Campaign surrogates: asset or liability?

One of Donald Trump’s daughters-in-law was in Iowa today and a member of the Kennedy clan was here to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Campaign veterans say having a “surrogate” stand-in to campaign for the candidate can be a tricky.

David Kochel of Des Moines was a key insider on campaigns for Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. He says unless the campaign surrogate “has the same last name as the presidential candidate,” it’s difficult to draw much of a crowd or the desired media attention.

“In general, it can eat up a lot of staff resources and time with marginal benefit,” he says.

Good surrogates “underscore” the campaign’s core message to voters, according to Kochel.

“It is a motivation for supporters who are doing a lot of the work and the volunteering,” Kochel says. “It’s also a way to recruit volunteers and bring them in the door, but the message is the main thing.”

John Norris of Des Moines was a key insider on campaigns for Democratic presidential candidates Jesse Jackson and John Kerry. Norris says there’s a fine line between asset and liability when it comes to campaign surrogates.

“First of all, you want surrogates who are low maintainence, surrogates who can attract people for whatever the purpose is — for message, for fundraising,” Norris says,”and in Iowa there’s probably a higher threshold than in other states because Iowans are so used to having presidential candidates here.”

Kochel agrees.

“It’s always been tougher in Iowa to draw people who aren’t he candidates because we see so much of the candidates throughout the caucus process,” Kochel says.

Norris points out the presidential campaigns in Iowa are focused on early voting right now, since Iowans can start casting ballots next week.

“If the surrogate event is about getting the vote out and they’re an attractice surrogate, they can be helpful,” Norris says. “But if you spend a whole lot of time for a surrogate who doesn’t have much draw or electoral value, then you are probably directing your resources in a non-productive way.”

Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy, hosted a roundtable discussion in Des Moines this morning to call attention to Clinton’s ideas for addressing gaps in the mental health care system. At nearly the same time, there was a “Women for Trump” event featuring Trump’s daughter-in-law and a long-time aide to three of Trump’s adult children.

Lynne Patton is also an executive for Eric Trump’s charity. During an interview with Jason Noble of The Des Moines Register, Patton defended Donald Trump’s record of charitable donations. She told the newspaper Trump often asks groups to write a check to his charity rather than pay him directly for giving a speech. A Washington Post analysis concluded the candidate has not personally donated to his own charity since 2007.

As for those two political pros quotes above, I ran into John Norris at the statehouse late this morning. He and wife, Jackie Norris — the manager of Obama 2008 & Michelle Obama’s first White House chief of staff — have just returned to Des Moines after living in Rome for nearly two years. John Norris resigned as a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member in August of 2014 to become minister-counselor for the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Rome.

This afternoon, I talked by phone with David Kochel, who is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He’s a “fellow” this fall at the Harvard Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School. Tomorrow will be the first of his (private) study groups about “the campaign that broke all the rules.” Read more here. Check out his Twitter feed for his lunch photo. It’s not about the food, but the company. (Hint: the guy authored a book titled, “This Just In” back in 2002.)

Proposed slate of 2016 RNC delegates from #IAGOP

A dozen Iowa Republican Party delegates to the Republican National Convention were elected in April at the party’s four congressional district conventions. A nominating committee was assembled in April as well, with representatives from each of those districts. That nominating committee came up with a slate of delegates (and alternates) for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.  That slate will be voted upon Saturday at the Republican Party of Iowa’s state convention in Des Moines.

The list is below. It includes 2010 Republican Primary opponents Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats. It also includes Ted Cruz’s Iowa campaign manager (Bryan English) and Jeff King (son of Congressman Steve King, who worked for Cruz Super PAC before the Caucuses). Steve King is also on the list. Iowa’s two U.S. Senators are NOT on the list, but both have indicated they will go to the convention to meet with Iowa delegates outside of the convention hall (likely at receptions, morning meetings at the delegation’s hotel).

