Monday, October 31, 2011

New Hampshire to Announce Wednesday

A Date for a Date

"Secretary of State Gardner will officially announce the date of the 2012 New Hampshire Presidential Primary on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 204 of the State House."

All bets still on January 10, not that it matters to Iowa anymore.

Wile we're at it, filing has concluded for the primary without (for the moment) a date, and another fine New Hampshire tradition is a large field of, errrr, colorful candidates. Here's the full list (.pdf alert). My favorite is the last name on the list, perennial candidate Vermin Supreme (D-MA), who judging from the look of his web site has been running since at least 1996. Wonder if he's supporting urban chickens in his platform.

In other news, the 2012 VP debate will be in Danville (KY), with Mayor Roger Doofenschmirtz moderating. Behold, the Debatinator!

Press-Citizen Coralville Endorsements

Weihe, Gross, Dodds.

Interesting observation driving through Coralville. I saw yards with Weihe and Gross signs. I saw Fausett, Gross. I saw Dodds, Gross. I saw Snyder, Gross. I always saw Gross.

It's voting day at the Coralville Library, stop by till 8:30. Yes, Iowa City, UHeights and everyone else can vote too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

GOP Caucuses: Welcome to 1996

Splintered Field Helps Romney

As a self-respecting Iowa political writer I have no choice but to comment on this morning's Iowa Poll of the GOP caucus field. My 140 character take on the top line last night: "Herman Cain: This month's way of saying Not Mitt." That may be better for Cain than my take on his announcement: "Morrie Taylor+Alan Keyes=Herman Cain."

Sorry for flashing back to 1996 there with the Taylor and Keyes references. But more and more, compared to all of caucus history, this contest is starting to look like that year. The Democratic side is uncontested and the Republican field is splintered. The poll's top line numbers:
Cain 23
Romney 22
Paul 12
Bachmann 8
Perry 7
Gingrich 7
Santorum 5
Huntsman 1
Eerily similar to the 1996 final results:
Dole 26
Buchanan 23
Alexander 18
Forbes 10
Gramm 9
Keyes 7
Lugar 4
Taylor 1
Dornan < 1

Once upon a time, I had a little money.
Government burglars took it long
before I could mail it to you.
Still, you are the only one.
Now I can't let it slip away.
So if the man with the ticker tape,
he tries to take it,
well this is what I'm gonna say.

Blame it on Cain.
Don't blame it on me.
Oh, oh, it's nobody's fault,
but we need somebody to burn.
Sounds like a concise description of 9-9-9 to me. And as Michele Bachmann says, 9-9-9 upside down is...

Need to get that all-important Republican caucus Satanist vote.

Perhaps Newt's 7% is just 6.66% rounded up.

But back to Elvis Costello. He changes the last line of the chorus to conclude the song:
Blame it on Cain.
Don't blame it on me.
Oh, oh, it's nobody's fault,
but it just seems to be his turn.
That's how Republicans choose their nominees, and the other names who might have claimed that inheritance (Huckabee, Palin) aren't in. That leaves only Mittens, and while he may be a reluctant choice, so was Dole in `96.

The Pizza Man is peaking right this minute. (UPDATE: Didn't think he'd crash THIS fast. That's even faster than Bachmann post-Ames.) I'm not being flip, I really do think "Cain" is just the latest way to say "Not Romney".

(There's a Godfather's just two blocks from my home and we never go there. Not a political boycott - does ANYONE know if the pro-choice Domino's boycott is still on? - but I had a bad experience with Godfather's in Toledo, Ohio in 1985 when our whole college speech team got sick off it. Of course, at that point in my life beer may have been involved.)

Santorum, who's quietly gathering social conservative support, will overperform. Not well enough to survive past New Hampshire, unless he happens to be the latest Not Romney around New Year's. But he'll bump that 5 up. Ron Paul will also overperform, benefiting from organization, fanatical devotion, and the inconvenient caucus date. You could have scheduled it Christmas morning and the Paulistas would be there. They'll also stick around past the non-binding presidential "vote" and pack the committees and delegate slates. So let's call that 12 more like 15 or 16 which is absolutely indigestible (like Godfather's Pizza) and will probably vote third party in November.

Perry is a big enough player that he'll keep some residual support. I don't see Bachmann or Gingrich pulling a Tom Tancredo and dropping out at the last minute.

Subtract a couple more points for Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Fred Karger and Buddy Roemer combined. Also, if I remember right (at least it was this way in 2008) the Republican caucus ballot is blank. All votes are write-in. That means X percent will be soaked up by die-hards for Huckabee or Palin or Christie or None Of The Above, thus lowering the percentage needed for a win.

It won't take much to "win" in a splintered field. Romney needs to work on the organization, and stop out here to say to bump that 22 up to say 24 or 26. That'll do, just like it did for Dole.

So, 1996 all over again. Two big differences: I'm definitely NOT running for the legislature this year, and please lord don't let the Macarena make a comeback.

Endorsement Season

Pols and Papers Pick People

I heard that Captain Steve was interested enough in my endorsement of him Friday to quote it on air. (Except my characterization of his sense of humor didn't quite translate from the original Throgmorton.) Here's some other endorsements that may or may not be of interest:

Supervisor Rod Sullivan has also made some picks and shared them with his email list (now available in blog format):
In the Iowa City at-large race, I support Matt Hayek and Raj Patel. I have had my share of disagreements with (Hayek's) stances on certain issues. But I know Matt makes his decisions for the right reasons, and not for personal gain. He is a stand up guy and a damn good mayor.

I have only gotten to know Raj over the past few months, but he impresses me. He is smart and works hard. It is amazing to me that Iowa City has gone 30 years without a student on the council. The problem has typically been that the student candidates were not up to the task. Not so this time - Raj Patel can do the job.
Halfway with you there, Rod. My second vote after Raj was a write-in, but I don't feel strongly enough about it to recommend it. Sullivan also puts in a good word for the unopposed Jim Throgmorton.

Speaking of Throg, he's also seen praising Patel:
To experience a new younger passionate voice causes one to stop, reflect and ask a simple question, “isn’t this the type of individual that creates a desire to participate?”
Makes up for the Dobyns thing, Jim. UPDATE from the comments: not everyone thinks so. Soboroff backer Eric Nygaard is urging a District C write-in vote for Dan Tallon, who announced for District C early in the year but left the race after returning from his military tour in Afghanistan. I like Dan a lot, and voted for him two years ago. But I've already voted for Jim and have no regrets. Like I said Friday, I've never voted for a candidate I agreed with 100% including the time I ran myself.

Also seen on the Patel page: Supervisor Janelle Rettig ("Raj is running an impressive campaign reaching out door to door to hear your ideas for continuing our growth as a vibrant place that is attractive to live, work, and play.”) and outgoing District A council member Ross Wilburn (“Please support Raj Patel for Iowa City Council as one of your general election choices. Raj is running an impressive campaign reaching out door to door to hear your ideas for continuing our growth as a vibrant place that is attractive to live, work, and play.”)

Speaking of Wilburn and District A, current Gazette writer and former political activist (we miss ya, Jen) attended a Dobyns-Soboroff forum and commented on the bipolar nature of District A, both the candidates and the district:
You almost wonder if the two candidates live in the same town. And technically, they do.

But Soboroff lives on the city’s southeast side. Dobyns on the west — areas of town that are as night-and-day different as the candidates themselves.

Both Soboroff and Dobyns give you the feeling they’d represent their parts of the city well.

But because District A is so sprawling, no matter who is elected, residents from one or another part of the district will once again have to go without a council representative with firsthand knowledge of their neighborhood’s challenges and strengths.

So District A voters have a clear choice to make during next month’s election. And something else is equally clear: It’s time to add a fourth district to Iowa City’s city council.
Interesting enough, but a couple points:

  • Both poles of the district have, or have had, representation in recent years. Longtime mayor Ernie Lehman, though he was so identified with his downtown business that I got the facts wrong for years, is a west sider. And if you think any group would be under-represented it'd be African Americans from the southeast side... but Ross Wilburn, who lives in the heart of the Weatherby neighborhood, has been there for 12 years including two as mayor.

  • You know who hasn't been represented in 32 years? Students. And part of that is because to get seated on the city council, you have to in the end win a city-wide election, and historically voters east of Governor and west of Sunset have been about as willing to back young candidates as white Mississipians are to support black candidates. If anyone can break that barrier, it's Patel, who already proved in the primary he can pull votes outside downtown.

    Rettig makes an excellent argument against districting systems in local government: if a specific project like a road directly benefits only one geographic interest, and only one of the five or seven members has to win votes in that area, then the project will never get passed. True. The exception I'd make is if there's a historic pattern of a significant minority group being unable to gain representation -- say, African Americans in Mississippi. Or students in Iowa City.

