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Candidate Forum: Iowa House District 43

Candidate Forum: Iowa House District 43

Chris Hagenow, Susan Judkins, Iowa House District 43 ForumOn October 24, I had the opportunity to sit in on my district’s House Candidate Forum held at the Windsor Heights Community Center.  The event was well attended and the audience was very cordial and appreciative of the candidates.  Chris Hagenow (website), a Republican lawyer who currently represents the district, and Susan Judkins (website), a Democrat who currently works as a Community Development Specialist for MSA Professional Services.

Both candidates were very gracious to each other, and seemed well informed on issues that were important to those in the audience.  The format of the evening was to simply give each candidate 2 minutes to respond to questions provided by the audience.

The candidates were given an opportunity to provide opening comments.  Both provided background and expressed an interest in working with members of the House on both sides of the aisle.  Susan was a Republican until 2003, and considers herself a fiscal conservative.  Chris shared his satisfaction over this past session’s success in providing a balanced budget.

I won’t cover the whole session blow-by-blow, but note a few key thoughts.

Both candidates tended to provide answers that were similar in nature around priorities and needs in the state.  It was clear that they both understood what is on the minds of the voters in District 43.  The cordiality was both pleasant after watching the presidential debates, and a bit discouraging as finding real differences was a challenge.  Chris and Susan both were quick to say clearly that they agreed with each other on many topics.  They both see the Economy, Education and Property Tax Reform as key areas to work with members of both parties for success.  Small Business growth is clearly a focus of success in both candidates’ minds.

One of the best ways to see their differences can be found in how they each want to deal with Property Tax Reform.  Chris wants to roll back rates.  Susan wants to maintain the rates but provide an income tax credit up to a certain value.  As a result, the spending at the local level continues as before, but now being subsidized by the State.  If local taxes are too high, then Susan’s solution just pushes the problem up a level of government, but doesn’t really solve the problem, especially if it is felt everywhere in Iowa.  (I personally disagree with the State stepping in and telling local communities how much tax they can collect, and more-so having the state subsidize the local community.  The local leaders should be directly accountable to their taxpayers, period.).  I’m impressed that Susan is considering an idea to try to compromise on this issue.

Another example, also related to taxes, is when asked about the Gas Tax, Susan also expressed an interest in raising it, and Chris said “No”.

When asked about funding for libraries, the self-proclaimed fiscal conservative expressed an interest in using the existing surplus in the State Treasury to provide additional money for libraries.  This is a type of comment to watch for.  We’re talking about funding something that is slowly becoming less and less important to society, and will likely never recover because everything is going digital.  Yes, even in the digital age we are seeing ways to continue using the community lending model, which I applaud, but I don’t see the need for state funding to subsidize libraries any longer.  If a community wants to provide this service, they can raise the money locally.  The surplus (this is money beyond the Rainy-day Fund) needs to be returned to the tax payers, not be thrown at non-existent problems.

Unfortunately, this thinking exists across both parties.  Just because the revenue has been gathered doesn’t make it the property of the State leaders to squander frivolously.  It belongs to the people, and should be returned to the people as soon as possible.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On this same evening, I happened to run into Desmond Adams (along with Michael Libbie, whom I’ve known for a couple of years now) for the first time.  Desmond is on the ballot in my district for the Senate seat that was held by Pat Ward, but for which a special election is now planned due to Pat’s death.  I’ve heard this from others, but meeting Desmond convinced me that he will be a formidable candidate and would have made Pat’s campaign a challenge if she had not passed.  Desmond gave me his door-knocking speech, and we had a brief discussion about fiscal matters of the State.  He, similarly to Susan, would like to see the State’s surplus put to some use, but he definitely comes across as a moderate Democrat with a desire to see the State address opportunities for efficiency while meeting the needs of individuals.  I’m very impressed with his demeanor and some of his ideas, which brings me back to the fact he is a compelling candidate.  This will be a short campaign (Republicans select their candidate this Thursday evening, and the election is on December 11).  Whomever is selected to run against Desmond will need to be ready to make an equally compelling case.  This may be a more heavily Republican district, but I expect Desmond will make this a hard battle.

