When the inevitable battleÂ with public-sector employees in Iowa begins to rage here in the next few months and every elected Democrat in the state marches in lock-step with union negotiators, the following will help you understand this phenomenon.
Not only does their ideology lend itself to supporting the concept of an organization/government “protecting”Â people from the free market–it turns out thatÂ this cast ofÂ Democrat legislators largely are the unions.
Iowa House Democratic Caucus by Occupation
Below is a look at the occupationsÂ of the 46 Democratic members of the Iowa House that will be in office the next two years.
Teachers/Principals former and current = 12
Attorneys = 7
Occupation Unclear = 4
Social Work = 2
1 Each of the Following— Realtor, Farmer, Pharmacist, Grants Coordinator, Funeral Home Business, Golf Course Owner, Banker, Accounting Clerk, Head of Non-Profit Organization, (12 more random single occupations not listed here).
Number who have direct/indirect past or current union backgrounds (mostly public-sector) = 21
By far the biggest takeaway here is that of the 42 who had a clear current or former occupation that could be found on their legislative page or campaign website, a whopping 21 of them had direct connections to unions–the vast majority of which were public-sector.Â That is a full 50% of the caucus and does not even include Bruce Hunter, a ranking member of the Labor Committee whose wife is the StateÂ Political Director of the AFL-CIO,Â or Anesa Kajtazovic who goes out of her way to mention in her bio that at a young age her father’s experiences in the workforce led her to be “reminded how important union representation can be.”
The second biggest trend is that 12 of the 42 members with clear employment histories are current or former teachers.Â This explains why year after year we have a fight in the legislature to increase spending on education by 4% for “allowable growth”–not to mention why firing a teacher is almost unheard of, why there is currently no substantive teacher evaluation, and why there needs to be a Republican pushÂ just to ensure that students aren’t passed out of the 3rd grade without being able to read at the proper level, a policy that would seem to be the epitome of common sense.Â What is not so easily explained is with such a large number of educators doubling as legislators and a majority of the state budget dedicated to it every year, how are the results embarrassingly insufficient in such a large number of districts.
Revealed aboveÂ isÂ the gross disproportion of representation that unions have in the General Assembly in comparison to the percentage of Iowa’s workforce that they account for.Â As of 2011 Iowa had nearly 1.4 million people in the workforce.Â Of this number only 155,000 were in unions (11.2%) and an additional 32,000 were effectively represented by union negotiations while not being listed members, thusÂ bringing the total number of employees directly or indirectly represented by unions to 187,000, or 13.5% of the workforce.Â Of note here is that the 1.4 million Iowa workers number actually excludes those self-employed so the percentages represented by unions are actually slightly smaller than those listed above.Â Even taking the larger percentages, while only 13.5% of Iowans are either in or governedÂ by unions, in the Iowa House’s Democratic caucus a full 50% have direct or past connections with unions.
Before the session gavels in I will also do a breakdown of the Republican Caucus by occupation in both Houses (unless one of the Liberal bloggers reading this wants to save me the leg work).Â It would be very interesting for comparison purposes and may further explain the massive partisan divide we see year after year–my guess is the top 3 for Republicans in some order are small business owners, lawyers, and farmers.
Later this week we will take a look at 3 specific cases that symbolize this dynamic of union/citizen representation in the House, and next week we will have a breakdown of the occupations of the Democrat Caucus in the Iowa Senate.Â This will be followed by a look at the proposals offered by both the unions and the governor and what is likely to unfold on this front next session.
The tax credit for wind energy is back on the agenda, and Iowaâ€™s own Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad are taking leadership roles in fighting for the extension, going so far as to appear together at a press conference about it.
Wind energy is my favorite target at the moment, because it combines socialist economics, corruption, aesthetic vandalism, junk science, and cynical political machinations – all melting together into a hideous soup of wasted money and ruined skylines.
After the last election, targeting two of Iowaâ€™s best known Republicans for criticism is perhaps a risky business, but for those who think I – with my dislike of leftists – shouldnâ€™t be doing it, I offer the following historical analogy:
In the days of the Roman legions, the centurions were legendary for their swift discipline. One centurion developed a habit of breaking his staff over the backs of soldiers who had acted disobediently. â€œGive me another,â€ he would say to his aide when it happened, and it happened so often that â€œgive me anotherâ€œ became his nickname . In this way, withering cruelty became not a malicious attempt to destroy, but deep concern for long-term wellbeing.
