Thursday, November 30, 2006

Will Hillary Skip Iowa? Will Anyone else come?

Political Wire again has a story about Hillary skipping Iowa...

On Fox News last night, the chairman of Iowa's Democratic party said that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is not laying the adequate groundwork for a presidenial campaign in the first caucus state and that many are starting to speculate she may not run if Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) enters the race.

Said Iowa Democratic Chair Rob Tully: "She's been quiet and, you know, there's a question that we all hear is that she may not get in this if Barack Obama gets in. I have never seen a reaction other than Bill Clinton in terms of the excitement that people have to meet Barack Obama. Some people just wanted to touch him."

One other possible reason: According to the Quad City Times, former Democratic state party chairman Dave Nagle said he is concerned candidates might eventually choose not to come to Iowa with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) in the race.
I think other candidates will come if they see the Iowa Caucuses as a level playing field. That is why the new State Democratic Party Chair is so important. If there is any hint of any advantage towards Vilsack the other candidates will be heading to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

Here is story that maybe John Kerry should be more concerned about running for Senate in 2008 and forget about another run for the White House. Amen to that.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Edwards In Iowa Tonight

I decided not to make the trip to Des Moines to see John Edwards because of the threat of bad weather. It turned out that the weather wasn't that bad, but I have a feeling Edwards will be back in Iowa. Here is a writeup from an event Edwards attended over the summer.

I have been thinking about Edwards' chances in 2008 ever since I saw this post at John Deeth. This is probably an unlikely situation, but something to think about. Elizabeth Dole is up for reelection in 2008 and is sitting at just a 52% approval rating. I have read that her seat is one that Democrats might target. Barak Obama, Wes Clark, and Al Gore are all being rumored as possible candidates in 2008 and if they run they might take votes away from an Edwards run. Now, Edwards is near the top of my list of possible candidates in 2008, but it might be better for the Democratic Party if Edwards ran for Senate against Dole.

Here's the story from the Des Moines Register on Edwards and the event in West Des Moines.

The Center of What?

David Sirota has a post up called The Center of What? that discusses what exactly centrism is in American Politics. Is Centrism defined by what the Washington insiders say or is it defined by what the majority of Americans think?

Here is part of what Sirota had to say...

That’s really the problem with the term - and with Washington’s definition of it. “Centrism” as defined in the political dialogue today means “being in the middle of elite opinion in Washington, D.C.” But if you plot this “center” on the continuum that is American public opinion, you will find that it is nowhere near the actual center of the country at large. The center of elite Washington opinion is ardently free trade, against national health care, opposed to market regulation, for continuing the Iraq War, and supportive of the flattest tax structure we’ve had in contemporary American history. That center is on the extreme fringe of the center of American public opinion, which is ardently skeptical of free trade, for universal health care, supportive of strong market regulations, insistent that the war end soon, and in favor of making the tax system more progressive.
I have written about this topic many times over the past year (1, 2, 3, 4) and it bears repeating until the Democratic Party learns that it is better to stand up for what you believe in (which is exactly what the majority of Americans believe) than to parrot your opponents beliefs.

Obama 08 News

Political Wire has 3 stories on Barack Obama and him running for president in 2008.

First, Obama is headed to New Hampshire to speak at a state party event...

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "will have key Granite State Democrats all to himself December 10 when he appears at the state party's election victory celebration," according to CNN. "The freshman senator was the only potential White House hopeful invited to the event."
Fellow Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin wants Obama to run...
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is launching an on-line petition drive to persuade Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to run for president in 2008, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Said Durbin: "In all my years in politics, I have only met one other person who connects with people as well as Barack does: former President Bill Clinton. That says a lot about Barack's superior skills as a politician and a leader. I have complete confidence that Barack will be able to unite Americans across our country in support of a new agenda of hope."
And finally, it sounds like Hillary is scared of a possible Obama candadicy...
According to Insight, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "believes her biggest obstacle to winning the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008 could be" Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

"Sources close to Ms. Clinton said she has been concerned that Mr. Obama could outdo the New York senator in getting support from the minority and liberal base of the Democratic Party. They said Ms. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have been discussing a strategy on how to deal with Mr. Obama and whether he could be persuaded to join a Clinton ticket."

Obama is "expected to decide on a presidential campaign in December."
There is a Draft Obama site that just recenly launched. I don't think he will need much pushing to get into the race.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Latest from Wes Clark on Possible Run in 08

General Wes Clark spoke at Brown University and had these comments before his speech...

The Herald: How likely is it that you'll run for president in 2008?

General Clark: I haven't said I won't run.

The Herald: If you do run, how will your campaign differ from your 2004 campaign?

General Clark: In virtually every respect.

The Herald: Why do you think you were unsuccessful in winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004?

General Clark: Because I got in too late. Because I had no political experience. Because I had no money prior to the time I announced, and because I had no staff. Other than that I was a pretty good candidate.

The Herald: What political experience have you gained since then?

General Clark: Hundreds and hundreds of visits around the country with various groups. I campaigned for, I think, 86 candidates in 26 states in 2006. I was John Kerry's number one surrogate other than John Edwards in 2004. I raised more than half a million dollars directly for John (Kerry) plus represented him, especially during the final three or four weeks, all through the West.
Clark is one that is on my radar list, but I have never seen him in person and need to learn more about his stances on the important like trade, healthcare, and energy. The next time that Clark is in Iowa, I am there.

Vilsack Presidential Campaign Gets Key Support

From today's Des Moines Register...

Two key players in Democratic presidential politics will be part of the flight crew when Gov. Tom Vilsack's presidential campaign takes off this week.

Gary Hirshberg, an influential activist and donor in the key state of New Hampshire, has thrown his support to Vilsack. Meanwhile, Chicago investment banker Lou Susman, the top fundraiser for John Kerry's 2004 campaign, is helping the Iowa Democrat with fundraising and will weigh a more formal commitment to Vilsack's campaign.
Is Vilsack actually putting together a legit campaign? I think it will all depend on who else runs. If Bayh, Biden, Richardson, and Clinton all run, that is a lot of DLC'ers battling for money and votes. It was smart for Vilsack to be the first horse out of the gate.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cosponsor the Progressive States Agenda

The Progressive States Network has put together a progressive agenda and has an online petition to become a citizen cosponsor.

Here are the issues outlined in the agenda...

  • Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom— assuring that American workers receive a decent wage and the freedom of speech in the workplace to stand up for their own interests.
  • Balancing Work and Family- helping create a more family-friendly workplace and society through better family leave policies, paid sick days, support for child care, and access to contraception.
  • Health Care for All- extending health care coverage to all Americans, while helping cut costs for those currently receiving health coverage.
  • Smart Growth and Clean Jobs- promoting energy independence and job growth through new transit options, smart development to strengthen our communities, and new energy technologies.
  • Tax and Budget Reform- creating more equity and accountability in state tax systems, economic development subsidies and public contracts.
  • Clean and Fair Elections- reforming lobbying corruption, establishing public financing for elections, protecting voting rights, and election reforms like vote by mail to improve the voting process.

I am surprised there is nothing about the unfair Free Trade deals and in support for Fair Trade. The section on wage standards is part of Fair Trade agreements, but there is much more included.

Of the issues listed, I would have to put Health Care for All, Clean and Fair Elections, and Smart Growth and Clean Jobs as my top 3.

What are you thoughts on the issies included and which ones are at the top of your list?

Elesha Gayman Ready to Get to Work

One of the biggest upsets on November 7th in the state was Elesha Gayman's win in Iowa House District 84 in Scott County. Gayman defeated a long time incumbant and did so without much help from the state party. The Quad Cities Times have a story about Gayman and her plans in the Iowa House.

