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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iowa Independent: Vander Plaats predicts own impeachment over gay marriage

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats has renewed his
promise to end same-sex marriage with an executive order, even if it
means facing impeachment. Appearing on the show of controversial
Christian radio host Steve Deace, Vander Plaats once again said if
elected governor in 2010 he would issue an executive order stopping
same-sex marriage until the legislature either passes a law legalizing
it or passes a constitutional amendment banning it. "I can't give the
people the right to vote on this, but I think I can mobilize people
like [Senate Majority Leader Mike] Gronstal and [House Speaker Pat]
Murphy by saying no more same-sex marriages until you step up and vote
to make this law," Vander Plaats said.

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The Iowa Republican: More candidates emerging

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

After the news of Senator Randy Feenstra and Story County Treasurer
Dave Jamison looking at running for State Treasurer, we have more good
news about possible candidates for other seats. Christian Fong, a
young Cedar Rapids businessman, is seriously considering a run for
Governor. Krusty hit on this last Friday and didn't think it was a
good move for Fong. With his experience, Fong must be thought of as a
serious contender but will have to raise a lot of money to raise his
name ID. He also must outline a conservative message on both the
fiscal and social fronts. You can read some of Fong's writings on the
Iowa economy by clicking here. His candidacy in this race has the
potential to drastically change the dynamics of this campaign.

Bleeding Heartland: Iowa investing transportation stimulus funds well so far

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

June 29 was exactly 120 days since the federal government released
highway funds to the states as part of the economic stimulus bill
(American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). Smart Growth America marked
the occasion by releasing a review on how wisely states are spending
the transportation money. ... I've been concerned that Iowa would spend
too much money this year on new road construction, which adds to
future maintenance costs, instead of fixing the roads and bridges that
need repair. Neither Iowa Department of Transportation director Nancy
Richardson nor the state legislature have shown much interest in
balanced transportation funding in the past. The fiscal year 2010-2014
Transportation Improvement Program approved earlier this month by the
Iowa Transportation Commission includes more money for road widening
than I would prefer.

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John Deeth Blog: Blast from the past: Ten years since Stanley election

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

History lesson: It was ten years ago today that Iowans went to the
polls in a statewide special election, as Republicans overplayed their
hand in the dawning days of the Vilsack Administration. The GOP still
controlled both halves of the Legislature, despite Vilsack's win, and
the governor plays no role in the constitutional amendment process. So
they rushed through the second passage of two constitutional
amendments backed by Iowans for Tax Relief, that took caps on taxation
and spending that were already in the law and locked them into the
Constitution. Colloquially, these were known as "the Stanley
Amendments" after Iowans for Tax Relief leader, and former U.S. Senate
contender, David Stanley. But rather than putting them on the 2000
presidential ballot, the Republicans scheduled a hurry-up statewide
special election for June 29, 1999.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blog for Iowa: Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration through the eyes of one progressive

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa

Democrats in Iowa should be glad we have an Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame and that Sally Pederson and Tom and Christie Vilsack were inducted into it last night [Saturday]. In many ways, the successful Vilsack-Pederson campaign in 1998 was a turning point in a process that is changing the long Republican history of Iowa into something more relevant to modern times. ... Governor Culver bragged about the success of the event's fund raising efforts, saying that more money had been raised this year than in any of the previous years of the Hall of Fame event. What Chet Culver does not understand is that it is false success when among the 2009 Hall of Fame Hosts are listed the powerful interests that stymie the efforts of the progressive movement to do what is right in Iowa and in Washington.

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Essential Estrogen: A one star event

Excerpted from this post at Essential Estrogen

Last night I attended the Republican Party of Iowa's Rising Star event. On a scale of one to four stars (like a hotel), I would give the event one star. ... The bar. A folding table with young ladies handing out bottles of beer, water, soda and glasses of wine. The surprising thing about the bar, you had to pay dearly for everything. A bottle of water and a small soda each cost $2, beer and wine were $3 - $4. No free water. I thought it odd that we would have to pay for water and sodas but the best was yet to come. We entered into the rooms displaying the art and joined the others milling about. There were no tables set up with finger foods, hot foods, cold foods, nothing but a small bowl of chex mix.

Iowa Defense Alliance: Pelosi's Iowa puppets should resign

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Defense Alliance

As I was sitting here this evening contemplating the passage of the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade bill yesterday evening I continued to get more and more irate. Sure I have been opposed to any form of cap and trade legislation because I firmly understand that it is a job killer, an economy killer. I understand that it is nothing more than a massive tax on all Americans. I understand that it does have good intentions, however I remain unconvinced that it will achieve the objectives that the bills supporters have been claiming. ... As more and more Americans called in to voice their disapproval of the plan I thought that Boswell would succumb to the pressure of the public. That was not to be though. Ultimately he fell on the side of the puppets.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: Iowa Republicans more like "Party of Hoover" than party of future

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

The Republican Party of Iowa is celebrating its "rising stars" tonight
at an event featuring Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Judging by
what we've heard lately from Iowa GOP leaders, they're gonna party
like it's 1929. Case in point: Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul
McKinley. The possible gubernatorial candidate's weekly memos continue
to whine about spending and borrowing by Democrats (see also here).
Republicans would rather slash government programs and provide
"targeted" one-year tax credits. The lessons of Herbert Hoover's
presidency are still lost on these people. I apologize for repeating
myself, but excessive government spending cuts can turn an economic
recession into a depression.

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The Iowa Republican: Disappointment -- Take 2: The Sanford edition

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted once again to hear of South
Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's admission that he is the latest
politician to cheat on his wife. Of course, there has been intense
media scrutiny on this situation over the last several days given that
his staff had no clue where he was. I suspected there was a problem
when his wife told the media that she was also unaware of his
whereabouts. That's just not normal. Then he was hiking the
Appalachian Trail. Then he came back and told the press that he had
changed his plans last minute and gone to Argentina. "I wanted to do
something exotic," Sanford told The State. My first gut reaction to
reading that was, "Uh huh, what's her name?"

John Deeth Blog: Reed may get into congressional race

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

Is Christopher "Not Tom Harkin" Reed looking for a new nickname: Not
Dave Loebsack? Reed, the Republican's 2008 Senate nominee, is telling
his Facebook friends that he's running for Loebsack's 2nd District
seat. Reed sparked a fair amount of controversy late in the campaign
in the Iowa rightosphere, charging that the Iowa Republican Party was
undercutting his campaign. The most attention he got in the
traditional media was after his one debate with Harkin, when he called
the senator "the Tokyo Rose of Al-Qaida." It turned out to be Harkin's
easiest re-elect by far. Reed did manage to carry five western Iowa
counties. But none of that turf is in the 2nd District, where Loebsack
beat Mariannette Miller-Meeks (who the rightosphere really, really
REALLY thought would pull an upset despite any objective evidence) by
nearly 20 points.

