Yesterday morning U.S. Senate hopeful David Young spoke to a large turnout at the monthly Polk GOP Conservative Breakfast held at the Iowa Motor Truck Association.Â Below is a re-cap of his speech, the issues he touched on, and some brief analysis.
Still in the early stages of introducing himself to Iowa Republicans, he started from the beginning.Â He was born and raised in Van Meter where he grew up and participated in little league, Cub Scouts, and 4-H before finishing high school in Johnston and then going to Drake University.
Soon after graduating from Drake he headed to Washington D.C. where he eventually became Senator Chuck Grassleyâ€™s Chief of Staff.Â He described his time there by saying, â€œwe battled the incompetence and arrogance of the Federal bureaucracyâ€ and in general made the argument that through his interactions with Grassleyâ€™s staff and in dealing with constituent concerns he kept in touch with his Iowa roots.
The bulk of the speech was framed around â€œthree deficitsâ€ that Young sees as getting in the way of the American dreamâ€”our budget deficit, a â€˜jobs deficitâ€, and a â€œdeficit of accountabilityâ€.
The Budget Deficit
On the budget deficit he noted it was embarrassing our national debt is approaching $17 trillion, that neither party was without fault, and that he wished President Bush (43) would have used his veto power on more of the bills that passed Congress during his Presidency.Â He vowed to be an â€œequal opportunity watchdog Conservativeâ€ in terms of spending and went on record supporting a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.Â He pointed out that should Republicans take control of the Senate Mr.Grassley is in line to Chair the Judiciary Committeeâ€”which would have jurisdiction over this amendmentâ€”and pledged he would sponsor a bill to move this process forward.Â He then finished on the topic with one of the speechâ€™s strongest linesâ€”â€œitâ€™s time for a Balanced Budget Amendmentâ€¦itâ€™s the greatest legacy we can leave our next generationâ€.
The â€œJobs Deficitâ€
Young tied the â€œjobs deficitâ€ to three separate current issues.Â The first of whichÂ was taxes,Â where he favors a â€œfairer, flatter, and simpler tax code for individuals and corporations.â€Â He repeatedly stressed the importance of making these reforms permanent in order to allow entrepreneurs and job creators the confidence to invest their current capital into the economy.
The second issue he views as a hindrance to job growth is the â€œAffordable Care Actâ€, saying, â€œWe need to do all we can to repeal, de-fund, and slow down the biggest headache to our economyâ€”Obamacareâ€.Â He made the case this legislation has forced companies, for their own survival, to turn full-time employees into part-timers against both the best interests and will of each.
Lastly, Young is in favor of passing the Keystone XL Pipeline as soon as possible under the guise that it will create jobs, help with our energy independence, and bolster our national security.
The â€œAccountability Deficitâ€
Given the current climate this argument wasnâ€™t a tough one to make.Â He listed several in the long litany of Obama administration scandals and referenced the fact that Congress is suffering from its lowest approval ratings everâ€”which given its history is quite embarrassing.Â Of particular note here was that he received a large round of applause for saying that Attorney General Eric Holder needs to go.
Young concluded by saying he knows how the Senate works and would be able to â€œhit the ground runningâ€, that Bruce Braley is very beatable, and that he will be campaigning full-time and statewide over the next year.
On substance Youngâ€™s speech was fine and hit all the right notesâ€”particularly I believe Conservatives will be thrilled with his Balanced Budget Amendment stanceâ€”but to say his delivery lacks electricity would be an understatement.Â If this goes unaddressed, whether itâ€™s true or not, a majority of voters will take this blandness as a lack of passion.
Also worth noting, as mentioned above, is the awkwardness in making the case that somehow he stayed connected to Iowans through Grassleyâ€™s other staff and by talking to constituents from Iowa on the phone.Â I know he feels the issue of him living in D.C. for almost two decades needs to be dealt withâ€”but I canâ€™t help but think this is not a successful way to do so.
All things considered, this event wasnâ€™t overly positive or negative for Young.Â From his perspective it was certainly beneficial to get some speech giving experience in a small and supportive setting.Â Having never run for office before he has some kinks to work out and this was a good place to start that process.Â His growth as a candidate, or the lack thereof, will largely determine the level of success he enjoys over the next year.
