Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I-JOBS jobs

I-JOBS JOBS: No one had been tracking how many jobs Governor Chet Culver's I-JOBS created. Iowans will repay somewhere between $1 and 1.5 billion for the borrowed I-JOBS. The Iowa legislature didn't require the governor or any other person/agency/office to track it. The state website devoted to I-JOBS is also outdated. Here is the story we did on it. What do you think? Fair? Unfair? Should someone have been tracking how many Iowans are working? Is the money not about the jobs? Is it about rebuilding the state? What do you think?

I-DADS: Any day I'll become a dad (God willing:) My co-worker, Pat Dix, the proud papa of twins, sent me this video. And it's clean, in case your boss catches you watching at work today. Man, is this what fatherhood will really mean for me? Yikes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Culver: Re-election chances, Money, I-JOBS

Culver Cam: It feels like so many things have happened in the news, I just don't know how to address them all! I'll start with what Governor Chet Culver had to say this morning.

He seemed to make news with almost every sentence. So here we go...The governor defended the head of the Department of Natural Resources, despite a state audit that found the DNR broke 16 laws. He said coverage was "overstated and overblown".

The Iowa Workforce Development released unemployment numbers that showed the rate stayed steady from May to June, although fewer Iowans were looking for work. However, the state had 2,700 fewer construction jobs than June, 2009. Culver blamed the weather (that's about 2 minutes into the interview about with the gov).

Culver defended I-JOBS and said the $875million program has brought thousands of jobs to the state. Our interview with him took place about 12:30pm. He said I-JOBS created between 5 and 10,000 jobs and that he would have a better idea "as early as next week". Four hours later, his office released a statement that projected estimates at between 7-9,000.

Republican challenger Terry Branstad has out raised Culver the past two financial reporting periods, but Culver said, "I’m better positioned than any incumbent governor has ever been going into the final 100 days here. That’s the story.”

Whew, that's a lot of news in about ten minutes of talking. Your turn. What do you think? The governor tells us what he thinks the story is. What do you?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zach Brown video, Storm, My Cardinals

Love or War?: I'm a big country fan. But I'm a bit puzzled by this one. The Zach Brown Band has a song called "Free". Great song. Seems to me to be a song about love. Here's what I don't get. The video shows Zach and the band with the troops overseas. It's a good video. Don't get me wrong. It seems like a better video without the song. What do all the troops have to do with this song? This is a love song. I mean, I'm sure they love their country. But this isn't about that kind of love. What do you think?

Here's the video.

Stormy Saturday/Sunday: Wow, that was a storm last night/early this morning! I think it's the worst one I can remember since I've lived in Iowa (about 9 plus years now), not counting snow storms. There was so much uncomfortable howling outside our window at 3am. I don't think I feared a tornado as much as this one. And there wasn't even a tornado close to us. We turned on the tv to see what was going on. And Brett McIntyre was there, talking his heart out. My weekend weather buddy went all-out, almost non-stop for about seven hours tracking the storms. He had done the evening shows last night, did storm coverage overnight and then did the weather on the morning show, too. Then, he came back and did weather tonight. So, whenever you think those weather guys don't do much, think of this storm and think of Brett.

Red hot Redbirds: Now, this is what we Cardinals' fans expected this year. St. Louis just swept a 4-game series from the Dodgers. Sunday's game looked like a throwaway for the Cards. LaRussa rested Pujols, Rasmus and Molina. Suppan was on the mound. Easy loss, right? Easy letdown day, right? It looked like it for 7 1/2 innings. Then, the Cards got hot. And the Dodgers wilted in the heat. Cards get 3 in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th. That's a comeback, boys! Let's keep it going against the Fightin' Phils.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Iowa Not in Top 10

Left Out: Iowans (o.k., some of them) are excited about some of the races coming up in November. Of course, maybe it's easier to get excited about a November race when the heat index isn't 115 degrees! But NBC's First Read doesn't seem to be hot about Iowa's slate of contests.

Governor Chet Culver isn't doing well in polls (and hasn't been for some time) and has been the target of some national stories talking about how vulnerable he is. Plus, there's the governor (the son of a U.S. senator) vs. a former 4-term governor. In the news biz, that makes for a pretty sexy race. The 3rd District Congressional race between Democratic Incumbent Leonard Boswell and Republican challenger Brad Zaun is also getting some attention (the Dems are bringing in former President Bill Clinton later this month). But I'm not seeing a lot of national press about many other races in the state. Is that why Iowa can't crack the top 10 in NBC's top 10 states to watch?

