(Click for The Conservative Reader:Iowa’s complete overview of the 2012 Legislative Races)
Pat Ward (R) vs. Desmund Adams (D)
Pat Ward is an incumbent SenatorÂ from aÂ different district, while Desmund Adams is an attorney who currently runs a executive search andÂ public relationsÂ firm.
Senate District 22 is comprised ofÂ both Polk and DallasÂ Counties.Â Â The cities that make the district are Clive, Waukee, and the Western part of West Des Moines.Â Â As you could likely guess this is pretty heavy Republican territory, though the actual registration advantage is smaller than one would think.Â Registrations=Â R 15,374 – D 10,564 – Â NP – 12,464 (R + 4,810).
Instead of staying put and running against Matt McCoy after map day, Ward chose to move west and was greeted by a challenge from the right by Waukee pastor Jeff Mullen.Â The primary that unfolded between these two got truly out of hand, with MullenÂ crossing the line multiple times from tough attacks toÂ outrageous defamation.Â This forced Ward to respond heavy with radio advertising and deplete far more funds than I am sure she was hoping to.Â The end result was that Mullen’s conduct backfired andÂ he was defeated by 16 points.
The reasons for this seat landing in the leaner category instead of solid Republican are that (1) Ward just moved into the district, (2) she went through a bruising primary with a popular pastor, (3) at the last filing she had about $7,000 less than Adams, (4) the registration advantage is technically surmountable, and last but not least, (5) Adams is flat out a great candidate.Â If he were running in an even district, I would bet money on Adams being able to win over voters and prevail.
I do think this seat will go Republican in the end.Â The reasoning here is, (1)Â the math and the political leanings of the district , (2) if the Party thinks the seat is endangered they will spend big to keep it, (3) Ward will be able to kill Adams on his support of “stimulus” as a general governing tactic to deal with economic issues, and (4) AdamsÂ support of liberal social policyÂ will hurt him badly in the Western part of the district (Mullen’s home base).
Though he is wisley making the pitch that “moderation needs a voice”,Â Adam’s positions do not seem to suggest that he is a moderate Democrat at all.Â The reason I say “suggest” is that he only lists “beliefs” on his website (which include pro-choice and pro-gay marriage positions), andÂ nothingÂ specific on individual pieces of legislation or votes he would make.
What strikes me most about this race is that Desmund Adams, even in defeat, will be a major player for Democrats going forward–you have not heard the last of him.
Pat Ward – wardforiowa.com
Desmund Adams – desmundadams.com
This week’s newsletter from Peter Cownie provides some insight into some of his goals as a legislator.Â Helping keep young people in Iowa after they graduate from high school and/or college has been a challenge in recent decades.Â Reasons for the large numbers of youth leaving the state range from financial opportunity to entertainment to lifestyle.Â Ultimately, jobs are key, and attracting young people means attracting companies.Â Peter also looks at ways to promote staying in Iowa for college education.
The best question a citizen can ask a person seeking public office is: why are you doing this? Every candidate should have a passion for what he/she is trying to accomplish and remember that passion each time he/she makes a decision. I was asked this question more than any other during the campaign. My answer is simple: I want to see more young people in Iowa. I grew up in Iowa and I want to do something about the young people that have chosen not to stay here and those that might think to leave in the future.
I serve on the Economic Growth Committee and we recently heard a presentation from the Generation Iowa Commission. I asked the presenter what deters young people from staying in Iowa after college. The answer was one word: jobs. I could not agree more. Young people will go where the best jobs are located. The current economic times will only reinforce this reality. In every decision a legislator makes this session, he/she needs to keep in mind the 80,000 unemployed Iowans and how we can help put them back to work. We also need to bear in mind those young people who want jobs in Iowa.
The Iowa Legislature needs to remember the big picture. The big picture is that Iowaâ€™s population is not growing quickly compared to other states. According to estimates from the Census Bureau for 2000-2008, Iowa ranks 42nd in population growth percentage. I have introduced a bill that will help retain and recruit young people to Iowa. This bill would allow college graduates who stay in Iowa to deduct the interest on student loan payments changing the limit from $2,500 to $5,000 annually. Students in Iowa graduate with the highest debt levels ($26,208 on average) in America. This bill would give direct help to college graduates who are just starting a job and could use the relief in their pocketbook. It is in the best interest of the Iowa Legislature to reach out to our young people and ease their burden. This bill will help keep our young people where we want them: Iowa.
This week’s newsletter also appeared in the West Des Moines section of the Des Moines Register, along with pieces from Pat Ward and Chris Hagenow.Â You may note that Pat hits hard on the Popular Vote bill, which we have opposed here as well.
Peter, Pat and Chris, along with Bob Brownell, also hosted a public forum in West Des Moines on February 28, which I attended.Â More on that later.
Monday January 12 will be the opening session of the 2009 General Assembly.Â This year’s session timetable is here.Â As was the case the pass two years, both the House and the Senate have Democratic majorities.
We urge you, as the session progresses, to take the time to communicate with your elected representatives.Â Go to this link, and find your representative’s name, click on it, and you’ll get phone numbers, email addresses, information about committee assignments and links to bill sponsorships.Â I will be in contact with Peter Cownie and Pat Ward, the House and Senate members who represent me here in West Des Moines.
