Last minute hits of 2010 campaign

The big news of the weekend for (most) Iowans is that both Iowa and Iowa State won today. Iowa beat Michigan State 37-6; Iowa State beat Kansas 28-16.  Many Iowa politicians, though, are waiting for their “scores” to be posted on Election Night. The Iowa Democratic Party has a countdown clock on its website, if you want to know how many hours, minutes & seconds are left ’til the polls open on Tuesday. The Republican Party of Iowa’s website doesn’t have a countdown clock; it does have something about party chair Matt Strawn’s “power hour” tour which concluded today. 

There are a few skirmishes in the closing hours. Democrats are pointing to this story in The Cedar Rapids Gazette about GOP lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds.  Republicans are pointing to this story about Attorney General Tom Miller’s fundraising.

There was a debate about the judicial retention election on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” this weekend (the show is rebroadcast Sunday morning at 11:30).  After the show, Iowa for Freedom issued this news release:

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Judicial retention election debate on “Iowa Press”

If you miss tonight’s broadcast of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television, you can watch it here.  The topic:  Iowa’s judicial retention election.  The guests on the show were former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark McCormick, who has been active in pro-retention/vote yes efforts, and Bob Vander Plaats, a spokesman for Iowa for Freedom — the anti-retention/vote no group.  Vander Plaats, a Republican, ran for governor in 2002, 2006 and 2010.  McCormick, a Democrat, ran for governor in 1998. 

Here’s the Radio Iowa story about today’s event.  Rod Boshart of The Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote this story.  Our colleagues at The Des Moines Register highlighted a comment Vander Plaats made after the show.  DMR columnist Kathie Obradovich blogged this:

…“Anybody watching this program would see a level of judicial arrogance,” (Vander Plaats) said. “And the people of Iowa are still their own people. .. so when they read in judicial arrogance, it may not be just three Supreme Court justices. It may be others as well.”

Asked he were specifically saying McCormick was arrogant, Vander Plaats said, “Yeah, I believe so…”

 Register reporter Grant Schulte wrote this.  The AP’s Mike Glover wrote this.

The 2010 Jefferson-Jackson Day program (Audio)

“We aren’t going back,” Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky just told the crowd as she concluded her opening remarks at 7:42 p.m.  There was a delay in the program’s launch this evening, due to a false alarm.  Party officials say 1400 tickets were sold for the 2010 Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  There are tables set for a little less than 1200, however.

The night’s cash haul?  “We have broken $300,00o,” Dvorsky announced to the crowd.

What follows is a live blog of the evening.

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) was the first elected official to speak.  I don’t recognize the music they played as Braley makes his way on stage.  (Braley staffer emailed to say it was “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys.  Braley grew up in Brooklyn, Iowa.)  “In 2006, we gave them hope.  In 2008, we gave them change and in 2010 we’re going to give them hell.  We’re just going to speak truth to lies and speak truth to fear and they’re going to think it’s hell when they’re listening to it,” Braley said to open his remarks.

Braley next said the pundits who are predicting November 2 will be “doomsday for Democrats” are wrong.  “We are at our best when we are standing together, fighting for what we believe in…and that’s why Democrats are going to win all over this state on November 2.”

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The Cedar Rapids debate: gambling a key topic

The Cedar Rapids Gazette and KCRG-TV are hosting a debate this evening at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.  The “debaters” are Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat who is seeking a second term, and Terry Branstad, a Republican who was Iowa’s governor from January of 1983 through January of 1999 and who is seeking a fifth term.  What follows is a live blog of the event.  (UPDATE: The testiest exchange came after the question about gambling. I transcribed much of what the two men said during that portion of the debate.  Here’s the Radio Iowa story about tonight’s event.)

The first question:  how would you eliminate projected budget shortfall for FY12 and still provide essential services?

Branstad blamed Culver and Democratic legislators. “It was caused one-time money for on-going expenses,” he said.  Branstad pledged to “thoughtfully and sustematically reduce” the size of govt. He proposed selling the state vehicle fleet and leasing vehicles instead; combining state govt email systems into one; eliminating state govt positions funded, but not filled.

Culver said: “We will balance the budget just like we have for four years in a row…We have proven we can govern…during challenging times.”  Cited former Republican State Auditor Dick Johnson’s criticism of Branstad’s previous tenure as governor, adding there were “budget gaps” when Branstad was governor, too. 

Branstad said “you almost get a whip-lash” while listening to Culver talk about the state budget.  ” They passed the biggest budget in history, over the objections of Republicans in the legislature,” he said.  Branstad noted tomorrow is the anniversary of the day Culver ordered an across-the-board cut of 10 percent in the state budget.