Here’s the entire slate:

At Large Delegate Terry Branstad

At Large Delegate Linda Upmeyer

At Large Delegate Cody Hoefert

At Large Delegate Steve King

At Large Delegate Bob Vander Plaats

At Large Delegate Marlys Popma

At Large Delegate Robert Cramer

At Large Delegate Loras Schulte

At Large Delegate Richard Rogers

At Large Delegate Randy Feenstra

At Large Delegate Bill Anderson

At Large Delegate Cecil Stinemetz

At Large Delegate Carol Hanson

At Large Delegate Bryan English

At Large Delegate Kim Reynolds

At Large Alternate Joesph Brown

At Large Alternate Mary Dorin

At Large Alternate Linda Stickle

At Large Alternate Dennis Guth

At Large Alternate Rose Jaeger

At Large Alternate Donna Robinson

At Large Alternate Kay Quirk

At Large Alternate Maurice McWhirter

At Large Alternate Craig Williams

At Large Alternate David Oman

At Large Alternate Heather Stancil

At Large Alternate Jeff King

At Large Alternate Chelle Adkins

At Large Alternate Jennifer Smith

At Large Alternate Shellie Bockenstedt

Here’s more explanation/bio on these delegates: Upmeyer is the first woman to be elected as the speaker of the Iowa House. She endorsed Newt Gingrich before the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, but was neutral in the race leading up to the 2016 Caucuses.  David Oman served as Branstad’s chief of staff when Branstad was first elected governor in 1982.  Oman was a fundraiser for Jeb Bush. He’s also been a past co-chair of the Iowa GOP and he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1998.

Randy Feenstra, Bill Anderson and Dennis Guth are state senators.

Robert Cramer is a businessman who ran unsuccessfully for congress in 2014 (David Young now holds that seat).  Cramer is on The Family Leader’s board of directors. Governor Branstad nominated him to serve on the Board of Regents a couple of years ago, but Democrats in the Iowa Senate refused to confirm him for the post.

Cody Hoefert is the co-chair of the Iowa GOP and Loras Schulte is a member of the party’s state central committee.

Marlys Popma has a long career in Iowa GOP politics. She worked on Phil Gramm’s 1996 campaign and worked for the Iowa GOP in 2000.  She was a Cruz person in 2016.



AUDIO: #IAGOP chairman talks about idea of ‘brokered’ convention

Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufmann spoke with Radio Iowa this morning about the upcoming Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.  “Iowa GOP chair says ‘poor losers’ pushing for brokered convention” is the headline of the Radio Iowa story. Below you can listen to Kaufmann’s responses to questions from Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Are a contested convention and a brokered convention the same thing?

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s answer (runs 4:26)

Henderson: Are “whips” from all three of the candidates — Trump, Cruz and Trump — contacting you about Iowa’s delegation at the RNC?

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s answer (runs 2:16)

Henderson: Going to a national convention is often the reward for years of toil at the grassroots of the party. Are there people who otherwise would want to go to Cleveland who do not want to go because of all this talk of rioting at the convention, or has it heightened interest?

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s answer (runs 2:21)

Henderson: What about Trump’s remarks about rioting at the convention?

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s answer (runs 2:03)

Iowa will send 30 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Kaufmann, chairman of the party, along with Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and Republican National Committeewoman Tamara Scott are delegates automatically.  Twelve more delegates will be elected April 9, 2016, at the Iowa GOP’s four congressional district conventions (here’s the math: 3 from each of the districts, so 3 x 4 = 12). The remaining 15 delegates will be elected at the Iowa Republican Party’s State Convention May 21, 2016.

Henderson: The state convention is normally in June. It’s going to be in May this year. Why?

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s answer (runs 1:28)

Henderson: In the context of ‘can Trump win the convention outright?’ — when you are a delegate, do people know for whom you will vote on the first ballot?

