Iowa Public Television

 

Reporters' Roundtable

posted on September 1, 2006

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Borg: SUMMER WINDS DOWN. POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS RATCHET UP. LABOR DAY SIGNALS THE FINAL PUSH TO ELECTION DAY. IOWA POLITICAL REPORTERS ASSESS THE CANDIDATES AND THEIR CAMPAIGNS 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, SEPTEMBER 1 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: IN 68 DAYS IOWANS ELECT A NEW GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND A LOT MORE. ALL FIVE OF IOWA'S DELEGATIONS IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WILL BE ELECTED IN THE NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION. AND WE KNOW THAT AT LEAST ONE OF THEM WILL BE NEW BECAUSE INCUMBENT FIRST DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN JIM NUSSLE GAVE UP THAT SEAT TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR. AT THE IOWA STATEHOUSE, THERE'S A REAL TUG OF WAR TO CONTROL THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. GATHERED AROUND THIS TABLE TODAY ARE THE JOURNALISTS WHO'VE BEEN, ALONG WITH THE CANDIDATES THIS SUMMER, SWEATING THROUGH PARADES AND PICNICS, AND EVEN WALKING ALONGSIDE THOSE CANDIDATES WHO CHOSE TO WALK THE ROADS OF IOWA IN SEARCH OF VOTES: '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 JOYCE RUSSELL. I'M GOING TO START OUT WITH YOU, KAY. YOU KNOW, THIS IS LABOR DAY WEEKEND. THE OLD ADAGE IS VOTERS DON'T EVEN START TO PAY ATTENTION TO CANDIDATES AND THEIR CAMPAIGNS UNTIL AFTER LABOR DAY. SO WHY ALL THE INTENSITY THIS SUMMER?

Henderson: WELL, THE INTENSITY AMONG PARTY ACTIVISTS, I WOULD POINT OUT, IS BECAUSE IOWA HAS AN OPEN GOVERNOR SEAT. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK IS NOT SEEKING REELECTION. YOU HAVE A REPUBLICAN PARTY HOPING THAT THEY CAN PICK THIS SEAT UP FOR REPUBLICANS. YOU HAVE A DEMOCRATIC PARTY INVESTING HEAVILY THAT THEY CAN KEEP THIS IN THE DEMOCRATIC COLUMN. I WOULD ARGUE THAT WHILE THE PARTY INSIDERS HAVE BEEN VERY ENGAGED IN THIS RACE, IOWANS IN GENERAL HAVE NOT. THAT IS WHAT'S REALLY STRUCK ME. AND ALSO, THE DEGREE TO WHICH THE PARTY REGULARS HAVE AN AFFINITY FOR EITHER ONE OF THESE PEOPLE IS PRETTY STRIKING TOO. THERE'S KIND OF A TEPID RESPONSE TO BOTH OF THESE PEOPLE AMONG GENERAL PARTY REGULARS, NOT THOSE REAL PARTY INSIDERS, WHICH I THINK IS REALLY INTERESTING AT THIS STAGE IN THE CAMPAIGN.

Glover: AND I WOULD ARGUE -- I WOULD ARGUE THAT REGULAR VOTERS WON'T BE ENGAGED. IN FACT, THIS IS GOING TO BE A LOW TURNOUT MIDTERM ELECTION WHERE MOST PEOPLE WON'T VOTE.

Borg: WHY IS THAT, MIKE?

Glover: WELL, BECAUSE IT'S A MIDTERM ELECTION WHERE HISTORICALLY TURNOUT IS LOW, PARTICULARLY AMONG DEMOCRATS.

Borg: EVEN THE GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN IS NOT GOING TO STIMULATE IOWANS TO GET OUT?

Glover: I THINK KAY IS RIGHT ON POINT. I DON'T THINK THEY'VE ENGAGED AND I DON'T THINK THEY'VE GOT THE ELECTORATE WORKED UP. I THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE A LOW TURNOUT ELECTION, AND THAT'S WHY I THINK THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH ACTIVITY SO EARLY. I THINK BOTH OF THESE GUYS SENSE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEPEND ON THEIR PARTY BASE. WHO CAN TURN OUT THE BASIS BEST IS WHO'S GOING TO WIN THIS ELECTION, BECAUSE THE UNCOMMITTED, THE MIDDLE GROUND, THE CENTER OF THE ELECTORATE JUST WON'T SHOW UP.

Borg: YOU MAY BE RIGHT ABOUT THE ACTIVISTS. WHEN YOU WERE SAYING THAT, I WAS THINKING BACK, I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYONE KNOCK ON MY DOOR SO EARLY -- FAR IN ADVANCE OF THE GENERAL ELECTION WITH ABSENTEE BALLOTS.

