10 Ekim 2011 Pazartesi

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

At least two of Hillary Clinton’s upper-echelon advisers, Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn, were decidedly unimpressed .

“Our people look like caucus-goers,” Grunwald said, “and his people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”
-Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

Fast forward four years to today's headline: "How Obama's data-crunching prowess may get him re-elected."
Alone among the major candidates running for president, the Obama campaign not only has a Facebook page with 23 million "likes" (roughly 10 times the total of all the Republicans running), it has a Facebook app that is scooping up all kinds of juicy facts about his supporters.

Users of the Obama 2012 - Are You In? app are not only giving the campaign personal data like their name, gender, birthday, current city, religion and political views, they are sharing their list of friends and information those friends share, like their birthday, current city, religion and political views. As Facebook is now offering the geo-targeting of ads down to ZIP code, this kind of fine-grained information is invaluable.
Yeah, but he's still behind Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry in Twitter followers.

So Obama ranks 4th with 10.4 million followers. Mitt Romney? "4,931th" with 64,659. But the real question is, Which Mitt? A handy-dandy quiz on Romney's issue position where the correct answer is usually "all of the above."

Republican voters may not agree on those answers, or much of anything, but they can agree on one thing:
The one point on which they have been most consistent, however, is their resistance to the candidate who has been making his case the longest: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

But it is these activists and voters like them who could eventually decide who gets the nomination. Do they coalesce around a single alternative, such as Perry, or do they continue to divide their support among all of the other hopefuls?

Or do they swallow their misgivings and begin to give Romney another look based on the argument that he is their best chance to beat President Obama in 2012?
Mitt Romney. Their best chance. Saturday Night Live got this one right this weekend: their vanilla Everyman, Jason Sudekis, played Romney OK, but gave him way too much charisma. Bobby Moynihan walked on as Chris Christie and owned the sketch; Moynihan may be the biggest loser in Christie's decision not to run. (And Tina Fey is very, very happy this week to retire THAT character... speaking of retirning characters, Kirsten, Shanna needs to join Gilly on the scrapheap.)

Whatever Republicans decide they'll be doing it sooner than ever. Ballot Access News: "In the years 1912 through 1972, no presidential primary was ever earlier than March."

Iowa City, of course, will vote twice before Caucus Night, unless New Hampshire grabs our November 8 city election date and we go on Halloween. (Scary costume suggestion: any GOP candidate). As for tomorrow's election, Michelle Payne is both the only woman and only registered Republican on the ballot, and she gets the big John Balmer endorsement.

And here's all the reasons not to pull out your ID tomorrow. There. I did it. I took a clip post and made a narrative out of it.

The Instant Lame Duck

The Instant Lame Duck

It takes a special alignment of stars to be a lame duck from the day you are elected. Shelley Sekula Gibbs did it by winning a special election on the same day she lost a general election in 2006. Neil Abercrombie did it by winning a special election and losing a primary on the same day in 1986.

But neither of them pulled off the trick of being a lame duck before even winning an election, so Cindy Golding is by my count the first.

You see, the Republican nominee in the Battle of Marion lives inside the current district lines of old Senate District 18, under which the November 8 special election will be conducted. She does not, however, live inside the lines of new Senate District 34, where the overwhelming majority of the old District 18 constituents will be next year when the term expires.

This concern was noted before the GOP nominating convention by Craig Robinson at TheIowaRepublican:
She will not live in the district when the new lines are applied for the 2012 elections. If Golding would win the nomination and go on to win Senate District 18 seat, she would either only serve one term, or she would have to move in order to remain in the district. Republicans are likely looking for a candidate to hold the seat, not fill it temporarily.
The other two GOP contenders who lost at the convention, Mary Rathje and Matt Dummermuth, both live inside both the old Senate 18 and new Senate 34 lines. So does Democratic nominee Liz Mathis, of rural Robins.

In Iowa Clean Redistricting, it's generally accepted for an elected official to move "back into" their own district if they're in what I call a My District Just Not My House situation. But for Golding, My House is apparently more important than My District. She has already announced that if elected, she would not move and would run instead in Senate District 48. (Bleeding Heartland has maps of all three.)

New Senate 48 has very little overlap with Old Senate 18. The districts share just three townships - Fayette, rural Marion, and Golding's township of Monroe - and the city of Palo. The new turf then sprawls into northern and eastern Linn County, most of the population of Jones County, and all the way up into Delaware and Buchanan.

So Republicans are spending a load of time and money getting Golding's name out in Robins and Hiawatha and Marion for a one-session Senator. But even if they succeed, they'll still have to recruit a new candidate to hold the district next year, and teach a new name to a confused electorate who's already grappling with the idea that the Lundby on the ballot is a Democrat.

