Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Super Tuesday

O.K. Wednesday: So...the day after everyone tries to figure out who the winner is from Super Tuesday in the Republican presidential race. Mitt Romney? Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum? Or no one? Romney won more votes, more states and more delegates. So that makes him the big winner. Eh? It seems hard to say that when once again, Romney just can't seem to convincingly show the country he has this thing. He failed to win Tennessee and Oklahoma, which could have helped him quiet some of this talk that he can't win in the South. Having said that, he has to be relieved that he won Ohio. It was far from a dominant win. But it does help push back Santorum's efforts to find another surge.

Santorum did well enough last night to keep going. But the delegate math sure makes it seem unlikely he can win the nomination barring a monumental Romney collapse. How much do you think he wants Newt Gingrich to drop out? Romney relies on far more money, both his own and the pro-Romney SuperPAC, to beat Santorum. What if he didn't have access to all that cash and what if he didn't have the name identification a candidate does after running for president for the better part of the past 6 years?

Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. Other than that, he had another pitiful night. How much longer can he keep this up? I suppose as long as as the pro-Gingrich SuperPAC keeps writing checks, Gingrich can stay in the race. But even Gingrich himself will have a tough time putting his own spin on history to show how he is a viable possibility for the nomination. Although, it seems as long as he stays in, he benefits Romney and stops Santorum from getting his 1-on-1 shot at the top spot.

And Ron Paul? As each week goes by, Paul shows he has less and less chance to be relevant. The race has gone through nearly half the states now and Paul has zero victories. Wow. Not a single state. Caucuses were supposed to be his thing because primaries weren't. But nothing's really working out so far. Maybe he just enjoys the time sharing his views with the eager young voters he still brings out at events and keeps his name out there until his son, Rand, launches his campaign 4 years from now?

Super Tuesday just didn't seem so super for any of the candidates. And because of that, the race keeps going.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ohio Shootings, Open Primary Season, Latham vs. Boswell

Monday Happenings:

Those shootings at the Ohio school this morning really take on a new meaning now that I'm a parent. What a horrifying feeling that must be to get the news someone started shooting at your child's school. Horrifying.

Primary season is officially underway in Iowa. The Iowa Secretary of State released news of the open period this morning. Primaries always get everyone's juices flowing. A potential battle between fellow current Republican statehouse representatives, Annette Sweeney and (U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's grandson) Pat Grassley, in northeast Iowa could be interesting, eh? Redistricting put the two together.

4th District Republican Congressman Tom Latham sent out a release this morning to say he was the first to file for a federal office. He tweeted this:

Filed 10,000 signatures for IA3 ballot qualifying in every county. Filing the first hour of the first day – true grassroots organization
Latham takes on current 3rd District Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell, thanks to redistricting. Since the new district is almost evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and Independents, it will be fun to watch the two sell Iowans on how they're "independent-minded". Latham's good friends with Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Boswell gets some help raising money from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next week.

Wonder how each one will try to use those relationships as fodder in the campaign?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Best Athletes in Des Moines Metro

Best of the Best: Forget the Oscars. Let's bring on the winners for the best athletes in Iowa this past year.

And the envelope please:

DES MOINES, IOWA – The Des Moines Area Sports Commission (DMASC), under the umbrella of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau (GDMCVB) has announced the winners of the Central Iowa Sports Awards, recognizing athletic excellence with honor in 2011. The winners were named Sunday, February 26, 2011 at Forte Banquet and Conference Center.

Awards winners are:


Athlete of the Year

Bryan LaHair, Iowa Cubs

Event of the Year

Hy-Vee Triathlon 5150 US Championship


Game of the Year

Iowa State University vs. Oklahoma State - Football

Team of the Year

Iowa State University - Football

Female Athlete of the Year

Allison Landwehr – Iowa State University Volleyball

Male Athlete of the Year

Griffin Lentsch – Grinnell College Basketball

High School

Game of the Year

Martensdale St. Marys vs. Coon Rapids - Baseball

Team of the Year

Ames – Swimming and Diving

Female Athlete of the Year

Caitlin Ingle – Southeast Polk Basketball

Male Athlete of the Year

Kane Seeley – Perry Wrestling

Lifetime Achievement

Jerry Pezzetti – Ankeny Football

This year’s top high school male and female athletes were also recipients of the first-ever West Bank Central Iowa Sports High School Male & Female Athlete of the Year scholarships. The scholarship is to be used to pay expenses billed by the college or university of the recipient’s choice.

