Iowa Public Television

 

Iowa Political Reporters

posted on June 5, 2006

Borg: DECISION TIME. POLITICAL PARTIES CHOOSE THEIR CANDIDATES IN NEXT TUESDAY'S IOWA PRIMARY ELECTION. POLITICAL REPORTERS ASSESS THE CAMPAIGNS AND THE ISSUES ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE, IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, JUNE 2 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: NEXT TUESDAY, WHEN IOWA POLITICAL PARTIES CHOOSE THEIR CANDIDATES FOR THE NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION, IT'S THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL FOR SOME HOPEFULS. FOR THOSE WHO GET THE PARTY NOMINATION, IT'S A NEW BEGINNING, LEADING UP TO THE NOVEMBER 7 ELECTION. AND THERE MAY BE ANOTHER SCENARIO POSSIBLY. THE HIGH-PROFILE, HIGHLY CONTESTED CAMPAIGN FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR GOVERNOR HAS SOME SPECULATING THAT ANY ONE OF THE FOUR CANDIDATES MIGHT NOT GET THE 35 PERCENT OF THE VOTES REQUIRED FOR NOMINATION. IF THAT HAPPENS, DEMOCRATS WILL USE THEIR JUNE 17 STATE PARTY CONVENTION TO NOMINATE A CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR. TUESDAY'S PRIMARY MAY ALSO PROVIDE INSIGHT INTO WHICH ISSUES ARE RESONATING WITH VOTERS, AND THAT MIGHT SHAPE CAMPAIGNS DURING THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. FOR INSIGHT, WE'RE CALLING ON '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. KAY, I'M GOING TO START OFF WITH YOU. IS THERE A LOT OF ENERGY THAT YOU SENSE LEADING UP TO THIS PRIMARY? ARE VOTERS REALLY EXCITED?

Henderson: IS THERE A PRIMARY? I WAS TALKING WITH A COUPLE OF THE PEOPLE SITTING AT THIS TABLE EARLIER THIS WEEK ABOUT THE LACK OF INTEREST IN THIS RACE AND ACTUALLY THE LACK OF ACTIVITY ON THE PART OF THE CANDIDATES MIXING IT UP IN THE CLOSING DAYS OF THIS. THEY'VE BEEN MIXING IT UP, BUT THEY'VE BEEN MIXING IT UP ON TELEVISION RATHER THAN WITH EACH OTHER IN SORT OF A FACE-TO-FACE WAY. I DROVE AROUND WARREN COUNTY, WHICH IS THE INDIANOLA AREA, ON MOTHER'S DAY, IN THE RURAL AREAS, AND I NOTICED THAT THERE WERE VERY FEW YARD SIGNS OUT. WARREN COUNTY IS A PRETTY DEMOCRATIC LEANING COUNTY, AND THERE WERE VERY FEW SIGNS AT ALL INDICATING THERE'S A GOVERNOR'S RACE GOING ON AND PEOPLE ARE EXCITED ENOUGH ABOUT THE CANDIDATES IN THE RACE, THE THREE LEADING CANDIDATES, THAT THEY WOULD CHOOSE TO PUT A YARD SIGN IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE TO INDICATE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO VOTE. I THINK THIS COULD BE AN INCREDIBLY LOW TURNOUT ELECTION, PERHAPS EVEN LOWER THAN 1998.

Glover: THIS IS A VERY SCARY ELECTION, DEAN. I'VE NEVER SEEN --

Borg: SCARY?

Glover: A SCARY ELECTION. IT'S SCARY BECAUSE I THINK KAY IS RIGHT. FIRST OF ALL, I'VE NOT SEEN AN ELECTION WHERE THE CANDIDATES HAVE NOT ENGAGED THE ELECTORATE TO THE DEGREE THAT THEY HAVE NOT ENGAGED THE ELECTORATE IN THIS PRIMARY CAMPAIGN. KAY IS RIGHT; THERE AREN'T YARD SIGNS. YOU DON'T HEAR PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT IT WHEN YOU GO DOWN TO YOUR CORNER TAP TO HAVE A BEER. YOU DON'T HEAR PEOPLE BUZZING ABOUT THE ELECTION. YOU DON'T SEE PEOPLE PUTTING UP YARD SIGNS, WHICH MEANS TURNOUT IS LIKELY TO BE VERY LOW. AND THE REASON I USE THE TERM SCARY, DEAN, IS BECAUSE WHEN TURNOUT GETS LOW, VERY WEIRD THINGS CAN HAPPEN. AND IT DEPENDS ON WHO SHOWS UP ON JUNE 6. THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS A LOW TURNOUT HELPS MIKE BLOUIN BECAUSE HE'S GOT BROAD SUPPORT AMONG ORGANIZED LABOR WHO WILL ORGANIZE THEIR MEMBERS TO TURN OUT. BUT WHEN IT GETS AS LOW AS I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE, IT'S JUST A WILD CARD. WHO KNOWS?

Beck: I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY IT'S SO LOW. WHAT'S INTERESTING TO ME IS THAT YOU HAVE AN OPEN SEAT, A SEAT THAT DOES NOT BECOME OPEN IN IOWA VERY OFTEN. WHY AREN'T VOTERS OR DEMOCRATS MORE INTERESTED IN THIS? YOU KNOW, THEY LOST THE SEAT FOR THIRTY YEARS. THEY GOT IT BACK. THEY'VE HAD EIGHT YEARS OF CONTROL. AND THEY TELL ME THEY LIKE BEING IN CONTROL, BUT WHY NOT ANY ENTHUSIASM, THEN, TO GET OUT THERE AND PICK A CANDIDATE THEY THINK CAN KEEP THAT SEAT?