Final Race In Our Series Of 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 26

Final Race In Our Series Of 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 26

The Candidates

Merlin Bartz (R)  vs. Mary Jo Wilhelm (D)

Two sitting senators square off here.  Sen. Merlin Bartz is in his second stint in the Iowa Legislature.  He served one term in the Iowa House, moved up to the Iowa Senate, resigned after 8 years to join the Department of Agriculture, and finally got elected back to the senate in 2008.

Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm formerly served on the Howard County Board of Supervisors, started her own residential appraisal business, and was first elected to the Senate in 2008.

The District

Our final race takes us to Northern Iowa’s Senate District 26, where five whole counties (Worth, Chickasaw, Floyd, Mitchell, and Howard), as well as parts of Winneshiek and Cerro Gordo, make up the territory.  Not much of a built-in advantage for either candidate here as the November numbers for voter registrations are: (D-12,741) (R-12,094) (NP-17,808) (D+647).

The Race

This is without question one of the top 3 high profile legislative races in the state.  Beyond being an incumbent vs. incumbent match-up, there is a lot of committee assignments and seniority on the line for each Party.  Bartz serves on the Appropriations, Local Government, Rules and Administration, and Ways and Means committees.  Meanwhile Wilhelm serves on the Commerce, Economic Growth, Education, Human Resources, and Local Government committees.

With the following factors in play: two incumbents, a swing district, and political control of the state likely in the balance, you would expect big money to follow—and sure enough that’s exactly what we have here.  Bartz raised $150,000 on his own, while the GOP chipped in $35,000.  This pales in comparison though to Sen. Wilhelm who raised $105,000 on her own but had the Democrat Senate Majority fund throw in a mind- boggling $224,000 on her behalf.

These totals make this legislative contest the one with the highest cumulative dollars spent in Iowa this year ($514,000), and the near quarter million dollar donation from the Democrat Party made Wilhelm the second biggest recipient of help from their Party of all the legislative candidates (trailing only the $237,000 Democrats gave Nate Willems in SD 48).

Disregarding for a moment the balance of power and looking at only these two candidates, I think both sides may even agree that Bartz would be a bigger loss to Republicans than Wilhelm would be to the Democrats.  I do not know how specifically Wilhelm is involved on her side with policy and the moving parts of legislation, but I do know that Bartz has a world of both local and federal experience that Republicans often rely on.  Put simply, besides replacing him on the four committees he serves on, it’s doubtful Republicans will be able to fully replace his intellectual assets anytime soon—that is without taking it from another area.

Two quick thoughts–one for each side

If Bartz and the Republicans lose this seat by a few hundred votes or less, which is very possible, they may look back and blame a public dispute that Bartz entered into with his neighbors in Grafton over $1,100 dollars worth of fencing.  Click the link to read about this head-scratcher, but it’s safe to say this did not earn him any votes and it certainly cost him some.  Especially for a guy out raising $150,000 to keep his seat, it sure seems like paying the $1,100 on his own would have been worth it.

It’s safe to say that if Wilhelm and the Democrats are unable to pull out this race…somebody in strategic leadership will be in hot water.  The reason for this is that the spending strategy employed by Democrats has been to create a firewall by dumping huge money into a few races that they saw as unthinkable to lose, meanwhile the GOP has spread it’s money much more evenly.  Consider this, in just three senate races (48, 36, and 26) the Democrat Party chose to invest $595,000.  If on Tuesday they don’t win these races or they find themselves on the losing end of some other close races that they short-armed resources to, this strategy will shoulder a large portion of the blame.

Further Information

Merlin Bartz -

Mary Jo Wilhelm -


The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 30

The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 30

The Candidates

Jeff Danielson (D)  vs.  Matt Reisetter (R)

The incumbent Democrat Jeff Danielson is a veteran, a graduate of UNI, and a fire fighter in the community—so in short he is a perfect candidate on paper.  Matt Reisetter (rhymes with “Easter”) ran and almost won a House seat in 2006.  He is also a UNI graduate and for the last few years has worked for Bob Vander Plaats at The Family Leader, leaving the organization at the beginning of 2012 to start a consulting firm called SDG Solutions.

The District

Senate District 30 is an easy one to envision—basically think Cedar Falls and you pretty much have it.  This is another district where map day left a sitting Democrat with a registered voter hole to dig out of.  The most recent numbers here are: (R-13,452) (D-13,009) (NP-17,868) (R+443).

