Saturday, June 30, 2012

Don't Call Me Scarface

Out of all the primary challengers to Iowa House incumbent Republicans, I had Jake Highfill labeled as one of the least serious. True, Erik Helland had gotten a lot of negative PR, but Highfill seemed Some Dude enough that I expected Helland to prevail.

Well, of course, that's what you get for counting on a Democrat to handicap a GOP primary, and Highfill was the only primary challenger to knock off an incumbent. But how many Urbandale Republicans would like that vote back? Patch:

A lawsuit filed against Iowa House District 39 Republican nominee Jake Highfill claims that he brought a shotgun to a college party, argued with his roommate during the event and smashed a glass bottle across the man's face, permanently disfiguring him...

Hard for a 22 year old candidate to pass this off as a "youthful indiscretion"...

This seat had a 3000 voter Republican registration edge as of March, which is strong, but not enough to make it a slam dunk for a flawed candidate. It's also unusual for a law student to have the maturity edge, but that's what Grimes Democrat Kelsey Clark has. Move this race up the charts a few notches.

Other House campaign news:

Here in Johnson County, Republican Steve Sherman is taking a blunt approach in his House 77 bid; he's got an uphill battle against Democrat Sally Stutsman in this open seat.

Democrat Bob Kressig, who always seems to prevail on swing turf, is getting to work in House District 59.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Clip Show

Don't blame the byline for the headline... but couldn't my friends at the Register have come up with a better word to describe Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz than... "cheerleader"? Not because of the implied sexism, but because she can't possibly live up to the gold standard of yelling set by one of her recent predecessors.

What else I got here...

  • Says here that Joe Biden, fresh from his Iowa visit, will be with the President in the oval office awaiting the Supreme Court's health care ruling. Which clearly means the ruling will be a big deal.

  • They're actually polling on which candidate voters would trust more against an alien invasion. That's space aliens, the kind Steve King worries about. Obama wins two to one, but even Mitt would do a better job than Jack Nicholson:

    Priceless crosstab: "If angry aliens did attack Earth, 21% would call the Hulk in to deal with it, 12% would call Batman, and 8% would call Spider-Man." As a space alien himself, Superman must have been deemed ineligible.

  • And on the technology front: "Orbitz Worldwide Inc. has found that people who use Apple Inc.'s Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels, so the online travel agency is starting to show them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see." Priceless comment: "Linux users get access to a special half-price deal -- but you have to make your own bed. They supply the hammer."
  • Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Mitt Romney and the Streisand Effect

    Foolishness knows no Party. Mitt Romney made a post-modern mistake this week that's named for a liberal Hollywood icon.

    The Washington Post wrote a story last week about Romney's old firm Bain Capital and its track record of investing in firms that specialized in outsourcing American jobs. The article could have been defused by bit by an on the record rebuttal.

    But not only did the Romney campaign refused to cooperate, after the story was published they demanded a retraction, which the paper rightly refused.

    Sort of makes you want to read it now, doesn't it?

    In the Internet era, this is what we call the Streisand effect: "an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely." The effect is, indeed, named for the one whose voice is like buttah.

    In 2003, the California Coastal Records Project published 12,000 photos of the coastline as part of an erosion study. Rather than accept a relatively equal and anonymous place in an obscure website, Barbra Streidand got all verklemmpt and sued the nosy environmentalists for $50 million for "invading her privacy.".

    The result?

    "Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, 'Image 3850' had been downloaded from Adelman's website only six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand's attorneys. As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially; more than 420,000 people visited the site over the following month."

    The default mindset on the Internet is "information ought to be free," which is 1) why record stores went out of business and 2) why nine years after the fact I still feel the need to post the picture of Barbra Streisand's house.

    Hollywood celebrity leads to some detachment from reality, so it's not shocking that someone like Streisand may not have foreseen the outcome. But politics at the major league level has no room for such detachment. Romney's effort to kill the story is an interesting character insight into the mindset of a CEO who's used to controlling every situation, something presidents don't get to do.

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    Attention Liberal Billionaire Readers

    OK, so I probably don't draw that many readers with ten figures of net worth. And that level of income tends to skew to the right, though there are notable "class traitor" exceptions.
    But on the off chance that a Democratic tycoon is reading me: please write some SuperPAC checks, OK?

