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.
From this point forward the Republican quest to replace Tom Harkin just got more interesting.Â With King removed from the picture the next batch ofÂ announcements we get will beÂ declarations and not withdrawals.
I was never one to think Republicans needed King in the race to win the seat, and in fact have been lukewarm on his chances.Â I truly believe that a relative newcomer on the scene has a betterÂ shotÂ at shoring up the baseÂ while stillÂ pulling a majority of Independents–whichÂ in turn will bringÂ victory.
Prediction wise, don’t be surprised if the list of candidates who decide to run is very, very short.Â I would not be shocked if only 2 names of the 6 or so being thrown around run in the end…and I swear don’t rule out Bob Vander Plaats.
Below is Steve King’s full statement:
I want to thank all of my friends, family, advisors and supporters who have put so much time, thought, prayer, and effort into helping me make a decision on whether to run for the United States Senate. I sincerely thank every potential candidate, all of whom graciously gave me room to decide. Probably no one in America, considering such an opportunity, enjoys as clear a path to the nomination. It is an extraordinary opportunity that will not be repeated in millions of lifetimes.
I have said from the beginning this decision requires â€œthe head, the gut, and the heartâ€ to line up together. I have done due diligence and evaluated the race from a statewide, objective perspective. I have talked with hundreds of supportersâ€¦and some detractors. I sincerely thank all of you who have helped in so many ways.
My analytical part, the head, tells me the race is winnable and must be won in 2014 or a generational opportunity could be lost. I have said a race for the Senate is â€œa slight up hill battleâ€. It is, but itâ€™s â€œno hill for a climberâ€.
The question I am answering today is, â€œWhat is my duty?â€ I believe my duty is to utilize the honor of serving Iowans in Congress by maximizing my effectiveness. I owe it to all Iowans and Americans to give you my best effort and best judgment.
We have in front of us in Congress a series of potent issues which will redirect the destiny of our state and nation. Among them are a farm bill, ObamaCare, debt and deficit, immigration, and tax reform. If I step away from these responsibilities while campaigning in an effort to multiply leverage in the Senate, what becomes of our nation in the mean time?
This week, I made a simple device to put toothpaste back in the tube. But a device to put the Leftist genie back in the bottle is not so simple. The best tool we have now is the majority in the U.S. House which functions mostly to keep the Leftist genie in the bottle. I cannot, in good conscience, turn my back on the destiny decisions of Congress today in order to direct all my efforts to a Senate race for next year, while hoping to gain the leverage to put the genie back in the bottle in 2015.
The most timely and conclusive piece of advice I received crystallized my decision. A friend, whose 77th birthday is today, said to me, â€œI will support you whatever you decide to do. If you decide to run, donâ€™t be a reluctant candidate.â€ If I said, â€œYesâ€ to a Senate race, I would be a reluctant candidate because of the reasons Iâ€™ve written above.
Accordingly, I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in 2014. It is my intention to turn my efforts and energy with great vigor to the issues at hand. I anticipate being on the ballot for reelection to the U.S. House, Fourth District of Iowa. It is a challenging and rewarding job that I enjoy. My sincerest thanks to all involved.
Though it will fall short of the intense attention we receive during Presidential years, November 2014 in Iowa will develop into a fierce battleground for both political parties.Â In spite of the gubernatorial election on the ballot the prize for each side will be the open US Senate seat vacated by Tom Harkin.
While it is a virtual certainty that BruceÂ Braley will be the Democrat candidate in this race the Republican field is wide open, with no one yet confirming a run.Â As it stands now Rep. Steve King has been given the â€œfirst right of refusalâ€ by fellow potential candidates Kim Reynolds and Bill Northey, andÂ it isÂ widely believed he will have decided by May 1st.Â One way or another, the field will become clear soon after.Â In the meantime, here is a first look at the dynamics if the matchup were King vs. Braley.
On last weekendâ€™s Iowa Press Steve King referred to a Republican winning the seat as a â€œslightly uphill battleâ€â€”and the numbers indeed bear this out.Â Though they were highly inflated due to it being a Presidential election year, the cumulative votes cast last year in Iowaâ€™s four Congressional districts reveal the Republican will be starting in anÂ electoral hole.Â In total the four Congressional Democratic candidates (Braley, Loebsack, Boswell, and Vilsack) received 772,387 votes, while the four Republican candidates (Lange, Archer, Latham, and King) received 726,505 votes (D+45,882).