Glover: AND THAT'S WHAT IT'S GOING TO BE. IT'S GOING TO BE A TURNOUT GAME WHERE BOTH PARTIES ARE GOING TO BE TRYING TO TURN OUT THEIR BASE. HE WHO TURNS OUT HIS BASE BEST IS LIKELY TO WIN THIS GOVERNOR'S ELECTION BECAUSE THOSE SWING VOTERS IN THE MIDDLE JUST AREN'T GOING TO GET ENGAGED.

Borg: JOYCE, WHAT ARE -- SAYING THE GOVERNOR'S RACE IS THE KEYSTONE HERE IN IOWA; WHAT ARE THE ISSUES IN THAT RACE BETWEEN CHET CULVER AND JIM NUSSLE?

Russell: WELL, THEY'RE BOTH FOCUSING ON MANY OF THE THINGS THAT MOST IOWANS CARE MOST ABOUT: EDUCATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. LIKE ANY CANDIDATES, THEY BOTH HAVE THEIR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. MR. CULVER HAS A GOOD FAMILY NAME. HE HAS SOME STRONG EDUCATION CREDENTIALS BECAUSE HE'S ACTUALLY SERVED IN THE CLASSROOM. CONGRESSMAN NUSSLE HAS PICKED UP SOME IMPORTANT ENDORSEMENTS, BUSINESS ENDORSEMENTS, FARM ENDORSEMENTS. BUT SIMILARLY AS FAR AS THEIR STRATEGIES, THEY'RE STARTING TO GO AFTER EACH OTHER'S WEAKNESSES. THE CULVER CAMPAIGN RECENTLY POINTING TO SOME OF CONGRESSMAN NUSSLE'S VOTES ON ETHANOL IN CONGRESS, WHERE THAT'S BEEN A VERY DIVISIVE ISSUE FOR A LONG VERY LONG TIME. SIMILARLY, CONGRESSMAN -- SECRETARY CULVER IS NOT THE BEST EXTEMPORANEOUS SPEAKER IN THE WORLD, AND THE NUSSLE CAMPAIGN IS PUSHING FOR MORE PUBLIC APPEARANCES TO GATHER MORE DEBATES AS THE DEBATE SCHEDULE IS GETTING NAILED DOWN.

Borg: DAVE YEPSEN?

Yepsen: I THINK ONE OF THE DYNAMICS IN THIS WHOLE YEAR IN ALL RACES IS IT'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE A PRETTY GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS. HISTORY TEACHES THAT THE OFF YEAR FOR A PARTY IN THE WHITE HOUSE -- HOLDING THE WHITE HOUSE IS PRETTY GOOD. YOU LOOK AT THE CONGRESSIONAL NUMBERS, THE DEMOCRATS ARE DOING WELL. THE REPUBLICAN BASE SEEMS TO BE A LITTLE BIT DISPIRITED. IT HAS TO DO WITH IRAQ. BUT IT HAS TO DO WITH DOMESTIC ISSUES TOO, HEALTH CARE. PEOPLE ARE JUST DOWN. SO IT'S A GOOD YEAR TO BE A DEMOCRAT, AND I SUPPOSE THAT CHET CULVER IS A FEW POINTS AHEAD OF JIM NUSSLE RIGHT NOW. BUT IT'S GOING TO BE A CLOSE RACE.

Borg: YOU MENTIONED THE WAR IN IRAQ, AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR. ARE YOU REALLY TYING THE WAR IN IRAQ TO --

Yepsen: YES.

Borg: -- IOWA'S RACE FOR GOVERNOR?

Yepsen: BECAUSE, DEAN, IT GOES TO WHAT MIKE WAS TALKING ABOUT, THE LOW TURNOUT. PEOPLE ARE DOWN. THEY ARE DISPIRITED. I DID AN INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN THE OTHER DAY, AND HE SAID HE'S NEVER SEEN VOTERS THIS WAY. THEY'RE SERIOUS. THEY'RE DOWN AND THEY WANT ANSWERS. AND SO I THINK MANY AMERICAN VOTERS ARE REALLY FED UP WITH BOTH PARTIES. THEY'RE FED UP WITH THE REPUBLICANS. PRESIDENT BUSH DID NOT DO A LOT OF THINGS HE PROMISED HE WOULD DO IF HE GOT ELECTED. WE HAVE RECORD HIGH DEFICITS WITH NATION BUILDING IN IRAQ. A LOT OF REPUBLICAN BASE VOTERS DON'T LIKE THAT, BUT DEMOCRATS DON'T SEEM TO BE ABLE TO OFFER MUCH OF AN ALTERNATIVE. AND SO YOU HAVE REALLY VOTERS IN BOTH PARTIES THAT ARE KIND OF UNHAPPY. IN CHET CULVER'S CASE, HE HAD ABOUT TWO-THIRDS OF HIS PARTY THAT VOTED FOR SOMEBODY ELSE FOR GOVERNOR. HE'S BEEN HAVING TO SPEND SOME TIME TRYING TO WHIP UP HIS OWN BASE HERE.

