Iowa Public Television

 

Reporters Roundtable

posted on November 14, 2005

Borg: TESTING THE WATER. IOWANS WATCH AND LISTEN AS CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR, CONGRESS, THE LEGISLATURE, AND PRESIDENT TEST THEIR MESSAGES AND PERSONAL APPEAL. WE'LL GET PERSPECTIVE ON WHO AND WHAT IS CONNECTING DURING A REPORTERS ROUNDTABLE ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: IOWA'S TWO MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES ARE GEARING UP, RAISING MONEY AND ENERGIZING THE ACTIVISTS. REPUBLICANS DID IT WITH THEIR ANNUAL RONALD REAGAN DINNER THREE WEEKS AGO, AND DEMOCRATS PARADED THEIR CANDIDATES LAST WEEKEND AT THE JEFFERSON-JACKSON DAY EVENT. MAJOR THEME AT BOTH EVENTS WAS WINNING CONTROL OF THE IOWA LEGISLATURE, AS WELL AS THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. AND AS IOWANS NOW FACE WINTER, JUNE SEEMS A LONG WAY OFF. BUT FOR CANDIDATES EYEING THE PRIMARY ELECTION, THAT'S A MERE SEVEN MONTHS AWAY, AND THE GENERAL ELECTION A YEAR FROM NOW. WELL, TODAY WE'RE GOING TO GET A SNAPSHOT OF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL FROM THE REPORTERS COVERING THE CANDIDATES: "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN; "RADIO IOWA" NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON; "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER; AND "IOWA PUBLIC RADIO" STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JENEANE BECK. AND JENEANE BECK, IF CANDIDATES WERE WATCHING FOR NUANCES IN LAST TUESDAY'S ELECTIONS, WHAT DID THEY SEE?

Beck: WELL, DEMOCRATS CLAIM THAT TUESDAY WAS VERY GOOD FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY HELD SEATS IN VIRGINIA AND NEW JERSEY IN THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES. SO THEY'D LIKE TO SAY THAT IN AN OFF-YEAR ELECTION THAT THAT BODES WELL FOR THEM OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS LEADING UP TO THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. HISTORICALLY THERE ISN'T THAT MUCH PROOF TO THAT, BUT WHICHEVER PARTY WINS IN AN OFF-YEAR ELECTION LIKES TO SAY "THAT BODES WELL FOR US."

Glover: WHAT THE TUESDAY ELECTION DID WAS, IN ESSENCE, IT STARTED, IN EARNEST, THE CAMPAIGN FOR 2006 AND, BY OSMOSIS, A CAMPAIGN FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN 2008. A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO BE OUT CAMPAIGNING, STUMPING BECAUSE THEY'RE UP IN 2006 IN THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS, FOUND A REAL HANDY PLACE TO GO IN NEW JERSEY AND IN VIRGINIA BECAUSE THERE WERE CONTESTED ELECTIONS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE PAYING ATTENTION TO BUT IT, IN ESSENCE, MADE SURE THAT WE HAVE A CONTINUOUS CAMPAIGN IN AMERICA, DEAN. IT NEVER STOPPED AFTER LAST YEAR'S ELECTION.

Borg: WHAT WERE THE MESSAGES THAT RESONATED? DID YOU SEE ANY, KAY?

Henderson: I CAN'T REALLY PINPOINT ONE MESSAGE OTHER THAN GEORGE BUSH IS VERY UNPOPULAR WITH MANY VOTERS AND DEMOCRATIC VOTERS -- I'M MENTIONING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS -- WERE MOTIVATED TO GO OUT AND VOTE. I THINK ONE OF THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS THAT JENEANE MENTIONED, VIRGINIA'S GOVERNOR HAD A LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR WHO WAS SEEKING TO BECOME THE GOVERNOR, MARK WARNER, WHO HAS BEEN TO IOWA BEFORE, AND THAT LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR WON. WARNER WAS ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING WITH HIM, AND I THINK WE'LL ALL SEE MARK WARNER SPEND A GOOD DEAL MORE TIME IN IOWA IN THE COMING MONTHS AS HE SORT OF LAUNCHES HIS PRESIDENTIAL RACE.

Yepsen: IT'S IMPORTANT PSYCHOLOGICALLY. THESE OFF-YEAR ELECTIONS ARE NOT HARBINGERS, BUT THEY DO HAVE A LOT TO DO WITH A PARTY'S SPIRIT. YOU COULD TELL IN THOSE RESULTS -- CALIFORNIA IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER A BIG HIT. THE DEMOCRATIC BASE IS FIRED UP. THE REPUBLICAN BASE IS DISCOURAGED. THAT BECOMES POLITICALLY SIGNIFICANT AS THE PARTIES TRY TO (A) RECRUIT CANDIDATES AND (B) RAISE MONEY. DEMOCRATIC DONORS ARE MORE WILLING TODAY TO FORK OVER MONEY. AND DEMOCRATIC POTENTIAL CANDIDATES, PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE A GOOD CANDIDATE THINKING ABOUT RUNNING FOR THE LEGISLATURE OR CONGRESS, IS MORE LIKELY TO RUN TODAY.