The Race

A re-count victory for Danielson a few years ago proved to Republicans that he was beatable.  If they want to be ensured of Senate control next session the best way to do so would be to finish the job this year—this seat is absolutely critical to both political parties.

Both these men are top-tier Iowa Legislative candidates.  Besides having the advantage of incumbency, like I mentioned earlier, Danielson has a near perfect resume on paper.  Reisetter is a rising star in the Iowa GOP, particularly in the more religious wings of the Party.  He has received some heat for his religious-based social views (enraging Liberals with this presentation to college students last month).  With so much of this district being involved with University of Northern Iowa students, faculty, and administrators, keeping the focus off of social issues is the best political play and largely Reisetter has realized this.

Due to the importance of this race the money has been flowing on both sides.  Danielson has hauled in an amazing $213,000, while receiving $28,000 in in-kind contributions.  Reisetter has raised an incumbent-like $141,000 which he padded with $49,000 in in-kind contributions.

In summary, Republicans couldn’t really have asked for a better candidate to take on Danielson.  Whether he is able to be successful or not may come down to how many UNI students are willing to head out and vote for President Obama.  Any way you slice it though this race will be close—and the leadership of each party will be watching with bated breath.

Further Information

Jeff Danielson—

Matt Reisetter—


The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 36

The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 36

The Candidates

Steve Sodders (D)  vs.  Jane Jech (R)

Steve Sodders is the incumbent senator here; he is a Deputy Sheriff in Marshall County and first was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008.  Jane Jech is currently a substitute teacher for the Marshalltown School District; she has 9 years of experience serving as a trustee for the Iowa Valley Community School Board.

The District

Senate District 36 is a couple of districts Northeast of Des Moines, and contains Marshall and Tama Counties and a bit of Black Hawk County.  Though Democrats need this seat badly the district on paper actually favors Republicans.  The voter registration numbers here are—(R-12,857) (D-12,736) (NP-16,488) (R+119).  Significant here is that over the last months Democrats have gone from being down almost a thousand to just a little over 100, this is clearly not a positive sign for Jech.

The Race

Much of the news in this district came in the Republican Primary where Jech surprised many by defeating the establishment’s choice of Larry McKibben, who is a former Senator.  This result was surprising for two reasons—first she has ran for the House twice before and lost and, second, not only did she defeat McKibben she crushed him by nearly 20 points.  This unconventional path that Jech took for the right to face Sodders is witnessed by her website noting that she has the endorsements of Sen. Grassley, Ben Lange, and Jerry Behn.

As for the contest against Sodders, you may have already seen the commercials in this race as both candidates are up on TV in the Des Moines media market.  Beyond being an incumbent, Sodders is also the Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate which would make this a great pick-up for Republicans.

Both Parties are spending big in this race, which proves that Democrats are taking Jech seriously even though she has lost two prior bids to join the Iowa House.  Sodders has raised $92,000 on his own and has received $137,000 in in-kind contributions largely from the Democrat Senate Majority Fund.  Jech had raised $62,000 and has had the GOP kick in $32,000.

Jech is clearly a Tea Party candidate, which as long as she is able to win is a great thing for Republicans.  The flip side of this is that if she is not able to prevail she will join the list of candidates self-identified as Tea Party or Libertarian that cost the Republican Party influence over our state in the next two years.  This list essentially includes Senate District 34, and quite possibly could include Jake Highfill in HD 39.  If these races cost Republicans seats, expect the battle raging between the factions inside the Republican Party to escalate in the coming months.

I am currently not taking sides in this battle, and I operate on the George Will maxim of supporting “the most Conservative candidate that can win”.  This cycle, the results for Jech in SD 36, Ryan Flood in SD 34, and Jake Highfill in HD 39 will go a long way in determining how conservative candidates in Iowa can be and still win.  I am certainly pulling for all of them—but if they are unable to deliver I will advocate in the future for candidates with a better chance of actually obtaining the seats that will allow Republicans to implement reform in Iowa.

