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Friday, January 29, 2010

Coralville Courier: Dear Johnson County Resident

Excerpted from this post at Coralville Courier
You've probably read, watched, or heard of the flap over the special tax levy for the Johnson County Emergency Communications Center (JECC). You are witness to a painfully transparent attempt to spin a tale far different from what is documented in county meeting minutes and the reality that supervisors had no business pretending to be upset with JECC management.

Bleeding Heartland: Republicans will play catch-up in Iowa House district 74

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Republican Kent Sorenson's narrow victory over State Representative Mark Davitt in Iowa House district 74 was perhaps the biggest upset in the state in 2008. The Democratic-leaning district includes much of Warren County, including Indianola and the Simpson College campus. Sorenson decided to run against Staci Appel in Iowa Senate district 37 instead of running for re-election to the House.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Politically Speaking: Campbell challenges King to debate

Excerpted from this post at Politically Speaking
After launching his Iowa 5th District congressional candidacy this morning before about 20 people in his hometown of Manning, Matt Campbell came to Morningside College, where he addressed a dozen people. Democrat Campbell got his undergraduate degree from Morningside College in 1993, and in that time he worked as an intern in the Sioux City office of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Campbell's father (and grandfather) may be a Republican, but Campbell said he knew he was a Democrat by the time he got to Morningside.

The Iowa Republican: Planned Parenthood: Your Friendly Neighborhood (Taxpayer Funded) Birth Control (and Abortion) Provider

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Just when you thought that Planned Parenthood hadn't gained enough inroads into our society through access to our public schools and access to our tax dollars, we see that they are at it again. There is now a bill pending in the Iowa Statehouse that would fund birth control for all women (and vasectomies for men) up to 300% of the poverty level.

Bleeding Heartland: Harkin, Grassley help sink deficit-cutting commission

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Iowa Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley voted no on Tuesday as the Senate rejected an amendment to "establish a Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action, to assure the long-term fiscal stability and economic security of the Federal Government of the United States, and to expand future prosperity and growth for all Americans."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Iowa House Democrats: Responding to Iowans continuing need for more accessible, more affordable health care

Excerpted from this post at Iowa House Democrats
Dr. Dave Carlyle, an Ames family physician, chaired the commission. "Iowa health care providers, insurers and health care consumers were in agreement on the steps required to extend coverage to more Iowans. This legislation reflects our recommendations," Carlyle said.

The Iowa Republican: Gronstal is a Hypocrite on Corporate Contributions

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Democrats around the country are up in arms over last week's Supreme Court ruling that struck down a major component of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

Bleeding Heartland: Harkin will vote no on Bernanke

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Looks like someone didn't get the memo about "our mild-mannered economic overlord" saving the country. Good for Harkin. Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Grassley told the Des Moines Register, "I think I made a decision [on Bernanke] [...] But I don't think I'll announce it." Grassley went on to criticize the Fed for doing too little to fight inflation, suggesting we could be on a path to hyper-inflation like we had in 1979.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bleeding Heartland: Terry Branstad's balancing act on gay marriage

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
In a private meeting last October, Terry Branstad warned social conservatives that gay marriage was "not going to be a central issue" in the gubernatorial campaign, and that Republicans "have to use finesse, and not overplay our hand." Since Branstad officially launched his candidacy last week, we're starting to see how he intends to "finesse" the marriage issue before the Republican primary in June.

Coralville Courier: County Supervisors continue to screw up Joint Emergency Communications Center

Excerpted from this post at Coralville Courier
Yet another tax increase is being called for in order to fund operations at the new Joint Emergency Communications Center (JECC). The 'policy board' - the governing body for the JECC - made a request to assess a 75 cent per $1,000 tax levy on you to support operational expenses in fiscal 2011. Ladies and gentlemen, this is something county *leadership* has previously led us to believe was already covered. You're already giving 68 cents per $1,000 that is supposed to be enough to cover operational expenses. And hey, the center doesn't even open up until June! If you run the numbers, that 68 cents amounts to about $2 million Johnson County taxpayer dollars. Where has that money gone? Why is the money budgeted for operational expenses suddenly not enough? Can you say, "Inept management?" Yes, yes you can.

