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Sam Clovis Joins The Senate Primary: Info & Analysis

Sam Clovis Joins The Senate Primary: Info & Analysis

Sam Clovis 2The field of Republican candidates seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate from Iowa has expanded to three.  At an event held Monday in Sioux City, Morningside professor and talk radio host Sam Clovis announced he is joining Matt Whitaker and David Young in the Republican primary.

The field is expected to become more crowded in coming weeks as Politico recently reported that State Senator Joni Ernst has hired a Texas-based political strategist.  Additionally word is spreading that a Libertarian candidate will also declare soon—later this week we will be discussing this in more detail.

Background and Bio

Though many in central and eastern Iowa are likely unfamiliar with him, Sam Clovis is fairly well known in the very Conservative north-western region of Iowa.  While currently serving as the Chair of the Department of Business Administration and Economics at Morningside College and hosting a political radio show on KSJC 1360, he has a long military and business background to tout.

After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy, he attended universities in San Francisco and Alabama and has worked for several private companies–including defense industry giant  Booz Allen Hamilton (ironically the same company that employed last week’s NSA leaker).  There is a ton of stuff in his background and I won’t list it all here—for a longer and itemized account of Clovis’ history click here and you can view his campaign website iowans4samclovis.com here.

The Race: A Quick Analysis

Besides adding one more candidate and all the dynamics that go along with it, Clovis has already indicated he will be staking out a position that any non-libertarian candidate likely won’t get to the right of.  It’s way too early to tell how much of a statewide network he will be able to build or if he will be able to raise the money necessary to introduce himself statewide–but he will have an impact regardless.

Aside from making the 35% number to avoid a convention harder to get to for any one of them—a candidate willing to run far-right will most likely end up giving the “establishment” contenders hoping to run middle-right some severe heartburn—a condition that otherwise might not have befallen them.  Even if his campaign never fully takes off, and if he chooses to, Clovis will be able to use the media and, more importantly, the debate stages to put heat on the more moderate Republicans in the field and their positions.

Needless to say…the temperature has been raised and this thing is going to get interesting.

Senate Primary Field Could Expand By One Today

Senate Primary Field Could Expand By One Today

Sam Clovis

After several weeks of hinting he may join the U.S. Senate primary race, later today Sioux City based professor and radio host Sam Clovis will hold a press conference.

Though he was coy regarding the specifics, and refused to say it is even in regards to the Senate race, he told the Sioux City Journal, “I’ll be making an announcement that affects my future, and certainly my future on the radio, and it is a commitment for something down the road.”  Saying the announcement will affect his radio talk show job certainly suggests he is running—as once he has legally filed the FCC political broadcasting rules come into play and the station would be forced to give equal air-time to his opponents should they request it.  As a reaction to this most stations require a radio personality-turned-candidate to temporarily step down.

He also went on to tell the Sioux City Journal, “I’ve been a natural leader my whole life and I think those are, again, skills that are very lacking in Washington. Because we don’t have people who are willing to stand up and tell people the truth and then stick to their principles to make sure that happens. Everything seems to be about self-interest, nothing seems to be about the people of the country…I’ve been an executive; I’ve been in business, non-profit, for-profit, education, military service second to none, a very distinguished career there. So I have all of the credentials that one would need to be a person that one would look to lead and do the things that are necessary to lead this country, particularly if one pursued public office in the United States Senate.”

 

What This Means

While it’s standard to not give away the headline and tell the media what the press conference is specifically for, the language “a commitment for something down the road” strikes me as a little strange if this were going to be a straight announcement.  It would be unorthodox, but perhaps it will be a commitment to run if he sees the other candidates as not succeeding or not being sufficiently Conservative for him.  If he is not running I’m guessing he will at a minimum be seeking an audience with the currently declared candidates to talk issues.

Should he be announcing a decision to run in a few hours, we will have more information on his background (which is pretty extensive) and analysis on how the race would be impacted in the coming days.

Since he has already said publicly that he would be a “red-meat Conservative”—it’s pretty obvious where he’d want to move the discourse.