    I'm betting that Raj Patel, the most able and best organized young candidate in decades, can make the question moot. But if Patel doesn't win, it proves beyond doubt that it's impossible for a student-age candidate to win a city-wide election, and that city charter reform is necessary to achieve truly representative government in our city.

    Johnson County is not just Iowa City, Senator Bob Dvorsky is fond of saying, and he and Fearless Leader Sue Dvorsky offer an endorsement of Coralville city council member Mitch Gross for re-election. A Jill Dodds sign has also been spotted at Casa Dvorsky.

    The P-C backs North Liberty council incumbents Coleen Chipman, Terry Donahue and Chris Hoffman, and opposed the ballot issue to elect the council by wards. Some of the fizz seems to have gone out of that one; the one challenger, Matt Zacek, is from the same Fox Run neighborhood as the council majority. The P-C also endorses mayor Tom Salm, even though the office isn't on the ballot until 2013.

    Other hot spots: Solon has a ballot issue to but the Brosh Funeral Home for city offices, the mayor's race is contested in Tiffin, and there are five write-in candidates in of all places Shueyville. But the big one, of course, is the Battle Of University Heights.
  • Friday, October 28, 2011

    A Disappointing Endorsement

    Unopposed Throgmorton Backs Dobyns in District A

    Jim Throgmorton has got the easiest race in town. The former city council member was such a prohibitive favorite that he cleared the field, and will take over for Regenia Bailey in the District C seat with no opposition.

    Jim's still running a campaign, though. He's doorknocking and has a website and signs, one in my yard.

    But with no opposition, Throgmorton has a little extra time on his hands to get involved in the other two contests. And Thursday he emailed supporters with an endorsement in the District A race:
    I have been very impressed by Rick Dobyns. You and I surely will not agree with Rick on every issue that comes up, but I have found him to be thoughtful, hardworking, and very knowledgeable about the issues that have been raised in the candidate forums. In many private conversations, I have also found him to have a generous spirit and engaging sense of humor. He would be a pleasure to work with on the City Council.

    I am unable to make similar comments concerning his opponent, Steve Sobaroff. He and I have disagreed fundamentally on almost every important issue that's been discussed in the forums, and I think he would be very difficult to work with on the Council.

    Now, I've never once voted for a candidate I agreed with 100 percent, and that includes the time I ran myself. But I've got to note my disagreement with Jim here.

    Throgmorton was a solid old-school Iowa City style progressive during his two years on the council in the mid-90s. Those were the glory days, when we were one seat away from Mayor Karen Kubby.

    But around the turn of the century, Iowa City progressives developed a self-righteous, moralistic, in loco parentis streak in the name of "public health" and started to scrub and sanitize and neuter the city. I'm not attributing this to Jim, but I see it in the candidate he supports.

    We've heard time and again in the marriage equality debate that a majority shouldn't be able to take cherished rights away from a minority. We hear in the death penalty argument that standing on principle is not an endorsement of the specific crime. I wholeheartedly agree.

    But what happens when the rights someone cherishes are less high-minded? What if the right a large minority of voting age adults cherishes is the right to have a beer and a smoke in a bar?

    Then all of a sudden "progressives" are either silent or openly in opposition. Rather than defend the idea that an 18 year old is an adult, one leading "progressive" conducted Sunday morning "puke-tours" of downtown, attacking admittedly bad behavior but ignoring higher principles and, frankly, demonizing young people.

    The smoking debates were even worse than the bar wars. They were less anti-smokING and more anti-smokER, with the Public Health Uber Alles police unable to speak for more than two sentences without their clear, gut-level contempt for smokers coming out. All their knowledge of the science and nature of addiction was forgotten under their personal disgust.

    And no Iowa Citian epitomized that mindset more than Dr. Rick Dobyns. Other "progressives" were followers, but Dobyns led the unsuccessful 21 bar fight in 2007. That fight, at the local level, appears to be done for now, at least until we deal with a jail next year. Even Raj Patel doesn't want to revisit it, preferring to focus on the reality of post-21 downtown. (He's more grown up about it than me. I've held some grudges longer than Raj has been alive.).

    But which side you were on still matters. It says a lot about your respect, or contempt, for the citizens -- ALL of the citizens -- of your city. And there was a lot of contempt for young people in the Bar Wars. That specific issue was just the largest example of what I call the Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students mentality, a theme Steve Soboroff is addressing in his call for a more "student friendly" Iowa City.

    From what I hear Rick Dobyns is a good physician; he's treated my friends and former family members and I hope he has lots of time to continue his practice. And lots of liberals give him a pass because he's a "public health advocate" who occasionally shows up at a Democratic fundraiser.

    But I just don't think it's "progressive" to support, advocate, and lead a fight to take rights away from people, even if or especially if they're rights you don't personally care for.

    I'm struck by the diamond shape of the Dobyns signs. Trim the corners and you have an octagon: a stop sign. Steve Soboroff doesn't have signs and I'd love a Stop Dobyns sign for my yard. I could easily find the, um,  raw materials to make one in a lot of west side yards... naah, too many people know where I live and I suspect Rick wouldn't have a sense of humor about it. Blogger Charged With Stealing Signs is not a headline I need.

    Steve Soboroff is by no means a progressive. He's cantankerous and politically incorrect. He doesn't have a "generous spirit and engaging sense of humor." But at least Steve seems to hold everyone in equal contempt, rather than focusing his contempt on the politically powerless young community like the Wellness Police do. I wish Steve was running a more conventional campaign, or at least the Gonzo Campaign, with the tools of ads and ballot drives that you actually need.

    It felt really strange marking my ballot for Steve Soboroff. It was like two years ago, when I told a Republican friend I had voted for student candidates Jeff Shipley and Dan Tallon, instead of overwhelming winners Terry "Don't Beg In Front Of My Jewelry Store" Dickens and Susan Mims. My friend said "Deeth, you voted No." (I responded that No was a mild way to put it and a raised middle finger would be more accurate.)

    So that's what I did. I voted No. I voted Stop Rick Dobyns.

    Please join me in voting for Steve Soboroff.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Zumbach announces in Senate 48

    Instant Lame Duck Gets Primary ?

    Republican Cindy Golding has already pulled off the rare trick of being a lame duck before even getting elected. Now she's got a primary challenger, too.

    At least one Republican lacks enough confidence in Golding's chances in the Battle of Marion special election that he's entering the race for the district Golding hopes to run in next fall. (Update: Bleeding Heartland now notes that there may be two, with Some Dude Brian Cook considering the race as well.)

    Farmer Dan Zumbach of rural Ryan, in Delaware County, started looking at Senate 48 as far back as July and filed a campaign organization statement (pdf) in August, long before there was any hint that Democrat Swati Dandekar was resigning.

    A refresher on geography: New Senate District 48 has very little overlap with Old Senate 18. The districts share just three townships - Fayette, rural Marion,and Monroe - and the city of Palo. The new turf then sprawls into northern and eastern Linn County, most of the population of Jones County, and all the way up into Delaware and Buchanan.

    The Republican nominee in the Battle Of Marion, Cindy Golding, lives in Monroe Township - in old District 18 but NOT in new District 34, which includes Marion city and the vast majority of old Senate 18. Democrat Liz Mathis, of rural Robins, and Constitution Party candidate Jon Tack, of Hiawatha, both live in bth old 18 and new 34.

    Golding has already announced that, if elected on November 8, she will seek re-election not in new District 34, where most of her constituents live, but in District 48, where she owns a very, very, very nice house. Rep. Nate Willems (D-Lisbon) announced for Senate 48 shortly after The Map was approved.

    So even though it was kind of public knowledge that Zumbach was running, why emphasize it now? Why shoot out a press-release now, just 12 days before the special election, that got picked up by both the Dubuque Telegraph Herald and the Register? It suggests both a lack of solid party support for Golding and a lowering of victory expectations.

    Two Options For Dems

    By coincidence I see two non-Obama caucus related items in one day.

    The first is just plain monkeywrenching:
    Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is bringing his campaign for president to Iowa, including a stop this morning in front of City Hall in downtown Cedar Rapids.

    Terry doesn’t expect to win the Democratic nomination.

    “He’s not delusional,” a spokesman said.

    Instead, he’s hoping to mobilize caucus-going prolife Catholics and evangelicals to send a message to the president.

    Some say his real goal is not to win the caucuses, but air an ad showing graphic images of aborted fetuses during the Feb. 5 Super Bowl. Broadcasters are allowed under federal law to refuse advertisements unless they are being run by candidates seeking public office.

    However, now that the caucuses have been moved from Feb. 6 to Jan. 3, that strategy seems, well, outdated.

    The other comes from UI histroy prof Jeff cox. While I don't support it, is at least comprehensible:
    Join the campaign to stand up for peace at the Iowa caucuses! The Iowa Healthcare not Warfare Caucus Campaign is organizing Iowans to attend the January 3 Democratic caucuses and support the election of uncommitted delegates. Although uncommitted to any presidential candidate, the delegates will be committed to (1) bringing all of our troops home from Afghanistan during the first year of President Obama's re-election, and (2) extending universal health care (Medicare
    for All) to all Americans during President Obama's second term.
    Note the dual references to "second Obama term" - uncommitted Democrats are going to get on board.