Central Iowans cast their votes for individuals and teams who have pursued athletic excellence with honor in 2011, within a 75-mile radius of Principal Park. The Central Iowa Sports Awards’ Honor Committee reviewed the nominees and asked the public to vote for their top choices via the DMASC website in February. From those votes, the Honor Committee named the following winners.

Video of the awards banquet will air on Mediacom Connections Channel 22 on a date that is still to be determined.

The Central Iowa Sports Awards’ Honor Committee is made up of: The Des Moines Register Sports Editor Bryce Miller, ABC5 Sports Director John Walters, KCCI NewsChannel 8 Sports Director Andy Garman, WHO-TV Channel 13 Sports Directors Keith Murphy and Zach Borg, Multimedia Journalist at Clear Channel Radio Joe Quinn and Iowa Sports Connection’s Mike Rickord.

Brewer Endorsement, Branstad Endorsement, Iowa Lobbyist

Sunday Extras: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer endorsed Mitt Romney this morning on NBC's "Meet the Press". It's a safe pick with the polls showing a nice double-digit Romney edge there over Rick Santorum. Are Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul still running? Where are they?

While Brewer went public with her public, some other govs are staying quiet, including Iowa's Terry Branstad. Branstad stayed neutral before the caucuses. I wondered if he would get in as the race progressed. Still nothing from the gov. Politico included Branstad in its look at other govs who have stayed out of the race so far.

MTP host David Gregory called out Romney for ducking his show this entire cycle. We know the feeling here. I interviewed Romney once the entire caucus cycle. Even Hillary Clinton, who kept most of the Iowa media at arm's length much of the 2008 campaign, started giving us access down the stretch. Not the case with Romney. I interviewed him one time in the days before he won and then lost the caucus.

My colleague, Dan Winters, has a pretty interesting piece on the Channel 13 News at 10 tonight. One of the statehouse's most highly-sought after lobbyists gave Dan pretty remarkable access as she walked the halls of the building. I'm frankly surprised Dan got the access he did. The more people willing to do that, the better the understanding we all have of our government.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

King-Vilsack U.S. Senate Race

Crystal Ball: The black helicopters are now circling over Iowa. Conspiracy theorists are skipping right past the 2012 election and looking at the 2014 battle. Kathie O writes in this morning's Des Moines Register that western Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King offered up quite a juicy tidbit: he predicts former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack may be running a two-part campaign. She is running to beat him in the newly-drawn 4th Congressional District. But she's also looking to beat up King so that her husband, the former governor-turned failed presidential candidate-turned U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack can run for Senator Tom Harkin's senate seat. I have heard rumors about Harkin not running for his seat again. But I've heard nothing from the man himself.

I've also not heard anything from Tom Vilsack about a senate run. From everyone I talk with, Vilsack seems quite happy in his current post. Having said all of that, it sure would make for an interesting battle, regardless of what happens this November. If Christie Vilsack loses to King but pushes him hard, can she damage him a notch or two if King wants to run for Harkin's seat? Of course, she could really hurt his chances, if she gets the big upset and beats him this November.

I don't know we can rule out another name in this, though. What about 1st District Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley. Braley seems to be stepping up his Des Moines presence. Last I checked, Des Moines wasn't in his current or his new congressional district. Hmmm....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Governor's Dinner Guest List with Chinese Vice President

Who's Coming to Dinner: Politicians, family members and big company higher-ups make up most of the list of dinner guests for the state dinner Iowa Governor Terry Branstad threw for Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping last Wednesday. I had requested a copy of the list last week. Today, I received it. It shows an official count of 552 people for the dinner in the statehouse rotunda.

Guests included: the governor's family, former Governor Bob and Billie Ray, 2 Iowa Board of Regents, lawmakers (not their spouses), and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (not his wife). The list also included business leaders who represent the Who's Who of big business: Vermeer, Cargill, John Deere, Pioneer, Musco Lighting, the Principal Financial Group and Winnebago.

Here's the full list.

$1 million winner announced

Quit digging around the glove box or under the seat cushions in the couch, that missing $1 million Iowa lottery ticket isn't really missing.