Glover: AND THAT'S AN IMPORTANT POINT BECAUSE RIGHT NOW -- AND I MENTIONED EARLIER THE 2006 ELECTION IS SHAPING UP. RIGHT NOW YOU'VE GOT REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE LEADERS RUNNING AROUND IOWA, HAVING COFFEE, TOWN MEETINGS WITH POTENTIAL LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES. IF I'M A DEMOCRAT, IF I'M A MIKE GRONSTAL, THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER OF THE SENATE, I CAN GO TO SOMEBODY AND I SAY, "HEY, WHAT ABOUT RUNNING FOR THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR. I KNOW IT'S A TOUGH DISTRICT. I KNOW YOU'VE GOT AN INCUMBENT TO RUN AGAINST BUT, HEY, IT'S A PRETTY GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS." AND YOU MIGHT FIND A RECEPTIVE AUDIENCE. BUT YOU GO TO A REPUBLICAN AND SAY, "HEY, WHAT ABOUT RUNNING FOR THE LEGISLATURE," "YOU KNOW, DO I REALLY WANT TO TAKE THAT SACRIFICE WHEN IT'S GOING TO BE A BAD YEAR?"

Henderson: AND WHAT'S REALLY INTERESTING FOR IOWA POLITICIANS AS OPPOSED TO POLITICIANS IN OTHER STATES IS THEY BENEFIT FROM THE IOWA CAUCUSES IN 2008 BECAUSE CANDIDATES OF THE FUTURE ARE GOING TO COME HERE AND HELP THOSE CANDIDATES RAISE MONEY. SO IT HELPS IN TERMS OF LOCAL FUND-RAISING TO HAVE ALL THOSE NATIONAL CANDIDATES COMING HERE TO SORT OF LAUNCH THEIR CAMPAIGN AND TEST THE WATERS.

Yepsen: DEAN, I REALIZE YOU'RE THE MODERATOR OF THIS PROGRAM, BUT I WANT TO TURN THE TABLES ON YOU. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED ON TUESDAY WAS IOWA'S SECOND LARGEST CITY, CEDAR RAPIDS, GOT A NEW MAYOR, KAY HALLORAN. SHE'S A DEMOCRAT, ALTHOUGH THEY DON'T RUN ON A PARTISAN BASIS. THAT'S YOUR OLD STOMPING GROUND, DEAN. WHAT HAPPENED?

Borg: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WHAT HAPPENED THERE WAS THIS IS A BRAND-NEW FORM OF GOVERNMENT. CEDAR RAPIDS HAS BEEN ONE OF TWO IN THE NATION OPERATING UNDER THE COMMISSION FORM OF GOVERNMENT. AND PAUL PATE WAS THE FULL-TIME MAYOR THERE. AS YOU HAVE INTIMATED, WE HAD A FULL-TIME MAYOR. RIGHT NOW IT'S GOING TO A CITY MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT. THAT WAS DECIDED EARLIER THIS SUMMER. THIS WAS THE ELECTION TO ELECT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO SERVE, PART-TIME CITIZENS AS PART-TIME MAYOR, PART-TIME CITIZEN COUNCIL, AND THEN A CITY MANAGER. WHAT I SAW THERE, SCOTT OLSON, LOCAL ARCHITECT, A LONG-TIME VOLUNTEER IN A LOT OF STATE AND MUNICIPAL ROLES, CAME WITHIN 700 VOTES. BUT WHAT REALLY TURNED THE TIDE THERE, IN MY ESTIMATION, WAS KAY HALLORAN'S SUPPORT BY LABOR. AND LABOR PICKED THEIR CANDIDATES IN EACH OF THE QUADRANTS OF THE CITY, AND HAD A FULL-TIME -- FULL-PAGE AD, AND IT SEEMED TO ME THAT LABOR SWUNG THAT VOTE.

Henderson: AND THAT'S INTERESTING, DEAN, I THINK, BECAUSE I THINK LABOR SEES THIS COMING ELECTION AS SORT OF A HALLMARK FOR THEM BECAUSE THE LABOR MOVEMENT HAS BEEN SORT OF BACK ON ITS HAUNCHES. SO THEY'RE GOING TO TRY TO FLEX THEIR MUSCLE IN ELECTIONS IN IOWA AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SORT OF PROVE THAT THEY ARE STILL A VIABLE PART OF THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE.

Yepsen: AGAIN, THE PSYCHOLOGY, IOWA'S SECOND LARGEST CITY, WE GO FROM A REPUBLICAN MAYOR, PAUL PATE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR. HE LEAVES OFFICE. AND WHO DO THEY REPLACE HIM WITH? A DEMOCRAT. THAT GIVES DEMOCRATS ALL OVER THE STATE A REAL SHOT IN THE ARM.

Beck: IT'S NOT JUST A SHOT IN THE ARM, BUT IT ALSO MEANS THAT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES THAT COME TO IOWA NOW HAVE A DEMOCRAT IN THAT CITY TO CAMPAIGN WITH. YOU KNOW, IF YOU HAVE A REPUBLICAN MAYOR AND A REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE COMES THROUGH, YOU CAN HAVE A BIG SORT OF EVENT AND YOU HAVE ALL THE REPUBLICANS ON STAGE WITH YOU AND YOU HAVE A REPUBLICAN MAYOR MAYBE INTRODUCING YOU. THIS GIVES DEMOCRATS AN IN IN THAT COMMUNITY TO COME IN AND CAMPAIGN THERE WITH THAT MAYOR.