    Not necessarily the CCI crowd that has co-opted Occupy Des Moines: GOP state rep. Chris Hagenow twittered yesterday that several of thems addresses the Westside Conservative Club at the Machine Shed Restaurant. David "I love getting arrested" Goodner is quoted as saying: "Occupy DSM is the third party candidate in the 2012 election." And a Judy Lonning says : "At this point I won't be voting for Obama" and "I hope that the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street can join together." Again, this isn'y an OCCUPY criticism, it's a critique of the confrontational approach in Des Moines.

    But back to the uncommitted Dems: Remember, if you're a Republican For A Day like Ed FAllon suggests, your protest vote is buried in the GOP mix and you give up your seat at the Democratic platform table and at any special nominating conventions.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    It's All Our Turf

    If you're an old man like me you remember the "controversial" 1979 flick The Warriors, in which a very stylized and highly improbable (multiethnic?!?) New York gang fights its way across the city, battling cops and all the rest of the highly improbable gangs in the city. The soundtrack is highly improbable, too -- Joe Walsh from the Eagles? In this century, it would work better as a video game than as a movie.

    The McGuffin that gets the plot rolling is the assassination of Cyrus, a street messiah who only appears on screen for just one scene. But those three minutes are an outstanding speech on community organizing.

    Can you count, suckas? I say, the future is ours... if you can count!

    Now, look what we have here before us. We got the Saracens sitting next to the Jones Street Boys. We've got the Moonrunners right by the Van Cortlandt Rangers. Nobody is wasting nobody. That... is a miracle. And miracles is the way things ought to be.

    You're standing right now with nine delegates from 100 gangs. And there's over a hundred more. That's 20,000 hardcore members. Forty-thousand, counting affiliates, and twenty-thousand more, not organized, but ready to fight: 60,000 soldiers! Now, there ain't but 20,000 police in the whole town. Can you dig it? Can you dig it? Can you dig it?

    Now, here's the sum total: One gang could run this city! One gang. Nothing would move without us allowing it to happen. We could tax the crime syndicates, the police, because WE got the streets, suckas! Can you dig it?

    The problem in the past has been the man turning us against one another. We have been unable to see the truth, because we have fighting for ten square feet of ground, our turf, our little piece of turf. That's crap, brothers! The turf is ours by right, because it's our turn. All we have to do is keep up the general truce. We take over one borough at a time. Secure our territory... secure our turf... because it's all our turf!
    It's all our turf. Something to consider when you think about what MY city would be without its 25,000 students, unrepresented in local government for three decades. And the Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students cohort of townies and self-appointed do-gooders Mr. Subliminal says Dobyns are stirring up the faux fear, just like the 1970s generation of moral guardians (sic) did for this movie.

    The reality is about as real and dangerous as the cartoon gangs in the movie. But the Warriors - spoiler 35 years late - do make it home. Can you vote, suckas?

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Voting with Herky

    Voting with Herky

    Someone we all know and love stopped by early voting at Burge yesterday. Three more campus area sites this week: the UI main library today 2-8 PM, Hillcrest tomorrow 1-7 PM, and OLd Capitol Mall Thursday 10 to 4.

    Monday, October 24, 2011



    Four weeks to the day, almost to the hour, since the Deeth Blog was hacked, I now have Complete Control back.

    Unfortunately, the stats for the missing month are gone forever and I'll need to reconstruct the layout. I've got some stuff backed up but doubt I'll be able to get it exact; end goal is something at least resembling the vintage version.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Sunday Clips

    And While You're At It, Don't Talk Mexican In Front Of Me In The Wal-Mart Checkout Line Neither

    Find the common thread in these three stories.

  • GOP on 2012 Vote: Block It, Don't Rock It:
    In 2011, Republican Party of Florida “hard right-wing conservatives”in hammerlock control of the state added some wrinkles of their own to the mix, passing a new anti-voting rights law with an old purpose - suppressing the vote of those perceived as “oppositional”. The law shamelessly targets young/minority voters, Early Voting, and voter registration drives that the RPOF fears might help Democrats earn victories.

  • Dana Milbank, The birthers eat their own:
    The people who brought you the Barack Obama birth-certificate hullabaloo now have a new target: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a man often speculated to be the next Republican vice presidential nominee. While they’re at it, they also have Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana and perhaps a future presidential candidate, in their sights.

    The good news for the birthers is that this suggests they were going after Obama, whose father was a Kenyan national, not because of the president’s political party. The bad news is that this supports the suspicion that they were going after Obama because of his race.

  • Alexander Stille, The Paradox of the New Elite:
    It's a puzzle: one dispossessed group after another — blacks, women, Hispanics and gays — has been gradually accepted in the United States, granted equal rights and brought into the mainstream.

    At the same time, in economic terms, the United States has gone from being a comparatively egalitarian society to one of the most unequal democracies in the world.

    Other nations seem to face the same challenge: either inclusive, or economically just. Europe has maintained much more economic equality but is struggling greatly with inclusiveness and discrimination, and is far less open to minorities than is the United States.

    European countries have done a better job of protecting workers’ salaries and rights but have been reluctant to extend the benefits of their generous welfare state to new immigrants who look and act differently from them. Could America’s lost enthusiasm for income redistribution and progressive taxation be in part a reaction to sharing resources with traditionally excluded groups?

    Here, let me spell it out for ya.

  • Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Iowa City Labor Endorsement

    Iowa City Labor Endorsement Meeting

    Kind of a non-event tonight at the Iowa City Federation of Labor's candidate endorsement meeting. The one candidate from Iowa City, Coralville or North Liberty who completed the required survey was Jim Throgmorton. The unopposed District C contender duly got the nod.

    The only candidate on hand was at-large contender Raj Patel, who took a half dozen or so questions before leaving for this evening's candidate forum. Patel's reception was mostly positive. Most discussion during the later endorsement part of the meeting focused on the negatives of Michelle Payne, one delegate calling for a Matt Hayek endorsement, and a surprisingly strong assessment of Steve Soboroff's chances in District A.

    Second Web Site in University Heights Race

    Second Web Site in University Heights Race

    Both de facto slates in the sure to be hot again University Heights city election are now up with web sites.

    "U H Moving Forward" is the group that's been in support of the One University Place development at the site of St. Andrew Church.

    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 (56%) and broke the long-time Johnson County pattern: if a special election got called by petition, the side that petitioned always lost, until Hopson.

    U H Moving Forward is also supporting MAyor Louise From, running unopposed.
    Opponents of the project are We Are For University Heights at

    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.

    As a near west sider, near but not in UHeights, I've spotted yard signs and even bumper stickers printed with all four WeR4UH names. Usually when Koni is driving, because she takes Sunset to Melrose and I usually stay on Benton specifically to stay out of University Heights; my foot gets a little heavy on the gas sometimes.

    The fifth incumbent, Stan Laverman, is not running. UHeights is also voting on renewing its library levy, which passed with 88% in 2005. Both sides of the development battle seem to agree on that at least.
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Hancock Retires, Bowman Holds Over

    Hancock Retires, Bowman Holds Over

    Missed this one Monday so Bleeding Heartland does the work:
    Democratic State Senator Tom Hancock announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election to the Iowa Senate in 2012. His decision means that fellow Democratic incumbent Tod Bowman can hold over in the new Senate district 29 until 2014, but it also means that Democrats must field a candidate in the new Senate district 49 next year.
    So desmoinesdem basically writes the article I would have written so I'll add just a couple bits.

    Senate 49 is the only odd-number seat that had no incumbent on Map Day, so the contest will be for a two-year term. Andrew Naeve, who lost to Bowman by just 71 votes last year, announced for the seat months ago before it was clear whether the seat would even be on the ballot.

    He may not be alone on the GOP side. Shawn "Go Home" Hamerlinck lives just outside the lines in Senate District 46, and is paired up with fellow Republican Jim Hahn of Muscatine. Most folks expected a Hahn retirement, but he's up and running, so Hamerlinck might find the Clinton-based 49 more inviting. (Hamerlinck was elected in 2008, so his term expires either way and he can't force a holdover in 49. Only Bowman, elected in 2010, could have done that.)

    And Clinton mayor Rodger Holm hinted last summer that he was interested in the seat, and then hemmed and hawed so long about it that he skipped the filing deadline for re-election as mayor. Now, bizarrely, he's just launched a write-in campaign for re-election.

    No names yet on the Democratic side; I'm still holding out for former Clinton restaurant owner William Drayton.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Double Secret Probation

    Patel Pushed on UI Dropout?

    The attacks on city council candidate Raj Patel's credibility are sure to escalate after Patel announced that, while remaining enrolled at Kirkwood, he was withdrawing from his UIowa classes.

