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Posts in "Iowa"
June 25, 2014
Giving up a run for office in the middle of a cycle may seem like admitting defeat, but for at least a couple of candidates this year, switching races may end up being the best political decision of their lives.
Republican Ken Buck was a Senate loser. The Weld County district attorney lost the Colorado Senate race in 2010 to Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who had been appointed to the seat, in one of most often-mentioned tea party meltdowns in recent history. Full story
June 17, 2014
When everyone else on the planet — or at least in the nation’s capital — becomes consumed with something like a Virginia primary upset or a Clinton book launch, I often turn to focus on an obscure campaign or candidate instead. I figure there is already enough chatter about the popular stuff, and I can keep my sanity by focusing on minutiae.
Given that, it shouldn’t come as a shock that my topic today is Iowa’s 4th District, a generally overlooked seat in the middle of the nation represented by Republican Rep. Steve King.
After looking at King’s comfortable 2012 victory over heavily hyped Christie Vilsack (the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and a one-time first lady of Iowa) and meeting the likely Democratic nominee this cycle, Jim Mowrer, I never thought this race would be worth any attention. I’m still not sure it is. Full story
May 20, 2014
Longtime readers of my column know I have often been skeptical about endorsements in highly visible contests, whether for the White House or the Senate. But what about an endorsement in a U.S. House race or a House primary? And could an endorsement actually hurt the candidate endorsed?
We may well get an answer to these questions soon. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw, one of the contenders in the crowded race for the GOP nomination in Iowa’s 3rd district, was just endorsed by the Des Moines Register.
“Shaw talked about how he would work to represent not just the Republican principles that he believes in but how he would work in a pragmatic way to get things done in Congress for Iowa,” said the editorial.
“An example of pragmatism over absolutism is his position on the recent farm bill, which he said he would have voted for, despite what he sees as shortcomings,” continued the editorial.
The question is whether an endorsement from the Register hurts Shaw, since the newspaper has a generally liberal reputation and Republican primary voters may not value “pragmatism” as much as do the members of the Register’s editorial board. Full story
February 7, 2014
With each passing election cycle, both parties are figuring out new ways to skirt campaign finance laws.
A couple years ago, I wrote about how the official and independent expenditure wings of the campaign committees share opposition research and message points through less-traveled regions of the Web. That “IE Strategy Borders on Art Form” might be worth a second glance as the cycle heats up.
Some candidates are also conveniently sharing video footage for potential use by independent groups for television ads through links that are sometimes difficult to find unless you know where to look.
For example, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is running for the open Senate seat in Iowa. BruceBraley.com/video includes a trio of b-roll videos, but the webpage is found only by a small link at the bottom of the main page.
Need video of Braley talking with old people? No problem. There’s “Bruce Braley Stands With Iowa Seniors” — one minute and 23 seconds of gripping b-roll of the congressman with senior citizens layered with smooth elevator music, unencumbered by audio of Braley or a narrator actually talking. Full story
January 14, 2014
I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.
As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.
Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)
Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story
January 8, 2014
As speaker of the state House, Thom Tillis is one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina. But you wouldn’t know it from the Republican’s first ad in the U.S. Senate race.
“In the private sector, businesses are built on accountability,” Tillis says. “But accountability is a foreign language in Washington.” He goes on to couple Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan with President Barack Obama in the ad titled, “Let’s Clean Up Her Mess.”
December 18, 2013
A new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans’ attitudes toward potential 2016 presidential hopefuls has already received plenty of attention. That’s not surprising, I suppose, given the unquenchable thirst from some about anything to do with the next presidential race.
The survey’s results give us some information — most of it entirely predictable — but the data doesn’t tell us who will win the 2016 Iowa caucuses or the White House a little less than three years from now. Full story
Republican Rep. Tom Latham’s retirement announcement put another GOP seat into play for Democrats and capped off a wild day in congressional handicapping. He leaves behind the 3rd District of Iowa, which should turn into a good Democratic opportunity.
On Tuesday, not only did three members announce their exit, but three members in very competitive districts announced they would not seek re-election. GOP Rep. Frank Wolf’s 10th District in Virginia went from Safe Republican to Lean Republican, while Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson’s 4th District in Utah went from a Tossup to Safe for Republicans.
