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."

    City Primary at End Game

    City Primary at End Game

    Five days before election day and the first city council mailer landed in our mailbox,for Matt Hayek. Too late: I already voted, and not for him, but credit for the effort.

    Hayek appears to be ahead in the sign war, re-using the blue and white, college sweatshirt look signs from his first race. He did them right, with his short last name filling most of the space. Most of his signs are by themselves, and quite a few pop up at business and rental sites. Da Mayor is also ahead in letters to the editor.

    Also in blue and white, and in my yard, is Raj Patel, who seems to have made a good early vote effort. Patel signs have also been spotted in downtown business windows.

    The only other signs I see are for Michelle Payne and Mark McCallum. Payne's signs are illegible until you're right on top of them, with her first and last name filling only about the upper third of the sign. They're the first pink yard signs I've ever seen, probably to remind us that she's the only woman on the ballot. (I'll remind you that she's the only registered Republican on the ballot.)

    Nearly invisible outside the candidate forums are Josh Eklow, Jarrett "the chicken guy" Mitchell, and the other guy whose name I actually have to look up, let's see... Richard Finley , that's the guy.

    Updates: The Press-Citizen chimes in Friday AM with endorsements of Hayek and Payne, with McCAllum and Patel as "two other candidates (who) stand out." Loud emphasis on HAyek's flip to pro-21 and Patel's role in fighting it. Seems the PC is still as obsessed with it as I am.

    Also: a look at the money, with Hayek way out in front, Patel (mostly self-funded) next, and Payne and McCallum reporting, while The Other Three are all below the $750 threshold that requires a report.

    Early voting this weekend: UIHC Friday, auditor's office Saturday, library Sunday.

    Hacker Update

    1337 h4x0r upd8

    Day 11 of the hacked layout: From the Google/Blogger support forum, fellow hackee pearlanddaisy writes:
    I searched the name on the hijacker's digital calling card left on @jdeeth's blog and came up with 35,000 plus hits - all of the ones I looked at had similar "calling cards" and some long diatribe about terrorists. I had wondered why most of the blogs on "asker's" profile were political and turns out, this guy sees himself as some kind of hero fighting American (and other) "terrorists". He is a true menace to the web and perhaps beyond.

    I found this news item (translated from Turkish)
    'Turkish hacker Huseyin Gazi' written by the text, "Those who betray the ground eating bread, bread eaten places around the projectile. World terrorists supporting and supplying the U.S. behind closed doors, the world's greatest terrorist country" includes expressions.
    How are you gentlemen! All your blog are belong to us!

    So I'm still on hold waiting for the uber-uber-ubertechie to stop by.

    GOP threatens New Hampshire

    GOP pressures New Hampshire

    This is an unexpected, good for Iowa twist:
    Republicans are pressuring New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to put his state's primary late enough to allow Iowa's caucus to take place in January, and are threatening the state with the loss of its favored status as the first-in-the-nation primary if he doesn't do so.

    "I don’t think it takes a genius to realize that if New Hampshire goes so early that Iowa winds up during the holidays, there may be calls on whether we should scrap this whole system, and whether or not New Hampshire should even be able to go early next time," said a Republican source familiar with the proceedings. "Where his head is right now is ‘I have no choice,’ but he does. New Hampshire has gone from being the victim to everyone saying 'you're going to [mess] this up even more."

    The source said that if New Hampshire moves its primary up to Jan. 3 rather than Jan. 10, the state would likely face backlash from members of the Republican National Committee. Republicans are arguing that the next "similar election" is the South Carolina primary, which would make the Jan. 10 date viable for New Hampshire.
    So three scenarios:

  • Gardner says screw you and does what he wants. I've said that's counterproductive in the long run, and now the GOP is explicitly saying so.

  • Gardner caves on the seven days between Nevada and New Hampshire and goes with the Tuesday the 10th, or

  • Gardner goes with Saturday the 8th and Iowa caves, like we did last time, on eight days between us and New Hampshire.

    Either one of those two us on Monday 1/2 or Tuesday 1/3. This is all moving a lot faster than I expected. Let's get it done so us locals can start booking rooms.

    While the Republicans are making threats, shouldn't they also be talking about their convention site?
  • 96 year old woman denied ID

    Photo ID in action

    I got your "voter fraud" right here:
    Dorothy Cooper is 96 but she can remember only one election when she's been eligible to vote but hasn't.

    The retired domestic worker was born in a small North Georgia town before women had the right to vote. She began casting ballots in her 20s after moving to Chattanooga for work. She missed voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960 because a move to Nashville prevented her from registering in time.

    So when she learned last month at a community meeting that under a new state law she'd need a photo ID to vote next year, she talked with a volunteer about how to get to a state Driver Service Center to get her free ID. But when she got there Monday with an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request.

    That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.

    "But I didn't have my marriage certificate," Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center...

    5 Ekim 2011 Çarşamba

    Nevada January 14

    Nevada January 14

    Aw crap:
    Nevada Republicans will hold their presidential caucus Saturday, Jan. 14, state GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian told POLITICO Wednesday night.

    The first-in-the-West caucus will come a week before South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary, leaving New Hampshire likely for Jan. 3, with Iowa’s caucuses coming the week before that – in December.

    Iowa’s caucus is traditionally held eight days before New Hampshire’s primary. Eight days before the primary would be Monday, Dec. 26.
    Or more likely the 19th. Our only hope:
    New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told POLITICO this week he must abide by state law that requires the first-in-the-nation primary to be held at least seven days before the next nominating contest. With Nevada’s decision, that would seem to point to Tuesday, Jan. 3, though Gardner left open the possibility of holding the primary on a different day of the week.

    “It’s always been on a Tuesday,” Gardner told POLITICO. “All our elections and our primaries have always been on a Tuesday. However, it would be possible to have it on a day other than a Tuesday.”
    If Gardner goes with Saturday the 7th, we could probably get away with Monday the 2nd or Tuesday the 3rd. If he pushes Iowa into 2011, he's hurting his state as much as ours. Frontloading HQ:
    FHQ has talked a great deal about the power Bill Gardner has in New Hampshire concerning the setting of the presidential primary date. He still has that power tonight, but he also has a hugely consequential decision to make now. No, the decision doesn't necessarily affect the candidates or the campaign overall, but depending on the decision, it could threaten the favored position New Hampshire enjoys now in future cycles.
    Everyone needs to remember this is all FLORIDA's fault. If I were an Iowa Republican I'd be talking about moving that convention. And as an Iowa Democrat I still think we should have thrown them out of the 2008 convention.

    A Very Special Episode

    Special Election Clip Show

    Today, on a very special edition of the Deeth Blog, we have special elections:

  • A Democratic win in a weirdly timed special election for West Virginia governor, completing the musical chairs that began last year with Robert Byrd's death. David Nir at Kos:
    Tomblin and Barack Obama are nothing alike, and West Virginia looks very different from the country as a whole — plus, it's not a swing state and isn't a factor in the president's re-election plans. Don't get me wrong: This is a very good win for Democrats. There's just no reason to read anything into it.
    True that, but a Democratic loss would have given the GOP some bragging rights, so denying them that is a plus in itself.

