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The Conservative Reader:
Iowa

The Bizarre Story of Randi Shannon Continues: Former Senate Candidate Speaks Out

The Bizarre Story of Randi Shannon Continues: Former Senate Candidate Speaks Out

While every Republican in Iowa has been wishing that Randi Shannon would withdraw from public view just quickly as she withdrew from the ballot 10 days ago–it appears this will not be the case.

Instead of going away quietly she has chosen to, of all things, go on a publicity tour to promote her appointment as “Senator” in a new government called “The Republic of the United States of America“.  On July 13th she released a truly unbelievable letter detailing why she was dropping out of the Iowa Senate race to represent District 34 and joining this new alternative “union”.

The discussion she had with Ed Fallon recently is below (via The Bleeding Heartland), for an entertaining and jaw-dropping 15 minutes of video fast forward to the 10 minute mark and watch till around the 25 minute mark.  This is one of the few times I have felt truly sorry for Mr. Fallon.

 

 

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Landon Wins Republican Nomination For HD 37

Landon Wins Republican Nomination For HD 37

As the campaign manager for John Landon throughout the primary, I made a concscious decision to not write any opinion, analysis, or news pieces regarding this race on this site.  With the conclusion of the primary coming at a special convention held last night at the Kirkendall library in Ankeny, this moratorium has now ended.

Per Iowa law, since none of the six Republicans on the ballot garnered 35% on June 5th the results were deemed “inconclusive” and this meeting of Ankeny area central committee members was called to decide the winner.  Four of the six candidates who appeared on the primary ballot were nominated for consideration by the 21 members of the central committee who were in attendence.   What could have become a long and drawn out affair actually ended rather quickly, as the process took only two ballots to yield a decision.

Each of the four were given four minutes apiece to address the committee, which was followed by a secret ballot.  All made their case by giving very good speeches, each of which centered around a very Conservative message.  The first ballot of voting resulted in 10 votes for Landon, 10 votes for Matt DeVries, and 1 vote for Jim Robidoux.  On the second ballot, Landon won by a count of 12-9 over DeVries.

After having gone through this campaign for several months now, I can say with certainty that all six candidates were worthy and qualified to represent HD 37, and I am left with a deep respect for all.  Jim Robidoux (who finished with the most votes on primary night), Matt DeVries (who finshed in second), and Jeff Wright (who placed 4th on June 5th) are all assets to the Republican Party.  I have little doubt that each will continue to be politically involved in Ankeny and will be heard from again on future election nights–which is a good thing for the Republican Party in Iowa.

Below is the full text of the press release issued by John Landon at the conclusion of last nights convention:

Every candidate in this race, including myself, made the decision to run for this seat in the belief that they were best qualified to represent and serve the people of our community.  I was prepared to accept any decision the Central Committee made, and I am humbled by the faith and support that they have shown for me tonight.

For years I have been working to build and strengthen the Republican Party in this district, and I am greatly looking forward to continuing to advance our core principals of less taxes and more freedom in the State House next session.  Though the sheer number of great candidates in this race led to a long and drawn out process, now that it is over I want the people of House District 37 to know that I am a rock solid, Conservative Republican who is energized and ready to fight for their interests in the legislature.

There is much work to be done, and my life experiences and long business career will allow me to start this work in earnest on day one.  The Republican Party will win this seat in November and I look forward to casting the votes necessary to strengthen our state and create an environment that will allow all Iowans to flourish.

The Conservative Reader: Iowa Interview with Representative Kevin Koester (Part 1 of 2)

The Conservative Reader: Iowa Interview with Representative Kevin Koester (Part 1 of 2)

After easily defeating a primary challenger in June, Iowa House member Kevin Koester was kind enough to sit down with The Conservative Reader: Iowa to discuss his upcoming general election in November, as well as the many issues he will be dealing with should he earn a third term in the Iowa Legislature.

The Primary, The General Election, and the Pulse of House District 38

The process of winning re-election for Rep. Koester began even before the legislative session ended, as the first order of business was winning a primary challenge by Saylor Township resident Brett Nelson.  As the session ran long, Koester made several hundred phone calls in his downtime and began getting acquainted with the voters in his newly re-drawn House District 38.