2nd District Executive Committee Meets in Washington

2nd District Executive Committee Meets in Washington

2nd district gopThe Following is a guest post written by Polk County GOP Co-Chair Chad Brown

County leadership is on the move all across the state of Iowa this year. The 2nd District Executive Committee became the third Iowa Congressional District to re-activate.

This meeting convened in Washington, Iowa, on the morning of June 8. Judy Davidson, Scott County Chair, was elected 2nd District Executive Committee Chairwoman with 18 votes, beating parliamentarian Don Racheter, who received 9 votes. The meeting lasted 1 hour 35 minutes and included the election of officers, approval of the proposed rules, discussion on the 2014 Caucuses, District Convention and State Convention, as well as discussing consistent statewide District rules and lastly organizational announcements.

“I thought we had great attendance,” said Davidson. “We had 28 out of 51 current executive committee members attend our meeting on one of the first nice Saturdays this summer. I think it was a good event.”

Personally, the re-activation of these D.E.C.’s is very near and dear to my heart. As Co-Chair of the most populated county in the state of Iowa, I understand the challenges that go along with my specific county organization. Also, as an active officer of the recently re-activated 3rd District Executive Committee, I have learned much about the challenges faced by those in my neighboring counties. This is due, in part, to meeting and speaking with leaders of other counties more often and getting to know them more closely than I had in the past. This is why District Executive Committees have traditionally provided a vital ingredient to the success of the Republican Party in Iowa. Their important role is detailed in the RPI Constitution.

Traditionally, the Republican Party is built as a grass roots Party that was always strong because it had a firm foundation and was built from the ground up. Unfortunately, the District Executive Committees were deactivated within recent years, and that vacuum was filled by powerful groups that dominated the leadership selection process by preventing Republican County leaders from talking to each other and promoting leadership from the grass roots. We want to restore the grass roots to the Republican Party and include more people.

It’s unfortunate that these long-standing Committees were deactivated and silenced, but the counties’ executive leadership in the districts are getting back to basics! “I think this morning’s meeting went really well,” spoke Trudy Caviness of Wapello County. “Our goal was to organize 2nd District, and we accomplished our goal. Plus, I really liked how everyone was allowed to make announcements. I thought the additions to the rules were good. That shows people looked at the rules and read them.”

Our District Executive Committees are here to improve and unify the Republican Party and get more people involved. This is an exciting time as we begin to restore an important tradition of grass roots to the Republican Party of Iowa. “I think it’s so important to give information to the candidates and campaigns,” said Karen Fesler of Johnson County. “Candidates can now make one call and can get information on the county organizations and when and where  the county central committee meetings are held.  It’s a benefit to all of us to meet and work together. Anytime you can create another source for candidates, the media, committees, to get information about Republicans, it’s another way to reach out to people and help our Party. This is a good thing.”

“I see these D.E.C.’s as another resource in helping elect Republicans on the district-wide as well as statewide level,” added Caviness. Trudy Caviness was elected 2nd D.E.C. Co-Chair, and Karen Fesler was elected 2nd D.E.C. Secretary. Additionally, the body elected two at-large members for the Executive Committee.  Matt Green was elected over Don Racheter for the first position. Don Racheter then ran and won against Wesley Westmorland on the second ballot to fill the second position. “I think it will be a good resource for any district-wide and statewide candidate,” continued Caviness. “I think that by working together, the county leadership will be a part of a group and be working for the same goal. In recent years there haven’t been many opportunities for new Chairs and Co-Chairs to get together. This will give them the resource of giving new Chairs/Co-Chairs the shared knowledge from people who have been in their shoes. This will be a good support group for the counties.”

Chad Brown, Polk County GOP Co-Chair and 3rd Congressional District Executive Committee Secretary

 

DM Register Bias In Senate Race Already In Full Bloom

DM Register Bias In Senate Race Already In Full Bloom

Metal trash canThough the U.S. Senate race in Iowa is only in the pre-natal stage the Des Moines Register hasn’t wasted any time in displaying the partisan favoritism it has become infamous for—an impressive feat given the race is only a few months old and has only a combined three candidates declared.

