Madison is now the Battle of Marion. Game on.

    Updates: Dems were up fast with a website "Every Democrat in Iowa has to be focused on one question: What can I do to help in the special election and retain a majority in the Iowa Senate?" said IDP chair Sue Dvorsky. "It's time to suit up."

    Yet amid the rallying cries, some much deserved criticism of Dandekar's decision. "I'm disgusted by her selfishness," writes Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D-Cedar Rapids.)

    Rallyig cries also from the other team. "While an evenly split Senate will not give Republicans control of the chamber, it would eliminate Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal’s ability to block legislation from even being debated," writes Craig Robinson. "That means issues that were never allowed to be debated in the senate, like the marriage amendment, various abortion bills, and even tax cuts, could now see the light of day. Gronstal’s heavy-handed ways also will ensure that activists from all across the state will be willing to help the Republican effort to win the seat."

    Robinson also notes the caucus factor: "The presidential campaigns will have their hands full in organizing for the caucuses, but helping Republicans swing the balance of power in the State Senate would build a lot of good will. The presidential campaigns will look for ways to be helpful in the areas of boots on the ground as well as campaign contributions."

    Two More Democratic Announcements

    Two More Democratic Announcements

  • A day after Cara Kennedy-Ode officially joins a a sure to be crowded primary field the race in heavily Democratic House District 36, another candidate, William Rock, joins the race. Incumbent Janet Petersen is going for a empty and friendly Senate seat.

  • And an incumbent announcement: "State Representative Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, announced today that she will seek re-election to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2012. She will run in the new House District 81, which includes Ottumwa and the eastern part of Wapello County." Her turf is a solidly Democratic seat and a little-changed District Draws Itself, with Ottumwa at 82% of ideal House seat size. Republicans made their most serious effort in ages last cycle with Jane Holody, but Gaskill earned a 57% win.
  • Michigan and Missouri Messing with Caucus Date

    Michigan and Missouri Messing with Caucus Date

    Keep using pencil on those 2012 calendars, and have an eraser handy. Tow more states are trying to cut in the caucus line.

    First up are our esteemed and dear friends from the Great Lakes State. (In the old political sense that the more honorifics you pile on the mroe you loathe each other.) They're pointing toward February 28. That's the day South Carolina is supposed to have and that Arizona has already stepped on.

    National Republican rues say calendar cheaters lose half their delegates, and unlike the Democrats (attn: Rep. Wasserman Schultz) they actually enforced those rules last year. But it was much less of a controversy; the early states just decided that losing half the delegates was an acceptable tradeoff.

    Assuming Michigan follows through, the question becomes the ripple effect on the rest of the calendar. Is Arizona satisfied with sharing 2/28? If so, we could still be looking at Feb. 1 or 3. (Here's my logic behind that.)

    But now throw Missouri into the mix. Last cycle they were on old Super Duper Tuesday, the 20+ first week of February that I dubbed √úberdienstag. That law is still in effect. Earlier in the year the legislature was trying to move into March but the law got stalled because of other election issues like photo ID. Now another bill focused on the date itself seems to be stalled by general cluelessness:
    Sen. Crowell brought up things like:

    I've never heard from anyone from the national party who asked us to move to March.
    Why should the national party tell us how to run our primary?
    This is nothing more than the national party trying to rig the system to pick the nominees they want.

    Then there was this exchange between the bill's Senate handler, Kevin Engler (R-3rd, Farmington) and Sen. Crowell [These are direct quotes.]:

    Engler: "Will the [national] party strip us of our delegates?"

    Crowell: "I don't care. I don't care."
    Without action, The Show Me State defaults to February 7, which pushes the whole early state calendar back into January and probably puts Iowa somewhere like January 9. Horrible but still better than last time.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    University Heights Scorecard

    University Heights Scorecard

    Seen on the web: That's not a short URL generated by Twitter, that's We Are For University Heights, the campaign by opponents of the One University Plaza proposal for the St. Andrew Church property.