Borg: IT'S GOING TO BE INTERESTING TOO BECAUSE MAYBE THERE IS A DEMOCRATIC SLANT THERE, AS I'VE JUST INTIMATED. BUT LEE CLANCEY, FORMER MAYOR OF CEDAR RAPIDS AND A REPUBLICAN WHO FELL OUT OF FAVOR BECAUSE SHE HAD --

Glover: I WAS GOING TO SAY A REPUBLICAN IN NAME ONLY. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: -- IS NOW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FOLLOWING RON CORBETT'S ROLE THERE, OF THE CEDAR RAPIDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, AND HAS A HUGE INFLUENCE NOW ON CEDAR RAPIDS CITY GOVERNMENT.

Glover: RIGHT.

Borg: LET'S GO ON HERE TO THE TELECOM VOTES IN IOWA. THERE WERE A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF THAT. DO YOU SEE ANY REASON FOR THAT, KAY?

Henderson: VOTERS IN SMALL TOWNS IN IOWA SEEM TO BE DISSATISFIED WITH THE BIGGIES, QUEST AND MEDIACOM, BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT EXTENDING THEIR HIGHEST SPEED CONNECTIONS TO THE INTERNET IN THOSE SMALL COMMUNITIES BECAUSE THE MARKET IS NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO TURN THE KIND OF PROFIT THAT THOSE BIG COMPANIES WANT. SO VOTERS IN MANY OF THOSE TOWNS SAID LET'S JOIN TOGETHER AND THINK ABOUT ESTABLISHING A LOCAL UTILITY SO WE CAN GET THAT HIGHEST SPEED CONNECTION. BUT YOU ALSO HAD VOTERS IN LARGER TOWNS, LIKE DUBUQUE AND WATERLOO AND MASON CITY, WHO SAID THE SAME THING. THIS WAS A FASCINATING ELECTION BECAUSE THIS ALSO IS LINKED TO CLARK MCLEOD, THE FOUNDER OF TELECONNECT, WHICH WAS EVENTUALLY SOLD TO MCI, AND ALSO MCLEOD USA, WHICH IS IN EXISTENCE RIGHT NOW. HE HAD HOPED -- HE HOPES NOW TO JOIN IN PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS WITH THOSE CITIES, PARTICULARLY THE LARGE ONES, AND EXTEND HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS IN THOSE COMMUNITIES.

Glover: DEAN, THIS HAD TO DO WITH ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY. MONEY. MEDIA COME HAS THE MONEY; CLARK MCLEOD WANTS IT. THAT'S THE ONLY THING THAT'S TAKING THESE ELECTIONS.

Yepsen: AND IT'S INTERESTING THAT IN MARION, CLARK MCLEOD'S HOMETOWN, THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW HIM BEST VOTED AGAINST THE IDEA. THEY VOTED AGAINST HIM.

Glover: RIGHT.

Beck: BUT I DON'T THINK IT IS -- MONEY IS A BAG FACTOR IN ANYTHING, BUT IN TOWNS LIKE WATERLOO, WHERE THEY'VE SEEN CEDAR FALLS WHO HAS A MUNICIPAL UTILITY, GET HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS -- AND THERE ARE BUSINESSES IN WATERLOO THAT ARE SAYING WHY DON'T WE HAVE THAT. IT IS TIME FOR US TO HAVE IT, AND IF THE ONLY WAY WE'RE GOING TO GET IT IS A MUNICIPAL UTILITY THEN, FINE, WE'LL PUT UP THE MONEY FOR IT, AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED.

Yepsen: THE GOOD NEWS IN THIS DEBATE, DEAN, IS THAT EVERYBODY IN IOWA NOW REALIZES THAT HIGH SPEED BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS IS THE KEY TO OUR FUTURE. IT'S THE DIGITAL EQUIVALENT OF BUILDING INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS AND FOUR-LANE ROADS. EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS THAT NOW. THE DIFFICULTY WE'RE HAVING IS WHO SHOULD DO THAT. SHOULD PRIVATE BUSINESS DO THAT OR SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT?

Borg: BUT THE GOVERNMENT DID IT AT THE ICN --

Yepsen: AND LOOK AT THAT. MOST STATE AGENCIES WOULD LOVE TO GET RID OF IT. IT COST $400 MILLION, WHICH IS MONEY THAT COULD HAVE BEEN USED FOR SOMETHING ELSE. SO IOWANS ARE HAVING A TOUGH TIME FIGURING OUT WHO SHOULD DO THIS, WHO SHOULD PAY FOR IT, WHO SHOULD BE ON THE HOOK FOR IT. WE KNOW IT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Glover: PART OF THE PROBLEM IN THIS -- EXCUSE ME, DEAN. PART OF THE PROBLEM IN THIS IS NO ONE HAS A REALLY GOOD PICTURE OF WHAT THIS DIGITAL WORLD IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE TEN YEARS FROM NOW. IF YOU THINK BACK TWENTY YEARS AND THINK OF HOW WE ALL WORKED, HOW WE COMMUNICATED TWENTY YEARS AGO, WHO WOULD HAVE ENVISIONED THE WAY THINGS WORK TODAY? WELL, IT'S PROBABLY GOING TO CHANGE EVEN MORE OVER THE NEXT TEN TO TWENTY YEARS, AND I DON'T THINK ANYBODY HAS A REAL GOOD PICTURE OF WHERE THAT'S GOING TO END UP AND HOW TO GET THERE.