    I'm already hearing it: Ooh! Ooh! Gotcha! Quitter! Quitter! He's so OVERWHELMED by school that there's no WAY he can run the city! Better leave it to the grownups!

    So what gives? Why open yourself up to that? Patel only hints at a darker side to the story. Here's the key line:
    "The evolution of the flexibility of my University of Iowa courses had changed as my campaign began to show momentum, whereas my Kirkwood classes remain flexible, and I will continue to attend classes there full-time while the campaign continues," the release said.

    The evolution of the flexibility of my University of Iowa courses had changed.

    I have no smoking guns here. But I do have Occam's Razor.

    Picture this scenario. You're an undergrad with a big extracurricular or personal deadline mid-semester. In my case it was speech nationals the last week of April. For you it might be your brother's wedding in October. Or it might be... an election November 8. You know the date months in advance. You go to your prof or TA on Day One and make some arrangements. They know you're not just procrastinating, they work with you.

    But then you stick your neck out, and all of a sudden you're on Double Secret Probation.

    Given the reports about UI pressure to remove Patel as student liaison to the city council, it's not hard to picture. A couple undocumented calls from administrators to department heads, a couple quiet closed door sitdowns between department heads and professors, a couple marching orders to TAs, and all of a sudden a fellow has less "flexibility" than he used to on extended deadlines or make-up tests.

    Did they do it? I don't know and I don't think we ever will.

    But did they think it?

    The University of Iowa administration does NOT want this man on the city council. They do not like him. They are afraid that because of Patel's advocacy for student rights in the 21 bar brawl last year, he wants to repeal the ordinance. That's a position that Patel explicitly rejects, and that no one other than John Deeth is willing to support in public.

    Student government, no doubt feeling that same pressure again, is hemming and hawing about its prior endorsement of Patel:

    UISG formally endorsed Patel Oct. 4. The motion was previously tabled, because some senators expressed concern Michelle Payne — a part-time student at the UI — should also be considered.

    UISG Speaker of the Senate Nic Pottebaum said the legislation would stand unless a UISG senator proposed legislation to overturn it. (no doubt forthcoming...)

    But UISG President Elliot Higgins said Patel's withdrawal as a UI student "may change the dynamics of the race."

    "It's up to the voters of Iowa City whether Raj does represent the voice of students, but it's difficult to claim yourself as the voice of students if you're not a University of Iowa student," Higgins said.

    Gimme a break. Who is truly representative of students, the largest unrepresented group of voters in the city:

  • A 46 year old Republican working for Mid-American Energy and backed by the elite of the Old Guard, Love the Hawkeyes Hate the Students, local conservatives (campaign finance report, .pdf) who happens to be enrolled in a couple classes, or

  • A 20 year old recognized leader in the student community taking a semester off and still enrolled at Kirkwood?

    The answer, and the choice, is clear.
  • Monday, October 17, 2011

    Third Candidate in Special Election

    A Splinter On The Right in Battle Of Marion

    Another break for Democrats in the Senate District 18 special election: Jon Tack of Hiawatha has filed as a candidate for the right wing Constitution Party.

    Tack pulled just under 1 percent, both in Linn County and district-wide, in the 2010 2nd Congressional District election.

    The Constitution Party stated life in the mid-90s as the US Taxpayers Party. The bullet-point platform includes:
    Life: For all human beings, from conception to natural death

    Family: One husband and one wife with their children as divinely instituted

    Property: Each individual's right to own and steward personal property without government burden

    States' Rights: Everything not specifically delegated by the Constitution to the federal government, nor prohibited by the Constitution to the states, is reserved to the states or to the people.
    Clearly this is going to bite into Republican Cindy Golding's base more than that of Democrat Liz Mathis. But does a one percenter matter? Look at the 2009 Battle Of Fairfield, the state House special election where Democrat Curt Hanson won with under 50 percent, as two tea partyish candidates slivered just a hair off of the Republican vote.

    Caucuses Set For January 3

    January 3, 2012

    Appropriately enough, the news came over my phone while I was at local Democratic HQ making plans for the caucuses:
    Iowa GOP Chair Strawn: First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses Set for January 3

    Des Moines – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn tonight made the following statement after the Party’s State Central Committee approved a motion to hold Iowa’s First in the Nation Precinct Caucuses on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. (Iowa time).

    “On behalf of over 600,000 Iowa Republicans, I’m excited to announce the first step Iowans will have to replace Barack Obama and his failed presidency will be next January 3 at our First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses,” said Strawn. “A January 3 date provides certainty to the voters, to our presidential candidates, and to the thousands of statewide volunteers who make the Caucus process a reflection of the very best of our representative democracy.”

    Iowa’s precinct caucuses, which occur at over 1,700 precinct locations across the Hawkeye state, are best-known for the presidential preference poll that occurs along with traditional party organizing activities such as the election of precinct committeemen and platform discussions.

    Strawn noted that the decision to hold the precinct caucuses on January 3 mirrored the decision made by Iowa Republican and Democrat officials during the 2008 presidential cycle when Iowa held the First in the Nation Caucuses on January 3 and New Hampshire held the First in the Nation Primary on January 8, 2008.

    Strawn noted this process is best served with Iowa and New Hampshire continuing in lead-off roles as the First in the Nation Caucus and First in the Nation Primary, respectively. He said, “At a time when more and more Americans feel disconnected from our national leaders, we need places like Iowa and New Hampshire that require those who seek to lead us, actually meet us, look us in the eye and listen to our hopes and concerns for our families and our Nation.”

    Strawn also expressed solidarity with his counterparts in New Hampshire, “I will do everything in my power on the RNC to hold Florida accountable for creating this mess, but the culpability for creating a compressed January calendar does not end there. The actions of early state newcomer Nevada have also exacerbated this problem and unnecessarily crowded the January calendar. Time remains for Nevada to respect the process, honor tradition and rectify the problem in a way that will restore order to the nomination calendar.
    Democratic chair Sue Dvorsky quickly followed with this tweet:
    Iowa Democratic Party state central committee meeting by phone conf Thurs night. #iacaucus #FITN
    Presumably discussing the same subject with the same outcome.

    The date provides a nice symmetry for us Obama `08 Iowans, coming four years to the day after the historic caucus win.

    Frontloading HQ
    At this point it is most likely that Nevada moves back this weekend and New Hampshire ultimately slides into the January 10 slot. As always, though, we shall see.
    Nevada Republicans meet Saturday.

    Also breaking:
    Republicans Call For Romney To Join Nevada Boycott
    State Leaders Say Front-Runner Taking NH For Granted

    CONCORD, N.H. -- State Republican leaders are urging presidential candidate Mitt Romney to join a boycott of the Nevada caucus in an effort to get that state to change its schedule.

    House Speaker Bill O'Brien said Romney is making a mistake by not joining the Nevada boycott.

    "I think he may be taking New Hampshire voters for granted, and I don't think he ought to do that," O'Brien said.

    "I talk to voters who are very, very concerned about New Hampshire maintaining its primary," he said. "They wouldn't take very kindly to a front-runner who says, 'No, I've got you locked up, so I'm going to try and get an advantage in another state.'"
    Nice lead youse got here. Shame if somethin' happened to it.

    City Election Developments

    Me Me Me from Mitchell; Patel Picks Party

    In an unusual move, Jarrett Mitchell, the distant fourth place finisher in last week's primary, is openly campaigning for what we in local parlance call "bullet votes" in the city election.

    "VOTE ONLY FOR JARRETT MITCHELL ON NOVEMBER 8TH" reads the footer below a YouTube video claiming that the famous Black Angel tombstone is supportng Mitchell.

    While the dead are only allowed to vote in Chicago, Iowa voters in an election where you can vote for more than one candidate are indeed free to vote for just one. But campaigns that encourage the tactic usually do it subtly and below the radar.

    Voters who choose the tactic, in order to "be sure" their first choice wins, run the risk of seeing their second choice lose to their last choice. With Mitchell so far behind in the primary, and incumbent Matt Hayek so far ahead, the only real competition is between Mid-American Energy's Michelle Payne and student Raj Patel.

    Patel, for his part, recently changed his voter registration from No Party to Democratic. Payne has been a registered Republican since registering in the county in 2005.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Caucuses Under Military Attack

    Caucuses Under Military Attack

    No, this isn't a metaphor; the actual military is attacking the caucuses.
    The Reserve Officers Association, which has been pressing for state parties to make it possible for soldiers abroad to participate in the primary and caucus process, is complaining that the Iowa GOP -- which promised to "study" its concerns -- has instead ignored them.

    "I suspect [the promise of a review] was just, 'let's say something to get them off our back,'" Wright said.
    Hillary Clinton had the high ground on this one four years ago and Iowa still doesn't have a good answer. And there's not a good answer; if you're in Afghanistan you're not going to want to hear the real answer: "You can't have an absentee ballot because the New Hampshire Secretary of State doesn't like it."