    Reports last week show that liberal donors are lagging far behind conservatives in the free for all of campaign finance since the to say the least controversial Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. "Still largely missing are the liberal philanthropists and executives who showered $396 million in unrestricted contributions on 527s in the 2004 elections."

    "This time around," writes Alec McGillis at the New Republic:
    rather than simply rally their friends and colleagues around an inspiring cause, these donors are also being asked to cut massive checks. And because many of them share Obama’s disdain for the excesses of a broken campaign finance system, the exercise has prompted considerable squeamishness. One bundler who has raised more than $800,000 told me there was “an aversion to the super PACs, to the whole idea of them” in the bundler’s circle. “It’s left a really bad taste in people’s mouths.” “I think it’s awful,” says another bundler who has raised more than $600,000 for the campaign this year. “There’s too much money being spent on these elections to begin with. Why would anyone want to give $5 million to a super PAC to elect a president? It’s incomprehensible. There are a lot of other things you can give your money to.” Such as? Hospitals and investigative journalism, offered the bundler.
    My team has an admirable tendency to play by the rules as they should be, not by the rules as they are. This unfortunate commitment to principle, unfortunately, is unilateral disarmament in a post-Citizens United world that defines money as free speech. (We all have free speech, but some of us are louder.) And the Supremes doubled down on that thinking in Monday's ruling on Montana campaign finance limits, a ruling that should ripple into Iowa soon.

    UPDATE: As if on cue, Warren Buffett: "I will not be doing super PACs of any sort. I think allowing unlimited contributions to campaigns is a terrible idea and an important and unfortunate step toward a plutocracy.”

    The other side has no such qualms about letting principle get in the way of fundraising. Indeed, it's one of the few areas where Mitt Romney is willing to wear his faith on his sleeve. Politically incorrect to note that Mormons are giving to Romney? People give to people like themselves, especially when that person is a barrier breaker. I remember stories about Michael Dukakis setting fundraising records with the Greek-American community. (Tangent: why is it that the evangelical champions of the last two cycles, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, consistently lagged in fundraising even when they were winning at the polls?)

    Democrats have advantages in ground game and in small dollar donors, true. And if you took a poll on campaign finance reform, you'd see an overwhelming majority for tighter restrictions. But the issue is at this point an insider issue, not a vote changing issue. And Average Voter would likely define "reform" as "get rid of the damn commercials," which would be an actual constitutional problem, not a made up one like Citizens United.

    So for now, the game has to be played by the rules in place, bad as they are. Billionaire readers, are you persuaded yet? You can write your checks payable to my new Super PAC, the Joint Organization Helping National Democrats Emerge Elected Totally Honestly. That's a lot to write on the Pay To The Order Of line, so be sure to use our acronym and mail it to this address. Yes, of course I know Colbert did it firster and funnier, but I'm counting on my much smaller audience to deliver proportionate results. I thank you and the President thanks you.

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Spiker strikes out on Iowa Press

    Just watched the two state party chairs on "Iowa Press" and while I was of course rooting for my friend Sue Dvorsky, I've been listening to her long enough to know what to expect. Mostly, I was curious to see how new Republican chair A.J. Spiker fared.

    I can see where he hasn't inspired confidence in the GOP donor class, as he ran out of ways to not say "I endorse Mitt Romney" or even imply support of the certain nominee until after the third clause of a long sentence.

    But that's the other teams problem. I was cheering for Spiker to come up with some good answers for the assorted issues Iowa Republicans had with their caucuses and conventions. As Dvorsky noted, Iowa Democrats and Republicans are in the same boat when it comes to efforts to keep our first in the nation status.

    Spiker seemed to fixate on one relatively small aspect of the problem: the fact that hei predecessor Matt Strawn "declared a winner" on caucus night, when Mitt Romney seemed to have an eight vote lead. I can understand why Spiker focused on that; it's probably what he heard from his own party activists during the GOP's review process. If I were a Rick Santorum Republican (the if's don't get any bigger than that) I'd be steamed that Strawn called Romney  a winner in the wee hours of January 4, but did not use equivalent language two weeks later when the certified results showed Santorum 34 votes ahead. Indeed, it was at that point that Strawn's support melted away, which is why Spiker is chair today.