    This makes for a handy scorecard for a vote for five election with eight candidates. Team WeR4UH is running a slate of four council candidates, and leaving mayor Louise From uncontested.

    The WeR4UH candidates are:
  • Roseanne Hopson, inner of the record turnout January special election.
  • fellow incumbent Brennan McGrath.
  • Former school board member Jan Leff. She stepped down from the board in 2009 and just wrapped up a brief term as a placeholder appointee. Leff's husband Al, who preceded her on the school board, lost to From in the 2009 mayor's race.
  • First time candidate Rachel Stewart.

    In the other corner, the candidates are incumbents Mike Haverkamp and Pat Yeggy, candidate Amanda Whitmer, and Jim Lane, who served on the council briefly as an appointee until losing the January special election to Hopson. That January vote saw near-governor level turnout and broke the long-time Johnson County pattern: if a special election got called by petition, the side that petitioned always lost, until Hopson.

    The fifth incumbent, Stan Laverman, is not running. UHeights is also voting on renewing its library levy.

    Small correction: I'd said our house had received no school board candidate mailings; the Jeff McGinness mailer was inadvertently buried. COngrats again to Jeff and the other winners and thanks again to those who ran.
  • Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Jerry Mandering Spotted in Ohio

    I Went Back To Ohio But My District Was Gone

    Redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering has been spotted in Ohio, working with the Republicans who have complete control of state government on a congressional map that rises to the level of high art.

    "Now THIS is how you draw a map!" said the shameless cartograpgher. "What's round on the end, high in the middle? You new district, pal."

    "Look at that green line across the top of the state," Mandering bragged. "District 9 goes Cleveland to Toledo! Dennis Kucinich is on one end and Marcy Kaptur on the other. I connected it with one bridge and some freakin' islands. I wanted to run it across the lake into Canada, but even John Kasich thought that was too much. So I threw in a beach around Lorain instead."

    "That one's the best, but I'm also proud of the 15th District. Looks like a two headed snake with its heads almost cut off by the 3rd District."

    "It looks like someone did a lot of Jello shots and then threw up on a map of Ohio," writes David Jarman of Daily Kos.

    So who other than Jerry could possibly be happy with this? Why, Dennis Kucinich, of course:
    We have a district! The race is on! In a stunning development, the redistricting gave most of the Republican part of my old district to three incumbent Republican congressmen and left most of the Democratic part of my district intact.

    As a result, about 57% of registered Democrats in the new district come from my old district. With your help I clearly have a good chance to be able to continue to serve the people of Ohio and to remain a strong and outspoken voice for jobs, peace, clean water and clean air, education and civil rights.
    Dennis may have the national name ID but 30-year vet Kaptur is no slouch either. a lot of other implications in this map -- not yet final but basically The Map -- but for now just sit back and marvel at the shameless brilliance.

    As for Mandering's next plans? "I'm off to New York. Andrew Cuomo called late last night and told me he just figured out which district he wants to get rid of."

    Another Day, More Districts

    Another Day, More Districts

    Amidst the school election, a couple candidate announcements filtered up to the statewide media level yesterday:

  • Republican Mark Dix of Brooklyn (Flag City USA and Bruce Braley's home town) announced in no incumbent House District 76. That's all of Poweshiek COunty and most of Iowa County. Dems have recruited Grinnell city council member Rachel Bly and like their chances in a very closely divided district (registration edge D+217 on Map Day).

  • Cara Kennedy-Ode officially joins a a sure to be crowded primary field in heavily Democratic House District 36. Incumbent Janet Petersen is going for a empty and friendly Senate seat.

