Friday, March 28, 2008

The Key to the Keystone...a Hawkeye?

The man who helped Barack Obama cruise to victory in Iowa will now try to find a better path for Obama in Pennsylvania. Paul Tewes, Obama's Iowa State Director, who also headed Al Gore's efforts in Iowa, now takes over the campaign in Pennsylvania.

Here are the details from NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan...

Paul Tewes, Obama's state director in Iowa, will head to the Keystone State tomorrow to take over the campaign's GOTV operation. "Now that the voter registration deadline has passed, we have entered the GOTV phase of the campaign in Pennslyvania," Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said. "Tewes has joined the Pennsylvania campaign on the ground here to lead this effort." Pfeiffer added that Jim DeMay, who had been the state director up until this point will "continue to play an advisory role our campaign." DeMay was Gore's Pennsylvania state director in 2000. Added Pfieffer, "While we remain the underdog, we are working as hard as we can to get as many votes as possible." Tewes has a strong track record. Under his leadership, the Obama campaign conducted an extensive grassroots effort in Iowa that helped the campaign win by 8 points.

It's Been Too Long

I've gone blog-less for too long now. Sorry, sniper fire has kept me hiding low. BTW, how exactly, does a person think she took a trip once and came under sniper fire? And it turns out, she didn't. Does that mean she confused this particular visit with another one where she did come under sniper fire? Interesting.

Stray cats are trying to take over the word, but a local group just received some national props for helping.

I just started physical therapy on my shoulder. Both shoulders actually. It turns out I'm having pain for more than 5 years (or at least this is a theory) in my left shoulder from holding my cell phone. Pitiful. A message for everyone with whom I've ever spoken...I'm suing you!

And I may be having leftover pain in my right shoulder from our last softball game last year. Last year! It sucks getting old. But Nancy at Mercy West told me she's been physical therapy-ing for more than 30 years. So I think I'm in good hands. I hope so. I'm falling apart.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The 10

10 Iowa legislators will try to do what 150 could not: agree on a smoking ban for the state. The ten will start work Thursday as members of a conference committee, charged with coming up with a compromise. The debate would seem not to be on a smoking ban, but rather what exemptions should the ban have. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal has already said the senate won't go for exemptions for bars and restaurants. And since this conference committee is only to consider previous exemptions, that would seem to leave casinos as the center of argument. Gambling only on casino floors seems to be the best bet now.

One guy to watch in all of this is Cedar Rapids Democratic Representative Tyler Olson. He has been the face of the anti-smoking efforts on the house floor. But he has something else to think about. His wife was due to deliver the couple's first child last Saturday in Cedar Rapids. And she still hasn't. So needless to say, he's looking for quick compromise...on the smoking ban, I mean.

Here are the ten legislators involved in the talks for now. Click on their names to email them what you want them to do on this.


Bill Dotzler (D) His mom owns a bar. Do you think he'll keep fighting to keep an exemption for his mom's place?
Joe Bolkcom (D)
Staci Appel (D) Lead the floor debate to pass the senate's full smoking ban.
Mark Zieman (R)
Ron Wieck (R)


Tyler Olson (D) Wants complete ban. But make room for baby.
Janet Peterson (D) Wants complete ban.
Mike Reasoner (D)
Cecil Dolecheck (R) Argued on floor against the ban.
Chuck Soderburg (R)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bottle Bill

Governor Chet Culver still hasn't given up yet on his idea to expand the state's 30 year old bottle bill deposit law. He no longer wants to make you pay more. He had pitched the idea of doubling the deposit to a dime, but only giving you eight cents back. That didn't go over well with Iowans or their legislators. Now, he wants to keep the deposit at a nickel. But he's adamant that lawmakers still expand the bill to include most every drink sold in a plastic container.

Lt Governor Patty Judge today threw out the idea that redemption centers get two cents from distributors instead of one. Redemption centers say they have survived on just a penny for the last 30 years and it's time they got a little more. Distributors, of course, don't like this. They say this would be a $19 million tax increase and they would pass the costs on to consumers. They would prefer the state scrap the deposits altogether and use curbside recycling for everyone. Of course, some towns say they can't afford curbside recycling. That's why they don't do it now. And they say the extra money they would get from the scrap aluminum and plastic from the containers still won't be enough to make this worth.

No matter which idea you prefer, it seems there is at least one group somewhere that says, in the end, any bottle bill expansion will have you paying more. You will either pay more as a taxpayer or as a consumer.