    But from the perspective of the national press, the phrase "I declare" is 1) more suited for the South Carolina primary and best done in a Scarlett O'Hara accent and 2) insignificant. If the January 4 1 AM number showed Abe Lincoln one vote ahead of Teddy Roosevelt (dead presidents are safe examples), the headlines would blare LINCOLN WINS IOWA.

    No, the larger problem is that the order itself changed. And it's compounded by the fact that a third candidate won the delegates and, as Dvorsky reminded us, a fourth candidate had won the Ames Straw Poll.

    Another fixation the locals have is the battle over whether state central committee members should be neutral in primaries. The national media doesn't care about that either. In fact, I think they kind of expect and like it; "State Central Committee Member Endorses Eisenhower" can fill a news hole on a slow day. And remember: no national media = no candidates coming to Iowa.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Thursday Clips

    Getting back in the hang of this writing thing after my self-imposed exile, and I remember that you're supposed to plug the event BEFORE it happens. Oh well. Joe Bolkcom had a nice fundraiser last night and I'm sure he'd still take your $ for the Senate Democrats. The guest speaker was the newest Democratic senator, Linn County's Liz Mathis. Joe's colleage Bob Dvorsky was on hand, along with Chairwoman Dvorsky; they cut out early to celebrate Sue's birthday. Other politicos on hand: Mary Mascher, Janelle Rettig, and Travis Weipert.

    Jon Ward has finally figured out what the Paulistinians will do with their delegates: mess with the vice presidential nomination. Old timers will remember how the `72 Democratic vice presidential vote was a disaster - even BEFORE the Eagleton nod itself blew up - as an interminable roll call pushed an excellent McGovern speech into, in the immortal phrase, "prime time in Guam." Does Romney suffer the same fate?

    Getting toward the time of year when I start thinking about third parties.  The Libertarians have already picked Gary Johnson, the ex-GOP ex-governor of New Mexico, and with the Paulistinians still out in force, he could cause headaches for Mitt.

    The Greens, for their part, are making a classic third party mistake: rejecting a marketable name for a loyal but unknown party activist. Their convention isn't till mid-July but two time gubernatorial asterisk Jill Stein has been beating Rosanne Barr - yes, the ex Mrs. Tom Arnold to us Iowans - in primaries.

    (And the third parties may have a legit beef with the late major party national conventions; both Obama and Romney will be formally nominated AFTER the Iowa filing deadline...)

    One state that won't see many if any third parties below the presidential level is California, which enacted a constitutionally dubious "top two" primary that was rolled out for the first time this year. The idea, one of AHnold's brainstorms, was to create "more competitive" races. (Their clean redistricting initiative will do more for that.) The end result is congressional and legislative ballots with zero third party candidates, And in one key district that was considered winnable for Democrats, voters will choose in the fall between... two Republicans. A crowded Democratic field splintered the vote, and the two Republicans came out on top.

    And the must read, wish I'd written it story of the day is this Atlantic piece. Chris Christie loves Springsteen... but it ain't mutual.

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    The Risk of Letting Someone Else Do It

    I absorbed the side by side party conventions Saturday 140 characters at a time, following my Twitter feed on the way back from our family vacation. The occasional GOP blogger tried to dis the Dem's light attendance, in they same way they brag about how divisive primaries have cause Republican voter registration gains.
    But of course the big story was Republican divisiveness and disarray. I'm not convinced that who gets the privilege of going to a national convention matters much, except to the people who want to go. And unenforcable platforms matter to almost no one except the platform committee.

    Dysfunction, however, is important in the big picture of who's going to win a close election. The Paul supporters are to be commended for knowing the rules and for sticking around on caucus night and at the endless follow-up meetings. But convention strategy and platform writing are very different skills than winning elections (as evidenced in Paul's failure to win a single state). The new regime at RPI seems weak on those skills.

    Oh, the work will get done. Someone will step in and do it. My own local party had a cycle where an inept platform-committee type took over and spent endless energy on structure and minutia. The elected officials had to  bail him out to make sure we had the money to open an office.

    When someone else takes over, you lose control. And that's the risk A.J. Spiker and company run. It's already becoming clear that the traditional Iowa Republican movers and shakers are unwilling or reluctant to donate to the Spiker-led party. There's already talk, both in Iowa and in similarly dysfunctional Nevada, that outside interest groups and/or the Romey campaign will work around the formal party structure.