Well, give me another.
Political Venture Capital
Wind energy is an odious political scam. First of all, the industry cannot survive without government subsidy, namely, the tax credits. The wind industry makes profits not from the power grid, but from their tax returns.
It is also ridiculously expensive and underproductive. When Alliant Energy built the Whispering Willows wind farm in Franklin County, they petitioned utilities regulators for a rate hike to help cover the cost. The market had reached a price for electricity, generated by coal, but at that price the wind farm was not economically viable – it wouldnâ€™t produce enough electricity to cover its cost.
They built it anyway. Even though the money in the wind industry is earned on the tax return and not the power grid, they didnâ€™t want to eat an operating loss, so rates have to increase. Consumers in central Iowa found themselves paying more money for the electricity they used – still mostly generated from coal – to pay for a wind farm erected so the utility could earn a tax credit.
The utility sells the power and claims the credits; the landowners earn fees for having these modern art sculptures on their land; the turbines produce just enough electricity to power a massive, metaphorical conveyor belt carrying money from the pockets of poor customers to the rich and the politically-connectedâ€¦ Because that is progress these days.
Grassley stated at the recent news conference that â€œWe have a 20 year investment in thisâ€¦ it would be terrible to throw a way a 20 year investment if it will mature in a short time.â€
We have been waiting for the wind energy industry to mature since the days when pioneer farmers could order a windmill from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Most of them were dismantled after rural America was electrified. Now, the fantasy is that the same technology that was felled by electricity will be the future of electricity.
Nothing becomes outdated faster than a fantasy about the future. This is never more true than when the fantasy has its birth in the minds of politicians; a future brought to you by the same people who bring you inflation, wars, and prisons.
The general public is also rapidly becoming too poor to cover higher utility bills, but wind energy fits into the political rhetoric of our time and so they charge forward. Wind energy doesnâ€™t make power cheaper, reduce our trade deficit, strengthen the dollar, or generate tax revenue – but it can get you elected. Â It employs only a handful of people, especially when compared to the coal industry – which politicians have threatened to kill. The turbines themselves are insanely ugly, and provide a far too convenient backdrop for political photo opportunities.
I understand that this is politics. I also object to the fact that this is politics. The experience of subsidized public housing should have been enough to dispel the urge to make fantasy into reality, but it wasnâ€™t. We will all pay the price. Literally.
The way TCR: Iowa set the table for the Iowa Senateâ€™s 22 contested races was as follows: 9 races we predicted heavily favored one Party or the other, 8 races we predicted as leaning one way or the other, and 5 were deemed toss-ups.
The reason I was personally so bullish on a Senate takeover by Republicans was that if these predictions held Democrats would have had to run the table of the 5 toss-up races to keep control of the chamber.Â In the end, and impressively I might add, this is pretty much what they did.Â While most of my prognosticating here was accurate, they won victories in 4 of the 5 I deemed toss-ups and managed to flip one seat I had leaning Republican, the end result was not.
Looking For Answers
The best way to fix the problem the GOP had on Tuesday is to dissect what happened.Â We will have much more on this next week, when I will post a data chart, but for now letâ€™s take the birds-eye view of the facts in the 4 toss-up contests Republicans lost and the one race where a â€œleanâ€ Republican incumbent was upset.
The spending numbers below represent the cumulative amounts of money that were spent in each race by each side in the last 3 Â½ months of the campaigns (July 19 to November 2nd).Â This includes the money the candidate raised and spent added to the number the Party spent for each â€˜in-kindâ€.Â Since it is common practice for both sides to have the candidate donate large portions of their funds to their Parties, to spend both on their individual behalf and on other candidates the leadership feels could use it, I have gone through all the reports to subtract out this number. The result gives an accurate view of the actual dollars spent on the race (trust me it wasnâ€™t a barrel of fun).Â Looking at the dollar amounts and the timing of ad buys for each side is very telling and we will break this down further later this week.Â For now here is the general overview.
SD 49â€” Naeve (R) defeated by Hart (D)
This race was an open seat due to no incumbent residing in the newly drawn district.Â It was a very tough district for Republicans but they had a great candidate who ran strong and should be commended.
Bottom Line= Naeve (R) was outspent by $84,000, faced a (D+3,721) registration deficit, and lost by 2,907 votes.Â Despite being outspent he cut into the registration advantage by 800â€”he was the only Republican in this list to beat the numbers.