I exchanged emails with Peter last week.Â This is his freshman years in the Statehouse, and he managed to get assigned to Appropriations, Economic Growth, Educatio nand Labor committees, and on Appropriations, he is the ranking member of the Economic Development subcommittee.Â He told me that this year is pretty much all about the Budget.
Which leads me to Friday Night’s Iowa Press on IPTV.Â Senator Mike Gronstal (D-Senate Majority Leader from Council Bluffs) and Representative Pat Murphy (D-Speaker of the House from Dubuque) were grilled by Dean Borg (the host), David Yepsen from the Des Moines Register, and Mike Glover from the Associated Press.
The message from Gronstal and Murphy was the same one that Peter heard… it’s about the budget.Â We’ve already seen Governor Culver make two swipes at state spending to try and get the budget aligned with expected revenues.Â Gronstal started responding to the budget question from Glover by saying that committees will be working hard on cutting expenses, and then proceeded to hit the first shortsighted decision which is the canceling of plans for a new state office building.Â Gronstal said: “we need a new state office building, Wallace needs to be replaced but not today.”Â On the one hand, if we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money… but on the other hand the cost of the new building, which “we need” will jump up every year we wait.Â On the third hand, we could reduce the size of government and eliminate the need for the Wallace Building altogether, but that’s not likely to happen.Â This is one project that needs more careful review in my opinion.
As they discussed ideas such as leasing the Lottery (an idea that’s been floated around lately) and allowing open positions in government to stay vacant, it became clear that Gronstal wasn’t quite prepared to express a confident opinion about anything yet… he said he wasn’t going to reject any idea until looking at the details.Â Glover asked about what has been at the heart of the Lottery question for decades, which is the possibility that leasing it to private interests could quickly lead to expanded gambling in Iowa (as if any more expansion is going to really matter any longer), which Gronstal rejected out of hand.Â Yepsen went on the offensive, asking about campaign contributions from gambling interests, and Gronstal didn’t like it:
Yepsen: The gambling industry makes campaign contributions to state legislators. How much does that have to do with this decision? If the gambling industry wants to buy the lottery from you and you’re getting thousands of dollars in campaign donations doesn’t it get sold?
Gronstal: No, David, I don’t think that’s true at all. Look, I think it’s an interesting idea, it’s one worth considering. If we go through that process we very well may decide, no, it doesn’t make sense. But why reject the idea of considering it? I think that’s fairly silly to reject even considering an idea. I’m actually really surprised at your critical questions. The legislature has often advocated considering privatization.
Yepsen: We always ask critical questions, Senator.
Gronstal: But the idea of privatization shouldn’t be rejected out of hand.
Yepson then took the opportunity to jump to a question that should be bugging all of us: AFSCME, the state workers union, is asking for a 5% pay raise for workers next year, and another 5% the year after that.Â While people in the private sector are losing their jobs, not getting raises even close to 5%, and the key question of how every state worker makes 30% more than the average citizen.Â Gronstal made one smart-mouthed response about CEOs (that was just inappropriate), and then said he wouldn’t comment on it because of the fact that the state is actively engaged in negotiations, and it’s the Governor’s job, not the General Assembly.Â Yepsen kept the heat up, Murphy tried defending the salaries by talking about what some of the state workers do (covering maybe 5% of those workers… don’t get me wrong, I want police and fire protection paid well, but we’re talking about a lot of overpaid workers).
Bottom line on the union is that we won’t get any serious discussion about this from Democratic leaders because they’ll lick the union bosses’ shoes just to ensure they continue to have votes in 2010.Â And we’ll be left holding the check.
There was a good conversation about the use of the state’s Rainy Day Fund and the general Cash Reserve.Â It was good to hear that the leaders would consider usnig the RDF if necessary to ensure Iowans that are struggling from the weather and economic disasters of 2008 are helped appropriately… I agree that the Cash Reserve should be left alone as that is needed to ensure that we don’t need to borrow money if revenue shortfalls start to impact cash flows.
Also good conversation around the numerous proposals for local option sales taxes and the possibility of introducing flexibility for local governments to collect fees to offset property taxes.Â Gronstal actually said something I can strongly agree with: property taxes are too high.Â The trouble is, some fees are just another property tax, so I’m not exactly keen on that.Â Local option sales taxes are fine, and all the state is doing is allowing the local governments to decide to impose them… the state doesn’t pay or benefit from that EXCEPT that the pressure on the state to help out is reduced.
They also discussed the proposal to raise the gas tax by a nickel to help create jobs and improve the existing transportation infrastructure.Â I’m a bit torn… I like the fact that it helps keep people employed, but I hope we don’t end up wasting money on unnecessary projects.
They also hit on teacher pay, and corrections facility needs.Â The most revealing statement of the evening came next, however.Â Yepsen asked if Gay Marriage would be debated this year.Â Both politicians flatly said “No.”, with Murphy adding that they were going to “let the courts make that decision”.Â It shouldn’t amaze me that these guys are clearly incapable of true leadership, but I suppose when you know you lack both a credible position and will lose power if you do the right thing, having the Iowa Supreme Court there to bail you out is certainly a reasonable option.
Gronstal ended by saying this year is about the Budget and Disaster Recovery.Â I wonder whether we’ll ever recover from the 2009 session?