** First Read's Top 10 states to watch: If it's Friday, it means another First Read Top 10 list. This time, we look at the Top 10 states to watch in 2010 -- based on the number of good races, and also what they might tell us about the overall political environment and the emerging 2012 race. The number in parentheses is our last ranking from February.

1. Florida (3): This swing state probably best tells the story of 2010. It has competitive Senate, House and gubernatorial races; it now features two competitive statewide primaries (McCollum vs. Scott, and Meek vs. Greene); it tests the strength and perhaps weakness of the Tea Party (will Rubio win?); and it will measure the appeal of an independent candidate (Crist).
2. Colorado (2): This state has it all, too -- presidential swing state, competitive Dem Senate primary (Bennet vs. Romanoff), and an establishment vs. anti-establishment GOP Senate primary (Norton vs. Buck). And now there’s a plagiarism scandal that is throwing the gubernatorial race into chaos.
3. Ohio (1): Having Ohio third on this list tells you how many great state-based stories there are this midterm cycle. As in Florida and Colorado, the Buckeye State features competitive Senate, House, and gubernatorial races. And, of course, it’s probably the nation’s premiere presidential battleground state.
4. Nevada (5): The contests in this western swing state will tell us: 1) Will Harry Reid go the way of Tom Daschle? 2) Can Sharron Angle win in a state that Obama won by more than 12 percentage points? 3) Can two Reids (Harry and Rory) co-exist on the Dem ballot? and 4) Will the GOP get a Latino governor in Brian Sandoval?
5. California (10): In presidential contests, California is often an afterthought. But that’s not the case in midterms, and the state this year features a competitive gubernatorial race (Brown vs. Whitman), a competitive Senate contest (Boxer vs. Fiorina), and money -- lots of it.
6. Pennsylvania (8): Here’s another state with a key Senate contest (Sestak vs. Toomey), a gubernatorial race (Corbett vs. Onorato), and a few competitive House match-ups. What’s more, President Obama’s approval ratings have plummeted in this state that he won by 10 percentage points. According to Quinnipiac, his approval rating is now upside down at 46%-49%.
7. Illinois (4): President Obama’s old Senate seat is up for grabs (Giannoulias vs. Kirk), and the governor’s race is a hot one (Quinn vs. Brady). And they’re taking place smack in the middle of the Blago trial.
8. Indiana (unranked): A state Obama won in 2008 looks like it’s trending back toward Republicans. But keep an eye on the race to replace Evan Bayh, which could be a sleeper for Democrats (or a pick up for Republicans). Plus, people often ask: How’s it playing in Peoria? Come 2012, they’ll be asking: How’s it playing in Elkhart?
9. Arizona (unranked): Illegal immigration -- and the battle against it -- has turned this state into a political hotbed. And the passage of Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law transformed Gov. Jan Brewer into a conservative celebrity and a possible shoo-in for victory in November. Oh, and don’t forget that one of the Republicans who led the charge for comprehensive immigration reform -- John McCain -- is up for re-election and running to the right in his GOP primary battle against J.D. Hayworth.
10. New Mexico (unranked): GOP strength in the West, as we’ve pointed out, could come because of women. And in this swing state where Hispanics outnumber any other ethnic group (44% to 42% of whites), Republicans hope gubernatorial nominee Susana Martinez will beat out Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D) in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Bill Richardson (D). There’s also a highly competitive House race in which former Rep. Steve Pearce (R) is hoping to get his old seat back from freshman Rep. Harry Teague (D).
Top 5: Here are my top 5 St. Louis Cardinals to watch in the second half:

1. Tony LaRussa--the Cards have been sloppy--too many errors, bad base running, too many swings at bad pitches--not something LaRussa teams usually do. Can he get them to play good ol' Cardinal baseball?
2. Ryan Ludwick--he's an underappreciated stud on the team. He's one of the most productive right-fielders in baseball the past 2 years. He needs to get over this calf injury and produce. Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Ludwich make for a fearsome foursome when they're all swinging good bats.
3. Shortstop--Brendan Ryan? Tyler Greene? Felipe Lopez? Ryan has been awful, offensively and defensively. He can be a nut job on the field some days with the attention span of a gnat. Can he turn back the clock to last year? Greene has shown at time he can be a good glove guy with good speed and a little power. But he can't seem to show in consistently. And Lopez can hit, but he doesn't field much. So will someone else take over the position?
4. John Mozeliak--Perhaps, the Cards general manager can find a shortstop? Another starting pitcher? The Cards have money to spend, but they don't probably have much to give up in a trade. So Mo has his work cut out, because the team isn't as good as it needs to be.
5. A spark--Maybe this spark comes in a trade (starting infielder/starting pitcher?). But it has to come from somewhere. The team looks lifeless too many times. It needs an emotional leader. I'd like to see Jim Edmonds come back in a part-time role. He wouldn't play much. But he could give people the kick in the a...umm, a kick in the pants when necessary.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anti-Branstad Ads, Anti-Obama Billboard Down