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s answer (runs 2:58)


@TerryBranstad statement on Obama nominating his cousin to SupCo

Turns out President Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court is a cousin of Iowa’s Republican governor. They are cousins on the maternal side of Branstad’s family tree. See Governor Terry Branstad’s statement below:

Gov. Branstad trusts Sen. Chuck Grassley and the governor will support the path chosen by Senator Grassley as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 

Over 20 years ago, at the request of Judge Garland, Gov. Branstad wrote a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley in support of Merrick Garland being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  Judge Garland is a second cousin of Gov. Branstad.  Gov. Branstad and Judge Garland met for the first time a couple of weeks ago while the governor was in Washington, DC for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting.  During their breakfast, Gov. Branstad, Judge Garland and their spouses discussed the family’s Latvian heritage.  The Governor has not followed Judge Garland’s judicial record since then and they did not discuss judicial matters at their first and only meeting a few weeks ago.

It is worth noting the federal process significantly differs from the process here in Iowa. In Iowa, the Judicial Nominating Commission nominates candidates for the bench for the governor to appoint. The choice in Iowa is not subject to confirmation in the Iowa Senate.

‘Substantial growth’ in voter registrations for both parties from #IACaucus

Today, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate issued the following news release:

Final Voter Registration Data Report from Iowa Caucus

DES MOINES – Both the Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party received substantial growth in their ranks during the past 75 days, much of which is directly attributable to the Iowa Caucuses. Iowa Democrats increased by 27,451. Iowa Republicans increased their ranks by 26,095.

“It’s very exciting to see so many Iowans engaged in the political process,” Secretary Pate said. “Clearly, these statistics show that Iowans care deeply about the direction and future of our country. They want to make their voices heard. I encourage every eligible Iowan to get involved in elections on every level, from the school board all the way to the White House.”

Many Iowans registered to vote or changed their party affiliation at their Caucus locations. County auditors across the state received thousands of voter registration forms from the parties after the Iowa Caucuses. They had 45 days to process those.


January 4
Democrats: 584,111
Republicans: 612,112
No Party: 726,819
Other: 7,555

March 15
Democrats: 611,562       (increase of 27,451)
Republicans: 638,207    (increase of 26,095)
No Party: 669,212           (decrease of 57,607)
Other: 6,511                      (decrease of 1,044)

Statewide, Republicans maintain a registration advantage of more than 26,000 voters over Democrats. Iowa Republicans have outnumbered Democrats since September 2013.

Many voters switched their party affiliation to participate in the Iowa Caucuses, with the split between the parties being almost equal. In terms of gross totals, 37,291 Iowans became Democrats and 37,217 became Republicans since January 1.

Change of Party Totals from January 1-March 15

     Democrat to Republican: 8,234

     Democrat to No Party: 3,077

     Democrat to Other: 113

     Republican to Democrat: 6,289

     Republican to No Party; 2,850

     Republican to Other: 143

     No Party to Democrat: 30,190

     No Party to Republican: 28,307

     No Party to Other: 263

     Other to Democrat: 812

     Other to Republican: 676

     Other to No Party: 92

The Iowa Caucus and the state’s new online voter registration system also attracted almost 24,000 newly registered voters.

New Voter Registrants from January 1-March 15
Democrat: 9,893
Republican: 7,398
No Party: 6,275
Other: 186
Total: 23,752

More than 8,600 Iowans have successfully used the state’s new electronic voter registration system since it’s launch on January 1. That includes new registrants and those that updated their registration. The system is housed on the Iowa Department of Transportation’s website and was built in cooperation with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

#IApolitics Statehouse leaders announce tentative deal on taxes

Written statements were issued by the legislature’s top two leaders this morning. Read them below in the order they were received.

Statement by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal regarding agreement with House Republican leaders 

“This agreement between Senate and House leaders is another step forward in our efforts to find common ground.