    The problem with relying on outsiders to do the work is that you're hostage to their agenda. I remember interviewing a Missouri Democrat who, three years later, was still mad at the John Kerry campaign for pulling the plug on his state three weeks before election day. He believed the lack of a national campaign cost Democrats the governor's race.

    Resources aren't infinite, even in the post Citizens United universe. Money will be in effect unlimited, sure. But time and space and people are limited.Now it's unlikely that Iowa , even as small as we are, will fall off the radar this cycle. But there are a lot of ways to get the electoral math to add up to 270, and if one of the other routes looks more promising to Romney in mid-October, the Iowa Republicans of 2012 could be in the same boat as the Missouri Dems of 2004.

    Friday, June 08, 2012

    Post-Primary Linkfest

    Sifting through the local coverage of assorted legislative primaries we find:

    Ed Tibbetts sums up the QC area results and notes that in the two incumbent Senate 46 GOP primary, Shawn Hamerlinck's Scott County margin was about 500 votes more than Jim Hahn's lead in Muscatine. Todd Dorman looks at the big picture, and The Iowa Republican has a winners and losers list (I'm a sucker for that format)

    Maison Bleam carried two counties in his unsuccessful GOP challenge to freshman Tom Shaw in House 10.

    Douglas Burns notes that Carroll County supervisor overwhelmingly lost his home county to Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers in the Senate 6 GOP primary, but carried the rest of teh counties for the win. The Council Bluffs Nonpariel (my favorite Iowa newspaper name) also looks at that race along with House 22, where Republican Greg Forristall held off a challenge from Clint Fichter.

    Two righty losers talking about future bids already: Jeff Mullen in Senate 22 and Matthew Ung in House 6.

    Tea partyish Jane Jech swept the district in her upset (maybe?) win over Larry McKibben in Senate 36.

    In Senate 42, the one Democrat NOT from Lee County, carried the bump on the bottom of the state and his own Henry County for a solid win in a three way race.

    Quotes from both Dems in Clinton-based Senate 49, where Rita Hart beat Dorothy O'Brien in a close contest.

    A friends and neighbors type split in House District 2: "The Iowa House District 2 Republican Primary came down to Clay County voters for candidates Megan Hess and Josh Davenport Tuesday evening. Hess earned 743 of her 1,139 votes in her home county to secure nearly 54 percent of the vote, while 515 of Davenport's 979 votes came from Clay County voters."

    A twist in House 16 in Council Bluffs:  "In (the Democrat's) one primary race, Heidi Guggisberg-Coners defeated Ron Pierce for the new House District 16. Ironically, though, she dropped out shortly before the election offering her support to Pierce. Guggisberg-Coners received 168 votes to Pierce’s 159 votes." Presumably Dems will have a party convention to formally choose an opponent for GOP freshman Mary Ann Hanusa.

    Friends and neighbors again in House 24: 
    Facing down the political machine of one’s own party usually isn’t the way to start one’s political career, and it rarely goes well for the newcomer. But Clarinda native Jane C. Jensen found herself leading the race in House District 24 with results reported from three of the four counties represented.
     But, Rep. Cecil Dolecheck of Mount Ayr, endorsed by Iowa GOP heavy hitters and the benefactor of mailers from the Republican Party of Iowa late in the race, won overwhelming support in his home county — Ringgold County — and pulled away with a 59- to 41-percent victory.
    Patch has a non-paywalled look at the lone incumbent loss, where Jake Highfill knocked off Erik Helland in House 39.

    Nathan Wrage credits shoe leather for his upset win over Christina Blackcloud-Garcia in the House 72 Democratic race.

    Via Facebook, David Johnson rebuts my take on his House 73 loss:
    Mr. Schwab was a very strong primary candidate and did a fantastic job of getting out the JC vote, but I think in November, those that put him up to this race will understand why I was warning them. Cedar County is a different animal than Johnson County altogether. 60% of the district is Cedar County, and it's critical that Mr. Schwab receives at least 46% of it in the general election. My fear is that he can't do it. I think his poor returns in Cedar and in Muscatine does not bode well. Remember, he's not just going to be fighting for Democratic votes in the general election, he needs to get the Cedar County Independents and they like the Kaufmann name. Having the extra Dems in Johnson County is helpful, but still not enough if he can't get 46% of Cedar.
    Schwab, for his part, stopped by the Cedar County Dems meeting Wendesday, where he says he got a good reception, and the Johnson County Dems meeting last night. Also on hand, some uncontested winners (Rep. Mary Mascher, Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, and supervisors Harney Neuzil and Sullivan) and holdover Senators Bob Dvorsky and Joe Bolkcom. But the big news came from former county chair Brian Flaherty, newly minted J.D., who's taking a job with the US Attorney's office in - dig this - the Northern Mariana Islands. Good luck buddy and don't forget that absentee ballot.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2012