Here's the release from the Iowa Lottery:

Adair Man Claims $1 Million Powerball® Prize

Steve Petty Loses Sleep Before Claiming Big Prize at Lottery Headquarters Monday

DES MOINES, Iowa – After making several stops for lunch Saturday afternoon, an Adair man decided to purchase a few Powerball plays for Saturday’s drawing and ended up winning a $1 million prize.
Steve Petty, 58, has been staying at the Guthrie County Hospital in Guthrie Center with his mother, who is 95 and recently took a bad fall. Petty’s siblings had been taking turns staying by her side and Petty tried to stop for some lunch before heading back to the hospital Saturday.
“After all the restaurants I went to were closed, I told my sister-in-law, ‘I’ll just run up to Casey’s to get a pizza.’ I waited and waited and said, ‘Give me three quick picks,’” Petty said. “I went home, started working on tax clients and said to myself, ‘Let’s see what happened with the lotto.’”
Petty had purchased three Powerball plays from Casey’s, 100 N. Fifth St. in Guthrie Center, and it was the second play that won him the big prize.
“I saw those numbers so quick, it was unbelievable. I usually have to check my numbers 20 times just to make sure I didn’t win anything,” Petty said with a laugh as he claimed his prize Monday afternoon at the Iowa Lottery’s headquarters in Des Moines.
Petty called his sister, who asked her daughters to try to figure out how much he’d won.
“They called me and said, ‘Steven, you are a millionaire,’” he said. “And I said, ‘Are you sure?’”
Petty’s neighbors urged him to sign his ticket and have it validated. Signing a lottery ticket ensures that no other person can claim ownership of it.
“They scolded me for having an unsigned ticket,” he said.
Petty said he plans to spend his money wisely by planning for retirement and possibly purchasing a newer car.
Petty, who is an organist and tax preparer, said he was astounded that his sporadic lottery playing won him such a big prize.
“I invested maybe $22 on lottery tickets in 2011,” he said.
Petty’s ticket matched the first five numbers but missed the Powerball to win a $1 million prize in Saturday's drawing. Before $2 Powerball debuted on Jan. 15, Petty would have won a $200,000 prize.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” he said. “That makes this fortuitous.”
Players can increase their prizes with the Power Play (except the jackpot). The cost is $1 per play. In the new $2 Powerball game, players who choose the Power Play and match five white balls win a $2 million prize.
The winning numbers in the Saturday’s Powerball jackpot drawing were: 23-28-50-56-59 and Powerball 5. There was no jackpot winner for the drawing.
Since the Iowa Lottery's start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.8 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for state programs.
Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.

Prize amount: $1 million
Federal withholding: $250,000
State withholding: $50,000
Net amount: $700,000

Sunday, February 19, 2012

$1Million Lottery Winner

Any chance someone bought me a ticket in Guthrie Center, Iowa, and just hasn't told me yet?

I received this from the Iowa Lottery tonight:

$1 Million-Winning Ticket Purchased In Guthrie Center For Saturday Drawing

DES MOINES, Iowa – Someone who bought a Powerball ticket in the west-central Iowa community of Guthrie Center won a $1 million prize in Saturday night’s drawing.
The $1 million-winning ticket came close to winning it all, matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball in Saturday’s drawing. The winning ticket was purchased at Casey’s, 100 N. Fifth St. in Guthrie Center. The winning numbers in Saturday’s $50 million Powerball drawing were: 23-28-50-56-59 and Powerball 5.
“There is a lot of excitement right now for our first millionaire from $2 Powerball,” said Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich. “We are encouraging everyone who played Powerball for Saturday night’s drawing to check their tickets carefully for winners.”
Caitlin James, a clerk working at the Casey’s store on Sunday, said the location had not yet heard from anyone who might be the big winner.
This is Iowa’s first $1 million winner since $2 Powerball began in January. The new version of the game debuted Jan. 15, sporting several new features to give players more value. The game’s starting jackpots have doubled to $40 million and the jackpot is now easier to win. But perhaps the most important change for the person who bought the winning ticket in Guthrie Center is that the game’s second prize for matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball has increased from $200,000 to the current $1 million cash.
“Powerball has delivered on what we thought it would do: create more millionaires for our players in Iowa,” Rich said.
No one won the jackpot in Saturday’s drawing, so the big prize climbs to an estimated $60 million for Wednesday.
Players in $2 Powerball still choose their first five numbers from a pool of 59, but the group of numbers in the Powerball pool has shrunk from 39 to 35, producing better overall odds of winning a prize. The Power Play® option is still available for an extra $1 per play.
Since getting its start in April 1992 in 15 states with jackpots that started at a guaranteed $2 million, Powerball has grown into one of the world’s biggest and most recognizable lottery games. Today Powerball is played by 44 lotteries across the country with drawings at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Since the Iowa Lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.8 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for state programs.
Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Iowa Poll Shows President in Trouble in Iowa

Poll Problems: If the election were held tonight (and, of course, it isn't), President Barack Obama wouldn't have a good night in Iowa. The Des Moines Register just released its new Iowa Poll with head-to-head match ups between the president and the 4 Republican challengers. Three of them beat the president. Ron Paul beats him by 7%. Rick Santorum tops him by 4%. Mitt Romney, the target of Iowa Democrats for months, wins by 2%. The poll shows it's only Newt Gingrich the president can handle. And he does more than that, by clobbering Gingrich by 14%.

