Friday, April 28, 2006


Cool tornado map

If you like maps, you might dig this. Iowa City's website has a detailed pdf of the tornado's path through town and includes damage estimates for some of the muncipal buildings. Click here. It's a big file (1M).

Monday, April 24, 2006


How it went elsewhere.

Dueling coverage of the 1st District convention here and here.

Here's the only 3rd district report I happened across in my abbreviated surfing session.

UPDATE: Here's a belated 5th District report from Krusty.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


2nd District Convention: Getting started

10:00 AM - Call to order, invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and National Anthem. I'm not familiar with all the verses of the anthem, but something tells me the Democrats didn't do the 4th at their convention.

Our candidate for governor, Jim Nussle, was the first speaker. He said the current governor was showing another benefit of the office, one that Nussle hadn't considered before running: Be the governor and see the world.

Nussle set out five challenges that Iowa must face in the coming years:

1 - Iowa should once again set the standard for world class education

The state should encourage good teachers and pay them more. Democrats favor the "scoop shovel" method of funding schools, indiscriminately chucking money into the system and hoping something good will happen. If this worked, Washington, DC would have best school system in the nation. As Governor, Nussle would target spending where it could make a difference.

2 - Iowa needs to grow from within.

Again, throwing money at a problem is not a solution and is certainly not economic development. Nussle called this a game of "50 state roulette" and noted, "Companies play the game better than states."

Nussle stressed that economic development is about creating an environment where Iowans can start new businesses and expand existing ones. Iowa businesses need lower taxes, an end to regulatory morass, affordable insurance, and investment in education in order to improve and compete with businesses elsewhere. New jobs coming a handful at a time from Iowa businesses due to an improved business environment sure seems better than (often empty) promises from out of state companies in return for what amount to bribes from the state.

3 - "Iowa should be and will be if I am governor, the renewable energy capitol of the world."

Nussle noted his work to support ethanol plants across the state and the potential that wind energy presents in some parts of the state as part of his plan to help end our nation's dependence on foreign oil.

4 - Iowans deserve better access to quality affordable healthcare

Nussle said that many parts of Iowa (40 of 99 counties) have no facilities to deliver babies. If we want to attract young families to the state, we have to fix problems like this one. Nussle would like to see the state focus on wellness as opposed to sick care and allow association health plans and heath savings accounts to expand the number of Iowans with access to affordable insurance.

5 - Iowans deserve governmental reform.

Nussle: "When I would talk about reforming government, it used to make people fall asleep." Now, with the exposure of what are "basically incestual relationships" in CEITC, people are taking an interest. "We need accountable management, we need any kind of management, in Des Moines." He congratulated Dave Vaudt for his work in uncovering the scandal

Nussle also said Iowa's police officers need a rescue mission. Our police have been neglected, corrections officers have been neglected, and that will end when Nussle is governor.

Nussle's final subject was about what makes Iowa great: Iowans.

We have productive, solid families and communities. Iowa has the best quality of life on the planet. “In Iowa you’re not a stranger.” Maintaining our strength as a community was the reason Nussle came out against touchplay. Iowans don't want a casino on every corner and it's not the image we should be projecting to prospective Iowans.


2nd District Convetion: Get your procedure here

10:31 - Nomination of permenant Convention Committee and credentials report

Todd Versteegh (esteemed chairman of the Johnson County Central Committee) was nominated and approved to chair the convention.

The report from the credentials committe might suprise a few people. When I tell people about Johnson County Repbulicans, I get a lot of raised eyebrows. "Republicans? Johnson County? Wha...?" As a percentage we’re pretty small, only 20%, but Johnson County is the 6th biggest source of GOP votes in the state. Check out the Johnson County information page that Sam, the Co. Party’s webmaster has created. Anyway, here's each county's delegate count:

Appanoose County - 0
Cedar County - 11
Davis County - 1
Des Moines County - 15
Henry County - 12
Jefferson County - 4
Johnson County - 34
Lee County - 15
Linn County - 34
Louisa County - 6
Muscatine County - 18
Van Bueran County - 5
Wappelo County - 8
Washington County - 7
Wayne County - 3

Some latecomers added to Linn County's total and caused a moment of confusion during the state central committee voting.

10:44 - Debate on the rules

This the part I love about conventions. No wait, this is the part I hate. I'll spare you the details, mostly because I went to get a drink.


