((Click for TCR: Iowa’s complete overview of the races that will decide the Iowa Senate))
Tom Courtney (D)Â vs.Â Bradley Bourn (R)
Tom Courtney is the incumbent in the race and currently serves as the Senate Majority Whip and as the Democrat Chair of the Government Oversight Committee.Â Bradley Bourn retired from the military in 2009 after 24 years, and in that same year unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Burlington City Council.Â He has started a small business called Voil Fuel & Services, which produces biofuel from used cooking oil.
Senate District 44 sits in the Southeastern corner of Iowa and is composed of Des Moines and Louisa Counties, and the Western half of Muscatine County.Â The registered voter situation here is: (D-14,738) (R-10,220) (NP-12,526), which leaves a built in advantage of 4,518 potential Party voters for Senator Courtney.
Courtney, a former Burlington School Board member, was first elected to the Iowa Senate mid-term in 2000.Â He won re-election in 2002 before winning the seat again in 2004 and 2008.Â Throughout his tenure he has tried several times to raise Iowaâ€™s minimum wage, most recently trying to pass a bill that would have increased it from $7.25 to $10.00.
He has been in the news in the last two weeks for efforts to have Secretary of States Matt Schultz audited for using Help America Vote Act funds to purge Iowaâ€™s voter rolls of non-eligible voters.Â The success of this effort will likely not be known till after the election, and it will be interesting to see if the publicity this has earned him right before Novemberâ€™s vote will be an advantage or if it will be offset by motivating Republicans in this district to turn out.Â Based on his voter registration edge, I probably would have advised him not to play this card, as the risk seems to outweigh the reward.
Besides his military background, Bourn is running as a staunch fiscal and social conservative.Â Lowering state spending and taxes are his key issues, telling local media outlets that, â€œI worked hard all my life.Â I paid a lot of taxes in my lifetime.Â I know a lot of people, obviously, have and Iâ€™m tired of money just being thrown down the drain.â€Â Speaking on Iowa spending more money that it takes in each year he said, â€œThatâ€™s just unacceptable.Â Iâ€™m tired of having productive peopleâ€™s money being given to the unproductiveâ€.
Bourn is likely to hit Courtney on spending issues and his Government Oversight Committeeâ€™s failure to detect and stop the Iowa Film Officeâ€™s massive scandal from a few years ago.Â Though these lines of attack are effective, I have this seat in the end being won by Senator Courtney.Â The main reasons are that Courtney has been an outspoken and active member of the Democrat Caucus, the voters know what they have in him, and he has not been unseated in three previous cycles.Â On top of this he had five times more cash on hand than Broun as of July 19th.
What we have here is a classic Liberal vs. Conservative match-up.Â Knowing that Bourn is a highly credible challenger will likely cause Democrats in the district to head out to the polls, and I see Courtney scoring a victory largely as a result of his voter registration advantage.
Sen. Tom Courtney – Iowa Senate Page * Facebook Page
Bradley Bourn – Bourn4Senate.com
((TCR: Iowa’s Complete Overview of the Struggle for the Senate))
First, some chemistry; iodine turns black when exposed to starch. So, a lighter ink which contains iodine will turn black when it comes into contact with starch, which is included in the manufacturing process of standard copy paper. When the ink is used on paper that doesnâ€™t contain starch (such as most paper made with cotton fiber instead of wood pulp) the ink will maintain a sort of brownish-yellow color.
If you pay for gasoline with a fifty dollar bill, chances are the cashier will make a mark on it with a counterfeit detector pen. American currency, made of cotton fiber and not including starch, will leave the ink that lighter color. Counterfeit currency printed on regular paper will make the ink turn black.
Interestingly enough, counterfeit currency made with cotton fiber parchment paper, available at every stationary supply store in the country, will pass as genuine under the ink test. The Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting, doesnâ€™t include the detector pens in their list of recommendations for examining currency.
So, a counterfeit bill passes the test and is accepted by a cashier. Later, the bank where the money is deposited is able to detect that it is fake. The incident makes headlines, and every store in town attempts to take precautions – by buying counterfeit detector pens, which will give a passing grade to upscale resume stationary. A completely pointless test creates a new vulnerability and becomes utterly absurd.
It appears to me that just about everything sold as urgently necessary is, upon closer examination, completely pointless and utterly absurd.
Prairie Meadows Casino was billed as a way to revitalize the economy. It is owned by Polk County, and the revenue was supposed to fund education, roads, and economic development.
