Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cage Rage 2006

Cage fights are bloody messes, and the losers often end up permanently crippled. In the cage, you either win... or you lose. Period. (from the Secrets of Cage Fighting)
Lee Enterprise political reporter, Todd Dorman, takes aim with a smart first take analysis of the Democratic gubernatorial primary -- alternately known as political cage rage 2006 style -- on the eve of the Democrats big, cheap-seats-in-the-back Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner. (I guess it’s good they have cheap seats, Republicans don’t even bother working that demographic for their big fundraising dinners.)

Dorman juxtaposes the happy family comments with the reality of tough politics; given seven candidates in the race and the real potential that no candidate will pull 35% in the primary, it’s possible the Democrats will be selecting their candidate at convention. But everyone’s trying to put on a happy face.

Iowa Democrats insist they’re optimistic about their chances for holding on to the governor’s office in 2006 even as they face the uncertainty of a crowded and potentially rugged fight to win the party’s nomination. …

… Democrats such as State Sen. Amanda Ragan of Mason City argue a large group of candidates is a positive. For one thing, hardly a county party meeting, forum or chili supper goes by without attracting at least one gubernatorial hopeful. …

… “It builds enthusiasm,” said Ragan, who is up for re-election next year. “It gets people active. If you just had that one candidate there’d be less reason to get involved.” …

… Mark Smith, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, argues that none of the candidates are generating front-runner caliber excitement yet.

“There isn’t a candidate at this point that seems real strong,” Smith said. “They’re all carrying some baggage, that’s the problem.”

That “baggage” already is fueling a spirited debate over what Smith calls “gut-level” issues for Democrats, including abortion rights, the death penalty and economic development. …

… Gordon Fischer, a former state Democratic Party chairman, said he hopes the primary race doesn’t distract Democratic activists from what’s really at stake.

“My hope is that people will vote with their heart and for a candidate who can win in November,” Fischer said. …

I ‘m not sure what the “vote with your heart for someone who can win in November” is supposed to mean. Or rather, I am not sure I like what it means; a more cynical translation, “let the Democratic insiders sort the candidates and will share with the grassroots what our hearts are telling us, wink, wink”.

The "no one gets 35%" problem isn't really as likely as you'd think.

First and foremost, anyone who wants to appear on the ballot has to have 4000 signatures on their nominating petition by February. Culver and Blouin can almost certainly manage that. Fallon's already got that.

On the "maybe" side, we've got Patty Judge, who said she's looking to get enough signatures at the precinct caucuses in January. If that works, more power to her, but past performance would tell us that only about 6-8,000 people are going to attend the 2,000 caucuses combined. The concept of 4,000 of them being Judge supporters is iffy at best, and if they're not, she's got about 2 weeks to scramble and get signatures.

Gregg Connell is also a maybe. He comes off with a little more political credibility than I originally gave him credit for, but he's still the mayor of a 5,000 person town in the middle of nowhere. 4,000 signatures is a tough goal for a guy who's been in the race almost 2 months and doesn't even have a website.

There's no way "Standing on the streetcorner" Sal or Mark Yackle even get 1000 signatures. Maybe Yackle can go back home and open Yackle's Bait and Tackle, or Yackle's Paint and Spackle.

If it's only 3 candidates, it would take an absolute perfect storm for no one to get 35%.

If it's 4 or 5, the possibility is there but still exceptionally unlikely. Connell and Judge take up 5-10% each (roughly 20-30,000 votes total), leaving Fallon, Blouin and Culver to fight for the remaining 170-180,000, needing to pull down 70,000 to win. And it'll be close, but not that close.
I think you're an optimist. And even if one candidate squeaks out a win on June 6, it'll still be a bruised ego of a convention.

The GOP went through it when Doug Gross squeaked out of the primary. The Vander Plaats and Soukup supporters never really rallied round Doug Gross, and he lost in November. I think it is part of the reason the Republicans have a two person primary in this election, they want the winner to take a clear majority of GOP primary voters.

I bet Patty Judge makes her signature numbers, and that gives the Democrats four going all the way to June. I know part of the game will be to try to challenge signatures after the fact, but that’s a picayune procedural move that may or may not help a campaign.

It's just going to be a long primary season, and that's not a bad thing if you are employed by one of the campaigns.
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