 “The framework of this bipartisan agreement with House leaders includes tax cuts for many Iowans.   The agreement with House leaders includes:

• Coupling Iowa’s tax code with a recent change in the federal tax code, including Section 179 expensing or bonus depreciation for only tax year 2015.
• Approving sales tax exemptions related to the purchase of items used in manufacturing and other activities (also known as “consumables”) that were included in legislation approved in 2014 by the House (House File 2443).

 “Iowa’s future depends on growing our middle class. As the details of the next state budget are developed, Senate Democrats will push hard for a budget that helps our state reach that goal.”

House and Senate Reach Agreement on Key Issues

(DES MOINES) – Today, House Republicans announced agreements on key issues before the Legislature.

“This agreement provides certainty to thousands of Iowa taxpayers and ensures that Iowans are not faced with an unexpected tax increase,” said House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake).  “At the end the day, the taxpayers are the real winners with this agreement.”

The agreement has led to the creation of House Study Bill 642, which includes provisions related to coupling as well as consumables.

House Study Bill 642 includes House File 2092, the tax coupling bill, which prevents a $95 million tax increase on Iowans.  Coupling with the federal tax code benefitted more than 177,000 taxpayers in 2014 including small businesses, farmers, teachers, homeowners, and college students.

House Study Bill 642 also includes provisions to codify the sales tax exemption for supplies used in manufacturing, which passed the House in 2014.  For too long, ambiguity in the code led to inconsistent interpretations by the Department of Revenue based on the state’s revenue needs.  By codifying this exemption, manufacturers are given a clear and consistent definition of what is subject to sales tax.

Long-time Iowa labor leader laid to rest today

Don Rowen became a card-carrying member of a union in 1955. He served as executive vice president of the Iowa Federation of Labor from 1978 until his retirement in 1990. He was an Eagle Scout who graduated from high school at the age of 16 and a husband for nearly 58 years.

Rowen grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, was drafted into the Army and served in Korea. In 1958, he and his wife, Virginia, moved to Iowa and they’ve been here ever since.  It’s hard to think of a Democratic Party event I’ve covered in the past three decades where I didn’t see Don and/or Virginia Rowen.

In this interview, conducted five years ago by Polk County Democratic Party chairman Tom Henderson (no relation), Rowen discussed his life and his work in the labor movement.

Rowen died last week and his funeral was this morning in Des Moines.  I’ve posted his obituary below.

Donald P. Rowen, 87, passed away March 3, 2016 at home surrounded by his family. Funeral services will be held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at St. Augustin Catholic Church in Des Moines. Visitation will be from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Monday March 7, with a Rosary and Vigil service at 7:30 p.m. at St. Augustin.

Donald was born on January 20, 1929 in Lincoln, Nebraska to Martha (Brocker) and Paul D. Rowen. He attended the University of Nebraska, College of Mechanical Engineering from 1946 to 1949 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1952. Don was a printer and joined the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, Local 82 in 1955. This was the beginning of Don’s long career in the labor movement.

He married the love of his life, Virginia Ann Krouse, on May 31, 1958 in Lincoln. They moved to Fort Dodge where Don became superintendent of Messenger Printing and joined the Des Moines local of the Lithographers. In 1961, they moved to Des Moines when Don was elected full-time President of the Iowa Local, Amalgamated Lithographers of America, later merged into Lithographers and Photoengravers International Union, then Graphic Communications International Union, and presently Graphic Communication Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In 1970, he was elected President of the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. In 1978, he was elected Executive Vice-President of the Iowa Federation of Labor, a position he held until his retirement in 1990.