Come January, the 28-year-old Gayman gets another chance to impress: in Des Moines, with the opening of the 2007 Iowa legislative session.

Friends say they are confident of her success.

“She’s smart, she’s motivated. She wants to do a good job,” says Bev Strayhall, a veteran Davenport activist and supporter. “I think she’ll be a star.”

Gayman, whose family has deep roots in west Davenport, is the youngest Quad-Citian to be elected to the Iowa Legislature in a decade, and she’ll be among eight legislators younger than 30 who will take seats there. That is a change for a governing body whose members’ average age is 52.

Gayman campaigned on the idea that the capitol was lacking in a young person’s point of view, and she’s eager to take her ideas to the Statehouse to try to stanch the flow of young people out of Iowa, a major problem for the state.
I met Elesha last April at a Democracy for America training in the Quad Cities. I am not surprised at all that she won. She is intelligent, outgoing, and most importantly, is willing to listen and learn. It is great to have her heading to Des Moines to represent Iowans of all ages.

John Edwards to be in West Des Moines on Wednesday

John Edwards will be in West Des Moines at Barnes and Noble on Wednesday, November 29 at 7:00 to discuss his new book, Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives. I am sure that he will also talk about a possible Presidential run in 2008. I am planning on attending.

John Edwards Book Tour
Barnes and Noble

4550 University Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa
Wednesday, November 29 at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Need for Government Leadership in Renewables

There is a great post over at Woodbury Democrat (can also read it at Radloff''s Random Thoughts) about the need for government leadership on renewable energy.

Many of the solutions simply need governmental determination to make them happen. We're currently giving a TON of money to the Saudis in exchange for oil. This doesn't make sense. Why not give a TON of money to America's farmers in exchange for soybean or corn products that will burn in modified engines just fine? The only thing stopping this from happening is Big Oil's powerful lobbying of congress.
The post is rather long, but well worth the time. Check it out.

Top Political Talent Getting Calls from 08 Hopefuls

I saw this story this morning from Political Insider about Hillary Clinton's so-called money advantage and her chances in Iowa...

There's a lot of buzz in political circles about the NY Times story from earlier this week about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's money advantage disappearing. The most immediate fallout may come in Iowa where Democratic organizers told me in September that Clinton's only hope of creating a strong campaign apparatus -- absolutely essential in a caucus system -- would be if she were to buy an organization.

John Edwards and Evan Bayh have been working the state aggressively to tie up top talent. The likely addition of Gov. Tom Vilsack and possible entry of Illinois neighbor Sen. Barack Obama could basically shut the door to Clinton for the remaining Iowa operatives. It's looking increasingly likely that Clinton may skip Iowa altogether, turning New Hampshire into a do-or-die state.

The Des Moines Register had a story this morning about Barack Obama courting advisers, such as John Norris, Steve Hildebrand, and Dick Myers, and getting advice for a possible campaign.
The first-term Illinois senator has surrounded himself with advisers rich in experience in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state.

Obama has vaulted to the top tier among prospective candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination, even as the new star in the party says he has not made up his mind about running.

The Iowa connections of Obama's campaign advisers and the senator's behind-the-scenes inquiry into the Iowa caucuses are hardly an announcement that he is running for president. But they show he is visualizing the presidential campaign process, in the event he decides to run.
I wouldn't be disapointed if Clinton skipped Iowa. She has not been to the state at all like other candidates have. If Hillary skips Iowa, it plays right into the story Rolling Stone put out called, "Is Vilsack a Stalking Horse for Hillary?"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What are you Thankful For?

Coal-Powered Ethanol Plants Aren't Good for the Environment

You can put this story in the "No, Duh" category.

An Ames company has released a study that shows coal-powered ethanol plants release 92% more carbon dioxide than plants powered by natural gas. This is days before the Des Moines City hears plans about a coal-powered ethanol plant being built in Des Moines. From the Des Moines Register...

The carbon dioxide report was released this week by Frontline BioEnergy. Frontline works with and promotes technological advancements to convert plants into a mixture of gases that could be used to replace some natural gas burned in ethanol plants. Frontline is not associated with the two companies competing to build in Des Moines.

Frontline's analysis of a plant that would produce 50 million gallons of ethanol a year show a coal-powered facility would release as much as 207,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year while a natural gas-powered plant would emit 108,000 tons.

Des Moines' proposed plants would produce at least 100 million gallons of ethanol a year. That means that the coal-powered plant would release as much as 414,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to the report.

State and U.S. environmental laws do not limit carbon dioxide emissions, although more than 150 other chemicals or compounds are regulated.

Technology exists to sequester carbon dioxide emissions but it's costly and not required by law, say Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials. If that technology were used, the price to use coal would be about the same as natural gas, according to estimates from Frontline officials.
Coal is one of the dirtiest forms of energy out there. I didn't need read a study to know that. If you look at the history books, it can be argued that the burning of coal is what caused the development of the suburbs. People didn't want to be around the smoke from burning coal and those that were wealthy enough, hopped on the street car and moved outside of the city. The idea of clean coal is just ridiculous.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Way Turkey Should Be

I read this article in the Des Moines Register yesterday while I was in the car on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. It is about a farmer in SE Iowa, who raises free range turkeys and other animals, butchers them, and sells them directly to the consumer.

Rodgers is among dozens of farmers in Iowa who pasture-raise turkeys and other animals. They don't give them hormones, routine antibiotics or grain that is chemically enhanced or genetically modified.

The bird is sold directly to a customer who has loads of hungry relatives at home, eager to pick away at the huge pile of meat on the biggest eating day of the year.
I am going to be looking into purchasing something from this farm or find another farm that might be a little closer to my home.

Now, I would like to thank Denise O'Brien for bringing these types of farms to my attention. If it wasn't for her campaign, I would have just skipped this article. This is an simple example of entrepenuership without business suits. It is a simple way to grow Iowa's economy.
So, on 153 acres, among a sea of huge farms, he placed a few chickens, then turkeys two years ago and calves this year. He tossed his name into the marketplace after reading Zig Ziglar on pitching a product.

Rodgers' dream sounded risky but simple: Grow animals the way God intended - critters scurrying about, happily eating and going about their day until someone higher on the food chain gets hungry.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Democrats Support Fair Trade

From David Sirota...

Here’s the Financial Times today:

“The US Congress will reject two trade deals agreed with Colombia and Peru, leading Democrats said, in a significant blow to President George W. Bush’s agenda for his final two years in office. Democratic lawmakers drafted a letter to Mr Bush on Tuesday night signalling their opposition to the pacts because they lacked tougher labour standards.”

Why is this happening? Here’s Sen.-elect Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in the Washington Post:

“The message of this election says to me that all of these trade agreements need to be renegotiated. When a plant of 300 people closes in a town of 20,000, it hurts families and destroys communities.”

This is really incredible. Suddenly, the progressive agenda on trade is ascending. Suddenly, the Bob Rubins, the Gene Sperlings, the Tom Friedmans and the rest of the neoliberals are being steamrolled. Suddenly, Democrats have found a backbone on globalization, pushing for policies that lift the world up, rather than those that create a race to the bottom.

Happy Turkey Day

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcome Economic Populists!

The mainstream media would lead you to believe that many of the Democrats that won on November 7th because they are more conservative. In the past, I have asked where does moving to the center get us? A look at the candidates that won, it looks like centrism gets us no where and the key to succes is economic populism.

