Sunday, March 25, 2018

Convention followup

As usual I misssed more or less all the speeches at the Johnson County Dems convention. I have a specific role that I've been in for 20 years: as credentials co-chair I'm the one pounding the data into the computer, an invisible role that can be the bottleneck of the whole convention.

This year I was doing it on a borrowed machine: In my 5 AM exhaustion I packed my mouse, my cord, my printer, paper, the Big Box of caucus packets in case an issue came up (one did, one always does)... and forgot the COMPUTER. Luckily one of my committee members was better prepped than I was!

So I crunched data for three hours, emerging only for bathroom breaks (a task I could not delegate to anyone else). I did manage a quick hello to a just-arriving John Norris.

I emerged to a Glasson-led floor fight challenging the request of one of our sitting legislators to speak as a Fred Hubbell surrogate. (Ironic, since at our barbecue last fall, Glasson had a surrogate speak for her even though she was in the room at the time; all the other candidates had been at the same event in Ames before ours, but arrived and spoke for themselves.) This was shot down, by a narrower margin than it should have been, and Mary Mascher gave a speech focused as much on unity as on Hubbell to much applause, though a bigger than it should have been share of Glassonistas sat on their hands.

So I expected a long day, but things simmered down and the similar request from Team Boulton was greeted with just token opposition.

There was an unfortunate schedule conflict with the March For Our Lives, and unfortunately the mission-critical business of delegate election landed right at the same time window which made our planned symbolic recess for a "mini-march" unworkable.

On the initial alignment Hubbell, Norris, and Uncommitted all landed just short of viability, and former Iowa City mayor Ross Wilburn showed a small share of residual support in his old county.

The Sage of Solon, Paul Deaton, is a Norris backer and says that Team Glasson was not willing to discuss shares of delegates and instead only offered reasons that Norris people shouls switch to Glasson.

Instead Team Norris and Team Hubbell formed a Big Coalition with the Actually Uncommitted under the Uncommitted banner. They earned 25 of Johnson County's 75 delegates, and split them proportionally: 9 each to Hubbell and Norris and 7 Uncommitted Uncommitted.

Glasson scored 29 while Nate Boulton earned 23. So basically a third a third a third, with Uncommitted also split a third a third a third, and the Uncommitted Uncommitted people probably trying to decide between three candidates (Boulton, Hubbell and Norris).

I'm on Team Boulton and I was first to put my hand down to be an alternate - or alter-NATE - rather than run for delegate. It was tough going but all the groups managed to choose delegation without going through the lengthy balloting process. So we were back to other convention business by 2 PM; I crawled away at 3 and we adjourned around 4.

What did we learn from convention day? Iowa Starting Line did the Lord's work on statewide delegate counts and most counties did not split. Of those who did, Boulton emerged from the day with a lead.

I still believe and hope that one candidate will get hot at the end and win the 35% needed to avoid a convention. So can my guy Nate translate organizational and labor support into primary votes? And how much quiet support from the kind of people who DON'T go to conventions is there for Hubbell and Norris?

There's one candidate I haven't mentioned. Yes, I know there was supposedly a "Go Uncommitted "strategy." And my grudge against Andy McGuire is both well known and (maybe) petty. No, it's not just that I very visibly got left off the caucus review committee, even when it was opened up again and members were added AFTER my absence had been the subject of criticism. And unlike most, it's not because she "stole the caucuses for Hillary." You would have to be COMPETENT to do that.  It's her whole mismanagement of  the caucus process and IDP. If she can't run a party, she can't run a state.

There was virtually zero visible support for McGuire Saturday. Objectively, she has one way to influence the race: Drop out and endorse. The official dropout deadline was Friday, so McGuire missed that chance and will be on the ballot. But in 1990, JoAnn Zimmerman dropped out post-deadline to make a ticket with Don Avenson. She still got 1% or so of the vote but that didn't keep Anenson from winning.

But McGuire won't get lieutenant governor out of an endorsement. In 2006 she may have helped Mike Blouin, but in 2018 she would COST a running mate votes because she is persona non grata to the Sanders wing.

Speaking of which:

I often hear from activists that they like Cathy and her ideas just fine but they really really dislike her campaign - the style and the people.  And misleading claims like this are right in character.

I expect to get beat up by the Red Roses on Twitter, but I'll say it.  The "revolutionary" rhetorical style, from Sanders or Glasson or anyone, that thrills a certain type of person and maybe even brings them into the process, alienates more voters than it wins. There are more Obama-Obama-Trump voters in Iowa than there are left-left voters - and maybe the support of those two groups is a mutually exclusive trade off.

The left-left is NOT the 40% or so that they believe they are based on the 2016 primaries. Glasson failed to hit 40% at a CONVENTION in a BLIZZARD in her HOME COUNTY. A big share of the "left" vote in 2016, I'd say at least half, was simply the I Hate That Bitch vote.  Without a bipolar election between Hillary Clinton and One And Only One Not Hillary, that vote scatters. And I don't see room for growth - if you like "bold progressive" as style or if you're into Move The Party Left as your identity politics, you're already there.

Given their ideological support for pushing for preference groups at caucus and convention, and the tendency of  supporters to be loud and proud, it's safe to say there are not many Glasson supporters in the Uncommitted groups. In the counties that did not form groups, Glasson is almost certainly under the 15% she needed to form preference groups. It's also worth remembering that 17 of the 34 "Glasson" delegates in Polk are actually Norris supporters.

Going into the county conventions I believed a convention scenario would come down to Glasson vs. whoever emerged as the Not Glasson. Now, instead, I think in a convention scenario the decision gets made by the semi-uncommitted who are at the moment wavering between Hubbell, Norris and Boulton in various combinations. I don't see Glasson being many people's second choice. I see her being a lot of people's LAST choice.

Not mine - I could rank my candidates 1 through 6 but won't because I don't want to undercut my #1, Boulton. I will say that McGuire is 6th, and was 7th until Jon Neiderbach dropped out.

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