2nd District Convention: A Spell of Speakers

I saw Jim Leach enter the building as I returned to the auditorium. I hoped the rules discussion was over and was pleasantly suprised to find that Secretary of Agriculture candidate Bill Northy had arrived and began his presentation to the convention. Northy made the point that he is the only full-time farmer in the race. He also noted that he has raised more money from more donors than both of his primary opponents combined, and also has more endorsements from legislators than both of his opponents combined.

10:59 - Jim Leach is introduced. He gave one of his trademark academic speeches. The first subject was internet gambling. For the last decade or so, the congressman has been trying to get a bill passed that would ban US banking instruments from being used for online gambling. He compared the problem to having a TouchPlay slot machine in almost every home.

The second subject was on the need for campaign finance reform. Leach: "It's a scandal that only half of Americans vote." Politicians should be more concerned with courting voters than courting donors.

Leach ended with a bit of red meat for the party faithful. Or something approaching red meat. He said that while people may disagree about how President Bush has governed our country, no one can doubt President and Laura Bush's commitment to their family. (Not that they had a tough act to follow on that front.)

11:07 - Dave Vaudt gets a huge reception. Who'd have thought a month ago that the state auditor would get a rockstar reception? Spoke briefly on CIETC: "Identifying fraud waste and abuse is central to this job." He didn't address Nussle's call of an inspector general, but did give him a shout-out. Parting shot: "Vote for Vaudt, still the only CPA in the race for state auditor."

11:11 - Ugh, back to rules debate. A motion to allow delegates to propose an amendment to the platform without support from anyone else is mercifully voted down.

11:18 - Rules pass. Huzzah.

11:19 - Robert Dopf, candidate for secretary of state is introduced. A theme of his speech is that Iowa cannot give the Des Moines southside Mauro machine control over the state's elections. The cronyism, nepotism, and corruption exibited in the CEITC scandal has the Mauro brothers writ large across the face of it. Dopf: "People ask me if I know who Archie Brooks is. I know Archie Brooks, I prosecuted Archie Brooks." Dopf sucessfully tried Brooks in federal court for cutting off police, fire and ambulance communications in Des Moines when he wasn't given the special treatment he had come to expect as a part of the Mauro Machine. "I didn't expect him to get jail time because it was a first offense, but I did think his political career was over. But the Mauro Machine had Archie right back in to the political mix." And look where that example of Mauro judgement has landed us.

Dopf listed his credentials as U.S. Attorney and Federal Elections Judge and parted by saying "I am committed to facilitating access to the ballot for every eligible voter and am committed to making the process secure, fair, and honest."

11:27 - Karey Claghorn is introduced. She states that her expereince in the supermarket industry allowed her a unique perspective on the food supply chain from start to finsh. Claghorn said it also gave her insights on food safefty and consumer preferences. Bringing value added agriculture to the state is on of her top priorities. "For every load of [unprocessed] grain that leaves this state, a job leaves this state." Claghorn said she will work with Nussle to reorganize government from the top down to benefit small business and agriculture when when they are both sent to Des Moines in November.


2nd Disrict Convention: State Central Committee elections

Note the corrected totals in the first round of voting. A commenter brought the problem to my attention and after consultation with Cyndi, it turns out my numbers were revesed. Lisa Smith received 121 votes and Mark Lucas received 100. Thanks, anonymous!- Chris

11:33 - Nominations were taken for state central committee elections. Six names were put forward three spots: Incumbents Lisa Smith, Bill Vernon, and Mark Lucas (who was on maneuvers with his National Guard unit and thus not present) and Royce Phillips, Kathy Potts and Joni Scotter. The first ballots were taken and we broke at 12:06 for lunch.

About 1:10 - The convention reconvened and the results of the first ballot was revealed. Lisa Smith (121 votes) and Mark Lucas (100 votes) were elected. Since none of the other candidates reached a majority (90 votes), a second ballot was taken. After the second ballot, there was still no majority. Kathy Potts was eliminated and Joni Scotter removed herself from consideration. The third ballot had Royce Phillips and Bill Vernon in a very close vote. Vernon came through with a slim majority (93) to score the trifecta for the 2nd District's incumbent state central committee delegation.

PHOTO ABOVE RIGHT: Convention officers hard at work administering the election, including three Johnson County delegates (seated R to L): parliamentarian Sam Langholz and secretaries Amelia Versteegh, and Cyndi Michels.


2nd District Convention: Platform

2:02 - Another fun part of conventioneering: the platform. There were only five amendments (a small cheer went up when this was announced)

Amendment 1 - Oppose a dove season in Iowa.

Arguments for the amendment: Doves are nice and not messy and they take partners for life and we need that example. The second speaker for the amendment wrapped himself in the Iwo Jima flag to state that just like our flag, doves are a symbol we should respect.