So what makes sense (and cents) here?

Want to send your thoughts to your local legislator? This link will even help you figure out who your local lawmaker is.


I need your help to get "Murphy" to the national championship. No, not Iowa Speaker of the House Patrick Murphy.

Fallon Gets STAR Treatment

Ed Fallon's campaign had let us know about a "major announcement" on his behalf in Des Moines Wednesday. The release didn't say what that was.

I think this will help us figure it out thanks to the Iowa Peace List:

Sunday evening STAR*PAC endorsed Ed Fallon for his candidacy to be Iowa's 3rd District Congressman. STAR-PAC will announce our endorsement at Ed Fallon's Press Conference at 8:30 AM this Wednesday morning March 19th at Chet's Fire Station. It is exciting to know that we will have an opportunity to elect a congressman in the mold of Tom Harkin, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack.

Please make arrangements to show your support of Ed Fallon by bringing
2 or 3 of your friends to Ed's Wednesday morning Press Conference
Spread this announcement widely to your email contacts – take time to call 3 or 4 and urge their attendance.


Looks like the Iowa house will take up (again) that smoking debate Wednesday. Will the members just punt and send this over to a house-senate conference committee for a compromise or will the house take up yet another version of the ban? Maybe just pass the senate version, so everyone can finally move on to something else? BTW, can anyone name anything of significance legislators have done this session? If they don't pass a bottle bill or a smoking ban, what exactly will they accomplish that the general public will actually remember?

As we keep seeing this pictures of Eliot "The Sheriff of the Wall Streetwalkers", I can't help but wonder about his wife. What makes her "stand by him" in public? He's up there talking about how he screwed around on her, humiliated his three daughters and may have broken federal laws to boot, and she just stands next to him. Am I missing something? Why doesn't she just let him have the sleaze stage by himself? Why should she have to do this? Surely, I must be missing something here. Is this how it works in politics?

One other thing...a few female friends have said, they think it might actually be easier to take if their husband cheated on them with a prostitute. A hooker is only a sexual thing they say. An affair with someone else may signal some type of emotional thing. Again, I'm a guy, so maybe I just don't understand this. But does it really matter. I would think if your husband beds down with someone else, it wouldn't matter whether he paid to do it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

When a Win Isn't Yet a Win

Barack Obama may have received the most "votes" in the Iowa Caucus, of course, nothing is official yet. Delegates still have to work their way through the county (this Saturday), district and state conventions. Obama's media staff is still churning out info in the hopes to make sure delegates go Obama's way this weekend (let's remember, the Associated Press estimates John Edwards earned about 14 delegates on caucus night. Those people have to go somewhere. Well, actually, I guess they don't. But some of them will. Probably).

I just got this release:

As Iowans head to the county conventions this weekend, it’s instructive for caucus goers to remember what Senator Clinton has said about the Iowa caucuses since her disappointing finish this past January.

Asked A Few Days Before The Iowa Caucuses Whether They Were Unfair And Ought To Be Eliminated, Bill Clinton Said “No.” After The Vote, Hillary Clinton Said “Iowa Does Not Have The Best Track Record In Determining Who The Parties Nominate” And Added That Iowa “Disenfranchised” Voters Who Work At Night Or Were Out Of State. Still, the Clintons seemed to leave Iowa with a taste of bitterness. Asked a few days before the Iowa vote whether he agreed that the state's caucuses were unfair and ought to be eliminated, Bill Clinton said no. "Obviously, we don't feel that way about it," he said. But it looked a little different after the vote. "Iowa does not have the best track record in determining who the parties nominate," Hillary Clinton told reporters the day after the caucuses. She added that Iowa "disenfranchised" voters who work at night or were out of state because it does not allow absentee ballots in its caucuses. [
Washington Post, 1/10/08]

Clinton-Backers Gephardt And Albright Questioned The Rules Of The Caucuses And Added “I Think There Are Issues About Iowa And The Caucus System.” Both Dick Gephardt and Madeline Albright questioned the rules of the caucuses, where victory is decided by the number of delegates the candidates win, rather than the number of votes they receive. Gephardt said: "It's still not clear how far apart they were. They were pretty tightly bunched. It wasn't a blowout victory for Obama. Obviously, you would rather win than lose, but I don't see it as a real loss." Albright questioned the Iowa result, saying: "I think there are issues about Iowa and the caucus system. We all want change but it's necessary to have the experience to make it happen." [
Telegraph, 1/7/08]

