More background on Failor, Iowans for Tax Relief

As The Iowa Republican reported Monday, Ed Failor, Junior, has resigned his post as president of Iowans for Tax Relief.  Here’s The Des Moines Register story from Jennifer Jacobs; one written by Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter James Q. Lynch includes quotes from a Failor interview.

Failor sent these comments in an email yesterday:

…You may be asking “why?”.

Well, after 16 great years, I resigned as President of ITR on Friday.

ITR has great leadership, staff, and history. They are in very capable hands and will continue to be a powerhouse in Iowa policy and politics.

I am moving on to pursue exciting opportunities. I will let you all know specifically what’s next at an appropriate time.

The Muscatine-based group has been influential in Iowa politics for decades.  It was founded in 1978 by David Stanley of Muscatine, a state representative in the 1960s and ’70s who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate twice.  His grandfather had been a state senator, too. 

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Branstad taps Roederer as budget chief

Here’s the Radio Iowa story.  Governor-elect Terry Branstad has named a long-time confidant as his top budget advisor.  Dave Roederer is well-known within Iowa political circles, having served as chair of George W. Bush’s 2004 Iowa effort and as chair of John McCain’s 2008 effort in Iowa for the caucuses and the general election.  Read the announcement from the Branstad campaign below:

Branstad names Roederer as head of Department of Management

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-elect Terry Branstad today named his first department official, announcing David Roederer to head the Iowa Department of Management upon assuming office on Jan. 14, 2011.

Roederer, who is spearheading the governor-elect’s transition team, is currently the executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance.

“In David, Iowans will have a hard-working and dedicated public servant running the Department of Management,” said Gov. Branstad. “He will bring energy and enthusiasm to this position, and is someone who will be a trusted ally for Iowa’s taxpayers. We have a significant number of challenges facing our state budget, and David will be instrumental in helping me create a five year strategic budget plan, implement a two year budget, and bring state spending back in line with state resources.”

Roederer looks forward to serving the administration in his new position.

“I am excited about this challenge and the opportunity to once again work with Governor Branstad and his team,” said Roederer. “Governor Branstad is committed to getting our state’s fiscal house in order, and serving the people of Iowa in this capacity is a great honor. I am excited to immediately begin work on this budget, and ensuring we have an efficient, transparent product for the taxpayers of Iowa.”

McCain: Iowa’s Caucuses lack impact

Reuters reporters and editors had Arizona Senator John McCain in for a “roundtable” yesterday.  Here’s the story.

McCain last’s trip to the state, about two years ago, didn’t go well  according to many accounts of that encounter with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board.  McCain lost Iowa in the 2008 General Election.  McCain finished fourth in Iowa’s Caucuses on January 3, 2008.  McCain finished fifth in the 2000 Iowa Caucuses, behind Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer.

Pawlenty plans trip to eastern Iowa

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 candidate for president, plans to campaign in Iowa in late July/early August on behalf of Republican candidates for the state legislature.

“Governor Pawlenty is working hard to help conservatives around the country win this fall,” Alex Conant, communications director for Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC, said via email.  “We have great opportunities in Iowa, and Governor Pawlenty is trying to build on that excitement through his new Iowa PAC and this upcoming trip to eastern Iowa.”

Pawlenty has three fundraisers (morning, noon & night) planned on July 31 for Republicans Steve Lukan, Bill Dix and Kraig Paulsen.

He”ll help Republican Jeff Kaufmann raise money on August 1 and on August 2 he’ll speak at the Scott County Lincoln Club in Davenport.

Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the Iowa GOP’s fall fundraiser this past November (read about it/listen to it here).  Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the Iowans for Tax Relief “2010 Taxpayer’s Day” event in April (read about it/listen to it here).  In August of 2008, when Pawlenty’s name was among those mentioned as a potential running mate for John McCain, Pawlenty made a campaign appearance in Ames, Iowa, on behalf of Congressman Tom Latham (read about it/listen to it here).

A bunch of numbers

If you’re wondering what turnout may be like for today’s Primary election, here are some numbers to ponder:

In 1994, about 300,000 Iowans cast ballots in the Republican Primary.  That was the year Republican Congressman Fred Grandy challenged then-Governor Terry Branstad.  There was lots of cross-over voting, as Democrats became Republicans for a day to vote against Branstad in June rather than wait ’til November.  Grandy came within four percentage points of Branstad in that primary.