    The Democratic nomination will be decisive here; only question is whether that's decided in the primary or, if no one gets 35 percent, at a party convention. Something to think about if you're considering Ed Fallon's advice to go to the GOP caucuses, since the central committee members and party delegates who decide such things are chosen on caucus night.
  • Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    The Late Night Number Cruncher

    2011 School Election: The Late Night Number Cruncher

    The can't tell the players without a scorecard 2011 Iowa City school board election is in the history books. Congrats to the five winners and thanks to the five who tried and came up short. Here's the raw numbers.

    As the numbers came in the candidates shook out into four tiers. Marla Swesey and Jeff McGinness were battling for first place bragging rights. Sally Hoelscher was a solid third, and Patti Fields, Phil Hemingway and Bob Porter were in a close race for the last slot, with Jeff Alden and Jim Tate well behind. The two year race turned out to be a landslide for Karla Cook over Julie Van Dyke.

    The Winners

    Marla Swesey: Manville Heights loved Marla, giving her 81%. But it was her big east side margins over McGinness, especially at City High, that put Swesey in first place. The one brown spot on the teacher's apple: 44% in Coralville.

    Jeff McGinness: The wrestling star turned attorney had a strong district-wide performance, with at least 54% in every precinct. His best spots were Coralville and the west side (and Hills which gets its own sidebar).

    Sally Hoelscher, with a solid set of endorsements and a strong identity with the Lucas PTO, topped 50% district wide, running best on the east and north sides. She only drew about a third of the vote in Coralville and North Liberty.

    Patti Fields: As the lone incumbent in the race, Fields was the only available target for voter frustration. She held her own on the east side, losing to Hemingway but not by a lot. But the north and west part of the district stayed with her. Fields' 200-plus vote margin in Coralville over Phil Hemingway was the linchpin of the 86 vote win.

    The Also-Rans

    Phil Hemingway ran strong on the east side, but in the end may have been too strongly identified with one part of the district. He ran in the mid-20s in North Liberty and Coralville, and thus Fields wins. Hemingway's best non-Hills percentage was not at City and Lemme, as one would expect, but at Twain. The southeast side has a history of supporting throw the bums out sorts of candidates in local elections, so I can see them liking Phil.

    Bob Porter: Coulda been a contender? Porter finished just a couple hundred votes back of Hemingway. He had some labor support and the newspaper endorsement, but didn't attract much support outside the middle of Iowa City (Twain, Mann, Lincoln).

    Jeff Alden: I was wrong. There WAS a Coralville-North Liberty candidate, I'm just such an Iowa Cittian that I didn't notice. Alden scored 54% in North Liberty and 48% in Coralville, which accounts for some of the underperformance there by Swesey and Hoelscher. But he was below 25% everywhere else, pulling just 9% at Lemme and City High.

    Jim Tate: Not much to see here; a late labor endorsement didn't get him above 21% anywhere.

    The Two Year Race And The Hills Vote

    Nobody in this election was more decisive than Hills. They voted for Swesey (83%), Hemingway (78), and McGinness (74). They split their fourth votes, mostly between Porter and Hoelscher. They did NOT vote for Patti Fields. She won just 11% of the vote.

    Of course, Hills is by far the smallest school precinct, so it's a weak base for a campaign. Julie Van Dyke corrected my characterization of her home as "rural Hills," noting her Iowa City zip code. Duly noted, but while the signs said "Support Neighborhood Schools" (and remember, I'm a Roosevelt dad) Van Dyke was pretty strongly identified as "the Hills candidate."

    That got her to 69% in Hills. Respectable, but I've seen better; Amana can whip up a 99% vote for its candidate when it wants to. And the rest of the district was a blowout for Karla Cook.

    The Bullet Vote Factor

    With a big field, there's not just voter confusion. There's some unease. I want to vote for these four candidates, but what if my vote for my fourth choice pushes my first choice into fifth place? I want to make sure my first choice wins, even if it means my fourth choice loses.

    Your answer might be an alternative system like ranked voting (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8) or cumulative voting (you get four votes and you can use them how you want. One vote each for your four top picks, or all four on your first choice.) Those would be a good answers, especially for this particular election, but they would not be correct answers.