Blog for Iowa: Labor Update: Reflections on Health Care Reform and the Employee Free Choice Act

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa
Had the Democrats not lost the Senate race in Massachusetts, today we'd be winding down negotiations on final passage of health care reform and moving toward the urgent matter of jobs creation and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. I won't speculate as to why the Massachusetts race was lost – there are as many good reasons as there are lame excuses. Instead, I will forge ahead and talk about jobs. because the two – jobs and health care – are so intricately linked, Congressional Democrats should have married the two from the get-go in the 111th Congress.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Iowa Republican: Branstad Urges Legislative Democrats: Replace Your Leader if They Will Not Allow You A Vote On Marriage

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Last Thursday, TheIowaRepublican.com met up with the Branstad campaign in Waterloo. Branstad, who was in the middle of his "Comeback Tour," officially launched his campaign for governor from the Iowa Historical Building last Tuesday. On Thursday, the tour took him from Waterloo to Storm Lake, with stops in Mason City and Spencer along the way. TheIowaRepublican.com hitched a ride with the Branstad campaign as it traveled from Waterloo to Mason City in the "Comeback Express."

Essential Estrogen: Iowa politics needs an estrogen injection

Excerpted from this post at Essential Estrogen
Recent events have taught us -- taught women a lesson. For far too long we have allowed men to hold a vocal majority in our local, state and national politics. They have primarily catered to their own historic interests of business, war and finance without sufficient tempering by women's historic interests in child welfare, equality and education. Without a doubt we have reaped what we have sown, and our next generation can look forward to the dismal harvest of our own inattention and lack of concern for anything other than the possibility of dirtying our hands in the soil.

Bleeding Heartland: Revisionist history watch: Branstad on spending and jobs

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Terry Branstad officially launched his gubernatorial campaign this week at the State Historical Building. I enjoyed the imagery of a politician from a past era standing in front of a mammoth skeleton. Branstad's promises on spending cuts and jobs created look unrealistic in light of his record as governor, though.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bleeding Heartland: Chris Rants walks a lonely road

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Four years ago, Chris Rants was one of Iowa's most powerful political figures. He won an Iowa House seat in his 20s and rose to the position of speaker in his mid-30s. But politics can be a tough business, as Rants learned when the Republican House caucus lost its majority in 2006 and replaced him as leader after losing more seats in 2008.

The Iowa Republican: Rants: Iowans Don't Consider The Primary To Be Over

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Running for governor is no easy task. When Chris Rants sat down with TheIowaRepublican.com a few days ago, it was apparent that Rants has had better weeks. What had Rants a little down wasn't the reaction he gets on the campaign trail, it was the media's focus on how much money each candidate has been able to raise in 2009.

Politically Speaking: Court ruling will change donation landscape

Excerpted from this post at Politically Speaking
The U.S. Supreme Court today made a ruling that will greatly alter the campaign donation landscape, making it lawful for corporations to make campaign finance contributions. It was a ruling some expected, and overturns the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (typically slapped with the label McCain-Feingold, in name of the two senators who pushed it into law). Essentially, the court on 5-4 vote ruled the 1st Amendment freedom of speech is broad and applies to all entities, so it is indefensible to have corporations unable to give campaign contributions.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Politically Speaking: Grassley: Iowa guv race will be competitive

Excerpted from this post at Politically Speaking
We in the media periodically ask U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, what he thinks of the 2010 GOP gubernatorial contest that's looking like it will go a June primary vote. The field has shrunk since the last time I'm aware Grassley was asked to weigh in, and the topic came up today in the weekly reporters conference call.

The Iowa Republican: My Fundraising Thoughts

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Branstad raised what I thought he would, actually maybe a little less, but still impressive. Vander Plaats raised a good amount of money, but he spent most of it. Just imagine if Vander Plaats had Rod Roberts' fiscal discipline and had a half a million sitting in the bank. Now Roberts finds himself in the mix because Vander Plaats only has $100,000 more in the bank than he does. The odd man out is Chris Rants. I heard somewhere that he only raised $78,000 and I assume than he is running on fumes. Like it or not, Branstad is in a great position to win the Republican primary.