Clinton Claimed That, In a Caucus, It’s Socially More Difficult For Women Voters And Said “They Would Rather Just Keep Their Vote To Themselves.” During an interview shown this morning on the Today Show, Hillary Clinton made an interesting claim about the peculiarities of the caucus system -- that it's socially more difficult for women voters. “They would rather just keep their vote to themselves,” Hillary said. NBC then followed this with Meredith Vieira's narration that Hillary's campaign had previously carried an air of inevitability -- perhaps a subtle commentary that Hillary is trying to massage expectations against a possible caucus loss. [
Huffington Post, 1/2/08]

From TV to the Gov to the Senate? An interesting little political story has been developing the last few weeks. Iowa Governor Chet Culver's Press Secretary Courtney Greene has been said to be entertaining the thought of running for office herself. In full disclosure, Courtney worked here at WHO-TV 13 on several different occasions over the years.

But Courtney said she won't be putting in her paperwork with the Sec of State to file as a Democrat to run against Republican Pat Ward in West Des Moines' Senate District 30. She would have had to ditch the gig in the Gov's office to do it. Although I wouldn't count the run out just yet. If the Dems don't get anyone else, they could always nominate her in the state convention this summer. Stay tuned...

Patty Judge's Confession

Quite honestly, I didn't know there would be much news coming out of the noontime gathering at the Iowa Statehouse. I knew it was a group of new supporters for Barack Obama. They were going to push delegates to vote for Obama this weekend at the county conventions. BTW, four of the 17 there said they originally supported John Edwards.

Two "extras" came out of this. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (a former supporter of Joe Biden) said Iowans should root for Obama because Hillary Clinton won't keep the caucuses first. McCarthy believe Obama will. I haven't heard any Clinton supporter argue to me otherwise yet.

Also, Lt Gov Patty Judge made a confession. She said she and Governor Chet Culver had planned to stay neutral (and publicly silent) about supporting a Prez candidate before the caucus. But she said a few days before the caucus, she told the Gov she wanted to go back home to Albia and caucus for Obama (Culver is also an Obama fan). She went that night to the Monroe County Courthouse, the site of nearly every precinct for the Dems on caucus night. She said she signed in and then starting walking around chatting with her neighbors, friends, etc. By the time she went back to her precinct's site in the building, she was told by the precinct captain she was too late to caucus. The precinct captain was her son. Sorry, mom.

St. Louis Cardinals update: the pitching stinks. too little planning, too many injuries, too many times going the cheap route. That's the background on this. There's a pitcher the Cards (mostly their fans) had talked about). Kyle Lohse is a 29 year old right-hander who has decent stuff, but is a loser. His record, that is. His agent apparently thought he was worth about $50 million bucks since the free agent market looked weak. My pitching-weak Cards just signed him to a deal. 1 year, $4.25 million. I wonder how Lohse's agent explained to him why he's now worth $46.75 million less. Must have been a bad winter.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Get Your T-Shirts

I just received this from Mike Huckabee miracle-worker, Eric Woolson. Eric was the campaign manager/communications director for Huckabee's Iowa efforts. Apparently, he's now cleaning house (btw, I don't believe the above graphic is actually on any of the t-shirts. But I found it on-line. Call it a little artistic license on my part).

"It comes as no surprise to most of you who know me: My office is a mess. The problem is, it's my company office, not a campaign headquarters, and that big stack of Huckabee for President T-shirts is one reason why. So, to make sure we find good homes for all those shirts in short order -- and my office space gets back to normal -- we're having a blowout sale this week only.

All Huckabee for President T-shirts in my office are now just $5 plus $1 for postage and handling. (You can't even buy two gallons of gasoline for that price -- and think how much longer this wonderful souvenir of Governor Huckabee's campaign will last.)

Members of the media: I have a SPECIAL OFFER for you! All shirts are just $35.00, $7.50 postage and handling. Just kidding! You receive the SAME GREAT DISCOUNT as everybody else. I know you can't wear one in public, no matter how good your heart is -- and I know you all have very, very good hearts. But you will want one of these high-quality, comfortable white 100-percent cotton T's with that familiar campaign logo you know and love as a cherished keepsake of your time covering the the campaign you loved best.