    What you would consider instead is "bullet voting," or deliberately not using all your available choices. It's a sometimes controversial tactic usually played below the radar, and it's hard to figure out how much of it has been happening.

    My unique tool is the "Votes Per Voter" statistic. In a vote for more than one candidate election, add up the total votes received by all candidates. Then divide by the number of voters. The result will be some number less than the number of votes you can cast -- in this case, district wide, roughly 3.35. That means the average voter used 3.35 of the four votes they could cast.

    Subtract that 3.35 from the four votes you could have cast, and you get .65. That's a reasonable estimate of the percentage of voters who under-voted (did not use all four choices). You still with me? Of course, this is guesswork; some folks could have cast just one vote. Some could even have cast zero, and voted only on the two term or the Kirkwood bond. You can even vote a totally blank ballot.

    But it's the only tool I've come up with, so let's use that percentage as an estimate. So roughly two-thirds of voters either engaged in some strategery or simply didn't know who to choose with that last vote.

    Geographically, under-voting was highest in Coralville and North Liberty, with a Votes Per Voter of about 3.2. The most diligent about marking all four? Hills, at 3.58 Votes Per Voter. If your goal is not getting your first choice to win, but getting your last choice to lose, using all your votes would be strategically smarter.

    Kirkwood and Other Stuff

    I haven't seen area wide numbers but in the two big counties the Kirkwood bond had a landslide four to one win in Johnson and a two to one win in Linn. Looks to me like they get their 60% to win.

    A quiet day in Solon and Clear Creek Amana. But Lone Tree had its biggest non-bond election ever. Whatever challenger Tim Lorack was up to, it seems he had a colleague; a quarter of the voters went for a write-in. But incumbents Sheila Burr and Joel Yedlik were well ahead.

    Des Moines passed its school board by ward measure. And Independence finally passed a bond issue on what I believe was the sixth try.

    School Turnout Update

    School Turnout Update

    Check back late late tonight or early early tomorrow for a look at school board results. For now all we have is turnout numbers.

    As of 3 PM ICCSD turnout was at 1799, plus another 349 absentees returned. Fairly high for a board member election. Last time we were higher was 1995 and that board election also included the bond issue to build Wickham. There is the Kirkwood bond this cycle, but Kirkwood issues are usually less of a turnout booster than individual district issues.

    Haven't had time to really crunch but compared to 2009 in general it's down in North Liberty, up on the east side and way up in Hills (which still isn't a lot in terms of raw numbers). In 2009 Anne Johnson was identified as "the North Liberty candidate" and this cycle doesn't have anyone in that role.

    In the other districts, things are hot in Lone Tree. Challenger Tim Lorack was a last-second write in contender last time. Not sure what the issues are. Also quiet in Clear Creek Amana; that district has seen two or three write-in efforts in recent years and a lot of elections polarized between the two halves of the district. Doesn't seem like that's going on this time. Also quiet in Solon, which had really hot races five or so years ago.

    Sheriff Joe in Iowa This Weekend

    Sheriff Joe in Iowa This Weekend

    America's most famous -- or infamous -- sheriff will be in Iowa this weekend campaigning for the GOP candidate in a Jones County special election and attracting a little national attention and speculation.

    Joe Arpaio, a Republican from Maricopa County, Arizona, is the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff," known for tent city jails and pink inmate underwear. Arpaio is spending all of Saturday in Anamosa and Monticello campaigning for Rick LaMere, the GOP candidate for sheriff in an October 4 special election.

    On Sunday he'll make two more stops in Cedar Rapids and Coralville. The press release (how'd I get on THIS list?) seems designed to court speculation:
    While in Iowa, Sheriff Arpaio will also be visiting several locations, meeting Iowans from all over the state and delivering his message regarding the importance of getting involved with your local politics and making sure your opinion counts – whether you are voting for your local Sheriff or the President of the United States. Previously, Sheriff Arpaio spoke in New Hampshire, invited by the Republican Party, and he now looks forward to addressing the people of Iowa!
    The Newt Gingrich/Sarah Palin/Mike Huckabee strategy. Book coming out? Go to Iowa and New Hampshire.