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Iowa Independent: Obradovich is the new Yepsen

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

The Des Moines Register announced today that Kathie Obradovich will be
the paper's next political columnist. Obradovich, 44, has been the
Register's political editor since 2003, and she was a state government
reporter and statehouse bureau chief before that. Notably, though
Obradovich's CV certainly qualifies her for the new title, this
announcement should also help her employer save some cash. The
Register, which has been forced to trim its budget by struggling
parent company Gannett Co., has likely avoided the need to hire any
additional (high-profile) staff. Obradovich replaces longtime
columnist David Yepsen, who was a fixture of Iowa's political
landscape for decades before he left earlier this year to take a job
at Southern Illinois University.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Krusty Konservative: Midwesterners sour on stimulus, paints a bad picture for Culver's future

Excerpted from this post at Krusty Konservative

60% of the Midwesterners surveyed in a recent Washington Post-ABC News
poll think that President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan is crap.
I'm not surprised. This is what happens when government gives billions
of taxpayer dollars to huge corporations, and does nothing for the
little guy. Seriously, give me one example of how these stimulus
dollars have helped you? That's right, you can't. On a more local
level, the state of Iowa received over $600 million in stimulus, which
Governor Culver has already used. That money wasn't used to stimulate
the economy here in Iowa; it was used to make sure state spending
could continue at its historically high levels.

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John Deeth Blog: The lieutenant governor card

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

With Chris Rants joining Bob Vander Plaats as an officially announced
candidate, the 2010 primary season is beginning in earnest. Now is as
good a time as any to look at an aspect of the race that won't be on
the ballot: lieutenant governor. 2006 was unusual in that three
candidates named running mates before the primary. It was the first
time anyone had done that since 1990, the first time number one and
number two ran as a ticket. Iowa changed its system with a 1988
constitutional amendment. Before that, lieutenant governor was an
independently elected office with its own primary and general
election. The lieutenant governor had some clout as well, presiding
over the state senate. But that power went away with the amendment. No
longer an independent officer with a statewide constituency, the
lieutenant governor now has a constituency of one.

FromDC2Iowa: Health opponents shown for what they are

Excerpted from this post at FromDC2Iowa

Where Do They Get This Stuff? ... To cut to the chase, and remove any
question about my own position, I'm siding with one of my favorite
theology doctors: "Let he who has no bad health habits cast the first
bed pan." If what I mean by that is ambiguous, let me try again. I
recall years ago reading about a British doctor who simply refused to
treat patients' self-induced medical conditions -- the impact of
smoking on a cough or bronchial condition, the consumption of
excessive salt on elevated blood pressure or excessive animal fats on
cholesterol levels. In effect, if the patient was unwilling to make
any effort whatsoever to improve their condition by altering their own
behavior, the doctor's sense of the most appropriate triage of his own
time and talent was to spend them with the patients who would.

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24-Hour Dorman: Nix the Nazis

Excerpted from this post at 24-Hour Dorman

So the Nazis have goose-stepped back into our politics. Swell. ... Instead of simply dismissing this as an obviously warped and overwrought viewpoint, Democrats issued a statement calling it "hate speech." Oh brother. What do we call it when liberals fling "Nazi" at conservatives? And they do. Iowa Republican wonders why Democrats are
so much more incensed about this use of an "N" word then they were when state Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch, used the other really awful "N" word. So this is the state of our political discourse at this hour. Aren't you proud? I know I'm not. How about adopting a simple rule of thumb. No more Nazis. People on both ends of the political spectrum need to remember that trotting out "Nazi" to tar the other side says more about you than your rivals. It says you don't really understand history. It says you have so little to say of consequence that you decide the best way to get applause and attention is to start throwing swastikas. It says that you'd much rather pick fights than articulate ideas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Huffington Post: Grassley hosting fundraiser with mortgage industry lobbyist, months after opposing cramdow

Excerpted from this post at Huffington Post

In late April, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to the housing
bill that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to provide relief for
troubled homeowners by modifying mortgage payments. Among those who
opposed the measure, which was known as "cramdown," was Sen. Chuck
Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. "It will
cause interest rates to go up and will make it more difficult for
people to get a mortgage," the Iowa Republican said at the time. Two
months later, the people who benefited from Grassley's vote are poised
to shower him with campaign donations.

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John Deeth Blog: Governor on offense with western trip

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

It's not an Official re-election announcement, but an email from
Governor Chet Culver's campaign committee landed in in-boxes this
morning announcing a campaign swing via train through the western end
of the state tomorrow. The vehicle, of course, has been a Democratic
icon since way before Joe Biden. Harry Truman rode the very same
tracks in his upset 1948 win. One of his major speeches of that
campaign was in Dexter, where he unveiled the new definition of the
GOP acronym as "gluttons of privilege," which Tom Harkin loves to
quote. Culver isn't inviting such direct comparisons. He's stopping
one town before and two stops after Dexter. But he is playing offense
with this trip.

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Radio Iowa: We know where OUR governor is

Excerpted from this post at Radio Iowa

Much has been written and said about the vanishing act South
Carolina's governor pulled over the weekend. Lest you worry about
Iowa's governor, his staff issued a statement late yesterday
announcing Governor Chet Culver would be going to St. Louis today for
a conference on biotechnology and life sciences hosted by the
Democratic Governors Association. ... "The event is closed to press,
but we wanted to make sure you were aware he is attending this
conference where he will tout Iowa's leadership in renewable energy
and biotechnology, as well as learn what other states are doing in
these important fields. The conference will be attended by governors
of six other states." According to his staff, Culver will be back in
Iowa "late" this afternoon.

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The Iowa Republican: The hypocrisy of Iowa Democrats

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

Michael Kiernan, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, is up in
arms over comments that Ed Failor Jr., the President of Iowans for Tax
Relief, made at a Flag Day event which was organized by the Boone
County Republican Party. At the event, Failor compared the current
economic actions and policies of the Democratic party to those of the
Nazi party in Germany in the 1930's. This isn't the first time that
Failor, Jr. has compared Iowa Democrats to Nazis. After the Speaker of
the Iowa House Pat Murphy removed the people from a public hearing on
the repeal of federal deductibility, Failor said that Murphy had acted
like a "jack-booted Nazi."

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Iowa Defense Alliance: Loebsack votes present on House resolution

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Defense Alliance

In today's world we sorely need leadership. Unfortunately, Iowa's
Second Congressional District is being left with very little, if any.
A real leader is not afraid to take a stand on the issues whether said
stand is popular with the public or not. A real leader will not sit on
the fence, or stick a toe in to test the waters, before making a
decision. A real leader makes decisions based on convictions,
principles and confidence, rather than looking to others before making
a decision. With the current state of world politics, we cannot afford leaders
without conviction and without direction. Recent events in Iran and
North Korea have shown that ours is a President without conviction and
lacking the fortitude to be a world leader.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Iowa Republican: Rants and Vander Plaats continue to move forward with gubernatorial campaigns

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

A Kinder, Gentler Chris Rants? This past weekend, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants was the guest on Iowa Press. While the show showcased a kinder, gentler Rants, the makeup of the Iowa Press table has changed since Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen left the newspaper industry for an academic setting. In his place this weekend was Cedar Rapids Gazette political reporter James Lynch. Rants’ appearance on Iowa Press showed how he has changed as a candidate. Rants said that he has spent a lot of time traveling the state and listening to activists and donors. When pressed about the decision made by the Republican caucus in January not to have him serve as their leader, Rants admitted that it hurt, that he learned from the experience, and that, had he been selected to lead House Republicans again, he wouldn't be running for governor. He also handled questions about his "attack dog" persona with ease.