The Evidence

In the last month they have run two stories solely based on Democratic talking points, a practice they have failed to reciprocate for the other side, and flat-out offered no coverage of a significant Republican event.

The first instance occurred almost a month ago when, days after candidate Matt Whitaker announced on The Simon Conway Show, the Register’s Jennifer Jacobs published verbatim a full press-release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attacking Whitaker for comments he made on the program (http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2013/05/08/democrats-criticize-whitaker-for-pledging-to-vote-with-extremist-senators/article).  In theory this practice is fine by me—provided of course that as a “reputable” statewide news organization they follow suit when the releases come from the other side of the aisle…I haven’t seen this yet.

What makes this so damaging is that there is no shortage of releases from the DSCC’s counterpart in Washington—the National Republican Senatorial Committee—but they seem unable to merit the same ink.  I routinely get these releases from the NRSC and if they are well sourced and fact based I occasionally run them.  An example would be the following from yesterday:

June 5, 2013

Lawyer Speak: Braley Misleads Iowa Students…Says Student Loan Rates Must be Kept from Doubling, But Votes Against Legislation to Extend Lower Rates for Iowa Students

Bruce Braley isn’t fooling anyone. The slick former head of the trial lawyers association and liberal loyalist to Nancy Pelosi – in true trial lawyer fashion – is trying to fool Iowa voters yet again, this time about the rising cost of student loans.

Less than two weeks ago, Bruce Braley voted AGAINST a bill on the House floor that would have extended a lower rate for Iowa students’ loans. Bruce Braley might be able to fool a jury, but he can’t fool Iowans.

SHOT: @TeamBraley – Help @BruceBraley’s effort to keep college affordable by adding your name here…. #DontDoubleMyRate #IAProblemSolver

CHASER: Bruce Braley Voted Against A Bill To Extend A Lower Rate For Student Loans. “Passage of the bill that would tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate. Interest rates on all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) issued on or after July 1, 2013 would be set each year at the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent. Rates for graduate and parent PLUS loans would be set at the 10-year note plus 4.5 percent. Overall interest rates would be capped at 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.” (H.R. 1911, CQ Vote #183: Passed 221-198: R 217-8; D 4-190, 5/23/13, Braley Voted Nay)

If Bruce Braley was actually worried about student loan rates, why did he oppose a bill to prevent the rates from doubling for Iowa students in less than a month?  Why is he hiding from his vote?

“Preventing student loan rates from crushing Iowa students who are already struggling should be an issue of bipartisan agreement in Washington, but Bruce Braley would rather politicize the issue than actually help the struggling middle class.  Braley’s misleading trial lawyer speak is just the latest example of his slick attempt to fool the jury – Iowa voters.  Iowans are too smart for that.”said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen.

 

The second example of this behavior—also from the aforementioned Jennifer Jacobs—came just yesterday via a story on a “snarky” website just launched by the Iowa Democratic Party.  The website makes a pretty juvenile attempt at poking fun of newly declared Republican candidate David Young.  You can check it out here if you wish (http://welcometoia.com/), but I’m not going to give it any more play.  The point here is the story published by the Register gave this Democratic effort everything it wanted—publicity and exposure.

What’s Not News?

A further slap in the face to Republican candidate David Young was the paper not even covering his official campaign announcement last Saturday at a restaurant in Van Meter—this is inconceivable.  So to recap here—the Register can’t find the time or personnel to cover the announcement of a serious Republican candidate for the United States Senate…but they have the time and space to promote a Democrat website created to mock him.  It’s just ridiculous.

This is merely a continuation of blatant bias—my all-time favorite was the Republican presidential endorsement debacle from 2008, which if you haven’t seen you need to click the link.  The Register’s economic struggles of late have been well documented.  Though I concede much of this is due to the struggle of integrating a web-based model, it’s hard not to assume a portion of the problem is their distinct and continuing partisan slant.