Arguments against: Hunting brings in revenue, doves are a game animal, people just go to any other state in the midwest to hunt them.

Vote: Amendment fails.

Amendment 2: Oppose vaccinations.

Arguements for: Vaccines are created in the lungs of still-living aborted fetuses (I have never heard this before). Parents should be able to decide without joining a specific church. Group immunity should protect children (Heard about the 2006 mumps epidemic?).

No one argued against this, but the amendment failed by a large margin anyway.

Amendment 3: Creation of an inspector general's office.

This amendment was sponsored by the Nussle/Vander Plaats campaign. Two speakers argued for it (for reasons already discussed on this blog) and it passed easily.

Amendment 4: End zoning in rural areas.

Argument for: You should be able to do what you want with your land. That which governs least, governs best.

Arguments against: Proposal is misguided. Rural zoning protects agriculture and keeps growth within the limits of our infrastructure.

Vote: Too close to call on a voice vote. Amendment fails on standing vote.

Amendment 5: Call on congress to declare the humanity of the unborn.

Arguments for: To declare the disrtict's pro-life stance.

Arguemnts against: The district already has an entire section devoted to pro-life issues. The amendment is just repeating what is already said.

Vote: Again too close to call an voice vote. Amendment fails on standing vote.


2nd District Convention: The End

After the platform debate my computer battery died, so I'm doing the rest from memory. The convention nominated and approved members for the various committees at the state convention.

Mark Leonard and Chuck Allison addressed the convention.

Allison got a laugh when he noted that Chet Culver has been successfully sued twice for elections violations. He got a great response when he said that on day one as Secretary of State, he would walk in to Governor Nussle's office with a proposal to undo Vilsack's blanket grant of voting privileges to felons who haven't even completed their sentences. He also mentioned the Mauro Machine, and the dangers of letting it take over elections across the state.

Mark Leonard was the third and final GOP candidate for Secretary of Agriculture to speak. He touted his experience in the international ag trade and banking as valuable assets for the position. Leonard has the endorsement of both Terry Branstad and Robert Ray. He's on his second lap of the state, having already visited each of the 99 counties. Leonard said that some people in Iowa don't even know who our current secretary is. He stated that if he is elected, that won't be the case. (Oh, and thankfully he spared us the joke about his daughters.)

After a few minutes of business, the convention was adjourned. I was a little disappointed not to see Sen. Grassley. He's always fun to watch, though I like his question and answer sessions better than his stump speeches. We also didn't have any of the 2008 presidential contenders show up. I found this surprising considering the turnout 8 years ago. Otherwise it was a great day. Now, on to Des Moines.


2nd District Convention Coverage: Coming Soon...

I'm gearing up a post or series of posts on this afternoon's convention. I was unable to get a wireless network to actually live blog it, but took fairly good notes. It will be going up piece by peice and should be completed by tomorrow morning/early afternoon at the latest. If the post immediately above this one isn't called "The End" then there is more to come.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Nussle's first statewide TV Ad

You'll probably see it your TV soon, but the Nussle Campaign announced today the first statewide televesion commercials of the 2006 campaigns.

According to the campaign, the more than half million dollar ad buy will run statewide on broadcast and cable television channels. I'd say that's a whole lot better way to spend $500,000+ than fighting a primary campaign!

You can also check out the ad online.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Update: Want leadership? Don't look to Vilsack or the state's Democrats

Tom Vilsack took a moment out of his busy travel schedule to say he opposed Jim Nussle's initiative to create an Inspector General's Office. From Washington, DC Vilsack said "That doesn't seem to work particularly well in Washington, D.C. - we still have $600 hammers being purchased by the Pentagon." Except we don't.

In the meantime, the CRG is reporting that Kelly Taylor, the whistle blower in the CIETC scandal, testified that Nussle's plan could help others report mismanagement.
The whistleblower who provided key information for a state auditor's report that detailed excessive salaries at a job training agency told lawmakers Thursday that creating an Inspector General's Office could make it easier for people in his position to come forward.
On the subject of the CIETC scandal, the DM Register is reporting that Vilsack, Tom Harkin, and Leonard Boswell were warned of the brewing scandal over a year before Taylor came forward to the State Auditor, Dave Vaudt.
Gov. Tom Vilsack was among a handful of public officials whose offices were sent letters warning of nepotism and exorbitant salaries in a government employment agency that is under federal investigation for alleged misuse of taxpayer money, a whistle-blower told The Des Moines Register this week.

... [Carol] Dymond said she paid one of the highest prices for acting as a watchdog of taxpayer money when she lost her job two months later.
Update to the update: Iowans are't the only ones noting Vilsack's absence. The South Carolina Democrats didn't include Vilsack in their presidential poll even though he will be keynoting the South Carolina Jefferson-Jackson dinner hours before the poll results will be revealed. Maybe Vilsack should take the hint and spend a weekend in Iowa.


Missing District Caucus Tabloid?

Some of our delegates have reported that they did not receive the tabloid from RPI with information about the District Caucus on Saturday. Apparently there have been some problems with the postal service. If you have not received, here it is in PDF version.


WH'08: McCain Strategist says he'll compete in IA

National Journal's Hotline had an interesting clip today. I'm quoting it below, because I can't find the original article that they cite:

McCain's advisers say if he run's in '08, he will compete in IA. Weaver, on IA:
"Of all the states in the country, this could be the most difficult for us."
Weaver also said that if McCain wwin's[sic] in IA "in the face of social
conservative opposition, the "issue disappears" in other states (Bloomberg,
This seems to be the strongest statement I've seen about his strategy to play in Iowa -- remember, while he was here, he was careful not to say whether he would:

McCain said today he hasn't decided whether he will run for president in 2008 or
if he would compete in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses if he did run. McCain
has enlisted the help of former Bush campaign political director Terry Nelson
from Marshalltown and former state GOP chairman Chuck Larson to help him with
his national political effort in 2006. (Des Moines Register)

Also, seems to suggest that he may revel in having the state social conservative leadership vocally oppose him, to prove that he can still win GOP votes without them. interesting.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Creative Free Market Environmentalism

I don't normally expect to see things to praise when I'm reading a Press-Citizen article about a liberal student organization, particularly at the law school, but I surprised myself this afternoon.

The Environmental Law Society at the UI College of Law bought one ton of sulfur dioxide emissions. Check out the story for full details -- but here's the basics: The EPA runs a Clean Air Markets program, where factories that emit pollutants into the air can purchase the rights to do so on the open market. The students purchased the rights to pollute one ton of sulfur dioxide -- thereby keeping it from being put into the atmosphere and raising the cost of the rights to others who were bidding.

UPDATE: Found the original press release from the ELS. It gets the facts a little better than the article did and in more detail.

If private individuals or groups feel strongly enough about reducing pollution to put their money where there is mouth is -- I say go for it. Maybe some other national environmental organizations could decide to spend their money on this too -- instead of, say, working to defeat Republican candidates.


District Caucus Saturday

Don't forget that that 2nd Congressional District Caucus will be taking place on Saturday at the Kirkwood Community College Campus in Cedar Hall, Ballantyne Auditorium. The tabloid from RPI came in the mail today -- Delegates may begin arriving at 9:00 a.m. and the call to order is at 10:00 a.m.

As far as business is concerned, we'll be debating and passing the platform, electing state convention committee representatives (platform, rules, credentials, and organization), and electing representatives to the State Central Committee. As far as that election goes, I've heard that all three incumbent are seeking re-election. Bill Vernon (Linn), as he often does, attended our county central committee meeting earlier this month and spoke about his philosophy as a committee member. Heard that Mark Lucas (Muscatine) sent out an e-mail announcing his intention to seek re-election, though he will not be in attendance at the caucus due to a military committment. I haven't heard from Lisa Smith (Wapello), but I understand she is seeking re-election as well.

And of course, we get to hear from our candidates for office. Jim Nussle is on the agenda, and I'd hope we'll see Bob Vander Plaats and a number of the rest of our statewide candidates.

On a WH'08 note, I'll be curious if we get any interlopers from out of state visiting. So far, I have only heard about John Cox, which I actually find surprising. I was going through my archives and came across a copy of the minutes from the 1998 district convention in the old 2nd Congressional District. We saw visits from five potential candidates -- get ready for a blast from the past:

Bob Smith, U.S. Senator from NH (was this before or after he became an independent?)
John Ashcroft, U.S. Senator from MO
Gary Bauer, former WH staffer
Steve Forbes, businessman
Lamar Alexander, former Governor of TN (and honorary resident of Iowa for 4 years)

As I recall, we had a good bit of national media at our district caucus too -- I actually found myself sitting next to Wolf Blitzer at one point. In any event, think we'll be seeing anyone similar this year? I'll be sure to post a report after Saturday.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Tornado info

Just a quick note about where you can request assistance or donate to the tornado relief efforts from the Red Cross:
American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help victims of disaster by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross. Call the American Red Cross at (319) 393-3500 in Linn County, (319) 337-2119 in Johnson County or toll-free at (800) 982-2438. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter at PO Box 10375, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 52410-0375. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting
There is all kinds of online coverage. Check out the university, Democratic blogger John Deeth, and Canadian/UI student Tiffany Kwan if you're looking for perspectives you haven't seen on TV.

Friday, April 14, 2006


McCain Followup - Who is Rep. Steve Lukan?

So...all the news stories of McCain's visit yesterday have included the list of each of his events, the lunch for Nussle (logical, as our Gov candidate), dinner with Lamberti (again, logical as one of the most competitive congressional challengers in the nation), and breakfast with State Representative Steve Lukan.

I'm surprised there hasn't been a story about this third event on McCain's schedule. How did a second-term state representative -- one of 76 republican state legislators in the house and senate land a breakfast fundraiser with the arguably-frontrunner Republican Presidential candidate?

I decided I needed to see what I could find out him -- after all if McCain decided he was worthy of his attention, perhaps his is a name that should be a little more commonplace to all of us -- even those not in his district. (Incidentally, he also caught the attention of The Hotline, as a rising star in IA). After doing a brief survey, I'm impressed. Here's the essentials, and a few links:

Lukan is currently the youngest member of the Iowa House (at least until Pat Grassley is elected in November) . After graduating from HS, he enlisted in the Navy where he served for four years -- me thinks this may be what attracted McCain's attention. When he came back home, he worked on finishing his college education and decided to run for the legislature at the age of 23. Not only did he win a contested primary, but he beat an incumbent Democrat in a district that includes Delaware and DUBUQUE county.

Chuck Offenberger writes about a visit during Lukan's first term, and describes his response to why he ran for office:
“What made me decide to run is the fact that so few young people are
involved,” said Lukan, who served in the U.S. Navy before college and who now
also helps run his family’s service station in New Vienna. “I decided to see if
I could get some things done to make young people more interested in staying in

Check his full bio and website for more information about his background and accomplishments in the legislature. From what I've read, it sounds to me like he is exactly the sort of young leader that we need in the state.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


WH'08: McCain in Cedar Rapids

Just got back from the Nussle fundraiser in Cedar Rapids featuring Senator John McCain. It was a packed ballroom at the Crowne Plaza in downtown, featuring a BBQ Chicken Salad for lunch. After a hearty introduction by Bob Vander Plaats, Jim Nussle spoke briefly about his vision for Iowa and then introduced McCain.

McCain started off with some jokes -- one about drunk irish twins that I couldn't quite figure out how it related to anything of relevance, one about fundraising, and another poking fun at the poor track record of Arizonians running for President. He also praised Nussle. Then he launched into his policy speech: reigning in spending in DC (suprisingly, didn't decide to single out the Rainforest as an example, which Senator Allen did do during his recent visit). He spent a good bit of time discussing immigration - some said his tone was a bit preachy - explaining why he felt his approach is the right approach. And also discussed Iran and Iraq.

He gave an impassioned thanks for supporting the President and supporting our troops -- which seemed to get the strongest response from the crowd. It struck me how important this part of his platform is -- it's a not-so-subtle reminder to the rank-and-file that "I am a part of the team. I rallied behind the President. I've earned your support, now it's my turn." Everytime he brings up his support of the President, I hear echoes of his speech at the Convention in 2004 -- and I can't help but think other loyal partisan republicans do as well. I stood on the convention floor in NYC for his address, and as he made his energetic calls in support of President Bush then, you could almost here McCain's banks of political capital filling up.

That said, overall I would say his reception today was warm, but more polite than enraptured. After the speech he did have a number of people run up to shake hands, get pictures, etc. He spent about 5-10 minutes entertaining the small talk, before he was ushered off to talk to reporters.

TheDes Moines Register had a piece summing up McCain's support in the state. Not too much new we haven't already said here, except for the idea by some that it would be vaiable for McCain to backtrack on his ethanol position. It'll be interesting to see whether that would swing -- I think he'd be skewered by the national media for being a typical politician, especially given their current rant against him for shifting right. Notably McCain did not mention ethanol at all in his speech (though I'm told he was asked about it during his press conference... will have to watch for stories.)

UPDATE: Here's the Register Story on Ethanol... not sure that I see the softening.

On that point, I was also disappointed that he didn't acknowledge at all skipping us in 2000. In the Register article linked above, Larson calls it inside baseball that most Iowans won't worry about... still, I think there are a number of people for whom it is a big deal. I would have liked to have seen him start out with a joke referencing that -- to at least give a nod that he acknowledges it was a slight.

As expected, McCain was accompanied by his two new high-profile Iowa advisers. Chuck Larson was seated at the head table and was by his side afterwards. He also got a shout out from McCain during the speech thanking him for his friendship and all he has done and saying that "he'll be rewarded in heaven." (PHOTO BELOW LEFT: McCain visiting with guests and Larson standing behind). Terry Nelson was also close at hand, working the press and watching the room. (PHOTO BELOW RIGHT: Nelson checking his blackberry)

For the real political junkies, other random tidbits of note:

- Looked like the first congressional district candidates were in attendance -- I saw Bill Dix and Brian Kennedy -- though I didn't see them looking to snuggle up to McCain and his immigration proposal... maybe a good thing there wasn't Q&A.

- Nussle congratulated Linn County Senator Mary Lundby on her election to Majority Leader and she got a round of applause (not sure whether she was there or not)

- A number of statewide candidates were there with tables of literature -- all three ag candidates, though from what I saw it looked like Leonard was working the hardest, staying until the end and trying to greet everyone who walked out. Bob Dopf, the new candidate for Secretary of State was also there and seemed to be getting a lot of attention from people. I was glad to see that he's campaigning hard and hope he'll be back over to eastern Iowa again soon.

- Congressman Jim Leach from Iowa City was also in attendance up at the head table. McCain lavished praise on him as one of the most principled Republicans in the House. I was glad to see him there -- I hadn't seen his name of the roster of any of the previous events, so good it's good to know he's on board and included.

- It seemed like the entire Iowa political corps was in attendance, including of course, Yepsen and Glover. (PHOTO LEFT: Press waiting to talk to McCain afterwards -- Yepsen on far right is talking to Terry Nelson)

Things that's all for now, though I'll update below if I see any other interesting stories about the visit. Aside from the interesting WH insights, the important thing about this event is once again it demonstrated GOP unity, brought in folks from around eastern Iowa, and raised a lot of good money for fall campaign.

UPDATE: Here's the Washington Post's take on the visit. And the Register. Glover's AP Report. And of course, Krusty's commentary.


Our Ten Words for the Democratic Party

As you might know, Traveling Tom Vilsack has been pushing a program asking Democrats to describe their party in 10 words or less. (The late blog, State29, called this project for what it was: a pretext to get people to give Vilsack their contact info.) His staff have recently picked their favorites. I thought it might be fun to offer some suggestions of our own. Post them in the comments section.

UPDATE: Who's Makin' Bacon was a little slower, but funnier than I was on this idea. (Warning: Bacon uses some "unwholesome" language.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


WH'08: Sen. Chuck Larson joins McCain's 2008 team.

Any lingering doubts about John McCain's intention to compete in the 2008 caucuses should be erased after tomorrow. Sen. McCain will be in Iowa tomorrow making stops in Dyersville, Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, and Des Moines with State Senator Chuck Larson at his side for all four stops. Almost two years before the caucuses, Larson is endorsing McCain.
"He has a proven track record of leadership and independence that will be warmly embraced by the American people," Larson said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "John McCain is one person Americans can trust."
One Iowa blog wonders if Iowans will forgive McCain for skipping the caucuses in 2000, but Larson is convinced it won't be much of an issue:

"It's inside baseball. Iowans will look at the issues," Larson said. "Today's world is far different than the 2000 election."

Larson is the second big-name Iowan to join McCain. Last month, it was announced that Terry Nelson signed on to McCain's Straight Talk Express PAC.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Linn County Neighbor elected Senate Republican Leader

In an unexpected twist, the Senate Republican Caucus elected a new leader, Mary Lundby of Marion, replacing current Republican Leader Stew Iverson of Clarion. I first caught the news from Drew Miller and then Krusty, but RadioIowa appears to have the most complete story posted by the mainstream media currently.

UPDATE: Here's the Des Moines Register story on the matter.

UPDATE: And here's Yepsen's always thoughtful analysis.

UPDATE 4/13: and another more indepth profile.

The Iowa City Press Citizen even decided to report on the implications for the Corridor, quoting from Johnson County GOP Chair Todd Versteegh:

"Todd Versteegh, chairperson of the Johnson County Republicans, said the Republicans felt a change in leadership was necessary. However, he said he was surprised by the move.

"Normally, you don't see these types of a leadership changes this late in the session, but we are at a very critical point right now," said Versteegh, adding the move was a positive one. "Sen. Lundby is an outstanding leader. I don't think Republicans should be worried about her leadership.""


Inspector General: Part of Nussle's plan to bring accountability back to Des Moines.

Last week, Traveling Tom Vilsack returned from making speeches in Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York only to find Des Moines rocked by the CIETC scandal. One part of Vilsack's administration was aware of the situation more than a month ago, but the governor refused to act during one of his brief layovers in Iowa.

Another Iowa blog, Who's Making Bacon, claims to have discovered indications of nepotism and fishy payments as far back as 2004. This is only the latest incident marking a distinct pattern of mismanagment in our state agencies. First a prison break, then lotto officials gone wild with touchplay slot machines, and now this: Audit fallout builds pressure on agency officials; Worker suspended after disposing of records; Official tried to avoid U.S. probe, agency says; CIETC board votes to fire top executives in closed meeting.

To reverse this alarming trend, Jim Nussle will create the office of Inspector General, a position dedicated to rooting out the waste, fraud, and abuse that has become evident in our state government. Appointed to a six year term and confirmed by the senate, the Inspector General will have the political independence to act as an objective outlet for state whistleblowers and to hold state decision makers accountable for how they spend Iowa's tax dollars. Senator Chuck Grassley has already endorsed this initiative.


Speaking of Mike Huckabee...

Hotline On Call notes that Arkansas Governor/'08 hopeful Mike Huckabee signed a bill today ordering a $1.10 increase in the his state's minimum wage. Predictably, the Club for Growth was disappointed, and On Call wonders aloud whether this could foreshadow a rift between caucus-goers from the Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowans for Tax Relief. According to On Call, the ICA and ITR represent the first and second "most potent" conservative interest groups in our fair state, respectively.


WH'08: Roundup of the Others

Two big fish in the WH'08 race will be making their Iowa debuts in the coming weeks. First up is Senator John McCain for a day of fundraisers on Thursday, April 13th (somehow I think it would have been fitting if McCain's first visit to this state he loves to hate would have been on Friday the 13th, but alas). Stay tuned later this week for reports, but until then, check out this fascinating read from the NY Times about McCain's efforts.

New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani will be visiting Davenport on May 1st, also for an event with Congressman Nussle. I haven't heard much about him, since the 2004 campaign season wrapped up -- and my money is that he decides not to run. Once again the Times has an interesting piece (they must be doing a WH series or something) that looks at his political future.

Senator George Allen of Virginia also just made his first campaign swing in the state -- visiting Cedar Falls and Davenport for fundraisers with the state party. I had a chance to attend one of the visits, and would agree with the sentiments in the linked newspaper articles that he did an impressive job -- and I had no idea that he was almost born in Iowa. Word is that he'll be back to speak to the State GOP Convention in Des Moines in June and attend a fundraiser up in Sioux City -- but since he has a Senate campaign on his hands (up for re-election in VA this year), I don't expect to see too much more of him until after November. The DC press continues to watch his staffing carefully -- the latest news being that Mary Matalin has signed up to serve as the treasurer on of his campaign committees, joining Ed Gillespie as two high profile Bush team members in the Allen camp.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be headlining the State Party's Lincoln Day dinner at the end of the month. He has made a number of visits to the state -- but I think he's going to have a get a lot more serious soon if he's interested in more than selling his books.

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee continues to make the rounds. Krusty has been pushing the idea that he may be the social conservative candidate and is reporting that his ground game organizing has already begun.

Senator Sam Brownback has also made a few visits -- and had been my bet for the candidate that social conservative rally around. His moves supporting the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill have perplexed me though -- and at least from what I hear it sounds like Huckabee may be making more inroads than him.

Who have I forgotten? Oh, yes, our Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist headlined the Ronald Reagan Dinner back in October. Didn't hear lots of impressed people after that -- and it's been a shaky year in the Senate for him, with the exception of confirming two Supreme Court Justices. Still, he eked out a homestate showing in the SRLC Straw Poll. We'll have to see how the final months of his leadership in Senate play out and then how he decides to spend his free time after he's no longer in office. Both in his, Romney's, and Huckabee's cases, I think the lack of official responsibilities come 2006 may be an overlooked advantage that they will have over others like McCain and Allen who will still have day jobs in the Senate.

And of course, we musn't leave out Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado. He couldn't be asking for a more fortuitous turn of events with immigration rising to the forefront these past weeks, and he's spent a great deal of time in the state. Still, even he says he's really just interested in insuring that the other candidates talk about the issue.

There... I think that rounds out most everyone ... somebody I forgot? Comments or thoughts? Post away ...

Sunday, April 09, 2006


WH'08: Mark your Calendars

Mark your calendars: on September 1-4, 2008 Republicans will be nominating the next President of the United States. With the RNC's announcement of the date of the 2008 Republican Convention, the finish line is set and candidates and potential candidates have a little less than 29 months to make their case to Republican voters and win enough delegate votes to secure the nomination.

Granted, here in Iowa we have seven very important months to focus on the 2006 elections first -- but the WH'08 candidates have been wasting no time getting started. I hope to post occasional updates on visits and organizational developments by candidates here in eastern Iowa, as well as interesting stories from the national media about the preparations of the campaign. You can also check out the WH'08 Page on the Johnson County Republicans website for more details compiled about each candidate.

To kick it off, here's what we've seen so far. New York Governor George Pataki was the first candidate to visit Johnson County on Saturday, February 4, 2006. His advisers get props for organizing a full day for him -- rather than just headlining a fundraiser for Congressman Jim Leach (which he did quite successfully), he reached out to the county party and hosted a lunch for activists to learn about the party's successful efforts to win votes for President Bush in 2004 and to share about his experiences in NY. He did a good job mixing it up with the attendees before his talk, and during the speech made a rather convincing sales job of the improvements that he's made in NY and his conservative philosophy. He also placed a special emphasis on 9/11 -- and for those that are wondering, I don't recall any mention of social conservative issues. Still, he did a good job visiting briefly with all the attendees beforehand -- and he was accompanied by the full entourage of political staff, looking very NY-like (I wonder what people say about Vilsack's "entourage" as he's traveling around the country) and security. Also traveling with the Governor and actively chatting up the crowd was his friend and political adviser Sandy Treadwell, the RNC Committeeman from NY and former State GOP Chair and New York Secretary of State. Anbody else who was there have other thoughts or comments?

Incidentally, rumor has that the other northeastern Governor, Massachusett's Mitt Romney will be making another campaign swing through the state in the next month or so, which may include a stop here in Iowa City. If you've been living under rock, you may not have heard that he had a big week last week with the passage of the new mandatory comprehensive health insurance program in MA. I'm not so sure whether that's a positive or negative policy development from my perspective -- but making it onto nearly all the evening news and morning papers sure doesn't hurt his name ID.

Stay tuned for more on the others who haven't yet visited our fair county shortly ...

Monday, April 03, 2006


UPDATE: Leach Challenger Fails to Get on Ballot

Okay, so this is just too bizarre not to share. First of all, recall that our "would-be challenger" to Congressman Leach failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. (If you've forgotten the story, check out the original post last month)

So, inquiring minds were awfully curious why this happened. Was he too busy sipping lattes and thinking deep thoughts? Or had he delegated it all to his staff and volunteers and they dropped the ball?

The answer, believe it or not, is that he was too busy signing the petitions FOR CONGRESSMAN LEACH. Yes, in the last days before the deadline, our "would-be challenger," who wasn't able to collect enough signatures to find his own spot on the ballot, was approached in downtown Iowa City by a GOP volunteer who didn't realize who he was and asked him if he'd sign Congressman Leach's petition. He introduced himself as Leach's opponent, but good-naturedly signed the petition anyway.

Now, I must admit that this shows good sportsmanship on the "would-be challengers" part -- but perhaps he should have asked for a few signatures in return.


House Republicans Lose a Leader

The news has just come out of Washington that Congressman Tom DeLay, the former Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives will also now be resigning his seat in Congress and not running for re-election in the fall.

Before you do anything else, I recommend reading this exclusive Q&A with Congressman DeLay and his wife discussing his decision with TIME Magazine. I think it gives you an insightful glimpse into his mind -- and sure left me with a tremendous amount of respect for him. I can't imagine the courage it takes to be able to make a decision like this, putting the cause above himself and also being so at peace with his decision.

Regardless of how you feel about all of his policies, or even his political style, DeLay has one of the preeminent leaders and tacticians within the Republican House Majority for the past twelve years, and he will be missed.

Still, you gotta love this reaction from the Dems ... it only goes to show that once again DeLay is making a brilliant strategic move by taking away this issue from them, and guaranteeing that a Republican will maintain his seat in Congress.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Nussle to attend Spring Spaghetti Dinner

The Johnson County Republicans will be holding their Spring Spaghetti Dinner on Friday, May 12, 2006 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

This will be a great family-friendly evening of fun with fellow Johnson County Republicans, and our very special guest, the next Governor of Iowa, Congressman Jim Nussle. Come out and support your local party and meet many of your Republican candidates for election in 2006!

For more information on the event, check out the event website.