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24-Hour Dorman: Lug on the rocks

Excerpted from this post at 24-Hour Dorman

Krusty Konservative and others are pointing to new poll numbers from Survey USA that show Gov. Chet Culver's approval rating sitting at just 42 percent. His disapproval rating in the poll is 51 percent. The poll of 600 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent. And for Dems, the survey yields a few troubling numbers. Culver's approval rating among Democrats is a paltry 62 percent, and only 36 percent of respondents ages 18-34 approve of his performance. He does best with voters over 65, who are split 48-48 approval/disapproval. One piece of good news for Culver is that 54 percent of respondents who described themselves as "moderate" approve of his performance. So is Culver vulnerable in 2010? Sure, but with a lousy economy and a budget mess you really didn't need a poll to tell you that. And again, vulnerability matters only if Republicans nominate a quality candidate with broad appeal. That's a big if at this early date.

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Bleeding Heartland: Don't hold your breath, Secretary Vilsack

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

I was struck by this passage in a Sunday Des Moines Register feature on Iowans in key posts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture: ... "Vilsack 'made this very creative argument on how during the eight years of the Bush administration, the Europeans would lecture us on how we had to bring our citizens along and educate them on the science of climate change. He turned that around and said, 'You know, you've got a similar responsibility on biotech'' Michener said." That certainly is a "creative" analogy. Getting Americans on board with serious policies on climate change may be our only hope for avoiding a catastrophic global warming scenario. Gaining European acceptance for
genetically-modified crops has no comparable global benefit (no, these crops won't magically end world hunger).

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Iowa Defense Alliance: Appreciation for Rep. Jodi Tymeson and Rep. Jeff Kaufmann

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Defense Alliance

In this day of lack of ethics and less than honest elected officials who are voted in to serve the citizens of the United States of America, two Iowa Representatives have distinguished themselves for their efforts to stand up to the greed and deception happening to Clarke County landowners. With thankfulness and with appreciation I acknowledge Rep. Jodi Tymeson, R-Winterset, and Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton, for standing up for rural Iowans who are fighting a painful, expensive, and unnecessary battle to keep their property. A simple thank you is not enough to acknowledge the efforts of Tymeson and Kaufmann. Both Representatives have spent countless hours speaking to the media and standing up to those who are attempting to grab up precious land in Clarke County.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: Constructive criticism of the "Cash for Clunkers" bill

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

The Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program (also known as "Cash for Clunkers") will receive at least $1 billion in funding this year now that Congress has passed the $106 billion Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental appropriations bill. ... The CARS bill was attached to the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act in the spring. With prospects for that climate-change bill uncertain, the U.S. House approved Cash for Clunkers as a stand-alone bill earlier this month. Click the link for details about the rules and incentives outlined in that bill. The House and Senate then agreed to attach Cash for Clunkers to the $106 billion Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental appropriations bill that was in conference at the time.

The Iowa Republican: Rants files paperwork for gubernatorial campaign

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

This morning, State Representative Chris Rants announced that he's filling out the appropriate paper to run for governor. ... Rants told The Iowa Republican this morning that he, "Still a lot of people to sit down with, counties to visit, folks to listen to." Rants also said that he has hit his initial fundraising goal. Rants' announcement comes just two days after being attacked by Bob Vander Plaats over the issue of gay marriage. Vander Plaats, who says that he will sign an executive order to ban gay marriage, criticized Rants for saying that he would not take similar action. Rants instead advocates for the passage of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Rants successfully passed a marriage amendment in the Iowa House when he served as Speaker, and forced a vote on the matter this past legislative session.

Price of Politics, Etc.: Rants and Casey's pizza

Excerpted from this post at Price of Politics, Etc.

... Rants was the guest on "Iowa Press", which taped today. Radio Iowa's blogger extraordinaire Kay Henderson wrote about the conversation with Rants following the taping. One morsel was especially delicious. Here the sentence she wrote that caught me: "This campaign is going to be running on Diet Coke and Casey's pizza and ethanol the whole way," Rants said. Two things... Rants famously downed Mt. Dew after Mt. Dew through long statehouse sessions. I thought he had switched to Diet Dew. But Diet Coke? Maybe he really has changed. O.K., fine. Who cares? He also touted Casey's pizza. Again, who cares? Well, that pizza is known all over Iowa to be one of the most famous treats at Casey's General Stores, a chain founded by an Iowan by the name of Don Lamberti, the father of Jeff, another Iowan thinking of running for governor.

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John Deeth Blog: Should parties be able to expel members?

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

Political parties get a bad rap. A dying generation of pundits like David Broder bemoan "excess" partisanship, while President Obama desperately tries to get a tiny handful of Republicans to sign onto his plans and make them "bipartisan." We're taught by the "objective" media to "vote for the person not the party." But in the post-civil rights era, as the Republicans have gone South literally and figuratively, American political parties have come to mean more than they ever have in our history. They now have at least some level of ideological consistency, and they provide necessary voter cues and structure to the political system. I've also found them, at least locally, to be a meritocracy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: The dangers of a fake public health insurance option

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

The White House and key Democratic senators, including Iowa's Tom
Harkin, appear to be walking into a trap for the sake of bipartisan
agreement on health care in the Senate. There is growing support for a
fake "public option," as opposed to a government health insurance plan
that would compete directly with private insurance companies. If
Congress passes this kind of deal and President Barack Obama signs it,
we will get a enormously expensive non-solution to an enormous
problem, and Democrats will pay the political price. ... The public
option is anathema to Republicans and corporate Democrats, because it
would give consumers more choices, especially in areas where one
insurance company dominates the market.

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God, Politics and Rock 'n' Roll: Public option is a bad deal

Excerpted from this post at God, Politics and Rock 'n' Roll

New polling shows that the public supports a choice between
government-run insurance and private insurance. I can see why the
public believes that public "competition" for private insurance
companies would be a good idea. Voters rightfully believe that
competition produces lower prices and better customer service.
However, the public option is a bad idea because the government
"competes" with the private sector on a playing field tilted
precipitously toward the bureaucracy winning the competition. Why? 1.
The government has unlimited access to money. It does not have to
create a business plan to benefit consumers and keep prices low in
order to keep itself from going out of business. A government program
never "goes out of business."

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Iowa Defense Alliance: Former GOP county co-chair launches House bid as independent

Excerpted from this post at BLOGNAME

We have been saying for some time that the people advocating for
Republicans to compromise on our principles would only serve to drive
the most loyal base from the party. A perfect example of this would
the case of former Pocahontas County Republican Party co-Chair Tom
Shaw. Mr. Shaw is appalled by the direction that some individuals seem
to want to take the party in. As a result Mr. Shaw has withdrawn from
the party and is now running for Iowa House District 8 as an
independent. I was honored to have a conversation with Mr. Shaw
yesterday morning during which he repeatedly cited efforts to move the
party toward the "mushy middle" as his reason for leaving the party.