Yepsen: I THINK THERE ARE A COUPLE REASONS. I THINK DEMOCRATS ARE TAKING THIS FOR GRANTED. I MEAN -- MANY OF THEM HAVE NOT FOCUSED ON THE FACT THAT --

Borg: WHAT'S THERE TO TAKE FOR GRANTED?

Yepsen: THE GOVERNORSHIP. THEY'VE HAD IT FOR EIGHT YEARS, AND THEY DON'T REALIZE THAT THIS COULD BE A VERY COMPETITIVE SITUATION.

Borg: SO YOU'RE SAYING, DAVE, THAT EITHER -- WHOEVER THEY CHOOSE IS GOING TO BEAT JIM NUSSLE?

Yepsen: SOME OF THEM THINK THAT, THAT IT'S GOING TO BE A GREAT YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS AND IT DOESN'T MATTER. BUT I THINK THE WORST PROBLEM IS ALL THREE OF THESE LEADING CANDIDATES HAVE GOT A PROBLEM. AND WE CAN TALK ABOUT SOME OF THAT, BUT THERE HAS A LIMITATION OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER ON THEM THAT KEEPS THEM FROM REALLY EXCITING THE DEMOCRATIC ELECTORATE. AND I AGREE IT'S GOING TO BE A LOW TURNOUT. THE POLK COUNTY AUDITOR HAS SAID THAT HIS ABSENTEE BALLOTS ARE ABOUT A THIRD OF WHAT HE WOULD NORMALLY GET. THIS IS A BIG DEMOCRATIC COUNTY. BUT I THINK ONE EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE MAY BE IN NORTHEAST IOWA WHERE THERE IS A REALLY HOT PRIMARY IN BOTH PARTIES FOR CONGRESS. I THINK THERE YOU MAY BE SEEING A LITTLE MORE INTEREST.

Beck: AND BLOUIN'S CAMPAIGN THINKS THAT HELPS THEM, THAT IF THE TURNOUT IS HEAVY IN NORTHEAST IOWA IN THAT FIRST DISTRICT, THAT'S WHERE HE SERVED IN CONGRESS, ALBEIT CLOSE TO THIRTY YEARS AGO, BUT THAT HIS NAME ID IS HIGHER UP THERE. AND SO IF THAT'S WHERE THE TURNOUT IS STRONG, HIS CAMP THINKS IT HELPS HIM.

Glover: ANOTHER PROBLEM -- AND DAVE TOUCHED ON THIS -- WAS THE PROBLEMS THAT THESE CANDIDATES FACE. IF YOU LOOK AT CHET CULVER, CHET CULVER IS PRO DEATH PENALTY. HE'S TRYING TO WIGGLE OUT OF IT NOW, BUT HE'S PRO DEATH PENALTY. THAT STOPS A DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST FROM GETTING EXCITED ABOUT A CANDIDATE. MIKE BLOUIN IS PRO LIFE. THAT STOPS A LOT OF DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FROM BEING REALLY EXCITED ABOUT HIM. ED FALLON HAS A LOT OF LIBERALS WHO KIND OF LIKE HIM, BUT HE SUPPORTED RALPH NADER IN 2000. THAT TURNS OFF A LOT OF DEMOCRATS. THERE ARE REASONS THAT THEY DON'T REALLY ENERGIZE THE BASE DEMOCRATIC VOTE.

Borg: KAY? OR, DAVE --

Yepsen: NO, I WAS JUST GOING TO POINT OUT THAT THE FACT THAT IT WILL BE A LOW TURNOUT. I THINK MIKE IS RIGHT; STRANGE THINGS CAN HAPPEN IN PRIMARIES LIKE THAT. AND THAT'S WHY THE POLL -- THE PREDICTIVE VALUE OF POLLS IS LIMITED. YOU KNOW, I THINK ED FALLON WILL DO BETTER THAN EXPECTED BECAUSE HIS SUPPORTERS ARE THESE ADAMANT TRUE BELIEVERS. THEY'RE THE HOUDINI ACTS OF THE PARTY. AND IF THEY'RE SHOWING UP, HE'LL HAVE A DISPROPORTIONATELY GOOD SHOWING.

Henderson: BUT THE WEIRDEST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TRULY IS THAT NO ONE GETS 35 PERCENT. AND UNLIKE IN THESE POLLS THAT MEDIA CONGLOMERATES TAKE, THERE ARE GOING TO BE NO UNDECIDEDS. ALL THE VOTES ARE GOING TO BE CAST FOR SOMEBODY ON TUESDAY. AND SO FOR THERE TO BE A SCENARIO WHERE NO ONE GETS 35 PERCENT, THEN SOMEBODY IS GOING TO GET 34 AND A COUPLE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO GET 33. IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO BE KIND OF A DEAD-HEAT RACE AT THE END.

Yepsen: THAT'S POSSIBLE. I DON'T THINK IT'S PROBABLE. I MEAN IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, TO CUT AN ELECTORATE 33/33/33, THAT'S THREADING THE EYE OF A NEEDLE. SO IT'S POSSIBLE; IT'S NOT PROBABLE. IT GENERALLY TAKES A FOURTH CANDIDATE IN A RACE WHO'S VERY CREDIBLE TO BREAK UP THE ELECTORATE THAT WAY. BUT WE CAME CLOSE IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOUR YEARS AGO. I WAS THINKING IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN THAT OFTEN IN STATEWIDE RACES THAT HAVE TO GO TO A CONVENTION.