DGA vs. TB: It looks like there's no more doubt about the money behind those ads that attacked Iowa Republican candidate for governor Terry Branstad before the June primary. For those people thinking it was a far right, anti-Branstad group, you thought wrong. It was all Democrats, according to a filing with the IRS, released by the Branstad campaign. The Democratic Governors Association is the only donor listed for the $782,500 in contributions that funded the ads. The Iowa Independent reports the DGA defended its spending on the race and said it wanted to show Branstad's "hypocrisy" on his record. In following that explanation, it seems the DGA has thrown some of its fellow Democrats under the bus when it criticized Branstad by comparing him to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Presidents Obama and Clinton.

Grassley Upgraded: The Cook Report has just upped Republican Senator Chuck Grassley's odds of getting re-elected another notch against his Democratic challenger, Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin. Here's the article explaining that because of serious questions raised because of KCCI-TV's poll on the Grassley-Conlin race, The Cook Report is putting Grassley back over in his previous column:

In late June, we moved this race between GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic attorney Roxanne Conlin from the Solid Republican to the Likely Republican column, and we did so without comment. Given some recent developments that frankly have very little to do with this race, we are moving it back to the Solid Republican column.

So why did we move it in the first place? There were a number of reasons, some of which are still valid. First, Grassley hasn’t had a difficult race in years and that is dangerous for any incumbent. Second, Conlin is very wealthy and can invest some of her own resources into the race, undercutting whatever financial advantage Grassley might have. Third, polling indicated that while Grassley has an advantage in the low teens and is over 50 percent, Conlin was approaching 40 percent before the general election contest really got engaged. The counterweight to these factors was, of course, the political environment that is tilted against Democrats and may be even more so in Iowa where Democratic Gov. Chet Culver is currently trailing Republican former Gov. Terry Branstad.

In assessing the polls, we looked at two things; the last five polls that were taken between late April and mid-June and the overall trend line. Of the five, three surveys were IVR polls and two were taken by Research 2000 for KCCI-TV in Des Moines. As any long-time reader of The Cook Political Report knows, we tend to place a greater weight on polls conducted with live interviews than those that use automated interviews. The two Research 2000 surveys showed the narrowest margin between Grassley and Conlin. The Research 2000 poll (May 3.5 of 600 likely voters) had Grassley ahead by nine points, 49 percent to 40 percent, while a May 31-June 2 survey (600 likely voters) gave Grassley an eight-point advantage, 48 percent to 40 percent. The overall trend line gave Grassley a wider 53-percent to 39-percent lead
, according to

However, just days after we moved the race, Markos Moulitsas, the publisher of Daily Kos, filed a lawsuit against Research 2000, alleging that the polling firm had defrauded him by providing national survey data that was “fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition.” Research 2000 has denied the allegations and has even threatened to file its own lawsuit against Moulitsas. Read more about the lawsuit here.
Daily Kos was perhaps Research 2000’s largest client and was conducting polling in Senate and Governors races in addition to national tracking surveys.
It doesn’t appear that Moulitsas’ lawsuit is a fit of pique, but instead is supported by a statistical analysis of the data. Most polling experts seem to agree that something was amiss in Research 2000’s work. At this point, we made an editorial decision to stop using Research 2000 surveys in the analysis of specific races, though we would keep the surveys that had been taken on the poll charts and add new ones. In reality, there probably won’t be any more Research 2000 polls, at least this cycle. That decision, though, came after changing the rating in Iowa.

In the interest of due diligence, we went back and looked at the most surveys without considering the Research 2000 polls. The most recent polls are all IVR surveys, and all showed Grassley between 53 percent and 57 percent, while Conlin was between 31 percent and 40 percent. Absent the Research 2000 polls, the overall trend line shows Grassley at 54 percent and Conlin at 37 percent
. While one can certainly argue that there isn’t much difference between 13 points, Grassley’s advantage including the Research 2000 polls, and 16 points, his average lead with them, he is closer to a healthier 55 percent.

This is a long explanation leading to a short conclusion: we wouldn’t have moved the race based on IVR polls alone, particularly in a state where other public polling, like the surveys conducted for the Des Moines Register, exist, so without the Research 2000 data, we wouldn’t have made the change. In truth, changing the rating was a close call, with as many reasons for moving it as there were for leaving it in Solid Republican. Moving the race back to the Solid Republican column is the right thing to do.
This does not mean that there isn’t the potential for this race to become more competitive, or that we won’t move it in the future. It just isn’t there now.

The State of Play
So where exactly does this race stand today? Democrats are enthusiastic about Conlin’s candidacy. She won a three-way primary on June 8 with 78 percent of the vote. This is not Conlin’s first bid for office. In 1982, she was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, but fell short in that race, losing an open-seat contest to Republican Terry Branstad, 47 percent to 53 percent.

Conlin, 66, started college at the age of 16, graduating from Drake University in three years, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1964, and completing her law degree at Drake in 1966 at the age of 21. She also got a master’s degree in public administration from Drake in 1979. After practicing law for two years, Conlin went to work as the Deputy Industrial Commissioner in Des Moines from 1967 until 1968. In 1969, she became a state Assistant Attorney General, eventually heading up the department’s Civil Rights Section. In the Attorney General’s office, she focused on public corruption cases, and led an effort to pass a first of its kind law to protect rape victims.

In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter appointed Conlin U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. She prosecuted drug dealers, white collar crimes and public corruption cases. After losing the Governor’s race in 1982, Conlin started her own practice in Des Moines, which is now known as Roxanne Conlin & Associates. The firm handles civil litigation, employment rights, personal injury and constitutional law cases. From 1992 to 1993, Conlin served as the first woman president of the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association).

Conlin announced her Senate candidacy in October of last year, and began to focus her efforts on Grassley. She believes that voters need to hold the incumbent accountable for his support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for voting for budgets that resulted in deficits, for supporting the privatization of Social Security, and for voting against equal pay for women.

Still, if Conlin has a case to make against Grassley, this may prove to be a hard year to do so given the current political environment. Republicans further argue that Conlin has her own vulnerabilities that they plan to exploit. First is her long career as a trial lawyer, which is not always the most popular brand in the profession. While Conlin will argue that she has devoted her professional life to protecting average citizens from big corporations and government, Republicans undoubtedly will counter that her practice has made her a very wealthy woman through frivolous lawsuits that end up costing consumers and taxpayers. They got some help on this front earlier this month when a consortium of lawyers involved in a class action lawsuit against Microsoft sued Conlin for failing to share the $75 million she earned from the case. Conlin counters that the suit is frivolous because she had dropped out of the consortium before the case was settled and that she is being sued now because she is a candidate for public office.

Republicans will also take issue with Conlin’s opposition to tax breaks for the wealthy when she has been the beneficiary of such tax breaks. Conlin and her husband are part owners of 27 low-income apartment complexes in the Des Moines area that have received $64.2 million in tax breaks over the last 19 years.

Finally, GOP strategists are likely to tie Conlin to President Obama, who is not very popular in the state, and to an even more unpopular Democratic-controlled Senate. They are likely to argue that she will be nothing more than a rubberstamp for the Democratic legislative agenda.

If Republicans were concerned that Grassley was slow to get his campaign up and running, they say that he has proven that he is not taking the race for granted and has put together a solid campaign. As of the May 19 pre-primary FEC report, Grassley had raised $5.9 million for the cycle and had $5.6 million in the bank. As of May 19, Conlin had raised $1.7 million, spent $855,369 and had $870,643 in the bank. She had put nearly $300,000 of her own money into the race, and it will be interesting to see if the June 30 report reveals an additional investment of personal funds.

Both candidates were on the air in the run up to the primary but have been dark since. According to Grassley’s ad:

VARIOUS PEOPLE: “Tightwad. Penny-pincher. He's frugal. Blunt. Straight-talking. One of us.”

ANNOUNCER: “Chuck Grassley visits every county every year to stay in touch. He's a farmer and a senator. He'll do what needs to be done. He's just like Iowa. Chuck Grassley works, and he never forgets he works for us.”

In Conlin’s ad, she says, “I'm Roxanne Conlin. Taking on the special interests has been the cause of my life. Like taking on the big banks, to help family farms at risk of foreclosure. As a prosecutor, I took on corrupt politicians, and corporations who violated the public trust. I'm running for U.S. Senate to take this fight to Washington. Fight for relief on Main Street, not more bailouts for Wall Street. Because the special interests have had their turn. Now, it's our turn.”

Grassley is well-liked, and hasn’t given voters many reasons to replace him. In 2006 and 2008 when the political environment was tilted heavily against Republicans, Grassley may have been vulnerable to charges that he has been in office too long and was part of the problem plaguing Washington. Those arguments are not likely to be successful in the current environment and voters may well see him as part of the solution.

This race has barely started, and Conlin’s profile and personal wealth make it worth watching. For the time being, though, it is in the Solid Republican column.

Billboard Blowup: I wonder what the North Iowa Tea Party is thinking now. First the group put up a billboard in Mason City that compared President Obama to Adolph Hitler. Then, people got ticked off and it took down the billboard after about a week. Now, Democrats are using the billboard as a way to get Democrats fired up and donating. Do you think that's what the tea partiers had in mind?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Obama Compared to Hitler in Iowa Billboard

(Courtesy: Associated Press)

Hitler and Obama: The North Iowa Tea Party has paid to put up a billboard in Mason City. What do you think of it? Fair comparison: Adolph Hitler vs. Barack Obama? Or is that going too far? Jason Clayworth of the Des Moines Register found tea party leaders seem to be divided on this. Some of the tea party members seem to be the most vocal critics of the president. Does a billboard like this help their cause or make them look like fanatical crazies? What do you think?

Babywatch 2010:
I'm getting a lot of emails (thanks for those by the way). So, here's the latest on our son. He is due July 29th. He kept trying to arrive early about six weeks ago. But thanks to the docs at Mercy in Des Moines, meds (who knew a blood pressure medicine could stop contractions for women with pre-labor issues?) and bed rest, my wife has been able to keep the little man from arriving early. I am ready to meet him. So, we are ready when he is ready:) Thanks again for all your kind messages and phone calls.

Christie Vilsack for Congress

Congressman Christie: Last year, I talked with former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack about her interest in running for the U.S. Senate to take on Republican Chuck Grassley. She said she was qualified and did nothing to knock down the talk that she might do it. Two weeks later, she said she wouldn't. And Democrats (many of them) united around Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin as the candidate. The Vilsack-Conlin battle would have made for quite a primary, wouldn't it?

Jonathan Martin of the Politico just put out a story that he talked with Vilsack about running. His take is that she has interest in running for Congress in 2012. By that time, Iowa leaders will have redistricted the state and it's likely the state will lose 1 of its 5 current seats in Congress. Iowans need to start having more babies (I'm doing my part any day now:). Martin doesn't get into this in his piece, but Vilsack, I assume, would run in a Des Moines district. Running back home in Mt. Pleasant could put her up against the incumbent Democrat Dave Loebsack, unless he gets knocked off this November. But in Des Moines' 3rd district (if that is what it still is), she could step in and replace 7-term Congressman Leonard Boswell, who by that point would be 78. That's providing he doesn't get knocked off this November. Vilsack would definitely bring in a big name to the race. It would be especially interesting if her husband, Tom, would still be U.S. Secretary of Agriculture at that point.

But she hasn't run for anything before. Would that matter to you?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bonnie Campbell Joins Des Moines Firm

New Name: Former Iowa Attorney General and Democratic Candidate for Governor Bonnie Campbell has a new job. She has joined a firm that now has a mouthful of a name. Former Iowa Department of Economic Development Director Mary Lawyer is also back in town after working in Dubuque. Here's the release:

Link Strategies Announces Expansion, Will Open Government Relations and Public Affairs Firm August 1

Former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell and Iowa Department of Economic Development Director Mary Lawyer joining new firm.

(Des Moines, Iowa) – Link Strategies, an Iowa-based political consulting firm announced the creation of an additional firm specializing in government relations, reputation management and public relations.

Bonnie Campbell, who served as Iowa Attorney General from 1990-1994, will join the group as Partner. Jeff Link, Matt Paul and Brad Anderson will also be shareholders in the new firm. Mary Lawyer will serve as Managing Director and will lead the firm's business development and state government relations operation.

Link, Paul, Campbell and Anderson Public Strategies will occupy office space adjoining existing Link Strategies space in the historic Northwestern Hotel Building at 321 East Walnut. Link Strategies will continue to provide clients with political consulting such as general campaign consulting, referendum and issue campaign management and political research.

"The new structure will provide our clients with a unique and value-added level of services in the public arena," said Jeff Link. "Our partnership will focus on collective expertise in public policy, media and legal affairs." Link will serve as Managing Partner of both companies, maintaining his practice in national and international political strategy.

Brad Anderson has been a partner at Link Strategies since May 2008. He got his start in politics working on former Sen. John Edwards’ successful 1998 campaign for U.S. Senate. He later became Sen. Tom Harkin’s research director in 2002 and went on to serve as communications director for Governor Chet Culver during his 2006 campaign. He stayed on as Gov. Culver’s communications director in his official office until leaving in 2008 to serve as Barack Obama’s Iowa Communications Director for the general election. Brad has helped develop communications strategies for corporate clients ranging from Verizon to NextEra Energy

Bonnie Campbell joins the firm as Partner and will provide counsel regarding legal, regulatory and reputation management issues. Campbell was the first woman to serve as Attorney General in Iowa. President Bill Clinton later appointed her the first Director of the Office on Violence Against Women in the US Department of Justice. She is a member of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Mary Lawyer is a well-respected business and government leader in Iowa. She served in various management roles in state government, ultimately serving as Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. She also served as President of the Downtown Community Alliance in Des Moines and most recently served as Director of Business Development at Conlon Companies. In her new role, Mary will lead the firm's state government relations practice and provide clients regulatory and business development counsel.

Jeff Link is an Iowa native and graduate of Drake Law School.
His work in campaigns has dovetailed with his experience in government. After successfully managing Senator Tom Harkin’s 1996 and 2002 re-election campaign, Link also served in Washington, D.C. as Harkin’s Chief of Staff. Jeff also oversaw the successful campaigns of Vice President Al Gore’s Iowa caucus and the election of Congressman Bruce Braley. In 2008, Link served as a media consultant to the Obama Presidential Campaign, coordinating branding, all paid media and polling in 25 states, including seven battleground states. His work now focuses on international political clients and public affairs consulting with leading companies such as Microsoft and The Princeton Review.

Matt Paul began his career as a reporter in Cedar Rapids. In 1994, he joined the staff of Mayor Larry Serbousek, serving as the city’s primary spokesperson. He was asked to continue in that role after the election of Mayor Lee R. Clancey. In 1998, he joined the Administration of Governor Tom Vilsack serving in several key positions including Press Secretary, Communications Director and Senior Advisor. In 2007, he joined Link Strategies. Paul managed the successful re-election campaign of Senator Tom Harkin in 2008 and has provided strategic communications and public affairs counsel to clients including IBM, Alliant Energy, Abraxis BioScience and other industry leaders in healthcare, energy and finance. Paul will focus on public affairs at the federal level at LPCA Public Strategies.

Gingrich in Iowa, CBS and CNN merger

Professor Gingrich: We had an early start to the day to go see a presidential candidate. Can I call Newt Gingrich that yet? Gingrich headlined a breakfast fundraiser for Iowa 3rd District Republican Congressional Candidate Brad Zaun at 7:30. Zaun seems to be one of those high energy campaigner-guys, so it probably wasn't just the morning cup of joe that had him all over the stage at the Des Moines Christian School in Urbandale. But many in the room (200 or so) were more likely there to hear from the former U.S. Speaker of the House Gingrich. Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson has audio of the event.

I asked Gingrich his role. He said, "maybe teacher...or a coach". Gingrich is traveling across the country (he said he hopes to get to all 50 states) to help teach campaigns had to run an effective operation. He said he will decide next February or March whether he will run for president. I think he has made similar comments before. But it does seem like he is looking at a run a little more seriously than he did in '08.

Gingrich was one of the lead architects of the Republican revolution in 1994 with his Contract with America. I asked how he would compare 2010 with 1994. He said, "the economy is much worse now. Obama is much more radical than Clinton. The country is much more worried. And I think Republicans by September have to have a good, positive message. I think they have a real chance to win a decisive victory."

He added part of the winning strategy should be focusing on the economy, not exclusively, but at least showing how, tax policy, etc. comes back to the economy. He said, "The underlying theme should be what do we need to do to get America back to work and what do we need to for jobs. And I think for most Americans, that's the heart of our current dilemma."

I did hear a commercial pitch 4 or 5 times (unintentional? intentional?) where he mentioned "Obama's secular, socialist machine." The name of his book? "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine."

50 dollars to get into the event. The menu looked like fruit and muffins. No sign of any fig "newt"ons. Yeah, I know. That was lame:)

In case you were wondering... one of his staffers said Gingrich would be making an appearance at the Iowa State Fair. Thinkin' about 2012 are you, Mr. Speaker? Maybe he just wanted to try those fried Twinkies.

Fair Vote: Dallas County Republicans think residents are putting their pennies where their support is. It's a pocketful of votes, but Republicans fared well in their vote at the county fair. Speaking of...word has it that Channel 13's Cast Your Kernel will return to the Iowa State Fair. Stay tuned for details on that one:)

CBS/CNN: NBC has MSNBC and CNBC. ABC has ESPN. CBS has? Perhaps, CNN. There's a report the two could do some type of news-sharing operation to save money, cut jobs, etc.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Palin Gives Money to Branstad, Jim Gray for Hire

Palin Power: Many have speculated what Sarah Palin's plans are. She became John McCain's running mate in 2008 and lost the election. She quit her job as governor and now makes a ton of money speaking, touring and selling books. But does she really want to give up that lucrative life to run for president in 2012? Here's a story from the Associated Press that may make a few people think she is thinking about a presidential run and an Iowa caucus appearance:

Sarah Palin has put her money where her mouth is, contributing at least $87,500 to candidates she's endorsed in the last few months. But the financial disclosure filed by her political action committee also shows Palin spending more than $210,000 on consulting. Candidates receiving money from Palin, for the period covering April 1 to June 30, include Terry Branstad, who's running for governor of Iowa, and Joe Miller, who's challenging Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Each received $5,000.
Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, has been mentioned as a possible contender for the 2012 presidential nomination. She hasn't ruled out a bid.
Gray for Hire: Did you watch that LeBron James debacle on ESPN this weekend? Funny, everyone's complaining about it. But it sounds like an awful lot of people tuned in. But how about Jim Gray? He reportedly worked out the whole deal with LeBron's people and ESPN and made sure he was the one doing the "interview". What? What was this an infommercial? Did Gray replace the ShamWow! guy? I mean, after all, that dude did have that embarrassing arrest on charges of beating up a hooker in Tampa. So maybe they do need a replacement.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vander Plaats for Governor

Campaign Calls: I don't know who is making them yet, but apparently someone or some group is calling up Iowans and asking how they would vote in a three-person race for governor. Three person, you say? Yep, Terry Branstad, Chet Culver...and drum roll, please...Bob Vander Plaats. That's not the only question. A person who received the call told me the caller also asked whether he would vote to retain supreme court judges who are up in November and his opinion on same-sex marriages. Hmmm...sounds like someone is still thinking about running as an Independent, doesn't it? I checked out, what had been Vander Plaats' campaign website. It is still up, but I don't see anything new on it. So, no hints on another run there.

(Update: I wanted to clarify what one person who received the campaign call said. He said the caller asked which of the three people he would support for governor and the caller wanted to know if he would vote to retain the supreme court judges whose term expires in light of the court's decision on same-sex marriage.)

LeBron Loonies: Let me get this straight. LeBron James leaves Cleveland for a ton of money and for the chance to play with two other studs to try to win an NBA title in Miami. Afterwards, some genius Cleveland fans set fire to their LeBron merchandise. Some people even got arrested for their stupidity. Good move. That'll show LeBron.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fiegen Criticizes Conlin

Fiegen's Feelings: The media have made a lot about whether defeated Republican candidate for governor, Bob Vander Plaats, will support the winning Republican candidate for governor, Terry Branstad (me included). But here's another less-covered defeated candidate who doesn't seem to be doing much to support the victorious primary candidate. Tom Fiegen is a former Iowa Democratic lawmaker from Clarence who lost to Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin in the June primary for the U.S. Senate. Fiegen sent this out on Twitter:
Will somebody explain to Roxanne Conlin how unemployment benefits work and the real impact of the US Senate failure to extend the benefits?
Here is the last statement I can find from Conlin attacking Republican Senator Chuck Grassley:

Wells Fargo Workers Don’t Worry Grassley

I was saddened today to learn that Wells Fargo will be laying off 1,000 Iowa workers. I know this is devastating news for these men and women and for their families.

It is outrageous that many of these jobless may face the same circumstances nearly 60,000 Iowans face today as they are being forced off unemployment because Chuck Grassley refuses to extend this benefit to them. This limitation on benefits is cruel and unnecessary.

And the blame for this cruel treatment lies at the feet of Senator Charles Grassley and his decision to ignore the men and women of Iowa who are now struggling to provide food for their families, keep a roof over their heads, and provide medical care.

What is even more shameful is that Senator Grassley had no problem supporting the bailout for banks like Wells Fargo and other banks, which enriched their executives. The federal debt was not important to him then, when Wall Street was in trouble. But when average Iowans are hurting, the Senator has turned his back on them not once, not twice, but three times in recent weeks.

Shame on Senator Grassley. He needs to go back to Washington, stop playing games with people’s lives, and help the Iowa families who elected him.

Cards Crumble: I'm watching my St. Louis Cardinals humiliate themselves again in the final game of the series with the Colorado Rockies as I write this. It's easy to pile on them while they play so pitiful. But this has been going on all season. They just have so spirit, no pep, no energy. They don't seem to have any fun. What's the problem? They don't seem to have much happiness in the dugout. I watched Albert Pujols joke, laugh and smile with opposing baserunners while he played first base. I don't think I saw him smile in the dugout with his teammates the entire series. What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Roberts for Reynolds, Price All-Star

Party Man Carroll's Republican Representative Rod Roberts is showing his devotion to the party. Roberts, the former candidate for governor, sent out a message on Twitter today to let people know he would be part of a stop in Carroll with the party's lieutenant governor candidate, Kim Reynolds. Roberts had pledged to support the ticket after Branstad chose not to pick him to join it. Here's what he sent out.

@RepRodRoberts: join me at Pizza Ranch in Carroll at 3:45 p.m. tomorrow for a town-hall with Republican LG Kim Reynolds!
I still haven't heard anything from Bob Vander Plaats. Is he ready to help the team yet? Or will he make a run without the party? It seems like I keep writing the same thing about this topic. But doesn't he have to do something, announce something, sometime soon? Or can he just keep letting this play out for a while longer?

I'm an All-Star Not quite. But David Price is. And congrats to the man who shares my name. Price is the uber-talented lefty pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. He just got named to his first All-Star game. And he has a pretty decent shot at starting the game, too. Quite an honor. But the David Price, baseball All-Star, should have been I. Oh, that's right. I didn't have any talent.(:
Something about Nothing. Thanks to Don McDowell, the press secretary for Iowa Republican Senate Leader Paul McKinley, for tweeting this today about the show about nothing.

@Historyday: On this day in 1989 "Seinfeld" debuted on NBC with the original name of "The Seinfeld Chronicles".

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Culver vs. Vaudt, Culver and Branstad

Where is Richard Dawson when we need him?

It's time to start...the family feud. Well, maybe not family. How about the Foe Feud: Big Lug vs. the Watchdog?
State Auditor Dave Vaudt's office had been working on an audit trying to find out how the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division has been spending its coin. The audit found evidence the office bought fancy leather chairs, an art collection, bicycles and more. The Des Moines Register broke the story on it. And the auditor's office, which hadn't released the audit yet, accused Governor Chet Culver's office of leaking it to the Register's reporter. The reporter and the gov's office both say that didn't happen. The auditor said he will now revoke the gov's privileges of getting advanced copies of audits before they go public. The gov's office criticized the credibility of the auditor. What the heck is going on here?

I Love a Parade. The politicians were all over the parade schedules this weekend. Some made it through. Some got washed out completely. The two candidates for governor showed up at the same parade in West Des Moines. Here they are in action:

Friday, July 02, 2010

Huckabee TV Show, Pence Coming to Iowa

HUCK TV--Former Republican Presidential Candidate and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is keeping his day job and his weekend job and taking on another day job. Huckabee hosts a daily radio report and a weekend Fox tv show. Now he is testing out a daily tv show to run on some Fox stations. Huckabee recently pointed out he should be considered the front-runner for his party's nomination in 2012. But should we really think he would want to give up all this cash for another presidential run? Or will all this extra face-time (and voice-time) get him the additional exposure he needs to become the nominee? Would you watch his daily show? Do you think he should run for prez again?

HENCE, IT'S PENCE--Huckabee may have some competition, though, for the 2012 attention. Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence is coming back to Iowa this October. Pence has been here before, of course. But how many Iowans know who he is?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Democratic National Convention

Meet Me in St. Louis: Yeah, I know this really shouldn't matter, but it does! The Democrats are down to their final four cities for the host site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The finalists are St. Louis, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Charlotte. Sure, Charlotte is a nice city. I'm sure Cleveland is fine, too. I've been to Minneapolis numerous times and it's a cool place. Actually, it's a cold place. So, that just leaves St. Louis, right? It's the obvious choice. And apparently, the prez looooves Missouri.

Oh, yeah, and it's my hometown:) Actually, Belleville, Illinois, is my hometown, but it's a suburb of St. Louis. So, come on, Dems, make the right choice! Republicans have already chosen Tampa as their 2012 site. That's where my wife's family lives. So 2012 could be great. I could do two road trips, cover the conventions and see family...bring it on.

Funk for Supervisor

Sups Need the Funk? Dave Funk, the Iowa Third District Republican candidate, hoped the tea party would fuel him into Congress. He started the campaign as a relative unknown. And he finished third in the primary. Could he now be focusing on another office? Last weekend, Doug Gross, the GOP's failed 2002 candidate for governor, announced on Channel 13's "Insiders" program Funk is looking at a run for the Polk County Board of Supervisors against Democrat Tom Hockensmith. I asked Funk if that were the case. Here is what he emailed me:
"I am currently focused on closing out my campaign and helping my friend Brad Zaun in our shared goal of defeating Congressman Boswell. Not to mention catching up on the lost time with my wife and family from the last year."