Yepsen: AND A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THAT IS IN DUBUQUE, WHERE THEY ORIGINALLY STARTED OUT TALKING ABOUT PUTTING FIBER LINES ALL THROUGH THE CITY. NOW THERE'S TALK OF, WELL, MAYBE WE'LL DO MORE WIRELESS.

Glover: RIGHT.

Beck: AND I THINK THAT THESE VOTES -- IN SOME CASES THEY MAY NEVER ESTABLISH A LOCAL UTILITY. THEY MAY HAVE VOTED FOR IT AND THEN NOT ACTUALLY DO IT. BUT THE POINT WAS TO FORCE THESE COMPANIES THEN TO COME IN AND SAY, "LOOK, WE'RE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. YOU BETTER BRING US THE HIGH SPEED, OR WE'LL DO IT ON OUR OWN."

Yepsen: THAT IS A VERY GOOD POINT, JENEANE, BECAUSE I THINK MARSHALLTOWN IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHERE THEY STARTED DOWN THIS ROAD OF UTILITY. MEDIACOM SAID, "WAIT A MINUTE, WE DON'T WANT THE GOVERNMENT IN THIS." SO WHAT DID THEY DO? THEY GOT TOGETHER AND THEY WORKED IT OUT. AND I THINK THAT'S THE GREAT SPIRIT OF IOWA IS THAT GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR WORK TOGETHER TO GET MARSHALLTOWN A GOOD DIGITAL FUTURE.

Borg: MIKE, WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF THE IOWA CAUCUSES?

Glover: THE IOWA CAUCUSES IN 2008 WILL ONCE AGAIN, IN ALL PROBABILITY, BE THE FIRST TEST OF THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATING SEASON. AND IN BOTH PARTIES, YOU'LL SEE CANDIDATES SPEND A COUPLE, THREE YEARS CAMPAIGNING HERE. YOU'RE ALREADY STARTING TO SEE THAT UNFOLD. REPUBLICANS HAVE ALREADY SETTLED ON THAT CALENDAR. DEMOCRATS HAVE A COMMISSION WHICH IS STUDYING THE ISSUE. THAT COMMISSION IS SCHEDULED TO ISSUE ITS REPORT NEXT MONTH. THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO VOTE ON THAT IN JANUARY. ONE IDEA THAT'S BEEN FLOATED IS PUTTING A COUPLE OF TESTS BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. IF I HAD TO BET, I'D BET RIGHT NOW THAT WOULDN'T HAPPEN. I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE, IN 2008, THE SAME THING YOU HAD IN 2004 AND FOR TWENTY YEARS BEFORE THAT. BUT I THINK IT WILL BE AN OPEN QUESTION AFTER THAT. I THINK THE FUTURE OF THE CAUCUSES HAS BEEN QUESTIONED, AND I THINK THERE WILL BE AN ONGOING DEBATE. I THINK AFTER 2008 THEY'LL HAVE A PROBLEM.

Borg: JENEANE, WHAT'S TOM VILSACK'S STAKE IN HAVING IOWA FIRST?

Beck: WELL, THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. I MEAN THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO THAT. AS THE GOVERNOR OF IOWA, MANY WOULD CONSIDER IT IMPORTANT FOR HIM TO LOBBY ON BEHALF OF THE STATE KEEPING THE CAUCUSES BECAUSE IT'S GOOD REVENUE FOR A LOT OF IOWA BUSINESSES AND IT'S JUST GOOD PUBLICITY FOR THE STATE. BUT THERE ARE MANY WHO BELIEVE THAT HE CAN'T WIN AN IOWA CAUCUS, MEANING EVEN IF HE WINS THE IOWA CAUCUSES, HE'S EXPECTED TO WIN BY SUCH A HUGE MARGIN THAT IT'S DILUTED, THAT ANY WIN HE GETS IS JUST SORT OF CONSIDERED, WELL, OF COURSE HE WON, AND WHOEVER DOES SECOND OR THIRD ACTUALLY GETS THE BUMP OUT OF IOWA INSTEAD OF HIM. SO THERE'S A QUESTION OF HOW MUCH HE'S PUSHING TO KEEP THE CAUCUSES. AND AS WE GET CLOSER TO THIS REPORT COMING FROM THIS COMMISSION, YOU SEE STATES LIKE MICHIGAN CONTINUING TO HAMMER THE PROPOSITION THAT IT'S UNFAIR THAT IT'S IN IOWA EVERY YEAR.