Further Information

Steve Sodders— Senate.Iowa.Gov/Sodders/

Jane Jech—

In Latham vs. Boswell Congressional Race—The Candidate’s Voting Records Speak Volumes

In Latham vs. Boswell Congressional Race—The Candidate’s Voting Records Speak Volumes

Below is the full text of the “Letter to the Editor” I sent to several newspapers in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.  I believe it makes the case against re-electing Leonard Boswell in a concise fashion.  If there is anyone you know still on the fence in this race feel free to forward it to them.


For the last ten years I have been represented in the U.S House by Rep. Leonard Boswell.  During this time I have often disagreed with his positions, but never have I been more convinced that he has grown out of touch with the challenges facing my fellow Iowans, and our nation at large, than I am this year.

The number one piece of evidence proving this has been his approach to our country’s fiscal matters over the last few years.  The reason I am so disappointed in Leonard Boswell is because I did something that has seemingly gone way out of style these days, something even nearly unthinkable actually—I looked up his voting record.  More unbelievable perhaps is that I didn’t stop there; I had the nerve to continue doing my civic homework by looking up the record of his opponent Tom Latham as well.

Anyone choosing to do the same will find out that since 2009, the self-proclaimed fiscally conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat Leonard Boswell has cast yes votes on the following pieces of legislation:

• Economic Stimulus Bill—over $800 billion added to the national debt, more than a trillion dollars with interest included (passed the House 246-183 on Feb. 13, 2009).

• Obamacare—price tag of $900 billion over 10 years at passage, most recent CBO scoring nearly doubled this amount to $1.76 trillion (passed the House 219-212 on March 21, 2010).

• Raising the debt ceiling—passed the House 218-214 on December 16, 2009.

• Cap and Trade—according to the Obama administration itself, would have cost Americans up to $200 billion a year (passed the House 219-212 on June 26, 2009).

Meanwhile in the same span he voted against the following measures:

• Cut, Cap, and Balance—passed the House 234-190 on July 19th, 2011

• Debt ceiling bill – This is the John Boehner version that would have raised the debt ceiling in exchange for limits on discretionary spending (passed the House 218-210 on July 29, 2011).

• Reducing spending to F.Y 2008 levels—passed the House 256-165 on July 25, 2011.

Two things of note here are, 1) Tom Latham had the foresight and fiscal decency to vote against all the above bills that Leonard Boswell voted for, and 2) Though Mr. Boswell may have been a fiscally conservative Democrat at some point during his career in Washington—over the last three years he has shown zero concern for the massive debt that has crippled this economic recovery.  In fact, he remarkably couldn’t even bring himself to support spending at the level we did just four years ago.

Besides being pleasantly surprised at how rock-solid Tom Latham has been on Federal spending, the thing I took away most from researching these two candidates is how disingenuous it is for Leonard Boswell to claim the mantle of “Blue Dog Democrat”.

The reason this should matter to voters of all stripes on November 6th is it invites the following question:  How can we expect our political leaders to do what they say they will once elected, if they are not even who they claim to be while running for office?

Especially since 2009, only one man in this race has had his eyes on the future fiscal health of this country, and by extension the next generation who will inherit this future—and that man is Tom Latham.



The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Profile of SD 48

The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Profile of SD 48

The Candidates

Dan Zumbach (R)  vs.  Nate Willems (D)

Democrat Nate Willems has spent the last 3 ½ years in the Iowa House and is an attorney who graduated from the U of I law School and now specializes in worker’s rights cases.  Dan Zumbach is a farmer who has also served on the West Delaware School Board and is heavily involved in coaching youth sports and leading 4-H groups.

The District

Northeastern Iowa is home to Senate District 48, which consists of all of Delaware, most of Linn, and small portions of Jones and Buchanan Counties.  Republicans hold a slight advantage in registered voters, the numbers shake out like this—(R-12,949) (D-12,355) (NP-18,082) (R+594).

The Race

Like in most political races this one will come down to two things—the candidates and the money they have to spend.  In both areas there couldn’t be much more separation between the two camps.

Dealing first with the money, Willems raised an amazing $180,000 on his own.  A fairly high number is to be expected from a 3+ year member of the Iowa House, but still this is a lot of money.  On top of that the Democrat party tipped their hand that losing this race would be disastrous by throwing in an amazing $237,000.  Zumbach did very well for a first time candidate by raising $90,000 on his own, while the GOP chipped in $23,000.