How does it happen? Your teenagers support Paul. Your dad supports Santorum. Your rich uncle backs Romney. And I haven't figured out from the poll who's left to stand up for Gingrich.

The surprises here?...I'd say Paul for many. Sure, he had a decent night in the Iowa Caucuses, placing 3rd. But he's done very little in the national caucus/primary contest so far. Yet he fares the best of the pack in Iowa in this poll. Hmm. He may not dominate with Iowa Republicans in the poll but he wins over Independents and some Democrats. Republican establishment-types don't think much of him. But sooner or later, they're going to have to figure out he is able to win over the young people like he does. The Ron Paul Revolution lives.

Santorum is fairly strong here, too. His lasting power in the race should help the Iowa Caucuses' credibility, too, although it might help if you forget about the part when the former state party chair said Romney won.

Romney hangs on to a slim lead over the president. Of course, Romney's been running for president the better part of the last 6 years, at least. He just couldn't convince Iowa Republicans he was the overwhelming choice for the job. That has continued on into the rest of the states. And this poll shows it lingers here, too. What will it take?

Not much to say about Gingrich. Iowans once liked him. Now they've dumped him like last week's leftovers. Nearly 2/3rds of Iowans view him unfavorably. A salad at the Iowa State Fair is more popular.

What about the president? He's more disliked than liked. And you'll even hear Republicans say he's a likable guy. Iowans are o.k. with him on his handling of foreign affairs. But they're far less than pleased on the economy. Far less. Looks like the president has some work to do in Iowa. A steadily improving economy could help. And no doubt some of his fall in the polls could be the result of 2 years of constant attacks from Republicans candidates. But this is the state that launched him to the White House. Wanna bet we see more of him in the months ahead?

Iowa 2012 will be a battleground just like Iowa 2008.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Iowa Woman Charged for Dozens of Neglected Animals

Charges filed: It's been a while since we've had as much response from viewers as we've had about the case of 88 neglected animals in rural Iowa. And now there's word from the Sac County sheriff the woman who had those animals faces all kinds of charges. The woman, by the way, has already relinquished custody of the animals. Local animal shelters have been nursing the animals back to health in the hopes they can be adopted to more caring homes. Here's the release:
The Sac County Sheriff’s Office has filed 88-counts of Animal Neglect all simple misdemeanors and 5-counts of Animal Neglect, serious misdemeanors against Mary Jean Brodersen age 44 of Kiron, Iowa. The charges stem from the January 25, 2012 seizure of 87 dogs and one cat from her farm place located at 3975 Dean Ave, Kiron, Iowa in Sac County. There were five dead animals found during the execution of the search warrant.

All surviving animals have been turned over to various animal rescue shelters and are available for adoption.

A Sac County Magistrate Judge has ordered Brodersen to appear for an initial appearance later this month..

All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Menu for Vice President Xi

Soup's On: Iowa Governor Terry Branstad let out a few of the details earlier this week, but this morning his staff released the full menu for the state dinner tonight at the Iowa Statehouse with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. The menu is all Iowa. It includes bacon, corn and beans, of course. 650 people on the invite list, according to the gov's office. That includes state lawmakers, Iowa business and community leaders and Xi's 160-person delegation.

“A Taste of Iowa Menu”
Wednesday February 15th, 2012

Passed Canapes
B.L.T. Bites (Bacon, Lettuce $ Tomato)
Smoked Trout w/Midwest Cranberry Compote

1st Course
Edamame & Corn Salad
Carrot~Ginger Terrine, La Quercia Prosciutto Rosette &
South Union Bread

Main Course
Medallions of Eden Farms Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin w/Cider & Green Peppercorns & Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin w/Demi Glaze & Onion Ring Maytag White Cheddar Stuffed Twice Baked New Potatoes
Curried Butternut Squash Sauté

Crème Apple Pie Cupcake w/ Iowa Maple Syrup Frosting
Maytag Blue Cheese w/ Iowa Honey drizzle
Mini Iowa Sweet Corn Cheesecake

Gong Fu China Green Tea

Pre Dinner Beverages - Peace Tree Brewery Root Beer, Jasper Winery Behind the Shed Red & La Crescent wines , Madhouse Brewery Pale Ale Beer
Wines with Dinner Summerset Frontenac Red & Vignoles White

We would like to thank the Iowa Pork Producers, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Corn Producers and in addition Crème Cupcakes, Eden Farms Pork, La Quercia Prosciutto, Loffredo Produce, Maytag Dairy & Gong Fu Tea

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Presidential Race and 2013 budget

Good Sunday morning. Now that we know how those riveting Maine caucuses turned out, it's time to figure out what everything means (yes, that's sarcasm!). By the way, did you know the Iowa Republican Caucus turnout was nearly 22 times that of Maine? And Maine votes for a week. Interesting.