Glover: AND I THINK WHAT YOU'VE SEEN -- AND YOU'RE RIGHT. CARL LEVIN FROM MICHIGAN HAS BEEN A MAIN PROPONENT OF TRYING TO JAM UP THIS SCHEDULE AND CHANGE IT. BUT LEVIN HAS EVEN SAID HE'S OKAY WITH IOWA LEADING OFF IN 2008, BUT HE WANTS TO HAVE THE DEBATE AFTER THAT. SO I THINK WE WILL HAVE A FIGHT ABOUT THAT. AND YOU'RE EXACTLY RIGHT ABOUT TOM VILSACK. HE RECOGNIZES THAT HE HAS NO WIN HERE IN IOWA. AND IF HE RUNS, WHICH I THINK HE PROBABLY WILL, I THINK THERE WILL BE TWO OR THREE PEOPLE WHO WILL COME TO IOWA AND TRY TO WIN THE NOMINATION IN IOWA BY BEATING TOM VILSACK HERE. AND I HAD A CONVERSATION WITH A DEMOCRAT WHOSE OPINION I TRUST, AND HE SAID IF YOU RAN A POLL AMONG LIKELY DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS GOERS RIGHT NOW, TOM VILSACK WOULD EITHER BE THIRD OR FOURTH.

Yepsen: VILSACK HAS TO KILL THE IOWA CAUCUSES WITHOUT SHOWING HIS FINGERPRINTS. HE'D BE BETTER OFF IF THESE THINGS WENT WAY, BECAUSE THERE ARE MANY IOWA DEMOCRATS, AS MIKE POINTS OUT, WHO DO NOT THINK HE'S PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL AND DON'T WANT HIM TO RUN. SO HE'S GOT A REAL PROBLEM. THE DIFFICULTY FOR DEMOCRATS IS THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY IOWA RIGHT NOW. THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THE CALENDAR IS GOING TO BE, AND THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT GOVERNOR VILSACK IS GOING TO DO. DO THEY COME IN HERE AND COMPETE THINKING THEY CAN EMBARRASS VILSACK? I THINK JOHN EDWARDS WOULD DO THAT. OR DO THEY BYPASS IOWA FIGURING, LET'S SAY, WELL, TOM VILSACK IS RUNNING, WE DON'T HAVE TO GO THERE? I THINK HILLARY CLINTON MIGHT DO THAT. SO THE DEMOCRATIC RACE IS NOT GELLED YET BECAUSE OF THIS CONFUSION ABOUT THE CAUCUSES.

Borg: BUT WILL THAT BE DECIDED NEXT MONTH AND MAYBE WE'LL KNOW EVERYTHING?

Yepsen: THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY NEVER DECIDES ITS PROCESS. IT CONSTANTLY IS TINKERING AROUND WITH TRYING TO CHANGE IT. OFFICIALLY THE COMMISSION MAKES A REPORT TO THE NATIONAL -- TO THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, MAKES A REPORT TO THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE, AND THEN THEY WILL VOTE ON SOME PROCESS. BUT, DEAN, IT WILL NOT END THE DEBATE OVER THE ROLE OF IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE.

Glover: WE HAVE TO REMEMBER IN 1988, IOWA WAS NOT THE FIRST TEST. IN 1988 MICHIGAN HELD CAUCUSES PRIOR TO THE IOWA CAUCUSES, BUT IT WAS ALL JUMBLED UP AND THEY DIDN'T WORK SO TERRIBLY WELL. IN ANOTHER ELECTION CYCLE, ALASKA HELD A TEST BEFORE IOWA AND LOUISIANA TRIED IT ONCE. SO IF THE COMMISSION -- LET'S SAY THEY COME BACK AND SAY, OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE IOWA AND THEN NEW HAMPSHIRE, THAT WILL NOT PREEMPT SOME OTHER STATE FROM ACTING ON ITS OWN TO TRY SET UP ITS OWN PROCESS.

Borg: KAY, WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO REPLACE TOM VILSACK?

Henderson: IT'S AN INTERESTING RACE ON BOTH SIDES, AND IT'S INTERESTING THAT IT HAS STARTED IN EARNEST SO EARLY. THIS SUMMER CAMPAIGNS WERE REALLY RATCHETING UP. FOLKS LIKE CHET CULVER WERE ALREADY RENTING CAMPAIGN SPACE, WHICH IS SORT OF UNHEARD OF TO ESTABLISH THAT BIG OF PRESENCE AND THAT BIG OF CAMPAIGN THAT'S SO FAR IN ADVANCE OF THE ELECTION. ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, YOU HAVE JIM NUSSLE, A CONGRESSMAN WHO IS HARD AT WORK TRYING TO WRANGLE OUT THE FEDERAL BUDGET. AND YOU HAVE A GUY IN BOB VANDER PLAATS WHO RAN LAST TIME AROUND WHO IS MAKING THE ROUNDS OF SMALL REPUBLICAN GATHERINGS, AND I THINK THAT HE'S A STEALTH CANDIDATE RIGHT NOW. HE'S GOOD IN PERSON-TO-PERSON EVENTS. I THINK PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SURPRISED WHEN VANDER PLAATS AND NUSSLE ARE ON THE SAME STAGE THAT VANDER PLAATS DOES AS WELL AS HE DOES. HE'S A VERY GOOD PUBLIC SPEAKER, VERY MOTIVATIONAL. SO I THINK THIS REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN IS MUCH MORE COMPETITIVE THAN WE MIGHT HAVE REALIZED HEADING IN, BECAUSE VANDER PLAATS IS A LIKABLE CANDIDATE AND APPEALING TO A PART OF THE PARTY THAT PAST CANDIDATES, LIKE BILL SALIER, WHO FORMER CONGRESSMAN GREG GANSKE SORT OF IGNORED, AND HE ENDED UP BEING ALMOST A SURPRISE VICTOR IN THAT PRIMARY.

