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Rep. Steve King Most Popular Among Iowa Republicans



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The good folks at the Citizens United Victory Fund commissioned a poll of likely Iowa Republican primary voters.

The Wenzel Strategies survey of likely Republican Primary Election voters statewide in Iowa shows that Rep. Steve King is well-regarded by GOP primary voters and leads a field of many candidates by a wide margin.  In a prospective 8-person contest for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate, King wins 34% support, compared to 19% for Rep. Tom Latham, who comes in second place.  Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds comes in a distant third place, winning 10% support.  Another 20% of respondents were undecided in the race.

The Citizens United PAC has supported both congressmen in past cycles; the group spent $2.8 million last cycle.

Of course, I’d really like to see how these candidates look in a general election — both in terms of name ID and favorability, not to mention how they match up with the potential Democratic Senate options…

Tags: Kim Reynolds , Steve King , Tom Latham

Angst on the Right Over the ‘Conservative Victory Project’



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Over the weekend, this article in the New York Times stirred up a hornet’s nest among some of the conservatives I’m in touch with:

The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.

The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.

“There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the “super PAC” creating the new project. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”

Erick Erickson is among those fuming: “The people who brought us No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, TARP, the GM bailout, Harriet Miers, etc., etc., etc. are really hacked off that people have been rejecting them… I dare say any candidate who gets this group’s support should be targeted for destruction by the conservative movement.”

Keep in mind, American Crossroads is coming off a deeply disappointing cycle: The two related groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the 501(c)(4) “social welfare” group, spent a combined $170 million in 2012. The Center for Responsive Politics summarizes:

Including Obama and Romney, American Crossroads spent money for or against 20 federal candidates in 14 races, while Crossroads GPS focused on 27 in 24 contests.By our calculations, American Crossroads came out on the winning side in three of its 14 races, with one still too close to call — that’s about 21 percent. GPS did only slightly better, getting its desired outcome in just seven of the 24 elections it spent on; one contest also remains undecided. GPS’ success rate comes to 29 percent. 

So, having failed to achieve what they wanted to do in 2012, American Crossroads has to go back to its donor base with a revised mission, one that donors will want to support. And their mission is, in short, “no more Todd Akins.”

Of course, the formation of this group – and the Times’ decision to feature it on page A1 of the Sunday edition — re-opens the old wound of whether one branch of the party is to blame for the 2012 results. As I’ve written before, this is not merely a moot or pointless debate but one that warps the perception of what happened last cycle, as candidates from every branch of the party failed.

Tea Party enthusiasts have to come to grips with Richard Mourdock losing a winnable Senate race in Indiana, Allen West losing in Florida, and Mia Love losing a winnable House race in Utah. But it not just Tea Party stalwarts who lost. Linda McMahon’s attempt to persuade Connecticut voters she was really an “independent” candidate didn’t work, and Scott Brown, perhaps the least conservative Republican in the Senate, lost to Elizabeth Warren, a flawed candidate in Massachusetts. The least conservative Republican in the House, Illinois’ Bob Dold, also lost.

Anyway, rehashing the establishment-vs-the-grassroots fight is premature until we see the lineups for the various 2014 Senate races.

The only race that is really discussed in the Times article is Iowa’s open seat Senate race, with those behind the self-proclaimed “Conservative Victory Project” expressing skepticism about Rep. Steve King.

Now, King strikes me as a tough sell statewide. (Katrina Trinko looks at his interest in the Senate seat here.) Then again, he did just beat Christie Vilsack, the wife of the former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture, in a year when Obama was winning the state pretty handily. So the entire debate is premature until we know:

  • if King really wants to run for Senate
  • who else is out there on the GOP side
  • who the Democrats are likely to nominate and
  • how the hypothetical head-to-head match-up polling looks. 

Maybe the 2014 races will be marked by gaffe-prone, predictable-liability self-proclaimed Tea Party candidates wrecking winnable races. Considering how the Democrats and the mainstream media turned Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock into national figures, it’s a phenomenon worth keeping an eye on and being ready to combat.

But for now, we have a Super-PAC project forming to fight a problem that hasn’t manifested itself, and people fuming about the formation of a group that hasn’t done anything yet.

Tags: American Crossroads , Iowa , Karl Rove , Steve King , Todd Akin

Iowans Prepare for a Long-Forgotten Ancient Ritual: Open-Seat Senate Race



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Over the weekend, Iowa Democratic senator Tom Harkin, 73, announced he will retire, after a mere five terms in the U.S. Senate. His departure creates the first open Senate seat in Iowa since 1974.