Borg: THIS WAS WITH DOUG GROSS; IS THAT CORRECT?

Henderson: CORRECT.

Glover: DOUG GROSS GOT THE NOMINATION FOUR YEARS AGO BY 7/10 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER STATEWIDE ELECTIONS THAT HAVE COME VERY CLOSE TO THAT. I'M THINKING THE FIRST TIME DALE COCHRAN RAN FOR THE SECRETARY AGRICULTURE, THAT WAS CLOSE.

Yepsen: BOB RAY WON HIS PRIMARY IN 1968 BY SOMETHING LIKE 38 PERCENT OF THE VOTE, SO WE'VE COME CLOSE BEFORE. BUT I THINK YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO ABOUT 1960, DEAN, TO RECALL A TIME WHEN JACK MILLER WON THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FOR U.S. SENATE IN A STATE CONVENTION. THEY JUST DON'T HAPPEN THAT OFTEN.

Borg: MIKE, YOU HAD AN ADDITIONAL COMMENT ON THAT POSSIBILITY OF GOING TO STATE CONVENTION?

Glover: NO, IT'S JUST -- DAVE IS RIGHT. I THINK IT'S MATHEMATICALLY POSSIBLE THAT THIS DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR'S RACE COULD END UP AT A STATE CONVENTION, BUT IT'S NOT LIKELY.

Borg: LET'S GO -- YOU'VE ALREADY SAID THE TOP MARQUE ELECTION HERE IS THE DEMOCRATIC RACE FOR THE NOMINATION FOR GOVERNOR. LET'S GO DOWN FOUR -- THE FOUR CANDIDATES THERE, STARTING OUT WITH CHET CULVER. YOU'VE SAID, DAVE, ALREADY ON, THAT SOME OF THESE CARRY SOME BAGGAGE THAT REALLY AREN'T EXCITING THE ELECTORATE.

Yepsen: CHET CULVER HAS BEEN WORKING LONGER THAN ANY OTHER CANDIDATE IN THE RACE. HE'S YOUNG, JOHN CULVER'S SON, BUT HE HAS A PROBLEM. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS MIKE JUST MENTIONED WAS HIS SUPPORT FOR THE DEATH PENALTY, WHICH GIVES SOME LIBERAL DEMOCRATS HEARTBURN. BUT MR. CULVER HAD A PROBLEM A COUPLE YEARS AGO WITH THE ELECTION WHEN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN CHARGE OF THE ELECTIONS AND WE HAD TROUBLE FOR ABOUT THREE OR FOUR DAYS REPORTING IOWA'S RESULTS. AND HE LOOKED AWFUL IN THOSE TELEVISION INTERVIEWS, SORT OF LIKE A DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS. AND IT WAS AT THAT POINT WHERE I STARTED HEARING A LOT OF DEMOCRATS SAYING WE'VE GOT TO COME UP WITH ANOTHER CANDIDATE. I DON'T THINK CHET CULVER HAS EVER REALLY RECOVERED FROM THAT. HE'S DOING BETTER NOW THAN HE HAS BEEN. BUT I THINK THAT REALLY PUT, IN THE MINDS OF A LOT OF DEMOCRATS, THE NOTION THAT MAYBE HE CAN'T WIN. BUT I HAVE TO SAY, THE POLLS THAT SHOW THE HEAD-TO-HEAD RACE BETWEEN NUSSLE VERSUS CULVER, NUSSLE VERSUS BLOUIN, NUSSLE VERSUS FALLON, CHET CULVER IS THE ONLY CANDIDATE WHO BEATS JIM NUSSLE. AND THAT PERSUADES A LOT OF DEMOCRATS TO VOTE FOR HIM.

Glover: IF YOU LOOK AT THE BASIC FUNDAMENTALS OF THE RACE, CHET CULVER HAS GOT A GREAT NAME IN DEMOCRATIC POLITICS. AS DAVE MENTIONED, HIS DAD WAS A UNITED STATES SENATOR, MEMBER OF CONGRESS. HE HAS A GREAT NAME IN DEMOCRATIC POLITICS. HE STARTED EARLIER THAN ANY OTHER CANDIDATE. HE'S WON STATEWIDE ELECTION TWICE. HE'S RAISED MORE MONEY THAN ANY OTHER CANDIDATE, ALTHOUGH HIS LAST REPORT WASN'T THAT GREAT. HE OUGHT TO HAVE THIS THING IN THE BARN. IT OUGHT TO BE OVER. HE SHOULD HAVE PUT THE REST OF THE FIELD AWAY, AND IT'S STILL IN PLAY. AND I THINK THAT IS BECAUSE THERE ARE LINGERING DOUBTS AMONG A LOT OF DEMOCRATS ABOUT HIS ELECTABILITY.

Borg: IS THERE INDICATION, KAY, THAT THAT IS WORRISOME TO THE CULVER CAMPAIGN? IS HE RUNNING A FAIRLY SAFE CAMPAIGN, TAKING NO RISKS AT THIS POINT?