Latham’s district is also very competitive, particularly now that it is an open seat. Barack Obama won the district in 2012, 51 percent to 47 percent, and in 2008, 52 percent to 46 percent. President George W. Bush won it, 52 percent to 47 percent, in 2004. Full story
October 1, 2013
I recently interviewed four Republican Senate candidates in the space of one week, and if I had to draw a single assessment from those meetings it would be that there is plenty of diversity in the GOP’s class of Senate hopefuls.The four differed in stature, style and background, and they dealt with the party’s internal debate of style and strategies in a variety of ways.
Republicans must hold South Carolina and win at least one — maybe more — of the other three races to have any chance of taking back the Senate next year. And that makes these contests in South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa and Alaska all worth watching.
On one end of the continuum was state Sen. Lee Bright, one of three conservatives who hopes to deny South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham renomination and win the GOP nod himself.
Bright, whose professional career started with selling televisions at Circuit City, has experienced a series of business setbacks. In fact, I’m not entirely clear how he makes a living, though he said something about truck brokerage and credit card processing. He seems affable, but he lacks gravitas. Full story
July 12, 2013
The Hawkeye State dominates the list of competitive races in the Plains. After the region hosted the high-profile North Dakota and Missouri Senate races in 2012, its trio of Senate races this cycle are likely to see action in the primaries — but not in November.
Here are the top five races to watch in the Plains states:
South Dakota Senate. Gov. Mike Rounds is the front-runner for the GOP nomination and the general election. His new primary challenger, state Sen. Larry Rhoden, does not fundamentally change the race, even if he runs as a conservative alternative to Rounds. Meanwhile, former House candidate Rick Weiland is running on the Democratic side, but his own party’s leadership is openly unhappy with their prospects if he is the nominee. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Lean Republican. Full story
July 8, 2013
Democrats believe Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad is vulnerable, but it will be almost a year before they know who will be their nominee to take on the Republican.
State Sen. Jack Hatch and former state Rep. Bob Krause are already running, but they will have company soon. State Rep. Tyler Olson, the former Iowa Democratic Party chairman, is expected to join the race. Physician and businesswoman Andy McGuire and others could get into the race as well before the March filing deadline. Full story
June 14, 2013
Open seats are supposed to be opportunities. Without longtime incumbents on the ballot, these districts should be easier to takeover. But six months into the 2014 cycle, that just isn’t the case on the House side.
So far, there are 10 districts slated to be open seats because the member is running for higher office or retiring in 2014. Either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney won all of them with at least 55 percent last year.
April 16, 2013
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is mentioned often as a possible 2014 Senate candidate for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat. But if King’s first-quarter 2013 fundraising report is any indication, the conservative Republican isn’t headed for a statewide race.
King raised just $93,000 in total contributions during the first three months of the year, including only $78,000 from individuals. He ended the quarter with $90,000 in the bank. CQ Roll Call labeled him a “loser” among those whose first-quarter reports were worth monitoring.
Last cycle, King raised more than $3.7 million in individual, party and PAC contributions to turn back an aggressive challenge from former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack. The race turned out not to be as close as many had expected. Of course, his 2011 first-quarter report was also unimpressive. He showed receipts for that quarter at just more than $41,000 and ended March with $142,000 on hand.
Bruce Braley, the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic Senate nomination next year, got off to a fast fundraising start this year. His Federal Election Commission report showed more than $856,000 raised during the quarter, ending March with just more than $1 million in the bank after transferring funds from his House committee. Full story
March 20, 2013
A recent National Journal item caught my attention. Entitled “Expanding the Map,” it began: “When Republicans gloat about the seven Democratic-held, red-state Senate seats up in 2014, Democrats can note that only six of their incumbents have lost since the 1990s.”
The statement is true … but potentially misleading.
Yes, over the past seven elections, Republicans have defeated only six Democratic senators seeking re-election. But there are two reasons for that. First, political waves have favored Democrats more than Republicans over the past dozen years. And second, weak Republican candidates who emerged from ideological primaries failed to win very winnable races.
We have seen two Democratic wave elections in the past dozen years — in 2008 and 2006 — and only one Republican Senate wave, in 2010. But in reality, we had a third Democratic Senate wave — in 2000, when the relatively weak Republican Senate class elected in the 1994 wave came up for re-election for the first time. Five GOP incumbents lost that year, a large number considering that the presidential contest was a tie and the House results were a virtual wash. Full story