Borg: MIKE, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS MAJOR ISSUES THAT MAYBE HAVEN'T BEEN MENTIONED YET IN THAT RACE FOR GOVERNOR? ARE THERE ANY THAT ARE REALLY DIFFERENTIATING THE CANDIDATES?

Glover: WELL, THEY'RE DOING THEIR BEST TO DRAW FROM DIFFERENCES. THEY TALK ABOUT RENEWABLE FUELS AND THEIR DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO RENEWABLE FUELS, AND THEY ATTACK EACH OTHER ON HOW THEY HANDLE THAT. JOYCE IS RIGHT. THEY BRING UP EDUCATION. THEY ATTACK EACH OTHER ON HOW THEY'RE HANDLING THAT. BUT I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT'S AS DAVE MENTIONED; IT'S GOING TO BE BIGGER ISSUES. IT'S GOING TO BE WHETHER OR NOT VOTERS ARE THIS UNHAPPY WITH CONGRESS. POLLS SHOW THAT PEOPLE AREN'T HAPPY WITH THE REPUBLICAN CONTROL OF CONGRESS. THEY AREN'T HAPPY WITH PRESIDENT BUSH. I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT CHET CULVER HAS BEEN ADVISED NEVER TO USE THE NAME JIM NUSSLE IN ISOLATION. NEVER USE THE NAME JIM NUSSLE WITHOUT MENTIONING GEORGE BUSH, WITHOUT MENTIONING 'CONGRESSMAN' JIM NUSSLE. TIE HIM TO CONGRESS. TIE HIM TO PRESIDENT BUSH. TIE HIM TO VOTER UNHAPPINESS WITH PRESIDENT BUSH, WITH REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS. THAT'S THE OVERARCHING ISSUE THAT'S GOING TO DRIVE THIS ELECTION. AND THE KEY QUESTION THAT CHET CULVER IS GOING TO HAVE TO ANSWER IS CAN HE FIND A WAY TO TIE THAT UNHAPPINESS WITH MOTIVATION TO GET PEOPLE OUT TO VOTE, OR ARE PEOPLE SO UNHAPPY THEY'RE JUST GOING TO STAY HOME.

Yepsen: I THINK -- I DON'T THINK THE VOTERS DECIDE RACES FOR GOVERNOR AND PRESIDENT AND THE LEGISLATURE ON SOME CHECKLIST OF ISSUES. I THINK IT'S MUCH MORE PERSONAL THAN THAT. THEY LOOK AT THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS AND SAY: DO I LIKE THIS GUY; IS HE COMPETENT; DO I TRUST HIM; IS HE ARTICULATE? I MEAN THAT'S WHY TOM VILSACK BEAT JIM ROSS LIGHTFOOT IN 1998. PEOPLE LOOKED AT LIGHTFOOT AND THEY THOUGHT HE WAS OFFISH, AND TOM VILSACK WAS FAIRLY ARTICULATE. I THINK THE SAME DYNAMIC IS AT WORK HERE. THE VOTERS RIGHT NOW, THE ONES THAT ARE PAYING ATTENTION ARE ULTIMATELY IN THE FINAL -- AND COME NOVEMBER, THEY'RE GOING TO BE SAYING WHICH ONE OF THESE TWO GUYS IS GOING TO BE A GOOD, ARTICULATE, CIVIL, DECENT GOVERNOR REPRESENTING OUR STATE.

Borg: KAY -- AND THAT'S -- MIKE, YOU WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING?

Glover: AND THE BIGGEST PROBLEM THAT JIM NUSSLE MAY FACE IS -- I'M NOT SURE HE UNDERSTANDS YET -- THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VOTERS WHO VOTE FOR A MEMBER OF CONGRESS AND VOTERS WHO VOTE FOR A GOVERNOR. I THINK AT A GUT LEVEL, WHEN VOTERS VOTE FOR A MEMBER OF CONGRESS, THEY KNOW THEY'RE GOING TO BE ELECTING THIS PERSON AND SENDING HIM OFF TO WASHINGTON AND WON'T SEE HIM FOR TWO YEARS. BUT WHEN THEY VOTE FOR A GOVERNOR, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH HIM EVERY SINGLE DAY. SO THERE'S A DIFFERENT LEVEL OF SCRUTINY THAT GOES INTO VOTING FOR A GOVERNOR. AND I THINK THE COMPARISON BETWEEN LIGHTFOOT AND VILSACK IS APT BECAUSE I THINK VOTERS SAT DOWN AND SAID WHO DO I WANT TO LIVE WITH FOR THE NEXT EIGHT YEARS OR SO. AND I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE A HURDLE THAT NUSSLE DOESN'T YET UNDERSTAND HE HAS TO OVERCOME.