    As for the Jones County election, it was called by petition after the sheriff resigned and an appointment was made. It's a four-way race. Democratic candidate Harvey L. Desotel is in the job as the interim appointee. Chef deputy Greg Graver is running as an independent, as is Scotty Shover.

    The full Arpaio release is worth a read:
    Sheriff Joe Arpaio Campaigns in Iowa
    “America’s Toughest Sheriff” to Headline Fundraisers for Jones County Sheriff Candidate Rick LaMere

    ANAMOSA, IA – The Citizens for Rick LaMere Campaign will host a fundraiser for Jones County Sheriff candidate Rick LaMere September 17, 2011. Joining the Jones County GOP candidate will be the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, of Maricopa County, AZ.

    WHO: “Jones County Sheriff Republican Candidate Rick LaMere” and “Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ”

    WHAT: Fundraiser for Jones County Sheriff Candidate Rick LaMere

    WHERE: J&P Cycles, 13225 Circle Drive, Anamosa, IA (speech by candidate Rick LaMere & Sheriff Joe Arpaio) and National Motorcycle Museum, 102 Chamber Drive, Anamosa, IA (spaghetti dinner)

    WHEN: J&P Cycles reception and speeches from 3:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. followed by a Spaghetti Dinner at the National Motorcycle Museum from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.

    Special guest for the event will be “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Sheriff Arpaio manages the nation’s third largest Sheriff’s Office.

    A veteran of the U.S. Army, Sheriff Arpaio has served as a top U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent infiltrating drug organizations around the world. With over five decades of law enforcement experience, Sheriff Arpaio is now famous for making his inmates wear pink underwear and for opening Tent City in 1993, for convicted inmates.

    While in Iowa, Sheriff Arpaio will also be visiting several locations, meeting Iowans from all over the state and delivering his message regarding the importance of getting involved with your local politics and making sure your opinion counts – whether you are voting for your local Sheriff or the President of the United States. Previously, Sheriff Arpaio spoke in New Hampshire, invited by the Republican Party, and he now looks forward to addressing the people of Iowa! He will be at the following locations (times are approximate):

    Friday, September 16, 2011
    04:50 PM Arrival at Eastern Iowa Airport
    07:00 PM McOtto’s Restaurant Highway 151 & 64, in Anamosa.

    Saturday, September 17, 2011
    09:00 AM Darrell’s Restaurant, 225 S. Main Street in Monticello.
    04:00 PM Guest Speaker at J & P Cycles located at 13225 Circle Drive in Anamosa
    05:00 PM National Motor Cycle Museum – Spaghetti dinner, 102 Chamber Drive in Anamosa.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011
    09:30 AM Granite City Food & Brewery, 4755 1st Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids.
    11:30 AM Food Court Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Avenue in Coralville.

    Arizona Primary February 28

    Arizona Primary February 28

    Use pencil instead of ink on that calendar, Iowans, it's time to start moving caucus dates.

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has settled on February 28 for that state's rule-breaking primary. Both parties agreed to a calendar that had only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina before March 6, with South Carolina currently scheduled for the same say as AridZone.

    But if Arizona was going to cheat, this is actually good news because they're not cheating a lot. At one point they were talking about January 31, which would have put the caucuses on January 2 or even into 2011.