    Legislative Primary Results Help Dems

    The preview never did get done so let's just jump straight to the postmortem.

    In general, incumbents won their seats and ideologues won the open seats. Surprised that only one of the dozen House Republicans with a primary, Erik Helland, lost. Ideology was a factor, but I think the dustup over Helland offering opponent Jake Highfill a job in exchange for dropping out was a bigger factor.

    So how does all this affect Democratic chances in the fall?

    Leaving aside blowouts, expected primary outcomes, races between two solid candidates, and uncontested or safe seats on both sides, here's how I see the primary results rippling into the general election.

    Helps Dems

    2nd Congressional District: In the days before Varnum-Brien, the typicaan judicial retention victory margin was about 80 percent to 20. 20 percent of people just automatically vote No. And that was Loebsack's margin ove Joe Seng, 81 to 19, putting to lie the imagined "weakness" of the three term congressman in his new counties. Here in his new home, the People's Republic, Loebsack won 91 to 9.

    Senate District 4: Teapartyish Dennis Guth defeated former Senator Jim "Back In" Black. Bob Jennings looks like the kind of Democrat who can win on rural turf.

    Senate District 6: Queer-bashing buffoon Mark Segebart beat Terry Branstad's recruit, Carroll mayor Adam Schweers. Democrat Mary Bruner is a strong candidate with family connections to Mike Gronstal.

    Senate District 36: Marshalltown area Republicans chose a two-time state House loser, Jane Jech, over a former state senator who nearly got elected to Congress, Larry McKibben. Freshman Democrat Steve Sodders can breathe a little easier.

    Senate District 46: Shawn Hamerlinck's defeat of co-incumbent Jim Hahn puts the friends and neighbors effect into play for November, as Scott-based Hamerlinck faces Democrat Chris Brase of Muscatine, which was Hahn's base.

    House District 30: Hard-right Jim Carley beat Carol Miller in the race to replace Kim Pearson, and Democrat Joe Riding has won city-wide in Altoona. Caveat: Pearson won.

    House District 73: David Johnson, frankly, was running a weak campaign before Solon school board member Dick Schwab was recruited, and this R held D leaning seat is a must win for both sides.

    Johnson carried his Cedar County turf, sure. But other than a couple of die-hard Schwab haters (who are in Johnson County anyway) the support will shift.

    Hurts Dems

    Senate District 22: I really though Jeff Mullen was going to knock off Pat Ward. Desmund Adams is a great Democratic candidate, but this is the seventh or eighth most Republican seat in the state. For all his hard work, Adams will have a tougher time against Ward.

    House District 50: Pat Grassley beats Annette Sweeney in the lone two incumbent House race. It's not about this seat, as no Democrat is running. But it would have been advantageous if Grandson Grassley's career had been derailed before he turns 30 next year and becomes eligible to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

    House District 72: Highly touted tribal official Christina Blackcloud-Garcia was a surprise loser to Nathan Wrage in this Tama-centric district, the open Lance Horbach seat. On paper he looks like a weaker contender against Republican Dean Fisher, and I'm not sure what happened here.

    House District 34: Republican Patty Branco appears sane, which is more than can be said for Dave Leach, who likes to defend doctor murderers. So she might get a couple extra points in her inevitable loss to Democrat Bruce Hunter.

    A personal note on primary results

    You've no doubt noticed my "writer's block" recently. Something big has been going on that I've pretended not to acknowledge in this space, and that's impaired my ability to write about other things.

    It's been a very challenging three months for my co-workers and myself. Beyond that I'm still not ready to say much.

    I'll figure out the other primaries in the next several hours. I'm taking a vacation with my family soon. After that I hope to get back to a more normal cycle of writing, I'll return to the public events I've been avoiding, and will support the Democratic ticket.

