Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Palin and JJ Spoiler

Sarah Surprise: O.K, be honest. Did you really think Sarah Palin would be coming back to Iowa so soon? She skipped the Iowa State Fair. Maybe she didn't need to come there to soak up some Iowa lovin' like the lesser-knowns, Tim Pawlenty or Rick Santorum, did. But after a year of trying, the Republican Party of Iowa landed Palin as the featured guest for its annual fundraiser, The Reagan dinner next month. Freedom is the theme. Wanna bet we hear Palin say that word a few (dozen) times? Palin would seem to be just about the party's "biggest get". Chairman Matt Strawn didn't want to make a prediction about how many seats would sell. But he did say the visit could be a signal that Palin is now paying attention to Iowa and she is here for the whole party and not just endorsing one candidate in a particular race. Here are the particulars:

DES MOINES – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today announced Governor Sarah Palin will be the Party’s special guest at the upcoming Reagan Dinner: A Salute to Freedom.

“The Iowa GOP is pleased that Gov. Palin is traveling to Iowa to join the battle to return principled, conservative leadership to Iowa,” said Chairman Strawn. “Our economic and personal freedoms are under attack in Washington, DC and Des Moines. I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Gov. Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond.”

The Reagan Dinner: A Salute to Freedom will take place the evening of Friday, September 17 in Des Moines. The exact time and location will be announced closer to the event. Tickets for the Reagan Dinner are $100 each, or $1,000 for a table of eight.

Strawn noted that while the former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential nominee is popular among Iowans, the current economy is challenging for many Iowa families who may wish to attend. That is why the Iowa GOP is offering Iowans an opportunity to volunteer through any of its ten statewide Victory Centers in exchange for a ticket to the Ronald Reagan “Salute to Freedom” Dinner. For additional details regarding volunteer opportunities, Iowans should contact their local Iowa GOP Victory Center in: Ames, Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Iowa City, Marion, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Urbandale.
Spoiler Alert: The Iowa Democratic Party kept us guessing with the choice to head its fall fundraiser, the Jefferson Jackson Days Dinner. The party officially announces the guest tomorrow. But it has been sending out clues on Twitter for days. Pretty clever, huh? We figured it out, did you? I'll write who the guest in a bit. If you really want to be surprised, then quit reading:) Here were the clues:

■This year’s JJ speaker was born in New York City in the mid 20th century.
■This year’s speaker has never attended or spoken at our Jefferson Jackson Dinner.
■This person made a cameo appearance on-screen in a blockbuster hit of the 90s.
■This year’s keynote speaker is an avid sports fan.
■This year’s speaker is NOT Rudy Giuliani. Seriously. More than one person guessing is more than one person too many.
■This year’s speaker has never worked for Saturday Night Live.
■This person is married with one son.
■This person served six years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
■This person has held local, statewide and national office in their public career.
■This person endorsed Hillary Clinton in her bid for President in 2008.
■This person is married to a federal judge.
O.K., maybe this will help:

He is Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell. In case you didn't remember his movie cameo, he played the mayor in Tom Hanks' movie, "Philadelphia". (I'm trying to find a clip of it on-line, but I haven't found one yet:)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rees Endorses Boswell

R Picks D: Monday, retired architect Mark Rees announced he is endorsing Des Moines Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell. Boswell's campaign had promoted the event with this headline:

Boswell to Hold Press Conference with New Republican Endorsement
Some Republicans had questioned how "Republican" Rees really is/was. He was a registered Democrat when he filed to run as a Republican in Des Moines' 3rd Congressional District. He ran as the most left/most moderate (whatever words you want to use) candidate of the 7 Republican choices and finished 4th in the June primary. He said he has voted for both parties in the past. Today, Rees didn't say anything bad about Zaun. His toughest words, perhaps, were when a reporter asked if Zaun was too extreme for the party and Rees responded, "yes". Rees just said he respects how Boswell handles himself and the two have agreement on certain issues.

And this came to me from the Republican Party of Iowa:

Good morning,

If you’re covering the Rees/Boswell endorsement today, here is a quote from Executive Director Jim Anderson, for your consideration:

“Voters should take Mr. Rees’ comments with a grain of salt, given in recent years he has been a registered and active Democrat, participating in their primary as recently as 2006.”
There's speculation this race could be Boswell's toughest since he first got elected to Congress back in 1996 when he beat former GOP State Chairman Mike Mahaffey. Boswell had by far his closest race then when he won by just 1%. Will what Rees has to say sway any Republicans/Independents Boswell's way? Does holding the announcement show how tough the Boswell campaign knows this race will be?