Bleeding Heartland: Previewing the Iowa secretary of state race

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro doesn't make the news often, but he has done very well in his first term. I particularly appreciate his support for requiring paper ballots to be used in all Iowa counties. We had several statehouse races decided by fewer than 100 votes in 2008. Imagine what an uproar we'd have seen if touchscreen voting machines had been used in those races.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Iowa Republican: Vander Plaats Finds Himself in a Familiar Position

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats announced yesterday that his campaign raised $657,740 in 2009. Vander Plaats, the first candidate to enter the gubernatorial race, made his initial announcement on January 26th of last year. He formally entered the race on Labor Day. The $657,740 that Vander Plaats reported is the most that he has ever raised in a signal calendar year. In 2005, Vander Plaats raised $458,714.92.

Bleeding Heartland: Silver linings of a Branstad candidacy

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
Terry Branstad is kicking off his "official" candidacy for governor today, launching a tour around the state. His campaign announced fairly strong fundraising numbers last week and just leaked an internal Republican primary poll showing Branstad leading Bob Vander Plaats by 63 percent to 18 percent. It's conceivable that Vander Plaats' campaign could take off in the coming months. Right-winger Marco Rubio is now considered likely to defeat Florida Governor Charlie Crist in that state's U.S. Senate primary, despite commanding leads Crist had in polls a few months ago. However, I assume Branstad will lock up the Republican nomination with little trouble.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blog for Iowa: Senator Grassley, Iowans and the Mainstream Media

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa
"...as long as the mainstream news media fails to cover the influence of powerful interests, there will be a need in society for citizens to participate in its events..." Attending a Senator Chuck Grassley town hall meeting is a gift for people interested in what is going on in Iowa. Grassley refers to his town hall meetings as "representative government." There are two sides, the people and the elected official representing the government. He said, "We gotta have these sessions for representative government to work." After attending his Williamsburg, Iowa town hall on January 12, I can report that the 125 people in attendance (by the Senator's count) are getting a lot of their information from the mainstream media. Rather than informing the citizenry, the mainstream media is distracting people from what is more important to them. That's what is going on in Iowa.

Bleeding Heartland: Prospects for third-party candidates in the governor's race

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
My hunch is that Vander Plaats won't embark on a third-party candidacy if he loses the Republican primary. In fact, he will probably need to rule out that option soon or risk losing support from party activists this spring. Everyone knows that Vander Plaats would be helping Governor Chet Culver if he continued to campaign against the Republican nominee. By the same token, the Iowa Family Policy Center stands to lose too many of their regular donors and supporters if they back an independent candidate for governor. If Terry Branstad wins the Republican primary, the smart play for the IFPC would be to focus on the statehouse races.

The Iowa Republican: Krusty's Cup of Koffee

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Ok, I know it's a little out of character but I made a point to get my post up early today. It's not that I have some great take, but I did want to comment of Branstad's announcement that will occur later this morning. Call me krazy, but if I was the oldest candidate in the race for Governor, I don't know if I would launch my campaign for an unprecedented fifth term from the Iowa Historical Building. I'm sure there is some reason why Branstad's campaign chose that as the location to launch his official campaign, but the last thing I'd want is a picture of him with some dinosaur or something in the background.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Iowa Republican: Northey Reports Impressive Fundraising Numbers

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey released his fundraising totals for 2009 today. In a press release, Northey states that he raised $233,815 and ended the year with $261,627 cash on-hand. Northey's impressive haul come from over 1600 donors in the current election cycle, which began in January 2007. To put his fundraising in perspective; it's over twice as much former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge raised during her campaign for governor.

Bleeding Heartland: How many votes will it take to win the GOP primary?

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
So, how many votes would Vander Plaats or Terry Branstad need to win the primary? That depends in part on whether State Representatives Chris Rants and Rod Roberts can get any traction in the race. Rants says he is in the governor's race for the duration, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Roberts run for his Iowa House seat instead of for governor. We haven't seen any public polls of the Republican primary since the summer. I am going to assume that even if Rants and Roberts remain on the ballot for governor, lack of money and institutional support will hold their combined vote to at most 10 percent.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Iowa Republican: WATCH OR DIE: Jodi Tymeson Responds To Chet Culver's State of State Address

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican
It seems Culver will continue to heap cold hard cash into Iowa's expanding government, in essence dumping the burden on the Iowa taxpayer. Holding Chet Culver in check a disappointed State Representative Jodi Tyemson weighs in on his State of the state address in this 2 minute video.

Bleeding Heartland: Could Vander Plaats pull off an upset?