Mitt Romney got his butt kicked for most of the week. Is there any other way to spin that, despite the Romney people's best efforts? Rick Santorum took the triple-header sweep Tuesday by winning Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri contests. So Romney at least gets to say he won Maine and he won the CPAC straw poll. And no question, he did. However, combine the totals from both of those events yesterday and you get about 9,000 votes. That's it. In light of that, I found a tweet from the Romney campaign a bit amusing.
"Tonight, I thank the voters of Maine. I’m committed to turning around America & am heartened to have the support of so many."
Now, of course, maybe I'm taking this tweet a bit too literally when it reads "to have the support of so many". Is it talking about the entire country? I would hope so, because the campaign would be hard pressed to show the Maine results in any way represent "the support of so many".

Saturday's results at least attempt to change or redirect the narrative with Romney that, despite running for president for the past 6 years, he still can't seem to win over the majority of his own party. We will have a few weeks until the Arizona and Michigan contests. But what, if anything, can Romney do to really get conservatives on his side? He tries to use the word, "conservative", it seems, as much as he can. But if you're a conservative, should you have to keep repeating that word again and again to convince people you are one? Shouldn't they already know from your record?

What happened to Ron Paul? This was supposed to be the cycle that the Ron Paul Revolution went mainstream. Caucuses were supposed to be his thing. While Paul came close in Maine, he still hasn't won a single caucus. Actually, he hasn't won a single state of the first 9, regardless of the form of that state's election. It's getting more and more difficult for Paul supporters to convince traditional Republicans that their candidate can be the nominee. It seems more unlikely with each passing contest.

Santorum had a nice week winning those 3 races Tuesday. But what does he now do with them? He was all over the network morning news shows. He likes to be that "little engine that could". But for him to truly be the Romney alternative, doesn't he need to start showing he can raise the cash and set up the campaign operations to actually win on Super Tuesday, March 6th, when 10 states hold their elections?

And then there's Newt Gingrich. Where was he this week? I still find it hard to believe he'll give up. But he seemed to be no factor at all recently. Without debates and big money, it seems like he will need his hated elite media to keep him relevant, won't he?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Teacher of 2 Victims of Suicide

Students' suicides: It's been a very difficult time for students, parents and teachers in the Johnston school district after two students committed suicide. Our station doesn't normally cover suicides. But these deaths have received pretty extensive coverage. Iowa's 2010 Teacher of the Year has some pretty powerful thoughts on what has happened.

Here is what she had to say.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Big Break

Big Break: Mediabistro TV has a segment called "My First Big Break". I guess mine would be my first real job at KMOX radio in St. Louis. "The Mighty MOX" as they called it back then when it dominated the radio airwaves, was a ratings monster. It also happened to carry the baseball games of my beloved St. Louis Cardinals. My Uncle Ron had given me an old radio when I was in middle school. It only had AM on it. I listened to it in my room. All the time. I didn't know squat about the latest and hottest songs, but I could listen at night to my Cardinals on the AM dial. That was good enough for me.

During college, I interned at KMOX. That internship led to my big break. The news director at the time, John Angelides, liked my work ethic during my internship and offered me a job. It wasn't glamorous to many, I suppose. I still attended college full-time. And I worked the overnight shift, where I wrote news headlines for the talk show hosts. And then later in the morning, I wrote brief traffic reports for the anchors to read. To work side-by-side with some of the people I had listened to for years was incredible.

The most incredible moment was to attend the station's "State of the Station breakfast" at a swanky hotel in downtown St. Louis. I get assigned to a table and who should I see sitting across from me...? It was Jack Buck, the iconic voice of the Cardinals. He was my broadcasting idol. And there he was. He was friendly, charming and full of stories. That has to be my most memorable breakfast ever. And I can't even tell you what I ate. I probably could have eaten the plate itself and not known the difference. One of the most remarkable memories from the breakfast was this...Mr. Buck wanted another refill of his coffee. A woman came over to offer him more. Mr. Buck thanked her and then noticed the woman spoke Spanish. He immediately switched to Spanish and conversed with the woman for a few minutes about her life. Later, he called her over again and handed her a $20 bill. Such a cool moment to witness. Such a cool experience to get the chance to work with him, even if our paths rarely ever again crossed.