Here are a few reactions to the announcement:

Zaun Campaign Reaction to Rees Endorsement

Please attribute this statement to Robert Haus, campaign spokesman for Brad Zaun:

"When he announced his bid for Congress, Mark Rees said, 'I am proud to say these (nominating) signatures were collected one door and one handshake at a time. The people I met were eager to share their opinions and ideas, but most of all their frustration with career politicians and business as usual in Washington.' theiowarepublican.com, March 18, 2010.

Mark has now thrown his support behind a 14-year, career politician who embodies 'business as usual' in Washington, DC. Apparently the frustrations Mark heard at the door have been forgotten for political expediency.”
Must See Recorded TV: How do you watch your favorite tv shows (I mean, besides the Channel 13 news, especially on the weekends, which you never miss. Right?!) A new survey shows barely half of Americans watch live television shows. The others watch their shows only after they record them on their Tivo or DVR (do people still use VCR's?). I can't imagine this is good news for advertisers. How do you watch? I must say we DVR almost all our favorite shows. Of course, now with a baby in the house, it's really the only way to do it. Other than watching my beloved Cardinals on tv (although, they're not quite as beloved right now), I don't know hardly any programs I watch live. News and sports may be the exceptions. And I'm noticing we watch more of our news recorded than we ever have.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Branstad's Plan, Major Garrett New Job

Terry Vilsack: I followed former Governor Terry Branstad's campaign stop in Pella this week at Vermeer Manufacturing (since his campaign chair, Mary Andringa, is the President/CEO there, I doubt it was tough to get a room:). A few things stood out. First, part of his economic plan is called IGNITE. It's an acronym. I assumed I would use it on the air during my tv story and then say what each letter of IGNITE represented. I figured I would spend 10 to 15 seconds of my minute-and-a-half long story on that. Oops. Good luck with that. Check out the mouthful of words behind the word, IGNITE and try to say it in 10 seconds!

Initiate contacts with employers in all sectors of Iowa’s economy to visit with them about barriers that exist which are hindering their ability to grow and what programs are available from the state to assist them in employing more Iowans. The state needs to be proactive and demonstrate initiative in addressing barriers to growth.
Gaining new job-creating opportunities by contacting prospective employers and site selection professionals, be it across the country or globally.
Negate the declining image that employers nationwide have developed of Iowa over the past 4 years and let them know Iowa is once again open for business.
Involve existing Iowa employers in a peer-to-peer global marketing campaign. The best sales pitch comes not from a state employee, but from a business owner who can testify to why Iowa is a great place to bring their business.
Target immediately industries where Iowa is poised for growth (such as advanced manufacturing, value added agriculture, insurance and financial services).
Energize the Iowa economic development community with strong, committed leadership from the Governor and a focused mission. That means reconnecting with site selection professionals.
Branstad said he would focus on four things: advanced manufacturing, value-added agriculture, biotechnology and insurance and financial services. Sounded a bit familiar to me. Those were the same four areas the man who succeeded Branstad as governor, Democrat Tom Vilsack, concentrated his efforts. Branstad also released part of his plan (yes, another acronym) called INET, the Iowa Network of Entrepreneurial Transplants. It includes going after former Iowans who have started or worked for companies outside the state. Vilsack also did something similiar. I don't recall it having an acronym.

Mizzou Man: Fellow University of Missouri alum, Major Garrett, of Fox news just made a high-profile job change. He will now write for the National Journal. Sounds like he felt the drama.

Getting Sleepy: My son, Hayden, turns five weeks old tonight. Perhaps, he could give us a present: sleep through the night. At this point, we would take a solid four straight hours of shut-eye. He slept one time for that long, but it wasn't overnight. He is usually up after 2 or 2 1/2 hours of sleep at a time. This gets easier, right?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cast Your Kernel Results

Candidates of the corn. Here's a picture I took of the final corn collection from our 2010 Cast Your Kernel vote at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Corn Count: It's become our own little tradition at the Iowa State Fair. And if you think the kernels count, Iowa Governor Chet Culver is in a world of hurt come November. Although, of course, our Cast Your Kernel booth is completely unscientific. I don't know that a contest where you drop a corn kernel into a jar would make the most respected pollsters nod in approval, but could the results at least show how Iowans are feeling now?

In our contest, Culver lost to his republican challenger, former 4-term Governor Terry Branstad, by 40 points, 70 to 30%. In the five years of our polls, we have never seen a result so lopsided. The margin of victory for Branstad is more than twice as much as I've seen recently in any "more traditional" poll. Here were the totals:

Culver 10,741
Branstad 26,832

Total kernels cast: 37,573

I did hear from a few people who alleged the whole thing was rigged. Are you serious? I just had a newborn. Do I really have the energy to dream up some kind of fixed system? I may be from Illinois, but I'm not from Chicago (Just kidding, Rahm and Mr. President!)