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland
I've been assuming for the past few months that there's no way Bob Vander Plaats can defeat Terry Branstad in this year's Republican gubernatorial primary. Branstad's statewide connections from his four terms as governor and his support from major donors should give him an insurmountable edge, especially in the eastern Iowa counties. While Vander Plaats would have a great shot at winning a caucus or a statewide convention, I didn't see any way he could keep Branstad below 50 percent in the primary, especially with Branstad likely to raise far more money. I've started to rethink my assumptions as conservative Republicans have spoken out against Branstad.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bleeding Heartland: Iowa Republicans are itching for a culture war

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

The Iowa legislature just began what is supposed to be its shortest regular session since the 1970s. Big issues need to be resolved, including a government reorganization, a rethink of state tax credits, and a budget that preserves as much money as possible for key priorities (education, health care, public safety) despite declining state revenues. Iowa Republicans will weigh in on fiscal issues but are already trying to put Democrats on the defensive regarding the classic "culture war" issues: God, gays and guns. This post covers the latest Republican effort to score political points in God's name. On Saturday State Representative Dawn Pettengill posted this complaint to her Twitter feed: The 1st two times I said the oath of office, "SO HELP ME GOD" was there & now it isn't. Kevlar on, loins girded & reporting for duty, God!" It took me about 30 seconds to find the relevant passage in the state constitution.

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Krusty Konservative: Honey Creek or boondoggle bay

Excerpted from this post at Krusty Konservative

If you listen to some State House veterans, the State of Iowa doesn't have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem. We all know that Iowa's budget problems are self-afflicted and if you need proof one only needs to look at the DNR's $58 million resort on Lake Rathbun. Yesterday we learned that the Honey Creek Resort lost almost a MILLION dollars in the first ten months of operation. Why on earth the State of Iowa is in the resort business is beyond me, but this is a perfect example of government sticking its nose in an area it has no business or experience being in. Last fall, the DNR made a presentation about how well things are going at Honey Creek to the Legislature's Oversight Committee. One would think that the legislators were warned about the financial troubles of their new venture, but instead they were told about how many weddings were booked and how great things were at the resort. They were shown some nice photos and a few TV ads encouraging people to visit Honey Creek.

The Marion Contrarian: W.E.A.R. -- The war to end all Republicans

Excerpted from this post at The Marion Contrarian

The following story officially records the "shot" heard all 'round Iowa folks. This is the start to a war that very well could set back the Republican Party of Iowa for decades. Just when we have the issue set on our side, have the wind at our back, and the ability to mobilize the various "sects" of the Iowa GOP, we uncover a jihadist sleeper cell of so-called GOP leaders who are refusing to work toward post-primary unity and disparaging our very political party. I have posted this story below. See if you don't agree ... this could be huge trouble. ... "Rally to oppose gay marriage morphs into Vander Plaats event. Iowa Family PAC endorses the Sioux City Republican, shuns his chief rival."

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Krusty Konservative: A Krusty six pack -- Six burning questions about the upcoming legislative session

Excerpted from this post at Krusty Konservative

... With the legislative session kicking off this morning, there are a
lot of things on my mind. So here are a few questions I have about the
upcoming week. 1. Does the Iowa Legislature have its own Joe Wilson?
You all remember Joe, the Congressman who yelled "you lie" during one
of President Obama's speeches. I'm wondering if someone will utter the
same words when Governor Culver declares that "the condition of our
state is strong." Likely candidates to say such a thing would be, Kent
Sorenson, David Hartsuch, or Merlin Bartz. The person to watch is Jack
Hatch, you know what happens when he is on the floor of the House. ...
I'm told 2nd District Congressional Candidate Chris Reed is going to
be in Des Moines for the Start of the Legislative Session. Ummm, I
thought this guy was running for Congress in another part of the
state.

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New Generation Republican: A session to be optimistic

Excerpted from this post at New Generation Republican

We have all heard about how this session will be doom and gloom. The
State has a $1 billion dollar deficit for the 2010 budget, major cuts
are on the horizon, and property taxes are going to go up! Well, I
refuse to have the session Grinch squash my enthusiasm! I look at this
session with great opportunity. If you are a conservative, and believe
in limited government, you should also be excited. This session,
government will be reduced and spending will drastically be cut. I
have spent the summer working on the government reorganization
committee. A lot of data was crunched and many ideas were laid out. I
was amazed that when you need money for the budget, both sides can
agree on cutting. These opportunities only come along when all other
choices, other than raising taxes, have been eliminated. To pull my
head out of the clouds, I will admit, we are far from a utopia and we
are not yet singing kum ba ya. However, both sides are at the table.

