Midterm Election: The Color Purple

Dear Friends,

First, I want to thank Matt McCoy for calling out Matt Whitaker (President Trump’s new acting Attorney General) for Whitaker’s politically-motivated witch hunt against McCoy in 2007. Whitaker was a U.S. Attorney at the time and came after McCoy on alleged extortion charges.

Matt McCoy

The trial was an embarrassment to Whitaker and the U.S. government. In a column by McCoy in Politico this week, former Des Moines Register editorial page editor Gil Cranberg noted, “The case against McCoy was so anorexic that not one of the 12 jurors considered it worth protracted consideration.”

The Politico story also notes that Jerry Crawford (McCoy’s attorney) approached the prosecuting attorneys during the trial and asked them to save face, saying, “Pull this case now. I’m embarrassed for the United States of America.”

After a mere 25 minutes of deliberation, the jury found McCoy not guilty. Other examples of Whitaker’s unabashed partisan perspective are too numerous to list. The bottom line is, among many Trump appointees poorly qualified for their jobs, Whitaker ranks higher than most — and that says volumes.

So, to the recent election — here are my three take aways:

1. More Democratic women should run for office. The fact that in four suburban Polk County house districts incumbent Republicans (all men) were ousted by Democratic challengers (all women) indicates a changing perspective among suburban voters. What happened in Polk County was the norm in many other suburbs across the country. Was this a blip, an anomaly? Will Republicans recapture the burbs in 2020? I doubt it. What we’re seeing is a generational and gender-driven shift among suburban voters away from a Republican Party grown callous to the interests of most people.

Fred Hubbell

2. The Democratic Party needs to run progressive populists for higher office. Never again should Democrats nominate a candidate for governor, U.S. Senate, or president who can be easily tagged as elitist or status quo. On a personal level, I like Fred Hubbell immensely. He and his wife Charlotte are great people, and Fred would’ve made an excellent governor.

But Fred wasn’t a great candidate, at least not in these times. Here’s what I wrote in a blog I published last May before the primary election: “I see the barrage of ads touting Reynolds’ humble background — growing up on a farm, her dad taking a second job at a factory to make ends meet, working at a grocery store and later as a waitress. That stuff resonates with Iowans. Voters will have a hard time relating to someone as wealthy and privileged as Fred Hubbell.”

The bottom line is, even with suburban voters moving into the Democratic column (barely), that’s not enough to win a statewide election. You can’t simply hope to blow past rural Iowa by racking up huge vote totals in Polk, Linn, Scott, and a few other urban counties.

And that brings me to the third take away:

3. Democrats must regain the support of rural voters. Others have said this too. (Tom Vilsack comes to mind.) Urban Democrats can and must reconnect with rural voters. In my experience, the only way to do this is to spend prodigious amounts of time in rural communities. You can’t pay a flying visit. You can’t just pop by to talk. You have to go with the intent to listen, learn, and build relationships.

If Democratic candidates and Party leaders make a focused, sincere, concerted effort to do this, rural voters may come to see that they have a lot more in common with city folk than any of us have with Wall Street. For our part, urban Democrats may come to better understand the challenges facing rural communities and stop bashing rural voters as a bunch of dumb rubes.

If that happens, there’s no reason Democrats can’t regain the populist rural/urban majority they formerly enjoyed — a majority that once allowed the Party to accomplish great things for both Iowa and America.

Ed Fallon

 

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Political shot heard round the world

Dear Friends,

I’m encouraged that, more than ever, people are taking seriously the importance of voting. To those who still feel it doesn’t matter, let me share this story:

Former Iowa State Rep. Becky Reynolds-Knight (D-Van Buren County)

When I was a state representative, I sat between two lawmakers who were excellent colleagues. Both were attentive to their constituents and accomplished important work at the Iowa Statehouse. Becky Reynolds-Knight sat to my right. Out of 11,732 votes cast in the 1996 general election, Becky won by only 146 votes. To my left sat Bill Witt, who won his first election in 1992 by only 17 votes out of a total of 12,793 cast!

Former Iowa State Rep. Bill Witt (D-Black Hawk County)

So, is every vote important? Ask Bill and Becky. Better yet, ask Al Gore, who as the Democratic candidate for president in 2000, lost Florida’s electoral votes by only 537 votes out of almost six million cast in Florida — and over 50 million cast nationwide.

Yup. Every vote matters. Every election matters — and this election matters more than most. The problems confounding America — climate change, money in politics, immigration, gun violence, health care, foreign policy, and more — have grown worse and seemingly intractable.

They’re challenging for sure, but not intractable. True, Democratic leaders have sometimes failed in the past. But the current impasse is the fault of this reactionary Republican Congress and administration, who have proven inept at solving any of America’s most pressing problems while digging the hole deeper on many issues.

In Iowa, Republicans controlling the Statehouse have been worse than inept. In fact, the Republican trifecta at the State Capitol has been embarrassingly successful at enacting all sorts of draconian policies, too many to list here, several of which are so bad they’re being challenged in the courts.

Voters sometimes support a divided legislature or Congress. I get that. I understand the urge to split one’s ticket, hoping that Democratic control of one chamber and Republican control of the other will lead to a more thoughtful, cooperative approach to policy making.

J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate for Congress

Maybe that works sometimes. But that’s not the medicine for what ails Iowa and America today. Divided chambers will accomplish nothing. A new wave of Democratic leaders is rising, bringing a fresh perspective that’s resonating with voters. Let’s give them a chance to govern. To do that, Democrats need to control the House and Senate at both the state and federal level.

Across Iowa’s Fourth District — home of unabashed white supremacist Congressman Steve King — a veritable tidal wave of change is poised to shake things up. Democrats have fielded good candidates against King in the past, but I never felt any could dethrone him.

This year, I’m confident that King’s Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, can and will defeat King. Scholten — propelled by growing discontent with King’s voting record and litany of inflammatory comments — is running an impressive campaign fueled by hard work and intelligent, articulate stands on key issues. It doesn’t hurt that Scholten has raised more money than King, most of it from the grassroots.

Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District

It also helps Scholten that businesses who supported King in the past (Land O’Lakes, Purina, Intel Corp.) and a growing list of Republican elected officials are finally speaking out against King.

If you’re supporting one or more candidates with time and money, thank you. But take time to help J.D., too. His defeat of Steve King will land a promising, progressive Iowan in Washington, D.C. and send a message that reactionaries like Steve King don’t speak for Iowa and are no longer entitled to positions of political power.

Over the next five days, l’ll continue to reach out personally to the hundreds of independents and Republicans I know in the Fourth District and encourage them to vote for J.D. Scholten. I suspect nearly every Iowan reading this blog knows people in the Fourth District. Call or write these voters. Stress that, on an election ballot with so many important races, what happens in the Fourth District is critical.

How critical? If Scholten defeats King, it would be 2018’s political shot heard round the world.

Ed Fallon

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