The current and former governor debate

Lee Enterprises and Citadel Communications are sponsoring tonight’s debate, which starts at 7 p.m.  It’s being staged at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, airing live on TV stations KCAU in Sioux City, WOI in Des Moines and WHBF in the Quad Cities.   Iowa Public Television will rebroadcast the debate at 8 p.m. tonight.

KCAU’s Larry Wentz and WOI’s Amanda Krenz are the moderators.  They’re on the screen as I type, standing in front of the two candidates.  Governor Chet Culver, the Democrat, is on the left of the screen and former Governor Terry Branstad, the Republican, is on the right.

A panel of reporters/editors will ask the questions.  They are Mike Gors of The Sioux City Journal; Josh Nelson of The Waterloo Courier; Ed Tibbetts of The Quad City Times and Arian Schuessler of The Mason City Globe Gazette.

Both candidates are wearing red ties!  What follows are my notes, a sort of live blog of the event.

First question goes to Branstad.  Kors cites statistics of Branstad’s 16-year tenure as governor, then asks if his criticism of Culver is just the “pot calling the kettle black.”

Branstad: If you look at the totality of the record…I left the state is a strong fiscal position…(There is now) a projected budget deficit of one million dollars.

Culver begins with thanks to sponsors, mentions the venue.  Stresses that “Terry Branstad has been misleading Iowans.”

Moderator starts to turn it over to Tibetts, but Branstad jumps in and asks about the rules. 

Tibbetts asks about I-JOBS.

[Read more…]

Listen to the 2010 Harkin Steak Fry

The 2010 Harkin Steak Fry — the 33rd annual — is history.  I wrote four blog posts from the afternoon, in this order:  one about the news conference before; two  about the first half of the program; and three about the last half of the program.

Here’s Radio Iowa’s story about the event, plus a story solely focused on Harkin’s half hour speech.  There were two quotes about rented mules during the afternoon and a reference to the “uber” rich.   Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin posted a photo gallery, then a columnThe Des Moines Register’s Jason Clayworth posted this.  Kathie Obradovich of The Register blogged this.  Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times posted this.

Here are the speeches, if you’d like to listen:

David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, and White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod: PlouffeAxelrodFry

Senator Tom Harkin: Harkin2010Fry

Governor Chet Culver & Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge: CulverJudge2010Fry

US Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin: ConlinFry2010

The Steak Fry Show begins

Roxanne Conlin, the Democratic candidate for the US Senate, was first to speak during the “main program” for Senator Tom Harkin’s Steak Fry fundraiser this afternoon.  She gave a short speech, making reference at one point to the “uber-rich” — promting a woman sitting in the front row of the tent watching Conlin’s speech to repeat “uber” with a sort of awestruck tone.

A man under the tent shouted “You won the debate!” as Conlin started speaking.  Conlin a few moments later mentioned her joint appearance on Iowa Press with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and told the crowd she doubted Grassley would agree to a televised debate.

“I’m glad you saw it,” Conlin said to people in the crowd who had yelled that they’d seen Iowa Press this weekend, “because as far as I know, he’s not coming out of his house again.”

Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge spoke briefly, introducing Governor Chet Culver who said: “People say it’s do or die time.  I say it’s do time…People wonder whether (Democrats) are up to the challenge….I’m telling you we are up to it…Stand with me.”

Harkin’s wife, Ruth, was next to speak, telling the crowd what’s upu with the two Harkin daughters.  Then Harkin was on.  Harkin quipped he’d asked Glenn Beck to estimate the size of the Steak Fry crowd. “He says there are at least 500,000 people here today,” Harkin said.

Harkin then said he’d asked Sarah Palin for a crowd assessment. “She said it’s so big she can see it from Wasilla,” Harkin said.

Harkin said Americans are “fed up with all this right wing…fear mongering.”  Harkin said: “They want to distract people so they’ll forget what happened last time they were in charge.”

Harkin put the 2010 choice for voters this way: “The elephants want to take us back. It’s either the clean up crew or the wrecking crew.”