I have heard from three separate sources in recent days that former SCC member Drew Ivers is leaning toward a Senate primary run.Â Many have speculated that an Iowa libertarian would enter the race at some pointâ€”and as the Iowa Chair of Ron Paulâ€™s 2012 presidential campaign Ivers certainly would fit this bill.
Whether this is true or not is unclear at the moment, but what is clear in my mind is the impact Ivers or any other legitimate Libertarian candidate would have on the race.
Besides the obviousâ€”that the other candidateâ€™s ability to pitch to and draw in Libertarians would be greatly diminishedâ€”there are many other ways this would shape the contest.Â Setting these aside for now, specifically from the Libertarian movementâ€™s perspective there are 3 possible outcomesâ€¦and even the least desirable one would be a heck of a consolation prize.Â Hereâ€™s a brief look at the three things that could result should an Iowa Libertarian enter the contest:
Though extremely improbable, in a large field of slightly lesser known candidates and with a solid pre-built network of passionate supporters that actually go voteâ€¦anything is conceivably possible.Â Iowa witnessed first-hand last cycle that Libertarian candidates can do wellâ€”this showed locally in Statehouse races and in the fact that Ron Paul finished a very close 3rd in the caucuses.
The hurdle in imagining a Liberty candidate winning outrightâ€”and why no one, including me, will ever predict itâ€”is one of them would have to garner 35% of the statewide vote.Â You hate to say anything is impossible, but envisioning this is bordering on it.Â I will tell you this though, if someone was to make the argument, a semi-plausible case could be made with the numbers and by evoking the â€œChristopher Reed pathâ€ to victoryâ€”that is to say just nudging past your opponents while also rising above the 35% needed to avoid convention.
Iâ€™m prefacing this with the fact these situations arenâ€™t analogous to 2014, but the case on the numbers could be made as follows:Â Two of the last major statewide Republican events in Iowa were the Iowa Caucuses and the U.S Senate primary that took place in 2008 for this same Senate seat.Â In the 2008 Republican Senate Primary a 3-way race yielded a total of 70,672 votes.Â Christopher Reed won with 24,964 votes and barley escaped a nominating convention by .32%–getting 35.32%.Â The 2012 Caucus set a record with 121,501 Republicans votingâ€”Ron Paul got 26,036 of them.Â This means that Ron Paul received more votes in Iowa last year than the Republican Senate nominee in 2008 won by.Â So hypothetically if turnout is low and hovers in this 70-75,000 range and everyone who voted for Ron Paul votes for the Liberty candidateâ€”they would win.
Of course turnout is expected to be much higher since the seat is now an open seatâ€”gee where have we heard that before?â€”but even still, as an exercise letâ€™s say the eventual turnout splits the difference between the 2012 Caucuses and 2008 primary and is 90,000.Â 35% of 90,000 is 31,500 votes to win, and again, if all the Ron Paul 2012 voters vote for one candidate in 2014, they would already have 26,036 of themâ€¦only 5,464 votes away from a small lead and a shade over 35%–meanwhile the others candidates split the vote (see 2008 Iowa Senate Primary).
Though most will reject this out of hand, you have to at least admit itâ€™s interesting and mathematically a case can be made for it.
The far more probable path to victory would be via a conventionâ€”letâ€™s not forget that Steve King won his initial primary via this route.Â If the field expands to 5 or 6 and both the Republican establishment and the â€œConservative outsiderâ€ vote are split between multiple candidates, the chances of anyone reaching the 35% threshold are significantly reduced.Â Geography plays in here as well as this scenario becomes even more possible if the candidates hail from different population centers in separate parts of the state.Â If the race is trending this direction Iâ€™d bet that the non-Libertarian candidates would meet and attempt to consolidate the field by trying to convince one another to drop out and throw their support to whoever is further ahead in the polls, but maybe not.Â If this fails to happen and several candidates stay in splitting the vote, a convention is a real possibilityâ€”in which case the Libertarian candidate would have to think they have a shot.
The Consolation PrizeÂ
Even if a Libertarian candidate fails to make an impact directly in the polls or in the vote count their presence in the race would accomplish two significant thingsâ€”they could work to move the field slightly to the libertarian right as the year goes on and, more importantly, they would have a large platform to spread their message while drawing more people into the network and keeping them active.Â The growth of their network not only means a larger impact in future Iowa legislative racesâ€” but they also know it will be needed for Rand Paulâ€™s inevitable 2016 presidential run.