  • Remember last month when Sheriff Joe Arpaio came in for Republican sheriff candidate Rick LaMere in Jones County? Yeah, the voters didn't care:
    Chief Deputy Greg Graver was elected sheriff in Tuesday’s special election, garnering 71.9 percent of the votes cast.

    In second place was Rick LaMere with 14.7 percent, followed by (appointed, Democratic) incumbent Harvey DeSotel with 12.8 percent and Scotty Shover with less than 1 percent.
    Sheriff elections can get odd, and special elections called by petition have kind of a recall dynamic. But can somebody tell me what's in the water in the Jones County when a guy, even the chief deputy, running as an independent knocks off the appointee with 72 percent?!?

  • And you can't talk specials without checking in on The Battle of Marion. Politico picks up on Ann Romney's noon visit for Cindy Golding and plays up the "but she turned Bachmann away" angle.

  • In other stuff, the Fort Madison Daily Democrat - great name, hearkening back to the once and future days of the partisan press - sits down with the retiring Gene Fraise to reminisce about his three decade legislative career.

  • And in The New Republic, veteran journalist Walter Shapiro declares Chris Christie will never be president:
    Christie may be deluding himself with his implicit belief that his time will come again during another presidential cycle. In truth, the combination of a weak Republican field and a vulnerable Democratic incumbent is a shimmering opportunity that may appear only once in Christie’s political lifetime.
    Barack Obama saw his opportunity and took it. So did Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton did not and waited four years too long. They only beg you once, Chris.
  • 4 Ekim 2011 Salı

    The Scenarios Narrow

    Nevada Won't Share SC Date

    You know, if the Deeth Blog weren't in Day 8 of Hacked Mode and unable to do anything except post, I'd just redirect this site's traffic to Frontloading HQ. Via the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
    The Nevada GOP will hold its presidential caucuses before Jan. 21, the date South Carolina picked Monday to conduct its primary, according to the head of the Nevada Republican Party.

    But the actual date of the Silver State's caucuses remained up in the air as Nevada and New Hampshire tried to work out an early voting calendar that might satisfy both states' needs.

    It's possible that New Hampshire could decide to vote on a day other than Tuesday to maintain a week's space between the two states or that Nevada could caucus on a day other than Saturday to achieve the same result.

    GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said Nevada doesn't want to compete with South Carolina for attention from the candidates, who had to choose between the two states the last time around.
    Refersher: NV and SC were co-located on Saturday 1/19/08

    Frontloading HQ: "If the (Nevada Republican) party sticks to its resolution to hold caucuses on the Saturday after New Hampshire, there are only two options left that are actually on the 2012 calendar: January 7 and 14."

    Which sticks us on January 2 or 3.

    The Daily Date Roundup

    January 5?

    That's the bet of Craig Robinson at TheIowaRepublican in a must read date roundup from the only perspective that matters: the Iowa perspective.

    Here's the scenario, with New Hampshire on Monday 1/10:
    January 2nd is a national holiday, which presents logistical problems as many caucuses are held in public buildings, and major college bowl games take place on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. The 5th, however, is wide open. While the 5th doesn’t provide much time between the caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, the five-day difference is the same as it was in 2008. Nevada, which isn’t really fought-over territory, could hold its caucuses on Saturday the 14th.
    Problem with that is Bill Gardner. The NH Secretary of State, who has full authority to set the date, says he won't announce his date till Nevada announces theirs, and Nevada Republicans say theirs is "the Saturday after New Hampshire." But Gardner says he'll insist on a full week between the two

    So as of this cup of coffee I'm seeing a first-ever Saturday New Hampshire primary on the 7th with Nevada on the 14th: the Saturday after New Hampshire and seven days after. That probably puts us on the 2nd or more likely the 3rd.

    Frontloading HQ
    has another must-read - yes, I've assigned you two today - on Gardner's psychology and skill at playing chicken, which again emphasizes the improtance of keeping both New Hampshire and Iowa in the calendar year. It also notes the next key date: October 22, when Nevada Republicans meet again. (Gardner didn't set the 2008 date till November 21, 2007. That didn't leave us Iowans much time to line up all those caucus sites...)

    Robinson calls the calendar "once again severely frontloaded" but Frontloading HQ disagrees:
    Go and look at that 2008 calendar again. Now go look at 2012. The first Tuesday in March 2012 -- the earliest allowed date -- is still the date on which the most contests are being held, but only marginally so. That isn't Tsunami Tuesday. Heck, that is a Super Tuesday a month later than in 2008...

    Was the effort to combat frontloading fruitless? No, it wasn't. A .850 winning percentage is not the record of a loser. It speaks otherwise.

    In a scenario where all it takes is one state to overturn the applecart, though, all it took was Florida to jump into January to destroy the best laid plans at the RNC. There is such a small margin for error that it is almost impossible to claim victory from a rules perspective in any cycle. Again, where the problem lies is with the penalties, not the rules.
    As for the penalties, Robinson mentions the nuclear option: "Whoever chose Tampa, Florida, as the site of the 2012 Republican national convention should lose their job. Not only is the RNC allowing them to destroy the nominating calendar it set up, it is actually rewarding the rule breakers them by letting them host the convention." It's not my place to say where the Republican convention should be, but if it were my team I'd be calling for it.

    So who does all this help in the nomination fight? Wall Street Journal says frontronners as if it's a bad thing, under the headline "Florida Republicans for Obama."

    3 Ekim 2011 Pazartesi

    SC Saturday 1/21

    SC Saturday 1/21

    "South Carolina will hold its Republican primary Saturday, Jan. 21, state GOP Chairman Chad Connelly will announce Monday morning. Connelly's announcement places South Carolina's primary 10 days before Florida's rogue Jan. 31 primary announced last week, and will likely push voting in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada to early January. "

    Well, crap. This doesn't help.

    We're still looking at Nevada and New Hampshire butting heads. If Nevada now insists on Saturda 1/14, and New Hampshire insists on a full week after, and on a Tuesday, that puts them on Tuesday 1/3... and puts us in calendar 2011.

    No one wants that to happen because, as Frontloading HQ noted, crossing the calendar year psychological barrier is too big a risk to the status of Iowa and New Hampshire. I think that's true even if NH is in January but we're in December.

    So I see two scenarios:

    1) South Carolina and Nevada share Saturday 1/21. SC wants "first in the south," NV wants "first in the west." That could put NH on Saturday 1/14 or Tuesday 1/10, and us in the first week of January.

    2) If Nevada insists on "Saturday after New Hampshire" and its own day to itself, and New Hampshire insists on "one full week," then New Hampshire could take Saturday 1/7. NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner has said in the past he would consier a Saturday date, though he's never done it.

    In that case, we'd probably be pushed to early in the first week of January: Monday 1/2 or Tuesday 1/3. We already broke the barrier of eight days between IA and NH in 2008.