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Bleeding Heartland: Iowa State let Farm Bureau choose the head of the Leopold Center

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

I lost a lot of respect for Iowa State University President Gregory
Geoffroy after reading this piece by Alan Guebert for the Burlington
Hawk Eye. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has been
looking for a director to replace the retiring Jerry DeWitt. An expert
panel conducted a nationwide search and chose four finalists, whom you
can learn more about here. Guebert explains how the search ended:
"Iowa Farm Bureau made it known to ISU aggies that the leading
candidate for the post, Ricardo Salvador, the program director for the
Kellogg Foundation's Food, Health and Wellbeing program, was not its
prime choice." ... Those who have seen the documentary King Corn might
remember Salvador from a few scenes. He is highly regarded by
sustainable agriculture experts inside and outside the U.S. and is an
expert on one of Iowa's leading crops.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

God, Politics and Rock 'n' Roll: We can't afford more "job creation"

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

When legislators in Iowa unveil a new property tax "reduction" plan,
they usually intend to spend more money from the state's budget to buy
down local property taxes. In other words, they intend to take money
collected from taxpayers in the form of income and sales taxes -- and
put it toward property taxes. There is no net tax reduction under
these plans -- the taxpayer's money just goes somewhere different. One
state legislator with whom I served was fond of remarking that she
"couldn't afford any more property tax relief." We've got the same
deal at the federal level with the repeated attempts to stimulate the
economy. Larry Kudlow reports that President Obama's latest proposal
will cost $135,000 a job. In total, the spending and regulation
accompanying many Obama policies are costing jobs rather than allowing
for robust growth.

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Bleeding Heartland: One of the "sustainable dozen" will replace John Norris at USDA

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

I was pleased to read in the Sunday Des Moines Register that the new
chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be
Karen Ross, former head of the California Association of Winegrape
Growers. Ross was one of the "sustainable dozen" candidates that Food
Democracy Now recommended for under-secretary positions at the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. Last January Food Democracy Now told its
supporters that Ross was getting serious consideration for a USDA
post. It's encouraging to know that a voice for family farmers and
sustainable practices will be running Vilsack's office. In
recommending Ross for an under-secretary position at the USDA, Michael
Dimock of Roots of Change wrote more than a year ago. ... Ross will
replace John Norris, who did not come from an agriculture background
but had worked closely with Vilsack for years in Iowa.

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Hawkeye GOP: McGee endorses Branstad

Excerpted from this post at Hawkeye GOP

Isaiah McGee is a former Waukee City Councilman and Mayoral candidate.
I got to know Isaiah when we were colleagues on the Republican State
Central Committee. I have a great deal of respect for Isaiah. He is
young, articulate and intelligent. He is an asset to the SCC. Isaiah,
is a standup guy, he is one of the good guys. ... The link is to a
Branstad press release announcing that McGee will serve as Branstad's
Young Professional's chair. McGee is a good pickup for Branstad, he is
charismatic and will be able to reach the targeted demographic. I have
gotten some emails and messages from people asking about whether I
thought Isaiah should resign from the SCC. ... I made this promise to
my district when they elected me and I kept this promise when I
resigned in order to support my friend Christian Fong. I criticized my
successor on the SCC because because she (and the other two candidates
for the position) promised to remain neutral and she also made an
endorsement in the gubernatorial primary. So, why am I not calling for
Isaiah's resignation? Because he made no such promise.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

The Iowa Republican: Branstad's in. Is Culver out?

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

Former Governor Terry Branstad announced the dates and the cities of
his announcement tour yesterday. Branstad will formally enter the race
on January 19th. Branstad served four terms as governor from 1983 to
1999 and is now running for an unprecedented fifth term. Branstad's
four day announcement tour will take him to seventeen counties all
across Iowa. He plans to visit Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs,
Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Fairfield, Harlan, Mason City, Mt.
Pleasant, Muscatine, Orange City, Ottumwa, Pella, Sioux City, Spencer,
Storm Lake, and Waterloo. The tour is set to begin in Des Moines. Last
October, Branstad retired from Des Moines University in order to spend
more time talking to Iowans and evaluating his potential political
comeback. A number of polls, including a poll conducted by
TheIowaRepublican.com, have shown that Branstad would defeat Governor
Culver handily in a head-to-head matchup.