In 1998, Branstad was not seeking reelection and there were three Republicans running for governor.  The contest was among Jim Lightfoot, Paul Pate and David Oman and Lightfoot won the G.O.P.’s 1998 nomination for governor.  About 162,000 voters cast ballots in that Republican Primary. 

In 1998, Tom Vilsack and Mark McCormick competed in the Democratic Primary for their party’s gubernatorial nomination.  About 115,000 Democrats cast ballots for that contest, which Vilsack won en route to winning the governorship that fall.

In 2002, there were three Republicans seeking the G.O.P.’s nomination for governor.  About 199,000 Republicans voted in that Primary which Doug Gross won with 35.88 percent of the vote.  Steve Sukup was second with 32.37 percent and Bob Vander Plaats was third with 31.66 percent.

In 2006, there were three Democrats running for governor.  About 148,000 Democrats voted in that contest among Chet Culver, Mike Blouin and Ed Fallon.  Culver won the Primary — and the General Election.

On January 3, 2008, Iowa Republicans held Caucuses.  Below are the numbers that were released by the party that night (the numbers are the raw straw poll vote total for each candidate).  For comparison purposes, consider that Vander Plaats’s 2010 campaign has plugged into that Huckabee network and Branstad has many Romney-connected folks working on his 2010 campaign.

Mike Huckabee  40,841     
Mitt Romney  29,949 
Fred D. Thompson  15,904     
John McCain  15,559    
Ron Paul  11,817      
Rudolph W. Giuliani  4,097         
Duncan Hunter  524 
Tom Tancredo  5

Finally, at the close of business on Friday, Iowa Republicans had cast about 20,000 absentee ballots for today’s Primary compared to about 7,000 absentee ballots from Democrats.

From Cornell to Corelle

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Mt Vernon, Iowa) was a long-time political science professor at Cornell College before he was elected to congress in 2006.  A Loebsack aide tells James Q. Lynch of The Cedar Rapids Gazette that Loebsack isn’t interested in becoming the school’s next president.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Cumming, Iowa) is getting flack from the left. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) isn’t happy with Harkin who is now chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.  Adam Green, who identifies himself as co-founder of the PCCC, emails the following:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee will spend thousands of dollars this week on an online ad campaign in the states of at least 10 senators who should be for the public option but have refused to issue a statement so far, reaching at least 1 million people online.

First up: Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa — and we’ll soon be naming more. Jon Stewart lampooned Harkin last week for previously saying, “I’d say right now we have well over 55 votes for a public option, but we need 60” — while now shrugging his shoulders and saying not even 50 exist.

Harkin also claimed on MSNBC that nobody has fought harder for the public option than him. I’ve been a longtime Harkin fan, but at this point, that claim is laughable. I can name at least 30 senators who have fought harder than Harkin, with more likely to come.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats wins one aspect of the race with competitors former Governor Terry Branstad and Representative Rod Roberts.  Vander Plaats was first to file his nomination petitions, a few hours after the period for filing opened.

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Branstad makes it official

Former Governor Terry Branstad’s kick-off event for his fifth campaign for governor began shortly before 10 o’clock this morning at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.  Here’s the Radio Iowa story about the event and if you click on that link, you will find an mp3 of the entire Branstad speech there.  What follows below is a “live blog” of the event.

State Representative Jeff Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, took to the microphone about seven minutes before 10 o’clock. 

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IDP’s JJ Dinner, the ’09 Biden edition

Vice President Joe Biden was the keynote speaker for this evening’s Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  During his remarks, Biden credited the late Teddy Kennedy for tonight’s senate vote on health care reform. Here’s part of the live blog of the event:

Biden said he was a bit late to the stage tonight because he’d been calling Democrats in the senate who he’d lobbied to vote tonight.

“I was on the phone and calling those senators who I was able to help change their minds on this vote.  That’s why I was late.  They did the right thing.  Tonight, tonight we defied the pundits.  We were told, every talk show you listen to, including the main stream media… health care was dead.  Well, it’s alive and well and it will pass,” Biden said. The crowd was on its feet, cheering through this passage.

“I know you knew him and loved him as much as I did. We owe a gigantic debt to Edward M. Kennedy…He’s the reason.  He is the reason why we persisted.  He was the inspiration…He, were he here, would deserve our plaudits.”

Biden told the crowd he’d been monitoring the senate vote as he flew to Iowa on Air Force II.