Culver said Branstad “has broken his promise time and time again to Iowans by not telling the truth.”  Culver cited tax increases Branstad signed as governor and said Branstad continued to increase the state budget he was governor — “between 1990 and 1999 he added $1 billion in spending.”

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Mike Pence @ Iowa F&F banquet

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is this evening’s keynote speaker for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition banquet.  It’s part of a reallignment of the old Christian Coalition.  The Iowa Christian Coalition renamed itself the Iowa Christian Alliance in 2006, and when Ralph Reed launched the national Faith & Freedom Coalition last year, the Iowa Christian Alliance allied itself with Reed’s group.

What follows is a live blog of the event.

Gopal Krishna is the master of ceremonies this evening and he joked with the crowd about the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, then Krishna offered a top ten list for immigrants, beginning with “speak English” and also including:  “If God offends you, we suggest you consider some other part of the world as your new home.”

Krishna introduced the statewide GOP candidates who are in the crowd, including GOP lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds (Terry Branstad is not here).

Third district congressional candidate Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, was allowed to speak to the crowd.  “You have probably turned on the TV and you’ve seen some personal attacks on me that have been taken out of context,” Zaun said. “…Congressman Boswell is a nice man…but I feel very passionate about what’s going on and it’s unfortunate about these ads and campaign.  I would challenge Congressman Boswell just one time, in one ad, just give us a solution.”

Zaun gave a very brief speech, mentioning what his living situation will be if he’s elected: “I’m going to get a sofa that folds up to a bed and live in my office.”

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Vander Plaats announcement: not running in November; leading campaign against SupCo justices

Listen to the announcement here.  Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats held a news conference on the sidewalk outside the Iowa Judicial Building and began by saying he had ruled out running for governor as an independent candidate in the fall election.  Vander Plaats then announced he’ll lead an effort to unseat the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who are on November’s ballot in a retention election.

Read the news releases/statements which have been issued regarding these two announcements.

VANDER PLAATS LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO UNSEAT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES WHO LEGISLATED SAME-SAX MARRIAGE FROM BENCH

Sioux City Businessman Will Not Run for Governor as Independent Candidate

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AUDIO: The 2010 Iowa GOP state convention

It’s 9:58 a.m. and a man’s voice coming through the sound system is telling delegates to take their seats here in Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. Convention activities are set to commence at 10 a.m.  A battle looms over who the delegates at this convention will pick as the party’s lieutenant governor nominee:  the man who finished second in the June 8th GOP gubernatorial primary or the woman who the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee has picked.  UPDATE:  Kim Reynolds won 55.6 percent of the delegates’ votes, beating Bob Vander Plaats and winning the LG nomination.  (Listen to speeches, read more here.)

What follows is a live blog of the day.

The Branstad campaign has been handing out pink t-shirts, touting the Branstad/Reynolds ticket.  Branstad is Terry Branstad, the former four-term governor who’s seeking a fifth term in 2010.  Reynolds is Kim Reynolds, the state senator who Branstad has picked as a running mate.  If you don’t know, supporters of Bob Vander Plaats — Branstad’s rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination — intend to nominate BVP for LG. 

It’s 10 a.m. and Matt Strawn, the Iowa GOP chairman, has just gaveled the convention into order.  Folks are being asked to stand for the invocation.  RNC Committeeman Steve Scheffler gave a little speech first, saying the party needs to be united.  

“We pray that your people will rise up and be involved in the political process this year,” he prayed, then seemed to seek some innoculation for the masses that would prevent an all-out war over the lieutenant governor nomination.  “….Lord, today, be with our deliberations and, in spite of some of our minor differences, that we speak words of love and not hate and ugliness.” 

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King: Republicans need to “come together” and back Branstad

Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron, Iowa) stopped by the Radio Iowa studios this afternoon.  He had a “party unity” message.

King said it’s time for his feuding fellow Republicans to bury the hatchet and unite behind Terry Branstad, the G.O.P. nominee for governor. Some factions within the party are upset with the outcome of the June 8th Primary and have vowed to withhold their vote from Branstad in November, arguing Branstad would not be aggressive enough in seeking to undo the Iowa Supreme Court ruling which legalized gay marriage in 2009.

“It’s up to Republicans to take a look and come together because if we fail to do so, we are handing the governorship to Chet Culver for a second term,” King said.  “It’s that simple.”