I did go back through the blog from previous year's contests. Here's what I found:

2006 (this is from my blog):

Hillary Clinton 33% (Love her or hate her, Iowans know who she is)
John Edwards 33% (Still popular. And how many ladies told me he's hot?)
Tom Vilsack 13% (At least he did better than the Des Moines Register's Poll)
John Kerry 9% (2004 is a long time ago)
Evan Bayh 3% (One guy called him Birch)
Russ Feingold 2% (Who is he, many asked us)
Joe Biden 2% (1988 is really a long time ago)
Tom Daschle 2% (Will he really run?)
Wesley Clark 1% (The General could be in for a quite a battle)
Mark Warner 1% (The new democrat is a new name to many Iowans)

The repubs:

John McCain 24% (Met many friends at the fair)
Rudy Giuliani 22% (9/11 made him strong among "r's")
Condoleeza Rice 22% (Never been a politician. Many here say she should)
Newt Gingrich 10% (Contract with America still pretty strong)
Mitt Romney 9% ("R" in a "D" state at home; middle of the pack here)
Bill Frist 6% (The doc may need some more patients)
Mike Huckabee 2% (Lost a ton, hasn't found a ton of support)
George Pataki 2% (Stands tall among peers, falls short in poll)
George Allen 1% (Is the Hall of Fame coach more known here?)
Sam Brownback 1% (So much for sharing the midwestern love)

2007 (from my blog post)

35,448. That is a lot of corn kernels. That's how many kernels you dropped in Mason jars at the WHO-TV "Cast Your Kernel" Booth at the Iowa State Fair (click here for full results). Pretty simple idea (unless you liked it, and then I'll tell you I spent endless hours planning this complicated plan). All you had to do was drop a kernel into the jar of the person you thought should be the next Prez. 11 republicans, which became 10 after Tommy Thompson went back to the land of cheese and beer, and 8 democrats.
I wish I knew the demographic breakdown of fairgoers. But democrats clearly had their ears. 21,438 people voted for the dems. 14,010 went for the repubs.
Hillary Clinton took the top kernel honor. Her jars held nearly a third of the democratic vote. It was interesting to listen to people talk about her. You seem to love her or you hate (Hate is such a strong word. Let's say strongly dislike) her. Couples clashed. Friends fought. Strangers sparred.
John Edwards surged a bit, it seemed, after he and his wife visited the Fair. But he couldn't catch Clinton. Barack Obama urged the crowd to help him out when he stopped by our booth. He still lost to Clinton by more than 2,200 kernels. Bill Richardson finished a solid fourth (he seemed pleased when he stopped by to check out his totals). Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, your jars still have an awful lot of room in them. Detassling on a 105 degree late July day may feel a lot easier than the field you'll have to plow through to win the Caucuses.
On the republican side, Mitt Romney hardly broke a sweat despite the sweltering weather. He took more than 36% of the vote. Mike Huckabee bounced a bunch after the Straw Poll. He went from fourth to second. Rudy Giuliani slid from second to third. Fred Thompson finished fourth. Tom Tancredo took fifth. The Ron Paul Revolution put him sixth. Sam Brownback stood seventh. John McCain, Duncan Hunter and John Cox could have easily shared a jar. A few months ago, who would have thought McCain could only top two near-complete unknowns?


Obama 50.92%
McCain 49.08%

Total kernels cast 48,865

(Note: In 2009, the station did a contest involving Iowa sports teams.)

Edible Egg: Or in our case, the probably-shouldn't-eat-them eggs. I was a bit surprised to find we had the recalled eggs in our fridge at home. (Thanks, honey:) Maybe I should have paid more attention to the stories we aired!

Comeback Cardinals: My St. Louis Cardinals seem to have found some offense, along with three straight wins. I still don't think their offense is good enough. Here's a crazy idea: trade for the Cubs' 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez. He has a player option for next year (at nearly $15 million). He could decline it and choose free agency. But even if he would take the money, the Cards will likely save $8-9 million for next year since they traded Ryan Luckwick (he would have likely been awarded that salary after arbitration this season). And they won't have pitcher Brad Penny's nearly $9 million contract. In other words, the Cards can afford it. And they need the offense. I don't know whether the Cubs would even trade him, especially to a division rival, or what they would want in return. But, hey, I don't care about that. It's not my money. And it's not my farm system. Just give me some offense!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Culver, the Optimist

Covering Culver: Iowa Governor Chet Culver is down by double digits in every poll I have seen in months. But in a story I saw today, the gov said he "couldn't be more optimistic."

In fact, I saw two stories involving Culver. Stateline.org wrote one with this heading, "

Iowa weathers recession, but its first-term governor, Chet Culver, may not

And MSNBC's First Read called Culver's re-election race against former 4-time Republican Governor Terry Branstad the 4th most likely to see a takeover this November.