“We had on CNN and as they announced the vote, the plane actually jiggled.  I thought it was Teddy reaching down.”

Here’s the full live blog, with Biden’s comments at the end.

According to the screen hanging in the northwest corner of HyVee Hall in Des Moines, the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2009 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner is to start in 47 seconds.  I doubt that, as people are milling about, basically in the dark, as they search for their seats at the round tables.  The room is set up in a sort of theatre-in-the-round, with the stage in the center of the room the only thing that is bathed in light.  Party officials say they’ve sold “nearly 1500” tickets.

conlinRoxanne Conlin, the US Senate candidate, rented a reception room downstairs for supporters to gather before the dinner.  She spoke to the crowd shortly after six o’clock.

“At this moment I have been a candidate for one week and six days and really, so far, so good,” Conlin said, laughing, as the crowd applauded.

“In Iowa we all try to live by the principle that those who work hard and play by the rules should have the same chance of success as everyone else.  We pride ourselves on our independence, but Charles Grassley seems to have lost his.   After 50 years in elected office, it’s time for him to take a rest, don’t you think?” Conlin asked.  The crowd responded with clapping and a few cheers. [More photos]

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Saturday, November 7, 2009.

That’s the date of the first Republican gubernatorial candidate forum in which the new entrant in the competition — former Governor Terry Branstad — will participate.  It’s the night of the fall fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa.  It’s also the night “T-PAW” — Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty — will make his first public appearance in Iowa for the 2012 cycle.

Pawlenty was last here in August, 2008, to speak at a Latham campaign event which was seen as one of Pawlenty’s public auditions for the role of John McCain’s running mate.  Pawlenty memorably used a tire gauge as a prop.  Pawlenty also told an “Olie and Lena” joke at the Latham event in ’08, so those of you planning to attend the 11-07-09 event, prepare yourself for at least one joke about a fictional Norwegian couple’s naivete.

Read the details of the 11-07-09 event below:

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Skip Iowa? McCain didn’t

More typing today on that world wide web thing about 2012 presidential candidates skipping Iowa’s Republican Party Caucuses.  Marc Ambinder’s thoughts are here. Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican posts his thoughts here.  Last week, Tom Beaumont of The Des Moines Register fueled the “Romney will skip Iowa in 2012” speculation with this story, quoting Dave Kochel, a 2008 Romneyack.  (I just made that word up; it sounds fun to SAY it but looks weird to TYPE it.  Maybe we’ll go with Romneyite?)  Kochel, anyway, is well known within Iowa political circles.  He was a key consultant to Romney for the run up to ’08.  Romney, you may recall, didn’t “skip” the Iowa GOP Straw Poll in Ames in August of 2007 like Straw Poll skippers John McCain and Rudy Guiliani did.

And can we really go so far as to say McCain “skipped” Iowa entirely in the last cycle?  He certainly spent a lot of time and money in the state in the first part of 2007.  But then the wheels fell off his national campaign, he jettisoned staff and flew commercial for the rest of ’07.  He came back to Iowa in July of 2007 and made some line-in-the-sand statements about the campaign not dying, but living on, albeit more frugally, and McCain predicted (on that day — July 22, 2007) that he’d win the Iowa Caucuses.  He went to the 2007 Iowa State Fair.  He participated in a candidate debate here in early August.  During a campaign stop in Ankeny on August 4, McCain ridiculed the “EarthPark” project for which Republican Senator Chuck Grassley had secured federal funding, calling it “EarthPork” instead.  And then  McCain spent Labor Day 2007 in Iowa.

In October of 2007, McCain came back to campaign in Iowa and made an appearance on “Iowa Press.”  McCain returned to Iowa in early November to tout Kansas Senator Sam Brownback’s endorsement

In the closing week of the Iowa Caucus campaign McCain made a whirlwind tour of Iowa.  It was December 27, 2007 — just days before the January 3, 2008 Caucuses.

So, looking at that array of campaign visits, we see after McCain’s campaign “tanked” in July, 2007, and he was widely said to have “focused all his energies on New Hampshire,” McCain still made campaign visits to Iowa in August, September, October, November and December.  He was not in Iowa on January 3, 2008, to thank all those Iowa McCainers who helped him secure a fourth place finish, right behind his old buddy Fred Thompson, but McCain had been here at least once every month in the last half of 2007.  Does that seem like a “skip Iowa” strategy to you?