Borg: THE QUESTION I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU, KAY, WAS PLAYING OFF WHAT DAVE WAS SAYING ABOUT VOTERS JUDGING ON WHO'S THE MOST ARTICULATE, WHO WOULD I LIKE TO HAVE AS GOVERNOR REPRESENTING ME AND THE STATE. THAT GETS BACK TO EXPOSURE IN TELEVISED DEBATES. AND THE CANDIDATES HAVE AGREED TO THREE. I THINK IT'S CEDAR RAPIDS, DAVENPORT, AND DES MOINES.

Henderson: IF YOU COUNT JOHNSTON AS DES MOINES.

Borg: NUSSLE WHINED -- NUSSLE WHINES THAT, NUMBER ONE, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY IN WESTERN IOWA; NUMBER TWO IS THAT 'I WANTED MORE.' SO APPARENTLY HE'S TRYING TO EXPLOIT SOMETHING IN MR. CULVER.

Henderson: I THINK HE'S RUNNING A STRATEGY THAT COULD WIND UP BACKFIRING ON HIM IN THE SAME WAY THAT THIS STRATEGY BACKFIRED ON AL GORE V. GEORGE BUSH. EARLY IN THE SPRING, NUSSLE WOULD GIVE US A SOUND BITE IN WHICH HE'D SAY, 'WELL, THAT'S NOT VERY SMART OF MR. CULVER TO SAY THAT,' SORT OF TRYING TO IMPLY THAT, YOU KNOW, CULVER DOESN'T HAVE THE BRAIN POWER TO BE GOVERNOR. HE'S ALSO BEEN IN THIS 'DEBATE' DEBATE, SAYING: HE'S TOO SCARED TO DEBATE ME; HE'S NOT GOING TO BE GOOD ON THESE DEBATES. AND SO IF IOWANS TURN ON THE DEBATE AND CHET CULVER SHOWS UP AND MAKES HIS SUBJECTS AND VERBS AGREE, THEN IOWANS ARE GOING TO SAY, WELL, HE'S NOT THAT DUMB. SO I THINK IT'S A DANGEROUS COURSE FOR THE NUSSLE CAMPAIGN TO PURSUE, BUT ONE THAT THEY INTEND TO PURSUE.

Glover: THEY'VE SET THE EXPECTATION LEVELS VERY HIGH FOR THEMSELVES. THEY'VE SET THE EXPECTATION LEVEL THAT JIM NUSSLE IS AN ARTICULATE, BRIGHT CONGRESSMAN WHO WILL PERFORM VERY WELL IN DEBATES. CHET CULVER IS NOT ALL THAT BRIGHT, NOT VERY ARTICULATE, WILL DO BADLY IN DEBATES. AND SO KAY IS RIGHT, IF CHET CULVER SHOWS UP AND DOESN'T EMBARRASS HIMSELF, WE'LL ALL SAY, WELL, GEES, HE'S NOT THAT BAD.

Borg: JOYCE, THE ISSUE ABOUT WESTERN IOWA. MR. NUSSLE COMPLAINS THAT NONE OF THESE DEBATES -- ALTHOUGH THEY'RE ALL GOING TO BE TELEVISED STATEWIDE. REALLY WHO CARES WHERE THEY ORIGINATE. THERE ARE NOT GOING TO BE THAT MANY IN THE STUDIO AUDIENCE ANYWAY, WHEREVER THEY'RE LOCATED -- ORIGINATING. SO WHY WOULD MR. NUSSLE COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT LOCATING ONE IN WESTERN IOWA? THAT'S A REPUBLICAN STRONGHOLD ANYWAY.

Russell: WELL, ONE STRATEGY -- AS YOU SAY, IT'S A REPUBLIC STRONGHOLD. HE'S NEVER CAMPAIGNED IN THAT PART OF THE STATE. AND FOR HIM TO BE IN THE NEWS NOW SAYING, HEY, WHAT ABOUT WESTERN IOWA, THAT'S A WAY TO KIND OF FIRE UP THE REPUBLICAN BASE IN WESTERN IOWA AND KIND OF MAKE SOME -- MAKE SOME FRIENDS AMONG HIS OWN BASE VOTERS.

Yepsen: WESTERN IOWANS HAVE A BIT OF A COMPLEX. I THINK IT'S BECAUSE THEY GET MOST OF THEIR NEWS FROM NEBRASKA AND SOUTH DAKOTA, AND SO THEY FEEL A LITTLE INFERIOR OR SOMETHING. JOYCE IS RIGHT; HE'S PLAYING ON THAT A LITTLE BIT, TRYING TO INVOKE SOME SYMPATHY.

Borg: AS LONG AS YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT DEBATES, KAY, THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CANDIDATES MAY HAVE DEBATES TOO. IS THAT UNPRECEDENTED?