What kind of business model rejects and insults the sensibilities of what amounts to nearly half of their potential customer base?  Answer: A struggling one that will continue to be further marginalized unless they change course and offer some balance.

 

Matt Whitaker Officially Running for U.S. Senate

Matt Whitaker Officially Running for U.S. Senate

Whitaker podium cropTwo days after Chuck Grassley’s chief-of-staff David Young filed his paperwork, Ankeny native Matt Whitaker has officially joined the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

With around 50 supporters and media members in attendance at Accumold—an Ankeny plastics manufacturer—Whitaker took to the podium to spell out why he is campaigning to replace Democrat Tom Harkin as one of Iowa’s two voices in the Senate.

The speech

After introducing his wife Marci, he spoke of his days growing up in Ankeny and playing football at The University of Iowa—then he turned to the concerning direction he views our country heading in.  When looking at the current happenings in Washington D.C. he sees a “government that is stealing from our future”.  He then made the point personal by adding, “I’m not sure I can look my kids in the eye and honestly say there will be better days.  We have promised our children that they will have the American Dream, but the only thing we seem to be handing them now is $50,000 in debt for every man, woman, and child.”

Whitaker described his vision of the American spirit as, “having the conviction to take advantage of the opportunities this great country offers and to pass it on to the next generation”.  He wasted no time in linking the man who would be his opponent should he win the primary—Rep. Bruce Braley—to President Obama, “There is no doubt in my mind that Bruce Braley and Barack Obama will not make America strong”.  He went on to say his candidacy will be an effort to counter-act this reality and ended by stating, “I’m going to take a stand to take our country back—and that stand starts today.”

The highlight of the speech was the following excerpt:

“Bruce Braley and Barack Obama are making our country weak and they are taking away our future—not on my watch.  They want a Senate that thinks entitlements are better than liberty, they think subsidies are better than opportunity, they think it’s OK for the government to require you to buy a product from a private business, and even worse they don’t even read the bills they pass.  Washington needs every person that goes there to have the stomach to face the problems, the brains to understand them, and the heart to rally Iowans to solve these significant problems.”

The issues

Following the speech Whitaker took questions from a gaggle of reporters.  For some reason many of the questions were trivial and odd in nature, however, there were two significant exchanges and they went as follows:

Question:  Where would you want to cut Federal spending?

Answer:  “I think you need to look at the whole Federal budget.  I think right now the first place I’d look would be foreign aid—I think we are sending too much money to people who don’t like us.  I think we also need to look at our support of the U.N. and how much we’re giving when they keep passing resolutions not friendly to the United States”.

Question:  What’s your take on the immigration reform law going through Congress right now?

Answer:  “I don’t support amnesty.  As a former prosecutor I enforced immigration laws and I understand they’re broken.  I’ve been to the borders in Canada and Mexico and I see the significant challenges we face.  With the current bill, again, I don’t support amnesty or a path to citizenship, but I do think we need to fix the problem and secure the border”

Going Forward

The next phase in the primary process for all Iowa Republicans to watch is who else will join the field—as there is very little chance that this will be a two-way contest between David Young and Matt Whitaker.  In the next few weeks the slate of candidates will become much clearer.  The following four Republicans are mulling it over and all have publicly expressed interest in the primary:  State Senator Joni Ernst (who has said she will make her decision known soon), former gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts, businessman Mark Jacobs, and former state central committee member Drew Ivers.

 

Local Economic Development Through Youth Entrepreneurship

Local Economic Development Through Youth Entrepreneurship

business start-upWell, another class of high school graduates are killing time until they begin their college experience. In four, five, or six years, many of them will graduate from college, and move to Dallas County so they can work as temps at Wells Fargo.

Meanwhile, town squares across Iowa are emptying out. I’ve spent some time exploring small towns in rural Iowa, and there are common threads that threaten to further damage the prospects of the young, and may even threaten the existence of many towns across the state.

