Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Harkin hangs with Elmo: Is he getting ready for 2008?

The ground game is in play, the messages are set, the ads are in the can, it’s time to talk 2008.

Yepsen and Krusty Insiders are starting to speculate on the 2008 Senate race. Who’s going to take on Harkin? A nobody who wants it bad, a Statehouse pol with a 'take no prisoners' attitude, a Statewide pressed & creased numbers guy or our favorite winger.

Whoever it is, he or she will have to work hard and work fast. Harkin’s already back up running his Elmo & Me shtick and gearing up the troops to push the next set of hot issues – fat kids, alternate fuels, debt relief for twenty-something college grads. It’s no wonder why most high profile GOP types are not particularly interested in the idea of taking on his well-oiled political machine.

But what about that other well-oiled machine on the receiving end of Harkin’s generosity with other people’s money?

Harkin’s connection to the CIETC scandal could become a huge political problem as investigations into other Iowa based quasi-governmental organizations unfold. Harkin is notorious for bringing home the chops for his friends, its old school politics, but with the momentum siding with the Pork Busters that old school habit spells trouble.

It’s not a major leap to assume that there are more well-oiled machines working the federal trough thanks to Harkin, and, for all we know, Harkin is the Senator with a hold on S2590, a bill that would create an internet database on earmarks and other federal spending. If we can lift the hold and get a fair debate in the Senate, Americans at home in their natural state will finally get to analyze the amount of fraud, waste and abuse handed down from on high.

If a potential Harkin challenger, say a Steve King, looked into the future and really understood that this issue of government waste and cronyism is not going to die with the 2006 cycle, you could really see where political teeth need to bite, and bite hard. A great investment might be to send a staffer in search of every Harkin earmark, attach each earmark to their Federal application and dig in to those earmark budgets’ for a little waste, fraud and abuse analysis. It’s all there, just waiting to be picked apart.

Steve King is the most discussed possibility to run against Harkin, and considering his long-term dislike for earmarks he could legitimately stake out that issue.

…In Iowa, the pork situation looks pretty grim, with the exception of Steve King from the 5th District. While many criticize King for his some of his views, on the issue of Pork, clearly he is a true fiscal conservative. King voted Yes (to cut the pork) on 17 of the 19 amendments. He voted No (keep the pork) on the Iowa Dairy Education amendment (190), and abstained from voting on the amendment for Tourism Development in Kentucky (338). … (Geeks with Blogs)
Moreover, if Iowa does elect a Jim Nussle, Steve King will have a natural ally in fettering out waste, fraud and abuse through the new office of inspector general.

Truthfully, it could be the year Harkin goes down. If his opponent tracks the pork, and finds all the six figure incomes Tom’s been subsidizing with our money, then it’ll be really hard to maintain that Tom “do-gooder” Harkin persona, and much easier to convince voters it’s time for a change.

Potential candidates need to sit down and run a risk reward analysis on making this race. A guy like King would have a ton to lose. He’s in a safe House seat that allows him to coast through until redistricting and he likes being a Congressman, although I doubt Steve King likes the idea of sitting out this fight.

Besides, if he doesn’t move in 2008 he could face an intra-party challenge from one or two or three of the guys thinking they’re next in-line for fifth district anointment. If King does risk it and runs a good race, I think the political Karma will line up on his side, much to the chagrin of a couple of other senator wannabes who anticipate a Harkin retirement and an open seat.

How can you talk about Pork Projects and Iowa Senators and not start with Grassley and the $50 million he got for the failed Rainforest project?

And if you think Nussle and King would elimanate government waste and cronyism, it is really too bad that neither one had a leadership position when it comes ot our budget and tax dollars in Washington the past few years.
That is just one fifty million chop. Harkin, as the Dems ranking member on the HHS approps, has pulled in millions as well.

This is a post about Harkin and the 2008 Senate race. I'm suggesting that pork is going to be on the campaign menu next cycle and King has consistently turned up his nose when it comes to eating Congressional Pork (see links for details).
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