Of these three, winning outright is frankly pretty hard to fathom and a convention is unlikely but technically possibleâ€”there’s no question however that this last reason creates an opportunity that would be foolish to turn down.Â This open Senate primary provides Iowa Libertarians something that all political movements needâ€”publicity and relevance.
Given that expectations wouldnâ€™t be extremely high and thus underperforming them is unlikelyâ€”strategically there is simply no downside to competing and there is plenty to be gained even in defeat.Â For this reason I would be shocked if we donâ€™t see Ivers or another Liberty candidate in the fray before itâ€™s all said and done.
Though maybe not sending earth-shattering shockwaves through the raceâ€¦this would certainly have an impact on the other candidateâ€™s strategy and math.Â I suspect in this climate of intense government distrust, and with the Republican base significantly fracturedâ€”the Libertarian movement in Iowa will hear opportunity knocking.
The field of Republican candidates seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate from Iowa has expanded to three.Â 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 PoliticoÂ recently reported that State Senator Joni Ernst has hired a Texas-based political strategist.Â Additionally word is spreading that a Libertarian candidate will also declare soonâ€”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.Â 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 giantÂ Booz Allen Hamilton (ironically the same company that employed last weekâ€™s NSA leaker).Â There is a ton of stuff in his background and I wonâ€™t list it all hereâ€”for a longer and itemized account of Clovisâ€™ history click hereÂ and you canÂ 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 wonâ€™t get to the right of.Â Itâ€™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 themâ€”a candidate willing to run far-right will most likely end up giving the “establishment” contenders hoping to run middle-right some severe heartburnâ€”a condition that otherwise might not have befallen them.Â 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 sayâ€¦the temperature has been raised and this thing is going to get interesting.
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.â€Â Saying the announcement will affect his radio talk show job certainly suggests he is runningâ€”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.Â 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, â€œI’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.â€
What This Means
While itâ€™s standard to not give away the headline and tell the media what the press conference is specifically for, the language â€œa commitment for something down the roadâ€ strikes me as a little strange if this were going to be a straight announcement.Â 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.Â If he is not running Iâ€™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 â€œred-meat Conservativeâ€â€”itâ€™s pretty obvious where heâ€™d want to move the discourse.
Though the U.S. Senate race in Iowa is only in the pre-natal stage the Des Moines Register hasnâ€™t wasted any time in displaying the partisan favoritism it has become infamous forâ€”an impressive feat given the race is only a few months old and has only a combined three candidates declared.
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 Registerâ€™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).Â In theory this practice is fine by meâ€”provided of course that as a â€œreputableâ€ statewide news organization they follow suit when the releases come from the other side of the aisleâ€¦I havenâ€™t seen this yet.
What makes this so damaging is that there is no shortage of releases from the DSCCâ€™s counterpart in Washingtonâ€”the National Republican Senatorial Committeeâ€”but they seem unable to merit the same ink.Â I routinely get these releases from the NRSC and if they are well sourced and fact based I occasionally run them.Â 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. â€œPassage 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.â€ (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?Â 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.Â Braley’s misleading trial lawyer speak is just the latest example of his slick attempt to fool the jury – Iowa voters.Â Iowans are too smart for that.”said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen.
The second example of this behaviorâ€”also from the aforementioned Jennifer Jacobsâ€”came just yesterday via a story on a â€œsnarkyâ€ website just launched by the Iowa Democratic Party.Â The website makes a pretty juvenile attempt at poking fun of newly declared Republican candidate David Young.Â You can check it out here if you wish (http://welcometoia.com/), but Iâ€™m not going to give it any more play.Â The point here is the story published by the Register gave this Democratic effort everything it wantedâ€”publicity and exposure.
Whatâ€™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 Meterâ€”this is inconceivable.Â So to recap hereâ€”the Register canâ€™t find the time or personnel to cover the announcement of a serious Republican candidate for the United States Senateâ€¦but they have the time and space to promote a Democrat website created to mock him.Â Itâ€™s just ridiculous.
This is merely a continuation of blatant biasâ€”my all-time favorite was the Republican presidential endorsement debacleÂ from 2008, which if you havenâ€™t seen you need to click the link.Â The Registerâ€™s economic struggles of late have been well documented.Â Though I concede much of this is due to the struggle of integrating a web-based model, itâ€™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?Â Answer: A struggling one that will continue to be further marginalized unless they change course and offer some balance.