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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Politico calls Rob Sand a “young Robert Mueller”

Dear Friends,

The excitement around November 6 is above and beyond what we normally experience leading up to an off-year election. Coast to coast, young, progressive candidates are fueling that excitement — as is growing discontent over President Trump’s reign of error. Even conservative voters are pulling away from the Tweeter in Chief over his:

Rob Sand

— Escalating trade war with China,
— Support for pipelines and fracking,
— Belief that “eminent domain is a wonderful thing,” and
— Lack of a moral compass.

In Iowa, two candidates firing up voters are Rob Sand, running for State Auditor, and Deidre DeJear, running for Secretary of State. Check out the great story about Rob and Deidre in Politico this week — and the entertaining comparison of Rob to Robert Mueller.

Deidre DeJear

Better yet, come meet Rob and Deidre in person at a fundraiser Kathy and I are throwing:

Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines

Our co-hosts are Rachel Scholten, Jon Krieg, Charles Goldman, Carla McIntire, Cheslea Lepley, and Cyndy Coppola. Kathy’s making an egg dish (from our hens and garden of course) and baked French toast. We’ll have tea and coffee. Sorry, no mimosas.

Also, US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will join us! Jeff is a key national leader on many important battles, and we’re honored to welcome him at this event.

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

By any reasonable measure, Democrats at the state and federal level should do well in the mid-term election. The stars are so firmly aligned in Democrats’ favor that only a series of Himalayan blunders could lead to an electoral outcome where Republicans prevail.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Don’t underestimate the Democratic Party’s ability to unleash an avalanche of Himalayan blunders. Justified skepticism aside, it’s almost certain that Democrats will, on balance, gain seats up and down the ballot. The prospects for that are enhanced when each of us invests time, effort, and money in candidates and causes that inspire and empower us. Above all else — vote!

But one election cycle doesn’t mean Democrats are on the cusp of a lasting political transformation. Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election and beyond, if the Democratic Party is to avoid permanent minority party status, Democrats have to talk truth on tough issues while rising above the tired old politics of partisan division. It’s important to call out Democrats who don’t get this.

Congressman Dave Loebsack

Case in point: Twice at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed this week, Congressman Dave Loebsack demonstrated why he should serve as the poster child for much of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. When I approached Dave politely to ask a couple questions about the Dakota Access Pipeline and climate change, he walked away and said he wasn’t talking to the press. I immediately thought, “Hmm, that reminds me of Donald Trump.”

When Dave had his five minutes at the mic, he used nearly the entire time to say, in so many words, “Republicans bad, Democrats good.” Sorry, but voters are sick and tired of partisan blather and vacuous generalizations about “the other side.” We want genuine conversation about real issues. And we want civility and unity — something Loebsack’s Republican predecessor, Congressman Jim Leach, understood and practiced.

Make no mistake: In recent years, Republican officials at both the state and federal level have carved a wide swathe of policy carnage favoring big corporations and the fantastically wealthy over average Americans and our planet. So, why doesn’t Congressman Loebsack focus on the initiatives that distinguish Democrats from Republicans instead of throwing out trivial sound bytes that turn off voters?

Great question. Too bad the Congressman wouldn’t let me ask it.

Ed

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