Check out this great review from a satisfied customer:

"My Huckabee T-shirt took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I laughed. I cried. It was better than 'Cats.'" -- Mr. C. Saltsman, Memphis

OK, I made that up. Order today because even though that stack of shirts seems big, quantities are LIMITED. And after this, they really will become collector's items and I will start charging $35 per shirt.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breathing easier?

Iowa house leaders did an about face. Just a few weeks ago, they didn't think it was a good idea to let you keep smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos. Then, the senate passed a ban nearly everywhere. Now, house members apparently think businesses can't survive without smokers. Businesses, under the house plan passed today, have to ban smoking when anyone under 21 is there. But they can allow it other times (this is providing they also serve alcohol). Restaurants no longer have to offer non-smoking sections.

Here's the vote tally for the day as we wait to see what the senate will do with this.

On the question "Shall the bill pass?" (H.F. 2212)

The ayes were, 59:

Abdul-Samad Anderson Bailey Baudler
Bell Berry Bukta Clute
Cohoon Dandekar Davitt Dolecheck
Ford Frevert Gaskill Gayman
Gipp Heddens Jacobs Jacoby
Jochum Kelley Kressig Kuhn
Lensing Lykam Mascher May
McCarthy Mertz Miller, H. Miller, L.
Oldson Olson, D. Olson, T. Palmer
Petersen Quirk Reasoner Reichert
Schickel Schueller Shomshor Smith
Staed Taylor, D. Taylor, T. Thomas
Tomenga Van Fossen Wendt Wessel-Kroeschell
Whitaker Whitead Wiencek Winckler
Wise Zirkelbach Mr. Speaker

The nays were, 40:

Alons Arnold Boal Chambers
De Boef Deyoe Drake Foege
Forristall Granzow Grassley Heaton
Hoffman Horbach Hunter Huseman
Huser Kaufmann Lukan Olson, R.
Olson, S. Paulsen Pettengill Raecker
Rants Rasmussen Rayhons Roberts
Sands Soderberg Struyk Swaim
Tjepkes Tymeson Upmeyer Van Engelenhoven
Watts Wenthe Windschitl Worthan

Absent or not voting, 1:


Want to send your thoughts to your local legislator? This link will even help you figure out who your local leader is.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Bed with Bubba

So which way do you take this... First, you might need to think back to that "3am commercial" Hillary Clinton ran against Barack Obama. You might also think back to Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Jones and Marilyn Jo Jenkins. Here's the story...

A voter in Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania asked former Prez Bill Clinton, "I think you were probably one of the smartest Presidents we ever had. I would hope that you would be home the night that she (Hillary) receives a call at 3 in the morning."

Think about it for a second..which way do you take this?

Unemployment down...Good?

Iowa's unemployment rate has dropped by a tenth of a point from a year ago. That means another 16,000 Iowans are working now than in Feb 2007. But the Iowa Policy Project cautions not to count up the numbers just yet.

Here's part of the release:

The data set used previously showed that during 2007, nonfarm jobs grew at a pace of about 1,600 per month, slightly ahead of 2006. Newly revised data for 2007 shows only a 1,000 per month gain. “Not only did 2007 come in with a slower job growth, it was only about half of the 1800 per month gains in both 2004 and 2005,” said David Osterberg, Executive Director of the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project, which tracks Iowa job trends. According to the Department of Workforce Development’s monthly release today, nonfarm employment in Iowa totaled 1,522,900 in January, reflecting a gain of 1,900 jobs from December. However, before a recent, annual statistical adjustment, the December nonfarm total had been estimated slightly higher at 1,527,800. “That means, even with an increase in jobs in January, total jobs are fewer than we had previously recorded,” said Beth Pearson, Research Associate at IPP.

Congrats to a couple Forty under 40 tv friends. WHO-TV's early riser, Patrick Dix made the list. So did Tiffany Tauscheck, the wife of my work desk mate and master storyteller, Mark. The whole group of 40 gets a little public recognition at a shindig tonight. Here's the full forty.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

No More Gambling for Grassley

Senator Charles Grassley thinks Iowa has enough gambling. He made it clear he wasn't talking as a U.S. Senator when he gave his opinion this afternoon. He only was talking, he says, as a private citizen. He said he is not "an advocate of taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another". He believes Iowa has enough gambling, so he's not hoping the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission decides to grant more licenses in the state. (He did say his grandson, Pat, who is a state legislator, may have more influence on this topic than he would).