    My bet is scenario 2 is more likely, but then I was betting on SC going on Tuesday 1/24, too.

    SC Will Announce Primary Date

    SC Will Announce Primary Date 10 AM

    More caucus date action today: "South Carolina Republican officials will reveal their choice for the 2012 presidential primary date at 11 a.m. (ET) Monday." My bet is Tuesday 1/24, but Saturday 1/28 is also possible.

    Frontloading HQ has another good roundup of the latest possibilities and a bunch of calendar scenarios similar to mine:
    While a date for the Nevada Republican caucuses was not set (Saturday), the state party chose not to alter the newly enacted rule that links the Republican caucuses in the Silver state with the primary in New Hampshire. That would place the Nevada Republican caucuses on the Saturday following New Hampshire, a violation of New Hampshire state law.

    The final calendar, then, hinges on how the showdown between New Hampshire and Nevada is resolved. History and the mechanics of primary/caucus movement are not on Nevada's side. New Hampshire will not break its own law and the legislature there is unlikely to chance it to accommodate Nevada.
    And Frontloading HQ also offers words of warning:
    ...we should all buckle in and prepare for three weeks of "primaries in December" talk... and it is a bluff. Nothing would threaten Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and their privileged positions at the front of the calendar more than for one or more of those states to jump into the calendar year prior to the presidential election.
    Which New Hampshire knows, and that's why they let Iowa go just five days before them in 2008, to keep it in the calendar year.

    Other stuff: Daily Kos number cruncher David Nir looked at nine key votes where House speaker John Boehner lost votes on his right flank:
    I'm sure you're wondering who these problem children are. I've already mentioned the two worst: Justin Amash of Michigan's 3rd Congressional District and Steve King of Iowa's 5th (seeking reelection in the new 4th). They've voted against Boehner nine out of nine times, the only two to do so.

    And an update on the hacking: another (non-political) blogger reports the same problem and the same culprit. If you're really interested you can read the tech support thread.

    2 Ekim 2011 Pazar

    Nevada Changes Plans AGAIN

    Nevada Changes Plans AGAIN

    Friday's statements from Nevada GOP chair Amy Tarkanian that the state was caving and caucusing after Florida are now inoperative:
    Nevada Republicans decided Saturday to move up the GOP presidential caucuses to January to preserve the state's early voting spot, although it will cost the Silver State half its delegates at the national convention.

    The GOP executive board voted to go ahead with plans to hold its caucuses on the Saturday following New Hampshire, once that state decides a new date.
    That sets up a head on collision with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who insists on a full week after his state. That means it's going to be that much longer before the dates are settled, because Nevada and New Hampshire are each waiting for the other to make the first move.

    That also, more than likely, pushes us back to the first week of January.

    Given that Florida is going to cheat, the calendar that makes sense is:

    Jan. 31 cheaters
    Jan. 24 South Carolina
    Jan. 21 (Saturday) Nevada
    Jan. 17 New Hampshire
    Jan. 10 Iowa

    But if Gardner insists on that full week, try:

    Jan. 31 cheaters
    Jan. 28 (Saturday) South Carolina
    Jan. 24 Nevada
    Jan. 17 New Hampshire
    Jan. 10 Iowa

    The early states and national committees are gonna need to work this out fairly soon.

    1 Ekim 2011 Cumartesi

    More Caucus Date Reactions

    More Caucus Date Reactions

  • Monday, January 9 is the BCS championship game, and that's at least a week too late for anyone to be playing college football. But that's OK because it's also at least a month early for Iowa to be caucusing. Other arbitrary rules: The Super Bowl should be in January not February, no hockey team should be based in a city where it doesn't snow, and team gear should only be in actual team colors or neutral gray. (Exception allowed for pink but only if there's a breast cancer charity tie-in.)

  • Rick Santorum smells a frontrunner conspiracy in Florida: "I'm sure they'd like to have the election tomorrow. By moving up the calender, you help the favorites."

  • And Kos, still bitter that we screwed Howard Dean, offers his quadrennial Screw Iowa rant:
    The ability of these two states to retain their stranglehold on the primary calendar is a testament to their political acumen. There are 48 other states jealous of their positioning. But I'm happy to cheer any attempt to chip away at that stranglehold, because someday, we will have a process that doesn't cede this important a decision to such a small number of voters unrepresentative of this great nation of ours.
    Riiiight. Unrepresentative. Because everyone knew that the first African American president would catch his big break in Iowa.
  • Nevada Caving On Caucus Date

    Ignore this entire post.

    Nevada Caving On Caucus Date

    With hours to go before the RNC's midnight "deadline" to choose a primary/caucus date, it looks like one of the official early states is crying uncle.
    Nevada Republicans will allow Florida to jump ahead of them on the presidential nominating calendar to preserve the state’s full slate of delegates to the Republican National Convention, state GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said Friday.

    “Because we have such a small amount of delegates, we’ll probably stay at the beginning of February,” Tarkanian told POLITICO. “The biggest concern we have is to make sure we’re first in the West. If we can do [the caucuses] in the beginning of February, that’s what we’ll do."
    The first other western event is a beauty contest caucus in Colorado on Tuesday 2/7.

    Tarkanian, like her cohorts in the other authorized early states, heaped blame on Florida for throwing the calendar into chaos.

    “We’re not happy with them, period,” she said. “We have what, 28 delegates? They have 99. So what do they care if they lose some? They didn’t have to be bullies about this.”
    RNC rules strip early states of half the delegates. Those may not have been effective rules last cycle, but they were enforced at least.

    (Suggestion to my Republican friends: Vegas could host a convention way better than Tampa...)

    Nevada always seemed like the least "traditional" of the early states. Their status was a Democratic Party set in 2006; they were supposed to be the "Hispanic influence" state to go with the African American (on the D side) influence of South Carolina. New Mexico really had a better case than Nevada, but Bill Richardson was running.

    Also to be noted: "South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said he is now considering either a Tuesday or a Saturday."

    Special note to Floridians blaming other states for "forcing" them to move:
    But Friday wasn’t all bad news for the RNC’s rule-makers. Over the last 24 hours, a few other states have moved to avoid running afoul of the RNC’s rules.

    On Thursday, Georgia’s secretary of state announce his state would hold its contests on March 6 rather than in February, while the Missouri Republican Party announced that it would hold caucuses in March to avoid the penalty of taking its turn on Feb. 7. The primary could still happen — unless the state legislature acts — but since it will not be tied to the allocation of delegates, the RNC would not penalize Missouri.

    And on Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill that moves his state’s primary from Feb. 21 to April.
    OMFG Scott Walker gets one right. (That's actually a return to the traditional Wisconsin date.)

    So here's my calendar scenario, check back in an hour because they may change.

    Saturday 2/4 Nevada
    Tuesday 1/31 cheaters
    Tuesday 1/24 or Saturday 1/28 South Carolina
    Tuesday 1/17 New Hampshire
    Tuesday 1/10 Iowa (Monday 1/9 is college football championship)

    South Carolina's date doesn't matter to Iowa because New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner will insist on a full week after. South Carolina may decide they want the candidates in the state an extra four days.

