Two days! Just two days to go!
Campaign volunteers were treated to some nicer weather this weekend for door-knocking for their favorite candidates during GOTV. That’s all that’s left at this point. The final debates were held this past week (see our takeaways from the gubernatorial one here and the 3rd District one here). Now everyone is simply focused on turning out their supporters on Tuesday.
Here’s a look at our weekly round-up of campaign news that you might have missed.
Cathy Glasson Backs Legal Recreational Marijuana
It can be difficult for candidates to break out of the noise in the final weeks of a campaign, but Glasson has seemed to found a way to turn some heads at the last minute. After saying in the Wednesday debate that she supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use (as well as taxing it to help bolster the state budget for education and healthcare), her campaign started heavily advertising her stance online.
That’s generated a good amount of chatter in social media circles, including in some areas where its piquing the interest of people who don’t often vote in primaries. This is the kind of policy that could draw out some of that Bernie Sanders coalition (and others) that doesn’t engage much in Democratic contests. Plus it gives her something new to talk about and gain headlines for the final stretch. The question will be whether it’s enough at this point, or if you needed to be promoting this for months to identify, activate and turn out those marginal voters that like it.
New Early Voting Record
Even with the new early voting restrictions enacted by Republicans, Iowans have set a record for the number of votes cast early in a primary this year. 29,080 Democrats have voted so far, compared with 11,858 Republicans. A large part of that is due to numerous, highly-contested primaries, much more than Democrats had in either 2016 or 2014.
It’s an encouraging sign for Democrats’ enthusiasm for November, but it doesn’t negate concerns over the new voting laws’ impact. Those who vote in primaries are a much more engaged crowd that don’t typically have problems with producing I.D.s. It’s the marginal voters, younger voters, transient population and some elderly folks that usually only vote in general elections that encounter the most problems. We won’t know the full consequences of the voting restrictions until November.
Cindy Axne Holds 100th House Party
Axne has made a point in her 3rd District campaign to travel the district as much as possible while still raising the funds necessary to compete. To that end, she held her 100th house party in West Des Moines this Tuesday. Starting Line will have more on that tomorrow.
Candidates Get Some National Ink
It’s that time of the year, apparently. National reporters have descended upon Iowa to write up profiles and though pieces on our intriguing primaries and candidates. John Norris got a nice article from The Atlantic’s John Nichols, in which it says Norris is the candidate who can “win back rural America.” Mother Jones also took the rural vote angle when they profiled J.D. Scholten’s run in the 4th District this week.
Scholten’s Closing TV Ad
Scholten also has a new ad out that’s he put a modest buy on for the final week in the Sioux City and Des Moines media markets. It’s an up-beat, attitude-driven spot with a good tempo to it, kind of reminiscent of Nate Boulton’s kick-off video last May. Just one week of TV won’t have a huge impact, but this is the kind of ad that could catch people’s attention with just one or two viewings.
Hubbell Keeps His Cool
A video is making its way around Democratic social media circles late this week. It shows a Glasson supporter confronting Hubbell over his donation to Peter Cownie, arguing that its hypocritical of Hubbell to support abortion rights and also contribute to someone who voted for the six-week abortion ban (though the donation was before that vote). Hubbell largely repeats what he said in the second debate, that he disagreed with the vote but had a personal relationship with the family and doesn’t view everything in a partisan manner.
Those on the left are touting it as more proof of Hubbell’s weakness on the issue, but we don’t actually learn anything new out of it that we didn’t hear from the debate. The questioner, who seemed more interested in chastising Hubbell than letting him answer, repeated Glasson’s line of attack and Hubbell repeated his line of defense.
The one new thing we did learn was that Hubbell can handle a hostile voter without getting upset or saying something damaging. Other Iowa candidates in past and current campaigns have gotten flustered in similar situations, lost their cool and put their foot in their mouth. “Well, if we disagree, that’s okay,” Hubbell told the man.
Andy McGuire Closes With Healthcare Stops
McGuire is finishing out her primary push with a focus on her biggest strength in the race: healthcare. She’s been pitching her 7-point plan for Iowa’s mental healthcare and substance abuse problems.
More Reynolds Staff Shake-Ups
Another top staffer for Governor Kim Reynolds is leaving. Jake Ketzner announced he was departing as chief of staff this week; chief counsel Ryan Koopmans will take his place. Ketzner’s deputy, Tim Albrecht, left for Apple recently and Reynolds’ campaign manager transitioned out earlier this year. Iowa Democrats warned that Reynolds’ “revolving door of staff members have Iowa lurching from one crisis to the next and in a state of constant turmoil.”
Several candidates have gotten big-name endorsements to help boost them over the finish line. Planned Parenthood Action Fund announced their support of Abby Finkenauer. Andy McGuire got the endorsement of Iowa Patients for Medical Marijuana. Chet Culver and Tom Miller put their support behind Fred Hubbell. Teamsters leader Jesse Case and former Senator Brian Schoenjahn backed John Norris.
David Johnson Retires, Giving Republicans Easy Pick-Up
The lone independent in the Iowa Senate, David Johnson, said this week he will not run for reelection to his Northwest Iowa SD 1 seat. That gives Republicans an immediate, easy pick-up in the deeply conservative region. They were likely to win this seat regardless, but Johnson’s exit means they won’t have to spend money on it. Democrats didn’t run anyone here in order to help Johnson’s chances, but they could still nominate someone through a special convention.
Nate Boulton Still A Senator
There’s been no news from the Boulton front after his withdrawal from the gubernatorial primary. Several of his Democratic colleagues have called for him to resign from the Senate, but he’s made no public decision one way or the other. He may yet try to wait this thing out, though Democrats have promised a full investigation if he stays. His term runs through 2020, and there’s more than a dozen people already jockeying behind the scenes to replace him. A Democratic nominating convention would choose the candidate were Boulton to resign; that’s made up of precinct chairs, with no one sure how that would play out.
by Pat Rynard