Much of the money is used to pay the interest on the tax-exempt bonds issued to build the Iowa Events Center – which, although a lovely facility, employs only a handful of people and isnâ€™t exactly the urban goldmine that developers always claim to have in their hip pocket.
I havenâ€™t been to a casino in years and donâ€™t intend to go back. Gambling used to be a risquÃ© vice; now it is nothing more than another way to feed the voracious wolves.
Speed cameras should go in this category as well because they donâ€˜t stop speeding nor do they protect the public. I was on the interstate in Cedar Rapids a while back, and everyone around me was driving above the speed limit. Upon approaching the sign indicating a traffic camera, they all slammed on the brakes very hard. After passing the camera, they sped up again.
Furthermore, I could drive down that stretch of highway drunk, while sending a text message, and using hallucinogenic drugs- but as long as I am not speeding, the camera is useless.
Government at all levels promises to build roads and develop your economy.Â What actually happens is that they tax you, fine you, and monitor you – and the roads are still terrible. Infrastructure projects have become the best Trojan Horse to sneak in a tax increase- actually go and take a look at the budget of your local government. How much of your tax money goes to bond interest for infrastructure projects?
Iowa Title Guaranty, a part of the Iowa Finance Authority, was created in 2001. You see, in Iowa, when you buy a house it is traditional to have a lawyer review a title abstract and write an opinion about it. In every other state, you just buy title insurance, and when the big investment banks started jamming mortgages together into mortgage-backed securities they got used to having a standardized title insurance policy along with their mortgages.
They simply didnâ€™t know how to deal with an attorneyâ€™s title opinion letter. Pity. It looked like Iowans might be denied the joy of subprime mortgages, and would have to make do with conforming loans.
But, not to worry! Here comes the state legislature with Iowa Title Guaranty, offering what the big investment banks were used to seeing. Oh, the joy of it; Iowans would have access after all to mortgages with bad terms, adjustable rates, and given without regard to lending standards. Being suckered into bad loans is practically a human right, after all. Title Guaranty – Completely pointless, and utterly absurd.
Even jobs can be completely pointless and utterly absurd. Anything involving the â€œgreen economyâ€ springs to mind. Being paid by the government to build solar panels that will never be installed, for instance. Sure, a few people earned a few paychecks before Solyndra folded, but they produced absolutely nothing of value for the economy as a whole.
The Federal Reserve was billed as a way to avoid economic crises and facilitate greater wealth. In the end, it facilitated the largest fiscal and trade deficits in human history. Since 1990, we have run aggregate trade deficits in excess of eight trillion dollars, which is interesting because back in 1990 the M2 supply was only three trillion dollars. Either we ran out of currency (three times) or we were paying for imports with inflation.
When the Byzantines wanted to buy Chinese silk, they had to sell glass and other wares, or else they would have run out of gold. (They ended up stealing silk worms and producing it themselves). We can buy foreign goods by doing nothing more complicated than printing money.
Politicians offer to solve this problem with government action – either stimulus spending or trade wars – but never with stable currency policy, making any of their efforts completely pointless and utterly absurd.
I believe that our future as a nation will come down to whether or not we can successfully identify the completely pointless and utterly absurd things swirling around in our government, our economy, our businesses, and our culture. This will involve a great deal of complaining, which fortunately is the only real talent I possess. Now, to find a way to earn tons of money while doing it.
(The following piece is a guest writer contribution from Chad Brown)
Iowaâ€™s Latino Heritage Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and has grown into the largest cultural event in our state.Â This is a family event that offers something for everyone.Â It is a time of celebration.Â I also feel it is time to engage in an honest conversation.Â I want to present my argument for why the Republican Party is the best Party to advance the best interests of Latinos in our city, state and country.
We are witnessing the progressive growth of Latino businesses in Iowa. They generate millions in sales every year and create thousands of jobs for Iowans.Â Latino businesses are among the fastest growingÂ Â segments of the small-business-community in our state.Â In a time of economic doldrums, we wish success on all business.
The health of the Latino business community depends on the risks taken by everyday people who want to take a chance and build something out of nothing.Â This is how business has always operated in the United States.Â This is the American Dream.Â Small business embodies the hope of this nation to build a better life for ourselves and our children.Â The Latino community has much to celebrate during the Latino Festival.
Republicans encourage the Latino community to continue their pursuit of the American Dream. We disagree with Obama that business owners donâ€™t build their businesses.Â We have countless examples in the family-owned small businesses that now face unprecedented government regulations. Republicans sympathize with the individuals who struggle day and night to make ends meet and keep their workers employed.Â We share the worries of the workers who are concerned they will find themselves unemployed due to a stagnant economy.