    So Nevada's sacrifice probably lets us go a week later. But there's time left today...

    UPDATE: The hacked status of the Deeth Blog means I can't approve comments the conventional way. But I can post and edit so:

    Lucas Draisey:
    The RNC should refuse to seat ANY delegates from cheating states. And you're absolutely right. Vegas would be a great place for a convention, and would be pretty easy to plan on short notice, because the city is used to hosting things like that. RNC should throw the book at Florida.

    30 Eylül 2011 Cuma

    Rayhons Gets Primary Challenge

    House District 8 Gets Weirder

    The Deeth Blog has had its eye on House District 8 since Map Day and just when you think every last bit of drama has been wrung out of Wright County, there's another twist:
    A 62-year-old minister announced Friday he will wage a primary election challenge to veteran Republican legislator Henry Rayhons next year.

    The Rev. Bob Dishman will make his political debut against Rayhons, 75, who has been in the Iowa House for 16 years.
    First of all, whod'a thunk Henry Rayhons would be the one left standing in this district, the only seat with three incumbents on Map Day? He was up against majority leader Linda Upmeyer and former Senate leader and party chair Stew Iverson. Everyone just figured Henry would hang it up.

    But then Upmeyer decamped to points north, Rayhons announced, and everyone assumed that Iverson was running in Senate 4.

    WRONG! Former quarter-term senator Jim "Back In" Black announced for Senate 4, with Iverson as campaign chair.

    The rumor mill says What Up With That may be... Iverson ending his legislative comeback after one term to run for local office?

    And now, the district with three legislators on Map Day gets a primary challenger. Is this one of Kim Pearson's recruits?
    “The goal should be a smaller, more efficient government and that’s what I intend to accomplish,” said Dishman, pastor of Park Church of Christ in Goldfield.

    He said he will focus on conservative values that include supporting pro-life issues and traditional marriage in Iowa.
    And Rayhons, while a pretty conservative guy, was on the "wrong" side of that vote I'm using for my scorecard, Pearson's Total Abortion Ban. Pass the popcorn, this'll be fun to watch.

    Wasserman Schultz kicks off Iowa Tour

    Wasserman Schultz kicks off Iowa Tour

    "This is a battleground state and you are going to see us here again and again, from the top of the ticket on down," Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told an Iowa City crowd as she kicked off a weekend long fundraising trip across Iowa.

    The Florida congresswoman is following up with events for colleagues Bruce Braley and Leonard Boswell and challenger Christie Vilsack.

    Wasserman Schultz said the job of DNC chair is largely messaging, "and I'm no shrinking violet." She was a regular fixture on talk shows through 2008, first for Hillary Clinton and then just as enthusiastically for Barack Obama once the nomination was settled. The president asked Wasserman Schultz to chair the DNC earlier this year, when former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine stepped down to run for U.S. Senate.

    Obama "inherited the most problems of any president since FDR and Lincoln," said DWS (I'm going to abbreviate from here on out) "We short circuited the economic decline and began to turn things around. We have to focus on jobs and getting the economy turned around, and we need to pass the president's American Jobs Act. Every aspect of that bill has part proposed by people on both sides."

    Loebsack agreed: "It's jobs and the economy. That's what people are talking about. People want us to work where we can with the other side without sacrificing our principles and our districts."

    That can be difficult in today's House, said DWS. "It's hard to understand substantively why (Republicans) would oppose the president's bill. They're opposed because it would improve the economy and help re-elect the president. They only care about ONE job: his."

    Loebsack credited DWS and other members of a House "30 Something group," which gave end of day House floor speeches in 2005 and 2006, with helping his upset win. ""That 30 Something group deconstructed the Bush administration and laid the groundwork for my victory and the House takeover of 2006."

    But DWS cautioned Loebsack supporters gathered at Hy Joseph's west side home, "Let's not get too comfortable. They are coming after him. His district actually lost a couple points of Democratic performance."

    DWS acknowledged progressive disappointment during Obama's first term. "I voted for the public option three times," she said, as Loebsack nodded approval. "The Senate wouldn't pass it. But I wasn't going to take my ball and go home without a health care bill, like some people suggested. That's what the other side does."

    Loebsack informed DWS that Q & A time is mandatory in Johnson County. Some highlights:

  • "Don't believe the hype that this is the year that the Republican Party is going to cut into the Jewish vote" in Florida and elsewhere. ""We will make sure the Jewish community turns out strong and turns out for Democrats." DWS also added that swing state Florida's senior citizen community is "not where you want to be for abolishing Medicare."

  • In the post-Howard Dean era "the 50 state strategy has continued. I'm a huge backer of it not being a top-down approach."

  • Asked about Democratic messaging as opposed to tea party rhetoric: "The Democratic Party is never going to be the party of simple solutions to complex problems."

  • "There are 61 seats held by Republicans that were won by either Barack Obama or John Kerry. 47 of them were won by both. We have to win 25 to take back the House."

    Also on hand to rally the troops was Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky. Talk invariably turned to the Battle of Marion.

    "We heard about it at 8:00 Friday morning," said Dvorsky. We had a field plan for Senate District 18 by 10:00 and a website by noon. The governor didn't even announce the appointment till 5:00."

    Loebsack said Linn County Democrats "have talked to Liz Mathis for years trying to get her to run for office."

    "I don't think anyone knew the depth of the vitriol and the hatred that would be unleashed" by Obama's election, said Dvorsky. "But the people who lift that heavy load every day know that. The narrowness of the path and the heaviness of the lift is pulling Democrats together."

    (Pics look better at Facebook gallery; still suffering from the Hacked Layout Blues)
  • Florida Official for January 31

    Florida Official for January 31

    Get ready for January 2 or January 10, Iowans: Florida is officially flouting the rules and going a full five weeks early on January 31. And they have the nerve to point the finger elsewhere:
    Lopez Cantera said that if other states hadn't moved their primaries early, Florida would not have been "boxed in" and forced (sic) to move up its date.

    "I want to make it very clear out intentions of being fifth have been public for months,'' he said. "The narrative that is going to come out of this will probably be about Florida but it really should be about the other states -- Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona. When they moved their dates they kind of cornered us into this date based on our fully transparent intentions of being fifth in the country."
    Matt Strawn was swift to respond:
    The consequences of Florida's intransigence must be swift and severe, including the refusal by the RNC to credential or seat any member of Florida's presidential primary date commission at the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa
    Note that location. Want to get serious, GOP? Start talking about moving that convention.

    You know who else shouldn't be seated? The Democrat who made the motion to hold the primary January 3:
    The other Democrat on the panel, former Sen. Al Lawson of Tallahassee initially moved to set Jan. 3 as the primary date, arguing that the Florida shouldn't have to "take a back seat to any state. We are a mega state.'' he said. He withdrew the motion.
    To their credit, the two other Dems on the 6 R, 3 D panel voted for March 6. the first day allowed under rules agreed to by both parties.