Borg: WELL, WHAT YOU'RE SAYING -- IS IT SIGNIFICANT THEN THAT NUSSLE IS RUNNING ADS IN WESTERN IOWA WHERE HE ISN'T AS WELL KNOWN?

Henderson: VERY SIGNIFICANT AND IT'S BECAUSE OF BOB VANDER PLAATS BEING FROM WESTERN IOWA AND POPULAR WITH THAT SEGMENT OF THE PARTY THAT IS VERY CONSERVATIVE.

Glover: WE HAVE TO -- WE HAVE TO GO BACK AND STOP AND THINK ABOUT OUR POLITICAL HISTORY. LOOK AT THE RECORD OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS COMING BACK TO IOWA TO RUN FOR ANOTHER HIGHER OFFICE. IT'S NOT THAT GOOD. LOOK AT GOVERNOR GRANDY. LOOK AT GOVERNOR LIGHTFOOT. THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND ON. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IOWA VOTERS EXPECT IS THEY EXPECT TO SEE THEIR CANDIDATES UP FRONT. THEY WANT TO SEE THEM AT THE COUNTY FARM BUREAU MEETING ON SATURDAY NIGHT. THEY WANT TO SEE THEM AT THE COFFEE ON SATURDAY MORNING. JIM NUSSLE MAY BE A VERY IMPORTANT PLAYER IN CONGRESS, BUT HE'S TIED DOWN TO WASHINGTON, AND THAT'S A PROBLEM WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING IN AN IOWA ELECTION.

Borg: HOW BIG AN ISSUE IS ABORTION IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY?

Yepsen: IT'S A BIG ISSUE. IT'S A HUGE ISSUE. MIKE BLOUIN IS PRO-LIFE. AND WHEN HE WAS ON THE SHOW HERE, HE LAID THAT ALL OUT FOR US. BUT HE'S NOT REALLY FOCUSING ON WHAT THAT MEANS. YOU HAVE A PRO-LIFE CANDIDATE IN A LARGELY PRO-CHOICE ELECTORATE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. AND NOW WITH THE CHANGES IN THE SUPREME COURT, DEAN, THE ISSUES AROUND ABORTION ARE BECOMING REAL AGAIN. SO MIKE BLOUIN IS SAYING, I WON'T DO ANYTHING TO CHANGE ROE V. WADE. THAT'S NOT THE QUESTION. ROE V. WADE IS GOING TO GET CHIPPED AWAY AT. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT PARENTAL NOTICE? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT PARENTAL CONSENT? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT FETAL HOMICIDE? ALL THE SUBISSUES OF THAT ISSUE COULD VERY WELL WIND UP ON THE LAP OF THE NEXT GOVERNOR. AND BLOUIN IS IN A BOX BECAUSE HE CANNOT GIVE AN ADEQUATE ANSWER ON THAT QUESTION THAT KEEPS DEMOCRATS HAPPY. SO CHET CULVER, PATTY JUDGE, ALL THESE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ARE JUST HAMMERING AWAY ON MIKE BLOUIN OVER THIS.

Glover: THE BEST THING HE CAN HOPE FOR IS -- THE BEST THING HE CAN HOPE FOR IS THAT THOSE OTHER CANDIDATES SPLIT UP THE VOTE.

Beck: WELL, AND I'VE HAD DEMOCRATS TELL ME THAT THEY WOULD ROUTINELY BE INTERESTED IN A BLOUIN CAMPAIGN. THEY LIKE THE GUY. THEY LIKE HIS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IDEAS, BUT THEIR ONE CONCERN IS BEFORE, IF HE'D RAN FOUR YEARS AGO WHERE THE ABORTION ISSUE WOULDN'T MAYBE COME INTO PLAY, LIKE HE'S SAYING I WOULDN'T CHANGE ROE V. WADE, BUT NOW WITH THE SUPREME COURT IN PLAY, THEY SUDDENLY HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THIS GUY AND SAY, "WELL, THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE TO ME, AND CAN I SUPPORT HIM WHEN ISSUES THAT I NEVER THOUGHT WOULD COME DOWN TO A GOVERNORSHIP SUDDENLY MAY."

Yepsen: MIKE BLOUIN HAS TO LAY OUT EXACTLY WHAT HE WOULD DO AND NOT DO AS GOVERNOR IN ORDER TO GET THIS ISSUE BEHIND HIM. JIM HIGHTOWER, FORMER TEXAS AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER, DEAN, ONCE SAID, "THE ONLY THING YOU'LL FIND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD ARE YELLOW STRIPES AND DEAD ARMADILLOS." AND MIKE BLOUIN IS WINDING UP IN A POSITION OF GETTING HIT FROM BOTH SIDES ON THIS QUESTION. HE'S GOT TO GET IT BEHIND HIM.