    Speaking of him, he's got military problems of his own: it's exposing his threat of a December primary as a bluff.
    Gardner has already set one firm date, the filing deadline. Candidates who want to run for president must file the appropriate papers with his office by close of business on Friday, October 28 (That is, two weeks from today).

    Gardner can't start printing any ballots until that process is complete. In fact, he probably can't start printing ballots until the next business day, Monday, October 31. And thanks to a law Congress passed in 2009, he must allow at least 45 days to pass between the time he sends out absentee ballots and Election Day.

    That law, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, significantly expanded a 1986 law known as the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The MOVE Act requires state elections officials to send absentee ballots to qualified voters at least 45 days before an election; the goal is to ensure military personnel serving overseas and on Navy ships receive ballots with enough time to vote.

    If Gardner schedules his primary on December 6th or 13th, before the 45-day clock ticks down, he's going to get sued by some voter claiming disenfranchisement under the MOVE and UOCAVA Acts. He wouldn't have a great chance at winning the case; many states that have held annual primaries in September, for example, are moving those contests back to August to account for the 45-day requirement.

    An Occupy Observation

    An Occupy Observation

    I've finally gotten a little time to follow the Occupy stories and I'm struck by the contrast between Iowa City and Des Moines. The attitude, from what I hear, is much more relaxed in Iowa City and more confrontational in Des Moines.

    The Iowa City police are being given some of the credit, though their cooperative and selective enforcement of the law begs the question of why they're so letter of the law when it comes to a voting age adult who wants a beer.

    But more of the credit is due to the participants. They deliberately chose a town square type park, close to downtown but not in the way. The more natural spot would have been the Ped Mall, but they didn't want to get in the way of locally owned businesses.

    But in Des Moines, it seems like organizers deliberately chose the highest profile spot possible, the Capitol grounds, where confrontation and arrest was most likely. Did law enforcement over-react? Sure. But I kinda think that was the goal all along.

    Calendar Clarity

    Calendar Clarity: Nevada's Gonna Blink

    The caucus date drama's not over yet but it's almost time for Iowans to mark calendars. We're going to be Tuesday January 3.

    Things moved fast yesterday as the game of chicken between New Hampshire, stubbornly committed to it's "a week before any similar contest" law, and Nevada, the newest of the Official Early States and not as skilled at this brinksmanship. This is going to end with New Hampshire getting Tuesday the 10th with Nevada caving and moving its currently scheduled January 14 caucuses to Tuesday the 17th or Saturday the 21st. My bet is the 17th, which gives them a week after New Hampshire and a week before South Carolina.

    Nevada already showed is weakness two weeks ago when state GOP chair Amy Tarkanian flirted, for about 12 hours, with giving up the fight and going AFTER Florida's rulebreaking January 31 date. Both parties also proved in 2008, Nevada's first year as an early state, that their skills at running a caucus were lacking.

    And yesterday the date drama finally reached the candidate level:
    On Thursday, the campaigns of Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann all said they would boycott Nevada unless its caucus date is changed. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul said while they respect New Hampshire’s role, they will compete everywhere. Herman Cain’s campaign did not immediately respond to inquiries.
    Making it even more clear that Nevada's overreach, grabbing January 14 when they could have picked the 17th or 21st and still stayed third, was Mitt-driven.

    As for New Hampshire, the GOP state chair was publicly begging Secretary of State Bill Gardner to commit to the 10th. And Frontloading HQ has its usual excellent take.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    New Hampshire Wants January 10

    Translating Bill Gardner

    New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has the Absolute Power to set the primary date, had a Must Read yesterday in TheIowaRepublican. Lots of make the case for the small early states, but here's the meat:
    IT’S REALLY UP TO NEVADA. If Nevada does not accept a date of Tuesday, January 17th or later for its caucus, it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year. The dates of Tuesday, December 13th, ,and Tuesday, December 6th are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed.
    Translation: He is smart enough to know he can't go into 2011 or push Iowa into 2011 without both states losing first place in 2016. So He wants to push Nevada to the 17th, a week before South Carolina. Frontloading HQ:
    First, it possibly demonstrates that the game of chicken with the Iowa GOP is either not going at all or is not going at all well for New Hampshire at the moment. With Nevada Republicans set for January 14 caucuses, that should have settled the score between Nevada and New Hampshire. As FHQ has mentioned, that shifted the process to a battle over the last spot in January between Iowa and New Hampshire. The only outcome that keeps both states in 2012 and is consistent with New Hampshire state law -- that does not also include a Nevada move -- is for New Hampshire to take the January 3 slot and for Iowa to hold caucuses a week later. Either that has been a nonstarter for the Iowa Republican Party or Secretary Gardner has yielded to custom: Iowa first, New Hampshire second. If it is the former, Iowa has essentially called Gardner's bluff on going in December. That the secretary has shifted back to discussing the position of Nevada's Republican caucuses indicates that he does not want to trigger the nuclear option. Again, in the short term, that may keep New Hampshire as the first primary, but in the long term, a December contest blows up the current system or at least puts the privileged positions of the early states on trial.
    Either way, my tea leaves are still reading January 3 for Iowa.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Barry Brauns dies

    Former Rep. Barry Brauns dies

    I feel like I need to note this passage:
    Many Muscatine County residents came to know Barry Brauns for his work as a Republican Iowa state representative and manager of the Muscatine County Fair.

    Behind the scenes, friends say he was a fun-loving but hard-working man, motivated by his dedication to his family and community.

    Brauns died Monday at age 79 at the VA Medical Center in Iowa City, after an fall at his home five months ago.
    He stood for what he believed in and he beat me fair and square. Condolences to his family and supporters.

    Salmon Announces in House 63

    GOP's Salmon Announces in House District 63

    Open House District 63 has its first Republican candidate. Home schooler Sandy Salmon of Janesville has just announced:
    I am a wife and mother who loves God, my family, my state, and my country! I am a pro-life, pro-family, constitutional and fiscal conservative.

    I carry in my heart a vision for the future of my state and nation. It is one where liberty is abundant, government is limited, God-given rights are defended, and the Constitution and the rule of law are respected.
    So that gives you the flavor. Salmon's site emphasizes the primary date, so I'm guessing she expects one. Bleeding Heartland reminds us that Salmon finished third in a three way primary in 2010.

    Democrats have recruited strongest possible candidate Bill Heckroth, a former senator who lost in last year's toxic climate to Bill "I will also be calling for a leadership election" Dix.

    The seat had an April GOP registration edge of 1170. Challenging, but better than the Senate turf where Heckroth won in 2006. 80% of the turf is an undivided Bremer County. The balance is parts of northern Black Hawk.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Payne vs. Patel For November

    Primary Shocker Sets Up Two-Way November Race

    Mark McCallum, who came within 200 votes of knocking off Connie Champion two years ago, didn't even make it through the primary tonight, falling 17 votes short of a candidate best known for reviving the urban chicken proposal from a couple years back.

    Jarrett Mitchell's surprise fourth place, and incumbent Matt Hayek's overwhelming first place (full results), rearranges what I - and most observers - had expected to be a complicated, strategic, Survivor kind of November election for the two at large seats.

    Now all is clear: The second seat is a choice between Mid-American Energy operations supervisor and registered Republican Michelle Payne and Raj Patel, who has the best shot in a lifetime at being the first student elected to the city council since David Perret was re-elected in 1979. (That would be the best shot in Raj's lifetime, not mine.)

    It's likely to be a contentious race. The Press-Citizen is already lined up behind Payne, and the university higher-ups are not taking kindly to Patel's bid. But Patel seems ready to deal with the realities of Iowa City in the post-21 era (more ready than I am, frankly) despite all the payback efforts.

    It was a close contest for second, with Payne finishing 69 votes ahead of Patel. Candidates have overcome much bigger gaps to move from third to second in the 27 day sprint to the final round.

    Mitchell is clearly far enough behind that he's not a factor as anything but a spoiler. Both Payne and Patel nearly tripled his votes. Progressives who might cast a whimsical vote for the libertarian Chicken Guy, and stick with Hayek because "he's a good Democrat," may find themselves feeling the Payne.

    And while Iowa City has a significant Vote For The Woman vote (really subtle with the pink yard signs there, Michelle), Payne is no Regenia Bailey or Amy Correia. Registering as a Republican in a 70% Obama county is a statement of values that she needs to explayne. And Raj represents diversity in his own way.

    I've made my point, progressives, you know what to do. Now let's crunch numbers in order of finish.

    Matt Hayek: Da Mayor appears to have lost little support from his near-consensus election in 2007. He finished first in 19 precincts and carried, narrowly over Patel, the absentees. He was over 80% in high turnout places like Manville Heights, Regina, and City High. It seems the "townie" vote was "Hayek and," mostly Hayek and...