Henderson: OF COURSE HE IS. THE LAST DEBATE THAT HE COULD HAVE ATTENDED, THE KUNI PUBLIC RADIO DEBATE, HE CHOSE NOT TO, AND GO OVER AND CAMPAIGN IN WESTERN IOWA, WHERE THERE ARE ALL THOSE DEMOCRATIC VOTERS. SO HE HAS PLAYED IT SAFE, HASN'T MADE A LOT OF MISTAKES TOWARD THE END, HASN'T MADE A LOT OF PUBLIC APPEARANCES WHERE THOSE MISTAKES COULD BE MADE. I THINK ONE OF THE FACTORS THAT HAS OCCURRED TO ME IN THE PAST COUPLE OF DAYS IS THAT OLDER VOTERS TEND TO TURN OUT MORE THAN YOUNGER VOTERS, AND OLDER DEMOCRATS REMEMBER JOHN CULVER. THEY REMEMBER THAT HE SORT OF BROUGHT THEM OUT OF THE WILDERNESS WHEN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY MEANT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN IOWA. AND SO THERE IS STILL SOME CACHE WITH THAT CULVER NAME IN A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. WHEN YOU GET TO THE GENERAL ELECTION, IT'S GOING TO BE A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME.

Yepsen: I THINK AGE IS ALSO A FACTOR IN THIS. CHET CULVER IS YOUNGER THAN MIKE BLOUIN, AND HISTORICALLY IOWANS HAVE TENDED TO LIKE THE YOUNGER CANDIDATE IN A RACE FOR GOVERNOR. I MEAN YOU GO BACK AND LOOK AT IT. BOB RAY WAS YOUNGER THAN PAUL FRANZENBURG IN 1968. YOU JUST GO THROUGH THE LIST OF --

Henderson: AND TOM VILSACK WAS YOUNGER THAN MARK MCCORMICK --

Yepsen: AND JIM LIGHTFOOT. AND SO WE DO HAVE AN OLDER ELECTORATE. OLDER VOTERS MAY TEND TO LOOK AT THESE CANDIDATES AND SAY, YOU KNOW: I'M GETTING UP THERE; I'M RUNNING OUT OF GAS; I WANT TO GET A YOUNGER GUY IN THERE.

Borg: JENEANE, MIKE BLOUIN, THOUGH, HAS A GEOGRAPHIC -- WELL, YOU CAN SAY THAT CHET CULVER HAS WON STATEWIDE ELECTIONS, BUT MIKE BLOUIN HAS LIVED AND SERVED IN VARIOUS AREAS OF THE STATE, IN FACT THE POPULATION HEAVY EASTERN IOWA AREA.

Beck: AND THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, AND HE DOES HAVE SOME NAME RECOGNITION IN SOME OF THE COMMUNITIES IN WHICH HE WORKED WITHIN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, BUT THAT DOESN'T TRANSLATE TO VOTERS VERY WELL, I DON'T THINK. AND I THINK MIKE BLOUIN'S BIGGEST HURDLE, AS WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT EACH CANDIDATE HAS MAYBE ONE OR TWO NEGATIVES, HAS BEEN HIS PRO-LIFE STANCE. IT TOOK HIM TOO LONG IN THIS CAMPAIGN TO SORT OF FIND THE RIGHT SOUND BITE THAT SETTLED THE VOTERS ON THAT ISSUE. AND I THINK THE BEST JOB HE DID WAS FINALLY WHEN HE WAS OUT HERE FOR THE DEBATE, YOU KNOW, THE IPTV DEBATE WITH 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER,' HE FINALLY SEEMED TO SETTLE THAT IN A WAY THAT SOUNDED GOOD AND SAID, LOOK, YOU KNOW, 'I'M PRO LIFE BUT I'M NOT GOING TO CHANGE EXISTING LAW.' HE HAD THE SOUND BITE RIGHT. BUT IT TOOK HIM TOO LONG TO GAIN THAT TRACTION, AND NOW HE'S PLAYING CATCH-UP.

Glover: YOU HAVE TO THINK BACK OF WHAT IOWA VOTERS TEND TO REWARD AND WHAT CHET CULVER HAS BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. LET'S BE HONEST, DEAN. YOU DON'T HAVE A LOT TO DO AS SECRETARY OF STATE. YOU HAVE A LOT OF TIME ON YOUR HANDS. SO FOR EIGHT YEARS, CHET CULVER HAS BEEN SHOWING UP AT THE STATEHOUSE, CHECKING HIS MAIL, AND THEN HEADING OFF TO SOME LITTLE TOWN IN SOME CORNER OF THE STATE FOR A KIWANIS CLUB OR A ROTARY CLUB, A HIGH SCHOOL, AND BEATING THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL ENDLESSLY, NONSTOP CAMPAIGNING. WHO DOES THAT REMIND YOU OF? TERRY BRANSTAD, WHO DID ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. AND IOWA VOTERS TEND TO REWARD THAT KIND OF RETAIL POLITICS.

Yepsen: I THINK MIKE BLOUIN WOULD BE AHEAD IN THIS RACE IF IT WEREN'T FOR THIS ABORTION FIASCO. HE CUT THE TAIL OFF THE DOG AN INCH AT A TIME. AND HE WINDS UP NOW IN A POSITION OF SAYING, 'I WILL NOT CHANGE IOWA LAW ON ABORTION.' WELL, IOWA LAW IS PRO CHOICE, SO WE HAVE A PRO LIFER WHO IS TAKING A PRO-CHOICE POSITION. DEAN, JIM HIGHTOWER, THE FORMER TEXAS AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER ONCE SAID THE ONLY THING YOU FIND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD ARE YELLOW STRIPES AND DEAD ARMADILLOS. AND I THINK MIKE BLOUIN HAS MADE SUCH A HASH OUT OF THIS ABORTION ISSUE THAT A LOT OF DEMOCRATS, PARTICULARLY A LOT OF WOMEN WHO SEE PEOPLE LIKE SAM ALITO GOING ON THE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, ARE VERY SCARED ABOUT ELECTING A GUY LIKE THAT TO THE GOVERNORSHIP. THAT'S WHY PLANNED PARENTHOOD'S PAC HAS ENDORSED CHET CULVER.

