Thursday, December 19, 2013

Caucus Logistics May Speed Candidate Decisions

The upcoming caucuses and holidays are likely to speed up the decision making process for candidates looking to jump into the 3rd CD and Governor races following the dropouts of Tyler Olson and Tom Latham.

Democrats had a county chair conference call last night. I sat in because I'm coordinating the caucuses here in Johnson County and because our chair, Mike Carberry, is stepping down tonight to focus on his supervisor campaign.

We're a little more than a month away from the (mutually agreed upon!) January 21 caucus date, but it takes time to put all this stuff together: sites, chairs, and most to the point here, materials. Democrats will be getting their packets out to the counties in the first few days of the new year, and I assume Republicans have a similar schedule.

Historically, candidates get a lot of their nomination petition signatures at the caucuses, and that's also a good night just to to get your name in front of the core activists.

So to get your petitions into the caucus packets, you'll need to get them to the state parties before those packets get sent to the counties and delivered to the precinct chairs..

Sure, it's possible to get the sigs other places - GOP Senate candidate Sam Clovis says he already has what he needs. But it's harder, and it's harder still because this is an off year.

Signature requirements for governor, Senate and US House are based on the top of the ticket vote (president or governor) in the last general election. Because this is a governor cycle, that means the numbers are based on the higher turnout presidential numbers, and of course also means that the caucus attendance will be lower.

The governor and Senate requirements are 4113 signatures statewide for Democrats and 3654 for Republicans. The congressional requirements are relatively higher, roughly twice as hard. In the 3rd District it's 2037 for Democrats and 1867 for Republicans in just a quarter of the state. There are also county requirements, all detailed here.

US House is a tough bar to clear - the caucus signatures may not be enough on their own which makes them even more valuable. It's definitely easier than doorknocking or standing on a street corner in February to meet a March 14 federal/state filing deadline. Dave Loebsack actually failed in 2006 and had to get nominated at a convention, and would have had to run a primary write-in effort if Some Dude had filed. (OK, Dave was a Some Dude at that point himself, but that was four wins ago, five if you count the Fibbin' Fisherman.) So getting into that caucus packet is a motivator.

Expect a lot of heart to heart discussions with spouses and family members over the couple of mandatory shut down days right at Christmas, a good chance to get them all together. That'll be followed quickly by some announcements - or more likely announcements of announcements or "explorations", because everyone falls for that trick of covering the same announcement multiple times.

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