    The next expected move comes from Florida, who "wants to be fifth." To reiterate a prior post, if no more dominoes fall. this probably means a calendar that looks like:
    Feb. 1 or 3 Iowa
    Feb. 7 New Hampshire
    Feb. 18 Nevada
    Feb. 21 South Carolina
    Feb. 23 or 25 Florida
    Feb. 28 Arizona
    With the GOP in full control of state government, it's completely a Republican decision. But one can hope that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz at least weighs in on the side of her home state following the rules, if only to make up for her support of Florida's rule-breaking last time.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    McGinness Top School Spender

    McGinness Top School Spender

    Only three of the record-size ten candidate field for a record five Iowa City school board seats up in Tuesday's election raised or spent more than the $750 campaign finance filing threshold.

    Jeff McGinness (report) was the top fundraiser, taking in $3035 and spending almost all of it. The bulk of the money ($1981) went to QC-based political consultant Victory Enterprises, for the omnipresent yard signs that have been up since July. (Update: Jeff notes in comments that the Victory Enterprises bill included mailings; the report itself simply said "Printing & Reproduction."). And yes, local wrestling celebrities show up on the donor list.

    Sally Hoelscher (report) took in $2300 and, once unpaid bills are figured in, is in the red. She appears to have done a couple of mailings in addition to signs (though this every election voter didn't get a mailer from her or from ANY candidate.)

    The other candidate to top the $750 mark was Karla Cook in the two year race, who took in $870 (report). $504 went to signs and the rest was still on hand.

    The only other report came from incumbent Patti Fields. Her account had $349 left over from last time and she raised another 75 bucks. No word from Jeff Alden, Phil Hemingway, Bob Porter, Marla Swesey or Jim Tate for the full term or Julie Van Dyke for the two year. I've spotted yard signs for all but Alden (Hemingway's are home made).

    UI Pressure on Patel?

    UI Pressure on Patel?

    Developments today in the city council race, but only one fact is agreed upon: city council candidate Raj Patel has resigned as nonvoting UI student government liaison to the city council.

    After that, the stories are about as polarized as last year's results on the bar vote. It's playing out in a thrice-revised Press-Citizen piece and in the comments thread.
    “Technically I resigned from student government, but I felt it was the only I thing I could do,” Patel said. “I was cornered. … I felt what they had done to me made it impossible to stay in that organization.”
    The Official (TM) issue is an alleged "conflict of interest" between Patel's roles as liaison and as candidate. But as noted in the comments, "Anyone running for re-election simultaneously sits on the council and campaigns." (At press time, Mayor Hayek's resignation was not on the table.)

    Patel campaign manager Michael Charles was direct:
    “He really wanted to continue as city liaison, and it was in his interests and his intention to do that,” Charles said. “However, it had been made impossible to him — he was given an ultimatum by student government that he was going to have to take a leave of absence or he would resign. He had two options.”

    Charles said the UISG executive council told Patel that there were legal conflicts of interest in serving as liaison and running for council, and that UISG was feeling pressure from UI administration.

    The comments were even more direct:
    Word on the street over the weekend was that (UI Vice President of Student Services) Tom Rocklin was trying to force Patel out of the student liaison position, and was leaning on the UISG president to help.
    The denial from Rocklin:
    “My response was that it was an important issue for them to consider, and they should act within their own governance documents and their own sense for what was appropriate,” Rocklin said Monday. “I really took no stand, and I still don’t have any particular position on it. It’s a student government matter.”
    A nice pose of indifference, as required.

    A denial from the UISG president, but is it a plausible denial? "Higgins said the suggestion of a leave came from UISG alone and that any talk of pressure from UI administrators is unfounded." If there's pressure, isn't there also pressure to say there's not pressure?

    The problem with the "conflict of interest" argument is that the same exact situation came up two years ago. Student liaison Jeff Shipley ran for the council -- and served throughout his campaign, after his loss, and till his graduation at the end of the 2010 school year. Doesn't that, um, set a precedent?
    Higgins said while the UISG administration two years ago “must have felt Shipley could have handled both responsibilities,” he and the current executive council want the liaison to be focused solely on that post.
    Yeah. Riiiight. But consider some other factoids which Iowa Citians know well.