Civic and community involvement was a lifelong passion. Don was an Eagle Scout and had 20 years of service with the Boy Scouts. He was member of the Knights of Columbus since 1950 and was the oldest Knight at St. Augustin Parish at the time of his death. He served on many boards and committees, including Greater Opportunities, Inc; Greater Des Moines United Way; Des Moines Botanical Center Board; Manpower Area Planning Council; Polk County Corrections Commission; Iowa Health Systems Agency; Iowa Commission for the Blind; Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Inc.; Career Education advisory committee with Des Moines Public Schools; Public Services Research, Inc.; Iowa State Compensation Commission; Des Moines Area Community College Board of Directors (1974-1986); Iowa High Technology Council; Advisory Committee on Workers’ Compensation; Polk County Charter Commission; Des Moines Area National Council on Alcoholism; Iowa Leadership Consortium on Health; Health Policy Corporation of Iowa; Child and Family Policy Center; Central Iowa Chapter American Red Cross; Gov. Vilsack’s Committee on Administrative Rules; Gov. Vilsack’s Committee on African-Americans in Prison; Moingona Girl Scout Council; Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Polk County Health Services; Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans; MICAH (Corrections and Prison Reform); Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; Polk County Health Services Foundation; and Iowa Citizen Action Network. In addition he was a delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention; a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging (1995); and was appointed to the Polk County Board of Supervisors as interim Supervisor for the 4th District (1996). At the time of his death, Don was still an active member of the Friends of Iowa Legal Services Committee.

Don’s public service earned him numerous awards including a place on the list of the “25 Most Powerful People in Des Moines” in 1976; Des Moines Citizen of the Year (1977); SCIFL Jim MacDonald Award; Iowa Trial Lawyers Association Public Service Award; American Red Cross Special Recognition for Labor Leadership; Iowa AFL-CIO Labor Hall of Fame inductee; Douglas A. Fraser Community Service Award, Iowa UAW CAP; Iowa Civil Rights Citizen of the Year; ICAN Board Service Award; Honorary Member of Pioneer Lawmakers; Iowa Alliance for Retired Persons George Kourpias Award; and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Lifetime Honorary Board Member.

In addition to his work to make the community a better place, Donald was a devoted son, loving husband and wonderful father and grandfather. He led by example and has left a legacy of good deeds. This world is truly a better place because of him. He is survived by his wife of almost 58 years, Virginia; son John (Kris) of Altoona; daughters Pamela Glider of Des Moines, Karen (Joseph) Romano of Johnston, Elizabeth (Jeff) Regenold of West Des Moines, and Susie Stroud of Des Moines; grandchildren Natasha (Manon) Lovan, Kendra Glider, Rosie Romano, Nick Romano, Jake Stewart, Christopher Rowen, Alex Regenold, and Ben Regenold; great-grandsons Eli and Manning Lovan; brothers Robert of Washougal, WA, and David of Granada Hills, CA; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, son Steven, and brother Harold.

In lieu of flowers, Don requested memorial contributions to Iowa Friends of Legal Services (P.O. Box 41803, Des Moines, IA 50311-1103) or Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (505 Fifth Ave, Suite 444, Des Moines, IA 50309-2321). On line condolences will be welcomed at

@PattyForIowa launches US Senate bid, aimed at unseating @ChuckGrassley

The news — rumored for days — came this morning:

Patty Judge announces campaign for U.S. Senate
DES MOINES, Iowa – Patty Judge, a lifelong Iowan, farmer, and dedicated public servant, has announced her candidacy for United States Senate. Judge released the following statement announcing her candidacy:
“I’ve been fortunate to grow up in Iowa and to farm in Monroe county. I have served my friends and neighbors in the state Senate, and as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture and Lieutenant Governor. Throughout my entire life in Iowa and during my time in office, I’ve always been proud of the way Iowans work together. From leading our state’s response to catastrophic flooding in 2008 to advocating for Iowa agriculture and biofuels, I’ve witnessed Iowans from all walks of life join together to strengthen our state.
“In the past, I’ve worked with Senator Grassley, but unfortunately he has changed. Senator Grassley is acting like someone who has been in Washington for far too long. Instead of working on behalf of Iowans, he’s working for his friends in Washington to block progress and promote obstructionism.”
“I’m running for Senate because we need to start working for Iowans again. We need a Senator who will promote progress and not forget who they represent. I look forward to traveling across our great state in the weeks and months ahead. I hope Iowans will support my campaign and send a strong message about the kind of representation we want in Washington.”
Following two terms in the Iowa Senate, Patty was the first woman in Iowa history to become the state’s Secretary of Agriculture. During her time as Lt. Governor, Patty also served as the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor. A lifelong resident of Iowa, Patty and her family have owned a cow/calf farm in Monroe County for over 40 years. Patty and her husband John have three sons and four grandchildren, all of whom still call Iowa home.