King spoke with Radio Iowa before Bob Vander Plaats, the Republican candidate who finished second to Branstad in the 2010 Primary, is set to appear on WHO Radio to make his first public statements since Primary Night. Vander Plaats will appear on the Steve Deace Show from 5 to 6 p.m. this evening. 

King suggested Vander Plaats had “put on the Republican jersey” and had his (King’s) respect for running.  King has not spoken to Vander Plaats personally since the primary. 

“It wasn’t really by design.  It was just by happenstance.  If you don’t get it done the first couple of days, you don’t get back to it and I wish I had.  I owed him that,” King said of that unmade phone call.

King made clear he will work against Vander Plaats if Vander Plaats chooses to run for governor as an independent candidate.

“If there’s any formula that extends Chet Culver another term, an independent race for governorship would be it,” King said. “And if there’s any formula that ensures that judge-made same-sex marriage in Iowa would endure perpectually, an independent campaign for governor would be it…They are handing the battlefield over to the people on the other side.

“…The job of governor is bigger than any single candidate.  No matter how badly you want to be governor, this state takes precedence over anyone’s career aspirations and we should all look to do everything we can, within the limits of the positions that we hold or aspire to hold, and look to the cause first.  I’ve heard that sermon out of every one of the candidates.  I hope they all live by it.”

Third GOP debate is history

The third and final debate among the three Republicans who hope to win the GOP’s 2010 nomination for governor was held over the noonhour today.  (Watch it here.) If this were another era, two of the candidates may have agreed to a duel.  Instead, Sioux City business consultant Bob Vander Plaats and former Governor Terry Branstad engaged in verbal combat.  The third candidate, State Representative Rod Roberts, gave one of the most theatrical eye-rolls I’ve seen as the other two engaged.   Here’s the Radio Iowa story, complete with an account of something that still stopped short of the “You lie!” outburst during President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union message.

The debate was staged in the studio at Iowa Public Television that has an auditorium, but the crowd was asked to sit silently.  The Des Moines Register organized the debate and invited me to be among the three panelists.  As the three candidates stood and we three panelists sat waiting for the show to go on, I asked the three men if they were wearing a lucky tie.  (Getting the candidates to talk helps the sound guy check audio levels, BTW.)  Rod Roberts piped up first, saying he likes to wear either red or pale blue ties, and opted for a tie with a pale blue stripe today.  Terry Branstad — who was wearing a red tie — chimed in, telling about the time several years ago when he wore a certain tie to a debate that was identical to the one being worn by Dean Borg, the “Iowa Press” host who was also one of today’s panelists (and who was host of that other debate years ago).  After the reminiscing about that beloved tie died down, I asked Bpb Vander Plaats about his tie, which was blue and gold striped.   BVP said it was what was in his closet, then added: “going for the gold.”

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Debate season winds down

The two major political parties in Iowa will hold primaries on Tuesday, June 8, 2010.  There have already been a number of debates among candidates vying for spots in their party’s General Election line-up.  But in the next two weeks there will be a flurry of debates (more like joint appearances), including the final “debate” among the three Republicans who want to be the Iowa G.O.P.’s 2010 nominee for governor.  The three Democrats who want to be the Iowa Democratic Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate will appear together in forums in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines next week.

A variety of topics have been covered on the campaign trail and in the previous debates, from gay marriage on the state front to TARP on the federal front. What issue do you think has been overlooked?  What question would you ask the candidates for governor, for congress, for the U.S. Senate?  What is the key issue on which you will make your voting decision?

Here are the remaining “joint appearances” or “debates” which I have written on my schedule:

Tuesday, May 18 @ 10 a.m.:  The Des Moines Register & WHO-TV host forum with the Republican congressional candidates in the third district

Tuesday, May 18 @ 7 p.m.:   the Republican candidates in the first congressional district will appear at a forum at Bettendorf High School

Thursday, May 20 @ noon:  The Des Moines Register & IPTV host forum with the Republican candidates for governor

Monday May 24 @ 10 am:  The Des Moines Regidster & WHO-TV host forum with the  Democratic U.S. Senate candidates

Wednesday, May 26 @ 7 p.m.:  second district congressional candidates attend Lee County GOP forum at “American Outdoors” which is six miles south of Mt. Pleasant

Thursday, May 27 @ 7:30 p.m.:  The Cedar Rapids Gazette & IowaPolitics.com host forum with the Democratic candidates for US Senate

Airing Friday, May 28 @ 7:30 p.m.:  three Democratic candidates for US Senate scheduled to appear on “Iowa Press” on IPTV 

(There are two Democrats running for congress in the fifth district but the schedules on their respective campaign websites show no joint appearance before June 8, 2010.)