Grassley also said he's fine with his party's nominee for Prez, Senator John McCain. Grassley said this year was the first time since 1980 (he thought it was 1980, he said) that he didn't endorse a candidate during the nominating process. He said he "should have made up his mind" earlier though. At the time, he said he "wanted so bad to beat" Senator Hillary Clinton. He added that he thinks it would be easier for McCain to beat Clinton than Obama.

He also plans to campaign on McCain's behalf and said a recent talk with McCain makes him think McCain believes Iowa will be an important state (again) down the stretch as the country picks a President. But he doesn't know for sure how hard McCain would work to keep Iowa's Caucuses first in 2012.

The Face Behind Those Ads

This is now the public face of those anti-Culver ads you've been seeing. Today, David Kochel came forward as the spokesman for the Iowa Future Fund (btw, he called the group's name a "coincidence." I couldn't tell whether he was serious. A few years ago, Senator Tom Harkin used that same name for his political action committee. Coincidence.")

Kochel said the group hasn't broken any laws by not filing paperwork with the state or the feds like the Iowa Democratic Party claims. He said the group is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, so all it needs to do is file tax returns. The group's defense against the Dems' claims, he says, is it's not campaigning for any candidate. The group is about "education." He wouldn't tell me who contributes to this group. He would not say what Jim Nussle's former campaign manager, Nick Ryan, does for/with the group. He did say the group is made up "mostly of Iowans" and it plans to run more ads in the future.

The Iowa Democratic Party disagrees “If the Iowa Future Fund and David Kochel are truly concerned about substance and not subversion then they should release the names of their donors so Iowans can determine the true motives behind these ads,” said Scott Brennan, Iowa Democratic Party Chair. “I call on the Iowa Future Fund to begin filing disclosure reports in Iowa so that the people of this state know who is polluting their airwaves with lies about the Governor.”

ETC... They called Dmitri Young "Meat Hook" when he played outfield for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was supposedly because of his bad defense. Young had a nice rebound year for Washington last year. He now has health concerns after coming into spring training weighing 298 pounds. 298 pounds for a baseball! Incidentally, Young signed a $10million extension after that year, when he clearly didn't weigh 298 pounds.

Mr. Chairman

We have the showdown of the Chairmen today at the station. Iowa Democratic State Party Chair Scott Brennan and Republican State Chair Stew Iverson will come in to tape "Channel 13's Insiders" (shameless plug alert: seen Sunday mornings at 9:30) Ya think those anti-Culver ads will come up.

O.K., there's no redeeming news value to this, but this Youtube video's worth checking out. A tv anchor totally goes off on the reporter out in the field. And, apparently, the reporter used to be the guy's boss. Juicy... John Bachman would never do that.

And, in honor of my beloved bride, Emily, here are all the celebrities who have a birthday today...

Emily Price, superstar of superstars
Andy Gibb, musician
Berkley Bedell, Iowa Congressman
Marsha Warfield, actress
Michael Irvin, football player
Niki Taylor, zillionaire model

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Ads

It's been the topic of conversation for close to a week now. Who is behind those ads that rip on Governor Chet Culver? It's a group called the Iowa Future Fund.

Reporters quickly started "googling" the group on the Internet. It listed a couple of Democratic attorneys who head the group. Ooh, this sounds juicy. Could it be that Governor Culver has ticked off his fellow Democrats so much they're running attacks against him? Was it the bottle bill idea...keeping some of Iowans' deposits? Was it that combined reporting idea that Tom Vilsack could never get the legislature to pass when he held the office? Nope, not at all. It's no "D" vs. "D" fight, after all.

The Iowa Future Fund is, indeed, a Democratic organization. Or at least, it was. It was the name of Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Harkin's political action committee. But the PAC dissolved about two years ago.

It turns out someone else has brought the fund back to life. But who is it? The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board couldn't seem to get us any updated information on the group. Paperwork from the group's advertising contracts with television stations shows the group claims an address on Beaver Avenue in Des Moines. We checked out that address. It's a UPS store. We checked out the phone number. It's the number of a law firm, the Holtzman Vogel law Virginia. Someone on the phone told me The Iowa Future Fund is a client. That person wouldn't tell me who gives money to this fund or who is involved with it.

But Republican sources in Iowa tell me. It's Nick Ryan, Jim Nussle's former campaign manager when Nussle tried and failed to beat Chet Culver for Governor two years ago. As I write this, Ryan hasn't responded to my phone calls.