NBC's Brian Witness shared his first big break with Mediabistro TV. He talked of maxing his credit cards, going bankrupt and nearly giving up on ever working on tv again. It's a fascinating conversation. He seems very appreciative, as I remain today, for the opportunities life has brought our way.

What's your biggest break in life and what did you do with it?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Resigns

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn released this statement on his resignation:

Strawn to Depart as Iowa GOP Chairman
Des Moines, IA – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today announced he will be stepping down as the state’s top Iowa GOP party official, effective Friday, February 10. Strawn has served as chairman of the Iowa GOP since January 2009. The Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee will be charged with setting the date to elect Strawn’s successor.

Strawn shared his announcement with Iowa Republicans in the following video message. Please click image to view:

The prepared text of Strawn’s message to Iowa Republicans follows below:
January 31, 2012
Dear Iowa Republican:
In December 2008, when I campaigned to serve as your Chairman, my top goal was to make the Iowa GOP a relevant force again in Iowa politics by ushering in an era where the Republican Party returned to winning elections without betraying our conservative principles.
Over the past three plus years, we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We witnessed sweeping Republican electoral victories at all levels. We saw an explosion in new Republican voters with an unprecedented 34 consecutive months of Iowa GOP voter registration gains. We kept the Iowa Caucuses First-in-the-Nation. We broke fundraising records, hosted the largest Republican presidential caucus in history, and for the first-time ever, the Iowa GOP co-hosted three nationally televised presidential debates that were watched by millions. Most importantly, Iowa Republicans accomplished all this and more working together as a team.
Simply put, your Iowa GOP is better off than it was four years ago thanks to outstanding team work. Your Iowa GOP is a relevant force again in Iowa politics. Your Iowa GOP is winning elections with leaders who are advancing our principled agenda. Your Iowa GOP is in a position to re-elect our members of Congress, win an Iowa Senate majority, and make Iowa’s six electoral votes the national battleground in the 2012 presidential campaign.
While the election wins, fundraising successes and media appearances are the aspects of being Chairman that gain the most attention, the most rewarding aspect of my service was the opportunity to travel our state and get to know the people of Iowa. The strength of the rebuilt Iowa GOP rests in the hands of the thousands of committed volunteer activists who give their time, treasure and talents to make Iowa a better place by working to elect public servants who share our values and principles.
The Iowa GOP designs its position of Chairman to be volunteer in nature. But over the past three years I have treated the privilege of serving as your Chairman as a full-time calling. There’s no question the job of rebuilding our party was a huge one, and one to which I committed every minute that was necessary to succeed.
It is only because the Iowa GOP has returned as a strong and relevant voice in Iowa politics that I am now able to evaluate all the competing priorities in my personal, business and political life. The party is strong and has the resources in place for victory in November. Now is the time to transition to new leadership.
Effective February 10, I will be ending my service as your Chairman. For this fifth generation Iowan and Benton County farm kid, serving as your Chairman has been an honor, a privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime.
To victory,

Matthew N. Strawn

Monday, January 30, 2012

Iowa Republican Party Chairman

Updated: Expect this announcement from Strawn this morning

Two Iowa Republican sources tell me they expect Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn to resign soon. Strawn has been under siege from critics ever since the January 3rd Iowa Caucuses. In the early morning hours January 4th, Strawn declared Mitt Romney the winner of the caucuses, despite the fact Romney only lead the count by just 8 votes. Critics questioned how Strawn could make that declaration when he knew the party's official certification process would follow 2 weeks later and frequently that process finds discrepancies in the final count. Although in previous years, the attention was never this focused because the results were never this close.

Days later, word surfaced from a caucus goer in Appanoose County in southern Iowa that the results reported in his precinct weren't correct and the 20 vote total error would actually put Rick Santorum ahead of Romney. Strawn sent out a statement that said the allegations wouldn't change the outcome of the winner. The statement said in part:

“Out of respect to the candidates involved, party officials will not respond to every rumor, innuendo or allegation during the two week process.

That said, Iowa GOP officials have been in contact with Appanoose County Republican officials tonight and do not have any reason to believe the final, certified results of Appanoose County will change the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.”

That statement only infuriated Santorum supporters even more. Then, two weeks later, Strawn decided to give the certified results early to the Des Moines Register, the day before the party said it would release the results. In that story, Strawn seemed to maintain the caucuses had no winner or two winners, depending on how you phrase it. Essentially, there was a tie between Romney and Santorum. If it were possible to anger Santorum supporters even more, Strawn had just done it. They questioned how it was possible for Strawn to declare Romney the winner when he was up by 8 votes, but Strawn refused to say Santorum was the winner when the count showed him up by 20 votes? The next day Strawn held a brief availability with reporters at party headquarters. He declared, under pressure from Republican activists, that Santorum was indeed the winner. However, because of all the confusion, I asked how the media should report this: who won the 2012 caucuses? Strawn responded that that's a question for the media and the pundits to answer.