The speculation about his replacement is focusing on three members of the U.S. House from Iowa — one Democrat and two Republicans:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley said Sunday that he is considering running for Harkin’s seat because supporters statewide have encouraged him to do so.

The Republican speculation is likely to focus on U.S. Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King.

Latham, of Clive, is a veteran member of the House Appropriations Committee who has won 10 consecutive elections. Latham’s office didn’t rule out a run for the Senate on Sunday.

“No decision has been made at this time. All doors remain open at this point,” said James Carstensen, Latham’s chief of staff.

Rep. Steve King, of Kiron, won a sixth term last fall by beating Iowa’s Democratic former first lady Christie Vilsack. King said in a statement that the retirement announcement was a surprise, and he congratulated Harkin on his long career.

“Iowans now have a real opportunity to elect a true constitutional conservative to help lead us out of our crisis of debt and deficit,” said King, who didn’t address whether he might run.

Latham has served in Congress since 1995; in 2012, under redrawn district lines, he beat a Democratic incumbent, Rep. Leonard Boswell, 52.2 percent to 43.5 percent. Latham’s district is made up of Iowa’s southwestern counties, and he carried all of them except Polk County.

Last year, King beat Christie Vilsack, wife of former governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack, 52.9 percent to 44.8 percent. King’s district is made up of Iowa’s northwestern counties.

USA Today looks at the map of 2014 Senate races and notes that with Harkin and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia retiring,

Democrats must try to hang onto two open seats in addition to defending 18 incumbents — and seven of the 20 races are in states that voted Republican in the presidential election. The red-state Senators on the 2014 ballot include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Republicans will have 13 senators up for re-election, all but one — Susan Collins of Maine — from red states.

Tags: Bruce Braley , Steve King , Tom Harkin , Tom Latham

Christie Vilsack Jumps in the Race, Ethanol Lobby Close Behind



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Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack is running for Congress in Iowa, declaring her bid to oust incumbent Republican Steve King in the newly redrawn 4th congressional district.

The locals expect the race to get ugly; Tim Carney notes that health-care and ethanol lobbyists are already writing checks to Vilsack.

(By the way, it’s an open secret that Christie Vilsack is sleeping with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.)

The NRCC welcomes her to the race:

Tags: Christie Vilsack , Steve King

Redistricting Headaches for Carnahan and Four Iowa Incumbents



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Several bits of redistricting news out today. First the good news for the GOP in Missouri, where incumbent Democrat Russ Carnahan appears to member left standing during the district-line version of musical chairs:

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan’s congressional district would be carved up, with parts going to four colleagues’ districts under a preliminary redistricting plan unveiled Wednesday evening.

The map, drafted by Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, represents the Legislature’s first attempt to redraw the boundaries to eliminate one of the state’s nine congressional districts to reflect the 2010 census.

Iowa’s redistricting is making life difficult for several incumbents in each party; these guys may decide the simpler solution is to just move:

So it turns out moving to Ames wasn’t quite far enough away for Republican Rep. Tom Latham to escape from being paired with fellow Republican Steve King.

The new, proposed map also tosses Democrats Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack together. That’s a more predictable outcome, because with growing eastern-Iowa populations it seemed likely that Johnson and Linn counties would be split up. Should this map be approved, Loebsack could move just a few miles away from his Mount Vernon home to get into Johnson or Cedar counties in the 2nd District.

I wonder if the National Association of Realtors lobbies for complicated redistricting maps, just to stir up the housing market by making lawmakers move a few miles to stay within their new district lines.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, they have to carve out a new seat out of a state that is already heavily Republican:

Over the next several months, one of the busiest spots in the capital will be the map room, where much of the work is done. Speculation has already begun as to which area of the state will get the new congressional district. Early discussion has centered on the Grand Strand because of its rapid growth, but the Rock Hill area, south of Charlotte, has been part of the conversation, too, along with the upstate cities of Spartanburg and Greenville.

Although McConnell told the Associated Press he worked hard to put together a balanced subcommittee, it’s widely expected that the new congressional district will be yet another Republican-controlled district. Five of the state’s current congressmen are Republicans.

Tags: Bruce Braley , Dave Loebsack , Redistricting , Russ Carnahan , Steve King , Tom Latham

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