And the Democrats already have a strong Senate 48 candidate lined up in Rep. Nate Willems, a Lisbon legislator and Anamosa native.

So, why not move, Cindy? Why announce before you even get elected that you're running in a different seat? Robinson may have the answer: "Moving will not be easy since Golding lives in a very expensive home." And if even the other Republicans are saying she has an expensive house, that must be some house.

View gotcha in a larger map

Nice crib. Love the columns. And is that a fountain I see at the crest of that curving driveway?

The Linn County Assessor lists the 9,111 square foot house on 36.49 acres at an assessed valuation of $855,400. That's a lot of home to love.

No, material success is not a crime. But when the material success is more important than the people you're seeking to represent, that should send up some warning flags.

8 Ekim 2011 Cumartesi

Johnson County Democrats 2011 Barbecue

No Platypus, just lots of Democrats

So we didn't have Rick Perry, like the Johnson County Republicans did last night, but I'll take Dave Loebsack and Sue Dvorsky as keynoters over the Platypus over him any day. (I would have liked to have made it to the other team's event, but I was on daddy patrol Friday and they prefer the actual Perry.) It would have made for a nice compare/contrast of, for example, the relative length of the introduction of elected officials.

Loebsack squeezed the event into what was either a six or seven event day ans stresses his Armed Services committee work. "We need to be out of Iraq by the end of the year (and) we need to make those moves to get us out of Afghanistan as soon as we can," he said.

Loebsack also noted work he's doing on private sector initiatives for the Rock Island Arsenal to potentially do non-military work, and on a project to embed mental health professionals in National Guard units to combat the high suicide rate.

On the latter project Loebsack is working with subcommittee chair Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican best known for shouting "you lie!" at President Obama. Loebsack said he and Wilson both had family members with mental health problems, and that common experience helped them work together on the issue. "I'm doing everything I can to work across the aisle," said Loebsack. But later he added, "but while I'm working across the aisle, we still have some fundamental differences" with Republicans.

Any gathering of Iowa politicos these days is certain to turn to the November 8 state senate special election that Sue Dvorsky simple calls "18." I'll get my Battle of Marion label to stick yet.

‎"There has never been an election in the history of this state where ONE SEAT could turn the entire direction of government," said the IDP chair, who sees the 2011 special as the first stage of the 2012 campaign battle.

Dvorsky singled out the minority House Democrats for praise, too. "It takes so much courage to keep climbing that hill when you know you can't win. What they did was out the other side's horrendous agenda." Three House candidates hoping to take back the majority that Democrats lost in 2010 were on hand: David Johnson, challenging Jeff Kaufmann in House 73; Sara Sedlacek, taking on Tom Sands in District 88; and county supervisor Sally Stutsman, running in open House 77.

That's the soundbites, but what you really want is the pictures, over in the Facebook album.

7 Ekim 2011 Cuma

Olive Out in House 48

Former Sen. Rich Olive Out in House 48 Race

Democrat Rich Olive has announced he's out in the House District 48 race, citing family and geography:
This decision did not come easily and was influenced by many factors including health, family, and work but it basically comes down to one thing: my heart is in Story City. In order to be a candidate for the House Seat in District 48, I would have been required to move my primary residence out of Story City and that just simply isn’t an option.
Olive won one Senate term by 61 votes in 2006, and got knocked off by Republican Rob Bacon. The two were set for a rematch in this House district: Bacon got paired up with fellow Republican Bill "I will be seeking a leadership election" Dix in redistricting.

This district belonged to Ames Democrat Lisa Heddens on Map Day, in a My District Just Not My House situation; Heddens has moved back into her House District 46, in the city limits of Ames.

Democrats now need a candidate in this swing seat, which has just a narrow GOP edge. Hamilton County makes up about half of this district. The new seat also includes parts of rural Boone County, southeast Webster County and a little corner of Story, going all the way up to the Ames city limits. What's McKinley Bailey up to these days?

Register Reports January 3 Caucuses

January 3 Caucuses, says Register

Iowa’s caucus date will be Jan. 3 under a tentative agreement that will be formally voted on around Oct. 16, a GOP central committee member said today.

“We had a real clear consensus last night that we want Jan. 3,” said Drew Ivers, a member of the Iowa GOP central committee who is from Webster City.

The tentative agreement was reached during an Iowa GOP Central Committee phone conference last night, Ivers said.

Chairman Matt Strawn wanted to wait to publicly talk about the Jan. 3 date until Monday as a courtesy to officials involved with ongoing talks with New Hampshire, Ivers said.