The caucuses got ripped in headlines across the country. Craig Robinson, the founder of the conservative website,, became the first voice I heard calling for Strawn's resignation. Robinson used to serve as the party's political director. He didn't necessarily blame Strawn for reporting problems in 8 of the state's 1,774 precincts. He blamed Strawn for prematurely declaring a winner, then changing that to a tie and then having to say Santorum won.

I asked Governor Terry Branstad last week whether Strawn should remain as chair. He praised the record turnout and the job Strawn did in such a close race. When pressed, he did acknowledge "mistakes". But he refused to say Strawn should step down.

Now, it appears, according to 2 Iowa Republicans, Strawn will, indeed, resign as activists worry the confusion and embarrassment of the conflicting caucus winner declarations will only fuel those in other states who no longer want to see Iowa's caucuses lead off the presidential nominating process.

Strawn did not respond to messages left for him late Monday night.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bachman Leaving WHO-HD

Big Changes: If you read the Des Moines Register this morning, then you heard the news about the news: John Bachmann will retire from WHO-HD in November. John has been a fixture around this place as much as the carpet. We just don't spill coffee on him as often. Here's the best part of the announcement today...John is retiring but we still get 10 more months of him. I'll save most of my thoughts for his actual retirement after 25 years here and 40 years in broadcasting.

But John's interview with the newspaper gives you some insight as to what we see from him every day. Watch the video interview. It's very personal and very honest. You might be surprised how candid John is. But it's very revealing about the great man he is. And, yes, as you can tell, John has been a very important man to me during my career here. John is a big reason I am still here. He knows how frustration once nearly convinced me to leave Des Moines, but John's wisdom kept me here. I have 3 caucuses and too many memorable other stories to count. But most importantly I have a wife and, now, a son here...everything not possible had John told me what a mistake if would have been to move away. Thanks, John. More to come...

Friday, January 27, 2012

13 pound baby

I can hardly wait for this...this weekend, Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines introduces us to a baby who weighs more than 13 pounds. 13 pounds! I found a story about a 16-pounder born in Texas last year. The story says a Canadian woman once gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 23 pounds. How is that even possible? And that poor mom!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CNN Debate

Another Debate: I had a root canal, and I'm hopped up on Vicodin. But here go my thoughts on tonight's debate anyway!

Glad the live audience is back. Yes, sometimes the audience can get a little too rowdy and the candidates can pander to it. But it's much better when the audience is involved.

Newt Gingrich attacked the moderator. Again. I think the first time, it backfired. Wolf Blitzer came right back at him, not with anything person. Just the facts. Gingrich has ripped Mitt Romney a zillion times for his taxes. Blitzer tried to ask about it and eventually got Gingrich to have to answer it. Evil Elite Media 1, Gingrich 0.

I'm not sure how Gingrich spins this night as a win. He's probably had the best debates collectively compared to the rest of the field. But tonight wasn't one of them.

Romney stayed aggressive on Gingrich and finally seemed to be able to handle questions on his wealth. The guy is crazy rich and has been for years. Why his staff hadn't better prepared him for these questions is beyond me. I mean, he did run 4 years ago. Didn't someone see this coming as a potential issues. Having said that, Romney should have done himself some good over the course of the night.

Rick Santorum found a way to get involved in the middle of things despite getting placed by debate organizers "on the wing", his familiar debate position. His continued back and forth with Romney on Massachusetts' health care mandate could have scored him some points with voters. Although, Santorum may still have bigger issues, again, convincing people he can win. He is way back in Florida and from what CNN said in the post-debate, he isn't running tv ads in Florida. So that's a tough combination to have a good primary night on Tuesday.

I often have a tough time figuring out Ron Paul's performances in debates. His anti-war talk puts him at odds with so many Republicans. There wasn't a lot of focus on war in this debate.

Since this debate happened in Florida, I'm surprised they didn't talk more about social security and Medicare reform.

Props to moderator, Wolf Blitzer. He stood up to Gingrich without looking like a blowhard. But he also wisely kept silent at times letting Gingrich and Romney and then Romney and Santorum have extended conversations back and forth. I really like those exchanges. I think they can offer a lot of viewers.

O.K., that's it. Time for another dose of pain-killers!