Harkin offered a prediction on the governor’s race: “Chet Culver is going to beat Terry Branstad like a rented mule.”

Harkin offered a few words for Roxanne Conlin, saying Iowa would “make a little history,” as no woman has ever been elected in Iowa as a governor or member of congress.

Harkin seems to be wrapping up:  “I’m fed up with people sitting around and gazing at their navels and asking what it’s going to take to fire up…Winning campaigns are not about magic, or mood control…It’s about getting down to work…so friends, enjoy the festivities today.  Tomorrow, we’ve got to go to work.”

“…This is Obama country and we’re going to let him know it by our election this November.”  At about 3:25 Harkin introduced the two Davids — Axelrod & Plouffe.

Pre-Steak Fry conversation with Axelrod

David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama, is one of two Davids who will be speaking this Sunday at Senator Tom Harkin’s annual “Steak Fry” in Indianola.  (The other David scheduled to be there is David Plouffe.)

Axelrod spoke, by phone, with Radio Iowa late this afternoon.  

Henderson: “Let’s talk about what’s happening on the ground in Iowa first.  Chet Culver is trailing.  Iowa’s three Democratic incumbent congressmen by no means have a cake-walk to November.  How and why have the fortunes of Iowa Democrats changed from 2008 to now?”

Axelrod:  “I’d say a few things about the governor’s race.  I can only tell you I’m a veteran of the Vilsack campaigns and in 1998, a little later than this in September, the headline in The Des Moines Register was ‘Experts: Vilsack has no chance’ and we were 20 points behind so I’m always reluctant to draw too many conclusions, but I also think it’s true that Iowa is not immune to the same forces that are animating politics everywhere. You know, we’ve had a difficult couple of years.  We inherited an unholy mess when we walked in the door and, more than us, the American people have been through a difficult couple of years after a decade in which most middle class people were treading water or falling behind so you know that puts pressure on the incumbent party.  We may not have created the mess, but, you know, we’re responsible for cleaning it up and while we’ve made some good progress from the time we arrived when the…last month of the Bush Administration we lost 800,000 jobs, we’ve had eight straight months of private sector job growth and we’re getting stronger but not fast enough for anyone’s liking, particularly when we lost eight million jobs during that recession and that has an impact and, you know, there’s no two ways about it.

“But ultimately these elections are about choices.  There’s not referendums on either a party or on the state of the economy, they’re a choice between candidates and governing philosophies and the Republican Party’s made it clear, the chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee said, ‘Our goal is to go back to the very same agenda we had before this president took office.’  The other day Mr. Boehner said, ‘Let’s go back to the 2008 Bush budget.’  They want to go back to the situation where interest groups, big corporate interest groups and Wall Street — essentially — got to regulate themselves and write their own rules and the kind of policies that caused the $237 billion surplus that Bill Clinton left to become a $1.3 trillion deficit that we were handed from George Bush — nobody wants to go back to those policies.

“And I think when people focus on the choice, then, you know, you’re going to be a little surprised at the result.  We Obama people, perhaps more than any, appreciate that the conventional wisdom is often wrong.”

Henderson: “You brought up Tom Vilsack.  If Mr. Emanuel leaves the White House to run for mayor, would Tom Vilsack made a good chief of staff?”

[Read more…]

Silver forecast for Iowa races for US Senate, governor

Nate Silver’s is now on The New York Times website.  His latest forecasts on the U.S. Senate races suggest there’s a one percent chance Republicans will lose the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa that’s currently held by Chuck Grassley.  (Grassley’s up for reelection this year, facing Democrat Roxanne Conlin.)  Here’s Silver’s post on senate races around the country. 

Silver’s forecast for the Iowa governor’s race — 97.3 percent chance for a Republican win.  (Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, faces former Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, on November’s ballot.)

Branstad’s hat tip to Jimmy Dean

How many of you remember the “talking cow” ad Terry Branstad ran late in his 1994 race against Bonnie Campbell?  “Don’t gamble with Campbell,” the talking cow said. The ad was produced by Mike Murphy. 