    SO what does this do for us? Frontloading HQ offers multiple nightmare scenarios. (Post was written Wednesday; in the interim Georgia has opted to follow the rules and go on March 6.) Also noted:
    New Hampshire law, as mentioned above, requires a seven day buffer on either side of its primary. An exception was made in 2007, and another one may have to be made in 2011. Why? Well, the Nevada Republican Party over the summer tethered their caucuses to New Hampshire, requiring that the caucuses be set on the Saturday after New Hampshire. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has already said that that would not work for the Granite state.
    That exception, of course, was for us going five days before New Hampshire in order to stay in calendar 2008. But Gardner seems pretty adamant about seven days AFTER.

    So the best case scenario for Iowa:
    January 31: cheaters
    January 28: South Carolina, which has done non-Tuesday elections in the past
    January 24: Nevada
    January 17: New Hampshire
    Tuesday, January 10: us. Monday January 9 is the BCS championship which probably x's that date.

    But if South Carolina insists on a Tuesday, we get:
    January 31: cheaters
    January 24: South Carolina
    January 17: Nevada
    January 10: New Hampshire
    Monday, January 2: us, or possibly Tuesday the 3rd.
    South Carolina won't announce anything today.

    Also in the mess; Missouri didn't manage to get its law changed it got caught up between the Democratic governor and GOP legislature over photo ID and other such issues. So they're on February 7, which was the 2008 Super Tuesday. But they've made it a no-delegate beauty contest and will have caucuses in March. And with Florida cheating so much worse, Missouri is no longer a factor in the early state dates.

    And I never trust Michigan (currently February 28) until everyone's date is 100% locked in.

    You know who we have to blame for this? The Democrats who refused to enforce the party rules last time. Michigan and Florida should have been booted from the convention. Then states would be following the rules this year. Dems don't have much say in it this year, but it's worth a mention to Debbie Wasserman Schultz if you run into her this weekend.

    29 Eylül 2011 Perşembe

    No Winners in Coup Attempt

    No Winners in Republican Coup Attempt

    That didn't last long:
    A state Republican senator’s call for a vote to oust his party’s leader who is on a 37th-anniversary trip in Italy with his wife has been canceled.

    The meeting was called for today by Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock.

    Dix, who has not returned calls this week and this morning seeking comment, did not specifically say in the e-mail that he is seeking to knock Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton from the top spot but his peers have said that is their understanding of his intention.
    Thus the third coup attempt against a sitting Iowa Senate Republican leader in five years has ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Craig Robinson at TheIowaRepublican says the attempt failed because Dix was "unable to secure the necessary votes to oust McKinley."

    Dix forgot the Ralph Waldo Emerson Rule about coup d'etats: "When you strike at a king, you must kill him." If he didn't have the votes, he shouldn't have called the meeting. (Or DID he have the votes, only to lose them when it went public?) The very public airing of dissatisfaction, followed by the failure, leaves the very ambitious Dix in a weakened position.

    But it's not a win for McKinley either, as his own weak position is exposed. Robinson again: "As the leader of his caucus, he is the number one fundraiser Republicans have, yet he’s vacationing, and major Republican donors have not heard from the Senate Republican Leader in months." There's a persistent rumor that big money is waiting to come into the Iowa Senate GOP's coffers, but it's contingent on new leadership.

    One more gem from Robinson:
    "There is no way to sugarcoat what has transpired in the last few days. If you don’t realize how dysfunctional things are, all you need to know is that the Republican House Leaders are leading the effort in Senate District 18, not Senate leadership."
    Some of that's an accident of geography, as half of Senate 18 is the district of Speaker Kraig Paulsen. But some of that is disengagement by the vacationing McKinley. In fairness, this is supposed to be off-season for legislative elections, but when you're in leadership and a situation like this occurs, you need to change plans.

    So Republicans are off to a bumpy start in the Battle of Marion. First, Senate 18 Republicans nominated the weakest and least well known of three candidates, now this. Meanwhile, Democrats are united, unanimously nominating a 100% name ID candidate, former TV anchor Liz Mathis, last night.

    Caucus seasons invariably divide parties, as usually stable alliances are splintered by the high stakes of the presidential contest,. But there's more going on here, and this week's events are just one more piece of evidence that the internal strife in the Iowa GOP is at seam-bursting levels.

    Day Four Of The Ugly

    Day Four Of The Ugly

    The unintended Deeth Blog redesign continues onto a fourth day, just as I get a big shout-out in the Daily Iowan. New visitors: it's supposed to look a lot nicer than this.

  • Democrats formally nominated Liz Mathis for the Battle of Marion last night. Missed this a few days back: right blog Under The Golden Gnome (heh) calls the GOP nomination of Cindy Golding a "debacle" :
    When it is abundantly clear that you need to swing for the fences to win the game for the home team (Pachyderms), make sure you don’t grab the bat nicknamed “Batshitcrazy”.
  • Great roundup in the Manchester Union Leader on New Hampshire reaction to Florida's calendar cheating. An infight among the official early states:
    Nevada Republicans during the summer quietly decided to hold their caucus on “the Saturday after New Hampshire,” regardless of when that occurs.

    “So if New Hampshire moves, we move,” wrote Nevada GOP Chair Amy Tarkanian, the daughter-in-law of former University of Nevada-Las Vegas men's basketball coach Jerry “Tark the Shark” Tarkanian, in an early September memo to her local party faithful.

    In New Hampshire, Gardner told us two weeks ago that his position on Nevada has not changed and he would set the New Hampshire Primary date at least seven days ahead of its caucuses.
    And political consequences:
    “This (Florida jump to January) effectively precludes Sarah Palin and anyone else from getting into the race, and it's unfortunate for the Republican Party and for democracy. It also makes it much more daunting for any candidate who doesn't have huge cash reserves to be able to compete and capitalize on an early state win.”
  • In UHeights, it's all about the condos.

  • And condolences to state senator Tom Rielly of Oskaloosa, whose father, retired judge James Rielly, passed away.
  • 28 Eylül 2011 Çarşamba

    Tech Update

    Tech Update

    Well the good news is that the good folks at Google/Blogger tech support have figured out what's wrong. The bad newses are 1) yes, my account was hacked and 2) no one's quite sure how to fix it yet.

    The part I can't figure out is why anyone would hack my account and then just mess with layout. I'd think they would have replaced all my content with REPUBLICANS RULE DEMOCRATS DROOL or something. (Bonus points for all who get the reference. Only parents will.)

    In the meantime, Craig Robinson has a must-read insider perspective up on the Dix vs. McKinley civil war.

    Florida wants January 31 primary

    Happy New Year In Des Moines

    Here we go again:
    Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon told CNN on Tuesday that a state commission exploring potential primary dates is likely to choose January 31 to hold the nominating contest.