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** First Read’s Top 10 governor takeovers: If it’s Friday, it’s time for another Top 10 list. Today, we look at what we consider the Top 10 states where a party will win/lose control of a governor’s mansion. The number in parentheses is our last ranking (from June).
1. Wyoming (1): Matt Mead won the crowded GOP primary on Tuesday, and he’s the overwhelming favorite to replace outgoing Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D).
2. Kansas (2): Hello, Gov. Sam Brownback (R).
3. Tennessee (3): It’s Bill Haslam (R) vs. Mike McWherter (D) to replace term-limited Gov. Phil Bredesen, and the moderate Haslam has the edge.
4. Iowa (7): When Gov. Chet Culver (D) is admitting to mistakes, as he did earlier this week, you know he’s in deep trouble. The GOP nominee is ex-Gov. Terry Branstad (R).
5. Michigan (6): Another GOP moderate, Rick “One Tough Nerd” Snyder (R), won the GOP nomination, and he’s leading in the polls by double digits against Virg Bernero (D).
6. Hawaii (5): Democrats have a crowded field for the Sept. 18 primary – led by ex-Rep. Neil Abercrombie -- but they’re the favorites here.
7. Oklahoma (4): One thing we know will happen: The Sooner State is going to elect its first female governor -- either Mary Fallin (R) or Jari Askins. Fallin is the favorite in this red state.
8. Pennsylvania (8): Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) is the clear front-runner to succeed term-limited Gov. Ed Rendell (D).
9. Connecticut (9): Democrats got their stronger candidate, ex-Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D), who faces off against former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley (R).
10. Minnesota (10): Ex-Sen. Mark Dayton (D), who narrowly won this month’s Dem primary, probably has the edge against Tom Emmer (R), but the race to replace retiring Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) could be closer than people think.

*** First Read’s Gubernatorial ratings:
Toss Ups: CA, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, NM, OH, WI, RI, VT
Lean Democrat: CT, HI, ME, MD, OR
Lean Republican: IA, MI, OK, PA, TX
Probable Democrat: CO
Probable Republican: AL, AZ, ID, SC, NV, TN
Solid Democrat: AR, NH, NY
Solid Republican: AK, KS, NE, SD, UT, WY

Neither article seems likely to fill Culver supporters with much optimism for their chances this fall. Culver this week at the Iowa State Fair said again and again his office had made mistakes. It was an interesting piece of "strategery" that had some Democrats telling me they had no clue what he was trying to do. They felt the whole thing smelled of desperation. But could it actually endear Culver to Iowans who may warm up to the "Big Lug" after hearing him admit mistakes and pledging to govern better because of them? Or is this too little, too late?

Zero Coke Zero: I'm not a huge caffeine-chugger. Usually, one Coke Zero is my limit for the day. But since my son was born a month ago, I have doubled my dose. I have too many friends who went caffeine crazy, so I'm always a bit leery sucking down too much of it. Today, I tried to see if I could go the whole day with no caffeine at all. With Hayden sleeping only about 2 hours at a time still, boy, that was a mistake! I finally gave in around 5pm and not a minute too soon! Surely, he'll start sleeping longer soon, right? Please, tell me, yes!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Branstad Ad

ABC's of Ad: Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is out with his new ad, but, perhaps, he should have had someone spell-check it first. Grab your red marker and see if you can find the mistake:

Did you find it? Here's a hint: it's in the first 5 seconds of the ad. It's also a good thing this ad isn't about education. It's about jobs. However, it's unfortunate because Branstad told me many of the young people featured in the ad were students of his at Des Moines University where he was president. It's curious to me how this mistake makes it on the air. But, then again, it's probably the same thing viewers say when they see a mistake on the news, too. In case you haven't caught on yet, the sentence in the ad should be "it's about jobs", not "its about jobs".

Thanks to my 7th grade teacher at Belle Valley, Mrs. Birdsell, for all her spelling lessons:)

Chuck Culver: Speaking of oops... at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday, I stopped by the Iowa Democratic Party's booth to hear what Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine had to say. He admitted the climate out there with voters is "tough". He also said the Iowa caucuses will stay #1 when the DNC meets in St. Louis Thursday and Friday this week. About a presidential visit to Iowa before the election, he said, "I'm sure he will be here".

Kaine also talked about how important Iowa is to the president. Kaine said, "He's going to be really invested in the success of great candidates like Chuck, Roxanne, your state treasurer." Um, who's Chuck? I'm pretty sure he meant "Chet", as in Chet Culver, since Culver was standing right next to him. Perhaps, he was thinking of Chuck Grassley versus Roxanne Conlin in the U.S. Senate Race? The gov can't get any respect right now...