Beck: IF HE RAN TWO YEARS AGO, THIS MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN SUCH A BIG ISSUE, BUT WITH THE CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP ON THE SUPREME COURT AND STATES LIKE SOUTH DAKOTA PASSING LAWS, MAKING IT ILLEGAL TO GET AN ABORTION, HE'S THE WRONG CANDIDATE AT THE WRONG TIME POSSIBLY.

Glover: BECAUSE THE ASSUMPTION IS IN A LOT OF THE FEMINIST COMMUNITY THAT THIS ISSUE IS HEADING BACK TO THE STATES. THEY'VE MADE THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE SUPREME COURT IS ALREADY PACKED AND THAT ROE V. WADE HAS LIMITED, IT'S GONE, AND THAT THE ISSUE IS GOING TO BE COMING BACK TO THE STATES. AND THEY KNOW THAT IF MIKE BLOUIN GETS ELECTED GOVERNOR, EVEN THOUGH HE'S MADE A CAMPAIGN PROMISE NOT TO TINKER WITH IOWA LAW, SHOULD THAT ISSUE COME BACK TO THE STATE AND AN ANTI-ABORTION BILL LAND ON HIS DESK, THEY KNOW THE KIND OF HEAT THAT WOULD COME UPON HIM FROM THE PRO-LIFE COMMUNITY.

Yepsen: BLOUIN'S GREAT STRENGTH IN THIS RACE ARE HIS ENDORSEMENTS. HE'S GOT OF LOT OF SUPPORT FROM ORGANIZED LABOR. I DON'T WANT TO GLOSS OVER THAT HERE, BUT I THINK IN A LOW TURNOUT ELECTION, HE GETS HIS PEOPLE OUT. HE'S VERY ARTICULATE. HE KNOWS THE ISSUES. HE'S CONVERSANT IN THEM. SO THERE'S A COMFORT LEVEL OF OTHER POLITICAL LEADERS, LIKE ALL THESE LEGISLATORS, HAVE WITH HIM, AND THAT COUNTS FOR SOMETHING.

Borg: BUT CHET CULVER SAID, 'I'VE GOT LABOR ENDORSEMENTS TOO.'

Yepsen: HE'S GOT A FEW. HE DOESN'T HAVE AS MANY AS MIKE BLOUIN.

Beck: IT JUST SEEMS LIKE AMONG ALL THE CANDIDATES, THERE'S A CHARISMA CHIP THAT MIGHT BE LACKING. AND, YOU KNOW, THAT'S SOMETHING THEY CAN'T DO THAT MUCH ABOUT. BUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, I THINK BLOUIN IS BETTER AT THE GLAD-HANDING. HE'S BETTER ONE ON ONE. HE'S VERY COMFORTABLE. HE'S GOOD AT THAT BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HE DID AS AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR IS SCHMOOSE AND TALK TO PEOPLE. CULVER IS A LITTLE STIFFER AT THAT. AND ED FALLON, WELL, COMES ACROSS, AS YOU SAID, AS A TRUE BELIEVER AND HE REALLY SAYS A LOT OF THE RIGHT THINGS FOR A HARD-CORE DEMOCRAT. HE'S A NICE GUY BUT HE'S NOT THAT CHARISMATIC EITHER.

Borg: LET'S BRING THE OTHER -- MIKE, YOU WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING.

Glover: I WAS GOING TO SAY I THINK WHERE YOU'RE GOING IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE NEXT TUESDAY IS THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO PICK THE CANDIDATE TO RUN AGAINST JIM NUSSLE, A SITTING CONGRESSMAN FROM NORTHEAST IOWA WHO HAS BEEN THERE FOR SEVEN TERMS. HAS JIM NUSSLE BENEFITTED OR BEEN HURT BY NOT HAVING A PRIMARY? I THINK YOU CAN MAKE THE CASE ON BOTH SIDES OF IT. I THINK IN ONE SENSE, HE'S BENEFITTED BECAUSE HE HASN'T HAD TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY. HE'S BEEN ABLE TO HARBOR HIS MONEY A LITTLE BIT. AND IN ONE SENSE HE'S BEEN HURT BECAUSE HE'S KIND OF FALLEN OUT OF THE MIX. WE HAVEN'T SEEN A LOT OF JIM NUSSLE LATELY. YOU DON'T HEAR JIM NUSSLE -- HE THREW UP SOME COMMERCIALS BUT NOT VERY MANY AND FOR NOT VERY LONG. HE'S BEEN KIND OF OUT OF THE MIX, AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF A CANDIDATE JIM NUSSLE IS. ONE OF THE TOUGHEST THINGS WE DO AS JOURNALISTS IS, WHEN A CANDIDATE GOES FROM THIS LEVEL TO THIS LEVEL, TO SEE WHO GROWS INTO THE JOB, WHO CAN GROW INTO RUNNING AT THAT NEXT LEVEL. I WAS WRONG ABOUT TOM VILSACK WHEN HE RAN FOR GOVERNOR. I THOUGHT HE'D BE A TERRIBLE CANDIDATE. IN FACT, HE GREW INTO THE JOB AND WAS A PRETTY GOOD CANDIDATE. THE JURY IS STILL OUT ON NUSSLE.