    If that happens, it would almost certainly force the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to leapfrog Florida and move their primaries and caucuses into early- to mid-January.
    The RNC doesn't have the full death penalty Democrats has (but then didn't enforce) last cycle: the loss of all delegates. No matter when they go, they lose only half. But their is another powerful weapon:
    States that ignore the RNC rules are subject to losing half of their delegates -- party representatives who ultimately choose the nominee -- to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, next August.
    Calendar cheaters shouldn't get to be convention hoists.
    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and other GOP officials have been aggressively lobbying Florida Gov. Rick Scott and state legislative leaders to move the primary back to February 21 in a last-ditch effort to protect the integrity of the nominating calendar, sources told CNN.

    But members of the Florida commission remain wary of states like Colorado, Georgia and Missouri, which are threatening to hold primaries or caucuses before February 21.
    Unfortunately Florida, as the largest swing state, is kind of an 800 pound gorilla here. So what does this mean for me, Al Franken... I mean us, Iowa?

    We're in a little better shape than we were when it was Arizona looking at January 31, when everything had to dovetail perfectly to keep Iowa in calendar 2012. But we're also a little more confused. Remember, the Official order is Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, everyone else. Two basic scenarios:

  • South Carolina goes a week before Florida on January 24. This puts Nevada on Saturday the 21st or maybe Tuesday 1/17. New Hampshire will insist on a full week and a traditional Tuesday, which means the 10th. That puts us in the first week of January: Monday the 2nd if we insist on eight days, Thursday the 5th if we want to move away from New Year's Day a bit.

  • If South Carolina goes with a Saturday, which they've done before, make it the 28th. Put Nevada on Tuesday the 24th, New Hampshire on the 17th, and us in the second week of January: Monday 1/9, Tuesday 1/10, or Thursday 1/12.

    Saturday is the RNC's Official deadline for date picking... but who cares about rules anyway?
  • 27 Eylül 2011 Salı

    Dix Challenging McKinley

    Dozens of Iowa Senate Republican leaders spontaneously combust each year, it's just not widely reported

    It's been in the rumor mill for some time. Now, smack dab in the middle of he Battle of Marion, it's happening:
    Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, e-mailed Republican senators today to call for a meeting Thursday morning to discuss the special Nov. 8 election to fill the senate seat vacated recently by Democrat Swati Dandekar, who was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa Utilities Board.

    “In full disclosure, I will also be calling for a leadership election,” Dix wrote.
    Also heard in the rumor mill: The ambitious Dix, who ran for Congress in 2006, has his sights set higher than Senate leadership.

    Also also heard: There's $$$ targeted to the Senate Republicans--but it's money that's contingent on Paul McKinley getting replaced. Which is probably why this is happening now, in the middle of the special election. Still, isn't there a way to do it without me and every other Democrat in the state reading about it in the Register?

    Iowa Senate Republican leader has the job security of Spinal Tap drummer combined with a career advancement plan copied from the Klingon officer corps. You know, back when the Klingons were Bad Guys and not Noble Warriors.

  • End of the tied 25-25 2006 session: Stew Iverson deposed by Mary Lundby y a one-vote margin.
  • 2007: Lundby steps down for health reasons, replaced by Ron Weick.
  • After 2008 election: Weick blamed for losses, deposed by Paul McKinley.

    So McKinley lived by the sword and may die by the sword. Still, at three years tenure he's outlasted Gilderoy Lockhart, Remus Lupin and Fake Mad-Eye Moody combined.

    Notice that both of the deposed leaders left the Senate itself after their downfall. If McKinley's tossed, I'd bet on him NOT seeking re-election next year, which could lead to some seat shuffling on his GOP-friendly Iowa turf.

    This will move quick, and McKinley is on vacation out of the country. How conVENient. Who can count to 13 votes the fastest?
  • Fourth Contender in House 36

    McCormally Fourth Contender in House 36

    First up: Yes, I know the Deeth Blog looks weird today. Trying to get to the bottom of the tech issues.

    The line is starting to form around the block in open House District 36, a solid (registration edge over 4000) Democratic seat in northwest Des Moines that Janet Petersen is leaving for a pretty much sure thing Senate bid. And the world is so small that two contenders have ties to Attorney General Tom Miller's office.

    Candidate 4 is John McCormally, a prosecutor in the office. (Johnson County folks will remember him from a couple stints as a staffer and from his radio days.) Another candidate, Marti Anderson, is the former director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division and is married to Bob Brammer, longtime Miller spokesperson. The other twocontenders are Cara Kennedy-Ode and William Rock.

    Soon after Map Day, Kathie Obradovich noted that six names were in the mix. Four of them have since announced; the other two are Patty Link and Kent Sovern.

    Again, to hammer this point home: if no candidate gets 35% in the primary, the nomination gets settled at a convention of central committee members from the district, the same way they do it for special elections. And if you were a "Republican for a day" in January or December or next week or whenever the caucuses are, you won't be at that convention.


    what happened to my template

    26 Eylül 2011 Pazartesi

    Fish may challenge Muhlbauer

    Fish and Tea

    No not a British menu: Carroll County ambulance director Bill Fish says he may be chaallenging Rep.Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manning, in Iowa House District 12, reports KCIM radio.

    The word comes from a Carroll Cpunty supervisors meeting, where Fish was looking for the okee-dokee from his boss(es): "Fish told the supervisors he would look to take a leave of absence from the EMS."

    Also of interest: the relationship between Fish and the tea party.
    Fish will run as a Republican and says he doesn’t want to be labeled a member of the tea party which he says isn’t a party it’s more of a conservative movement in the Republican Party. Fish believes in limited government and says he has issues with the state and their handling of some education issues and believes there are some federal issues with healthcare that he feels should be handled at the state level. Fish has spoke at Tea Party functions in Carroll and helped organize some aspects of the party in Carroll County.
    The Carroll, Iowa Tea Party site lists Fish as one of six "founding members." (Heading a government agency seems like an odd career path for a tea partier.)

    Muhlbauer scored the only legislative seat gain for Iowa Democrats last year, by a solid margin. The Carroll-based seat opened up with Rod Roberts' run for governor, and Republicans went hard right with "worst candidate ever" Daniel Dirkx. This created an opening for Muhlbauer, whose dad preceded him in the legislature.

    Muhlbauer has cut a conservaDem path in the House. He voted with the GOP on marriage equality and nuclear power votes, and was the only Democrat to support Kim Pearson's total abortion ban bill that even most Republicans opposed.

    Carroll County still dominates this swing district. Muhlbauer also keeps a more or less the same chunk of a few townships in western Crawford, up to but not including Denison. He drops the small piece of Sac (which he lost to Dirkx) to Republican Gary Worthan and instead gets all of Audubon County. The changes turn a 195 Republican registration edge into a 495 voter advantage to the Democrats.

    Mullen to Challenge Ward in Senate 22

    Mullen to Challenge Ward in Senate 22

    Senator Pat Ward isn't going to get away with her move into Senate District 22 without a fight. Christianist megachurch pastor Jeff Mullen has announced a primary... well, kind of a challenge.

    Ward found herself paired up in redistricting with Democrat Matt McCoy in a strong Democratic district, and announced on Map Day afternoon (March 31) that she was moving west into this friendlier (R+ 3389) turf.