He handily defeated Nelson 456 to 80, and took many positives away from the effort this challenge required, “I’m very grateful for both the margin of victory and for the experience of the primary because it really helped energize my campaign for November, and gave me a great familiarity with the new territory in the district.”  In an interesting aside, after not meeting or speaking to each other throughout the primary, the two have since met and Nelson even took up an offer by Rep. Koester to join him in a weekly bible study—a great, albeit rare, good ending to a primary challenge.

Talking to voters throughout this process affirmed to Rep. Koester that the dominant issues for his November show-down with Democrat John Phoenix will include the state budget, government over-spending, and the economy.  Besides these economic issues, the background of the two candidates, combined with the issues still facing the legislature, serve to telegraph the subject matter that will be front and center in this race—education reform and public sector unions.

While Koester has decades of experience with education in Iowa, Phoenix was elected to the Des Moines School Board where he served for six years.  In addition to this, Phoenix also has been a long-time union steward, has already been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, and strongly believes that “unions help make our country stronger and improve the lives of all workers.”

Speaking to these differences, Rep. Koester believes that, “because of his role and his voice on collective bargaining issues and union viewpoints, there will be plenty of distance between us to give the voters a clear choice”.  Given the fact that Mr. Koester is a strong Conservative Republican and Phoenix is a pro-union, former school board member who featured Des Moines super-liberal Ako Abdul-Samad at his first fundraiser—the gulf between the two is likely to be enormous on a long list of issues.  Here is a look at two of these issues, and where Rep. Koester stands on them.

Education Reform

Like most Iowa Republicans, Mr. Koester was very disappointed in the progress made on education reform by the last General Assembly.  “The things we voted on last session were not reforms, they were Band-Aids.  We did not do surgery, and that is what is truly needed.”

After seeing countless specific and detailed proposals get torn apart by the opposing sides, he stands ready to work on a broad frame of reform that can be agreed on in principle and passed.  “What I have is a drive to dismantle the fluff, and no patience for the simple arguments that only serve to attack valid ideas.  We need to stop the nit picking and the warring, and come up with a product and move forward on it.”

Two realities in the current system that he sees as negatively affecting students are the lack of teachers being removed for poor performance and the practice of “last in first out”, which is the seniority structure that protects long-time teachers from being let go, in favor of removing less tenured teachers when staff sizes are cut.  This practice has long been under fire by Republicans because it refuses to take into account the skill level and effectiveness of each teacher.  “Last in first out is bad for kids.  We need to look at who is performing and have that be the prime focus, and not necessarily just who has the most experience.  A pay raise needs to be given for performing better, not just given out for coming back the next year and being a year older”.

In terms of the reforms needed to reverse our recent embarrassing trend in education, the crucial ingredient in Rep. Koester’s view is to quantify the performance of the employees in our education system.  He will not support any proposal without this component, and he concisely summed up his position on education by saying:

We will have meaningful and fundamental reform when we agree on how we are going to measure student learning, how we are going to measure each of our Principal’s leadership and influence in the classroom, and how we are going to measure teachers and instruction.  That is where the rubber meets the road on this issue.

Unions and Collective Bargaining

With Governor Branstad recently signaling a desire to look at their financial impact on the state, and John Phoenix’s close personal ties to them, there is little doubt that public sector unions and collective bargaining will be hotly debated in this race.

Rep. Koester has already taken several votes on this issue, all with the goal of bringing public sector unions more in line with the realities of the private sector, and attempting to prevent the payouts involved from breaking the bank as we have seen in several other states in recent years.

The votes he has taken include voting three times for employees of the Legislative branch, including himself, to pay a portion of their health insurance cost.  The first was for a contribution of $50 a month, the second for a $100 a month, and the third for $200 a month.  “I have gone on record every opportunity I have had insisting that Legislators are charged something, and I strongly believe that all state employees should help pay for the cost of their health insurance.”

He also voted in favor of the measure that went into effect July 1st, which changed the formula for calculating retirement benefits for state employees.  In the past payouts were figured using an average of an employee’s top three wage earning years, which has now been changed to take the average of the top five years.