The following statement was delivered 27 minutes BEFORE the Judge campaign made her decision “official” in the release above. (FYI: NRSC is the National Republican Senatorial Committee)

NRSC Statement On Patty Judge

WASHINGTON – The NRSC released the following statement after liberal Iowa Democrat Patty Judge launched her campaign website:

“No one works harder for Iowa than Chuck Grassley. Senator Grassley wrote the book on how public servants should talk to voters and take their ideas and concerns directly to Washington.

“Patty Judge is an out-of-touch liberal who was shown the door by voters last time she ran for office. Democrats might be celebrating the fact they were able to convince someone to pursue the fool’s errand of running against Chuck Grassley, but Judge will have no more luck than those who tried before her.

“Aside from Senator Grassley’s unwavering commitment to the Hawkeye State, Judge’s support for the failed policies of Barack Obama and her inescapable ties to the unpopular legacy of Chet Culver are enough to sink her electoral prospects on their own.” – NRSC spokesman Greg Blair

Judge spoke with Radio Iowa this morning by phone. Read the details here.

There is already one Democrat who has filed to place his name on the June Primary ballot. Details here. Nonetheless, the DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) has come out with a statement about Judge, saying she “will be” rather than “would be” when using the phrase “formidable challenger” to describe Judge.

DSCC Statement on Iowa Senate Race

Tom Lopach, Executive Director of the DSCC, released the following comment after Patty Judge announced her candidacy for Senate in Iowa:

“Patty Judge is a farmer, a nurse, and an outstanding public servant who has spent her career working for Iowa families. She will be a formidable challenger to Senator Grassley whose unprecedented obstruction of the constitution and flat out refusal to do his job and hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee are proof that he’s simply spent too much time in Washington following his party at the expense of commonsense.”

@ChuckGrassley & rest of Senate GOP: no hearings on Obama SupCo nominee

Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff just emailed the following announcement:

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans today sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicating that they will exercise their constitutional authority to withhold consent of a Supreme Court nomination and will not hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until the next President is sworn in.
The letter, signed by all Judiciary Committee Republicans, says, “Accordingly, given the particular circumstances under which this vacancy arises, we wish to inform you of our intention to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this President to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy.  Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017.”

Committee members wrote that they wanted, “To ensure the American people are not deprived of the opportunity to engage in a full and robust debate over the type of jurist they wish to decide some of the most critical issues of our time.”  Concerns have been raised about the President already indicating that he has no intention of nominating somebody in the mold of Justice Scalia. Regardless, it is principle over the person that matters most.

As former Judiciary Committee Chairman and current Vice-President Joe Biden said in a speech given on the Senate floor, “It is my view that if the President goes the way of Presidents Fillmore and Johnson and presses an election-year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.”  And as he said, it does not matter, “How good a person is nominated by the President.” 

A copy of the text of the letter is below.

Dear Majority Leader McConnell,

As we write, we are in the midst of a great national debate over the course our country will take in the coming years. The Presidential election is well underway. Americans have already begun to cast their votes. As we mourn the tragic loss of Justice Antonin Scalia, and celebrate his life’s work, the American people are presented with an exceedingly rare opportunity to decide, in a very real and concrete way, the direction the Court will take over the next generation. We believe The People should have this opportunity.

Over the last few days, much has been written about the constitutional power to fill Supreme Court vacancies, a great deal of it inaccurate. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution is clear.  The President may nominate judges of the Supreme Court. But the power to grant, or withhold, consent to such nominees rests exclusively with the United States Senate. This is not a difficult or novel constitutional question. As Minority Leader Harry Reid observed in 2005, “The duties of the Senate are set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give the Presidential nominees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.”