That economic populism extends, for many candidates, to a new emphasis on expanding health coverage. Congressional Democrats who lived through the Clinton administration’s failed effort to create a national health insurance plan, which many believe was a crucial factor in the Democrats’ losses in 1994, have been wary of broad health legislation for years. (And being in the minority, they were unable to do much about it, regardless.) But the class of ’06 is adamant that something major can, and will, be done.
The media says many of the Democrats elected were Centrists because they only see things on a Liberal - Conservative line and they say that Bob Casey is pro-life (so he can't be that much of a Liberal and must be centrists), Jon Tester is pro-gun (so he can't be that much of a Liberal and must be a centrists), and Jim Webb is pro-military (so he can't be that much of a Liberal and must be a centrsits). Democrats can't fall for the centrists trap.

Many of the democrats elected on Tuesday are progressive populists. The Progressive Caucus membership in the House is going to increase by from the low-50's to 64, with many holding important positions on committees. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, Bob Casey, and even Jim Webb are progressive populists that believe in a balanced budget, health care for all, a strong and an intelligent fight against terrorism, and most importantly Fair Trade agreements that keep jobs in America.

This November, Americans voiced their disapproval of the Iraq War and disaproval of the corporate agenda. Centrists Democrats push the corporate agenda and put profit before people just as much as Republicans do. Luckily, for the common Americans out there, these newly elected members to congress hold different views. Views that put wager earners before wealth and put people before profit.

That economic populism extends, for many candidates, to a new emphasis on expanding health coverage. Congressional Democrats who lived through the Clinton administration’s failed effort to create a national health insurance plan, which many believe was a crucial factor in the Democrats’ losses in 1994, have been wary of broad health legislation for years. (And being in the minority, they were unable to do much about it, regardless.) But the class of ’06 is adamant that something major can, and will, be done.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Young Candidates Ready to Take Office

One topic that I have written a lot about is how to stop brain drain and keep young Iowans in Iowa. After the November elections, one answer might be to have them run for office. From the Gazette Online (which requires a subscription, so no link)...

Young freshman welcomed into Iowa Legislature: This year, voters elected eight state representatives who are 30 or younger. According to party officials, that includes Republicans Pat Grassley of New Hartford, Steve Lukan of New Vienna and Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley, and Democrats McKinley Bailey of Webster City, Andrew Wenthe of Hawkeye, Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids, Elesha Gayman of Davenport and Ray Zirkelbach of Anamosa. Some of these young legislators left Iowa to pursue opportunities out of state, but returned because of the people and quality of life.
Congratulations on these 8 for winning and it is good to get some new perspectives out there.

Raising the Gas Tax, What's it good for?

There is talk around Des Moines that the state of Iowa needs to raise taxes on gas because of a decline in revenue. Currently Iowa is 30th in the nation in gasoline taxes.

A 5-cent increase in Iowa's gasoline tax would generate an additional $110 million annually.

Iowa motorists now pay state taxes of 21 cents per gallon on regular gasoline; 19 cents per gallon on ethanol-blended gasoline; 17 cents per gallon for E-85 fuel; and 22.5 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.
What would this extra money be used for? Well, of course it would be used to build more roads or expand existing ones.
Between 1999 and 2005, the number of miles of substandard pavement on the state's primary road system increased by 44 percent, to 2,836 miles, DOT officials said. This represents an increase in pavement rehabilitation needs of $366 million above existing needs.

In addition, many parts of Iowa's interstate highway system are strained to capacity, leading to congestion, which affects air quality and dampens economic activity, DOT officials said. This is not surprising because much of Iowa's interstate system was built 50 years ago to accommodate 20 years of traffic growth, officials said.
So they are saying traffic leads to congestion, which leads to poor air quality, and building more roads will solve that. I don't think so.

I would be for an increase in taxes on gasoline if that extra money went to public transportation. Increase the bus services in cities around Iowa or be brave and build a light rail from Des Moines to Ames or Cedar Rapids to Iowa City.

As for the chances of rasing the gas tax, since it wasn't a plan introduced by Democrats or Republicans, I feel that it may pass because both sides have political cover.

The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier has a story saying that Amtrak ridership is at record levels in Iowa.
A total of 61,377 people got on and off Amtrak trains at six Iowa stations during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the railroad said.

That’s just shy of the railroad’s all-time high of 61,418 passengers in Iowa a year earlier.

“Our experience anecdotally has been that when gasoline prices make a major move, people search for alternatives for their travel plans. For a lot of people, we are a great alternative,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari in Chicago.

Monday, November 20, 2006

So They Say Jim Webb is Conservative?

The Mainstream Media would want you to believe that Virginia Senator elect Jim Webb is more conservative than the regular Democrat because that has to be the only way he could win, right?

Here is an op-ed that Webb wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week discussing one of the issues that was central in his campaign: class struggle.

Class Struggle
American workers have a chance to be heard.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic's range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much.

In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners' pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate "reorganization." And workers' ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Loebsack Pulls Off Biggest Surprise on Election Night

From Congressional Quarterly...

Biggest surprise: Democrat David Loebsack, a college professor, upset 15-term Republican Rep. Jim Leach in Iowa’s 2nd District and broke the GOP moderate’s hold on a constituency that overall is Iowa’s most Democratic-leaning.

I had written before about Loebsack’s candidacy, the partisan nature of the southeastern Iowa district, and Leach’s aversion to the breakneck fundraising and smash-mouth tactics that many incumbents employ to ward off political opponents. But I just didn’t think that Leach would lose in the end — which he did, by 51 percent to 49 percent.

Will There Be Enough Corn?

The top story in the Sunday Des Moines Register questions if Iowa will have enough corn to fuel the ethanol boom and still provide food. The Register discusses higher farm incomes and the increase in pollution when taking land out of set aside.

The state's farmers already produce about 20 percent of the nation's corn. But they will have to grow a lot more to keep up with the booming demand for fuel ethanol and maintain affordable supplies of corn for all its traditional uses, from livestock feed to tortillas, breakfast cereal and sweeteners.

Iowa has 25 ethanol plants in operation, some of which are expanding. The state has 11 new plants under construction, plus a couple dozen on the drawing boards.

If all of those are built, Iowa farmers would have to plant an additional 8 million acres of corn - nearly two-thirds more than they harvested this year - to make ethanol and still feed the millions of hogs, chickens and turkeys produced here, according to estimates developed by Iowa State University grain economist Robert Wisner.
I have heard some people say that using corn for fuel is immoral with so many people in the world going hungry. That might be a simplistic view of food markets and distribution, but this article gives a glimpse at some possible problems in the future.

I feel the answer to this issue is clear...diversity. If Iowa uses all available land to grow corn, problems can arrise. However, if they diversify and plant switchgrass and other crops to make ethanol we will all be better off. Unfortanately, I don't know if newly elected Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey knows how to grow anything other than corn.

Some Post Election Homework

Here are some articles about the 2006 election that I found was interesting...

Election 2006: The Worst Show on TV by Matt Taibbi
This is a diary Taibbi wrote on election night while watching the results on cable news. Very funny, insightful, and a little crude. Taibbi discusses how the election coverage has copied ESPN and is all about who is going to win the next big game.

On Lieberman winning...

To me, this ruins the whole evening. I can't see any way to describe any day in which Joe Lieberman wins an election as a good day, but here's the good news: Six years from now, both the Republicans and the Democrats will run serious candidates, and Joe Lieberman will be scrambling for the last eleven percent of Connecticut's half-in-the-grave vote, running on a ticket of "the terrorists support both of my opponents." It'll be worth staying in journalism just for that.
On the 2008 hopefuls...

