Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lofgren Launches to Small Crowd

Too many national and global events all at once this week: marriage, immigration, voting rights, the Texas filibuster - will Wendy David speed up the flipping of Texas more than the Supreme Court delayed it? Heck, normally I'd have launched a long dry comparative politics dissertation on the middle of the American night overthrow of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. (Spilling. It's Australian for Beer.) I was awake from the tornado sirens anyway.

So I'm a day behind the curve on what's a fairly big development in my own backyard, the emergence of a real live opponent for my man Dave Loebsack.

Loebsack was the only member of the delegation without even so much as a Some Dude opponent (granted, the opposition to Steve King and Tom Latham is just that: Some Dudes) till this week. State Rep. Mark Lofgren took the District Draws Itself Muscatine seat in 2010 back from the first Democrat to hold it in decades, Nathan Reichert, and held off a solid challenger in 2012 despite a blue trend in Muscatine (the overlapping GOP held Senate seat flipped to Democrat Chris Brase).

But even Republicans noted a slightly shaky start to the Lofgren campaign. Kevin Hall at The Iowa Republican:
Lofgren officially announced his challenge to Dave Loebsack in front of 20 Johnson County Republicans at the Coralville Library on Wednesday. It was a lackluster event.
20 people? We had over 200 at the simultaneous DOMA event downtown. Of course, that was history and this is Iowa City, but 20 people isn't even a good central committee meeting. Hall continues: 
There were no campaign signs, no sign-in sheets or ballot petitions. Lofgren read his campaign kickoff announcement from a prepared script, only occasionally glancing up at the audience. The well-regarded Republican House representative did not impress many attendees with this appearance.

Loebsack, for his part, is way past the "fluke" win of 2006. He had a bigger winning margin that Braley or Boswell in the annus horriblis in 2010 against repeat opponent Marianette Miller-Meeks (rumored interested again) and his 2012 opponent John Archer missed the target (sorry) by more than expected.  And it turns out Dave had some well placed friends.

"I got a stone in my shoe. You can remove it."

No, Loebsack isn't asking Tony Soprano for advice on persuasive campaign techniques. The reality was actually a tribute to Loebsack's Armed Services Committee work and to the late great James Gandolfini's support for veterans.

This September 5, 2007 file photo shows US actor James Gandolfini (L), Executive Producer of the HBO documentary 'Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq', with US Rep. Dave Loebsack, (D-IA) shortly before the film's premier at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. 

Lofgren brings a long list of endorsements to the table, making me disinclined to the MMM3 buzz even though it's fun to abbreviate. My favorite curiosity on the endorsement list, handily provided in Bleeding Heartland's piece, is "Sarah Lande  - Friend of China's President Xi JinPing." Sounds too much like the fictional vice president bragging that he was Julia Roberts' cousin and bonus points if you can name the movie.

Last year the rumor mill was saying Lofgren might bail on the legislature at the last minute before filing deadline, much like Jeff Kaufmann did one district to the north. Kaufmann the elder successfully transitioned to another office - county supervisor - and handed the House seat off to son Bobby. Not entirely smoothly, but the lack of smoothness was mostly on the Democratic side.

That part of the Lofgren plan too? Daughter Emily Lofgren is quite the prominent young Republican in her own right and ran the 2010 campaign.

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