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John Deeth Blog: Freshman Sen. Feenstra looking at state treasurer

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

The Iowa Republican is reporting, or trial-ballooning, that freshman
State Sen. Randy Feenstra is looking at a run for state treasurer next
year against Democratic incumbent Mike Fitzgerald. Is Sioux County,
the most Republican in the state (81 percent McCain, and even hapless
Senate candidate Christopher "Not Tom Harkin" Reed won) a reasonable
base for a statewide race? Feenstra "has been actively trying to raise
his profile ever since" coming to the Senate in January, write the IR.
He went to the state senate unopposed, in both primary and general,
when relative moderate (by Sioux County standards) Dave Mulder was
squeezed out after one term. It's a no-risk way for a mid-term state
senator to boost his name ID.

The Iowa Republican: 30 pieces of silver

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

About a month ago, I wrote about the Iowa Department of Economic
Development (IDED) selecting one of the world's largest (and most
expensive) PR firms, Burston-Marsteller, to help market the state.
Previously, that contract had been the sole territory of the Integer
Group, a Des Moines based PR and advertising firm. The key selling
point to IDED was the fact the Burston-Marsteller's efforts to market
the state would be spearheaded by a local affiliate,
Larson-Shannahan-Slifka Group, headed by Chuck Larson, Jr. and Karen
Slifka, long-time Iowa Republican operatives. But the fallout was
immediate, with many PR and marketing leaders in Iowa questioning the
wisdom of moving $3 million of the total $6 million contract to
Burston-Marsteller.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iowa Independent: Despite negative fiscal forecast, Culver hesitant to call special session

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

A special session may be needed in order to balance Iowa's budget for
FY2009, which ends July 1, according to a report by the nonpartisan
Legislative Services Agency (LSA). But Gov. Chet Culver Press
Secretary Troy Price told the Iowa Independent it is too early to
consider a special session as "the decline in revenues may be nothing
more than typical month-to-month fluctuations." In an interview with
The Cedar Rapids Gazette's James Lynch, LSA fiscal analyst Jeff
Robinson said based on his projections, and because of a downturn in
tax receipts, the state could spend all of the $45 million left as a
balance after the legislative session ended in April as well as the
$50 million the governor has the authority to transfer from reserves
and still be in the red.

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The Iowa Republican: Vander Plaats fires a shot at Rants

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

Bob Vander Plaats fired the opening salvo of the 2010 Republican
gubernatorial campaign yesterday. In his crosshairs was Chris Rants,
the former Speaker of the Iowa House and current member of the Iowa
House of Representatives, who is drumming up support for a
gubernatorial campaign of his own. Vander Plaats launched his attack
while doing an interview with Bill Salier who is filling in for Jan
Mickelson on WHO Radio. Vander Plaats said that, if elected, he would
sign an executive order banning same sex marriage that would allow
people the opportunity to vote on the controversial issue. Rants has
made statements saying that the Governor doesn't have the authority to
overrule the court with just an executive order, but has vowed to
fight to bring a marriage amendment to the people for a vote.

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HawkeyeGOP: Health care

Excerpted from this post at HawkeyeGOP

I am a fan of Bill Salier. I first met him during his primary campaign
in Cedar Rapids at the home of a good Republican friend, Billboard
Bob. I liked his message of family values, strong defense and limited,
constitutional government. ... This week I have been listening to Bill
filling in for Jan Mickelson on 1040 WHO radio. The topic of greatest
interest to me has been healthcare and the push by the Obama
government to take over the nation's healthcare system. Whether it is
a single-payer government solution or a Massachesetts (Romney) style
insurance mandate, we conservatives must stand firm against it. I
recently started my own business full-time. As I looked at all of the
things I would have to do to make a go of it, I was dismayed that one
of the biggest issues I faced was how to provide health insurance for
my family. I know that my situation is atypical.

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Blog for Iowa: Iowans go to Washington - for health care reform

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa

All of us who have been pushing for meaningful health care reform on a
national level are working at fever pitch these days. From reading the
latest policy papers and political commentary to organizing local
events, there's plenty of work for everyone, and the pace just keeps
accelerating. But even in the current frenzied atmosphere, next week
will stand out. On June 24 and 25, people from around the country will
gather in Washington D.C. to tell our members of Congress, and the
nation, that health care reform can't wait. I feel honored and
privileged to have been invited, along with fellow Quad Cities health
care reform activists Alta Price and Bev Strayhall, to participate in
the events in D.C., thanks to our Iowa friends at Change That Works.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

John Deeth Blog: Fallon calls out Boswell on climate change bill

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

Ed Fallon pulls a jujitsu move on Leonard Boswell today, using the
ghost of the 2000 election to bash the Boz for opposing climate change
legislation. "If Boswell truly wanted to be 'on the front lines' in
the fight to address climate change, he would throw his weight behind
HR 2454," the American Clean Energy and Security Act, writes Fallon,
who lost a primary challenge to Boswell last year." "As this bill
stands today, I can't vote for it. I don't know of anyone else in the
{House Agriculture} committee who can," Boswell said of the bill. The
2000 presidential race was a hot issue in last year's congressional
primary. Boswell repeatedly attacked Fallon for supporting Ralph Nader
that year, and even got Al Gore to endorse him.

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The Iowa Republican: Vander Plaats seems ready for the frontrunner status, but is his campaign ready?

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

Bob Vander Plaats is coming off a really busy week. On Saturday, June
6th, Vander Plaats spoke at the Network of Christian Home Educators
conference. The following Wednesday, Mike Huckabee was in the state to
help raise money for and endorse his former caucus campaign chairman.
Last Thursday, Vander Plaats won the Iowa Republican Gubernatorial
Straw Poll, and on the same day, he also picked up the endorsement of
Chuck Norris. On one hand, most people might say that Vander Plaats
had a good week. On the other hand, some may wonder why Vander Plaats'
campaign seems to have weeks where there is a ton of activity,
followed by spans of time when his campaign makes little or no news at
all.

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Herd on the Hill: When is a pay freeze not a pay freeze?

Excerpted from this post at Herd on the Hill

Only in state government can a freeze on salaries mean a 4.5% increase
in pay. In February, of this year, the Governor agreed to give a $120
million pay increase to state employees. But wait, the headlines were
screaming that a pay freeze was going into effect for the upcoming
fiscal year. While private employers and employees in Iowa are
struggling to keep their doors open the Governor and legislative
Democrats continue to spend and spend and spend. Following the
announcement the Governor's team and his big labor buddies were
crowing that this was a contract both sides could be proud of. It was
also stated that this new contract reflected the current economic
realities facing the nation. Well that $120 million dollar pay
increase would go a long way to solving the nearly $1 billion budget
gap the Governor and legislative Democrats have created by their
reckless spending.