    Michelle Payne: I had expected the night's big story would be comparing results between "business" candidates Payne and McCallum, but the Balmer-backed Payne was clearly the old guard choice. She broke 50% of the vote in 10 precincts, mainly on the far east and far west sides where conservative candidates always do well. But she also ran well in Manville Heights, where lots of Vote For The Woman voters live.

    Raj Patel: Patel has already broken a barrier. He becomes the first student candidate ever to advance from a primary to November by defeating non-students. (Jeff Shipley and Dan Tallon made November in 2009, but they only ran ahead of a third student, Jared Bazzell, to get there.)

    And Patel has already proven himself a stronger candidate than the 2009 contenders by winning votes outside the core downtown precincts, four of which he won. Sure, it was the usual obscenely high percentages, low numbers that all student candidates get (91% with 31 votes at the courthouse). But he didn't have the three vote precincts that past students have scored.

    Patel also - and this is one of the night's big stories - won precinct 15 at Southeast Junior High, and ran strong seconds across the southeast side. He also finished second at Longfellow, in progressive stronghold precinct 18. But he wasn't as strong in the other lefty bastion, Horace Mann's precinct 21, which was one of the few bright spots for also-rans Richard Finley and Josh Eklow. Weak on the east side, as one would expect from Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students voters.

    Jarrett Mitchell: We're now in a completely different tier. Mitchell's numbers are competing with McCallum's, not with Payne's and Patel's. Mitchell claimed the last slot with absentees: his 19 vote margin in early votes offset McCallum's two-vote lead on election day.

    Mitchell showed a few pockets of strong support: lefty precincts 18 and 21 (did they know he was a registered Libertarian?) and, interestingly, he scored 38% in low turnout precinct 10 on the south side. Mitchell picked up a handful of votes on the east side but won, literally, almost zero on the west side.

    Mark McCallum: What happened? McCallum has been burned by the business community twice now. They recruited him in 2009 when Connie Champion was supposed to retire, than scuttled him when she didn't. Then they picked Payne over him this year. But still: couldn't beat the chicken guy?

    Theories: Bullet voting was highest in student precincts, where McCallum might have had some support. (But oddly, McCallum ran ahead of Patel and actually WON precinct 5 on campus, although turnout was tiny.) And McCallum was identifed, from 2009, as Business Guy. Payne was identified not as Mid-American Republican but as Only Woman. So Payne scored the vast majority of "Hayek And" votes.

    Richard Finley and Josh Eklow: Not much to see here. They splintered some votes, probably from Patel and/or Mitchell and mostly in lefty precincts. Still, Finley got more votes in sixth place - all of 213 - than Dan Tallon got in fourth two years ago.

    The Bullet Vote Factor: Citywide, 1.8 votes cast per voter. That means, by best guess, that about 20 percent of voters only picked one candidate. Basically, the more townie the precinct, the more votes per voter (Horn School: 1.93) and presumably the more Hayek And. Downtown and on campus, it dropped down to 1.7 or 1.6, so 30 to 40 percent were picking just their favorite candidate, mostly Patel.

    Turnout: Pitiful, but less pitiful than record low 2009 when the townies didn't care much about which two of three students got to lose to Terry Dickens and Susan Mims in November. It was about comparable to 1999, when there was one strong incumbent, three interesting but flawed contenders, and a fifth candidate who refused to campaign. But that set up the closest November election in city history, which got decided by two votes.

    So, game on. And that's not even counting the Steve Soboroff-Rick Dobyns district A race. I will go out on a limb and predict a Jim Throgmorton win.

    Low turnout in Iowa City primary

    Slow at the Polls

    A quiet day at the Iowa city polls as voters narrow the at large field from 7 candidates to 4. 894 voters as of 3:00, which is just a little ahead of 1999, the second-lowest Iowa City primary on record which ended up at just under 2500 voters. Small compared to the 5000 + turnouts city primaries pulled in the mid-90s and 2001. Since `01 we've had a sharp dropoff. But at least we're ahead of the record low from the "eliminate one student" primary two years ago.

    No noticable spikes in student areas; looks like the every election voters today. Results later, analysis later yet.

    Landon Announces in House 37

    Nasty in North Ankeny?

    That open, good Republican district on the north side of Ankeny won't go without a (in)fight:
    Pledging to be an aggressive leader for a balanced state budget, economic development, education reform, and agriculture, Ankeny resident John Landon today announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Iowa’s State House District 37.
    Landon joins tea partier Stacey Rogers in the race. Ankeny is now represented by Republican Kevin Koester, but the district grew so much last decade it was literally split in half. (My best line of the year: "All you western Iowa rural Republicans who got paired? This is where your district went.") Koester is staying with his house in new District 37, a swing district which actually has a slight Democratic edge.

    Taking any wagers? In a GOP primary, my money is always on Tea.

    Perry Steps in Sweeney-Grassley

    Perry Steps in Sweeney-Grassley

    Kind of feel like I'm missing the Occupy boat but I've flat out been too busy. "This is what democracy looks like" sometimes means local. It's Iowa City primary day so don't expect much from me till very very late tonight. And of course no GOP debate stuff from me.

    Rick Perry, inadvertently or not, stepped in the state's hottest legislative primary, headlining a Friday fundraiser for state rep and future US Senate candidate Pat Grassley. He is of course paired up in redistricting with fellow Republican Annette Sweeney and neither will move. Neither Sweeney nor Grandson Grassley have endorsed. Here's an endorsement checklist; that used to be my job to track when I made more money writing.

    It'll be a Ron Paul homecoming at UIowa October 21, with an 8 PM IMU speech. Sure to be rowdy but he'll never top the 2007 Olive Court tailgater.

    David Brody
    of Pat Robertson's CBN says it: "There a certain segment of evangelicals who simply won’t vote for a Mormon."

    Continuing her death spiral:
    Michele Bachmann is moving home.

    The Minnesota Republican “will basically be setting up camp and almost living in Iowa until the Iowa caucuses,” her Iowa campaign co-chairman Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, told Iowans who participated in a Bachmann campaign telephone town Hall conference Oct. 10.
    Because the Moving To Iowa strategy worked so well for President Chris Dodd.

    Border wars close to home. In a remarkable show of tone-deafness:
    According to local township officials, Julie Kuntz, of Graphton, has to pay for 350 feet of fence that she doesn't want. The ruling is based on an Iowa statute written in 1851.

    The man on the proverbial "other side of the fence" is one of her state lawmakers; Senator Merlin Bartz.

    "I think the most important point here is fortunately in this case, I as a lawmaker don't get to determine the law and the Kuntzs as lawbreakers don't get to determine the law," said Senator Bartz. "It is a decision made by the township trustees."
    Bartz is paired up in redistricting with Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm... who might pick up two votes.

    And redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering appears to have found work in Maryland.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

    The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

    At least two of Hillary Clinton’s upper-echelon advisers, Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn, were decidedly unimpressed .

    “Our people look like caucus-goers,” Grunwald said, “and his people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”
    -Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

    Fast forward four years to today's headline: "How Obama's data-crunching prowess may get him re-elected."
    Alone among the major candidates running for president, the Obama campaign not only has a Facebook page with 23 million "likes" (roughly 10 times the total of all the Republicans running), it has a Facebook app that is scooping up all kinds of juicy facts about his supporters.

    Users of the Obama 2012 - Are You In? app are not only giving the campaign personal data like their name, gender, birthday, current city, religion and political views, they are sharing their list of friends and information those friends share, like their birthday, current city, religion and political views. As Facebook is now offering the geo-targeting of ads down to ZIP code, this kind of fine-grained information is invaluable.
    Yeah, but he's still behind Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry in Twitter followers.

    So Obama ranks 4th with 10.4 million followers. Mitt Romney? "4,931th" with 64,659. But the real question is, Which Mitt? A handy-dandy quiz on Romney's issue position where the correct answer is usually "all of the above."

    Republican voters may not agree on those answers, or much of anything, but they can agree on one thing:
    The one point on which they have been most consistent, however, is their resistance to the candidate who has been making his case the longest: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

    But it is these activists and voters like them who could eventually decide who gets the nomination. Do they coalesce around a single alternative, such as Perry, or do they continue to divide their support among all of the other hopefuls?

    Or do they swallow their misgivings and begin to give Romney another look based on the argument that he is their best chance to beat President Obama in 2012?
    Mitt Romney. Their best chance. Saturday Night Live got this one right this weekend: their vanilla Everyman, Jason Sudekis, played Romney OK, but gave him way too much charisma. Bobby Moynihan walked on as Chris Christie and owned the sketch; Moynihan may be the biggest loser in Christie's decision not to run. (And Tina Fey is very, very happy this week to retire THAT character... speaking of retirning characters, Kirsten, Shanna needs to join Gilly on the scrapheap.)

    Whatever Republicans decide they'll be doing it sooner than ever. Ballot Access News: "In the years 1912 through 1972, no presidential primary was ever earlier than March."