Obviously this is too broad a measure to be definitive but it does give a feel for the obstacles the Republican will face.Â Far more informative is looking at how Braley and King faired in their individual races.Â In this scenario the candidate and the electorate in their districts remain the same and the only variable that changes is the opponent.Â What the numbers show is that Bruce Braley is a better performing candidate than Steve Kingâ€”something that will likely come as a surprise to many Republicans.
Last cycle Braley went in with a 25,420 voter registration advantage in HD 1 over Ben Lange but won by 59,957â€”beating the numbers by 34,537.Â Meanwhile King went in with a 50,396 voter registration advantage in HD 4 over Christie Vilsack but won by only 30,593 votesâ€”losing the numbers by 19,803.
Yes Braley and Vilsackâ€™s numbers were surely inflated due to Obama being on the ballot, and King and Lange were done no favors by Romneyâ€™s trouble with Independents, but there is still cause for concern.Â This is due to the fact that some of this inflated total was surely offset by King facing a far weaker opponent than Braleyâ€”Lange was a proven campaigner who came within 4,000 votes of beating Braley in 2010 while Vilsack proved to be an awful candidate who ran a terrible campaign.
These facts are certainly not to suggest a Republican cannot win the seat, they merely offer some context on the difficulties involved and likely explain the caution potential candidates are proceeding with.
Braley vs. King on Paper
The perplexing thing about this potential matchup is that on paper King is a far superior candidate to Braley.Â While King started an earth moving construction company from scratch, Braley is a trial lawyer and former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.Â Though it is true King has a visceral way of approaching issues and a knack for the ill-worded statement, Braleyâ€™s voting record reveals he is without a doubt a west-coast Liberal who just happens to reside in Iowa.Â In fact, besides voting with Democrats and Obamaâ€™s agenda 98% of the time in 2008, 99% in 2009, and 98% in 2010, since January 2007 he has voted 91% of the time with Nancy Pelosi.Â Among these votes of course are Cap & Trade, Dodd-Frank, Obamacare, and authorizing more than $6 trillion in debt over the last four years.
The number one objective for the campaign of whatever Republican takes on Braley will be getting the word out on his voting record.Â And if the above facts arenâ€™t enough evidence of his poor decision making for Independents in Iowaâ€”you can add he was one of the first to endorse fellow trial lawyer John Edwards for president in 2008.
In many Republican circles it has become a common belief that Steve King canâ€™t win a statewide raceâ€”I do not concur.Â Perhaps Iâ€™d see more truth in this if the candidate on the other side was a moderate instead of one of the most Liberal politicians in the countryâ€”funny how we never hear Bruce Braley canâ€™t win a statewide race.
That being said, I am of the belief that our strongest candidate by a longshot would be Kim Reynoldsâ€”and we would not risk a House seat in the process.Â While he would surely have a shot if he ran, undoubtedly the media would exclusively focus on Kingâ€™s past statements and ignore Braleyâ€™s voting record.
In the end I predict that King will decide against running.Â Whether he proves me wrong or not, whoever takes up this task will have to run hard.Â Though this is a realistic opportunity for Republicans the numbers show that it indeed will be a â€œslightly uphill battleâ€.
Kim Pearson, who is running for Iowa House in district 42, will be holding two fundraisers this week.Â Both look to be great events and opportunities to meet the candidates before the election:
Congressman Steve King
will be the featured guest at a fundraiser for
Monday, October 25th 7-9 PM
Toad Valley Golf Course
237 NE 80th St.
Pleasant Hill, IA
(1/2 mile south of Southeast Polk High School)
$25/person or $50/family
For more information,
contact Kim at 515-224-2126 or
Congressman Ron Paul
Will be the featured guest at a fundraiser for
Kim Pearson, Glen Massie
and Kent Sorenson
Thursday, October 28th 7-9 PM
Airport Holiday Inn
6111 Fleur Drive
Des Moines, IA
$5/person or $15/family
For more information,
contact Susan Geddes at 515-202-3733
What a great evening! Kathie Obradovich pointed out that it’s like being in an airplane hanger here at Hy-Vee Hall, but we have a great crowd, a lot of great Republicans and big group of press (75 registered), including a number of national names.