Henderson: IT'S NOT UNPRECEDENTED. IN THE LAST CYCLE WE HAD DEBBIE DURHAM AND SALLY PEDERSEN SHARING A STAGE IN AMES. SEVERAL OF US WERE THERE TO CHRONICAL THAT EVENT. IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR IT TO HAPPEN.

Borg: WHAT'S THE RATIONALE FOR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

Henderson: IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THE GOVERNOR, THIS WOULD BE THE PERSON WHO WOULD BE THE LEADER OF YOUR STATE, SO ONE SHOULD FIND OUT IF THEY'RE ARTICULATE, ONE SHOULD FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE A GRASP OF THE ISSUES, AND ALSO ONE SHOULD FIND OUT IF THEY SHARE THE SAME PHILOSOPHY AS THE PERSON WITH WHOM THEY'RE RUNNING.

Glover: AND IT'S ALSO, DEPENDING ON THE RELATIONSHIP, WHEN JOY CORNING WAS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR UNDER TERRY BRANSTAD, JOY CORNING OCCUPIED AN OFFICE WHICH LATER BECAME A STORAGE CLOSET AND SHE DIDN'T HAVE MUCH TO DO. BUT TOM VILSACK AND SALLY PEDERSEN HAVE A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WHERE SHE HAS SOME RESPONSIBILITIES. SO ARGUABLY, WHEN YOU ELECT A LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, YOU'RE PUTTING SOMEBODY IN A POSITION WHERE THEY'LL HAVE SOME INFLUENCE ON PUBLIC AFFAIRS.

Borg: DAVE, GOING TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY NOW, THERE DOESN'T SEEM TO BE MUCH LINKAGE BY THE DEMOCRATS OR THE REPUBLICANS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RACES WHERE CONTROL IS REALLY IN THE BALANCE. BUT THEY DON'T LINK THAT TO THE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE.

Yepsen: NOT DIRECTLY. IT GOES BACK TO WHAT I WAS SAYING EARLIER, THAT VOTES TEND TO BE -- FOR BOTH OFFICES, IT TENDS TO BE A LOCAL CHOICE OR CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, GOOD OLD CHARLIE OR GOOD OLD SALLY, WE LOOK HER. AND THEN, OH, THEY HAPPEN TO BE REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT. SO I THINK IOWA VOTERS HISTORICALLY WILL MAKE SEPARATE CHOICES ON THE TOP OF THE TICKET RACES AND RACES FOR THE LEGISLATURE. THERE IS SOME TIE IN IN TERMS OF MONEY IN TRYING TO RAISE FUNDS. BUT YOU'RE RIGHT, THEY'RE SEPARATE DECISIONS.

Borg: MIKE, BACK TO THE PARTIES AND HOW THEY'RE PLAYING THESE LEGISLATIVE RACES, BECAUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE A SLIGHT CONTROL ON THE LEGISLATURE RIGHT NOW, THE SENATE EVENLY DIVIDED. BUT ARE THERE ANY STATEWIDE THEMES THAT THEY ARE INSTRUCTING THEIR CANDIDATES THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DISCERN?

Glover: NO THERE ARE NOT -- THERE IS NOT OVERARCHING STATEWIDE THEMES. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT YOU SEE CROPPING UP KIND OF ALL OVER THE PLACE. ONE OF THEM IS THE WHOLE ISSUE OF THE ENVIRONMENT: CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER. ALL ACROSS NORTHERN AND NORTH CENTRAL IOWA, THAT'S AN ISSUE WHERE HOG LOTS ARE AN ISSUE, LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION AND THAT WHOLE DEBATE. SO WATER QUALITY IS AN ISSUE THAT'S BEING TALKED ABOUT IN A LOT OF THESE RACES AND LOCAL CONTROL. BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, AND WHAT I'M SEEING IN A LOT OF THESE RACES, IS THEY'RE JUST VERY LOCAL, VERY PERSONAL. WHEN YOU GO TO A -- I WAS AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN AMES THE OTHER DAY WHERE THERE WERE SOME LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES, AND THEY WEREN'T TALKING ABOUT ANY KIND OF AN ISSUE. THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THEIR ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY, WHAT THEY'D DONE IN THE COMMUNITY, THE KINDS OF THINGS THEY'VE DONE WITH THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, WITH THE LOCAL BUSINESS GROUPS, THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. THAT'S ALL THEY TALKED ABOUT.

Borg: IN OTHER WORDS, CAN I TRUST THIS PERSON TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS.

Glover: THIS IS MY NEIGHBOR, THIS IS A PERSON I'VE KNOWN FOR TWENTY YEARS, THIS IS A PERSON WHO'S BEEN INVOLVED IN THIS COMMUNITY FOR A LONG TIME... WHATEVER THEIR POSITION ON THE VARIOUS ISSUES, I CAN TRUST THEM TO REPRESENT ME IN THE LEGISLATURE.