It's not a coincidence that the early White House hopefuls were all herded on the air the instant the polls closed. Once the last vote is counted, the next story is the next race. All politics has to be contained within the parameters of that who's-winning narrative.

What the Congress actually does, how it actually spends its money, what happens in its committees -- it's all irrelevant, except insofar as that activity bears on the next presidential race. That's why the "experts" on these panels are so unanimous in their belief that the Democrats should lay low for the next two years and not push their subpoena powers. They all think pushing it in Congress would negatively affect the Democrats' White House chances. In other words, it's bad strategy for the next football game, just like Howard Dean's crazy antiwar stance was deemed "too liberal" for the gridiron by the same geniuses a few years ago -- even though history ultimately proved Dean right on that score, for all his other flaws.

Taibbi spent election day using a fake name and volunteering with the Rick Santorum campaign in Pennslyvannia. Taibbi did this, so that he could attend Santorum's Victory/Defeat Party. This is a hilarious look at inside the Rightwing's poster boy defeat. Taibbi provides some good thoughts on the Republican corruption and negative campaigning from both parties...

Beyond the Republican shipwreck, unfortunately, lies an utter vacuum of positive ideas. The Democrats may have been less over-the-top about their negative campaigning, but they still spent more than $72 million on attack ads, only slightly less than the other guys. They had nothing to say except that the Republicans sucked -- which was true, but where does that leave us?

This was the year the national elections devolved into nothing more than a forum for organizing the disgust and revulsion of the population, with both sides firmly entrenched in their own tribal paranoia and ready to disbelieve any unwelcome result the voting machines might spit out, all confidence in the system lost. No one really won -- it felt more like the country decided to pull the plug on itself or burn cigarettes in its arm.

Learning From Lamont by David Sirota
Sirota worked for the Lamont campaign and weighs in with his thoughts on the Lamont-Lieberman race.

I know that some people say that Lamont was a failure, however if you would have told Ned Lamont back in January that he would beat Lieberman in the primary, he would have been pleased with the result. The same can be said about Howard Dean finishing 3rd in Iowa in 2004, Ed Fallon getting 26% of the vote in the primary for Governor. Big Money has such a grasp on the political arena, that someone who challenges that is facing an uphill climb. Each candidate that challenges the status quo, pushes the movement forward, and eventually real progress will be made. You have to look at the big picture of the progressive movement and not at each single race.

Daily Kos takes a look at the 2008 Senate races and it looks like Democrats have a shot at picking up some more seats.

My early prediction will be that Democrats defeat incumbants in Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado New Mexico, and New Hampshire. Republicans will defeat one Democratic incumbant in either New Jersey or Louisiana. Democrats will have a net gain of 4 seats.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Poker Players Send Leach Home?

The Des Moines Register ran a story yesterday about a national group of poker players that are taking credit for Jim Leach's defeat saying they targetted him after he sponsored a bill against internet gambling.

Among those who knew about the law, 15 percent said it influenced them to support Loebsack. Another 10 percent said that it influenced them to support Leach.

Online poker advocates contend that was enough to doom Leach in a race lost by just 5,711 votes.

"There's enough evidence here to suggest it didn't help him," said Thomas Riehle of RT Strategies, a partner in the firm that conducted the poll Sunday through Monday. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points, Riehle said.

However, Greg Wierzynski, Leach's chief of staff, scoffed at the notion that the gaming ban was Leach's undoing. "As we all know, when poker players have weak hands, they bluff," he said.

Wierzynski said Leach's congressional office received "a bunch of angry phone calls" from opponents of the gambling bill, but couldn't tell whether any were from Iowans because the callers refused to identify themselves. The calls were "laced with four-letter words," added Wierzynski.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why Teacher Performance Pay to Does Not Work

Performace pay for teachers has been in the news after a plan has been released by a study group. The verdict is still out on the plan. The Des Moines Register has results from a poll on the subject.

Forty-four percent of Iowans agree that teacher performance pay is a good idea, while 48 percent disagree, according to a telephone survey of 602 Iowa voters taken last month by Selzer & Co. Inc. of Des Moines.

"Pay-for-performance finds no consensus," pollster J. Ann Selzer said Wednesday to board members of the Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce, which is studying the issue.
I wrote this back in July about an article in the Register on the achievement gap. It is also very fitting when talking about performance pay for teachers.
Here in Marshalltown, in one Kindergarten classroom at one of the more affluent schools 17 out of 25 students tested at grade level in September. At the school I worked in, where many students live in poverty, out of the three Kindergarten classrooms just 4 out of 75 students tested were at grade level in September. These tests were given after just 1 month in school and clearly show difference a child's home environment.
Does the achievement of these students mean the teachers at the 2nd school aren't as good or don't work as hard as the teachers at 1st school? Not at all. It means that every classroom has different challenges and some of those challenges can't be measured by a standardized test or a paycheck.

Chet Culver also disagrees with performance pay
, saying...
"This idea that we need to make teachers jump through more hoops and over additional hurdles to get them to the national average (in pay) is, I think, a little bit overdone," said Culver, a Democrat and former government teacher at Hoover High School in Des Moines.

"We have a problem out there, and it's not that they're not performing," he said. "The problem is we're not committing the resources to pay them a salary that is comparable to at least other states in the Midwest."
If the goal is to improve achievement, instead of making teachers jump through more hoops, lawmakers should be focusing on providing quality pre-school so all students are ready to learn when they enter school. If the goal is to increase teacher pay, then they should just increase teacher pay.

Loebsack Keeps People in Mind

I am still excited about Dave Loebsack's victory in the 2nd District. Yes, Jim Leach was a moderate, but Leach sold out working people recently when he voted for CAFTA, for the bankruptcy bill, and against a livable wage. As the title of this post says, Loebsack is going to Washington with the interests of the people first.

From MSNBC, via the Burlington Hawk Eye...

"I didn't do this for me," Loebsack said of his win over Leach. "I did this for all those people I met on the campaign trail, people who are hurting so much. I'm just going to do everything I can while I'm in D.C. to make their hopes and dreams a reality."

Loebsack campaigned on restoring the hope and opportunity that the Republicans and the Bush administration have taken from the people. Loebsack said his first priorities will be to work on health care and minimum wage legislation.

"One of the first things I want to do is sign onto the national health insurance, single-payer health system bill," Loebsack said, referring to HR 676.

Loebsack said there are currently 46 million Americans, of which 10 percent are Iowans, who are without health care insurance, which is one of the reasons why he supports a universal system.

Check out the rest of the article for more details on Loebsack's plans in Washington.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chris Dodd Introduces Legislation to Restore Habeus Corpus

Today, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd introduced legislation that would restore Habeas Corpus and other rights to the Military Commisions Act, or the Torture Bill, (which I wrote about here and here) that was just recently pushed through the Senate before the election. From Dodd's website, the legislation...

  • Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
  • Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
  • Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
  • Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable
  • Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
  • Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
  • Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions
“We in Congress have our own obligation, to work in a bipartisan way to repair the damage that has been done, to protect our international reputation, to preserve our domestic traditions, and to provide a successful mechanism to improve and enhance the tools required by the global war on terror,” Dodd said.
Now that Feingold is out of the 08 race, one of the candidates that I have my eye on is Chris Dodd. This is a postive statement by Dodd and shows that the Democrats are serious correcting the failings of the Bush Administration over the past 6 years.

Here, is the Matt Stoller's take from MyDD.

Video of Braley's Victory Speech

I just discovered that the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier has video of Bruce Braley's victory speech.

You can watch it here.