And so it goes; young people leave to try and buy jobs that don’t matter (and often don’t exist in large numbers), buildings stand unused, and eventually the towns just collapse into stagnant malaise.

What Muscatine Has To Say

Muscatine is a unique town; the downtown fell into disuse as businesses moved to the ring road, but Muscatine kept some relatively large manufacturing and agribusiness installations, as well as banking and insurance industries. This meant that there was cheap, unused store space downtown, and a population with enough disposable income to support a restaurant culture which is unique in my experience.

Italian, Mexican, and Korean (called the Yakky Shack, it was a personal favorite of mine) can be on the menu for any given meal. Avenue Subs, just around the block from my former law office, is truly unique. Their sandwiches cost more than the chain sandwich restaurants, but the place was always busy at lunch time.

If you can re-create their menu reasonably well, you could open up in any mid-sized Iowa town and I’d bet you would do very well – if you can keep start-up costs down.

What Can Communities Do?

I am often accused of “having no answers,” and “being negative and critical,” and “being mean.” Well, I am an intensely unpleasant person in many ways, pessimism is the lubricant of victory, and I don’t believe in the government’s ability to solve social or economic problems – which translates into “having no answers” when you live in a society enamored by Statism.

In towns and counties across the state there are established businesses, and many of them have working relationships with chambers of commerce or local economic development corporations.

Some of these business interests and organizations have either direct control of vacant retail space or contacts with property owners with retail, warehouse or light-industrial space to offer but with no available takers.

So, how about a community-level angel investor network? Why don’t we put young entrepreneurs together with established business owners or property owners to help them raise start-up capital – cash, space, or equipment – for their own small businesses.

What businesses? That’s the beauty of it – I don’t know. I think the sandwich shop idea would work well in any town of about 5,000 + people, especially if you can get space within walking distance of the largest employer in town, the school, or the college.

Maybe internet commerce, custom clothing, fresh foods, computer game design, who knows.

But, College is Important for Jobs Skills…..

No, it is not. The idea that your young go-getter will be more entrepreneurial after spending half a decade with tenured academics is laughable. If you need to learn accounting, take accounting at community college part-time for a fraction of the cost.

Why can’t Iowa become the youth start-up capital of the country? Why must we continue to shuffle the young and the (presumably) ambitious into expensive colleges only to graduate with the pressure of debt and depleted financial resources pushing them towards the work-a-day life that could disappear in the next round of layoffs?

I’m Just a Lawyer, but…

Now, I am perfectly willing to admit that I am not the exemplar of my own advice – think of me as the desert hermit the protagonist seeks out for guidance. That is probably why I was attracted to the law, and most of  my legal career has involved debtor-creditor law, so I know how debt can screw up a life or a business venture.

This is how the Chamber of Commerce can help. They can assemble angel investors with cash, equipment, or space available. They can arrange discounts for accounting and legal services for things like taxation and payroll. They can send experienced businesspeople into the schools to speak on business creation, promote self-employment, and whatever else they can think of to encourage young Iowans to consider independent livelihoods without the need for debt financing.

If you fail, then start over with a different idea. If you succeed, then you owe me lunch.

 

Republican Senatorial Committee Begins New Ad Campaign (Watch Video)

Republican Senatorial Committee Begins New Ad Campaign (Watch Video)

NRSC 2The Washington D.C. based organization tasked with electing Republicans to the United States Senate–the National Republican Senatorial Committee–is taking a new and proactive approach in achieving their mission this cycle.  Part of this strategy has included reaching out early to various political writers and thinkers in Senatorial battleground states–and you guessed it we qualify–to form relationships based on our shared cause.

Another element of this strategy is being visible early and often with what has become a hallmark of modern political messaging–the web ad.  Below is an exclusive first look at what I’m being told will be a continuing series of web ads making the case for Republican principles.  It is very well put together and offers some insight into what kinds of narratives we will see from Republicans not only here in Iowa next year–but in all the battleground states in 2014.