It is worth noting that the numbers for both are slightly inflated because both gave big chunks of the money they raised back to the Parties who then spent it for the candidates, largely on advertising.  After these transactions are factored in the Democrats spent $97,000 of their own money on Willems, while Zumbach actually gave the GOP $2,000.  The bottom line is that Willems has well beyond a 2:1 money advantage which has allowed him to encompass all media platforms and go very heavy on mailers.

The other thing that jumps out is how very different these two men are.  Willems is the young up and coming Democrat/ lawyer while Zumbach is the community anchored, rugged farmer.  Much of the result here will come down to which type of voter comes out in larger numbers on Tuesday.  Though Willems has clearly proven he has support by being elected multiple times in this general area, both the House districts that make up this Senate District contain more Republicans than Democrats and this Senate District doesn’t resemble his old House District as much as one would expect.  On paper it would seem the obvious advantage would go to the “incumbent”, who also happens to hold a huge money advantage.

The reason I’m not willing to say this race necessarily goes to the winner on paper is that Willems, though a current House member, is running in a largely new district and for a different seat.  Though some of it is because the Democrat Party see Willems as a future big player, I have a feeling the huge amount of cash they injected in this race has something to do with Zumbach running strong and resonating with the voters in District 48.

I will be closely watching for this race as the returns come in Tuesday—if this seat goes Republican not only was this race a bad investment for Democrats…they are in for a bad night.

Further Information

Dan Zumbach –

Nate Willems –


Why The DM Register Shouldn’t Even Bother Endorsing A Republican This Year

Why The DM Register Shouldn’t Even Bother Endorsing A Republican This Year

While not big news that Iowa Republicans don’t wait with bated breath for the Des Moines Register to anoint a Republican candidate the cream of the presidential crop, in recent years their recommendations have barely risen above laughable fodder. Since we could all use some comic relief from this seemingly endless campaign season, let’s take a look back at the Register’s recent forays into Presidential advocacy. What follows are two main reasons, among many others, why they should stick to merely reporting on the political pulse of Iowa—instead of trying to alter it.

Reason #1 – A Sketchy, Schizophrenic History

While nearly all the data on editorial board endorsements show that they have a minuscule impact, if any at all, well over 70% of newspapers insist on letting readers in on their intense, well researched, and agenda free vetting. Though a nightmare for the hard journalism side of the paper, the hubris of editors and the short term buzz created by endorsements proves, cycle after cycle, too intoxicating to deny. Clearly I have no problem with public expressions of political opinion. If a newspaper wants to engage in it in spite of the fact it is counter-intuitive to their charter, then they have every right. However, one does have to wonder if it’s too much to expect for them to undertake the process with a minimal amount of intellectual honesty. Consider the following examples, all from the Des Moines Register’s editorial board since the year 2000.

• When contrasted against a Democrat, they have not deemed any Republican candidate fit for the White House in 40 years, including in the last three cycles—opting for Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008.

• Of the Republican primary field in 2000 they chose, believe it or not, George W. Bush. Beyond the massive irony, what’s interesting is that they chose Bush over fellow competitor John McCain, describing McCain as “having a tendency toward petulance when the cameras were off, and a lone-wolf style of action that has left him without the support of colleagues who should be his biggest admirers”. Never mind that eight years later he was chosen by the editorial board as the best choice amongst Republicans in 2008—though of course he ultimately fell short of recommending.

• In 2004 The Register had sized up John Edwards and concluded that he would make the finest president amongst the group, giving him the nod over all other Democrats running. Somehow over the next four years, he had regressed so far in his ability to lead the Country that when he came back in 2008 they couldn’t recommend him. Not only did they bump him from their top spot they slid him behind both Hillary Clinton and Obama, saying they “too seldom saw the ‘positive, optimistic’ campaign we found so appealing in 2004. His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.” Something tells me the editorial board doesn’t have quite the same problem with the “harsh anti-corporate rhetoric” being screamed by the Occupy Wall Street crowd today.