They Said It, Not Me: Part 2

From Rolling Stone, via

Trent Lott selected as Senate Minority Whip, because if there’s one thing that Trent Lott likes, it’s whipping minorities.
Added this political cartoon from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Loebsack Gets Some National Recognition

Dave Loebsack received some praise in a post on Down With Tyranny, a national blog that gets over 3,000 hits a day. The post is about the new Congressman in Washington going through orientation. It is good to see this unlikely Congressman getting noticed. Here is what the post had to say about Loebsack...

Finally, here's one story I can't resist passing along:
David Loebsack, 53, a political science professor from Iowa, is another improbable congressman. The Democrat who had never before won public office defeated 15-term Rep. Jim Leach (R). Yesterday, Loebsack was absorbing the notion that he would be making public policy instead of studying it.

"I grew up in poverty with a single mom who had mental illness," Loebsack said. "If anyone had told me I'd grow up to teach at Cornell College with a Ph.D., I would have thought they were crazy. If anyone had told me that I would get elected to Congress, I would have thought they were from another planet. I'm living proof of the American dream."
Welcome to Washington, Dave. It sounds like you and many of your fellow freshmen may be just what the town needs.

No Recount in State Senate District 5

The Ames Tribune is reporting there won't be a recount in State Senate District 5.

There won't be a recount in the race for the State Senate District 5 seat. Republican candidate Jim Kurtenbach, of Nevada, announced Monday night he won't contest the results of last week's election won by Democrat Rich Olive, of Story City.
That makes Rich Olive the newest Democrat in the State Senate. The seat was formelly held by Republican Stew Iverson and is a big pickup for the Democrats, who now own a 30-20 advantage in the State Senate.

Over the summer, I attended a fundraiser for Rich Olive with John Edwards. Here is what I wrote about Olive...
Rich Olive is running for the seat that Stew Iverson held. Olive gave a good speech and 2 things stuck out. He spoke about our education being more than a k-12 system and said that community colleges and our state universities need to be included in the discussion. He also said that renewable energy is more than just ethanol and biodiesel and we need to explore all technologies. Olive is right on both topics.

Iowa No Longer Leader in Eduation

A new study says that Iowa is no longer a national leader in education. From the Quad City Times...

DES MOINES — Iowa gradually is losing its status as a leader in K-12 education, according to a study released Tuesday that looks at the relationship between school funding and test scores.

“I think, in some respects, you get what you pay for,” co-author Charles Bruner said.

The study, titled “No Longer a Leader? Investments and Student Education in Iowa,” was compiled by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, a budget analysis think tank.

The release came a day before the Iowa Department of Education issues its annual Condition of Education report and a week after an election in which Democrats — who have pledged to make major increases in school funding — won control of both the executive and legislative branches of state government.
I grew up in Iowa and attended public schools. I graduated from a public university and a priate university. Now I am in my first year teaching in a public school district. I have to say that when I was in elementary school, Iowa was the leader in education in the nation. I think it is pretty clear that is no longer the case. The quote about you get what you pay for is very fitting. Take a look at teacher pay and the rising cost of college tuition as two prime examples.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Leach Recommended as UN Ambassador

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette...

An Oregon Democrat has recommended President Bush nominate Rep. Jim Leach as the nation's ambassador to the United Nations.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Portland, Ore., on Tuesday paid tribute to Leach on the House floor, praising the Iowa City Republican for his bipartisan cooperation, especially on international issues.

"It was a very moving tribute,'' said Leach chief of staff Greg Wierzynski. ``I've never heard anything remotely as generous and moving as what was said about Congressman Leach this morning.''

Blumenauer, who serves on the International Relations Committee with Leach, is drafting a letter to Bush recommending he nominate the soft-spoken Leach to succeed John Bolton, whose nomination appears to be in trouble in the Senate.

I would support Jim Leach as UN Ambassador. He is intelligent, has the experience, and someone that both sides of the aisle could trust.

Braley Backs Hoyer for Majority Leader, Not Murtha

I was rather surprised to read in the Quad City Times today that Bruce Braley is backing Steny Hoyer for majority leader instead of John Murtha. The article also discusses the Quad City other new Congressman, Phil Hare also.

The Quad-Cities' new freshmen Congressmen get their first vote this Thursday in Democratic caucus elections, and both plan to back Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland over Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, the decorated war veteran, for majority leader. Rep.-elect Phil Hare, of Rock Island, and Rep.-elect Bruce Braley, of Waterloo, each said they would back Rep. Hoyer for the No. 2 spot in the House when Democrats take over in January. They made their comments during breaks in the House's new member orientation meeting, which started in Washington on Monday.
I don't know a great deal about Hoyer and Murtha on the issues, but know that Hoyer is more moderate and Murtha is more progressive. Murtha has been an advocate for withdrawing troops from Iraq, a stance that Braley campaigned on.

Election Day should be a National Holiday

The results are in in the Common Iowan poll asking if election day should be a national holiday. With 45 votes, 35 people (78%) said yes it should, compared to just 10 (22%) that said it should not. That is pretty much the results that I exected.

The postives of election day is that people don't have to find time in their workday to go and vote. Also, people can volunteer as poll workers and work to get people out to vote without having to take the day off of work. I know a lot of people who did this.

The negatives are that people would use this day as just an old vacation day. Some would take Monday off as well and have a 4 day weekend. One reader of this blog said that there are a lot of other ways to increase turnout such as longer poll hours, poll locations, and voting by at home.

I will get a new poll up when I get home from work tonight.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Feingold out of 2008 Presidential Race

I am not sure if everyone knew this or not, but I have been running another blog called Iowa for Feingold. I began Iowa for Feingold in January of 2006 to hopefully encourage Sen. Russ Feingold to run for president in 2008. Yesterday, Sen. Feingold announced that he was not going to run for president in 2008. Here are my comments that I wrote...

The Beginning
I first began to consider Sen. Russ Feingold for a possible presidential run back in Feb. of 2005. I caught part of an interview by Brian Lamb on CSPAN. Lamb asked Feingold up front about his votes on the Patriot Act, the situation in Iraq, and campaign finance reform and Feingold clearly explained his votes. This was so drastically different than John Kerry in 2004, that Feingold appealed to me. It didn't take much research on Feingold's stance on the issues and I was sold. I watched Feingold the rest of 2005 and began this blog in January of 2006.

Over the year that I had been blogging about Sen. Feingold, I had the chance to meet Feingold 3 times. I got my picture taken with him in Iowa City, had the chance to give him a Run, Russ, Run button in Ft. Dodge, and followed him around for the day when he visited Eastern Iowa . Feingold even wrote about the button in his letter to supporters!

Yet, while I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, "Run Russ Run", or "Russ in '08", I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations. This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured.
Feingold is a great champion of progressive values, but his candidacy did not assure a victory. Feingold did bring some baggage (or the holes in the swiss cheese?). As we saw with John Kerry in 04, a long voting record in the Senate can be used against him in a Presidential campaign. Also, Feingold is Jewish and we have never had a Jewish president. Unfortanately, I think some people out there would hold this against him. And finally, and possibly most damaging, is the divorce issue. Feingold has been divorced twice and is currently single. Some people would say this doesn't matter, but it definitely would have been brought up on the campaign trail.