    But the right wasn't satisfied with Ward's relatively moderate record. (Bleeding Heartland has an excellent overview.) At one point it was rumored that radio host Steve Deace, who lives just blocks outside the lines, was interested.

    Instead the right seems to be going with Mullen, of Point of Grace Church in Waukee. This is a political parish: Michele Bachman stopped by last month, and Mullen followed up with a gay-bashing sermon.

    This is a new district both in the political sense and in the just constructed, no big old trees in the yard sense. Waukee grew from just over 5,000 people in the 2000 census to nearly 14,000 in 2010. Ward keeps Clive, Windsor Heights and the Dallas County piece of West Des Moines.

    Amidst all this tea and cat fud on the GOP side, Democrat Desmund Adams waits. This is the kind of seat that should be solid for the Republicans but can turn blue with the right Democrat, the right climate aand the wrong Republican.

    Colorado Cheating on Caucus Date

    Colorado Cheating on Caucus Date

    Throw out your old calendars and start from scratch. With a Saturdat "deadline" from the Republican National Committee for setting primary and caucus dates, this week is thw two minute drill for the calendar cheaters.

    The latest entry: Colorado, which scheduled itself for February 7. Which, as you know, is the day adter the Official We Really Mean It date for Iowa. Missouri is also in the mix for that first Tuesday in February, which was Überdeinstag in 2008.

    If Colorado gets away with it, and Florida sticks with We Want To Be Fifth, we're back to an early January caucus.

    24 Eylül 2011 Cumartesi

    Saturday Tab Clearout

    Saturday Tab Clearout

    Here's a few things I tweeted earlier or which otherwise don't rate a whole post:

  • Michele Bachmann was all eager to help Cindy "The Other One" Golding in the Battle of Marion, but Golding isn't so sure she wants the "help."

  • Leonard Boswell casts another Blue Dog vote.

  • With the dropout of 45 year old Thaddeus McCotter, "Obama is likely to still be the youngest candidate in the field as all of the Republican challengers who have announced a bid for their party’s nomination are older than he is."

  • The calendar cheaters in Florida still aren't picking a primary date.

  • How the GOP became the anti-SCIENCE! party: "These four factors — anti-liberalism, anti-intellectualism, religious conservatism, and corporate self-interest — create a such a climate within the Republican Party that even those inclined to accept scientific evidence feel cowed or remain silent. Or like Jon Huntsman, they can run for president and garner a mere one percent in the public opinion polls."
  • 23 Eylül 2011 Cuma

    Fraise Retires in Senate 42

    Fraise Retires in Senate 42

    Longtime Sen. Gene Fraise (D-Ft. Madison) has announced he will retire next year after 26 years, which means an open seat race in Senate District 42.

    Not a huge surprise here: Fraise turns 80 before election day 2012. The seat has a good Democratic Registration edge of 3500. Fraise had a bit of a close call in 2004, held to 53%, but ahainst the same opponent in 2008 increased the lead to 57%. The entire old district - exactly Lee and Henry counties - is in the new turf; a couple townships in Washington County are added.

    Republican Larry Kruse, a Lee County supervisor, has already announced.

    City Races in Johnson County

    City Races in Johnson County

    Challenges to mayors in Coralville and Tiffin and a contested open seat mayor's race in Hills are highlights in candidate filing for nine Johnson County cities yesterday. (Iowa City and UHeights, with a primary system, had a September 1 deadline.) The specifics:

    Coralville: Looks like our hottest contest. 16 year council member John Weihe is challenging 16 year mayor Jim Fausett for the two year term. Issues? It's my turn? Jim had some health problems?

    Anyway, that opens up one of the two council seats (four year terms). Incumbent Mitch Gross is running again. Gross finished first in 2007, ahead of Weihe and bumping off Jean Schnake. Thus Coralville has had an all male council for four years, but there will be a woman on board again; the two new candidates are Jill Dodds and Lynn Snyder.

    Hills: Mayor Russ Bailey is stepping down. Current council member Tim Kemp and former member Steve Cook are facing off for the two year term. (Trivia: Hills had a TIED mayor election in 1995.) Four candidates are running for three four year council terms: incumbents Merle Hill and Cathy Knebel, and new candidates Bruce Endris and Steve Harris.

    Lone Tree: Yawn. No opposition for mayor Rick Ogren, council member Sandra Brown and new candidate Mitch Swinton (replacing Mary Larsen). But the Tree has seen successful write-in efforts in the past, even beating candidates listed on the ballot, so keep one eye open.

    North Liberty: Three incumbents - Coleen Chipman, Terry Donahue and Chris Hoffman - running for four year terms; new candidate Matt Zacek is challenging. Also on the ballot is the issue of electing members by ward rather than at large. The same issue lost overwhelmingly in a 2007 special election, but that was less about wards and more a de facto attempt to recall then-mayor Dave Franker (who immediately after the ward election resigned and moved out of state). And this one is also, to some extent, about other issues as well (the UI Credit Union land deal).

    Question: if there's enough dissatisfaction in North Liberty to merit a change in government format, why aren't there more challengers? And why is the one challenger, Zacek, from the same Fox Run neighborhood as Hoffman and Donahue?

    Oxford: 30-year mayor Don Saxton is signing up for two more years unopposed. Four candidates are trying for three four-year council seats: incumbent Gary Wilkinson, former member Mary Sue Jiras (stepped down in 2007), and first-timers Lorena Loomis and Sara Morlan. Incumbents Ed Kasper and Twyla Morlan are not running.

    Shueyville: There will be two write-in winners. Only one candidate, incumbent Mickey Coonfare, filed for the three seats. Incumbents Larry Ilg and Jennifer Winter did not file.

    Solon: Mayor Rick Jedlicka is stepping down, and mid-term council member Cami Rasmussen is unopposed for the job.This means her council seat will open up in January. Two council seats are up for four year terms. Incumbent Brad Kunkel is running; Susan Ballantyne is not. The new candidate is Ronald Herdliska

    There are two other items on the ballot. Appointed council member Mark Krall is up against Chuck Panzer for the last two years of the term. There's also a bond issue to buy the Brosh Funeral home for a new city hall. That takes 60%.

    Swisher: Mayor Scott Grabe is stepping down and council member Tim Mason is stepping up; he's the only candidate for the four year term. For council, there are four candidates for three four year terms: incumbents Mary Gudenkauf and Scott Huston Sr. and newcomers Matthew Myers and Sandra Fults.

    Tiffin: Steve Berner is challenging mayor Royce Phillips for a two year term. For council, four people are running for two four year terms: incumbent Mark Petersen, former member Michael Ryan (who won on a 1997 write-in and left in 2001) and new candidates Jim Schmidt and Peggy Knowling Upton.

    Friday Clips

    Friday Clips

    Yesterday was city election filing deadline in most Iowa cities (except the handful that have primaries like Iowa City and University Heights). Check back later for a Johnson County roundup; Gazette has the Cedar Rapids field.