    Iowa City, of course, will vote twice before Caucus Night, unless New Hampshire grabs our November 8 city election date and we go on Halloween. (Scary costume suggestion: any GOP candidate). As for tomorrow's election, Michelle Payne is both the only woman and only registered Republican on the ballot, and she gets the big John Balmer endorsement.

    And here's all the reasons not to pull out your ID tomorrow. There. I did it. I took a clip post and made a narrative out of it.

    The Instant Lame Duck

    The Instant Lame Duck

    It takes a special alignment of stars to be a lame duck from the day you are elected. Shelley Sekula Gibbs did it by winning a special election on the same day she lost a general election in 2006. Neil Abercrombie did it by winning a special election and losing a primary on the same day in 1986.

    But neither of them pulled off the trick of being a lame duck before even winning an election, so Cindy Golding is by my count the first.

    You see, the Republican nominee in the Battle of Marion lives inside the current district lines of old Senate District 18, under which the November 8 special election will be conducted. She does not, however, live inside the lines of new Senate District 34, where the overwhelming majority of the old District 18 constituents will be next year when the term expires.

    This concern was noted before the GOP nominating convention by Craig Robinson at TheIowaRepublican:
    She will not live in the district when the new lines are applied for the 2012 elections. If Golding would win the nomination and go on to win Senate District 18 seat, she would either only serve one term, or she would have to move in order to remain in the district. Republicans are likely looking for a candidate to hold the seat, not fill it temporarily.
    The other two GOP contenders who lost at the convention, Mary Rathje and Matt Dummermuth, both live inside both the old Senate 18 and new Senate 34 lines. So does Democratic nominee Liz Mathis, of rural Robins.

    In Iowa Clean Redistricting, it's generally accepted for an elected official to move "back into" their own district if they're in what I call a My District Just Not My House situation. But for Golding, My House is apparently more important than My District. She has already announced that if elected, she would not move and would run instead in Senate District 48. (Bleeding Heartland has maps of all three.)

    New Senate 48 has very little overlap with Old Senate 18. The districts share just three townships - Fayette, rural Marion, and Golding's township of Monroe - and the city of Palo. The new turf then sprawls into northern and eastern Linn County, most of the population of Jones County, and all the way up into Delaware and Buchanan.

    So Republicans are spending a load of time and money getting Golding's name out in Robins and Hiawatha and Marion for a one-session Senator. But even if they succeed, they'll still have to recruit a new candidate to hold the district next year, and teach a new name to a confused electorate who's already grappling with the idea that the Lundby on the ballot is a Democrat.

    And the Democrats already have a strong Senate 48 candidate lined up in Rep. Nate Willems, a Lisbon legislator and Anamosa native.

    So, why not move, Cindy? Why announce before you even get elected that you're running in a different seat? Robinson may have the answer: "Moving will not be easy since Golding lives in a very expensive home." And if even the other Republicans are saying she has an expensive house, that must be some house.

    View gotcha in a larger map

    Nice crib. Love the columns. And is that a fountain I see at the crest of that curving driveway?

    The Linn County Assessor lists the 9,111 square foot house on 36.49 acres at an assessed valuation of $855,400. That's a lot of home to love.

    No, material success is not a crime. But when the material success is more important than the people you're seeking to represent, that should send up some warning flags.

    Saturday, October 08, 2011

    Johnson County Democrats 2011 Barbecue

    No Platypus, just lots of Democrats

    So we didn't have Rick Perry, like the Johnson County Republicans did last night, but I'll take Dave Loebsack and Sue Dvorsky as keynoters over the Platypus over him any day. (I would have liked to have made it to the other team's event, but I was on daddy patrol Friday and they prefer the actual Perry.) It would have made for a nice compare/contrast of, for example, the relative length of the introduction of elected officials.

    Loebsack squeezed the event into what was either a six or seven event day ans stresses his Armed Services committee work. "We need to be out of Iraq by the end of the year (and) we need to make those moves to get us out of Afghanistan as soon as we can," he said.

    Loebsack also noted work he's doing on private sector initiatives for the Rock Island Arsenal to potentially do non-military work, and on a project to embed mental health professionals in National Guard units to combat the high suicide rate.

    On the latter project Loebsack is working with subcommittee chair Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican best known for shouting "you lie!" at President Obama. Loebsack said he and Wilson both had family members with mental health problems, and that common experience helped them work together on the issue. "I'm doing everything I can to work across the aisle," said Loebsack. But later he added, "but while I'm working across the aisle, we still have some fundamental differences" with Republicans.

    Any gathering of Iowa politicos these days is certain to turn to the November 8 state senate special election that Sue Dvorsky simple calls "18." I'll get my Battle of Marion label to stick yet.

    ‎"There has never been an election in the history of this state where ONE SEAT could turn the entire direction of government," said the IDP chair, who sees the 2011 special as the first stage of the 2012 campaign battle.

    Dvorsky singled out the minority House Democrats for praise, too. "It takes so much courage to keep climbing that hill when you know you can't win. What they did was out the other side's horrendous agenda." Three House candidates hoping to take back the majority that Democrats lost in 2010 were on hand: David Johnson, challenging Jeff Kaufmann in House 73; Sara Sedlacek, taking on Tom Sands in District 88; and county supervisor Sally Stutsman, running in open House 77.

    That's the soundbites, but what you really want is the pictures, over in the Facebook album.

    Friday, October 07, 2011

    Olive Out in House 48

    Former Sen. Rich Olive Out in House 48 Race

    Democrat Rich Olive has announced he's out in the House District 48 race, citing family and geography:
    This decision did not come easily and was influenced by many factors including health, family, and work but it basically comes down to one thing: my heart is in Story City. In order to be a candidate for the House Seat in District 48, I would have been required to move my primary residence out of Story City and that just simply isn’t an option.
    Olive won one Senate term by 61 votes in 2006, and got knocked off by Republican Rob Bacon. The two were set for a rematch in this House district: Bacon got paired up with fellow Republican Bill "I will be seeking a leadership election" Dix in redistricting.

    This district belonged to Ames Democrat Lisa Heddens on Map Day, in a My District Just Not My House situation; Heddens has moved back into her House District 46, in the city limits of Ames.

    Democrats now need a candidate in this swing seat, which has just a narrow GOP edge. Hamilton County makes up about half of this district. The new seat also includes parts of rural Boone County, southeast Webster County and a little corner of Story, going all the way up to the Ames city limits. What's McKinley Bailey up to these days?

    Register Reports January 3 Caucuses

    January 3 Caucuses, says Register

    Iowa’s caucus date will be Jan. 3 under a tentative agreement that will be formally voted on around Oct. 16, a GOP central committee member said today.

    “We had a real clear consensus last night that we want Jan. 3,” said Drew Ivers, a member of the Iowa GOP central committee who is from Webster City.

    The tentative agreement was reached during an Iowa GOP Central Committee phone conference last night, Ivers said.

    Chairman Matt Strawn wanted to wait to publicly talk about the Jan. 3 date until Monday as a courtesy to officials involved with ongoing talks with New Hampshire, Ivers said.

    So is this a variation on what Frontloading HQ called, as referenced in my post last night, Scenario 2?
    Iowa on January 5 and New Hampshire on December 13 is a distinct possibility. It keeps Iowa out of December. The blame would not be on the Hawkeye state for slipping into December 2011. That would all rest with New Hampshire; a victim of its own law. [How's that for a strange twist of fate?]
    Is it effort to force New Hampshire to suck it on their seven day law and settle for Tuesday the 10th, four days before Nevada?

    Or is it what FLHQ today calls "an opening offer?"
    The Iowa Republican caucuses may end up on January 3, but that will likely have very little to do with the discussion among the decision-makers within the state party over the last couple of days. This is, as it was with Arizona, an opening offer. It is a possibility. It is a threat. But we won't know until October 16 at the earliest whether it is a reality.
    10/16 is what NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner says is the earliest he will announce the date.
    The New Hampshire-Nevada game of chicken is now the Iowa-New Hampshire game of chicken. Iowa has made its offer: January 3. Bill Gardner and New Hampshire have made theirs: December 6. Iowa Republicans are saying, "We are willing to take the last Tuesday spot to make sure that the Iowa Republican caucuses happen in 2012." Bill Gardner and New Hampshire are countering with, "That's fine. We are willing to blow all of this up to protect our state law and the candidate/media attention that law nurtures."

    Gardner holds the trump card. He is seemingly willing to take New Hampshire into December if need be to protect the law. Whether that's true or not, we may never know, but he is seemingly willing to play it. And Iowa Republicans are not willing to slip into December.
    Your move, Mr. Gardner.

    Thursday, October 06, 2011

    Iowa Second?

    Should Iowa Take One For The Team?

    I'm absolutely NOT suggesting or endorsing it. But consider the caucus date dilemma Iowa is in:

  • Florida Republicans -- and remember, this is their fault -- broke the rules agreed on by both parties: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, in that order, in February. No one else till March. But rules don't matter to the biggest swing state. They got away with cheating last time, so they did it again, going a full five weeks early on January 31.