• Also in 2004, in what would prove to be perfect foreshadowing for their future love affair with Barack Obama, the paper, as mentioned above, endorsed John Edwards over the rest of the field. In doing so they wrote that after initially discounting Edwards because of his lack of experience, they changed their minds after hearing him eloquently speak about the needs of ordinary Americans—you can’t make this stuff up! Clearly their weakness/hunger for the fool proof combination of inspired speech giving and inexperience had not been quenched by the time 2008 rolled around. This leads us to the biggest piece of evidence that all the Register is accomplishing is insulting our intelligence…

Reason #2-  The 2008 Debacle

While the preceding examples were shady, The Register’s editorial board performance in 2008 showed beyond a reasonable doubt not only where their allegiance lay, but that the whole point of their endorsements are to further an agenda. They ended up of course endorsing Barack Obama in the general election, but it’s the way they got there that is so telling.

First, they chose Hillary over Obama on the Democrat side, while endorsing McCain over the rest of the field on the Republican side. I don’t doubt that the selection of McCain was largely due to him being the most moderate Republican in the field (though strangely he was a disturbing ‘petulant, lone-wolf actor’ eight years earlier), but he also would have been a “safe” choice at the time because he was polling in single digits and in 5th place. Picking a Republican that would not go on to win the nomination, like McCain appeared to be at the time, would have kept them out of the undesirable situation they eventually found themselves in—having to endorse their second Democratic pick over their first Republican choice (Obama over McCain).

Embarrassed and knowing they had to explain it away somehow, they managed to make themselves look even worse. They acknowledged the situation and explained their reasoning by claiming they had endorsed McCain because they felt he was a man of honor—but as the campaign wore on he became opportunistic and less dignified. What they cited as the biggest reason of why McCain was out for them was his selection of Sarah Palin. They did this, I kid you not, on the grounds of her inexperience! So to recap…The inexperience of a VP candidate turned them off enough that they instead chose to support, for the actual presidency, a man who had served less than four years in the Senate.

A great way to sum up the whole disingenuous circus is that while selecting McCain in the primary they said, “none can offer the tested leadership, in matters foreign and domestic, of Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain is most ready to lead America in a complex and dangerous world and to rebuild trust at home and abroad by inspiring confidence in his leadership.” Contrast that with this insight as to why Hilary Clinton was a wiser choice than Obama, “When Obama speaks before a crowd he can be more inspirational than Clinton. Yet, with his relative inexperience, it’s hard to feel as confident he could accomplish the daunting agenda that lies ahead.”…You have to give them credit there–that was some impressive foresight.


Former Des Moines Register opinion editor Richard Doak, who authored the 2004 Edwards endorsement, summed it up best in a later interview. Sharing his thoughts on the process he said, “The primary purpose of editorials are to stimulate discussion in the community… and it’s a vehicle through which the newspaper expresses its values.”

Trust me Richard, Iowa Republicans are plenty aware of the Des Moines Register’s “values”. Perhaps if they used any manner of consistency in the endorsement process, beyond of course the consistency of their Liberalism, maybe more Iowans would “value” the paper enough to start buying it again.



The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control:  Breakdown of SD 49

The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 49

((For a look at all the critical races–Click for TCR:Iowa’s complete Iowa Senate overview))

The Candidates

Andrew Naeve (R)  vs.  Rita Hart (D)

Andrew Naeve, who returned to Iowa after playing basketball at Cornell College, is already a political veteran at the age of 27—two years ago he ran for the former incarnation of this seat and only lost by 70 votes after a recount.  Rita Hart is a long-time educator and member of the Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission.

The District

Sitting on the Eastern-most edge of Iowa, Senate District 49 is composed of all of Clinton County and the Northern portion of Scott County.  Democrats hold the registered voter advantage by 3,721.  The breakdown is: (D-14,620) ( R-10,899) (NP-18,769).

The Race

This race pits two good candidates against each other for the right to represent the district for the next two years, after which this seat will go back on the ballot in 2014 for a full four year term.

In a recent commercial Hart is seen playing up her farming background, bi-partisanship (“good ideas come from both sides of the isle”), and auditing the state budget every year.  Meanwhile Naeve has been placing his focus on creating jobs through business expansion, tax relief for all Iowans, and improving education.

The money situation here is very telling.  Naeve has clearly proven beyond formidable by raising just under $94,000 on his own, and having the GOP kick in another $20,000.  As for Hart, she struggled to compete in this area and brought in only $48,000.  Fortunately for her however the Democrat Party stepped up big on her behalf.  Likely realizing that Naeve was a great campaigner with a real shot to make up the 2,891 registration advantage she had, the Senate Majority Fund intervened heavily by tossing in a whopping $187,000.