We intend to exercise the constitutional power granted the Senate under Article II, Section 2 to ensure the American people are not deprived of the opportunity to engage in a full and robust debate over the type of jurist they wish to decide some of the most critical issues of our time.  Not since 1932 has the Senate confirmed in a presidential election year a Supreme Court nominee to a vacancy arising in that year. And it is necessary to go even further back — to 1888 — in order to find an election year nominee who was nominated and confirmed under divided government, as we have now.

Accordingly, given the particular circumstances under which this vacancy arises, we wish to inform you of our intention to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this President to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy.  Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

Chuck Grassley
Orrin Hatch
Jeff Sessions
Lindsey Graham
John Cornyn
Mike Lee
Ted Cruz
Jeff Flake
David Vitter
David Perdue
Thom Tillis       

Iowa’s elected officials react to Dow-DuPont-Pioneer decision

The Hi-Bred Corn Company was founded in Iowa in 1926.  In 1936, the name was changed to Pioneer Hi-Bred. In 1999, DuPont bought Pioneer.  In 2012, the name was changed to DuPont Pioneer.  Today, as the merger of DuPont and Dow Chemical is underway, came news that Johnston, Iowa, will not be the seed giant’s headquarters. It will be in Wilmington, Delaware.

Iowa’s congressional delegation wrote the company a letter in late January to lobby executives to choose Johnston as corporate headquarters.  State officials had offered incentives to try to lure the HQ to be in Johnston, where Pioneer has had a prominent presence. Now, the state is giving the company $14 million in research tax credits and a $2 million forgivable loan for the retention of 500 high-paying research jobs. Johnston will be home to something called the “global business center” for the seed operation.

Here are the statements from Iowa elected officials about the decision:

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) issued the following statement following news that the agricultural company that will emerge from the Dow-DuPont merger will not be headquartered in Iowa:
“Today’s news is certainly disappointing for our state and also difficult, particularly for the hard working Iowans who were laid off and their families. My thoughts are with them during this time.
“Iowa is a leader in agriculture and plays a critical part in ensuring folks in the U.S. and around the world have access to a safe and affordable food supply. Although the agricultural company will not be headquartered in Iowa, it is my hope that Dow-DuPont will expand and produce more good-paying jobs in our state in the very near future.”
Last month, Senator Ernst joined Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressmen Rod Blum, Steve King, Dave Loebsack and David Young to send a letter to Mr. Edward Breen and Mr. Andrew Liveris  highlighting the many benefits to making Iowa the home of the agricultural company that could soon emerge from the Dow-DuPont merger. The members of the Iowa delegation wrote in part, “We believe that Iowa’s rich agricultural heritage combined with our state’s dynamic leadership in agricultural and bioscience innovation would serve as an exceptional center for your agriculture business.” 

Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and member of the Agriculture Committee, made the following statement after DuPont and Dow announced the structure of the merged independent agriculture company.  DuPont’s agriculture business had been headquartered in Johnston, Iowa.
“The proposed DuPont-Dow merger left Iowans wondering about the future of an iconic Iowa company.  Today’s announcement may not be what we had hoped, but it underscores the value of Pioneer’s outstanding employees and innovative research and development.  It’s further evidence that the people of Iowa are again our greatest asset.   I hope this new entity will continue to embrace the unique and strategic resources of Iowa and its workforce. 
“Still at issue is the antitrust review which I’ll be keeping a close eye on.  Vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws is imperative to maintaining an open, fair and competitive marketplace.   I’m continuing to listen to concerns from farmers and consumers about the merger.”

(DES MOINES) – Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds today issued statements regarding DowDuPont’s decision to locate Global Business Center in Iowa.

