Monday, June 05, 2006

One day away

Tomorrow is the Iowa primary – I know y’all don’t need to be reminded. If we’re lucky, by tomorrow night we’ll know the candidates we’re going to spend September & October tuning out.

We already know the incumbents and the uncontested primary winners; it’s the dogfights that will set the field for November. Statewide, it’s the Democrats gubernatorial primary with the messy finish among Blouin, Culver and Fallon (sorry Sal). It’ll hinge on turnout and intensity – bet on the true believers and the radical no-limits choice crowd to tilt this race.

Really, what is the difference between Mike Blouin and Jim Nussle? And we know Jim Nussle’s on the November ballot.

There are also competitive Secretary of Ag (SOA) races in both camps. The SOA races are filled with voter yawns, endorsements that might matter and grassroots politics.

Vilsack endorsed Dusky Terry, a young guy with family agriculture credentials and a career with team Vilsack (I guess that’s how it works; hitch a ride and pray the big shots think you’re a safe bet). His opponent is a female farmer and activist, Denise O’Brien; she has a slim chance of not losing by double digits.

The Republicans have two forty-something farm guys slugging it out. Both have endorsement, Bill Northey has the longer list of political endorsements, but I chalk that up to the future statewide types trying to kill off Mark Leonard, a guy with marketable bravado. I understand Northey’s appeal; he's approachable. With Leonard, it’s hard to get past the visual reference to T.R. – it screams flamboyant ego, which is my favorite type of high-maintenance personality, if I have to pick a favorite. And on picking a favorite in this race...I'm going with approachable.

The Republicans also have a primary race in the Secretary of State ra….oh never mind, the winner will be running against Polk County's Mike Mauro.

Congressional primaries are a bust except in the First District, Nussle’s old seat and a small sea of blue in a geographically red state.

The Democrats have four guys taking a shot at the race; Bruce Braley, Rick Dickinson, Bill Gluba & Denny Heath. I have no idea, but I’ll go out with a guess that Braley will pull out the win. He’s a well-connected trial lawyer from Dubuque, and he keeps on smiling through this political mud fight.

On the GOP side, it’s bloody knuckles to the end among three self-described conservatives. That’s probably one reason why the Club for Growth didn’t jump into this race with a “conservative” endorsement. Geographically, Mike Whalen and Brian Kennedy are both from Bettendorf, a wealthy, politically moderate quad cities community. Bill Dix, the farmer from rural Northeast Iowa, has to have a slight advantage with rural & small town voters as well as the Catholic urban areas of Waterloo and Dubuque. No one is calling this race. It’s going to hinge on what looks to be a weak Election Day turnout; if you live in the first district, vote early so you can avoid the late afternoon phone calls.

Speaking of low turnout, there are a few contested primaries for the Statehouse, mostly open seats but a few incumbent challengers. The only challenger anyone believes will actually beat an incumbent is Republican Linda Miller of Bettendorf. She’s run an organized, disciplined and well-financed campaign against Rep Joe Hutter. In that same area, Sen. Maggie Tinsman is up against challenger David Hartsuch, a Moline doctor and a self described Christian Conservative. (I wrote about Hartsuch last week because I hate it when a candidate is so wrong about an issue.) The Tinsman/Hartsuch race may hinge on turnout, although QC bloggers don't seem to remember his name.

A couple other intraparty challenges will end tomorrow. Democrat Matt McCoy is up against Gary Randa, this is more or less a vote on “lifestyles”. Northwest Iowa’s Paul Wilderdyke should survive a challenge from a young Republican still living in Iowa, at least ‘til he loses and then decides on Texas. The rest of the primaries are open seats, the edge always goes to the establishment-recruited candidates, but we’ll have to wait it out.

Of course, this is my own world-view on the primaries. I am sure the pros have their own thoughts; and if we're patient, some may decide post a few primary thoughts to their blogs.

(Some of you may believe that I could have used my time making phone calls or walking precincts for the candidate(s) of my choice instead of indulging this habit. I went back to my old town over the weekend to volunteer and I would have done some campaign work in my new town, but nobody asked. In all fairness, I didn't make a big effort to call or track someone down to see if I could give my time away.)

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