All things being equal, especially with the 2:1 money advantage, the Democrats probably like their chances here.  That being said, Naeve has proven he can move the needle by taking on a popular Democrat two years ago and falling just short–and mind you he was only 25 at the time.

It says a lot that the Democrat Party felt they had to spend nearly $200,000 in a race where they have a relatively sizable registration advantage.  My sense is that this one is going to be close on election night.

Further Info

Andrew Naeve —

Rita Hart –

Waechter’s Final Pre-Election Weigh In: No Matter How You Vote, the Economy Will Not Improve

Waechter’s Final Pre-Election Weigh In: No Matter How You Vote, the Economy Will Not Improve

I cast my ballot early. I didn’t vote third-party and therefore my vote isn’t being wasted. It also isn’t going to matter.

Since 1990, the United States has run aggregate trade deficits above $8 trillion. This is funny, because in 1990 the M2 metric of currency supply was only $3 trillion. There should be nothing but dust coming out of the ATM machines. We have purchased entire merchant-fleets full of foreign goods, and paid for it by quite literally printing money.

Foreign countries, being more blatant about their currency devaluation policies, have been willing to go along with this arrangement. The result is this dynamic: The US prints dollars to buy goods from China, and the Chinese central bank prints yuan to buy the dollars. We get cheap Chinese stuff, the Chinese central bank gets huge dollar reserves, and the Chinese people get jobs and lots of inflation.

As the years went by, this dynamic absolutely shattered the productive impetus in the American economy. There is no reason to manufacture anything, or engage in productive activity in general. There is also no reason to hire people to help you be productive.

You can see this dynamic in your own communities, with factories that are closed, the kids that can’t find jobs, and farmers – busy producing inflation-sensitive commodities on land, which can’t be outsourced – buying new trucks with cash. The illness in our economy is bad monetary policy.

In a normal economy, if there is demand for consumer goods, entrepreneurs have to take land, labor, and capital and combine them in a way that produces goods efficiently, and at a price the general public can afford to pay. The American economy has another option – we can simply print money and spend it on imports, which is much simpler, requires no investment of capital or any hiring, and is much cheaper.

The result was the largest consumption binge in history, and an economy dependent on investment bubbles – tech stocks, housing, government bonds. The Federal Reserve poured new money into the financial system. You could get a home equity loan to cover your credit card debt, rung up at retail outlets selling almost exclusively imported goods.

Since manufacturing was on the way out, the service sector was the place to be, and the best service sector jobs require college degrees, so the answer is to go to college. Both parties agreed; the answer wasn’t to address the problems with our monetary system, but to attend college. Every young person was told that college is critical.

Now, we have more people in their 20’s living with their parents, more college graduates than ever are working part time, if they can find jobs at all, and the only policy solutions coming out of our elected officials is to double down on college, fund green energy schemes ( I‘m talking about you, Chuck Grassley) and economic development kitsch projects at all levels, building economic Potemkin Villages designed to try and keep the consumption binge going.

Close down Maytag? No problem! Build a race track! Remember when Nancy Pelosi said that unemployment checks would stimulate the economy? People need to spend, spend, spend, because there is no work, work, work.

Without the inflationary monetary policy coming out of the Federal Reserve, the government could not run the enormous deficits, the trade deficit couldn’t have gotten this large (currency would have become scarce, and productivity more valuable), and the government would have to be honest about the absurd arithmetic surrounding our entitlement programs.

Therefore, neither party will countenance a serious challenge to our current monetary system. Even Paul Ryan’s budget plan – so maligned by the left – doesn’t eliminate the deficit nor tackles entitlements. Sound money might even threaten the defense budget, and is therefore terrorism.

So, Barack Obama champions stimulus programs to re-inflate consumption and crows about tariffs on Chinese tires; Mitt Romney labels China a currency manipulator for being willing to bite the inflation bullet themselves and hold our currency as a reserve.

Work in a factory keeps their people busy and gives them the illusion of progress – a bit like how college keeps young people in America busy and gives their parents the illusion that their children will “amount to something.“ Concerns that college diplomas are worthless and that the wages of the Chinese factory worker are shredded by inflation are secondary.