Henderson: THERE IS ONE ATTEMPT ON THE PART OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF IOWA TO USE THIS CIETC SCANDAL, THAT IS THE CENTRAL IOWA EMPLOYMENT TRAINING CONSORTIUM SCANDAL, TO TRY TO TAINT DEMOCRATS PARTICULARLY IN POLK COUNTY. THEY'VE BEGUN RUNNING ADVERTISEMENTS ASKING FOR REPUBLICAN VOTERS AND VOTERS IN GENERAL TO SWEEP DEMOCRATS OUT OF OFFICE. SO THEY'RE TRYING TO TAINT PEOPLE WITH THAT SCANDAL IN THE SAME WAY THAT REPUBLICANS SEVERAL YEARS USED THE IOWA TRUST SCANDAL TO ATTACK DEMOCRATS. I DON'T KNOW THAT IT'S GOING TO BE EFFECTIVE IN CLINTON, IOWA.

Yepsen: I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT BEFORE WE LEAVE THE LEGISLATURE, DEAN, JUST TO GIVE A HANDICAP, AND THAT IS IT'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE A PRETTY GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE. MOST PEOPLE YOU TALK TO WILL SAY THE IOWA SENATE IS WITHOUT A DOUBT GOING TO GO DEMOCRATIC. IT WOULD BE A SURPRISE IF THE REPUBLICANS HELD IT AT 25/25 OR PICKED UP SEATS. IT'S JUST THE NATURE OF THE SEATS, THE DISTRICTS, THE KIND OF CANDIDATES THAT ARE RUNNING. SO THE FOCUS HAS BECOME MORE ON THE IOWA HOUSE, WHERE IT'S 51 REPUBLICAN, 49 DEMOCRAT. AND THERE I THINK DEMOCRATS THINK THEY'VE GOT A REAL CHANCE. IF ALL THESE OTHER THINGS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ARE TRUE, THE REPUBLICAN BASE IS DEPRESSED, DEMOCRATS ARE ANGRY AND PUMPED UP, OFF YEAR, THEY'LL TURN OUT TO VOTE. THE INTERESTING THING, DEAN, DEMOCRATIC VOTER REGISTRATIONS IN IOWA NOW EXCEED REPUBLICANS. THAT HASN'T HAPPENED SINCE 1994. IT HAPPENED LARGELY BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PRIMARY, BUT IT TELLS YOU THAT THAT'S WHERE THE ENERGY IS. AND IN THE CLOSE LEGISLATIVE RACES, I'M TALKING ABOUT THE ONES THAT ARE DECIDED BY LESS THAN 500 VOTES, THAT WILL HELP DEMOCRATS.

Russell: AND JUST TO ADD TO WHAT DAVID IS SAYING, DEMOCRATS CAN SMELL THAT. THEY CAN SENSE THE POSSIBILITY OF CONTROLLING BOTH CHAMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GUBERNATORIAL -- AND THE GOVERNOR SEAT. AND SO THEY ARE -- THERE'S AN EXCITEMENT THERE AMONG DEMOCRATIC VOTERS TO THAT PROSPECT.

Yepsen: AND IT STARTS TO BECOME A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY BECAUSE THE LOBBY UNDERSTANDS THAT TOO. AND LOBBYISTS DON'T MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS; THEY MAKE INVESTMENTS AND THEY EXPECT A RETURN. SO THE MONEY IN POLITICS IS STARTING TO HEDGE AND IT'S STARTING TO MOVE AWAY FROM REPUBLICANS AND TO DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES.

Glover: AND THERE IS SOME PRECEDENT TO THIS. I MEAN NOTHING IS NEW IN POLITICS. AND THERE IS SOME PRECEDENCE FOR EVEN IF REPUBLICANS PULL THIS OFF AND ELECT JIM NUSSLE AS THE NEXT GOVERNOR, IN 1982 TERRY BRANSTAD, A REPUBLICAN, WON A RELATIVELY EASY VICTORY AS GOVERNOR AT THE SAME ELECTION DEMOCRATS TOOK CONTROL OF BOTH CHAMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE. SO A SUBSTANTIAL BLOCK OF VOTERS VOTED FOR TERRY BRANSTAD, A REPUBLICAN FOR GOVERNOR, AND FOR A DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATE. AND I REMEMBER WHEN REPUBLICANS WALKED OUT OF THE STATEHOUSE IN 1981, THEIR HEAD WAS DOWN. THEY KNEW WHAT WAS COMING. AND I'M GETTING THAT SAME SENSE FROM REPUBLICANS AROUND THE STATEHOUSE NOW. THEY KNOW IT'S COMING.

Borg: AND YOU SENSE THAT TO BE STATEWIDE AND NOT IN ANY PARTICULAR DISTRICTS WHERE THERE ARE CERTAIN ISSUES -- WHERE THERE IS A SWING AND THE CANDIDATE -- THEIR INCUMBENT IS EITHER OPEN SEAT OR THE INCUMBENT IS IN TROUBLE?