The theme of those speaking is what this crowd expects to hear: Reid and Pelosi are bringing the country down, killing jobs, killing the economy, stepping on the Constitution. What the country needs is smaller government, stronger jobs and economic growth, and greater fiscal responsibility, and Republicans can deliver.
Speakers included Republican Party of Iowa Co-chair Jim Kurtenbach, Representatives Steve King and Tom Latham, Senator Chuck Grassley, Former Governor and Candidate Terry Branstad, and Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn.
Terry’s speech was the most heavily targeted at his opponent (Governor Chet Culver), hitting on all of the same issues we’ve heard on the campaign trail and in this week’s debate. Of the warm-up speeches his was probably the longest. Terry was very warmly received by this crowd, and he also took the time to mention all of the state constitutional office candidates.
A nice video tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan was part of the program, which included highlights from some of his best speeches over the years.
Matt Strawn gave a great talk on the importance of stepping up now and making sure we get as many principled conservative Republicans elected this fall as we can, as he introduced Sarah Palin.
So, what did Sarah have to say?
Sarah complimented Iowa, complimented Terry Branstad, then talked about staying focused on the 2010 election and not the 2012 election, meaning she wasn’t going to talk about whether she is running for President in 2012 or not.
She talked about the need to elect leaders who respect “We the People”, like Senator Grassley, Tom Latham, Steve King, and then mentioned her endorsement of Brenna Findley.
What does “We the People” mean, anyway? Sometimes this term is being used lately in a context that sounds like it is equivalent to “We the Conservatives”. Sorry for the tangent.
Sarah went on to talk about how competition (in primaries) is good, but that it is now time to unite. If we want to stop Obama, Pelosi and Reid, then now is the time to unite. She talked about the need to move on now after having lost primaries. And the Need to set aside internal power struggles for the sake of the party. The need is great going into the mid-term elections.
Sarah then went into an extended criticism of the Press and emphasis on the importance of holding the Press accountable when they are telling untruths. She even Called some of the media “cowards”. She made a number of suggestions about what she thought party leadership should be doing right now.
I think she’s running for RNC Chair.
sarah said that Voters and patriots will restore America. Our (Republican) candidates will bring back constitutional government. She agrees with Obama that there are better days ahead… starting on November 2.
Sarah went on to provide a list of the problems with the current administration and Congress. Culminating with the President’s “foolish” attempts to run a conciliatory foreign policy with our enemies, in stark contrast to Reagan’s strong support of allies and strong confrontational hold against our enemies.
She believes that Principles and People will help hold our nation together, and that it’s time for a national rediscovery and renewal.
Overall, her speech was very pro-business, pro-individual, pro-radical renewal, and very contrary to current federal policies.
And finally the biggest philosophical dichotomy we struggle with against Democrats today: we don’t need to fundamentally transform America, we need to restore America.Â Great line, strongly received.
Although I agree with much of what Sarah had to say tonight, I will say I feel like I’ve been riding on a bullet train as she dropped a lot of already well-worn (literally word for word what I hear day after day from a variety of conservative sources) sound bytes as I passed by.Â She basically covered much of what conservatives are frustrated with in our current government and many of the principles that conservatives are anxious to see drive what our government does (and does not do).
Nothing that she shared tonight compelled me to hold her up (despite my support of her two years ago) as a strong candidate for President. But I do think she can continue to be a strong voice for the movement, the party, and for people who feel they are not being heard.
And many of those people may think this gives her credibility as a Presidential candidate. That’s okay… but I don’t agree. At least not yet.Â As I said before, she states a lot of what I agree with at a very high level, but I want to see some meat in the form of detailed policy statements.Â My friend Shane Vander Hart tells me I need to read some of her recent writings, which I will do.
Anyhow, it was very encouraging to see so many Republicans gathered to celebrate our history of strong conservative values, and to get enthused for the campaign we are fighting this year. Hats off to the Republican Party of Iowa for an awesome job with this event! And thanks to Danielle Plogmann (RPI Communications Director) for doing a great job providing for the press and bloggers!
At the blogging table we had Craig Robinson (the Godfather), Shane Vander Hart (the Preacher, and Sarah’s number 1 fan in the Iowa Blogosphere), Albert Bregar (hizzoner), Grant Young (he never said “epic” tonight) and the folks from The Cool Conservative.