Everything's Not Lost
On Tuesday night, the Democrats made great gains in the Senate. Russ spent much of his time in the Senate as a member of the minority party. Now in the majority he sees that he can make great strides moving the progressive agenda forward, as a leader in the Senate. As Feingold said in his letter to supporters...
My fourteen years in the Senate have been the greatest privilege of my life and I am extremely pleased with what we have accomplished. During so much of that time, however, we Democrats have not only been in the minority but have often been so deeply mired there that my role has often been to block bad ideas or to simply dissent. That is a very important role but I relish the thought that in this new Congress we can start, not only to undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America, we can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed healthcare, dependence on oil, and our unbalanced trade policies.
Senate newcomers, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Bob Casey all support fair trade agreements. They join Sen. Feingold and Sen. Dorgan in the Senate as strong advocates for fair trade and maybe something can be done on this issue to keep jobs in America. Another theme of Democratic candidates in the 06 elections was universal health care, a long stance Feingold has fought for. Feingold has important positions on the Senate Foreign Relations, Intelligience, Judiciary, and Budget committees. This puts him in position to intelligently fight terrorism, deal with Iraq, defend the constitution, and balance the budget.

Feingold didn't necessarily decide not to run for President, as much as he decided to stay in the Senate. Russ is in position to become a leader on the issues that matter most to him. When this happens, he will be in even better positions to make the step to the White House in 2012 or 2016. Having progressives like Feingold in the Senate is a good thing.

What's Next?
Now, I have been asked by numerous people today, who should progressives get behind now? I honestly don't know. Over at MyDD they ask people to look for a candidate that truly inspires people.
What Democrats need in 2008 is a candidate who can truly inspire people. That is the only way we are going to achieve the transformation that the progressive movement promises. It is not going to be done through narrow targeting. It is not going to be done through resume boasting. It is not going to be done through risk aversion and "electability." In fact, in all likelihood, it will be done in spite of all the old rationales.
The Iowa caucuses are 14 months away. That is plenty of time to check out the other candidates and I am sure there will be plenty of chances to do so. I doubt there will be another candidate that will win me over as easily as Feingold did, but that doesn't mean there isn't another strong candidate outside of Iowa that can come in and win the Iowa caucuses and the White House in 08. I know there will be times my mind will wander and I will think of what could have been with Russ on the campaign trail. So I guess I plan to do the same thing that Kos is going to do...
So sit back. Watch everything unfold, then make the candidates work hard for our support.
And remember that Russ is still standing up for US!
"It's time to stand up - not to cheer, but to fight back." - Russ Feingold

(Thanks to Down With Tyranny for the image of Superman Russ)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hostile Takeover... Legal Rights

Chapter 10 of Hostile Takeover by David Sirota is about the legal rights and the claims that "frivolous" lawsuits by greedy trial lawyers are ruining our society when this is really just a stunt to limit legal rights of people.

In just the five years that Cheney served as Halliburton's CEO, the corporation was involved in 151 court claims it filled in fifteen states. That's an average of 30 lawsuits per year under Cheney's leadership. Though Halliburton makes each year, no lawsuit seem too small or "frivolous" to the company under Cheney, as it sued debtors for as little as $1,500.
Read more from Hostile Takeover...
Health Care
Prescription Drugs

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fallon: Time to Put People Before Profit

From my inbox...

Dear Friends,

With the general election finally over, I again would like to thank everyone who supported my campaign and the campaigns of other good candidates. This January, at both the state and national levels, Democrats will have a truly unique opportunity to lead Iowa and America forward, and that opportunity is in part due to our efforts.

However, while many key victories were won on election night, the most important battles are still to be fought. In both Washington , D.C. and Des Moines , this new generation of Democratic leadership must prove it is worthy of the voters’ confidence. It is time to enact progressive legislation that puts people before profit.

In Iowa , this long list of priorities includes:

* Voter-owned clean elections;

* Controlling urban sprawl;

* Better levels of financial support for all aspects of our educational system;

* Improved health-care access for all Iowans;

* Addressing a wide range of long-neglected environmental concerns;

* Increasing the minimum wage to a livable wage; and

* Redirecting economic development monies from corporate giveaways to small business development.

Over the next two months, I’ll take some much-needed down time to rest and to reflect on my options. (This much is clear: my life is firmly committed to public service.) Most of my and my co-workers’ efforts through the end of the year will focus on restructuring our organization so it can continue to provide a strong, grassroots framework for justice and political work. During this time, we will stop sending out weekly updates, and the website will be down to give us a chance to rebuild it. A new website will be launched and e-mail updates resumed after the first of the year.

Again, thank you for your help and support. I look forward to being back in touch with you after the holidays. May this season of political and seasonal transition be one of peace, comfort and reflection for us all.


Ed Fallon

Thursday, November 09, 2006

They Said It, Not Me

The Woodbury Democrat has a post about the Woodbury County Republican Chairman Steve Salem, who had some interesting remarks about his own party following Tuesday's election. Salem said the Republican Party has become Christian fascists.

Salem said he coined a new phase: "You've heard of IslamaFascists -- I think we now have Christian fascists. What is the definition of a fascist? Not only do they want to beat you, but they want to destroy you in the process."

Salem said "if things keep going the way things are going locally and statewide, it is going to be more and more difficult for Republicans to recruit candidates. We have elements of the party who are moral absolutists, who take the approach that if you don't take my position every step of the way, not only will I not support you, but I will destroy you."
Salem ended by saying...
Said Salem, "I think that the Republican Party needs to do a huge self-analysis and determine if we are going to learn from our mistakes or if we are going to repeat the same mistakes, which, if we do, we are going to continue to lose elections. ... Personally, I don't know how we could have done much worse in this election cycle. That should be a wake-up call to this party."
If it isn't a wake-up call for the Republican Party, it should be a wake-up call for Republicans. This isn't your grandfather's Republican Party.

Denise O'Brien Says Thanks

Tuesday was a great day for Democrats nationwide and for Democrats in Iowa, but I know a lot of people were disapointed that Denise O'Brien lost her race for Sec. of Agriculture. Denise sent out this email yesterday....


We have a lot to be proud of today. We stood strong on important issues. We brought to many Iowans a new vision for Iowa agriculture with new opportunities for rural and urban areas, and we created a network that connected hundreds of thousands of Iowans who already shared that vision. We also showed that a candidate offering new progressive ideas can be strongly competitive in Iowa. I have worked on these issues for most of my life, and I’m not going to stop now.

We ran a strong, positive campaign. I traveled tirelessly and my biodiesel bus reached all 99 counties. In the general election alone, we raised over $350,000 from nearly 1,800 contributors. That’s more than any candidate has ever raised for this race. We finished with 49% of the vote, despite being outspent nearly 2-to-1 by my opponent and a 527 group.

I want to thank my family for all their personal sacrifice, my supporters for their endless work, and the nearly half million Iowans who voted for me. I have been honored to be part of the fight for a better future for rural Iowa.

I am very proud of everyone involved in the campaign. This campaign is about all of you, and our shared vision. There is room in this state for all types of agriculture to succeed while still ensuring that rural Iowa is a great place to live, and a place where new farmers have a chance to thrive. I am gratified that your commitment to this campaign raised these issues to the prominence that they deserve.

I don’t think there has ever been a more exciting time for Iowa agriculture. Opportunity abounds with things like the exploding interest in local, healthy food and the burgeoning demand in renewable fuels. I for one am excited to continue to work to make sure that all Iowa families have a chance to participate in this exciting future. Rural Iowa can be the best place to live and provide all types of farmers a good living. We all need to continue to work together to make sure this possibility becomes a reality.

Finally, let me just say that the faith so many placed in me over this campaign has been humbling. It has been an honor to work with all of you to make this state a better place. And I do look forward to our work in the future.

Thank you all so much.