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The Fix: Tumultuous Tuesday: Winners and losers

Excerpted from this post at The Fix

LOSERS ... Chet Culver/Ted Strickland: A cold chill almost certainly
went down the spines of the governors of Iowa and Ohio when they heard
about Ritter's retirement. Both Culver, in Iowa, and Strickland, in
Ohio, find themselves in positions similar to Ritter -- once
considered unbeatable they have seen their state's faltering economies
(and their responses to it) erode their popular support. Do one or
both men reconsider their re-election plans as a result?

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Bleeding Heartland: Another Democrat will run in Iowa Senate district 41

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

Iowa Senate Democrats will need to play a lot of defense this year, but as I'd hoped, it looks like we will be making a serious play for Senate district 41. First-term incumbent Dave Hartsuch has more in common with Steve King than with the moderate Republicans who have long flourished in Scott County. The Des Moines Register reported yesterday that Democrat Rich Clewell will run against Hartsuch. ... About six weeks ago educator Dave Thede switched parties and announced plans to run against Hartsuch as a Democrat. ... Meanwhile, Davenport businessman Roby Smith plans to challenge Hartsuch in the GOP primary. I haven't seen any report indicating whether Smith will run as a moderate alternative. Whatever the outcome of the primaries, this seat should be competitive in the fall.

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Krusty Konservative: Assassination by association

Excerpted from this post at Krusty Konservative

There's an old saying that says you can learn a lot about somebody by
looking at who they hang out with. Bob Vander Plaats has used that old
adage as the foundation of his attacks on his GOP primary opponent
Terry Branstad. Vander Plaats has attacked Branstad for the actions of
his former Lt. Governor and for the healthcare vote cast by Nebraska
Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, whom Branstad endorsed in 2000. So if
people's past associations are fair game, couldn't one of Vander
Plaats' opponents make a deal out of Eric Woolson having worked for
Joe Biden? I mean what's worse, having worked for the Vice President
who is part of the most liberal administration ever, or endorsing a
guy who a decade later makes a bad vote? I'll be really honest, I
don't like the assassination by association game. In Iowa we have
people who think Mitt Romney is the anti-Christ. While he is not my
favorite dude, there were a lot of good who supported his campaign
like Vander Plaats campaign co-chair Jodi Tymeson. Do I think less of
Jodi for supporting Romney? Of course not, but I'd bet dollars to
doughnuts that had she endorsed Branstad some people would be playing
the Romney card.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Iowa Republican: State budget savings measures

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

On Monday, the Iowa Legislature will convene for the 2010 Legislative
Session, and Iowans across the state will hold their breath, waiting
to see if Governor Culver and Legislators will increase taxes. Iowans
are all painfully aware the state budget is in terrible shape with a
billion-dollar spending gap. In October, the Governor issued a
simplistic ten percent across the board budget cut, subjecting Iowans
to property tax increases, reductions in services, and a bigger budget
disaster for next year. The state budget cannot be fixed by short-term
reactionary measures; I chose to suggest state budget savings measures
to Governor Culver and the Legislature, with the following criteria
for each recommendation: Cumulatively reduce state spending by 10%.
Hold K-12 education funding harmless. Hold public safety funding
harmless. No mass layoffs. No property tax or any other tax increases.

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Bleeding Heartland: Democrats, please get payday lending reform right

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

Key Democratic lawmakers will push for new limits on payday lending
during the Iowa legislature's upcoming session, which starts on
January 12. State Senator Joe Bolkcom, who chairs the Senate Ways and
Means Committee, called for restricting the "loan shark rates" the
industry typically charges. The Iowa Catholic Conference also supports
limiting the interest rate for payday loans to 36 percent. That's
welcome news. Although 36 percent interest is still quite high, it's a
lot better than the 300 to 400 percent interest rates payday lenders
are in effect currently charging customers. In 2007, the Iowa
legislature had smaller Democratic majorities yet managed to pass a
bill capping interest rates on car-title loans at 21 percent. (Former
Governor Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Tom Miller had advocated
that reform for a long time, but Republican leaders refused to allow a
vote in the Iowa House when they controlled the chamber.)