Glover: HE'S GOT TO SAY, "OKAY, IF I'M ELECTED GOVERNOR AND ROE V. WADE IS GONE, THIS IS WHAT I WOULD SIGN AND THIS IS WHAT I WOULD VETO," AND HE'S NOT DONE THAT TO DATE. ALTHOUGH I HAD AN -- I HAD AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION WITH A REPUBLICAN. IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, THE ARGUMENT IS ALMOST EXACTLY FLIPPED. IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, IF YOU'RE PRO-CHOICE, YOU'RE DEAD MEAT. IN FACT, I HAD A REPUBLICAN WHO SAID HE WAS AMAZED THAT MIKE BLOUIN, AS A PRO-LIFE DEMOCRAT, WAS STILL BEING CONSIDERED A SERIOUS CANDIDATE. IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, HE SAID, HAD A PRO-CHOICE REPUBLICAN BEEN IN THAT POSITION, THEY WOULDN'T EVEN BE CONSIDERED.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE IN THAT DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IS CHET CULVER'S SUPPORT FOR THE DEATH PENALTY. THAT GIVES A LOT OF DEMOCRATIC ACTIVISTS HEARTBURN AS WELL. BUT OF THE TWO ISSUES, CULVER'S SUPPORT FOR THE DEATH PENALTY HURTS HIM LESS THAN BLOUIN'S PRO-LIFE VIEWS HURT HIM.

Borg: JENEANE, THE JIM NUSSLE GIVING UP THE FIRST DISTRICT SEAT, THAT SETS UP QUITE A RACE THERE.

Beck: OH, IT DOES. AND WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF MONEY RAISED IN THAT DISTRICT. YOU HAVE SEVERAL CANDIDATES ON BOTH SIDES. AND WE WERE GETTING PRESS RELEASES FROM THE REPUBLICANS ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY THEY'VE RAISED IN THE LAST QUARTER, AND YET THEN WE FOUND OUT THE DEMOCRATS -- ONE OF THE DEMOCRATS IN THE RACE HAD RAISED MORE MONEY THAN ANY OF THE REPUBLICANS. SO THAT'S A SEAT THAT, WHILE IT HAS BEEN HELD BY A REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRATS ARE LOOKING AT AND SAYING "WE HAVE A SHOT."

Glover: IT'S A DISTRICT -- I TALKED TO VILSACK'S OLD BUDDY, JOHN LAPP, WHO RUNS THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE NOW. THEY CONSIDER THE FIRST DISTRICT IN EASTERN IOWA THE NUMBER ONE PROSPECT FOR A DEMOCRATIC PICK-UP IN NOVEMBER. IT IS A SEAT THAT TRENDS DEMOCRATIC -- THERE ARE ABOUT 15,000 MORE DEMOCRATS THAN REPUBLICANS -- BUT HELD BY A REPUBLICAN. IT'S THEIR TOP CHOICE FOR A PICK-UP.

Henderson: BECAUSE OF THE WAY IOWA'S CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT LINES ARE DRAWN, THEY'RE DRAWN SORT OF INDEPENDENT FROM POLITICS IN MANY WAYS, IOWA, UNLIKE MOST OTHER STATES IN THE COUNTRY, IS GOING TO HAVE SOME COMPETITIVE RACES. THE FIRST DISTRICT IS VERY COMPETITIVE AND THE THIRD DISTRICT IS VERY COMPETITIVE AS WELL. YOU HAVE CONGRESSMAN LEONARD BOSWELL WHO UNDERWENT SOME VERY SERIOUS SURGERY AND SOME CHEMOTHERAPY AFTERWARD TO DEAL WITH A NONCANCEROUS GROWTH. HE IS NOW BACK AND GOING TO BE SEEKING REELECTION. AND THEN YOU HAVE JEFF LAMBERTI, WHO IS A STATE SENATOR WHO IS ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, AND HE REALLY THINKS THAT HE HAS A SHOT BECAUSE OF THE WAY THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE DISTRICT HAVE CHANGED AND THERE ARE MORE SUBURBAN VOTERS IN THE THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, DESPITE DES MOINES BEING THE HEAVY POPULATION BASE.

Yepsen: DEAN, THIS IS WHERE THE ATMOSPHERICS OF 2006 START TO HAVE AN IMPLICATION FOR THE ELECTIONS THAT YEAR -- THAT FALL, A YEAR FROM NOW, AND THAT IS IT'S GOING TO BE A GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS. I THINK NO MATTER WHO THE DEMOCRATS NOMINATE FOR CONGRESS IN THE FIRST DISTRICT, THEY'VE GOT A GOOD CHANCE OF WINNING, YOU KNOW, A HEAVILY FAVORED CHANCE OF WINNING. AND LEONARD BOSWELL, WHO HAS HAD A LITTLE ROUGH PATCH HERE WITH SOME BAD HEALTH, IS GOING TO HAVE A NICE WIND AT HIS BACK TO HELP HIM OVERCOME THAT CHALLENGE FROM JEFF LAMBERTI. IT'S VERY TOUGH TO KNOCK OFF AN INCUMBENT ANYWAY.