In the larger picture, he supports having a policy ensuring that the number of government employees does not swell beyond what is needed and can be financially sustained in the long run.  To this end he favors implementing breaks on the growth of state government that ties the number of workers and salaries to the overall growth of our state economy, and prioritizes the issue the following way:

I want to start with how we plan for how many state jobs there will be.  You don’t grow the economy by growing the number of public jobs—that is socialism.  The second thing is then addressing the disproportions in the health insurance contributions and the retirement benefits.  The benefits are out of control compared to what the private sector is doing, and to what Iowa taxpayers are doing to take care of their families.  We need to get those things in line, and what is fair for the rest of Iowans should be fair for the public employees that they are paying for.

Next Stop: November

Anyone who talks issues with Rep. Koester immediately realizes that he has a deep grasp on nearly all of them, including all the moving parts involved with each.  On substance, he can go toe-to-toe with anyone and will shine in the public forums and debates with Mr. Phoenix.

As this contest slowly unfolds till November, the topics these two candidates debate along the way will be a roll call of every major issue facing the citizens of Iowa.  In particular, the colliding ideologies on taxes, education, and public sector unions will be a true foreshadowing of the debates that will consume the next General Assembly.

How strong a candidate John Phoenix will be remains to be seen, but Republicans throughout Iowa and HD 38 can be assured that Kevin Koester is up to the challenge—and will remain a strong Conservative voice for the Party in the coming years.

 

 

Healthcare Fallout: Obama’s Growing List of Coalitions

Healthcare Fallout: Obama’s Growing List of Coalitions

The bedrock of winning elections at every major level of politics is building coalitions of supporters for whom you can count on to head to the polls and cast a vote for you.  Especially in a country as large and non-monolithic as ours, coalition building on some level is a requirement for victory and often explains why politicians are so willing to speak often, but say very little.

A close look at President Obama’s effort in this area reveals that he has elevated this process to an art form—but far from art, what he has created is an ugly picture beneficial to himself, but terrible for America.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act certainly carries the negatives of energizing Republicans and leaving him to defend a tax increase, it is foolish not to acknowledge the potential political windfall that he has unleashed.  He has managed to cement a new member in his group of coalitions—a group with millions of potential voters.

As we have discussed here before, for decades the Democrat party in America has used the social safety net and the laws of this country to build a formidable coalition of voters.  The newest members are the up to 33 million people who will now be guaranteed health insurance by virtue of being a breathing American.  For the first time in history an American president will be able to say ‘if you vote Democrat you will have (possibly for free) health insurance, and if you vote Republican you will not’, a potent motivator.

The addition of the health care voter coalition can now be added to the two others that he has bolstered recently, in what may be the most cynical and politically motivated two months in American presidential history.

First it was going on record with the news that he had “evolved” on the issue and now supports gay marriage. This was followed by a surprise move to essentially remove the possibility of deportation for young illegal aliens.  While the gay community is relatively small, bolstering his claim to the Hispanic vote was a huge benefit to his Electoral College math.  Early next week, we will have a story detailing how the health care law really has more to do with sealing up the Hispanic vote than anything else.

Besides the Latino vote, Obamacare allows the Democrat Party to further stack the deck against Republicans as they try to implement the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms in the Paul Ryan budget over the next few years.  Top Democrat strategists have to be secretly celebrating, knowing full well that the already difficult politics of reforming these programs just got down right suicidal now that 16 million more people have been added to the rolls.

Moving Forward

The Presidents relentless coalition building will continue from now until November.  With the economy not in position to rebound at all, and the two major initiatives of his Presidency either unpopular (health care) or ineffectual (the stimulus), he really has no other choice.  I am predicting that sometime in the next few months he will make a shocking public policy jester to the unions, who remain the last sizeable group he has not tried to directly entice.

Though it goes against the grain, at this point I would consider advising Mitt Romney to not moderate on illegal immigration and stay as far right on this issue as he was during the presidential primary.  The reasons for this are several.

First, it is the law and the right thing to do—we simply cannot be the only nation on earth that doesn’t enforce its borders.  Though many are quick to forget it, this is a message that resonates with nearly all Republicans, and millions of Independents.  Second, there is simply no way for Republicans to match what Democrats can offer.  While Republicans and Latinos have large overlaps in religious beliefs and family values, Democrats are in essence offering citizenship, free or nearly free health care, and an ever-expanding web of financial assistance that delivers from birth to death.