Politically Speaking: Doddering Dodd, take 2

Excerpted from this post at Politically Speaking

When I think of U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, a 2008 Democratic presidential
candidate, four things come to mind. First off, he brought to Sioux
City perhaps the most well-received surrogate in that presidential
race, when Grammy-winning singer Paul Simon came to a West High School
field on one of the hottest days of summer 2007. Simon sang three
classics from his solo and Simon and Garfunkel catalog. Secondly, Dodd
used the gimmick of moving his young kids and wife to Des Moines to
show how committed he was to running a campaign in Iowa, the first
caucus state in the selection process. Dodd sat down with our
editorial board in December and offered up some food for thought, he
was pretty punchy with answers in that deep voice of his. And lastly,
as I drove back to the office from a Morningside College Jan. 3
caucus, I had the brain jolt that Dodd (who had scant support at the
college) was likely dropping out that very night -- which was what
happened before 10P. I quickly wrote a blog post with the title
"Doddering Dodd," then set to finishing the caucus recap.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Bleeding Heartland: Third district primary will test "tea party" phenomenon

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

I view last year's "tea party" activism primarily as a corporate-funded "astroturf" movement hyped by Fox News and conservative talk radio, but some Republicans insist the tea partiers are a real grassroots force to be reckoned with. This year's Republican primary in Iowa's third Congressional district will give some indication of who's right. Five GOP candidates are competing for the chance to run against seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell. Two of them have significant backing in the Republican establishment: various elected officials are supporting State Senator Brad Zaun, while a bunch of major donors are supporting Jim Gibbons. Long-shot candidate Dave Funk was the first Republican to enter this race, and he announced yesterday that "Iowa Tea Party Chairman Ryan Rhodes has joined the campaign team as Political Director" ... I'm guessing that the forces funding and publicizing the national "tea party" movement won't weigh in against two establishment candidates in this Republican primary, and Funk will therefore not be able to compete with the front-runners.

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Iowa Independent: Grassley warns: Immigration bill with 'amnesty' has little chance

Excerpted from this post at Iowa Independent

Monday, reports emerged that liberal Democrats won't push too hard to assist illegal immigrants under health care reform as long as the White House commits this year to separate immigration reform complete with a plan to provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley issued a warning: In this political and economic environment, an "amnesty" provision stands little chance of passing through Congress. "If people are insistent upon amnesty," Grassley told local reporters, "whether it's a general immigration reform bill or whether it is just an agriculture bill for guest workers, I think it's going to be very difficult to get it passed. ... I don't see how you can in this environment, where we have a recession. Even though there may be workers needed in a certain aspect of the U.S. economy, it's pretty difficult to bring up even a narrowly drafted one as long as the issue of amnesty is part of it."

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Essential Estrogen: Wham bam thank you ma'am!

Excerpted from this post at Essential Estrogen

Ron Corbett is bringing his own, "the one Kay has is too small". Yep, he has his own gavel and it's bigger! ... I am happy that Ron is willing to respond to citizens speaking in public, on the record, to the Council. Hopefully, the rest of the Council will follow his lead. When he first mentioned a bigger gavel was needed, I thought it had something to do with the rest of the Council. The blog doesn't mention needing to pound sense to any members only that the Mayor will have the gavel handy to use should a Citizen start to get out of hand. So Citizens, be warned! Mayor has Big Gavel and IS NOT AFRAID TO USE IT!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hawkeye Review: Show me the money!

Excerpted from this post at Hawkeye Review

"Tactical Distortion" will be used as Chet Culver's last hope to
survive a first term that at best can be described as "incompetent."
It's already happening. HR was the first to profile Chief of Staff
John Frew last June and nothing's changed; expect a dirty campaign
that will be hard fought and well funded by big labor and special
interests. Frew is an expert at attacking the messenger. In fact,
back in 1983 he taught a political workshop sponsored by the Iowa
Freedom Foundation titled: "The Art of Dishing It Out." Show Me the
Money: The first salvo is likely to be fired off January 20th when the
campaign disclosure reports have been revealed. Much like the Food
Network Series Chopped, you can expect at least one gubernatorial
candidate to be declared irrelevant, even if he stays in the race.
More important however, will be the shakeout that naturally occurs and
the anointing of the "front-runner" which isn't a reflection of
organizational strength or polling support, it's all about the money.

