Bye Bye Branstad. Hello Governor Reynolds.

It’s official: Terry Branstad will be the next ambassador to China. Donald Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the President Elect announced Branstad’s appointment at a fundraiser this morning. An official statement is expected later today, and there will likely be some sort of announcement or celebration of the move at Trump’s rally in Des Moines tomorrow. Branstad leaving the governorship for China will cause a massive sea change in Iowa politics. The longest-serving governor in American history, Branstad and his team wielded huge influence behind the scenes for Iowa Republicans for decades. His lasting popularity among Iowa voters allowed him […]

So, This Is Really How It’s Going To Be, Eh?

At this point nothing really surprises me anymore about Donald Trump, but that doesn’t make his actions any less shocking or disturbing. There were many theories just before and after the election about what kind of president Trump would become. Would he settle down, be surrounded by smart advisers and become a more traditional Republican president? Or would he govern as he campaigned, recklessly with little clear indication of any ideology other than an obsession with power, lurching from one self-created crisis to the next? I always figured it would be the latter, that what you see is what you get […]

Branstad To China? How It Would Impact Iowa Politics In 2018

As many predicted, Governor Terry Branstad has emerged as the top contender to be President-Elect Donald Trump’s ambassador to China. Branstad will meet with Trump in New York this week, and then appear with him at a “Thank You Tour” in Des Moines on Thursday. Were such an appointment to be made, it would cause a huge shake-up in Iowa’s typically stable politics. But would Branstad accept and how would it change the Iowa political landscape? First off, frankly, from a purely foreign policy perspective, Branstad would probably do a good job at it. He’s a longtime friend of Chinese […]

As Trump Goes Nuclear, Could His Iowa Backers Face Same Scrutiny?

There are two reasons state and local campaigns don’t typically engage in extremely personal attacks on political opponents: 1) The candidate or people running the campaign are decent-enough human beings to not bring up their opponent’s very personal failings, embarrassing moments or private life, and 2) It usually backfires. Now, as we all know, some times the desire to win will overcome that first reason. It is the second that keeps our Iowa politics from devolving into tabloid-style muck. Yes, Iowans are seeing a lot of very nasty stuff in TV ads right now, but it revolves mostly around policy differences or obscure […]

A Tale Of Two Reagan Dinners

Iowa Republicans’ twin Reagan Dinner fundraisers provided oddly perfect bookends to possibly the most volatile four-day stretch ever in American politics, encapsulating everything the beleaguered party experienced throughout it. The state party hosted their annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines on Saturday night, while the Scott County Republicans held their own of the same name in Bettendorf on Tuesday night. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton headlined each. I attended both events. The Des Moines event, held in the upstairs ballroom at the Iowa Events Center, was a dimly-lit affair with red backdrops, a dark setting that matched the mood of the attendees and […]

Iowa GOP’s Congressional Candidate Peters Ditches Trump

Dr. Christopher Peters, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional district, is announcing today that he will not vote for Donald Trump for president. His decision comes after the release of Trump’s 2005 comments where he bragged about sexually assaulting women. Peters will “abstain from voting in the presidential election,” according to his press release this morning. “A large number of former and current Republican politicians have now disavowed Trump,” Peters says in a column he’s publishing today. “All of them have far more political clout than I do, and to be honest, I don’t think people should care so […]

Cracks Start To Show In Iowa GOP’s Trump Unity

While the state party was as unified as ever for Donald Trump at the Republican Party of Iowa’s Reagan Dinner in Des Moines last night, two defections happened outside the fundraiser. Ankeny State Senator Jack Whitver was the first major Iowa Republican to publicly call for Donald Trump to step down as the party’s nominee this afternoon. State Representative Ken Rizer of Marion announced he would write in Mike Pence’s name for president in a lengthy Facebook post put up Saturday evening. This was after a wave of statements from Terry Branstad, Kim Reynolds, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Rod Blum and […]

Jeff Kaufmann: “Two Flawed Candidates,” Implies Bill Clinton Worse Than Trump

Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann responded to Donald Trump’s bombshell comments from 2005 ahead of the state party’s Reagan Dinner in Des Moines tonight, comparing Trump’s comments to Bill Clinton’s actions. “I find Donald Trump’s comments 11 years ago disgusting,” Kaufmann said in a prepared statement. “I condemn those kinds of comments when Clinton did those kind of actions, and I’ll condemn it again when Trump says those kind of actions. I’m going to be consistent all the way through, so hopefully you can see the sincerity in terms of this condemnation. I’m condemning not for my own […]

Time For Iowa Republicans To Abandon Trump

Wake up already, Iowa Republican leaders: this election is over. Donald Trump will never recover from the revelation of the 2005 tape that shows his abhorrent views on women and sexual assault. Yes, we’ve all thought any number of his earlier outrageous, sexist and racist comments would have done him in, only to be proven wrong. But this is different. It simply is. Your presidential nominee bragged about sexually assaulting women. “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump said in the tape. “And when you’re a star, they let you […]

Disillusioned Young Conservatives Search For Identity In 2016

A lot of attention has focused on the Democrats’ difficulties with young voters – typically their best voting bloc – this year, but Republicans are dealing with a similar – if smaller – rebellion among their youthful backers. Donald Trump’s candidacy has many young Republicans and conservatives questioning their loyalty to the party and searching for different options. Some of those young ex-Republicans showed up at an event for Evan McMullin in Des Moines this past week. McMullin, an independent candidate drafted to give frustrated rank-and-file Republicans a conservative choice, drew a notably young crowd to his Des Moines event […]