The young Republicans you will see do not appear by chance.  The Party has an incredible wealth of young talented leaders at the moment and these are the folks who are presently both framing the debate and effectively communicating the Conservative ideology nationwide.  Undoubtedly this younger generation will exclusively be responsible for the Republican brand over the next 15-20 years–and the RNSC is smart to start highlighting them early.

Schultz To Run Again For S.O.S–Not U.S. Senate

Schultz To Run Again For S.O.S–Not U.S. Senate

Matt Schultz flagThe potential field of candidates for Iowa’s open U.S Senate seat has further narrowed as current Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has bowed out.

Tuesday he took to twitter to make the announcement and also sent an exclusive statement to The Iowa Republican.com–who have made a habit lately of further diminishing the Des Moines Register by breaking stories.  The statement reads as follows:

Over the past few weeks I have been truly humbled by the encouragement I have received from Iowans to run for the U.S. Senate.

After many conversations with my family and friends about the U.S. Senate race, I keep coming back to the fact that I love serving Iowans as their Secretary of State.

In my first two years as Secretary of State we have worked to increase voter participation with our “Honor a Veteran” program and our partnership with Rock the Vote to encourage young people to vote through Rock Iowa. We have made it easier to start a business in Iowa by streamlining the filing process, and we used technology to make voting easier by creating apps that allow voters to find their polling place and track their absentee ballots right from their cell phones. We have also created an electronic poll book, “Express Voter”, to make voting easier on Election Day.

While I am proud of our achievements, there is more to accomplish. I will continue working to improve the business climate in Iowa and fighting for integrity in our elections. This is why I am going to run for re-election as Iowa’s Secretary of State.

Schultz would certainly have been a serious candidate and his decision to sit this out surprised many.  He flew out to Washington D.C a few weeks ago for meetings, and I highly doubt they told him anything overly negative.  The notion that Bruce Braley is an overwhelming favorite in the general is flat-out an illusion–he can be beat and I’m confident Schultz heard this in D.C.

As his statement suggests, a major factor was you get the sense he truly does–for now– love being Secretary of State.  Having said that, I can’t help but think if the calendar had been kinder and he wouldn’t of had to give up his current job to put his name on a ballot–he would have done so.

Republicans will see Schultz plenty in the future, and the last hidden factor to consider is this–we have another Senate seat in the state; right now it’s held by someone as old as the Republic, and that election falls in a S.O.S off-year.  Additionally the next few years can be served raising his profile when he wants to, speaking at Republican events, and building a wide donor base.  I bet all this added up to “Schultz for Senate 2016” having a better sounding ring to it.

Ed. Reform Bill: A Failure of Policy & Politics

Ed. Reform Bill: A Failure of Policy & Politics

Iowa HouseSoon after the final votes of the Iowa legislative session were taken late last week, many legislators from both Parties took to multiple media platforms trumpeting the “historic” and “sweeping” positive reforms they had just passed.  I would love to fully concur—and if I happened to be a Democrat I certainly would—but as a Conservative Republican I am less than impressed with some of these “achievements”.

Of the three major compromises reached I believe, at the most, Conservatives should be “somewhat satisfied” by the understandable terms reached on tax reform and health insurance coverage.  However, I am deeply disappointed by what has passed as “reform” in Iowa’s K-12 education system.  The following will focus on education reform and later in the week we will deal with the tax and health insurance issues.

Making Appropriate Distinctions

In general I believe House and Senate Republicans grossly misread and under-valued the strength of their hand—particularly in dealing with education reform.  In all fairness, the tax reform and health insurance issues had different dynamics surrounding them and this criticism applies less in these areas.

The reason for the differing standard in my mind on the tax and health insurance issues was that in these two areas inaction would have resulted in direct negative consequences for Iowans—higher taxes and un-insured citizens.  However, when it came specifically to public education reform the status-quo would not have concretely damaged anyone—a point made more painful by the likelihood the reforms that were passed will have no positive impact.