89 Animals Rescued in Iowa

Disgusting: Pet lovers find our story this week on what happened to 88 dogs and 1 cat in Sac County, Iowa, gross and sad. Channel 13's Andy Fales did a story on this last night. The animals look pitiful. Groomers are working today to try to clean them up. Authorities say they were kept in tiny, filthy cages and their fur was matted with their own waste. It's one of those stories that makes you have to look away. But it also makes you wonder how this happened? Is this a puppy mill breeder who cared about making money instead of taking care of the animals? Is it someone who got in over his head taking care of animals? Is it something else? No matter the reason, and let's hope we find the real reason behind this soon as the criminal investigation continues, we should be glad someone went to the authorities after discovering the dogs' conditions. Who knows what would have happened to the animals? The Animal Rescue League needs help in the animals' recovery. The organization told us it needs high quality, high protein food, especially since some of the dogs are pregnant.

Here's the latest release from Sac County. It's brief but it's all we have so far:


This is Andy's story on what we hope will be a better, healthier future for the dogs:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Iowa Congressional Race Gets National Attention

King vs. First Lady: The Sioux City Journal's Bret Hayworth has a piece today about the expected showdown between 5-term western Iowa Congressman Steve King and former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. His article said this congressional race "will undoubtedly be the preeminent political race in Iowa in 2012.

I agree this has the potential to be a heck of a fight, especially if Vilsack continues her strong fundraising and if the national Dems back her with some serious cash. But let's not forget about the other major clash in the state: 9-term Republican Congressman Tom Latham and 8-term Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell. It seems to me this race might get even more attention since it features two current members of congress battling because restricting took away one of Iowa's seats. Latham had the choice to run against King in the newly configured districts, retire or move into Boswell's 3rd district. So he opted for a move.

Latham told me he and his wife have bought a townhouse in Clive, so he now has an official residence in his new district. He said they haven't sold their house in Ames.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Post-Iowa, Post-Debate Questions

Questions, Questions: OK, so where are we? The Iowa Caucuses are finished. Well, we think they are at least. The Republican presidential candidates debated twice in less than 12 hours this weekend. Whose idea was that? I'm left with questions.

Mitt Romney doesn't seem to have an answer that sticks about why he didn't run for re-election as governor of Massachusetts. Why not? Bad poll numbers convinced him he couldn't win? He already had his sights on running for president? And if he claims he wasn't already thinking about that, then why did he spend nearly two-thirds of his final year OUTSIDE Massachusetts when he was supposed to be serving the people of Massachusetts? Now, there's also that comment that he's known what it's like to fear getting a pink slip. Waiting to hear the story on that fear from the multi-multi millionaire.

Newt Gingrich called Romney a liar. Now, he complains about Romney's "pious baloney". How long can Gingrich continue to claim to run a positive campaign? Let's be honest, nearly everyone goes negative. Voters hate it. But it works. So, Mr. Speaker, aren't your words showing you are going negative?

Rick Perry is still running for president. He "reassessed" after getting thumped in the Iowa Caucuses. But the reassessment was apparently short-lived. He went for a run the next morning and then announced he would continue his run for the White House. But what is his path to victory? He looks like he will get throttled in New Hampshire. So he is banking on South Carolina. The odds aren't in his favor. Is he finished with another bad finish there?

Ron Paul continues to alienate some traditional Republicans during the debates. His 3rd place finish in Iowa surely couldn't have been fulfilling, although he nearly doubled his turnout from 4 years ago. If he fails to finish in the top 2 in New Hampshire, then he will hear even louder doubts that he can win the nomination. Third party run again, Dr.? Having said that, Paul can raise dough and his supporters are as dedicated as they come, so it's hard to see why he would quit even if he doesn't find a top 2 finish somewhere soon.

Rick Santorum's sweater vest continues on. The national media are all over him now after rarely mentioning him before. Doesn't he need at least a strong top 3 finish in New Hampshire to show his Iowa showing is for real? Granted, if Perry does little in South Carolina, then maybe Santorum becomes the obvious, unanimous choice for the social conservatives. So maybe New Hampshire's placing could get over hyped. But still...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Iowa or New Hampshire?

Northern nonsense: O.K., I've heard over and over again how Iowans don't know anything about picking a president. Yes, Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Caucuses and didn't become president. But I don't recall Pat Buchanan winning either, right New Hampshirites (is that what you call yourselves?)

Here's my piece to set the record straight:

Richie Cunningham?

Thanks, I think?--My phone and email have been blowing up since last night because of the feature story the Washington Post's Ned Martel did on my wife and me covering the Iowa Caucuses. Our families and friends got a kick out of it, of course. But what's this bit with calling me a "Richie Cunningham motormouth"?

Here's the link to the article: