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Bruce Braley

Iowa’s Summer Campaign Has Begun

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

A small group of local, long-time political activists met last week with one of the 80 or so paid organizers for the Coordinated Campaign of the Iowa Democratic Party. Electing Bruce Braley as Iowa’s next U.S. Senator was at the top of our to-do list.

We don’t see each other often, but share the experience of working on election campaigns over many cycles. We know what it would mean if power in the U.S. Senate switched from Democratic to Republican leadership. If it’s up to us, that won’t happen, and each person at the meeting was willing to invest resources of time, money and thoughtful participation toward electing Braley to the U.S. Senate.

What does that mean in 2014?

It means participating in canvasses organized by paid staff, attending candidate and party-sponsored events when our schedule permits, and writing checks to campaigns when we have resources. That’s only part of the picture. Increasingly, it’s a small part.

More than anything, modern political campaigns require each of us be engaged in a community, without regard for political affiliation, and do things that make sense to advance our views. In rural communities especially, the human landscape of society doesn’t change enough from one election cycle to the next to pretend neighbors and friends don’t remember what was said in a letter to the editor, or at an event the last cycle. This persistence of memory can be a blessing and a curse in political campaigns.

Campaigns send a lot of requests for political donations, almost none of which get acted upon. The rationale is a variation on a theme that the numbers justify them. That is, if a request is sent to 10,000 people, there will be a financial return. This cycle, I am hearing more about Charles and David Koch, The Heritage Foundation and political action committees than ever. Campaigns keep sending the messages reinforcing a negativity that is hard to ignore.

At the grassroots, people understand the difference between a political action committee and a candidate, and at the end of the day, when there is an extra $25 in the checking account, a donation will go to a candidate, not a third party. Plenty of folks feel that way.

The summer’s string of parades, picnics, car races, music concerts, annual gatherings and county fairs is only just beginning, and political candidates are attending. We don’t put a lot of stock in what a particular candidate may say at an event, but there is an unspoken expectation they will show up in person from time to time, and that through these and other presences in person and in media, we will get to know them.

The weather has been exceptionally good for outdoors gatherings, and 2014 will be a summer to remember if for no other reason than that. Politics affects our lives, but we go on living.

Summer is the time to get involved with a political campaign, so start by checking out the Iowa Democratic Party. In case you missed it, Bruce Braley could use your help as well.

Day Of Action!

Here is a great way to celebrate the birth of the country. This weekend is a DAY OF ACTION all weekend. For Democrats to win elections this fall we must get the vote out. It is time to start working to get things moving. From an IDP email:

I have to tell you — my team and I are really fired up. We’ve got dozens of organizers all across the state gearing up for their first big weekend of action, and I’d love for you to be a part of it.

From Cedar Rapids to Sioux City, our grassroots team and volunteers like yourself will come together to make phone calls and knock doors for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.

Please click here to find an event near you.

As the Iowa Democratic Party Field Director, I spend most of my day crunching numbers and looking at our data. Every time we have a new volunteer sign up for an event, there’s a big smile on my face.

These events are fun, but going door to door and talking to friends and neighbors is our best bet for victory this November.

Iowans talking to Iowans about the issues that matter and what’s at stake in this election – what could be better?

Whether you’re a veteran volunteer or interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, I hope you will join us.

Iowa’s New Gift To Comedians

hat tip to earlg at democraticunderground

hat tip to earlg at democraticunderground

As I sit here listening to Stephanie Miller Iowa is getting some great publicity. We are once more home to a candidate that is so out of touch, so out of the norm, so crazy that the nation is taking notice. This time it is not Steve King. King has been relatively quiet so far. As a side King has said more than enough in the past that Jim Mowrer can point to easily to prove King is way outside the norms of America.

This time the national notice comes from the candidacy of Joni Ernst, the teabagger, soldier, teabagger, mother, teabagger and Iowa state senator who never comes to work. To say she has extremist views is the same as saying the Koch Brothers have money. Based on Joni’s pronouncements and tweets it sure seems like she is much more interested in getting some of that Koch brothers money rather than votes of Iowa’s citizens.Well, actually, it is beginning to seem like the Ernst campaign will bring Iowa and the nation a two Ernst yuk fest. On one hand we have Joni herself calling the mass murders at the University of California in Santa Barbara an “accident.” Then we have Joni erasing a tweet expressing some relief that fellow soldier and POW Bowe Bergdahl had been freed after the anti-Obama crazies in the Tea Party decided that freeing an American POW was (for the first time in history) a bad thing. Can’t get that Koch money if you say something that in any way can be interpreted as saying something good about Obama.

Ernst made a big flap about the use of a chick in a Braley ad, showing that the Ernst team would not stand for anything, anything that would smack of sexism. But they failed to check in house and have embarrassingly had Ernst’s husband, Gail, caught posting a couple of flat out sexist posts on Facebook. A recently discovered post by Gail called former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank.” A previously discovered facebook post called Hillary Clinton a “hag.”

These were not posts that were of a momentary nature. No, they were both posted well over a year ago. Thus Joni had plenty of time to have read them and raised hell with her husband. Were they truly so “appalling” Joni had 13 to 14 months to explain the offending nature of such posts. The fact that they stayed up throughout her long campaign makes me think she is quite new to the world of of what is offensive language. And it wasn’t like she didn’t have time, since she seldom showed up for her job as a state senator.

The saddest thing about is that someone so demonstrably in the extreme of national politics has a real chance to become a real live United States senator, someone who will make decisions that will drastically affect our lives. We know Ernst desires to see Social Security ended, we know that she is against a minimum wage, she is also against the Clean Water Act and the Farm Bill. In short she is out of step with Iowa but in full lockstep stride with the Koch brothers and the extremist right wing of the Tea Party.

If this wasn’t so serious, I would laugh.

AND AS IF WE NEEDED A REMINDER THAT YOUR VOTE COUNTS: The unbeatable Eric Cantor fell to the unknown David Brat in a primary. If that can happen, it is pretty obvious that if enough common sense minded voters do not vote, Joni Ernst could become a US senator.

Midterms, Caucuses And Polls, Oh My!

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

It must be tough being the newspaper Iowa depends upon for Republican news. First the Rasmussen polls showing U.S. Senate candidates Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst in a statistical dead heat with 44 -45 percent of 750 likely Iowa voters respectively. There is no story there unless the horse race is like yesterday’s Belmont Stakes where there is a potential triple crown winner to spark interest. Even so, the thoroughbreds come out of the gate with the same distance to go, even-Steven, so the poll doesn’t mean much.

The Des Moines Register faithfully reported that the Rasmussen poll has a GOP bias, but what about the headline they chose, “Polls following primary show Ernst leading Braley?” That must have been based upon the Loras College poll of 600 likely general election voters, which shows Ernst with a bigger lead over Braley. The primary was five days ago, and the Loras poll only shows how much Ernst has to lose during the campaign.

Then there was the Selzer poll of 400 likely primary-goers released yesterday showing a wide open race for Republicans in 2016. No sh*t Sherlock, it’s more than eighteen months until caucus night. One expects potential presidential candidates to get to Iowa and help candidates during this year’s midterms, and a number of Republicans did show up to support Ernst in the primary. After Labor Day, this story about Republicans might have more meaning.

As a person who has polled tens of thousands of potential voters and caucus-goers at their doors and on the telephone, over several election cycles, I’ve found there is something more important going on in Iowa that presents a real threat to Bruce Braley and the Democrats. What if Republicans abandon the Bob Vander Plaats and Ron Paul splinter groups of their party?

Soon the Republicans will choose a new party chair to replace Danny Carroll who was elected when A.J. Spiker resigned to pursue a job with Ron Paul’s political action committee. Is there another potential chair, not affiliated with the Family Leader, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition or Ron Paul libertarians? If there is, and that person were elected as Republican party chair, they might actually have a chance to regain direction and become more effective than their perennial clown car of candidates makes them out to be.

The Des Moines Register highlighted the problem the Republican Party has. During the Carroll’s balloting, seven central committee members “voted yes for Carroll, mistakenly thinking they were casting a vote to close nominations and move to ballots.” Partisan Democrats may be gleeful about such mishaps and foibles, but the truth is that with six months until the Nov. 4 midterms, it is conceivable Republicans could get their act together sufficiently to attract enough no party voters to get their slate of candidates in.

If Democrats care about electing Bruce Braley, retaining the Iowa Senate and gaining some seats in the Iowa House, they had better quit being entertained by the antics of the other party, and start closing the deal with the disaffected no party voters. For those of us who remember 2010, it is not a given that they will.

Bruce Braley: Climate Disruption Is Real

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

Bruce Braley Statement on Carbon Reduction Plan
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Washington, D.C.– Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of a preliminary plan to reduce carbon emissions.

“In the year before these standards go into effect I’ll continue to advocate on behalf of Iowa to ensure that this proposal works for our consumers and businesses—but it’s clear that Iowa utilities are ahead of the curve on these standards, and that’s good news for Iowa’s consumers. The bottom line is that climate disruption is real, and that Iowa has been a global leader in tackling it head on with tremendous growth in areas like wind energy and renewable fuels. Reducing our carbon output is not only necessary for the health of the planet, it’s an opportunity to continue to improve the health of the Iowa economy—which is and will remain my number one priority.”

Click here to donate to Bruce Braley’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Braley: Equal Justice

Bruce Braley is fighting for the middle class and is being targeted by the Koch Brothers. He needs your support. Click here to join the campaign.



Hillary-ClintonKarl Rove made an absolutely insane statement earlier this week. Since it was so out there only about 1/3 of Americans will believe it instead of the usual half. As you may well know, what Rove said was:

“Thirty days in the hospital?” he asked, as quoted by the Post. “And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have a traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”

When the hew and cry went up against the smear that Rove launched he tried to walk his comment back a bit claiming that he never said “brain damage.” But the implication was there and no doubt he would have let it ride had there not been such an outcry. Rove used to use rumor campaigns to get stories like this out there – one example being the John McCain “black baby” story in South Carolina in 2000.But he no longer seems to have the press at his fingertips and had to go out in public with his accusation. He used to be able to claim it wasn’t him doing the dirt, but in this case it is a quote.

Couple things about this. First it is a flat out lie. Rove knows it. He is among the dirtiest ever in politics in this country and I am sure he is proud of it. There is nothing wrong with Hillary.

Second, coupled with the recycling of Monica Lewinsky a week before the Republicans are playing their hands awfully early. No doubt they are trying to gin up hate for Hillary to affect the off-year elections this fall. They have totally lost their big issues – health care, the economy, immigration, climate change, gays and even guns. On all these issues they are on the wrong side of the electorate let alone history.

So they need something, damn near anything, to get their base out this election aside from changing any independents. So some genius, maybe Rove himself, decided to start the 2016 anti-Hillary presidential campaign two years early. So they rolled out Lewinsky and it dropped like a lead balloon. Looking to build on that success, Rove saw the perfect time to use some not so well crafted innuendo. Usually his work is a little better contrived, but in this case he had to go full bore because, well, the Tea Bag base isn’t maybe as sharp as it used to be at picking up the signals.

There is one last thing that we need to understand about the Rove maneuver. Had it worked the way it intended, it would have turned our focus from winning this fall to defending Hillary against all attackers two years before her campaign. Rove failed miserably in this attempt. First the Lewinsky gambit reminded folks that she had nothing to do with it, that she handled it with dignity while Republican politicians and press rained attacks on her and Bill and that the whole affair should have been a private matter.

When Rove brought up her health it gave voters a chance to remember a vibrant Secretary of State who is about to become a grandmother.

And finally it highlighted that once again the Republican-Tea Bag Party is ready to lie about any thing and willing to spend almost any amount of money to buy our government. These tricks also reminded us who it is that wants to buy control of the government. It is the richest .1% of our populace. They want to control government for their own purposes, all of which will be detrimental to the vast majority of Americans.

So thanks for your clownish lies, Mr. Rove. You have helped sharpen our focus to elect good candidates like Jack Hatch against the perpetually lying Terry Branstad; Dave Loebsack against whichever of the tea bag tools opposes him and Bruce Braley against whichever tea bag tool that opposes him. I almost forgot Jim Mowrer in his quest to finally retiore the tea baggiest of all, Steve King and Stacie Appel out there in the third district.She has a great shot at being Iowa’s first female in Congress.

We also can’t forget our local races from statehouse to court house. I have a dream. The Dream has Governor Jack Hatch giving the state of the state to two houses of democratic legislatures next January. A little later President Obama will give his state of the nation address to a House and a Senate in Democratic hands.

The Stink In The Air? Koch Money In Iowa Politics!

It seems like it is almost impossible to turn on the TV in Eastern Iowa right now without hearing what a supposedly bad man Bruce Braley is. Night and day, day and night the spots play endlessly pounding the message over and over. Welcome to the world where those with too much money have been given a green light to spend as much money as they want thanks to two horrible Supreme Court decisions, Citizens United and McCutcheon.

Through various think tanks, action committees, 501c4 committees and who knows what other venues, Charles and David Koch are able to use their money to constantly drive their message into our homes. To me it is like them coming into my house and farting over and over and over. They expect me to love the smell of their stink because they are so rich that whatever they do is beatiful because of their money. They also seem to believe they can put a mask over their faces in the form of a front organization and we won’t figure out that it is Charles and David who are actually doing the farting.

But the masks have been pulled back and there are Charles and David bald faced, stinking up the air. I do not want them im my house anymore and I am betting that they have stunk up the air so badly in Iowa that most Iowans want them to take their stink somewhere else. Bruce Braley is not the only one the Kochs are trying to harm with their stinking money. Braley is only the best known one they are going after. Remember last fall when Koch money tried to buy some seats in the Coralville municipal election? That sure stunk when it was uncovered.

No doubt whoever is Braley’s Republican opponent this fall will have the weight of the Koch brother’s stinky money to run with. Sure many may think that having the constant drumbeat of smelly “educational” PAC advertisements is a good thing. But it will be a two edged sword. Iowa voters will know that there will be some expected payback for all the money the Kochs will spend. It makes no difference which of the Tea Party candidates is picked to run against Braley, they will dance to the Koch Brother’s tune.

The Tea Party candidate will avoid issues so that should they win, they will be able to be manipulated by the Kochs while claiming they are not breaking campaign promises. It makes no difference who the candidate is, they will be owned by the Koch Brothers and will be totally beholden to them.

The Koch Brothers’ money stinks, their front groups stink, their PACs stink, their attempts to buy politicians in Iowa stink. Iowans proudly have a fiercely independent streak. To think that the Koch brothers feel they could ‘sneak’ into Iowa behind patriotic sounding front groups to buy an election from a bunch of rubes stinks big time.

Go away Koch brothers, take your money and your anti-middle-class attitudes back where you came from. Iowans do not want it. And, yes we will be watching.

Iowa Republicans Hide Extremism

Braley-Borlaug Front Page

Braley-Borlaug Front Page

Labor Day is the official kickoff of the fall election campaign, but there seems to be a lot of campaign stuff going on now.

The biggest news was the video of Rep. Bruce Braley commenting about the kind of chair of the Judiciary Committee U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley might make should Republicans regain control of the upper chamber.

The video was released by a group called Priorities for Iowa, another 501 (c) 4 funded by what is becoming common parlance, “dark money.” The release was timed to coincide with the unveiling of the Norman Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol, which replaced that of former U.S. Senator and abolitionist James Harlan, which had been there since before Borlaug was born. By any standard, Borlaug was a farmer and the front page of the Quad City Times, which visually associated Braley’s comments with Borlaug, is something Braley should frame and put in his office as a reminder that he needs to do better in his campaign for U.S. Senator. If one listens to the video, it is neither disparaging toward Grassley nor to farmers generally. That won’t stop the right wingers from saying it is so.

Speaking of right wingers, something else I have been following is the development of guns, gays and abortion legislation in this session of the Iowa legislature. Yesterday was bad news for progressive politicos, as none of them gained traction during floor debate.

There was a curious change in the House Floor Action ticker regarding abortion and guns. As I watched the live posts, the following was made:

“Motion by Shaw to invoke Rule 60 in order to withdraw HF 138 from the Judiciary Committee and place it on the House Calendar– Out of Order.”

When I went in to double check the ticker for this post, the entry had been changed to this:

“Motion by Shaw to invoke Rule 60 in order to withdraw HF 2284 from the Judiciary Committee and place it on the House Calendar – Out of Order.”

I am certain a change was made because I had to look up HF 138 to see what it was after the original post, and last night, I searched the ticker for HF 2284 and couldn’t find it.

Here is the House Journal record:

“Shaw of Pocahontas moved to invoke Rule 60, to immediately withdraw House File 2284 from committee on Judiciary and place it on the calendar.
The Speaker ruled the motion not in order.”

Maybe it was a typo, and maybe not, but HF 138 is the personhood bill, and HF 2284 is the so called “Constitutional Carry” bill, both of which I expected to be called up from judiciary yesterday using Rule 60.

The reason this is bad news is that House Republicans are showing a modicum of decorum and consistency by following their own rules on these two bills. That is something they did not do in 2011 just after the TEA party rebellion of the 2010 midterms. What is worse news for progressives is that definition of marriage did not make it onto the House legislative radar screen at all this session.

Nothing has changed in the Republican caucus, except they are doing a much better job of hiding the extremism of the right wing of their party. Since most people don’t follow politics very closely, it matters to advancing a progressive agenda if Republicans are perceived as not that bad.

With the late spring and a winter backlog of projects, it seems way too early for politics. Nonetheless, how can one not be engaged in things that matter in our lives on the Iowa prairie.

Letters To The Editor: Don’t Be Shy!

letters to the editorFolks, I am a big believer in using the newspaper’s Letters To The Editor section to make sure the public knows we exist and that we support our candidates and their positions. Through polling we know that democratic positions are preferred by nearly 70% when polled on positions. We know that we have excellent candidates. We also know that Republican candidates often have character flaws that are often downplayed by the press.

So stand up and let the world know how good we are. Most papers have an online presence with a ‘contact us’ button. That is where you can usually find the LTTE submission form. It is fairly quick and easy. Most papers limit letters to 250 words or less, so it may be best to focus on one subject per letter. There is also usually a once-per-month limit to submissions. However, if we have many hands helping to write the letters we can cover a lot of subjects and candidates.

Here is an example from Larry Hodgden of Tipton who has allowed me to print this. Larry is a retired Viet Nam era veteran of the USAF, retired and living in Tipton..

It’s a Living, or is it?

Imagine working full time and taking home $250 a week after deductions. Try paying rent and utilities, putting gas in the car and buying groceries and clothes, often with children in the household as many single parent households must do. Never mind child care, health care or any of the other things we all take for granted.

The current minimum wage has less purchasing power today than it did in 1968 and now provides a full time wage earner with 20% less than the poverty level for a family of three. An increase to $10.10 per hour over three years as proposed in the Iowa House would give a raise to 340,000 Iowans, 60% of them women, and lift many families with children out of poverty.

This would reduce the reliance on SNAP (food stamps), free and reduced price school lunch, Medicaid and other social assistance programs.

It would restore some measure of dignity and self respect to parents and their children. Besides being the right thing to do, it would increase Iowa’s GDP by $346 million over three years and help create 1,400 jobs as every dime of the increased income would get spent in Iowa’s businesses.

I hear the concern about the economic strain this would put on small businesses and agree that there should be some consideration for them.

Surely there’s someone in state government who can find a solution, especially if the focus for tax relief and subsidies was moved from large corporations and placed where it belongs, with main street businesses.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin has introduced a similar bill in the Senate and Senate candidate Bruce Braley is a strong proponent, but alas, we all know with Republicans controlling the U.S. House, this bill will go nowhere. That is why we must lobby our state representatives,

including Governor Branstad to join Senator Jack Hatch and take action so Iowa can join other states and be sure when Iowans work, “It’s a Living”.

Larry Hodgden

Tipton, Iowa