Offshoring is not the machination of evil capitalists; it is a phenomenon of monetary policy, plain and simple. Other countries are willing to hold our currency as a reserve, so we can buy imports with inflation. According to the Examiner, Jeep is next on deck to offshore.

So, services and technological expertise is the key to success in America, as long as another large, developing economy doesn’t devalue their currency and start holding dollars as a reserve.

Especially not one with a large, English-speaking population, and definitely not one with a past influenced by British rule. Why, if that happened, we could just print money and buy our services from that country, and you would run the risk of not fully understanding the technician’s accent the next time you have to call tech support, which is simply unimaginable.

I cast my vote. I ended up voting for the one that I figure is less likely to throw me into a gulag. I suppose this makes my vote “idealistic.”

Here we are. We have an economy that cannot produce wealth, based on consumption, with a government that we cannot finance and cannot change. We are consistently running trade deficits in excess of $40 billion per month but are told that we lack demand for stuff, almost 50 million people are dependent on food stamps, and an entire generation is shacked up at home, paying their student loans and otherwise too poor to participate in the consumption economy. Yet, there is no stomach for change.

When debating Walter Mondale in 1984, Ronald Reagan cited Cicero and remarked, “If not for the elders, correcting the mistakes of the young, there would be no State.”

What are the young supposed to do when their elders who run the government have lost their minds?

The post Waechter’s Final Pre-Election Weigh In: No Matter How You Vote, the Economy Will Not Improve appeared first on The Conservative Reader.

The Des Moines Register’s Endorsement of Romney: Why Republican Skepticism Is Largely Unfair

The Des Moines Register’s Endorsement of Romney: Why Republican Skepticism Is Largely Unfair

For those who haven’t paid attention to The Des Moines Register’s recent editorial board history, there is no question their endorsement of Mitt Romney is a big story.  This history includes a 40 year gap in backing a Republican for President, spanning all the cycles between Richard Nixon’s second run and Mitt Romney’s second bid for the oval office.

Over the next week much of what you hear from both the left and the right will be various forms of skepticism, questioned motives, and outright dismals—including claims this was payback for Obama disrespecting them last week.  Our readers clearly know we generally don’t have much love for The Register, and specifically we exposed the ridiculous intellectual dishonesty of their 2008 presidential endorsements.

Not only will this reversal-of-course make national headlines in the coming days, it will alienate their shrunken consumer base of hard-line Democrats.  This prompts the questions: Is it possible they have turned over a new leaf, or was this retribution and/or just a disingenuous ploy for attention?  Surprisingly, my sense is it’s likely the former and not the latter.

What To Make Of This?

Having noted their highly partisan past, I believe all the suspicion and skepticism surrounding this endorsement is largely unfair.  The Register deserves the benefit of the doubt for two reasons.

First, Republicans have yearned for a state paper that played things close to down the middle for years.  To finally see evidence this institution may be heading this direction and react by simply dismissing it out of hand is biased in and of itself.

Many will say this one action cannot undo years of daily left-slanted journalism, and they are correct, but realize as well that this endorsement is no small thing.  If Romney was up 7-10 points here in Iowa you could make the case they simply were backing a sure winner—the reality is that this is a very tight race and The Register’s abandoning of Obama could actually have a small impact, especially on those somehow still wavering voters.

The other reason Republicans shouldn’t cheapen this nod to Romney lay in the actual substance of the endorsement itself.

Before reading it I was expecting heavy equivocation ( ‘though we like Romney on X, we fear he doesn’t understand and will be damaging to Y and Z’ )—this however was largely not the case.

Though sure to say America needs to be even more hospitable to illegal aliens and that losing “progress” on gay and transgendered issues is unacceptable—the remaining balance of the endorsement did not spare Obama on his poor record and laid out a strong case for why Romney would succeed in fixing turning around the economy,

My View

The text reveals this was an “endorsement-endorsement” and not just lip service.  Nobody has been harder on The Des Moines Register in recent years than The Conservative Reader, but judgment must be cast on words and deeds not prior reputation.  In this case The Des Moines Register was willing to put the two candidates on a scale and report how they saw the resulting measurement.

Going forward, if and when The Register is willing to give Republicans a fair shake—than Republicans should be willing to return the favor.


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