And what is going on at our Cast Your Kernel booth at the fair? Since day one, Branstad has been leading Culver in our "just for fun", head-to-head match up by about 72% to 28%. Yes, I know it's not scientific (sorry, just had to use it's one more time, although, it's an accident this time:). But does it show the feelings out there right now about what is going on? Perhaps, the fairgoers lean right, but Branstad's winning by 44%. Could that be right?

See you at the fair.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2012 Presidential Poll

Presidential Politics: Let's face it, 2012 won't be like the election of 2008. In 2008, both parties had major battles for the nomination...the double-open primaries. But, unless something crazy happens, and President Barack Obama decides to voluntarily become a one-term president (yes, I know, Republicans say he WILL be a one-termer, regardless of what he wants), only the Republicans will have the race to watch here. So, the question is, who will be in this race? It's now August 16th and the visitors to the Iowa State Fair this year numbered just a few: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and next week former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. The big name carryovers from the last cycle, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have made no stops to eat something on a stick and have no plans to come this week (at least as far I know).

The Iowa Republican website, wwwtheiowarepublican.com (If you didn't know about this site, I guess you could have already figured out by the site's name that it's the Iowa Republicans' website. But, oh, well!) released its 2012 caucus poll. The top 2 finishers probably shouldn't surprise much: Huckabee then Romney. But how about Gingrich as the number 3? And Palin, with all the national attention she gets for virtually every word she writes, speaks or Facebooks, finished fourth? Texas Congressman Ron Paul (Revolution!) rounds out the top 5. TPaw, the next-door neighbor, was no where to be found in the top finishers. Did you think he would do better? Do Iowans still have no idea who he is? At some point soon, for his sake, don't they NEED to know who he is for him to be competitive in 2012? Here are the results:

Mitt Romney - 18

Tim Pawlenty - 1

Sarah Palin - 11

Haley Barbour - 

Ron Paul – 5

John Thune - 1

Rick Perry - 

Mike Huckabee - 22 

Newt Gingrich - 14

Rick Santorum - *

Other (DNR) - 1

Won’t participate in the caucuses (DNR) - 1

Don't know (DNR) – 23

Refused - 2

Saturday, August 14, 2010

President Goes for a Swim

Presidential Pic: The national media were waiting for President Barack Obama to take the plunge. If he didn't get into the Gulf of Mexico during his family vacation in Panama City, would Americans freak out and think the water isn't safe after the oil spill (undoubtedly prodded my media stories)? The prez reassured everyone it's o.k. to get in the water as he and his daughter, Sasha, went for a dip. According to the Politico, the White House made sure of the exact image it wanted. Reporters and photographers weren't around to shoot the swim. A White House photographer shot it and then released it to the media. No more six-pack ab shots of the prez apparently for the magazine covers. Some website called the Video Surf blog includes what it calls the Top 9 Shirtless Heads of State, in case you consider that news.

Sweet Corn: I'm embarrassed to admit it, but today was my first visit to Adel's Sweet Corn Festival. Boy, I had missed a lot. Free sweet corn. Gallons of butter. Shakers filled with salt and pepper. All you can eat! We took my mother-in-law, Bonnie. She had a blast, too. She fits in just fine here in Iowa. And I won't even mention all the butter she spilled on her white pants:)
Every town needs to embrace a festival that best shows what it and its people are all about. Adel seems to have figured it out.

Too bad I look like such a stooge eating my four ears today.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Boswell Race Makes MSNBC Prediction List

November Madness: March Madness in college basketball gives us the 64-team field (well, it used to be 64 before they started trying to add an extra team or two in there). MSNBC has its own field of 64 out today. It's First Read's prediction of the most likely seats that could flip from one party to the other in Congress this November. One Iowa race makes the list, albeit near the end. 3rd District Congressman Leonard Boswell, the Democrat, vs. Urbandale State Senator Brad Zaun, the Republican. You have to scan down the list to find it.