Republicans, like Myself, are optimists. We believe this century can be a time of incredible prosperity for every single person in our country who is willing to try â€“ if we create an environment where entrepreneurs, both in the Latino community and in all communities, can flourish.Â This growth in the Latino community can be sustained by low taxes and energized by new technologies.Â Prosperity for small business and workers can be reached if their businesses are unleashed through lighter regulation.Â We can expand our growth through free trade with our neighbors.Â We have an opportunity beyond all our expectations that is within our grasp.
The Latino community, along with all other communities, can reach unprecedented levels of success through allying the Republican Party. Every group owes itself the ability to flourish in the United States. The Republican Party has candidates who know how to encourage the growth of both large and small businesses.Â Together, we can accomplish goals beyond anyoneâ€™s wildest expectations.
The post Latino Heritage Festival: A Time of Celebration & Time to Consider Who Best Serves Latinos appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
After talking to a number of Des Moines based candidates in the last few weeks, we head out to Northeastern Iowa to touch base with the Republican candidate for Iowa House District 64, Jim Givant.
The republican side of the ledger in this district was pretty chaotic leading up to the filing deadline, as incumbent Republican Dan Rasmussen opted not to run at the last minute.Â Oelwein Republican Jim Givant stepped up to the plate andÂ set up a showdown with Democrat Oelwein City Council member Bruce Bearinger.Â After getting a late start, GivantÂ now hasÂ the campaign on schedule and already has sent 4,000 mailers and has signs and banners on the way.Â For further info on his campaign and positionsÂ head to his website at www.givantforiowa.com.
House District 64 is composed of the Southern half of Fayette County and all but the Southeast corner of Buchanan County, with the biggest population centers by far being the cities of Oelwein and Independence.Â Â HD 64 firmly qualifies as a swing district withÂ a Democrat registration advantage of 1,355, and 8,553 Non-PartyÂ registered voters.Â A win by Mr. Givant inÂ November would go a long way in strengthening theÂ Republican majority in the Iowa House.
#1.Â What is the feeling on the ground in your district concerning all the races on your ballot this November (presidential included), and give us a brief summary of how your campaign has been going so far?
It is going to be a tough race. Both Romney and Obama visited Iowa recently, both to large crowds of supporters. The current polls show Obama ahead by 2 percent but Iowa is listed as a tossup state.Â In my county/district local races will also be close.Â Republicans will need to get involved to turn this election around.
My campaign has had a slow start. I will be getting some signs out and building name recognition. I have a new website at www.givantforiowa.com . In the June primary I received 99.2 percent of the Republican vote which is a good sign. In my district there are a greater number of registered DemocratsÂ over Republicans.
#2.Â As you call on voters in your district, what are the two or three state-level issues that are concerning them the most?Â
A)Â Property Taxes – There have been many discussions about raising both business and personal property taxes.Â House speaker Kraig Paulsen stated, that with a 60-40 split in the house, we will need to pick up two seats in the senate to gain a majority to push though the tax reforms that are needed.
B)Â Education – I believe in honoring good teachers, providing them with a competitive salary and the tools they need to teach the students. To serve as an example for the rest. There is also much discussion of leaving the no child left behind mandates and putting more control of Iowa education at state and local levels.
C)Â Gas Taxes â€“ These need to be regulated, when gas prices go up all prices for goods and services go up accordingly. This is one of the major issues that affect our economy.
#3.Â Assuming you win in November and enter the Iowa House, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting and why?
A) Â DOMA – I believe in the bible that it states that marriage is between a man and a woman.
B)Â Â Â Agriculture issues â€“ Legislation to protect family farmers.
C)Â Education Reform â€“ As stated previously.
Dave Edwards is the Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 16, the vast majority of which covers Des Moines and then swings Southeast to include Pleasant Hill.
While there is no getting around the fact that this is a Democrat stronghold (they haveÂ double the number of registered voters), if any RepublicanÂ can win this district it is most certainly Dave Edwards.Â What makes this race one of the most fascinating in the state this year is that Mr. Edwards is a blue collar, union member who is bringing the fight to Democrats on their turf.Â He is challenging an incumbent who has already been in the Iowa Senate for 18 years (and was in the Iowa House before that), and few would argue that this particular district is better off than it was two decades ago.
