Which Senate Candidate Is Really The More Electable One?

When Patty Judge entered the U.S. Senate race a little over two months ago, some Iowa Democrats were excited about the prospect. Chuck Grassley might finally be vulnerable thanks to his historic obstruction of the Supreme Court nomination, but some were worried Rob Hogg couldn’t fully take advantage of the situation. A candidate like Judge, who’s won statewide office before, who could raise serious money and has rural credibility as a longtime farmer seemed like a good bet. Yes, there’s concerns among the Democratic base over Judge’s past record on water quality issues, the agricultural industry and organized labor. Some will […]

Will Progressives Split Their Vote In The U.S. Senate Race?

What will progressive voters do on Tuesday when it comes to the Democrats’ Senate primary? The talk online has centered around two candidates: State Senator Rob Hogg, an experienced legislator with a proven progressive record who wrote a book on climate change; and Tom Fiegen, who has tied his candidacy to Bernie Sanders’ and been very visible around grassroots issues. One thing they nearly all agree on: they’re not voting for Patty Judge. But it’s overwhelmingly clear that Judge is in the lead in this race. Yesterday’s Des Moines Register poll showed her with a clear lead: 42% Judge, 25% […]

When The Establishment Fails To Back The “Establishment” Candidate

What do you get when the so-called “establishment” fails to back the so-called “establishment” candidate? The Iowa Senate Democratic primary, apparently. Throughout this year’s presidential primary, both Republicans and Democrats have obsessed over “establishment” politics, and which candidates the powers to be are backing. Typically aligning themselves with the seemingly more moderate or electable candidate, party leaders and top donors succeeded on the Democratic side while failing miserably among Republicans. I hesitated to write an entire post about “establishment” forces because I don’t really like the term. It’s vague and fluid and is usually just used as an epithet against […]

A Day On The Trail With Rob Hogg

What good is an endorsement? That’s an open question in any political campaign. Some bring an army of volunteers, others bring only the single vote of the endorser. State Senator Rob Hogg has a lot of public endorsements in his quest for the Democrats’ nomination for U.S. Senate: AFSCME, the Iowa Federation of Labor, over 90 current and former legislators. One of them, former State Senator Daryl Beall, did his best this past Tuesday to deliver Webster County for his old friend. Hogg meets his former colleague from the legislature at Bloomers, a downtown Fort Dodge coffee shop. Beall has […]

More Groups Join Coalition Demanding Grassley Act On Nomination

A crowd of over 50 Iowans formed a rally outside the federal building that houses Chuck Grassley’s office in Des Moines on Monday. They were there to implore the Senate Judiciary Chair to hold hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy. While “Do Your Job” protests have been going on for several weeks in Iowa, this one saw NextGen Climate Action, the League of Conservation Voters and MoveOn.org join the cause. Each one helped organize some of its members to attend the noontime demonstration. Their addition added to the many Iowans […]

Iowa Already The Center Of The Political Universe Again

That didn’t take long. A mere seven weeks ago the TV satellite trucks and campaign headquarters packed up and headed out from Iowa following the caucus. As it happens every four years, the national spotlight flickers out on Iowa in the blink of an eye, with all the political staff and reporters that we’ve become friends with vanishing to now more-interesting states. Iowa doesn’t quite turn into a pumpkin, but we’re certainly not a fancy stagecoach anymore. But guess what? The political gods determined this couldn’t stand for long and have thrust Iowa back into center stage. As is only […]

Does An Actual Nominee Affect Chuck Grassley’s Race Much?

For weeks Senator Chuck Grassley has come under fire for his refusal to hold hearings for President Barack Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominee. That nominee now has a face, a name and a record, with Merrick Garland getting the nod to be Obama’s choice to replace Antoin Scalia. Does it matter? And for the Iowa angle, does it change anything that much in Grassley’s re-election race Obviously, simply having a nominee drives the story more and now puts the ball in Grassley’s court. “Now that President Obama has done his job by making a nomination, it’s time for Chuck Grassley […]

Rob Hogg Pushes Back On Judge Run, Looks To Rally Progressives

While the Iowa political world was abuzz late last week about former Lt. Governor Patty Judge jumping into the race to unseat Senator Chuck Grassley, the three other Democrats in the race reminded people that they’ve been running for quite some time too. State Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids released a new list of endorsers on Monday to emphasize that the Democratic primary will be a closely contested one. 30 former legislators were on Hogg’s list of new endorsements, including Jack Kibbie, Polly Bukta, Jack Hatch, Staci Appel and Tyler Olson. Hogg already had the backing of 63 of the 68 […]

Patty Judge Gives Democrats A Real Chance To Beat Chuck Grassley

Only a few weeks ago Democrats’ dreams of up-ending Chuck Grassley in his reelection campaign was just that: a hopeful, unrealistic dream. But now Grassley finds himself in the middle of the national firestorm over the looming Supreme Court nomination battle that promises to paint him as an obstructionist and extremist to Iowa voters. Today the other shoe dropped with word that Patty Judge plans on launching a bid tomorrow for the U.S. Senate seat. Democrats now have a candidate who could legitimately beat Grassley in November. Let’s be clear: defeating the six-term Senator is still a monumental challenge. But he’s facing some serious […]

Rumor Roundup: Ravi Patel’s Super PAC, Webb’s Loss, Adams In, Bertrand for Governor

We hear all kinds of interesting things here at Starting Line, and figured it was about time for another fun Rumor Roundup. Here’s the latest political chatter making its way around Iowa: Super PACs Coming in 1st District Primary All the cool kids these days are getting their own Super PACs. Starting Line hears that the initial stages of setting up a Super PAC for Ravi Patel, Democratic candidate in the 1st District, is underway. Jeff Link, Bruce Braley’s top strategist from the Senate campaign, is rumored to head up the effort. A number of firms in D.C. are reportedly […]