Borg: LET'S GO TO ED FALLON TOO. WE'VE MENTIONED HIS NAME HERE. WE'VE, I GUESS, CONCEDED HERE THAT MAYBE THE TOP TWO CANDIDATES ARE THE ONES WE'VE JUST BEEN DISCUSSING, BLOUIN AND CULVER, BUT COULD ED FALLON BE MORE THAN A DARK HORSE, KAY?

Henderson: HE COULD BE A JUNE SURPRISE IF INDEED THE FOLKS THAT HE CLAIMS TO SUPPORT HIM -- REPUBLICANS WHO ARE GOING TO CROSS OVER AND VOTE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, DEMOCRATS WHO ARE SO DISAFFECTED THAT THEY HAVEN'T VOTED IN PAST ELECTIONS -- ARE GOING TO COME OUT FOR HIM. SO IF HE DOES MARSHAL THOSE FORCES, THEN HE COULD BE A CREDIBLE CHALLENGER. I THINK THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT ED FELON IS THAT HIS TELEVISION ADS HAVE BEEN SORT OF WELLSTONESQUE, IN THAT THEY HAVE JUST A LITTLE BIT OF A HUMOR. IF HE HAD HAD MORE MONEY AND A LITTLE BIT BETTER PRODUCTION VALUES ON THOSE AND HAD STARTED RUNNING THEM EARLIER, I THINK HE COULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER CHALLENGER TO THESE OTHER TWO FOLKS, BECAUSE HE HAS A MESSAGE THAT RESONATES WITH A CERTAIN PART OF THE ELECTORATE, PARTICULARLY DISAFFECTED PEOPLE WHO ARE AGHAST AT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN POLITICS TODAY.

Yepsen: AS WE SAID IN THESE ROUNDTABLES BEFORE, DEAN, I MEAN, IT'S NEVER BAD TO BE THE MOST LIBERAL GUY IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FIGHT. IT'S NEVER BAD TO BE THE MOST CONSERVATIVE GUY IN A REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FIGHT. SO ED FALLON IS CLEARLY THE MOST LIBERAL GUY IN THIS DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FIGHT, AND I THINK HE'S GOT A LOT OF THESE TRUE BELIEVER SUPPORTERS WHO WILL SHOW UP ON ELECTION DAY. THE PROBLEM -- HE PREDICATES HIS CANDIDACY ON THE NOTION OF THESE CROSSOVERS, AND WE SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE A BIG TRADITION OF INDEPENDENTS AND REPUBLICANS -- OF PEOPLE PLAYING IN EACH OTHER'S PRIMARIES. OTHER STATES DO HAVE THAT TRADITION. WE JUST DON'T HERE IN IOWA. HE DOESN'T HAVE THE MONEY HE NEEDS. HIS CAMPAIGN MANAGER QUIT JUST A FEW DAYS AGO, BIZARRE DEVELOPMENT AT THE END OF A CAMPAIGN. SO I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY, HE PROBABLY WON'T WIN, BUT HE WILL DO WELL. HE MAY ESTABLISH HIMSELF AS A MORE CREDIBLE POLITICAL FIGURE FOR FUTURE RACES DOWN THE ROAD LIKE CONGRESS. EVERY NOW AND THEN, THOUGH, A PARTY GIVES INTO ITS MOST INNER CRAVINGS AND WILL NOMINATE THE MOST LIBERAL GUY OR THE MOST CONSERVATIVE GUY, LIKE GOLDWATER IN '64 AND MCGOVERN IN '72.

Glover: IF HE HAD BEEN DOING TWO YEARS AGO WHAT HE'S DOING NOW, HE'D BE A MUCH MORE CREDIBLE CANDIDATE THAN HE IS NOW. WHEN WE HAD HIM OUT HERE ON THIS SHOW, WE ASKED HIM ABOUT HIS ENDORSEMENT OF RALPH NADER IN 2000, AND HIS ANSWER WAS, 'PROBABLY NOT THE BEST POLITICAL DECISION I'VE EVER MADE.' OKAY, THAT SETTLES THAT. IF HE'D ADMITTED THAT TWO YEARS AGO INSTEAD OF USING THE OCCASION TO RAP THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, HE'D BE A MUCH MORE CREDIBLE CANDIDATE THAN HE IS TODAY. AND, KAY, WHEN I SAW HIS TV, THE FIRST THING I THOUGHT WAS THAT'S A GOOD IDEA AND THAT'S A LOUSY AD. THEY'RE VERY AMATEURISH ADS AND THEY'RE VERY POORLY DONE. BUT THAT'S A GOOD IDEA. ONE THING ABOUT WELLSTONE -- THE ONE THING ABOUT WELLSTONE'S ADS IS THEY WERE GOOD TELEVISION.

Henderson: EXACTLY.

Borg: AND SAL MOHAMED HAS BEEN RUNNING A ONE-PERSON VERY LOW BUDGET CAMPAIGN AND PROBABLY IS NOT A FACTOR.

Glover: THAT'S CORRECT.

Borg: OKAY. LET'S -- YOU MENTIONED CAMPAIGN FUNDING. HAS THE CULVER ADVANTAGE IN CAMPAIGN FUNDING LARGELY NOT BEEN AN ASSET THERE? WOULD YOU SAY THAT, JENEANE, OR NOT?