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Iowa Political Alert: UC Davis Prof: Absence of rural voice on Supreme Court does matter

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Political Alert

In a story published Monday in the Center For Rural Strategies' Daily
Yonder, I wrote about the lack of any significant rural connections in
the biographies of the likely next U.S. Supreme Court, one that would
appear to replace Justice David Souter and his rural New Hampshire
background with Judge Sonia Sotomayor from the Bronx, N.Y. ... In
theory, judges born in Trenton, N.J, -- such as Supreme Court justices
Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia -- should be able to apply the law and
follow the Constitution in cases that pit urban interests against
rural. That said, I'd agree with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who
while supporting Sotomayor, is urging President Obama to make his next
Supreme Court appointment with consideration given to candidates
outside the Ivy League, maybe even someone who went to night law
school in a heavily rural state.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hawkeye Review: Will lightning strike twice in Cedar Rapids?

Excerpted from this post at Hawkeye Review

Back in 1967 an important study was released by the Army Corps. of Engineers that predicted the tragic flood of 2008 within inches of its actual level. This study was largely ignored by city leaders over the past 30 years as evidenced by the construction of a public library, police and fire stations within the flood plains predicted in this study. Don't forget too that we have now broken ground on the construction of a few federal courthouse within steps of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids. ... Is Cedar Rapids about to commit the same crime twice? It's too early to tell, but based on behaviors and existing patterns of ineffective leadership, I am suggesting today that the best solution to mitigate long term flooding risks in Cedar Rapids are being quietly brushed aside by decision makers who haven't taken the necessary time to study and understand what's being offered.

Iowa Defense Alliance: And this kids is what is wrong with the GOP

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Defense Alliance

... Tonight I and another IDA member attended our local county GOP meeting. ... First, we were not greeted or welcomed by anyone. Nobody, even the chair, came up to introduce themselves. I'm not that high maintenance but I would at least like a greeting when I go to a meeting/group I've never been to before and there are only 15 or so people in the room. ... Second, the meeting was BORING. A complete snoozer. ... Third, I think I was the youngest person in the room at 26. I was one of 5 women, the rest were middle-aged White guys. That'll bring in the new voters and party volunteers. Fourth, the other IDA member with me gave a passionate speech and after was treated rudely by an elected county official in front of the whole group.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: Some Iowa House Democrats will get primary challengers

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

The Democratic-controlled legislature failed to pass some important bills during the 2009 legislative session, including a tax reform package and all major agenda items for organized labor. Since the fiasco that doomed the "prevailing wage" bill in February, I've thought that electing better Democrats to the state legislature is at least as important as electing more Democrats. With a 56-44 majority in the Iowa House, it's ridiculous not to be able to find 51 votes for some of these bills. According to a letter I received last weekend, Ed and Lynn Fallon of I'M for Iowa are already meeting with potential progressive challengers in some House districts. I've posted the full text of the letter after the jump. I share their disappointment with what the Democratic "trifecta" has accomplished since the 2006 elections.

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Hawkeye Review: Should we be celebrating the flood anniversary?

Excerpted from this post at Hawkeye Review

I've spoken to several flood victims this week who like me, found ourselves "reliving" the trauma of the floods as we now markthe anniversary of this devastating event. Although the official crest didn't occur until late tomorrow (one year ago on Friday, June 13th) I knew as did 18,000 other Cedar Rapids residents last summer our lives were suddenly changed in just a matter of hours. I want to go on record as supporting community pride, involvement and I wholeheartedly endorse civic engagement at all levels. That said, I am very sympathetic to the more than 1,000 households in Cedar Rapids that still live day to day with no home and no immediate promise for significant assistance.

The Iowa Republican: Obama selects Hatch for health care committee, despite his recent racist remarks

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

If you're a radio talk show host that calls female basketball players "nappy headed hos," Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will create enough public pressure to see to it that you lose your job. On the other hand, if you are a State Senator who is so passionate about socialized medicine, that you stomp right into the House chambers and tell a black legislator, "They are treating us like [n-words], like masters and slaves," you end up with a key White House appointment from America's first African-American president.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Iowa Defense Alliance: A frontrunner emerges

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Defense Alliance

Last evening several members of The Iowa Brigade/Iowa Defense Alliance were in attendance at Bob Vander Plaats event at Arnolds Park on the shores of Lake Okoboji. We had volunteered to help set the event up and sign people in as they came through the doors. It would be redundant for me to provide a recount of the event as I live blogged the event last night right here on Iowa Defense Alliance. Instead I will focus on some of the side stories that came from this event. Early on I was concerned that the event would have dismal attendance considering the timing and location. The event was held in the middle of the week in the northwest corner of the state. Not exactly a recipe for an earth shattering turnout.

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The Iowa Republican: The issues not the candidates

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

With the campaigns just around the corner and candidates coming out of the woodwork, it is pretty easy to focus on the candidates and not so much on the issues. For some candidates that mindset works well, for others, the issues is where there victories will come. Either way, for the people, if we stay focused on the issues rather than the candidate, we'll always be better off. If you think back to when you got started in politics, was it the candidate or the issues that sucked you in? With that, I've listed some questions for the candidates running for a state seat. I know the candidates won't get on here and answer but I think it is a good exercise for anyone interested in politics. I'd love to see the questions answered by anyone who thinks they can tackle them.

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Iowa Independent: Grassley clarifies 'you got nerve' comment, vows to keep Twittering

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

Despite a recent flap over a post on the social networking site Twitter criticizing the president for a comment on health care, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley said he will keep on using the site to communicate with his constituents. "I've tried to use every latest technology to keep in touch with constituents. Representative government is a two-way street," he said. "I'm one half of that, my constituent's the other." ... The team at Gawker, a Web site dedicated to gossip and news, were particularly hard on Grassley, publishing an article titled "Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley Uses Twitter to Exhibit Insanity, Illiteracy."

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Iowa Republican: Huckabee endorses Vander Plaats

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
While in Iowa to raise money for his former caucus chairman's run for
the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Mike Huckabee also lent his
endorsement to Vander Plaats' campaign. Huckabee had the following to
say about Vander Plaats, "Bob hasn't officially announced his
intentions yet, but I don't mind giving him a little nudge because the
stakes are so high for Iowa. This state desperately needs new
leadership and Bob's determination to make great things happen in
unequaled." Huckabee went on to say, "Bob's committed to leading Iowa
forward by reforming the way the state government works, putting an
end to the Democrats' runaway spending and really opening Iowa for
business so you have an economy that's hitting on all cylinders."

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Iowa Independent: Huckabee banking 2012 hopes on Vander Plaats' 2010 success

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent
Mike Huckabee's decision to openly campaign for likely GOP
gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats tonight in Spirit Lake has
some wondering if it means his presidential aspirations are over.
Associated Press political reporter Mike Glover points out that
getting involved in the Republican primary could pose a risk to any
plans Huckabee has to run for president in 2012. Drake University
political science professor Dennis Goldford told Glover that if
Huckabee can help Vander Plaats get the nomination and win the
election, "then he's nicely positioned with a supportive governor who
owes him a favor." But if Vander Plaats is defeated in the Republican
primary, Democratic strategist Mark Daley said Huckabee runs the risk
of alienating other candidates and their supporters, a sentiment
shared by GOP activists.