Besides knowing these neighborhoodsÂ well, I have seen Mr. Edwards speak on multiple occasions and can tell you first hand that his style and message will resonate.Â He has displayed courage both by stepping up to run, and by being willing to talk about illegal immigration, which is such an obvious problem that most are scared to talk about.Â Republicans who live in or near this district need to return the favor, and can do so by visiting his website (click here), and getting involved to any extent possible.
As you will see below, his answers are extremely thoughtful, spot-on, and the case he is making to traditional Democrats is very convincing.Â The age-old notions of the Republican Party that persist in this part of Des MoinesÂ certainly present a challenge, but there is no reason that a message of less government, fewer taxes, and more liberty can’t take root in districts like SD 16.
Simply put, Dave Edwards is the right candidate at the right time to be this messenger.Â Should he win, the more “buttoned-up” folks at the State House (including Republicans) would be wise to listen to him…but for now lets just hope the voters in his district are truly listening to him.
1) Being a blue collar, union member Republican running in a heavily Democratic district makes you and your race one of the most unique in the state. Briefly tell us how your campaign is going, and if you are finding folks in your district receptive to the different political solutions you are offering? If so, which ones are resonating?
The campaign is going great. I have talked to literally thousands of people over the last year or so. In my job as a union laborer, I drive a truck all around the city during the day. I have the opportunity to interact with Republicans and Democrats alike. I have grown to understand that the issues we face, we face as Iowans, and not as Democrats or Republicans. The economic hardships that are facing the people of this state are affecting us all – not just one party or the other.
I am talking to all the voters in this district when we are door knocking. Naturally, when I knock on a democratâ€™s door, they are reluctant to talk to me when they find out Iâ€™m a republican. But as we talk, they begin to see that my message is not one of partisan politics. My goal is to be the voice of the working people of this state. I want to work to make Iowa a state where business can thrive and where our citizens can earn a living wage. The legislature shouldnâ€™t be burdening the people of this state with more regulations, and definitely shouldnâ€™t be adding any new taxes, when people canâ€™t pay their bills or feed their families. These are messages that are resonating with the residents of my district.
2) As you are out door knocking and talking to voters, what are the top few issues weighing on the minds of the people in your district? And what are they saying they want done about them?
People in my district are definitely concerned about the economy and their job security. They want to be able to go to work every day, and at the end of the week, have something to show for it. My top priority as a senator will be to alleviate the tax burden on the working people and the businesses of this state.
Iowa is one of the 10 lowest-ranked states in Tax Foundationâ€™s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The ranking is arrived at by looking at all the taxes levied in a state. Iowa is known for high corporate tax rates, high property taxes, high individual income tax rates and high unemployment insurance tax rates – all of which are taken into account in arriving at this poor ranking. That is a very sad state of affairs. The fact that we need to offer tax incentives to get businesses to come to this state speaks volumes about Iowaâ€™s tax climate. Letâ€™s get rid of the incentives and lower Iowaâ€™s total tax burden. If we improve the tax climate in Iowa, we create more jobs and people have more money to spend, thereby improving the quality of life for all Iowans.
Another issue on the minds of the people of my district is illegal immigration. They want the problem dealt with. I believe the existing immigration laws of this state and this nation should be enforced. The illegal workforce here is driving down wages, and placing an extraordinary burden on Iowaâ€™s social safety net . Recently, I have been sharing my belief that the illegal immigrant population in this state is being held in bondage. They are forced to take low-wage jobs with unscrupulous employers who donâ€™t care about the safety of their workers. Because of their low wages, they are forced to live in low-rent housing under sub-standard living conditions and because of their immigration status, they feel they do not have the freedom to report these conditions .This issue is pitting the working class citizens of this state against the immigrant population. But the real problem here is the governmentâ€™s failure to enforce its own laws.
3) Assuming you are victorious in November and get sworn into the Iowa Senate, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting, and why?
I have vowed to introduce a bill on day one of the session that will outlaw traffic enforcement cameras. We have got to put a stop to government intrusion into areas where it doesnâ€™t belong, starting with traffic cameras. These cameras are an infringement of privacy and violate due-process laws. The citizens of this state have shown overwhelmingly that they are against these cameras. The fact is, they donâ€™t improve safety. They are being used as a revenue source for municipalities.
Another vote I am looking forward to casting is one in favor of across-the-board property tax reform. This will be a good starting point towards making Iowa more attractive for business and giving our economy a much-needed jump-start.
Lastly, when the republicans gain control of the senate this fall, I really look forward to the opportunity to vote for a new senate majority leader to replace Michael Gronstal!