Beck: WELL, I THINK IT WAS AN ASSET EARLIER BECAUSE IT ALLOWED HIM TO SPEND LESS TIME ON THE PHONE LATER THAN MAYBE THE OTHER CANDIDATES HAD TO DO IN ASKING FOR MONEY. BUT SINCE THEN, IN THE WEEKEND AS WE GEAR UP FOR THE TUESDAY ELECTION, YOU KNOW, BLOUIN'S PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK THEY'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HOLD WITH HIM IN MAIL DROPS, IN COMMERCIAL BUYS. AND WHAT IS INTERESTING IS WE'VE SEEN SOME NEGATIVE ADVERTISING, BUT THE COMMERCIAL BUYS OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS ARE GOING TO BE POSITIVE. BOTH CAMPAIGNS TELL ME, OKAY, WE'VE GOT TO BE DONE WITH THE NEGATIVE, WE'VE GOT TO GO POSITIVE AT THE LAST MINUTE SO THE VOTERS LEAVE WITH A GOOD THOUGHT ABOUT US ON THEIR MINDS.

Glover: AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE CULVER -- THE FINANCIAL EDGE WAS NOT THAT GREAT. AT THE END OF THE DAY, HE ENDED UP RAISING ABOUT $1.7 MILLION. BLOUIN ENDED UP RAISING ABOUT $1.2 MILLION. THEY'RE BOTH IN THE BALL PARK WITH EACH OTHER.

Borg: KAY, LET'S GO OVER TO THE FIRST DISTRICT WHERE THEY HAVE THREE CANDIDATES IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY AND THREE CANDIDATES IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY TO TAKE OVER THE SEAT, ONE OF THEM, ONE PARTY OR THE OTHER, THAT JIM NUSSLE NOW HOLDS, WHO'S RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR. HOW IS THAT RACE GOING?

Henderson: THIS HAS BEEN A COMPETITIVE RACE IN BOTH PRIMARIES. YOU HAVE WELL-KNOWN PEOPLE RUNNING AGAINST NOT-SO-WELL-KNOWN PEOPLE. DEMOCRATS SEEM TO THINK -- THE INSIDERS SEEM TO THINK THAT WATERLOO LAWYER BRUCE BRALEY HAS THE EDGE IN THE DEMOCRATIC RACE, ALTHOUGH, RICK DICKINSON, A FORMER STATE LEGISLATOR WHO'S AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPER, IS SEEN AS A VERY CREDIBLE CHALLENGER. ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, YOU HAVE MIKE WHALEN, WHO IS A RESTAURATEUR AND HOTEL OWNER, BUSINESSMAN IN THE QUAD CITIES, PRETTY WELL KNOWN. HE GOT THE ENDORSEMENT OF FOLKS LIKE TERRY BRANSTAD. AND BILL DIX, A STATE LEGISLATOR WHO'S HAD A HAND IN CRAFTING THE STATE BUDGET WHO IS THE DARLING OF CONSERVATIVES. SO THAT'S BEEN AN INCREDIBLY INTERESTING RACE AS WELL. SO IT'S TURNED OUT TO BE SOMETHING THAT I THINK IT'S MAYBE TOO CLOSE TO CALL IN THE CLOSING DAYS.

Borg: DO THE ISSUES OVER THERE PRETTY MUCH HINGE, JENEANE, ON JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

Beck: NO, THAT REALLY HASN'T BEEN THE ISSUE LIKE YOU MIGHT THINK IT WAS. YOU KNOW, FOR THE DEMOCRATS LATELY, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT WHO SUPPORTS ABORTION RIGHTS. FOR THE REPUBLICANS, IT'S BEEN LARGELY A QUESTION OF WHO WOULD GET TOUGH ON IMMIGRATION POLICIES. AND EVEN ONE OF THE CANDIDATES, BRIAN KENNEDY, WHO'S NOT CONSIDERED A FRONT-RUNNER RIGHT NOW, WENT DOWN TO THE BORDER TO CHECK IT OUT AND TO COME UP AND TALK ABOUT IT. SO THAT HAS BEEN A BIG ISSUE IN THE FIRST DISTRICT, ABOUT WHO'S GOING TO HAVE THE RIGHT IDEAS TO SOLVE IOWA'S PROBLEM WITH IMMIGRATION OR THE NATION'S.

Glover: PRETTY MUCH, IF YOU LOOK AT THE CANDIDATES IN BOTH PARTIES, THEY'RE PRETTY MUCH ECHOING THE PARTY LINE ON THINGS LIKE BASIC BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES LIKE JOBS -- REPUBLICANS WANT TO CUT TAXES. DEMOCRATS WANT TO SPENT MONEY ON NEW PROGRAMS.

Yepsen: I THINK, DEAN, IN BOTH THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR AND IN THE RACE FOR CONGRESS UP THERE, THE CAMPAIGNS ARE GETTING SO NEGATIVE, IT DOES TURN OFF A NUMBER OF VOTERS, AND PARTICULARLY IN THIS TIME, DEAN, WHERE PEOPLE ARE SO ANGRY AND THEY'VE BECOME CYNICAL ABOUT POLITICS. I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THIS LOW TURNOUT THAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE IS THAT PEOPLE, THEY'RE NOT JUST ANGRY, THEY'RE JUST TIRED OF IT. THEY JUST WANT IT TO GO AWAY, AND THEY'RE GOING TO SAY IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE, I'M STAYING HOME.

Glover: AND WHAT WE NEED TO REMEMBER IS THESE ATTACK ADS WE'RE SEEING ON TELEVISION, THE NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNS, THERE IS A TACTIC CALLED VOTER SUPPRESSION. IF YOU HAVE MADE THE POLITICAL CALCULATION THAT YOU AS A CANDIDATE BENEFIT FROM A LOW TURNOUT, THEN YOU THROW UP ATTACK ADS WITH THE DELIBERATE PERCEPTION OF DRIVING DOWN TURNOUT.