So is this a variation on what Frontloading HQ called, as referenced in my post last night, Scenario 2?
Iowa on January 5 and New Hampshire on December 13 is a distinct possibility. It keeps Iowa out of December. The blame would not be on the Hawkeye state for slipping into December 2011. That would all rest with New Hampshire; a victim of its own law. [How's that for a strange twist of fate?]
Is it effort to force New Hampshire to suck it on their seven day law and settle for Tuesday the 10th, four days before Nevada?

Or is it what FLHQ today calls "an opening offer?"
The Iowa Republican caucuses may end up on January 3, but that will likely have very little to do with the discussion among the decision-makers within the state party over the last couple of days. This is, as it was with Arizona, an opening offer. It is a possibility. It is a threat. But we won't know until October 16 at the earliest whether it is a reality.
10/16 is what NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner says is the earliest he will announce the date.
The New Hampshire-Nevada game of chicken is now the Iowa-New Hampshire game of chicken. Iowa has made its offer: January 3. Bill Gardner and New Hampshire have made theirs: December 6. Iowa Republicans are saying, "We are willing to take the last Tuesday spot to make sure that the Iowa Republican caucuses happen in 2012." Bill Gardner and New Hampshire are countering with, "That's fine. We are willing to blow all of this up to protect our state law and the candidate/media attention that law nurtures."

Gardner holds the trump card. He is seemingly willing to take New Hampshire into December if need be to protect the law. Whether that's true or not, we may never know, but he is seemingly willing to play it. And Iowa Republicans are not willing to slip into December.
Your move, Mr. Gardner.

6 Ekim 2011 Perşembe

Iowa Second?

Should Iowa Take One For The Team?

I'm absolutely NOT suggesting or endorsing it. But consider the caucus date dilemma Iowa is in:

  • Florida Republicans -- and remember, this is their fault -- broke the rules agreed on by both parties: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, in that order, in February. No one else till March. But rules don't matter to the biggest swing state. They got away with cheating last time, so they did it again, going a full five weeks early on January 31.

  • In response, South Carolina was expected to move to Saturday the 28th; there's some tradition of Saturday elections in that state. But instead they jumped back a full week past Florida to January 24.

  • Nevada Republicans were then expected to pick Saturday the 21st but then jumped a whole week past that to January 14.

  • So now the irresistible force of the pages of the calendar meets the immovable object of New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who is adamant about enforcing his state law that requires his primary be seven days before "any similar contest." And he's almost as adamant about staying on a Tuesday. Which points to January 3...

  • Which points to Iowa in calendar year 2011.

    It's no secret that the DC press corps hates, Hates, HATES the Iowa caucuses. It's a long trip compared to the Boston-Washington shuttle, and they have absolutely no clue about the process on either side. MSNBC's First Read is a reasonably good take on Beltway mentality at any given moment, and here's what they think of a December caucus:
    Christmas in Des Moines? With Nevada’s decision to hold its caucuses on Jan. 14, it’s possible that the presidential primary season could begin immediately after Christmas -- with New Hampshire settling on Jan. 7, and Iowa going either Dec. 28 or 29. If that happens, it could be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back on Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s dominance of the primary calendar. Why? You could see a full-fledged rebellion -- maybe not this cycle, but certainly the next -- if candidates are forced to campaign and the news media is forced to descend upon Des Moines over the Christmas holiday. New Year’s Eve in Des Moines four years ago was one thing; Christmas Eve is another. The reason New Hampshire would pick Jan. 7 is to give it a full week of separation between Nevada’s contest. But it all depends on how seriously New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner takes the Nevada contest. If he doesn’t take it seriously and decides Nevada is not too similar to New Hampshire’s primary, the Granite State could stick with Jan. 10, allowing Iowa to go on Jan. 5, which at least keeps the start of the voting in the 2012 calendar year. But if he takes it seriously, it’s Christmas in Des Moines. And, folks, even for diehard defenders of the Iowa/New Hampshire start, that’ll be ridiculous.
    And all indications are that Gardner takes Nevada seriously.

    Frontloading HQ, a multiple times a day must read for any serious Iowa politico these days, offers four scenarios:
    Again, Secretary Gardner is bound by state law. He has no ability to set the New Hampshire primary for January 10. Nevada Republican caucuses just four days later violates that law. And if Iowa selects a date during the first week in January, that gives Gardner no recourse but to go before Iowa -- in December. There would be no other option in January that would both keep New Hampshire as the first in the nation primary and give it the seven day buffer after the contest mandated by law.

    What options are left to Iowa and New Hampshire?