A Look at My Election Predictions

My first ever political predictions came out pretty well. I was right on the mark in the Governor, 1st District, 2nd District.

Prediction: Governor - Culver 56% - Nussle 44%
Actual Results: Culver 54% - Nussle 44%

I didn't take into account the Green and Libertarian Party candidates that got 2% of the vote from Culver. I knew Nussle would have a hard time cracking 45% and he did. I think I did pretty well on this one.

Prediction: Sec. of Agriculture - O'Brien 52% - Northey 48%
Actual Results: Northey 51% - O'Brien 49%: I knew it would be close. Northey came out on top.

Prediction: Sec. of State - Mauro 59% - Hanusa 41%
Actual Results: Mauro 54% - Hanusa 46% I am really surprised this race was this close considering that Hanusa doesn't live in Iowa, entered the race late, and was barely seen on the campaign trail.

Prediction: Iowa House - 51 Democrats, 49 Republicans
Actual Results: Talk about a wave. Democrats will now hold 54 seats. I knew the Democrats were going to win in the State Senate and thought they could squeek out a majority in the House.

Prediction: Iowa Senate - 27 Democrats, 23 Republicans
Actual Results: 30 Democrats, 20 Republicans Again, the Democrats pick up 3 more seats than I predicted.

Prediction: 1st District - Braley 56% - Whalen 44%
Actual Results: Braley 55% - Whalen 43%:
Again, I forgot to take into account the other parties in the race. I can't believe I forgot about the Pirate James Hill.

Prediction: 2nd District - Loebsack 51% - Leach 49%
Actual Results: Loebsack 51% - Leach 49%
I knew it would be close and was sweating the results late into the night. Big turnout in Johnson County pushed Loebsack over the goal line.

Prediction: 3rd District - Boswell 58% - Lamberti 42%
Actual Results: Boswell 52% - Lamberti 46%
If you consider that Democrats across the nation got a couple points bounce, then Boswell barely scrapped by.

Prediction: 4th District - Latham 53% - Spencer 47%
Actual Results: Latham 57% - Spencer 43%
I was really hoping that Spencer would break 45%, so that the race would be more of a target in 2008.

Prediction: 5th District - King 54% - Schulte 38% - Nielson 8%
Actual Results: King 58% - Schulte 36% - Nielson 5%
Like Kyle, I was surprised by Nielson's low results. I almost predicted that Nielson would get in the 10-15% range. Glad I didn't. Shulte got 2% more than she did in 2004.

Prediction: US Senate - Republicans 50 - Democrats 49 - Lieberman 1
(Democrats pick up seats in Ohio, Pennslyvannia, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Virginia)

Actual Results: Democrats 50 - Republicans 49 - Lieberman 1
It was really hard for me to not pick Tester in Montana because I thought he would win until I saw the polls tightening in the last couple days. I didn't think the Democrats could pull out wins in Montana, Missouri, and Virginia and they did.

Prediction: US House - Democrats pick up 36 seats
Actual Results: Democrats pick up 29 seats with 10 still undecided
My prediction was a little high. The chance of Democrats of winning 7 of the 10 undecided are slim since Republicans are leading in the majority of those races.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Spencer Considering Running Again in 2008

Radio Iowa is reporting that Selden Spencer is considering running again in 2008 in Iowa's 4th District.

Dr. Seldon Spencer, a neurologist from Huxley who was the Democrat challenging Latham's re-election bid this year, said late last night that he may run against Latham again in '08. "I'm very comfortable with analyzing the data..and starting to work on it (Wednesday)," Spencer told Radio Iowa. "I think I would like to plan for 2008."

Latham beat Spencer by 14 percentage points in this year's election. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting in the fourth congressional district, Latham is beating Spencer 57 to 43 percent.
Spencer made great strides from when he announced in March to the last weeks of the campaign. His message was strong and he was improving as a public speaker. I think 2 things hurt Spencer's campaign and they were time and money. He entered the race late and was always facing an uphill climb to raise money. The big time donors had already placed their bets on other races. It was also Spencer's first time as a candidate and he had no name recognition. Without the money, Spencer couldn't do the ad blitz that was needed to get his name and message out there. I think a lot of Democrats in the 4th District would be happy to see Dr. Spencer run again.

Loebsack Wins in the 2nd District

Dave Loebsack has beaten 30 year incumbant Jim Leach in Iowa's 2nd District! The Register is reporting that Leach has conceded the race. Congratulations to Dave. I have met him a couple of times and the 2nd District is getting a great Congressman. He is smart and incredibly nice.

From the Register...

U.S. Rep. Jim Leach conceded defeat this morning after Democratic challenger Dave Loebsack shocked the 30-year congressman.

Leach, an Iowa City Republican known for his moderate views, was caught up in a wave of Democratic victories as Democrats took control of the U.S. House and as unhappiness with the Iraq war and President Bush churned among voters.

Republicans had held four of Iowa’s five House seats, but were in danger of only holding two after Tuesday.

With 99 percent of the precincts in the 2nd District reporting, Loebsack was leading by about 500 votes.

National Democrats and Republicans had put no money or effort into the race, in sharp contrast to battles in two congressional districts that border the 2nd, and few had seen trouble ahead for Leach until the last two or three weeks.
**Updatee 1:06**
100% of Johnson County has reported and Loebsack won 60%-40% with over a 6,000 vote margin. Loebsack had an overall victory margin of less than 6,000 votes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Big Win for Elesha Gayman in House District 84

I want to congratulate Elesha Gayman out in House District 84 in Scott for beating a long time incumbant. I believe Elesha will be the youngest woman ever elected to the Iowa House. I will update tomorrow with more about Elehsa.

Recount in State Senate District 5

From Radio Iowa...

There'll be a recount in one state senate race. The race is to replace Senator Stewart Iverson of Clarion in Senate District five, which covers Story and Wright Counties. The name of the Democratic candidate -- Rich Olive of Story City -- was too close the fold on the ballot and some machines did not register votes for Olive, so there'll be a recount. Olive's Republican opponent is Jim Kurtenbach of Nevada.
This was one of the most high profile races out there and people knew it would be close.

Iowa House District 44: Republicans hold

Democrat Tim Hoy has narrowly lost to incumbant Polly Granzow in Iowa House District 44 in Hardin County and rural Marshall County. The race was one of the races the IDP was targetting. Everyone here worked their tails off for Hoy. Hoy barely lost Marshall County 2018 to 2010 and Granzow won Hardin County 3494 to 3239.

That Big Lug is Iowa's Next Governor

CNN has called Chet Culver the winner in the Iowa Governor's race.

Looking at the Key Counties in Each District

Here are the counties that I will keeping a close eye on in each district. I didn't include the 3rd because I expect Chris, at Political Forecast, will have those results.

1st District

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dubuque is a key in the district. I will also be looking at Scott Co to see how Whalen does on his home turf.

**Update at 10:30**
Braley won Scott Co. 53%-45% with a margin of over 4,000 votes.
**Update at 10:42**
The Quad City Times is calling it for Braley
**Update at 12:36**
Braley won Dubuque Co. 59% to 40% wiht a margin of over 6,000 votes.

2nd District
Loebsack needs big margins in Linn Co.and Johnson Co.

**Update at 10:44**
Loebsack is doing very well in Des Moines and Lee Counties getting 57% and 58% respectively.
**Update 11:04**
Chris Woods is hearing that KCCI is about to call the race in the 2nd District for Loebsack. CNN has Loesback up 51%-49% with 71% of the precincts in.
**Update 11:50**
This one is going down to the wire. Loebsack is up by just under 1000 votes with 94% in. I was totally off on my analysis of Linn Co. Loebsack won Linn by about 275 votes. Still some of Johnson Co that needs to report.
**Updatee 1:06**
100% of Johnson County has reported and Loebsack won 60%-40% with over a 6,000 vote margin. Loebsack had an overall victory margin of less than 6,000 votes.