Yepsen: AND THIS IS WHERE THIS TALK OF '06 BEING A GREAT DEMOCRATIC YEAR, WHICH I BELIEVE, MAY BE WRONG, BECAUSE IF YOU GET A LOW ENOUGH TURNOUT, REPUBLICANS WILL DO BETTER BECAUSE THEY TEND TO TURN OUT MORE THAN DEMOCRATS IN LOW TURNOUT ELECTIONS.

Glover: THAT'S WHY WE STARTED OFF, DEAN -- AND NOT TO INTERRUPT, WE STARTED OFF BY SAYING THIS IS A SCARY, WEIRD ELECTION, BECAUSE WEIRD THINGS CAN HAPPEN WHEN TURNOUT GETS THIS LOW.

Borg: AND THAT FIRST DISTRICT IS GAINING NATIONAL ATTENTION AS --

Glover: IT WILL AFTER THE PRIMARY. RIGHT NOW BOTH PARTIES ARE STAYING OUT OF IT. THEY'RE GOING TO LET THEIR VOTERS IN THAT DISTRICT PICK THEIR CANDIDATE. BUT ONCE THE PARTIES HAVE A NOMINEE, THAT WILL BE MAYBE THE MOST COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT IN AMERICA. IT IS A DEMOCRATIC LEANING DISTRICT CURRENTLY HELD BY A REPUBLICAN THAT'S COMING OPEN. JOHN LAPP, VILSACK'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, WHO RUNS THE DCCC, THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, SAYS IT'S THE BEST CHANCE IN AMERICA FOR DEMOCRATS TO TAKE AWAY A REPUBLICAN SEAT.

Borg: JUST A BRIEF TIME HERE IN WHAT WE HAVE LEFT TO LOOK AT THE STATEHOUSE. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT REPUBLICANS ARE USING THEIR CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE TO CREATE SOME ISSUES LEADING UP TO THE NOVEMBER ELECTION WITH THAT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE THAT THEY HAVE. DAVE?

Yepsen: YEAH, THE LOOK INTO CIETC. THEY'RE GOING TO START LOOKING INTO THE BOARD OF REGENTS. MARY LUNDBY IS THE NEW REPUBLICAN LEADER IN THE SENATE. SHE'S BEING MUCH MORE AGGRESSIVE IN SORT OF TAKING IT TO VILSACK AND TO THE DEMOCRATS. AND I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THE LEGISLATURE, THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH REASSERTING ITS AUTHORITY, JUST LIKE THEY'RE TRYING TO DO IN CONGRESS, OVER THE GOVERNOR.

Borg: DO YOU SEE, MIKE, THAT CIETC IS GOING TO BE A NOVEMBER ELECTION ISSUE?

Glover: I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A NOVEMBER ELECTION ISSUE IN THIS SENSE. A LOT OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED -- IT'S A CENTRAL IOWA EMPLOYMENT TRAINING THING, AND A LOT OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED ARE POLK COUNTY, PROMINENT DEMOCRATS. YET THE POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY SPLIT BECAUSE OF FIGHTING OVER CIETC. THAT HURTS DEMOCRATS EVERYWHERE BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT TO COME OUT OF POLK COUNTY WITH A PAD IF YOU'RE A DEMOCRAT.

Borg: THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS. WE'LL WATCH TUESDAY AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. IOWA REPUBLICANS HAVE KNOWN FOR SEVERAL MONTHS THAT CURRENT FIRST DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN JIM NUSSLE, AS WE SAID, IS THEIR CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR. WE'LL QUESTION HIM NEXT WEEK ON THIS PROGRAM FOR ADDITIONAL INSIGHT INTO HIS VISION FOR THE STATE AND THE STRATEGY OF MR. NUSSLE AND HIS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RUNNING MATE, BOB VANDER PLAATS. REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH THAT. AS WE CLOSE, I WANT TO TAKE A MOMENT NOW TO COMMENT ON THE LOSS THAT WE ALL FEEL IN THE PASSING LAST WEEKEND OF JOURNALIST ROB BORSELLINO. HIS COURAGEOUS AND VERY PUBLIC YEAR-AND-A-HALF BATTLE WITH ALS, LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE, INSPIRED ALL THOSE WHO KNEW ROB PERSONALLY AND THOSE WHO KNEW HIM WELL FROM HIS WRITING. AS A STREET REPORTER, ROB DEFINED HUMANISM. HIS TALENT AND UNIQUE ABILITY TO CONNECT WITH EVERYDAY MEN AND WOMEN AND INTERPRET THEIR LIVES FOR US PROVIDED INSIGHTS THAT SHARPENED AND DEEPENED OUR SENSITIVITIES. MANY TIMES HE PROVIDED VALUABLE PERSPECTIVE ON HIGH-PROFILE ISSUES THAT WOULD HAVE OTHERWISE BEEN MISSED. ROB WAS A TRANSPLANTED NEW YORKER WHO ONCE SAID THAT HE BRAGGED TO HIS PALS BACK HOME THAT IOWA IS NOT SO MUCH AN ACQUIRED TASTE, BUT A SURPRISING EXPERIENCE THAT HE DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED UNTIL HE GOT HERE. WE'VE ONLY BEGUN TO COMPREHEND HOW MUCH IOWA WILL MISS ROB AND HIS WRITING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

Tags: Iowa