It may be high time to face the facts—winning over the Hispanic community is not going to happen anytime soon, and the more Republicans bend and soften on these issues the more they enrage fellow Republicans and appear hypocritical to Independents.

The irony here is that many of the Republicans who have been hesitant to support Mitt Romney, largely due to their belief that he tries to be all things to all people, are the same people that are urging him to cow tow to the Hispanic vote and moderate his position on illegal immigration.

There are still tens of millions of Americans who still believe strongly that we are a nation of laws.  Should Mitt Romney take a stand on this issue and add this too often ignored group to his list of coalitions, it may end up being a net positive in November.

 

 

The post Healthcare Fallout: Obama’s Growing List of Coalitions appeared first on The Conservative Reader.


Healthcare Fallout: Obama’s Growing List of Coalitions

In the Age of the Selfish Voter

In a Representative Democracy, voting for a particular political candidate or philosophy is the most impactful way a citizenry can change their country.  While the “who” a person votes for is what actively shapes a Republic, digging into the motivation behind that vote is far more telling, and ultimately reveals far more about ourselves and where we are heading.

As government involvement in Americans day-to-day lives has expanded, the possible motivating factors at play driving each citizens vote has also expanded—and the effects of this have been devastating.  Boiled down to the most basic level, there are two motivations that influence a political vote—you can vote in what you believe is in the best interest of the country, or you can vote in your own personal interest.

In past generations, before the American government was so deeply involved in the giving business, the vast majority of our population largely had only the best interest of the country as a whole to consider.  Unfortunately, today nearly half of our citizens have the legitimate option of choosing to vote for their own personal gain at the ballot box.

Not Your Grandfather’s Democratic Party

Though it sounds crass, the modern day Democratic Party has evolved into a selfish group of constituencies that have something to gain in voting for Democrats and against Republicans.  While the most obvious entries on the list involve financial assistance from the economic safety net—unending unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, food stamps, Title 19, etc.—in recent years this list has grown to include several other things.

Hispanic Americans can now vote Democrat to ultimately allow their friends and relatives who are here illegally become citizens.  Gay Americans can now vote Democrat to gain the right to marry and the economic advantages that come with it.  Union members can vote Democrat in order to receive more favorably negotiated salaries and benefits at the bargaining table.  Those Americans who, for whatever reason, did not have health insurance can now vote a straight Democratic ticket in hopes of retaining it, since they have now been given it.

In large part this massive constituency of selfishly driven voters explains what the mind-boggling national debt has become so out of control.  Far more than any other issue, not running annual deficits and paying down the national debt are two things that are in the best interest of the country—and not necessarily in the best interest of each individual American.   The polling data bears this out showing that, even with the national debt north of $16 trillion, only 66% of Democrats cite lowering this number as a major priority.

Contrarians to this line of thinking will make the charge that Republicans vote in their own best interest by voting for politicians who believe in lowering their taxes.  As usual this charge leaves out one unavoidable fact—that the money taken by the government for taxes is earned, and it belonged to the individual in the first place.  Put simply, voting to keep more of your own money and not giving it away to a largely wasteful entitlement state (especially one with a progressive tax code) is not a greed driven motivation—rather it is a logical one.

What It Means

The selfishly motivated voter is the single biggest reason why European style democracies are self-feeding, self-defeating, unworkable, and unsustainable.  Yet in spite of the real-time evidence playing out across the Atlantic, a near majority of Americans refuse to change course.  Increasingly, it is hard not to assume a major reason why American voters are unwilling to do so is that they would be putting themselves out to do so.

The only way to break this cycle is for the Democrat Party to shift away from promising things to an ever-widening group of voters.  The sad truth though is that they have built a political base only able to stand upright through some combination of deficit spending, large tax increases, and social pandering.  They have become so politically dependent on various sub-groups that making decisions for the economic good of the country, even if they wanted to, would quickly result in them paying a huge political price and losing elections.

Whenever Americans choose to overlook our national interest and instead vote in favor of their own, neither is well served.

 

 

The post In the Age of the Selfish Voter appeared first on The Conservative Reader.


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