Just to be clear, I am making a key distinction between the public education reforms and the home schooling reforms contained in the bill.  I strongly support any action that makes it easier for homeschoolers to operate and expand—and I do not necessarily begrudge them for supporting this reform as a means to achieve it.  The real tragedy here is the sad construct in which this group has to “buy” these reforms by supporting increased money for an ever-expanding and shamefully ineffective education leviathan.  The truth is the vast majority of home schooling families pay taxes to support a system which they often-wisely opt out of—and then ironically proceed to outperform while simultaneously funding.

Public Education Reform

The best way to go about exposing this bill as the completely ineffective piece of legislation I believe it to be is by asking 6 simple questions.  Since we as taxpayers will be spending an additional $160 million dollars a year, answering these questions shouldn’t be too much to ask—unfortunately I have a strong suspicion that even those who voted for it can’t provide many answers.

1.  How and when will we know this reform has worked?

By this I mean what specific metric or metrics can be looked at to prove this reform has or hasn’t worked?  Additionally what date on the calendar will we be able to make this assessment?  At a minimum Republicans should of asked these questions and demanded the answers be written into the bill. Surely this isn’t too much to ask for.

2. Why didn’t the 35.4% increase in K-12 education spending (an additional $650 million) that we have had since 2002 produce any positive results?

A seemingly common-sense question to ask I would say.  It would be one thing if this reform came on the heels of us having starved the system of money for decades—but this simply isn’t the case.  What specifically did this massive increase (including 4% allowable growth every year under Gov. Culver) in spending since 2002 go to?  Was it supposed to raise test scores?—I hope not because if so it clearly didn’t.

3. Are we to honestly believe that every member of the Iowa House (91-0) and 80% of the Iowa Senate (40-10) looked at this legislation and all independently concluded it would deliver fantastic results?  And further that these results would justify spending an additional $160 million a year?

I fully understand the concept of compromising, and that doing so will deliver a more bi-partisan roll call—but let’s be serious here.  Anytime Ako Abdul-Samad and Tom Shaw are voting together on a major reform that spends hundreds of millions of dollars and affects every child in Iowa we have to be skeptical.  Unless I’m missing something I see only two possible reasons for this—and neither are good.  One is that many out of town members just wanted to go home (which I doubt), and two is that so many random offerings were made by both sides it was just palpable enough for each caucus to vote for (which I believe).  If so, this approach will never result in a meaningful, affordable, and wise solution.

4. Why does it continue to be acceptable not to evaluate teachers, at least in part, by the actual results they achieve in a classroom over the course of a school year?  And what kind of people refuse to stop the practice of passing 3rd graders on to the next grade when they can’t even read?  And whose interest are they honestly serving in doing so?

The answers in order are: the teachers union, disgraceful ones, and their own.  This is where true education reform lies and the fact Republicans can only get a “study council” on teacher evaluation is absurd—too mad to expound on any further.

5. How were teachers able to have such high-performance in the late 1980’s and mid-90’s and not in the 2000’s and beyond?

In the early 90’s Iowa led the nation in reading and math scores—but those days are long gone.  Today we face disturbing realities like this one—only 3 other states in the nation (2 of which are in the Deep South) have less 8th graders enrolled in some form of advanced math by grade 8.  Furthermore, the performance of minority students in math at this level is alarmingly low and trials other students by up to 30%.

During this debate we have heard a lot about starting teacher pay in Iowa.  While this is an important number, lost in shuffle is the fact that the average teacher salary in Iowa has increased from $36,480 in 2001 to $49,622 in 2010.  The teachers union will say this steep increase was due to the fact Iowa teachers were among the lowest paid in the late 90’s-early 2000’s and this in part is true.  But then I ask: if they were among the lowest paid and salary equates to performance—how could they possibly have had Iowa kids achieving at such a high level?  Also, the fact remains they saw a large increase in pay and responded with flat-lining and worsening performance.  By the way, if the teacher’s union is ready to start blaming the kids or their parents for worsening test scores I’m ready to listen.

6. Why does “reform” always mean spending more money?  Why can’t it ever be spending the same amount of money but in a smarter way—or even (gasp) spending less?