Glover: NO, IT'S STATEWIDE IN THE SENSE THAT THERE ARE DISTRICTS THAT REPUBLICANS JUST KNOW THEY'RE IN TROUBLE. IN THE SENATE THEY HAVE FIVE OPEN SENATE SEATS. THOSE ARE FIVE DISTRICTS THAT DEMOCRATS THINK HAVE A SHOT IN EACH ONE OF THEM. SO IT'S JUST THE MOOD IS THERE. THE DEMOCRATS SENSE THEY'RE GOING TO MAKE GAINS IN BOTH THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE.

Yepsen: AND WHERE THIS MOMENTUM ISSUE HAD AN EFFECT WAS IN THE RECRUITMENT OF CANDIDATES. THE BATTLE FOR THE LEGISLATURE WAS DECIDED BACK IN MARCH, WHEN THE PARTIES HAD TO GET THEIR CANDIDATES RECRUITED. DEMOCRATS WERE ABLE TO RECRUIT GOOD CANDIDATES IN TOUGH DISTRICTS. REPUBLICANS HAD A LOT OF TROUBLE IN SOME DISTRICTS RECRUITING GOOD CANDIDATES. PEOPLE WERE SAYING, 'YEAH, I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A GOOD YEAR. I DON'T THINK I'M GOING TO RUN.' THAT WILL HELP DEMOCRATS.

Borg: KAY, LET'S GO TO THE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. AND I'VE ALREADY NOTED THAT THE FIRST DISTRICT HAS AN OPEN SEAT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE JIM NUSSLE THE INCUMBENT THERE. AND WE'VE ALREADY NOTED THAT HIS RECORD IN CONGRESS IS BEING ATTACKED IN HIS RUN FOR GOVERNOR. BUT IS THAT AT ALL CARRYING OVER TO TRY TO STRIKE SOME FEAR INTO REPUBLICAN OR INDEPENDENT VOTERS THERE FOR THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE?

Henderson: WELL, I THINK THIS IS AN IMPORTANT RACE NATIONALLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN OPEN SEAT WHERE YOU HAVE A DEMOCRATIC VOTER REGISTRATION EDGE. IT'S BEEN HELD BY A REPUBLIC FOR YEARS. YOU HAVE CREDIBLE CANDIDATES ON BOTH SIDES. I'VE BEEN A LITTLE PUZZLED BY THE CAMPAIGN THAT MIKE WHALEN HAS RUN. HE HAS NOT BEEN AS ACTIVE A CANDIDATE AS I THOUGHT HE WOULD BE COMING OUT OF THAT PRIMARY. BUT I THINK THAT THIS IS A RACE THAT IS GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF MONEY POURED INTO IT FROM OUTSIDE. THERE'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF TELEVISION SETS IN DUBUQUE AND DAVENPORT THAT ARE GOING TO BE SEEING COMMERCIALS BROUGHT TO YOU BY GROUPS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., ON BEHALF OF BRUCE BRALEY.

Borg: YOU SAID GOING TO BE. ISN'T THAT ALREADY HAPPENING?

Henderson: IT IS ALREADY HAPPENING BUT, I MEAN, THERE'S GOING TO BE A DELUGE OF ADVERTISEMENTS AS WE DRAW CLOSER AND CLOSER TO THE ELECTION.

Glover: KAY IS RIGHT. IT'S A DEMOCRATIC LEANING DISTRICT BUT WE HAVE TO REMEMBER IT'S A DISTRICT THAT'S BEEN IN REPUBLICAN HANDS SINCE THE 1970S BECAUSE IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF A DEMOCRATIC DISTRICT. A LOT OF THE DEMOCRATIC VOTER REGISTRATION IN THE FIRST DISTRICT IS IN THE DUBUQUE AREA. THESE ARE -- THESE ARE WHAT WE WOULD CALL TRADITIONAL DEMOCRATS, BLUE COLLAR, SOCIALLY CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS, DEMOCRATS WHO ARE RECEPTIVE TO PRO-LIFE ISSUES OR RECEPTIVE TO ATTACKS ON THINGS LIKE GAY MARRIAGE, WHO DON'T LIKE THE SORT OF LIBERAL BENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. THESE ARE VOTERS WHO VOTE IN A VERY DIFFERENT WAY EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE REGISTERED AS DEMOCRATIC VOTERS. SO BRUCE BRALEY IS GOING TO HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO BRIDGE THAT GAP BETWEEN HIS DEMOCRATIC BASE AND THESE SORT OF BLUE COLLAR CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATIC VOTERS WHO ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO A REPUBLICAN APPEAL.

Yepsen: THAT RAISES A BATTLE FOR DUBUQUE. I MEAN BRALEY HAS A BASE IN BLACK HAWK COUNTY. WHALEN HAS GOT HIS BASE IN SCOTT COUNTY. THAT LEAVES DUBUQUE, DEMOCRATIC COUNTY BUT CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS. THE BATTLE IS IN DUBUQUE.