    Missed last night's GOP debate, so for me the big news was Thaddeus McCotter dropping out. Did anybody other than Chris Rants even know he was in? In any case the Thad has endorsed the Mitt, which should add about 0.01% to Romney's polls.

    This one never made sense. I mean, Bachmann makes a sort of sense; she's a junior House member but a high profile one with strong fund raising skills. McCotter is an obscure back bencher and though he's clearly a bright guy, he has an odd speaking style. Oh, well. Back to Michigan.

    Cross a name off the Democratic 2016 watch: as soon as Rahm Emanuel was anounced as the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson keynoter, the press corp started hearing Hail To The Chief. This prompted a very firm denial:
    “No, never, not. Not interested,” Emanuel said.

    “I’ve done two trips already at the request of the . . . president’s re-election campaign. They’ve asked me to be a surrogate. I’ll do it. [But] I’m not interested [in running for president]. I love this job. I love the people of the city of Chicago. I love working on behalf of the taxpayers. Not interested.”

    Not even in 2016?

    “[Not] even if you did that dance step you just did,” the mayor told an overzealous TV reporter. “I’m NOT” interested.
    The ellipsis and brackets are in very interesting places. I'm guessing these quotes are the Family Newspaper version of what the notoriously profane mayor actually said.

    22 Eylül 2011 Perşembe

    Linn Republicans Choose Golding

    Linn Republicans Choose Golding

    Wow. Just wow.

    Given the choice between 1) a former US Attorney with Harvard Law on the resume and 2) "the governor's choice" with a well known family and business name, Senate District 18 Republicans chose 3) the other one. The party activist.

    Linn County GOP vice chair cringe CO chair Cindy Golding is now the Republican candidate in the Battle of Marion. Democrats meet next Wednesday, but no one is expected to challenge former TV anchor Liz Mathis for the nomination.

    The special election nominating system itself is the best explanation for this seemingly odd result. In a pre-convention piece that didn't make a prediction, Craig Robinson wrote:
    While county GOP leadership elections are not typically competitive contests, Golding’s position with the county party shouldn’t be over looked. It means that the most ardent activists know her or know of her. That’s not necessarily the case with the other candidates, and county activists tend to favor one of their own over someone they don’t know.
    Remember, tonight's voters were mainly party activists who went to the 2010 caucuses on a Saturday afternoon, the hardest core of the hardest core, and they voted for one of their own. I've seen this in conventions in my party, too. A core group of party activists can be pretty insular and sometimes resents "outsiders" swooping in just when the stakes are greatest. The special election nomination process is one of the few places where the party activists have real, tangible power.

    So they picked the strongest possible Linn County Republican... but the weakest candidate for the election. In a district with a long tradition of choosing above the fray moderates of both parties, an angle Mathis was already taking in her announcement press release, the GOP chose someone with "Republican co-chair" as her main credential.

    Complicating things more, Golding lives in the old Senate District 18, where this election is being held... but NOT in the new Senate District 34, which includes the vast majority of Old 18. So if she wins, she either moves to stay with her voters, or stays put and runs in a very different district that has none of Marion and most of Jones County. (Robinson: "Moving will not be easy since Golding lives in a very expensive home.") That's Senate 48, with a dead-even party balance; Rep. Nate Willems (D-Lisbon) is already running there.

    But that's next year. For now, this is about time and money and ground game.

    Thursday Clips

    Thursday Clips

    Two sets of candidate news today: the filing deadline for most cities and the Republican nominating convention in the Battle of Marion.

    In the former, Coralville is set for a contested mayor's race: "Jim Fausett has faced competition at different points in his 15 years as mayor of Coralville but probably none he knows as well as his current opponent. Coralville City Councilor John Weihe filed his nomination papers to run for mayor Tuesday."

    In the latter, GOP blogger Shane Vander Hart gives the edge to Democrats: "None of the three declared GOP candidates has even remotely close to the same name recognition that Mathis has, and that plays in her favor with the short time frame before the November 8th election."

    Check back tonight and tomorrow for more on those. And in a routine re-elect announcement, Burlington's Tom Courtney is going for another term in solidly Democratic Senate District 44.

    21 Eylül 2011 Çarşamba

    Democrat Friedrichsen announces in House 18

    Democrat Friedrichsen announces in House 18

    Jason Schultz will get his first-ever Democratic opponent next year: "Denison native Kasey Friedrichsen announced today that she will run for state representative in District 18, which includes Shelby County and parts of Crawford and Harrison Counties."

    Friedrichsen offers a symbolically powerful argument against Team Branstad 5.0:
    Friedrichsen, 24, worked at an the Denison unemployment office until last month when the office was one of 36 that closed after Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed a legislative allocation to keep the offices open.

    Schultz, R-Schleswig, voted for a budget to keep the unemployment office but later declined to challenge the governor’s veto.

    Friedrichsen also has a background dating back to high-school on anti-smoking issues (frankly, not my favorite "progressive" cause).

    Schultz won his first term as the more conservative contender in a contested 2008 primary, after incumbent Clarence Hoffman was persuaded to retire by Iowans For Tax Relief. Democrats didn't run that cycle or in 2010, so this will be his first general election test. The new turf has a GOP registration edge of about 1300, which is chaallenging but not insurmountable.

    Michigan J. Leapfrog Revisited

    Michigan J. Leapfrog Revisited

    Everybody do the Michigan rag. Or at least I will. The chronic calendar cheaters are at it again:
    Michigan lawmakers have continued votes to confirm Feb. 28 as the date for the state's 2012 Republican presidential primary.

    The Republican-led House passed a measure confirming the date Tuesday by a 63-45, mostly party line vote. The Republican-led Senate has passed the bill and likely soon will send it to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
    Looking like a big pile-up on Feb. 28. Michigan joins Arizona on what is supposed to be South Carolina's day (Refresher on the rules: Both parties agreed that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, in that order, get February dates, and no one else goes before March 6.)

    But it's still too soon to lock in our caucus night. The next moves are up to South Carolina and another chronic cheater, Florida, whose Republicans want to be the fifth state.

    As I keep saying: if South Carolina is content with Feb. 21 and less than a week before and after, and Florida is willing to vote on a non-Tuesday (Thursday 2/24 or Saturday 2/26), Iowa could still be caucusing in February, either Tuesday 2/1 or Thursday 2/3. That puts New Hampshire on 2/8 and Nevada on Saturday 2/18.

    If that falls apart, then at least we're dealing with late January rather than Monday 1/2 or even December.

    Here's the real shocker in the Michigan news:
    Michigan Democrats voting against the election plan say the $10 million cost is wasteful. They're choosing presidential delegates by caucus.
    Last cycle it was the Michigan Democrats driving that state's rule breaking, and not even so much because they wanted to go early: it was because Michigan's most powerful Democrats want to dethrone Iowa and New Hampshireas the lead-off states. Carl Levin, John Dingell and Debbie Dingell care less about whogoes first than they do about who DOESN'T go first.

    But of course this cycle little is at stake in the Democratic nomination process so they're just keeping their powder dry for 2015.