    1. New Hampshire on January 10 and Iowa on January 3 or 5 is not on the table. New Hampshire cannot do that.

    2. Iowa on January 5 and New Hampshire on December 13 is a distinct possibility. It keeps Iowa out of December. The blame would not be on the Hawkeye state for slipping into December 2011. That would all rest with New Hampshire; a victim of its own law. [How's that for a strange twist of fate?] Conversely, New Hampshire could take the January 3 date and force Iowa into December.

    4. The final option is the Thelma and Louise doomsday scenario described last night. That's the "if we're going down, let's go down together" option.

    Now this turns into something akin to a prisoner's dilemma. Option 1 is not workable. Option 2 protects New Hampshire in the short term, but likely hurts it -- and the other early states -- in the long run. The status of being first and the whole system in fact would be on trial before 2016. Option 4 yields much the same results.
    If the Iowa caucuses are in December 2011, there will be no 2016 caucuses. Oh, sure, the platform nerds and process geeks and people who read political blogs will get together sometime in the spring. But the presidential choice will be in the June primary between Presumptive Nominee and Uncommitted, buried somewhere below the county supervisors.

    You notice I skipped an option.
    3. But if Iowa is willing to let New Hampshire go first in December, would it not -- and I'm speaking hypothetically here Iowans -- make sense for Iowa to go on January 10 and cede New Hampshire the January 3 date? That entails Iowa doing New Hampshire a solid -- one of epic and selfless proportion rarely seen in presidential primary calendar politics.

    That leaves Option 3. Iowa takes one for the team, allows New Hampshire to eclipse it for this cycle, and all the early states can then blame Florida and/or the RNC's lack of meaningful penalties for pushing the four early states up as far as they did.
    I'm sure the various Republican campaigns have strong opinions about Option 3. This leapfrogging isn't all about the batting order. The popular theory is Nevada leaped further forward than expected to help Mitt Romney, who's expected to win there and in New Hampshire. Rick Santorum has openly called Florida's move a "conspiracy" of front-runners to minimize the role of small early states. (Every other candidate has been Flavor of the Month, or at least the week; is Santorum ever going to get his week?)

    But what would we need to, for argument's sake only, consider "taking one for the team?" First of all, we would need some sense that there was an actual "team," like there was in the days of the eight days between Iowa and New Hampshire pact that stood for two decades. It's been New Hampshire, not Iowa, that's abandoned that solidarity the last couple cycles. We'd need some guarantees, by both parties, that calendar cheaters would suffer some penalties with teeth, and not get rewarded with, say, a national convention.

    So what would we get if, for argument's sake, we "take one for the team?" A better date, with higher attendance and better prospects for organizing for November.

    If we were after New Hampshire, we could consider some sort of absentee voting procedure. Hillary Clinton had the high ground on this one: people who can't physically be there, whether it's military service or shift work or child care, lose their vote. We offered a bunch of reasons about "the neighborhood meeting nature" of the caucuses, but they've grown so big that real town-meeting dialogue is impossible. Heck, hearing and movement are impossible.

    The real reason the Iowa caucuses don't have any absentee procedure is that Bill Gardner thinks that makes it an election. Now, I'd prefer something a little less wide-open than the vote early for any reason we have for elections. The caucuses are supposed to be a party meeting, and unrestricted absentees would turn the whole thing into a year-long absentee ballot chase. But people who really can't be there should be able to participate.

    Most importantly, Option 3 gives us January or February 2016 instead of Presumptive Nominee vs. Uncommitted in June.

    I'm not saying Iowa Republicans (we Dems are just along for the ride this time) should do this. But as bad options go, it's, well, one of them.
  • October Johnson County Democrats

    October Johnson County Democrats

    Mayor Matt Hayek starts the show asking for our support and reciting his Democratic Party bona fides.

    Assorted news: HQ is open at 321 E. Market St.

    The big event of the year, the BBQ, is Saturday from 4 to 7 at the fairgrounds. Asking $25 a ticket. Speeches start 4:45 or so with Dave Loebsack, Sue Dvorsky and the locals. November 19 is the Jefferson-Jackson in Des Moines with mayor Rahm f^&%in' Emanuel.

    We talk caucuses but don't have any real answers.

    Electeds on hand: Bolkcom, Dvorsky, Mascher, Lensing, Jacoby, Neuzil, Sullivan. The senators talk Battle of Marion. Many many volunteer opportunities.

    Occupy Wall Street moves to Iowa City: College Green Park starting 6:00 PM tomorrow.

    Mascher on Branstad education plan: "There are some positive things, some things that are doable, but the bottom line is it's an attempt to gut collective bargaining and termination rights for teachers."