“We are proud that DowDuPont’s leadership has selected Iowa as its Global Business Center for its newly formed agriculture company. For the past few months, we’ve been in contact with officials at Dow and DuPont and have had the pleasure of showing them what Iowa has to offer, a world-class biosciences company,” said Branstad. “I am glad to say they agreed. We are anxious to help DowDuPont experience success in Iowa, by providing a foundation to build on and a business climate that nurtures growth.”

Reynolds concurred, “Iowa has a long history with Pioneer and its predecessor organizations. We are excited to continue that relationship well into the future with DowDuPont. Today’s announcement is a reason to celebrate — keeping the research and development and business operations in Iowa solidifies DowDuPont in our state and positions us well to compete for future growth opportunities.”

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after DowDuPont announced that their new agriculture headquarters will not be headquartered in Iowa. The company also announced that they will continue to have a presence in Iowa by establishing a new agriculture unit in Johnston. 

“Iowa’s farmers feed and fuel the world and together with Iowa’s universities, they create a world-class environment for research and development in ag sciences. While I am disappointed DowDupont did not choose Iowa for its global headquarters, I am pleased they will still continue to have a presence in our state when they establish a new agriculture unit located in Johnston.”

“Last month, Loebsack joined the rest of the Iowa delegation in sending a letter to leaders of both Dow and DuPont highlighting the reasons that Iowa would be a great place to locate its agricultural company.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after Dow-DuPont announced they did not choose Iowa as the headquarter location for their new agricultural company:

“Iowans have always ensured a safe and affordable food supply for not only the U.S. but for the world as well. As a result, this news is more than disappointing for our great state and for all the hard-working men and women who were laid off as a result of Dow-DuPont’s decision to locate their new agricultural headquarters elsewhere,” said King. “My thoughts and prayers are with these families during this difficult time.

Last month, I, along with the members of the Iowa delegation, sent a letter to the CEOs of DuPont and Dow, Mr. Edward Breen and Mr. Andrew Liveris. The delegation outlined, in this letter, the many benefits to making Iowa the home of the agricultural company that emerged from the Dow-DuPont merger. The letter stated, ‘We are proud of our state’s leadership in agricultural production – not only as the top biofuels producing state, but also as a world’s leader in corn and soybean output. For these reasons, and many others, Iowa would be a great home for your agriculture company.’

“Even though the news is disappointing, this decision does not alter the importance of the work done by Iowa’s agricultural community. Iowa is now, and will always be a leader in agriculture. I have long said all new wealth comes from the land. I hope Dow-DuPont will expand and produce more jobs in our state in the near future. Until then, I will work to bring back those jobs lost to Iowa.”  


JOHNSTON, Iowa — (February 19, 2016) — When City leaders heard that high level decisions were being made as to the future of DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, they acted quickly to make the case for maintaining and adding jobs to our community.  Mayor Paula Dierenfeld traveled to Wilmington, Delaware in January to talk with top Dow-DuPont decision makers about why Johnston is the ideal place to maintain a global research center and locate a corporate headquarters. For weeks, Dierenfeld has worked closely with local DuPont Pioneer leaders, Iowa Economic Development officials and the Governor’s Office to ensure Johnston’s voice was heard in the Dow-DuPont decision making process.

We are pleased that Dow-DuPont leaders have chosen to maintain the global research center here in Johnston.  The land that Henry Wallace discovered and cultivated decades ago is still the ideal place in which to conduct seed research that benefits millions of farmers in 90 different countries.

While there are still many unknowns as to what this decision means for Johnston, we believe that within five years, we will see additional research investments in our community.  We are working side-by-side with DuPont Pioneer to maximize the potential investment.

“While the decision by Dow-DuPont was not everything we had hoped, we are very pleased the global research hub will remain in Johnston.  The recent investments in research facilities and the high quality workforce we have in our community obviously went a long ways in convincing Dow-Dupont’s leadership that Johnston is the right place to focus their research activities. The company’s decision continues to position us well for future economic growth in Johnston,” said Mayor Dierenfeld.