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On the Campaign Trail: Braley, Hare push back on dealer cuts

Excerpted from this post at On the Campaign Trail
The Quad-Cities' two congressmen have signed on to a bill that would
reverse the cuts General Motors and Chrysler are making to their
dealer networks. Reps. Phil Hare, D-Ill., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa,
are co-sponsoring the Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration
Act of 2009. Here's the bill's text. Backers say the dealers are an
asset that come at virtually no cost, and that they're needed to
protect the federal government's investment in the manufacturers. They
also say cutting the dealer network will hurt the economy. "Closing
local auto dealerships would have a devastating impact on my
constituents," Hare said today. "These critical small businesses
provide thousands of good-paying jobs in my district. Rebuilding the
auto industry should be done in tandem with these dealerships, not
despite them."

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Herd on the Hill: Contradictions galore

Excerpted from this post at Herd on the Hill
There is a bake sale taking place at the Capitol today and a dessert
auction with all proceeds going to the Iowa Food Bank. A worthy cause
and decadent sweets and treats abound. There are so many treats, that
if you think of the one thing your grandma made for you as a kid, it
is probably being sold here today. The contradiction part is that all
this baked goodness is on behalf/part of Lt. Governor Patty Judge's
challenge: Your Heart is in Your Hands. Judge is challenging Iowans to
live healthier lives by exorcising more, eating well and kicking bad
habits. She says in an e-mail to all state employees, "as a former
nurse -- I know that our health begins with each of us." So why is she
promoting calloric overload in the form of Oreo Layer Cake?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

24-Hour Dorman: Rushing to the microphones

Excerpted from this post at 24-Hour Dorman

You don't need to be a high-paid flood consultant to understand the
significance of Tuesday's news that a $516 million share of federal
disaster recovery bucks Iowa finally broke loose from the D.C. glacier
and is headed for Iowa. With any luck, it means long-awaited home
buyouts and a mountain of other pent-up needs can be addressed soon.
We may actually see some real, tangible progress this summer. Sure,
there are the nagging questions of what took you so long and exactly
when do we get the next shipment, but we'll leave those for now. You
also didn't have to be a high-paid political consultant to understand
the significance of the announcement in political terms.

Bleeding Heartland: Boswell still supports a public option for health care

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

Congressman Leonard Boswell still supports a health care reform bill
containing a public option that would go into effect immediately,
Boswell's spokesman Mark Daley confirmed today via e-mail. ... Whether
to include a "public option" that would compete directly with private
health insurers has become the main fault line as Congress prepares to
mark up health care reform proposals this summer. Stand with Dr. Dean
and Health Care for America Now are good resources on the need for a
public option. Republican opponents of serious reform are mostly
trying to keep the public option out of the health care bill, dangling
the carrot of substantial bipartisan support.

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Politically Speaking: Grassley suspects fig leaf in PAYGO

Excerpted from this post at Politically Speaking

After pushing for incredibly spendy stimulus packages in late 2008 and
2009, President Barck Obama has called for fiscal restraint in the
form of PAYGO. That approach to finding budget cuts to offset any new
federal government spending is something we in the tri-state area have
heard touted by Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D. As
Obama announced support for PAYGO, which was used by the Clinton
administration in the 1990s in erasing the federal deficit and handing
a surplus to George Bush in 2001, Herseth Sandlin was present with the
president this morning as part of the Blue Dog Coalition of fairly
moderate Democrats. She likes PAYGO, seeing it as part of Obama's
commitment to restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington.

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John Deeth Blog: Women winning and not winning

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

Silver raises more questions ... With last year's losses by Democrat
Becky Greenwald and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Iowa stayed
in the club with only Mississippi: we're the only two states that have
never elected a woman to Congress or as governor. That's always
subject to change, of course. Democratic eminence grise Jerry Hoffman
was on Iowa Press the other week touting, of all people, conservaDem
Geri Huser for the Grassley race a couple weeks ago, which would at
least open up her legislative seat. But in the meantime, Iowa still
has its reputation as woman-unfriendly political turf, something some
of Hillary Clinton's acolytes may still mention sotto voce (the
Secretary of State herself is being a solid team player so far).

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: Boswell's 1996 opponent may want a rematch

Excerpted from this post at BLOGNAME

Former Iowa GOP chairman Mike Mahaffey told CQ Politics that he is
thinking about running against Representative Leonard Boswell in
Iowa's third Congressional district next year. (Hat tip to WHO's Dave
Price.) Boswell barely defeated Mahaffey in his first bid for Congress
in 1996. CQ Politics highlights a big obstacle for Mahaffey if he runs: "A
Boswell-Mahaffey rematch after a 14-year hiatus would also take place
on quite different turf from their first race. The 3rd District in
1996 was located mainly in southern Iowa and was heavily rural." ... It
will take a lot to convince me that Mahaffey, a small-town lawyer and
part-time Poweshiek County attorney, poses a serious threat to Boswell
in a district dominated by Polk County. So far IA-03 doesn't seem to
be on anyone's list of competitive U.S. House districts.

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Iowa Independent: Conservatives shoot for early influence in 2010 gubernatorial contest

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

Controversial Christian radio host Steve Deace and conservative
blogger Craig Robinson are teaming up to test the field of potential
candidates to take on Gov. Chet Culver in 2010. The pair has already
winnowed the possible field down to four candidates -- former state
Sen. Jeff Lamberti, Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, former state
House Speaker Christopher Rants and Sioux City businessman Bob Vander
Plaats -- and is asking their readers and listeners to vote by text
message this Thursday. Results will be announced on Deace's WHO-AM
program that night. Of the group of candidates included in the
unscientific poll, only Vander Plaats has officially thrown his hat in
the ring, and even he has not made his candidacy "official."

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Blog for Iowa: Change that Works/SEIU to "Tweet" Iowa's Senator Grassley

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa

Change that Works Iowa will be launching a Twitter health care story
blast on Monday June 8, 2009. The idea is to hit Senator Grassley's
Twitter account with one compelling Iowa health care story per hour,
for 24 hours. The action began at 10:00 am on Monday June 8th
and will continue until 9:00 am on the June 9th. Stories will be
distributed on Twitter through traditional posts from "CTWIowaSEIU"
(which Senator Grassley follows), and through direct messages to the
Senator's username, "ChuckGrassley." The timing for this action
corresponds with the week Change that Works anticipates Senator
Grassley's Finance Committee will take additional action on a
comprehensive health care reform bill. The purpose is to lobby Senator
Grassley's support for reform during this critical legislative week
using his favorite medium, Twitter.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: What if Iowa had politicized redistricting?