  • In response, South Carolina was expected to move to Saturday the 28th; there's some tradition of Saturday elections in that state. But instead they jumped back a full week past Florida to January 24.

  • Nevada Republicans were then expected to pick Saturday the 21st but then jumped a whole week past that to January 14.

  • So now the irresistible force of the pages of the calendar meets the immovable object of New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who is adamant about enforcing his state law that requires his primary be seven days before "any similar contest." And he's almost as adamant about staying on a Tuesday. Which points to January 3...

  • Which points to Iowa in calendar year 2011.

    It's no secret that the DC press corps hates, Hates, HATES the Iowa caucuses. It's a long trip compared to the Boston-Washington shuttle, and they have absolutely no clue about the process on either side. MSNBC's First Read is a reasonably good take on Beltway mentality at any given moment, and here's what they think of a December caucus:
    Christmas in Des Moines? With Nevada’s decision to hold its caucuses on Jan. 14, it’s possible that the presidential primary season could begin immediately after Christmas -- with New Hampshire settling on Jan. 7, and Iowa going either Dec. 28 or 29. If that happens, it could be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back on Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s dominance of the primary calendar. Why? You could see a full-fledged rebellion -- maybe not this cycle, but certainly the next -- if candidates are forced to campaign and the news media is forced to descend upon Des Moines over the Christmas holiday. New Year’s Eve in Des Moines four years ago was one thing; Christmas Eve is another. The reason New Hampshire would pick Jan. 7 is to give it a full week of separation between Nevada’s contest. But it all depends on how seriously New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner takes the Nevada contest. If he doesn’t take it seriously and decides Nevada is not too similar to New Hampshire’s primary, the Granite State could stick with Jan. 10, allowing Iowa to go on Jan. 5, which at least keeps the start of the voting in the 2012 calendar year. But if he takes it seriously, it’s Christmas in Des Moines. And, folks, even for diehard defenders of the Iowa/New Hampshire start, that’ll be ridiculous.
    And all indications are that Gardner takes Nevada seriously.

    Frontloading HQ, a multiple times a day must read for any serious Iowa politico these days, offers four scenarios:
    Again, Secretary Gardner is bound by state law. He has no ability to set the New Hampshire primary for January 10. Nevada Republican caucuses just four days later violates that law. And if Iowa selects a date during the first week in January, that gives Gardner no recourse but to go before Iowa -- in December. There would be no other option in January that would both keep New Hampshire as the first in the nation primary and give it the seven day buffer after the contest mandated by law.

    What options are left to Iowa and New Hampshire?

    1. New Hampshire on January 10 and Iowa on January 3 or 5 is not on the table. New Hampshire cannot do that.

    2. Iowa on January 5 and New Hampshire on December 13 is a distinct possibility. It keeps Iowa out of December. The blame would not be on the Hawkeye state for slipping into December 2011. That would all rest with New Hampshire; a victim of its own law. [How's that for a strange twist of fate?] Conversely, New Hampshire could take the January 3 date and force Iowa into December.

    4. The final option is the Thelma and Louise doomsday scenario described last night. That's the "if we're going down, let's go down together" option.

    Now this turns into something akin to a prisoner's dilemma. Option 1 is not workable. Option 2 protects New Hampshire in the short term, but likely hurts it -- and the other early states -- in the long run. The status of being first and the whole system in fact would be on trial before 2016. Option 4 yields much the same results.
    If the Iowa caucuses are in December 2011, there will be no 2016 caucuses. Oh, sure, the platform nerds and process geeks and people who read political blogs will get together sometime in the spring. But the presidential choice will be in the June primary between Presumptive Nominee and Uncommitted, buried somewhere below the county supervisors.

    You notice I skipped an option.
    3. But if Iowa is willing to let New Hampshire go first in December, would it not -- and I'm speaking hypothetically here Iowans -- make sense for Iowa to go on January 10 and cede New Hampshire the January 3 date? That entails Iowa doing New Hampshire a solid -- one of epic and selfless proportion rarely seen in presidential primary calendar politics.

    That leaves Option 3. Iowa takes one for the team, allows New Hampshire to eclipse it for this cycle, and all the early states can then blame Florida and/or the RNC's lack of meaningful penalties for pushing the four early states up as far as they did.
    I'm sure the various Republican campaigns have strong opinions about Option 3. This leapfrogging isn't all about the batting order. The popular theory is Nevada leaped further forward than expected to help Mitt Romney, who's expected to win there and in New Hampshire. Rick Santorum has openly called Florida's move a "conspiracy" of front-runners to minimize the role of small early states. (Every other candidate has been Flavor of the Month, or at least the week; is Santorum ever going to get his week?)

    But what would we need to, for argument's sake only, consider "taking one for the team?" First of all, we would need some sense that there was an actual "team," like there was in the days of the eight days between Iowa and New Hampshire pact that stood for two decades. It's been New Hampshire, not Iowa, that's abandoned that solidarity the last couple cycles. We'd need some guarantees, by both parties, that calendar cheaters would suffer some penalties with teeth, and not get rewarded with, say, a national convention.

    So what would we get if, for argument's sake, we "take one for the team?" A better date, with higher attendance and better prospects for organizing for November.

    If we were after New Hampshire, we could consider some sort of absentee voting procedure. Hillary Clinton had the high ground on this one: people who can't physically be there, whether it's military service or shift work or child care, lose their vote. We offered a bunch of reasons about "the neighborhood meeting nature" of the caucuses, but they've grown so big that real town-meeting dialogue is impossible. Heck, hearing and movement are impossible.

    The real reason the Iowa caucuses don't have any absentee procedure is that Bill Gardner thinks that makes it an election. Now, I'd prefer something a little less wide-open than the vote early for any reason we have for elections. The caucuses are supposed to be a party meeting, and unrestricted absentees would turn the whole thing into a year-long absentee ballot chase. But people who really can't be there should be able to participate.

    Most importantly, Option 3 gives us January or February 2016 instead of Presumptive Nominee vs. Uncommitted in June.

    I'm not saying Iowa Republicans (we Dems are just along for the ride this time) should do this. But as bad options go, it's, well, one of them.
  • October Johnson County Democrats

    October Johnson County Democrats

    Mayor Matt Hayek starts the show asking for our support and reciting his Democratic Party bona fides.

    Assorted news: HQ is open at 321 E. Market St.

    The big event of the year, the BBQ, is Saturday from 4 to 7 at the fairgrounds. Asking $25 a ticket. Speeches start 4:45 or so with Dave Loebsack, Sue Dvorsky and the locals. November 19 is the Jefferson-Jackson in Des Moines with mayor Rahm f^&%in' Emanuel.

    We talk caucuses but don't have any real answers.

    Electeds on hand: Bolkcom, Dvorsky, Mascher, Lensing, Jacoby, Neuzil, Sullivan. The senators talk Battle of Marion. Many many volunteer opportunities.

    Occupy Wall Street moves to Iowa City: College Green Park starting 6:00 PM tomorrow.

    Mascher on Branstad education plan: "There are some positive things, some things that are doable, but the bottom line is it's an attempt to gut collective bargaining and termination rights for teachers."

    City Primary at End Game

    City Primary at End Game

    Five days before election day and the first city council mailer landed in our mailbox,for Matt Hayek. Too late: I already voted, and not for him, but credit for the effort.

    Hayek appears to be ahead in the sign war, re-using the blue and white, college sweatshirt look signs from his first race. He did them right, with his short last name filling most of the space. Most of his signs are by themselves, and quite a few pop up at business and rental sites. Da Mayor is also ahead in letters to the editor.

    Also in blue and white, and in my yard, is Raj Patel, who seems to have made a good early vote effort. Patel signs have also been spotted in downtown business windows.

    The only other signs I see are for Michelle Payne and Mark McCallum. Payne's signs are illegible until you're right on top of them, with her first and last name filling only about the upper third of the sign. They're the first pink yard signs I've ever seen, probably to remind us that she's the only woman on the ballot. (I'll remind you that she's the only registered Republican on the ballot.)

    Nearly invisible outside the candidate forums are Josh Eklow, Jarrett "the chicken guy" Mitchell, and the other guy whose name I actually have to look up, let's see... Richard Finley , that's the guy.

    Updates: The Press-Citizen chimes in Friday AM with endorsements of Hayek and Payne, with McCAllum and Patel as "two other candidates (who) stand out." Loud emphasis on HAyek's flip to pro-21 and Patel's role in fighting it. Seems the PC is still as obsessed with it as I am.

    Also: a look at the money, with Hayek way out in front, Patel (mostly self-funded) next, and Payne and McCallum reporting, while The Other Three are all below the $750 threshold that requires a report.

    Early voting this weekend: UIHC Friday, auditor's office Saturday, library Sunday.