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Bleeding Heartland: Democratic Governors Association raised big money in 2009

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

Democratic incumbents are facing some tough governor's races in 2010, but fortunately the Democratic Governors Association will be in a position to help in key states: "The Democratic Governors Association raised $23.1 million in 2009, more than ever before in the organization's history, and will start the 2010 election cycle with nearly 12 times as much cash on hand as 2006, the last equivalent election cycle, Chairman Gov. Jack Markell announced today." ... Losing the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia was painful enough; I am glad to know that those campaigns didn't deplete the DGA's cash reserves. Here in Iowa, Governor Chet Culver may need the DGA's help to keep pace with Republican expenditures. Culver held lots of fundraisers during the fall, but he also spent money running a couple of television commercials statewide. Terry Branstad probably pulled in big numbers during the fourth quarter, although he will have to spend a lot of cash before the Republican primary in June. At least one other Republican candidate, Bob Vander Plaats, has enough resources to run a strong primary campaign.

The Iowa Independent: Dems will likely bypass conference to merge health care bills

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Independent

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley's prediction that the GOP won't
get much of a say in ironing out the differences between the House and
Senate versions of health care reform is apparently coming true, and
the months of delay tactics his party engaged in appears to be the
deciding factor. The New Republic reported late Sunday night that
Democrats are "almost certain" to negotiate informally rather than
convene a formal conference committee. That would keep Republicans
from continuing to stall the legislation, something party leadership
has vowed to do at every step. ... Staffers in both the House and
Senate said Democrats will likely send legislation back and forth to
each chamber until a final version of the bill can be agreed upon.
While it will be far from easy to merge the two bills, the process
will certainly move much faster than it would if Republicans were
included.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Blog for Iowa: Unemployment claims still on the rise in Iowa

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa

Data can be funny. Especially when politicians get their hands on it.
Or media outlets with an agenda -- which would be all media, including
this one. The past few months have been particularly funny in how
unemployment reporting gets covered. So let's be clear. We are still
losing jobs. Maybe not me or you, but our economy as a whole, that
includes our communities, our friends, neighbors, brothers-in-law,
etc., continue to suffer a net loss of millions of jobs. But once you
put on rose-colored glasses, the fact that we are losing fewer jobs is
a sign that happy days are here again. According to the December 31
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, 8,088 fewer initial
unemployment claims were filed -- great news! Add that to the fact
that the Dow Jones finished thousands of points up since the beginning
of the year, and we can be hopeful again, right?

FromDC2Iowa: Is the University of Iowa 'world class'?

Excerpted from this post at FromDC2Iowa

And Why We Shouldn't Care; Reconceptualizing the UI for the 21st
Century ... Quiz: "Is the University of Iowa 'world class'?"
(a) Yes (b) No (c) Because that is an inherently unanswerable
question, efforts to "answer" it inevitably will be as frustrating as
they will be futile. As you may have guessed, I think the best answer
is "c." Asking answerable questions. General semanticists warn us
about the consequences of attempting to answer unanswerable -- or what
they call "non-sense" -- questions (that is, questions for which there
are neither external referents nor sensory apparatus for finding
answers). Useful, constructive questions are those that contain a
suggestion as to how one might go about finding an answer -- such as,
"which college football teams won every game during their 2009
season?" or "is this generic statin as effective in lowering
cholesterol as this proprietary, heavily advertised drug?"

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The Iowa Republican: 2010 predictions

Excerpted from this post at The Iowa Republican

The New Year always brings two things, predictions and resolutions.
The focus of this article is predictions of a political nature. While
I have enjoyed reading other predictions on blogs and news sites, many
times they lack any sort of supporting analysis, making them more of a
guess than a prediction. It is likely that none of my predictions will
surprise you given that I've been sharing my personal thoughts and
analysis with you since March of last year. That's why this article
will discuss the reasons why I believe certain things will happen, not
simply list things that might occur. Republican Gubernatorial Primary:
Prediction: Vander Plaats needs help from Rants and/or Roberts to
secure Republican nomination. A lot of people have speculated that the
Republican primary for governor might end up being settled at a
state-wide nominating convention.

Mike Schramm
Andy Szal

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