SD 46â€” Hamerlinck (R) defeated by Chris Brase (D)
This was an incumbent Republican seat that I wrongly had projected to lean Republican.Â Republican Hamerlinckâ€™s final report was not filed for some reason, but in the first filing he showed spending $30,000 on his own while the Party spent $30,000 for him.Â On the other side Brase (D) spent $330,000 on the effort.Â Very telling here is that of this total $259,000 in assistance came directly from the Democrat Party.
Bottom Line= Itâ€™s hard to say much on the Republican side without the last report filed, but on the Democrat side the story is a lot of money poured in to facilitate this upset.Â Between July 19th and October 19th Democrats spent $167,000 before throwing in an additional $157,000 in the final few weeks.Â The result in ballots cast ended up being a D+409 advantage turned into a 1,954 Democratic victory.Â Something tells me this ends up being aÂ story of an incumbent hugely outspent and not being backed up with enough dollars from the Party.
SD 36â€” Jech (R) defeated by Sodders (D)
This was an uphill fight from the jump for Republicans, which many say started when Jech defeated former Senator Larry McKibben in the primary.Â The conventional wisdom was the Tea Party candidate Jech, who had already lost two runs at a House seat, was a far less formidable candidate than the Branstad backed McKibben.Â In the final 3 Â½ months Jech impressively raised over a $100,000, but the GOP only threw in $46,000 total, including a miniscule $14,000 for the final push.Â Conversely, Democrats did not take Jech lightly, giving Sodders $358,000 in the final months.
Bottom Line= In the end Jech was outspent by $206,000 in an R+121 district, and she lost by 2,263 votes.Â There is a ton of interesting stuff going on here.Â At first glance you could explain away the GOP only giving Jech $46,000 by assuming she was polling poorly.Â The only problem with that is if she was thereâ€™s no way Democrats pump $224,000 to Sodders in the final two weeks.Â Clearly one Party had a bad read on this race, and itâ€™s likely it was the Democrats.Â Since Sodders won by 2,263 votes itâ€™s hard to believe he needed the near quarter-million dollars at the end.Â I tend to agree with the establishment that this race became too heavy of a lift with Jech as a candidateâ€”even though she was badly outspent, it is still pretty amazing to have a 121 voter registration advantage going in and lose the election by well over 2000 votes.
Part 2 Upcoming
Later this week we will look at the other two painful Senate loses (SD 30 and SD 26), document some trends occurring in these five races, and then, finally,Â make someÂ judgementsÂ on what could have been done differentlyÂ Â The ultimate goal here is not to call any particular person or organization outâ€”the goal here is to identify the shortcomings so they can be corrected.Â Ironically it appears that two years from now Senate Republicans will be in the exact same spot of needing to flip two seats for control.
If a better effort and strategy are not employedâ€”the brutal result will surely be the same.
((To Go Straight To Part 2 Click Here))
Over the past several weeks we have taken an in-depth look at each of theÂ 8 Iowa Senate races TCR: Iowa has deemed as leaning either RepublicanÂ or Democrat.Â From now untill election day we are moving on to take a closer look at the 5 Senate races we feel will determine control of the Iowa Senate–and hence control of the Iowa Legislature for the next two years.Â These races crucial for control are SD 49, SD 48, SD 36, SD 30, and SD 26.
In addition to looking at these 5 races, on November 4th we will look at the districts where Republicans blew major oppurtunities and therefore are not competetive, andÂ on November 5thÂ we will provide a guide for what to watch for on election night.
Here is a compilation of links to the 8 Senate Leaners we have covered:
Senate District 14 – Amy Sinclair (R)Â vs.Â Dick Schrad (D)
Senate District 22 – Pat Ward (R)Â vs.Â Desmund Adams (D)
Senate District 8 – Mike Gronstal (D)Â vs.Â Al Ringenneberg (R)
Seante District 42 – Rich Taylor (D)Â vs.Â Larry Kruse (R)
Senate District 38 – Tim Kapucian (R)Â vs.Â Shelley Parbs (D)
Senate District 24 – Jerry Behn (R)Â vs.Â Shelly Stotts (D)
Senate District 44 -Â Tom Courtney (D)Â vs.Â Bradley Bourn (R)
Senate District 46 -Â Shawn Hamerlinck (R)Â vs.Â Chris Brase (D)
((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))