Sunday Grab Bag: Slow Down Cruz, Dems’ Plans and Twitter Brigades

By Pat Rynard

April 26, 2015

Good afternoon readers! As always, a lot happened in the political world this week. Enjoy our Sunday Grab Bag of shorter takes on a number of Iowa and national political topics:

Calm Down There, Teddy

Most of the candidates at last night’s Faith and Freedom Coalition gave their typical stump speech, with an emphasis on religious issues. Ted Cruz, however, rolled out some new attack lines that raised a few eyebrows and got the crowd cheering and stomping their feet. He claimed the Democratic Party was practicing “liberal fascism” against Christians with their stances on gay marriage, and went so far to suggest that “there is no room for Christians in today’s Democratic Party.”

Let’s put aside for now the utter ridiculousness of that statement. Because what’s also interesting to me is how he’s ramping up his bombastic rhetoric this early. Cruz is winning over the evangelical crowd with his forceful speeches and willingness to say the most outlandish things of any of the candidates. But it’s not even May yet. What is he going to sound like in December if he’s polling behind Scott Walker? Cruz needs to pace himself – he already has the attention and love of party’s right wing. He should save up some of these lines for the home stretch, lest he risk scaring off all of the rest of the party this early on.

Democrats May Have a Big Field After All

Well, by big I mean 4 candidates. But there’s been a time when some have wondered if Clinton would have any competition at all. Bernie Sanders was concerned he’d have to raise too much money. Martin O’Malley might see the task as too great to challenge Clinton, who he endorsed in 2008. Jim Webb might not really do it. But as of this week, all three of them seem to be leaning toward actual runs.

O’Malley is now expected to announce in late May, and I’ve heard initial rumblings that his campaign is looking for field staff in Iowa. Webb returns to Iowa this week and continues to make the early state rounds, and appears poised to make a real go of it. Sanders was in South Carolina this week, his first trip to an early state in a while, and is reported to make a decision to run this next week, with his strategist saying he’s likely to do it. And I suppose there’s also Lincoln Chaffee thinking about running for the Democratic nomination, but… well, I don’t know how to finish that sentence with a straight face.

Twitter’s Favorite Republican Candidates

One of the more interesting things I’ve found from reporting at these events is how Twitter reacts to certain candidates. On the Republican side, I’ve discovered Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum command quite the online following. Anytime I tweet one of their lines or something halfway favorable about their speech, my notifications get lit up with Retweets and favorites. Cruz’s Twitter brigade is clearly the strongest, but Santorum has a loyal following as well. Surprisingly, I haven’t noticed much when I tweet about Rand Paul. And obviously they do not like Jeb Bush. Anything critical of him gets lots of love.

Robert Brownell Is A Total Moron

In case you didn’t read Cityview this week, there was another dust-up involving Polk County and South Side politics with Tony Bisignano. As most of you know, I ran Tony’s primary campaign in 2014. Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell recently sent out an incredibly stupid email with lots of name-calling in it, only to have it leaked and be forced to issue an apology. What I found most interesting was his idea that Democrats would have trouble holding Matt McCoy’s senate seat, because some Polk County Democrats (and by some, he certainly just means fellow supervisor Johnny Mauro) are upset with a bill Bisignano got passed. Fortunately, DesMoinesDem picked up on it too, so I don’t need to elaborate – just go read her piece on it. I’ll just add this: does Johnny Mauro really think he still has enough sway that his absence from a solidly Democratic senate seat would cause it to go red? How’d his influence help his last local candidate? Scoreboard, Johnny, scoreboard.

The Week Ahead

I was under the weather a lot this past week and didn’t write nearly as much I meant to. This next week should be considerably better, as I have pieces planned on the Republican field from last night, Hillary Clinton’s digital organizing strategy, and a profile of a young progressive organization. Jim Webb is back in town on Monday and Donald Trump is in Davenport on Thursday, but other than that not much is happening Iowa Caucus-wise. See you all around!


by Pat Rynard
Posted 4/26/15

  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.

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