4th District
Spencer should do well in Story County, his home county. Spencer will need to win Cerro Gordo, Marshall, Warren, and Webster, and not get blown out in Dallas.

**Update 12:37**
Spencer won Story Co, but lost all of the other important counties. His closest was Cerro Gordo where he pulled 48%.

5th District
I will be watching Sioux County to see how big of margin Steve King actually has out there. Sioux Co. went a larger margin for Bush in 04 than Bush won the entire state of Iowa by. As John Deeth said...

Put it this way: if Sioux County were sawn off the rest of the state and annexed to South Dakota, John Kerry would have won Iowa. The Sioux County Bush margin was more than the STATEWIDE margin.
**Update 11:55**
King won Sioux County by about 8,400 votes with 82%.


I am at the Marshall CountyDemocratic Headquarters here in Marshalltown. We are packed with with over 20 people and all of the local candidates. We are scouring the lists and running out of calls to make, so people are enjoying the food that has been brought in. The turnout is a little above average county wide. The turnout is really high in some of the rural precints, which should help Democrat Tim Hoy, who is running for Iowa House District44 against incumbant Polly Granzow. I just found out that Selden Spencer stopped in earlier in the day to thank everyone for the hard work. Things are looking optimistic here.

**Update #1**
All calls have been made. Food is running out. Johnny Cash playing on the CD player. People are just waiting for the polls to close. People are heading out to check the local results at the Courthouse or heading to victory party held by a local Democrat. I thought about heading to Ames to the party with the Spencer campaign, but have decided to stay home for the night.

**Update #2**
Democratic Headquarters has cleared out, with just a couple people sticking around, so I ran down the block and walked by the Republican Headquarters. It was a different picture there. They had about 20 people there and a TV that was tuned into Faux News.

More Reasons to Vote for Spencer

From Dr. Selden Spencer's campaign website...

Need more reasons to vote for Dr. Spencer?

“It would be great to have more representatives in Washington who know about health care, an issue the current Congress has ignored. Iowa should send to Congress Dr. Selden Spencer, a neurologist from Huxley.” -- Des Moines Register

“It’s unfortunate, but Latham is linked to the president in everything he says and in every vote he takes. We’ll all be better off if that link is broken. That’s one of the reasons Spencer is our choice for the House of Representatives.” -- Mason City Globe Gazette

“Spencer is an impressive candidate, well-spoken, with strong convictions. Most notably, he has done his homework to the extreme.” -- Ames Tribune

Election Predictions

Here are my election predictions for today...

Governor - Culver 56% - Nussle 44%
Sec of Agriculture - O'Brien 52% - Northey 48%
Sec of State - Mauro 59% - Hanusa 41%
Iowa House - 51 Democrats, 49 Republicans
Iowa Senate - 27Democrats, 23 Republicans

1st District - Braley 56% - Whalen 44%
2nd District - Loebsack 51% - Leach 49%
3rd District - Boswell 58% - Lamberti 42%
4th District - Latham 53% - Spencer 47%
5th District - King 54% - Schulte 38% - Nielson 8%

US Senate - Republicans 50 - Democrats 49 - Lieberman 1
(Democrats pick up seats in Ohio, Pennslyvannia, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Virginia)
US House - Democrats pick up 36 seats

Monday, November 06, 2006

Latham On the Attack

Tom Latham promised 2 weeks ago in a debate on WHO Radio with Selden Spencer that he would keep his campaign positive and not run negative ads. However, in the past week, Latham has pulled his postive ads in favor of negative ads that attack Spencer.

Then I heard that Latham's campaign sent radio stations around the 4th District a fax that says Spencer's radio ads featuring Wes Clark are against the FEC laws and should be pulled. One problem. The fax quotes the FEC regulations for TV ads, not radio ads. Spencer's ads with Clark are totally legal, Latham just doesn't like them because they tell the truth. This makes me wonder what Latham's internal polling numbers are showing.

Denise O'Brien Gets It

Back in September I thought to myself that, if all races were of equal importance, I would want Denise O'Brien to win the most out of any Democratic candidate. I couldn't really put my finger on the reason why. There are a lot of other good Democrats running for office (and a few not so good ones), but there is something about O'Brien that makes her stand out above everyone else.

Yesterday in the Des Moines Register Rekha Basu sums up my thoughts in a great article about O'Brien and explains how O'Brien just "gets it" about Iowa's future. The article begins with Basu retelling how she thought when she moved to Iowa, she would be living in a country house where milk was delivered and you were able to buy food from a roadside stand. Basu goes on to add...

We hadn't completely grasped that Des Moines was city and not country, or that Iowa agriculture was almost strictly about corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs, produced on an exceptionally large scale, then shipped elsewhere.

That would explain why the corn at the grocery store came from Missouri, and the pork was no fresher or choicer than anywhere else. And despite being a soybean state, there was no Iowa tofu to be found; soybeans went to feed the livestock. It also explained why there were few full-time farmers, and why people scratched their heads when I asked about visiting a working family farm.

Iowa wasn't "farm" country culturally or economically. It was corporate-agriculture country, interests well represented by the Farm Bureau and the big producers' and growers' associations.

The mystery was why we, as a state, accepted this model as best despite the costs to small farmers and the environment, and though rural communities were dying.
Basu closes by saying that there are Iowans that want to farm and Iowans that want to buy fresh food locally. O'Brien understands this and wants to make this a reality. This is a great chance for our rural communties to grow, it is a great chance for Iowa to grow. O'Brien gets it. I hope many other Iowans get it too and elect Denise O'Brien as the next Secretary of Agriculture.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Election 2006 Posts

I thought I would go through the posts that I have written on the candidates and put them in one post to make it easier for people to find.

Quad City Times Endorses Culver
Watch out Chet, the Boogeyman is Catching Up! - recommended
Report from the Johnson County Democratic BBQ -recommended
Lamberti Attacks Nussle's budget record
Nussle Scams Teachers, Children, and Future with NCLB
Iowa Teachers Endorse Culver

1st District
Braley Endorsed by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald
Meet the Real Bruce Braley
Braley Profiled on FireDogLake

2nd District
New Poll in 2nd District...Leach 50%, Loebsack 48%
Comments on Leach and Loebsack Debate - recommended
My Meeting With Dave Loebsack - recommended
Report from the Johnson County Democratic BBQ - recommended
Centrism is for Suckers (or the Sierra Club and NEA get swindled) - recommended
Leach Votes to Give Rich Another Tax Break and Hurt Working Iowans
2nd District Convention Report -recommended

4th District
Message from Selden Spencer
Spencer Endorsed by the Mason City Globe Gazette
Wes Clark Raising Money for Selden Spencer - recommended
Spencer's TV Ad Up and Ready To Go
Notes from Spencer's Campaign Stop -recommended
Latham Criticized for Negative Attack
Not Very Many People Like Tom Latham
Spencer's Speech at the Harkin Steak Fry - recommended
Selden Spencer Media Day
Selden Spencer Blogging from Afghanistan - recommended
Spencer Gets Props on MyDD - recommended
Latham Better Watch Out
Spencer Barnstorming the 4th District
4th District Convention Report

Sec. of Agriculture
Meeting Denise O'Brien - recommended
Met Denise O'Brien Over the Weekend