1. TN-6 (D-Open-Gordon retiring)
2. LA-3 (D-Open-Melancon running for Senate)
3. LA-2 (R-Cao)
4. DE-AL (R-Open-Castle running for Senate)
5. AR-2 (D-Open-Snyder retiring)
6. NY-29 (D-Open-Massa retired)
7. NM-2 (D-Teague)
8. OH-1 (D-Driehaus)
9. IN-8 (D-Open-Ellsworth running for Senate)
10. MD-1 (D-Kratovil)
11. KS-3 (D-Open-Moore retiring)
12. IL-10 (R-Open-Kirk running for Senate)
13. OH-15 (D-Kilroy)
14. HI-1 (R-Djou)
15. VA-2 (D-Nye)
16. VA-5 (D-Perriello)
17. MS-1 (D-Childers)
18. CO-4 (D-Markey)
19. PA-7 (D-Open-Sestak running for Senate)
20. PA-11 (D-Kanjorski)
21. FL-8 (D-Grayson)
22. NY-24 (D-Arcuri)
23. MI-1 (D-Open-Stupak retiring)
24. NH-1 (D-Shea-Porter)
25. SD-AL (D-Herseth-Sandlin)
26. NV-3 (D-Titus)
27. ND-AL (D-Pomeroy)
28. PA-3 (D-Dahlkemper)
29. FL-24 (D-Kosmas)
30. NH-2 (D-Open-Hodes running for Senate)
31. MI-7 (D-Schauer freshman)
32. TN-8 (D-Open-Tanner retiring)
33. TX-17 (D-Edwards)
34. AL-2 (D-Bright)
35. CA-3 (R-Lungren)
36. AZ-8 (D-Giffords)
37. OH-16 (D-Boccieri)
38. AR-1 (D-Berry)
39. SC-5 (D-Spratt)
40. WI-7 (D-Open-Obey retiring)
41. TX-23 (D-Rodriguez)
42. NY-19 (D-Hall)
43. FL-2 (D-Boyd)
44. WA-3 (D-Open-Baird retiring)
45. KY-6 (D-Chandler)
46. FL-25 (R-Diaz-Balart)
47. CA-11 (D-McNerney)
48. IN-9 (D-Hill)
49. IN-2 (D-Donnelly)
50. NC-8 (D-Kissell)
51. IL-11 (D-Halvorson)
52. IL-14 (D-Foster)
53. PA-15 (R-Dent)
54. WA-8 (R-Reichert)
55. WV-1 (D-Open-Mollohan lost in primary)
56. AL-5 (R-Open-Griffith lost in a primary)
57. VA-11 (D-Connolly)
58. IA-3 (D-Boswell)
59. AZ-5 (D-Mitchell)
60. AZ-1 (D-Kirkpatrick)
61. MO-4 (D-Skelton)
62. MI-9 (D-Peters)
63. OH-13 (D-Sutton)
64. NY-20 (D-Murphy)

Reds Seeing Red: Thanks, Brandon Phillips. Phillips is the 2nd basemen for the Cincinnati Reds who ran his mouth dogging my St. Louis Cardinals just as the series began. At the time, the Reds lead the division over the Cards. Phillips mouthed off, the two teams had a brawl on the field and the Cardinals swept the 3-game series. You think the loudmouth regrets spouting off now? I would love to have had a camera in the Reds locker room after the Cards finished off the series. I bet Phillips wasn't so cocky then to his teammates. Perhaps, they had a few choice words for him after his words of stupidity looked to energize the Cards into the 3-game butt-kicking. Thanks, Brandon. Here's the fight in case you need a distraction today at work.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Kurt Warner, Dancing with the Stars

Star Player, Star Dancer?: Former Iowa Barnstormer Kurt Warner is done in the NFL. But, according to reports, he is taking his moves to ABC's "Dancing with the Stars". The show wrapped up its 10th season and enjoyed its best seasonal ratings yet. Athletes have joined the cast before, but Warner would be the first former quarterback. Politicians have tried, too. Former House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay and former Cincy Mayor Jerry Springer twinkled their toes. Just for fun, on Channel 13's "The Insiders", I asked our analysts which Iowa politician they would like to see on the show. Republican Mike Mahaffey went with Kim Reynolds, the Republican's nominee for lieutenant governor. Democrat Matt Paul went with western Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King.

Whose moves do you want to see on the dance floor? How about a Chet Culver-Terry Branstad dance off? Chuck Grassley vs. Roxanne Conlin? The president? How about Joe Biden? Just make sure they leave his microphone on the whole time!

The Weekend: My St. Louis Cardinals had an inspiring 9th inning comeback Saturday night, only to screw it up in the 10th. They are two games back from the Reds now. Who would have predicted that? My son peed (is it pee-d? the word just doesn't look right) on his aunt. Twice. My wife's grandma accidentally starting brushing her teeth with hemorrhoid cream. And someone ran into my truck and took off. Quite a weekend.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Grassley vs. Conlin Race

Grassley Probably: It may not be David Letterman's Top 10, but MSNBC's First Read puts out a top 10 list on Fridays on some of the November races. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley's race is in there today. Democrats seemed to have high hopes to knock off the Republican Grassley, who has held his seat in the senate since 1980. But Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin isn't winning over the prognosticators, at least not yet. First Read doesn't include the Grassley-Conlin race in its top 10 or in the additional 9 races it is watching right now. Here's the breakdown, which calls the race "Probable Republican" (only the second safest category for Grassley):

*** First Read’s Top 10 Senate takeovers: If it’s Friday, it’s time for another First Read Top 10 list. Today, we release our monthly look at what we consider the top Senate seats to change parties in November. The number in parentheses is our ranking from last month.
1. North Dakota (1): Republican John Hoeven (H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A) is coming to Washington.
2. Delaware (2): Republican Mike Castle (R) remains the front-runner for Joe Biden’s old Senate seat. But he has a primary challenge on Sept. 14.
3. Arkansas (3): Democrat Blanche Lincoln didn’t really get a bump after her surprise run-off victory against Bill Halter, and Republican John Boozman is the clear favorite to knock off the incumbent.
4. Indiana (4): It will be interesting to see if Brad Ellsworth (D) is able to make political hay out of his proposal to completely bar senators from later becoming lobbyists. That, of course, is a dig at front-runner Dan Coats’ (R) past lobbying work. This is the race for Evan Bayh’s (D) seat.
5. Pennsylvania (6): Joe Sestak (D) hits the campaign trail with Bill Clinton on Tuesday. Does that wake up his (so far) sleepy general-election campaign vs. Pat Toomey (R)?
6. Florida (7): In almost every poll, Charlie Crist (I) remains in the lead in the three-way contest for this GOP-held seat, and C.W. points to him caucusing with the Dems. The Aug. 24 Meek-Greene primary could end up playing a VERY big role in how many Democrats support Crist in November.
7. Illinois (8): Right now, this race is 50%-50%. The question is what will be the next shoes to drop for either Alexi Giannoulias (D) or Mark Kirk (R), both who have proven to be flawed nominees. This is the race for the seat that Roland Burris (D) currently holds.
8. Nevada (5): Once near the top of our list, this race continues to drop. And there’s really only reason why: Sharron Angle (R). Harry Reid (D) remains vulnerable, but Angle continues to hurt her cause (example: her jaw-dropping interview with FOX’s Carl Cameron).
9. Ohio (10): Rob Portman (R) has MUCH more money, and is probably the better candidate, but Lee Fisher (D) continues to lead the race to succeed George Voinovich (R).
10. Washington (9): Patty Murray and Dino Rossi are on air and fully engaged on the politics of bringing home the bacon. One man's pork is another woman's jobs….

Others to watch (in order): Wisconsin, Kentucky, Colorado, Missouri, California, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Connecticut, Louisiana

*** First Read’s Senate Ratings: Also today, we’re unveiling our 2010 Senate ratings:

Pure Toss-up: Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Toss up/Finger-on-Scale D: Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin
Toss up/Finger-on-Scale R: Missouri
Toss up/Finger-on-Scale I: Florida

Lean D: California
Lean R: Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire

Probable D: Connecticut, West Virginia
Probable R: Delaware, Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Iowa

Solid D: Hawaii, Maryland, New York (Schumer), New York (Gillibrand), Oregon, Vermont,
Solid R: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah
So, what do you think Democrats? How will Conlin pull an upset here?

Tiny Tweeter: Actress (is she an actress any more?) Tori Spelling opened a Twitter account for here 3-year-old son, Liam. Her 3-year-old? Really? What will he say? Hey everyone, I just filled my pants? Seriously, isn't this going a bit far? It must be tough trying to stay relevant.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Vander Plaats, Independent Candidate for Governor?

VP Staying Out: If Sioux City business consultant and 3-time Republican candidate for governor, Bob Vander Plaats, is about to announce he is running for a fourth time, it would surprise the Republicans I talked with today/tonight. Vander Plaats has said previously he would consider running as an Independent. He released a second brief news release tonight saying he would have an event Friday morning at 10:30 at the Iowa Judicial Courts Building. Here's the release:


Bob Vander Plaats will hold a news conference in front of the Iowa Judicial Building, located at 1111 E. Court Ave., at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Aug. 6.

Here are the two biggest questions I kept hearing: After losing three times already, where would he find the new support he needs to win a race for governor this fall? Where would he find the money that it would take?

Perhaps, he is going to announce that he is endorsing Republican Terry Branstad's campaign? If that's the case, Branstad's campaign has said nothing about a joint appearance tomorrow. Surely, Branstad would stand alongside Vander Plaats if he is getting the endorsement, right?

Perhaps, the location is a clue, since we are just days removed from the California court ruling against Proposition 8, the state's ban against same-sex marriage. Could Vander Plaats be helping to lead an effort against the Supreme Court justices whose ruling legalized same-sex marriages in Iowa? Voters decide in November whether to retain them (that includes Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Michael Steit and David Baker).

What do you think?

Mauro Money: Iowa Secretary of State Mike Mauro released a report on his office's work over the past year. The budget keeps getting cut since Chet Culver became governor (he used to be sec. of state before becoming gov). But the office report shows it is accomplishing more with less. In light of that, will taxpayers think the budget-whacking has actually been a good thing? Here's the release:
Spending is down, revenue is up in the Secretary of State’s Office

Des Moines – The Office of the Iowa Secretary of State spent fewer taxpayer dollars, brought in more revenue to the state, processed more transactions and employed fewer people in the fiscal year that ended June 30, Secretary of State Michael A. Mauro reported today in his annual report to the citizens of Iowa.

Secretary Mauro reported that his office spent $3,523,448 in Fiscal Year 2010, down from the $3,806,932 spent in Fiscal Year 2009. At the same time, Mauro reported that in the latest fiscal year the office took in $5,886,594 in fees which is up from $3,107,163 a year earlier. Mauro also reported that his office now employs 30 full-time workers, down from 38 a year ago and from 35 when he took office.

"I'm proud to report that we have continued to be responsive and accessible to all Iowans and Iowa businesses while operating with fewer people and less money," Mauro said. "We've dug in and done more than our share while handling hundreds of thousands of transactions for Iowans."

The Office of the Secretary of State oversees elections as well as processes business filings. Mauro noted that his office saved the state $300,000 to $500,000 annually by bringing the state's voter registration database in-house. He also said the office worked to save communities more than $1 million by working with the Legislature to move school elections to every other year. In addition, he noted, during his term he worked with the Legislature to set an election calendar that consolidates dates of special elections, again saving communities a significant amount of tax dollars. Mauro further said that his office has secured $3,316,103 in federal money in the past three years that was used to help make polling places accessible to all eligible voters, maintain Iowa’s voter registration database, and train local election officials.

"We have fought – and continue to fight – to create real savings for Iowa taxpayers while generating increased revenue for the state treasury," Secretary Mauro said. "This annual statement to Iowans demonstrates that over the past three years we've been able to continue to provide high quality services with fewer resources."

The following is a summary of key statistics over the four most recent fiscal years.

BUDGET (state appropriation plus refunds and reimbursements)
Fiscal 2007: $3,164,839
Fiscal 2008: $3,418,868
Fiscal 2009: $3,806,932
Fiscal 2010: $3,523,569

Fiscal 2007: $3,463,357
Fiscal 2008: $6,180,315
Fiscal 2009: $3,107,163
Fiscal 2010: $5,886,594

July 1, 2007: 36
July 1, 2008: 38
July 1, 2009: 38
July 1, 2010: 30

2007: 77,020
2008: 170,413
2009: 67,210
2010: 140,686 (first six months only)

Vander Plaats for governor

4th Time is a Charm?--Is Bob Vander Plaats about to announce he will try for a fourth time to become Iowa's governor? Vander Plaats ran in 2002, 2006 and 2010 for the Republican nomination but failed. I just received this cryptic email about an announcement Friday. What do you make of it? Do you think he will announce that he is running as an Independent? Or will he start some movement because of the Prop 8 decision in California where a judge struck down the same-sex marriage ban? Something else? Here's the release:


Bob Vander Plaats will hold a news conference on the Statehouse grounds (at a location to be determined) at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Aug. 6.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


I-JOBS: Ah, fun with numbers. I suppose it's only appropriate to re-enter the blog by talking about a topic we chatted about before I left on paternity (pictures of my new little boy are on the way:). Governor Chet Culver's office and campaign have claimed his $875 million I-JOBS bonding plan has created thousands of jobs. Although lately, the Culver camp is counting those jobs at different times during the year.

It all started yesterday when the governor's office sent this out to say how little the state's debt per person is, despite the I-JOBS spending. The Moody's report, to which the governor's office cited, however, didn't count the I-JOBS debt load in its report. Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson wondered aloud whether Culver just made "another oops".

Last month, Culver's office claimed I-JOBS created between 7 and 9,000 jobs. Since then, both the office and the campaign seem to have settled on 7,000. However, during last month's release, the office cited numbers in June. Since then, the time frame has changed a few times. Here's part of the release from last month: (I've highlighted the time frame differences.)
Governor Chet Culver today announced that 7,000 to 9,000 Iowans were on I-JOBS project payrolls in the month of June as a result of his I-JOBS initiative.
Yesterday, Culver's campaign sent out a statement claiming I-JOBS employment creation but in a different month. Here's part of it:

According to a report issued by the Governor's Office, more than 7,000 Iowans are working on I-JOBS projects in July alone.

Today, Culver's office claimed the jobs have been created this year, not just in one month (whichever month it might be) in comments to the Sioux City Journal.
We just wish Rep. Paulsen was as concerned with job creation in Iowa and his own legislative district as he is with job creation in South Dakota," Culver spokeswoman Polly Carver-Kimm said in an email. "Rep. Paulsen has tried to kill more than 7,000 new jobs the i-JOBS program has created this year in Iowa."
Boo Birds: What the heck are my St. Louis Cardinals doing? Offense was an unexpected weak spot this year. And the team doesn't do anything to help the offense. Instead, it trades Ryan Luckwick, major league baseball's top run producer the past two seasons. Hmmm.... I sure hope I'm missing something or else my team will be missing something...the playoffs!