Branstad, for his 2010 campaign, has a new ad on the airwaves.  It takes the lyrics of the 1961 Jimmy Dean song, “Big Bad John,” and inserts words critical of the current governor, Chet Culver.  “Big bad debt” is the repeated line.

Branstad’s not the first, nor will he be the last political candidate to use this song.  For example, Senator John Cornyn of Texas used it in 2008.  (Jimmy Dean died this past June at the age of 81.  The LA Times obituary for Dean says he wrote “Big Bad John” on a 90-minute airplane flight from New York to Tennesee.)

Corn PAC endorsements

The Iowa Corn Growers Association’s PAC has made 66 candidate endorsements.  The group endorsed both major party candidates running for governor, along with all five incumbents in Iowa’s congressional delegation. 

Read the ICGA’s news release below:

Iowa Corn Growers Association Announces Corn PAC Awards

Johnston, IA, September 1, 2010  –  Today, the Iowa Corn Growers Association  Political Action Committee (ICGA PAC) endorsed 66 candidates for the November 2010 elections, including 57 candidates for the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives.

The ICGA PAC established bipartisan support for Democrats and Republicans for the 2010 state and federal races, including 33 Democrats and 33 Republicans.
“Political decisions here in Iowa are critical to the future of farming,” said Bruce Rohwer, PAC chair. “PAC support is one tool we can use to help elect people who have supported corn growers’ policies and who have taken action on issues that matter to corn growers.”

ICGA PAC decisions are made through an objective analysis including candidate responses to our survey, voting records, letters and other quantified evidence of support.  The ICGA PAC committee members include farmers from across Iowa, with an equal balance of party affiliation to ensure decisions are based only on corn growers’ policies.

Endorsements for the 2010 federal election cycle include:
• Senator Grassley (R)
• Congressman Boswell (D)
• Congressman Braley (D)
• Congressman King (R)
• Congressman Latham (R)
• Congressman Loebsack (D)

The Iowa Corn Growers Political Action Committee (PAC) has endorsed both Terry Branstad (R) and Chet Culver (D) for the 2010 State of Iowa, Governor’s Race.

The Iowa Corn Growers PAC is also endorsing Bill Northey (R) for the 2010 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture race.

The Iowa Corn PAC endorsed 57 candidates for the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2010 election cycle.

[Read more…]

Check it off the list

The governor has issued two proclamations today, both of which are formalities regarding the November ballot.  Read the details below, as outlined in a news release from the governor’s office.

Governor Culver Issues Election Proclamations

Notification of proposed actions required by law

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver has signed two proclamations concerning the Iowa Constitution. By law, both proclamations must be issued at least 60 days prior to Election Day. The first is a proclamation relating to the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Amendment to the Constitution that will be on the November ballot.

The Governor also issued a proclamation regarding the constitutional convention question that will be on November’s ballot. The question to hold a convention to amend or revise the Iowa Constitution is required by law to be put before voters every 10 years. The last year the question was on the ballot was 2000.

Maxine’s not coming, but Vicki is

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters has cancelled her appearance in Des Moines tomorrow. 

Vicki Kennedy, wife of the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, will headline an event for Governor Chet Culver next month.  She is the “special guest” at the fundraiser on Thursday, September 9 in central Iowa.  Individuals can pay $1000 to go; $1500 to be listed as a host or $2000 to be listed as a sponsor. 

Vicki Kennedy hosted a fundraiser for Culver in Masschusetts on May 10. Culver’s father, John, was a long-time friend of Senator Kennedy.

Narcisse avoids Friday the 13th

Friday, August 13, 2010 is the deadline for candidates for state and federal office to file the paperwork required to have their names printed on the November ballot.  Jonathan Narcisse ended the speculation today and the latest information indicates Narcisse filed his nominating petitions to run for governor under the “Iowa Party” banner on August 12 (today).   

(For those of you just reading about Narcisse for the first time, Narcisse had said he’d run against Chet Culver in the Democratic Primary, but changed his mind.)

Here’s the latest candidate list for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat, congressional seats, statewide elected offices and legislative races.