Maybe someday we will try it…I bet it would be just as effective if not more so.

Final Thoughts

Though controlling only the Senate and not having the House or the Governor’s office—Democrats got well over half of what they were after with this bill and have to be privately ecstatic.  They managed to get additional money both for 1st year and veteran teachers, 4% allowable growth this year and next, and have again avoided being evaluated on their actual results.  Republicans should and could have done much better—and if they couldn’t they should have done nothing.

And the final insult—I can’t be the only one who sees the irony that we apparently have to create “career pathways” with increased pay for our not-so-good teachers to be taught by other teachers how to teach better…and this is after the not-so-good teacher already graduated from a college that apparently did a not-so-good job teaching them how to teach in the first place.  A sign of the times I guess…

 

 

 

 

What Are Iowa Republicans Looking For In A Senate Candidate?

What Are Iowa Republicans Looking For In A Senate Candidate?

mystery candidateThere is one certainty about the pool of voters who will decide the impending Republican Senate Primary–they won’t necessarily be the “average” Iowan.  Some of the folks who show up to the polls on June 3rd, 2014 will surely be disaffected Independents (and some meddling Democrats), but the bulk of voters will be fairly hardcore Republicans and single issue activists.  This group will have a specific set of traits they are looking for in a candidate, so the question is what are they?

The focus here today will not be on issues, policy prescriptions, and deeply-held core beliefs–we will get into that down the road–but rather on the more admittedly surface level of broad characteristics.  I believe that the candidate who emerges will be a young, bold, energetic conservative.  Yes it’s true that most of the potential field happens to possess these qualities, but I don’t think this is a coincidence–here is why.

Iowa 2012

One of the best ways to gauge the mood of the current Republican electorate in Iowa is to look at who they gravitated towards in 2012.  Doing so quickly reveals that what has transpired in Iowa Republican politics closely mirrors what the Party has done nationally.  There is no doubt that youth and energy have become the calling card for the current Republican leadership at the Federal level, and you really don’t have to look any further than Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Justin Amash and Paul Ryan.  Though they don’t agree with them on anything, Democrats should be jealous of this list–and trust me they are.

This phenomenon of electing youthful outspoken leadership has certainly made its way into Iowa with the likes of Republicans Jack Whitver, Jake Chapman, Amy Sinclair, Bill Dix, Mark Chelmgren, Chris Hagenow, Jake Highfill, Meagan Hess and several others.  To show the Democrat antithesis of this check out just this small list of Democrat legi-saurs roaming around the Iowa Statehouse.

Though not a statewide race, the proof this tendency extends to the Congressional level is found in Republican Ben Lange’s CD 1 bids in both 2010 and 2012.  The 2010 results are especially ripe for comparison to 2014 as it was an off-year election versus Bruce Braley with the challenger Lange being a mere 31 years old.  Far from getting blown out of the water he came only 4,209 votes short of the upset–with 32,244 more registered Democrats in the district and a libertarian candidate pulling 4,087 votes.  Also worth noting is that, though it was a Republican wave year, Braley couldn’t even pull 50% of the vote as the “progressive” incumbent in an ultra-liberal district.

Iowa 2014

I think this makes a pretty good case regarding the general mood of the Republican electorate in Iowa, and makes it reasonable to predict our eventual Senate nominee will be a young fresh face.  Part of this trend is no doubt a logical and natural reaction to decades and decades of electing the “grey”, “wise”, and “experienced” political veteran–only to have them make a further mess of government.  No offense of course to any grey, wise, experienced Republicans.

On the national level it’s more than a bit ironic that the Liberal baby boomers in the Senate and House–whose foray into political engagement began by protesting everyone over 40 in late 1960’s–now find themselves holding power, but having grown stale…trying to fend off young, bold, and energetic Conservatives.

It’s good spot to be in–and I’m glad Republicans are there.  Whether this continues in the primary or not predicting the candidate based on this trend is an interesting exercise…now lets see what happens.

 

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