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Iowa is among the small number of states that use a bipartisan (or nonpartisan) commission to perform redistricting every 10 years. The resulting maps are often very competitive and fair when compared with those of many other states. However, I started thinking anout what would happen if, hypothetically, the party in charge of the legislature controlled redistricting rather than the commission. What would such a map look like? How would the current incumbents be affected? The map the I created was designed to help Democrats because currently the legislature is under Democratic control and the governor is a Democrat. In this hypothetical scenario, Republicans cannot block the plan through filibusters or avoiding a quorum. Since Iowa is set to lose one of its districts after the 2010 census, my plan uses four districts rather than the five that currently exist. My main goals were to: -Maintain Democratic advantages in eastern Iowa; -Protect Leonard Boswell; -Dismantle Tom Latham's district and force him to run against Steve King

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The Iowa Republican: Iowa Gubernatorial Straw Poll

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Next Thursday, The Iowa Republican and WHO Radio personality Steve Deace, will join together to hold The Iowa Republican Gubernatorial Straw Poll. The poll will open at noon on Thursday, June 11th and close at 6 p.m. Votes will be cast using text message. The details on how to sign up to cast your vote will appear on this website in the coming days. Beginning on Monday, The Iowa Republican will focus on each candidate's strengths and weaknesses. Steve Deace will also give his analysis, which will appear on The Iowa Republican. The candidates who will be included in the poll are Jeff Lamberti, Paul McKinley, Chris Rants, and Bob Vander Plaats.

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John Deeth Blog: Iowa House District 90 May See Competitive Election

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog
The first competitive state legislative special election in a few years is likely to happen soon in Jefferson and Van Buren counties, as four-term Rep. John Whitaker has reportedly been tapped for an Obama Administration appointment as State Director of the Iowa Farm Service Agency. If the weak tool of memory serves me correctly, this will be the first legislative special since December 2006, when Republican Rep. Mary Sue Freeman died before the general election. But that was a heavily GOP district; the last real fight was in the summer of 2003 when Paul Shomshor picked up a previously Republican seat in Council Bluffs. ... [Whitaker] settled into it well enough that the GOP didn't try in 2008 and his only opponent was from the "4th of July Party." But with the personally popular Whitaker out of the picture, this could get interesting.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: Now *that* was mindless obstruction

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

I got a chuckle out of Thomas Beaumont's article in today's Des Moines Register, "Reason for vote against judge still eludes Grassley." ... Grassley's memory lapse prompted me to search for reports on the reasons some Senate Republicans opposed Sotomayor in 1998. I could not find any articles discussing controversial decisions she had made as a district court judge. I also learned that Sotomayor gave a speech in
1994 containing a statement about a "wise woman" that is similar to her 2001 remark that conservative commentators have been flogging. Greg Sargent reported that "though the 1994 speech was disclosed to Republican Senators as part of her confirmation for Court of Appeals in 1998, there's no sign that anyone objected to it in any way."

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The Iowa Republican: Wake up, Chet!

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

"You're hearing the same partisan rhetoric from the Republicans
whether it's their chairman or the Republican leaders. It's doom. It's
gloom. It's despair." ... It's not doom and gloom Governor, it called
reality. GM and Chrysler are closing dealerships in Iowa. Principal
Financial Group is letting go 140 Iowans. John Deere whacked 700 jobs,
most of them in Ottumwa. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
is making cuts. The list could go on and on. What have Governor Culver
and the Democrats done to help these people? Nothing. Culver borrowed
$830 million; money that he believes will help pull the state out of
this bad economy. All that Culver's bonding plan will do is create
some temporary construction jobs.

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John Deeth Blog: Blue Dogs, Boswell a health care obstacle

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

Leonard Boswell's pals in the House Blue Dog Coalition of conservative
Democrats may be the latest barrier to health care reform. The Blue
Dogs Thursday released a statement headed, "Health Care Reform Must
Protect Consumer Choice, Promote Competition in the Marketplace," and
signed by the group's 15 member Health Care Task Force. Boswell's not
part of that subgroup, but is a member of the larger 51 member Blue
Dog Coalition. ... Those 78 Democrats include 2nd District Rep. Dave
Loebsack, but not 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley. But Boswell still
seems to be in good standing with party leadership, as Speaker Nancy
Pelosi is visiting Des Moines with Boswell Saturday.

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Politically Speaking: Vander Plaats here, with Huckabee next

Excerpted from this post at Politically Speaking

Bob Vander Plaats, a Sioux Cityan Republican who is a likely 2010
gubernatorial candidate, will speak at a Woodbury County Republican
Party meeting tonight at the downtown Wilbur Aalfs Library. Vander
Plaats has formed an exploratory candidate campaign, but not
officially announced his bid to unseat Gov. Chet Culver in 2010. And
Vander Plaats will hold a high profile event within the week elsewhere
in Northwest Iowa, as 2008 presidential candidate and Iowa Caucus
winner Mike Huckabee will be on hand in Spirit Lake on June 10. The
event, called An Evening of Politics in the Park, is a fundraiser that
has tickets going for $100.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Iowa Independent: Judge rules majority of city franchise fees must be refunded

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

A Polk County judge has ruled that the City of Des Moines must refund
aportion of the franchise fee it has charged utility customers since
2004. Of the $12.6 million a year raised from the franchise fee, the
city must refund $9 million, according to the ruling by Judge Joel
Novak. The fee, which amounts to a 5 percent charge on gas and
electric bills, should have been set at 1 percent, the judge said.
Legislation signed into law by Gov. Chet Culver last week allows
cities in Iowa to charge the full 5 percent for franchise fees going
forward, but that won't affect the ruling, which the city has
indicated it plans to appeal.

Iowa Insider: Pelosi to appear at fundraiser, education event in Des Moines

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Insider

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is scheduled to meet with Iowa
school leaders Saturday to highlight money provided for education as
part of the federal stimulus package. Pelosi is scheduled appear with
Congressman Leonard Boswell at Hiatt Middle School in Des Moines
Saturday afternoon. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act, Iowa already has received more than $94 million to support
education. Another $316 million in stimulus dollars is expected to be
available for Iowa to prevent the layoff of teachers, according to
Boswell's office. Pelosi's appearance will follow a private luncheon
fundraiser at the home of Roxanne and James Conlin for the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee.

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The Iowa Republican: The Executive Order and moving forward

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

After listening to Bob Vander Plaats, and those espousing an Executive
Order, one would think a new governor issuing an Executive Order to,
as Deace would say, "enforce the law on the books," would be the
easiest way to regain traditional marriage. Since it hasn't been
covered by anyone other than Deace, I thought I'd take a look at that
option and see what merit it has. First, the context of the original
call for an Executive Order was during the height of the marriage
issue. It was at this same time where Congressman Steve King was
calling for an amendment to be passed as well as a residency
reciprocity requirement to contain this mess to Iowa.