Borg: WELL, MIKE, AS WE LOOK AT THE IOWA LEGISLATURE, REPUBLICANS I THINK STRUGGLE TO RETAIN CONTROL THERE, HOPING TO IN BOTH HOUSES -- WELL, NO, IT'S SPLIT IN THE SENATE.

Glover: RIGHT.

Borg: HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE APPOINTMENT OF SCOTT RAECKER? AND YOU CAN TELL US HOW THAT OCCURRED THIS WEEK.

Glover: SURE. SCOTT RAECKER IS A REPUBLICAN -- YOUNG, BRIGHT REPUBLICAN FROM URBANDALE, SUBURBAN DES MOINES, WHO'S BEEN KIND OF A BIT PLAYER IN THE LEGISLATURE UP TO NOW. HE WAS CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE. HE WAS INVOLVED WITH SOME GAMBLING LEGISLATION LAST SESSION, BUT KIND OF A PLAYER AROUND THE EDGES. HE WAS NAMED TO BE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TO REPLACE BILL DIX RUNNING FOR CONGRESS, WHO SAYS HE DOESN'T HAVE TIME TO RUN THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, WHICH AUTOMATICALLY AND INSTANTLY MADE SCOTT RAECKER ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE LEGISLATURE. NOW, EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS, EVERY DIME THAT'S SPENT WILL HAVE TO RUN PAST HIS DESK. THAT WILL BE A BIG DEAL AND HE WILL COME UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE BECAUSE THE COMPETITION FOR CONTROLLING THE LEGISLATURE NEXT YEAR IS GOING TO BE VERY INTENSE AND VERY REAL. SMART MONEY IN THE ROTUNDA RIGHT NOW IS AT LEAST ONE CHAMBER HOLDS DEMOCRATIC.

Yepsen: SCOTT RAECKER HAS GOT A REALLY TOUGH JOB, DEAN, BECAUSE THE STATE OF IOWA HAS A LITTLE BIT MORE MONEY. WHEN THE STATE IS BROKE AND TIMES ARE TOUGH, APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN JUST SAYS NO TO EVERYBODY AND EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS THAT. NOW THE STATE IS GETTING A LITTLE EXTRA REVENUE HERE, AND EVERY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP IN IOWA HAS GOT THEIR TIN CUP OUT WANTING SOME MONEY. AND HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO SAY, YES, TO SOME PEOPLE AND NO TO A LOT MORE. SO IT'S A TOUGH JOB.

Borg: THE OTHER THING, JENEANE, I WANTED TO TOUCH ON BEFORE WE LEAVE, AND THAT IS THE RAIN FOREST APPROPRIATION.

Beck: WELL, SENATOR GRASSLEY HAD SECURED A $50-MILLION APPROPRIATION FOR THE IOWA CITY INDOOR RAIN FOREST PROPOSITION -- OR CORALVILLE, RATHER. AND NOW HE'S SAYING, LOOK, THEY'RE NOT GETTING THEIR OWN FINANCING -- PRIVATE FINANCING LINED UP FAST ENOUGH, SO HE'S PUT ANOTHER, THROUGH A MEASURE THAT'S EXPECTED TO PASS THROUGH ANOTHER BILL ESSENTIALLY, A RESTRICTION THAT SAYS IF YOU DON'T HAVE OTHER MONEY LINED UP WITHIN TWO YEARS, YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE THAT FEDERAL MONEY BACK. AND, YOU KNOW, THIS WAS BY SOME CONSIDERED A BOONDOGGLE SPENDING ANYWAY, SO HE'S PROTECTING HIMSELF.

Henderson: AND HE HAS BEEN UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE FROM CONSERVATIVES FOR GIVING THIS $50 MILLION FOR THE RAIN FOREST, WHICH SOME PEOPLE CALL THE PORK FOREST. IT'S A $200-MILLION PROJECT. THEY HAVE $50 MILLION FROM THE FEDS AND NOT MUCH ELSE. AND IN A NEWS RELEASE THAT HE ISSUED THIS WEEK, HE SAID, "I DON'T WANT THAT $50 MILLION FRITTERED AWAY." SO HE'S FEELING THE HEAT FROM HIS CONSERVATIVES.

Glover: AND GRASSLEY IS A VERY POLITICALLY SAVVY GUY. HE'S BEEN TONE DEAF ON THIS. I THINK HE'S STARTING TO WAKE UP.

Borg: THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS. WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS DOWN THE ROAD IN ALL OF THESE THINGS. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE'LL BE TALKING WITH IOWA SECRETARY OF STATE CHET CULVER. HE'S HOPING TO BE IOWA'S NEXT GOVERNOR, ONE OF SIX CANDIDATES CAMPAIGNING TO PERSUADE DEMOCRATS TO GIVE THEM THE NOMINATION. GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE CHET CULVER NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY AND SUNDAY AT NOON. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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Tags: Iowa