Good morning readers! A lot happened in the political world this week in Iowa. Enjoy our Sunday Grab Bag of shorter takes on a number of Iowa-based topics:
Marco Rubio Book Signing in West Des Moines
Over the lunch hour on Friday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio stopped by the West Des Moines Barnes and Noble to sign copies of his book, “American Dreams.” He got a good crowd, with well over 150 people standing in line. He mostly chatted briefly with each person as he signed their book, not making any major speech at the event. Some notable observations:
- New State Senator Mark Costello, the Republican who was elected to Joni Ernst’s vacated seat in a special, was among those who met Rubio. A few big-name Republicans got to skip the line and say a quick hello to the Florida senator. Costello waited his turn in line with the rest of the audience.
- The first person in line, a young woman, asked Rubio about his stance on Uber, the ride-sharing service. Jennifer Mullin, a former Iowa political staffer and now Uber representative, must be doing her job well.
- Rubio also got two questions about immigration, with one specifically asking about DACA. Rubio commented that he disagreed with President Obama’s executive order on it, and thought that Congress should take the lead on immigration, but that he didn’t expect movement anytime soon. It’s a little weird that his book is called “American Dream,” but he’s not standing up strongly for the immigration reform he once backed to give other immigrants a shot at that dream.
- Not everyone at the event were likely Republican caucus goers. Starting Line spotted a number of Democrats in line. We exchanged knowing nods.
- Rubio looks really young in person, in a good way. He also amiably interacted with the crowd. He should do well on the Iowa Caucus trail when he announces.
- It sounded like that announcement may be a while in coming, though. He told the press he wasn’t going to be rushed into a decision by other candidates. It also appeared that this Iowa trip was mostly about the book tour. His staffer didn’t make it sound like they had lots of meetings with activists or insiders planned for the day.
- Note to 2016 hopefuls: If you have an event three minutes from my house on my way to lunch like Rubio did, I will happily come cover you.
Gary Kroeger Sees his Old SNL Friends
SNL alum and likely 1st District Congressional candidate Gary Kroeger traveled to New York City this weekend for the SNL 40 Year reunion party. The big question for whether Kroeger can run a legitimate campaign is if he can convince enough of his old acting connections to financially support him. If so, he would have a great and unique network to raise money from. He told the Register this week he’s waiting until the spring to decide. Kroeger’s getting a lot of press this week, but remember: Starting Line first broke the news of his interest in a Congressional run about a month ago with our very first post.
Here’s a pretty funny clip of him from SNL doing a Walter Mondale skit.
Ankeny Democrats Looking Strong
I’ve been to plenty of county party fundraisers that weren’t nearly as well-attended as the Ankeny Area Democrats‘ winter function this last Thursday. Well over 100 Democrats came out for a dinner with speeches from IDP Chair Dr. Andy McGuire, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, and House Minority Leader Mark Smith. Ravi Patel was also spotted at the front table. Ankeny Democrats’ chair Matt Pfaltzgraf runs a good crew up there. Other counties and suburbs should look at their success for a model for organizing.
Smart Iowa Takes This Week
In the future I’ll add in Sunday wrap-up posts a run-down of the best national, state and local takes on Iowa politics and the Iowa Caucus. Today I’ll just point out two exceptional takes from Iowa bloggers:
- Blog for Iowa’s Paul Deaton had a spot-on critique of many failings of the Iowa Democrats’ Coordinated Campaign: Blow Up the Coordinated Campaign
- Bleeding Heartland had a great look on how Iowa Republican legislators are slowly accepting gay marriage’s status quo standing in the state: Iowa House Republicans accept marriage equality but can’t admit it yet
Big Week Ahead for Starting Line
Make sure to check in every morning this week with Iowa Starting Line! We’ve got some great posts lined up – a “Rising Star” profile, a funny The Bachelor-themed take on the Republican field, and rumors. Plus another “How to Win ____ County,” as I’ve gotten good feedback on how much people liked the first one. Oh, and Bernie Sanders is coming to the state.
by Pat Rynard