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Iowa Guy 2.0: This time there is no doubt

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Guy 2.0

This morning, shortly after 11:00 a.m., my partner and I were married
in a civil ceremony at the Pottawattamie County Courthouse. It was
just us, two dear friends as witnesses and the judge who performed the
ceremony. It was over in five minutes and we all went to one of the
casinos for lunch to celebrate. It was so low-key compared to the
first wedding in San Francisco five years ago. In San Francisco, there
were literally hundreds of couples, along with various family, friends
and others. ... Today was completely different. There were no cheering
crowds in front of the courthouse, nor were there any protesters.
There was only one other couple being married this morning, and they
were a "traditional" couple. It was just another normal business day
at the courthouse. Exactly the way it should be.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Krusty Konservative: Lottery lease still on the table?

Excerpted from this post at Krusty Konservative

The issue of gambling is back in the news. The Iowa Racing and Gaming
Commission is about to determine whether or not Iowa can "support"
more casinos in the state. The frontrunner to receive a new gaming
license is Lyon County, which has a population of less than 12,000
people. It shouldn't surprise you that the person who wants to build
the casino in Lyon County is Chet Culver's buddy Dan Kehl. Trust me on
this one, if it looks as if another casino could bleed some money from
South Dakota, Minnesota, and the 11,234 people who live in Lyon
County, Culver's going to make sure that it gets done. Culver is
desperate for cash, and I'm sure, in his mind, he would love to find
$60 million more in state gaming revenues to pay for his new bonding
proposal, so when the crap hits the fan, he can use those revenues to
bailout his state budget.

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John Deeth Blog: Gambling votes and governor's race

Excerpted from this post at John Deeth Blog

The Register noted Tuesday that nine Iowa counties will have mandatory
gambling issues on the 2010 general election ballot. Gambling votes
nearly always increase turnout; it's an issue both emotional and
economic. So how does that ripple through the other races on the
ballot? ... The nine counties that will have gambling issues on the 2010
ballot voted 55.8 percent for Culver, a little better than his 54.1
statewide percentage. Lyon County breaks the curve, but Black Hawk is
by far the largest. The nine counties account for 9.3 percent of the
2006 state turnout, which is about what you'd expect on average in a
99 county state. We can expect higher than average gubernatorial year
turnout in these nine counties, which will marginally help the
governor.

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Bleeding Heartland: How one industry's political investments paid off

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

When Governor Chet Culver took final action on the last two dozen bills from the 2009 legislative session, my biggest disappointment was his decision to sign Senate File 433, a bill that "eliminates a broad range of fines against Iowa nursing homes that fail to meet minimum health and safety standards." Governors rarely veto bills that pass out of the state legislature unanimously, as this one did. However, when Culver didn't sign Senate File 433 right away, I hoped he was seriously considering the advice of the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Both of those state agencies opposed the bill. Instead of listening to the public officials who have the most in-depth knowledge of nursing home regulations and violations, Culver sided with a corporate interest group.

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Iowa Independent: How long before Pawlenty moves south?

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to announce today that he will not seek reelection to a third term, clearing the way for a 2012 presidential campaign that many observers think is already in the works. Pawlenty, who survived the 2006 campaign cycle as most statewide Republicans around him were losing, presented himself to general election voters as a moderate, independent-thinking politician. (Progressives in Minnesota argue that the real reason he won that year was that the Democratic gubernatorial ticket was gaffe-prone and unappealing to voters.) He won twice without garnering 50 percent of the vote. Though Pawlenty's prospects of winning reelection in 2010 were looking up as Minnesota's legislative session ended this year, he still plans to unilaterally cut a billion dollars from his state's budget, and that will make enemies locally.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

24-Hour Dorman: Early presidential birds

Excerpted from this post at 24-Hour Dorman

Iowa is famous for its retail politics. And apparently we're a
supercenter that never closes. For the clinically sane, it's really,
really early to start thinking about the 2012 Iowa caucuses. But like
a struggling department store determined to sell you Santa snow globes
while you're still in sandals, some Republicans are jumping the gun,
pushing the envelope and testing our sanity. Ready or not, here they
come. Nevada Sen. John "rising star" Ensign arrived in northwest Iowa
on Monday to give a lecture, visit a genetics firm that clones cows
and sample some ice cream. The Las Vegas Sun reports that Ensign added
a stop at the "Ice Cream Capital of the World" in Le Mars even though
he and his staff are in week three of a fat-fighting diet regimen.

The Iowa Republican: Ensign tests the political waters -- Sticks finger in calf's mouth

Excerpted from this post at BLOGNAME

Nevada Senator John Ensign has arrived in Iowa and just completed his
tour of Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center Iowa. When asked by Fox
News' Carl Cameron if he was running for President, Sen. Ensign said
"no." Cameron followed up by asking, "You are in Iowa, the leadoff
caucus state, are you thinking about running for President?" Ensign
said, "No." So why is Senator Ensign in Iowa? To help find candidates,
help the Republican Party to deliver a message of personal
responsibility, limited government, and a better America. "Our party
needs voices like that now more than ever," Ensign concluded. Ensign
didn't absolutely rule out a run for President.

Bleeding Heartland: When wingnuts collide

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

I'm grateful that the Iowa Independent bloggers listen to our local
Rush Limbaugh clones so I don't have to. If anything newsworthy comes
out of some right-wing radio show, I can read about it online. I
learned recently that no matter how crazy Congressman Steve King
seems, there are some conservatives who think he should be further
outside the mainstream. … You may recall that Steve King reacted quite
negatively to the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling. He
immediately called on the state legislature to pass a constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage. He also advocated imposing residency
requirements for marriage licenses "so that Iowa does not become the
gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court's latest experiment in
social engineering." He has recorded anti-gay marriage robocalls for
the National Organization of Marriage.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: The case for Kate Gronstal on the I-JOBS Board

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

Iowa Republicans are bashing Governor Chet Culver for appointing Kate Gronstal to the I-JOBS board, which will decide how to spend $118.5 million of the $830 million in I-JOBS money. Kate Gronstal is the daughter of Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn slammed what he called "political nepotism" ... Since Culver "declined to respond" to Strawn's allegation, I want to lay out the case for putting Kate Gronstal on this board. 1. She is qualified for the position as a professionally trained structural engineer. It's not as if the governor put a well-connected person with no relevant experience on the board. 2. By all accounts she is smart and highly capable. People born into political families have certain doors opened for them. I'm sure Marcus Branstad had a leg up on the competition when he was starting his career in Iowa Republican circles. Who cares as long as he is good at what he does? 3. Kate Gronstal's presence on the board will subject its award process to a higher level of scrutiny. That's good.

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The Iowa Republican: Salier suggests that King should face primary

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

Former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Bill Salier, continued his criticism of Congressman Steve King last week while on Steve Deace's program on WHO radio. Salier's most recent criticism stems from an op-ed the congressman penned in the Des Moines Register, which called for a constitutional amendment defining marriage. ... Salier went so far as to suggest that Congressman King is either uninformed about how to stand up to the court, or he is simply reading the political tea leaves and making a political calculation. Salier then said if it is the later, "then somebody should primary King." ... It appears as if Salier is upset with King for wanting to take a practical approach. Passing a marriage amendment to the Iowa Constitution is standing up to the court. While that process is long and tedious, that doesn't mean you forgo that route.

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Mike Schramm
Andy Szal

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