    Jeff Shipley was never a real threat to win the 2009 election. He couldn't expand his support beyond campus, and turnout was abysmal.

    After that election, two pro-21 council members, Terry Dickens and Susan Mims, replaced two anti-21s, and two council members flipped: Connie Champion from 19 to 21 and Matt Hayek from "I'll accept the voters decision" in 2007 to "I don't like what the voters decided" in 2010.

    So we had a do-over in 2010, with the University all-in this time and Tom Rocklin as their point man on the "21 Makes Sense" (sic) committee. Raj Patel was one of the leaders of the pro-19 YESS committee. Some bad blood there, mayhaps? A gem from the comments: "At minimum this is another example of treating adult University students like children."

    Also in the comments: fellow candidate Steve Soboroff. "Raj Patel is more than qualified to serve on council. He's very bright and up on all the issues. We need to keep University officials out of OUR town politics." Soboroff is not opposing Patel; he's running in the District A race against Rick Dobyns, the leading backer of the 21 side in the 2007 election. Patel is in the at-large contest with six other candidates including Hayek.

    Which version makes more sense to you: the UISG president saying "it was voluntary, really, really" as the administration peers over his shoulder, or Raj saying he was squeezed out? Scaring The Powers That Be is one more sign that Patel is looking like a live round to possibly be the first student to win a city council race in 32 years. Stay tuned -- this oughta be good tomorrow.

    The Latest Hillary Denial

    The Latest Hillary Denial

    At this point in 2003, nobody would have pegged an Illinois state legislator who's bombed badly in a congressional primary challenge as the next president. (We all figured 2008 was gonna be President Dean's re-election bid.)

    But amidst all the GOP polling it's a fun sidebar to look at some potential 2016 Democrats, and Hillary Clinton is way out front:
    57% of Democrats in (South Carolina) say she'd be their first choice for the party nominee in 2016. She's followed by Joe Biden at 23%, Andrew Cuomo at 5%, Deval Patrick at 2%, Russ Feingold and Mark Warner at 1%, and Kirsten Gillibrand and Brian Schweitzer at 0%.

    We've done similar polls in Iowa (where Clinton was at 44% to 13% for Biden and no one else in doublt digits) and New Hampshire (where Clinton was at 52% to 16% for Biden and no one else in double digits.) It's clear at this point that if Clinton decided to run she would start out as the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. Of course that was the case in 2008 too which is why these early polls are fun but not terribly predictive.
    Of course, pundits and Republicans like to stir the pot because a destructive 2012 primary challenge would be a great story. Hillary is still making Sherman Statements:
    "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there is a 'below zero' chance that she will challenge President Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012."

    "I am not interested in being drawn back into it [politics] by anybody," said Clinton.

    In the past, Clinton has also indicated that she would like secretary of state to be last her job in government.
    I buy the first part but not the last. She leaves State sometime in early `14, campaigns for congressional candidates nationwide that fall, then gets back into the ball game.

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Rematch in Ft. Dodge House Race

    Rematch in Ft. Dodge House Race

    Fort Dodge Republican Matt Alcazar has announced a second try for the Iowa House, challenging Rep. Helen Miller in House District 9.

    This was one of those Some Dude near-miss races that was on nobody's radar last cycle. Miller had won easily since her first win in 2002, with a typical 60% in 2008. Alcazar had initially announced as a tea-flavored independent before switching and filing on the Republican line. But amid the zeitgeist of 2010 he almost pulled it off, holding Miller to 52%.

    The lines change very little in redistricting, as Fort Dodge's population is in The District Draws Itself range: An ideal House district size is 30,538, and the Fort Dodge census population is 25,206, about 5/6 of that. The entire old district stays in the new and three townships are added to balance the population. Under the new lines, Democrats had an April registration edge of about 2400. Not completely unwinnable for the GOP, but Alcazar's 2010 performance is probably close to the high water mark.