    Thank you to the friends and family who have offered me personal support; I'm sure my co-workers would say the same.

    Sunday, June 03, 2012

    Primary Preview: Republican Senate Races

    I've been prepping for an election, a vacation, and a gardening season all at once. Something had to give, and it's been the writing. Still trying to preview a primary that's now just two days away, and only on part three of five. Today it's a look at the Republican senate races.

    The mother of all primaries has been in Senate District 22 between mobile moderate incumbent Pat Ward, who has moved about a half a district west to avoid a pair-up on Democratic turf, and right wing minister Jeff Mullen. The district is half Polk, half Dallas: Clive, Waukee, Windsor Heights and parts of WDM.

    Every conservative from Michelle Bachman to - get this blast from the past - Phyllis Schlafly - is weighing in for Mullen, who's been going negative. In a GOP primary electorate I always give the more conservative contender the edge. But Republicans need to think about electability, even in a strong Republican district, as Democrats have a real go-getter in attorney Desmund Adams.

    Ward,  who in January trailed both Adams and Mullen in fundraising, now has the lead, raising $49,246 as of Friday and spending $34,779. Mullen has raised $14,671 and spent $11,827. Ward's got the business PACs, Mullen has the ideology groups.

    Ideology also shows up in the Senate District 36 primary in Marshalltown. Two time House loser Jane Jech got in early and has the Bob Vander Plaats nod; former Senator Larry McKibben was recruited back into the ball game by Branstad. He has the money edge with $18,539 raised and $10,591 spent. Jech has raised $5289 and spet $4411. The Marshalltown Times-Republican has a good overview. Winner faces freshman Democrat Steve Sodders in what should be a top tier swing seat race.

    It's a pragmatist vs. purist faceoff in open Senate District 4 between former Senator Jim "Back In" Black and tea partyish Dennis Guth, as the Mason City Globe-Gazette reports.

    Republican Steve Kettering is retiring in Senate District 6. Carroll mayor Adam Schweers has the backing of popular former state representative Rod Roberts, while county supervisor Mark Segebart is running to the anti-gay right. Sac County sheriff's deputy Matthew Biede appears to be an afterthought.

    Wayne County supervisor Amy Sinclair looks like a favorite in open Senate District 14 where deposed (call it what it is) Senate minority leader Paul McKinley is retiring. The new seat includes four whole counties - Clarke, Lucas, Decatur and Wayne - plus most of Mahaska, with the exception of Pella. It also has a chunk of southern Jasper County and is more competitive than the old seat.

    Despite hailing from the district's smallest county, Sinclair has a big money lead with over 14k raised and big name donors including Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (who represented some of this turf), Senator Chickenman Chelgren, and Rep. Joel Fry. Steven Everly of Knoxville had just $535, and Stephanie Jones of Knoxville as distinguished herself mostly by getting in trouble with the law.

    The only two incumbent Senate primary is in Senate District 46 between veteran legislator Jim Hahn of Muscatine and freshman Shawn Hamerlinck of various Scott County addresses. The district is exactly half Muscatine, half Scott, meaning the friends and neighbors dynamic may be decisive.. Ed Tibbets has a good overview. The winner faces Democrat Chris Brase, a firefighter from Muscatine, on turf that leans very slightly Democratic.

    The other contests are low key. In new no incumbent Senate District 10 in Dallas County and points west, Jake Chapman is an overwhelming favorite over Matthew Mardesen, who started late and has some personal issues. Dems have no candidate. I can't top the Iowa Republican overview.

    In no-incumbent Senate District 48 in Delaware, Jones, and rural Linn counties, Dan Zumbach has spent almost none of a $20k warchest against Some Dude Brian Cook. Winner faces Democratic Rep. Nate Willems of Lisbon in a very competitive seat.

    Lee County supervisor Larry Kruse is a favorite over one-time congressional candidate Lee Harder in open Senate District 42, where Democrat Gene Fraise is retiring. The winner of a Democratic primary should be favored, but Fraise was held to 53% in 2004.

    And in Dubuque's Senate District 50, perennial candidate John Hulsizer Jr., a landslide loser in the general four years ago, faces Paulite ex-congressional candidate Will Johnson for the right to lose to Democrat Pam Jochum in the fall.