Borg: LET'S MOVE OVER INTO THE THIRD DISTRICT, JOYCE, AND THAT'S DEMOCRAT LEONARD BOSWELL, THE INCUMBENT THERE, AND STATE SENATOR JEFF LAMBERTI, THE REPUBLIC CHALLENGER. THAT IS NOT AN OPEN SEAT, BUT IT ALSO NATIONALLY IS GETTING A LOT OF ATTENTION AS A POSSIBLE SWING DISTRICT.

Russell: IT IS.

Borg: WHY IS THAT? WHY IS LEONARD BOSWELL, THE INCUMBENT, POSSIBLY IN TROUBLE THERE?

Russell: WELL, HE'S BEEN NAMED ONE OF THE LEAST EFFECTIVE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS A TIME OR TWO, AND THAT'S KIND OF STUCK TO HIM. AND REPUBLICANS HAVE LONG FELT THAT THIS IS SOMEBODY THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO KNOCK OFF. WELL, THEY TRIED --

Borg: IS JEFF LAMBERTI AT ALL -- CAN YOU SEE IN HIS STRATEGY -- EXPLOITING ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?

Russell: THE LEAST -- LEAST EFFECTIVE MEMBER OF CONGRESS THING IS SOMETHING THAT KEEPS COMING UP. BUT I SHOULD MENTION THAT THAT'S ANOTHER RACE THAT IS, AS YOU SAID, GAINING SOME NATIONAL ATTENTION. THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE HAD RESERVED SOME TELEVISION AIRTIME. THAT'S LIKE A STEP AHEAD OF ACTUALLY SPENDING THE MONEY HERE. WELL, RECENTLY THEY PULLED THAT MONEY BACK. AND THE IMPLICATION WAS THAT THE POLLS LOOK A LITTLE BIT BETTER FOR CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL AND MAYBE HE'S NOT GOING TO NEED THAT MONEY HERE. SO THAT -- IT'S A RACE THAT COULD GO EITHER WAY.

Henderson: THE OTHER INTERESTING THING ABOUT THAT RACE TO ME IS THAT JEFF LAMBERTI HAS BEEN BOGGED DOWN BECAUSE THIS IS A RACE THAT REPUBLICANS HAVE ON THEIR RADAR SCREEN. NEWT GINGRICH CAME IN FOR HIM. RUDY GIULIANI CAME IN FOR HIM. ALL THESE NATIONAL PLAYERS WHO HAVE PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS. AND SO THE ATTENTION, WHEN LAMBERTI HAS THESE CAMPAIGN EVENTS, IS NOT ON JEFF LAMBERTI; IT'S ON RUDY GIULIANI AND HE IS NOT BRINGING UP ISSUES IN THE CAMPAIGN TO THE EXTENT THAT I THOUGHT HE WOULD.

Yepsen: DEAN, REPUBLICANS THOUGHT THEY HAD A SHOT AT LEONARD BOSWELL WHEN CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL HAD A BOUT OF BAD HEALTH. I MEAN HE LOOKED BAD. HE HAD SURGERY. HE HAD CHEMOTHERAPY. PHYSICALLY HE DID NOT LOOK GOOD. WELL, LEONARD BOSWELL IS LOOKING BETTER. THERE IS A DEMOCRATIC WIND THIS ELECTION YEAR. THE EDGE HAS TO GO TO BOSWELL.

Borg: MIKE, I'M GOING TO GO TO SOMETHING KAY MENTIONED. THAT IS RUDY GIULIANI AND OTHERS WITH POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS COMING IN AND USING, AS COVER, CAMPAIGNING FOR CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES.

Glover: SURE. YEAH, THAT'S HAPPENING. I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER SEEN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CYCLE OPEN QUITE THIS EARLY, BUT WE SAY THAT EVERY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CYCLE. IT ALL BOOTS OPEN A LITTLE BIT EARLIER EVERY YEAR.

Borg: WHO'S RACKING UP THE MOST TIME IN IOWA?

Glover: GEORGE PATAKI IS PUTTING IN A LOT OF TIME IN IOWA, SOMEONE WHO I DISMISSED EARLY BUT IS DOING A LOT OF THE RIGHT KINDS OF THINGS. MITT ROMNEY IS DOING A LOT OF THE RIGHT KINDS OF THINGS. THIS IS JUST ON THE REPUBLIC SIDE. THESE ARE FOLKS WHO ARE -- ACTUALLY EVEN BILL FRIST IS DOING SOME OF THE RIGHT KINDS OF THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO DO. SO A LOT OF CANDIDATES ARE SHOWING UP EARLY, AND THEY'RE SHOWING THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT THE PRECINCT CAUCUS CAMPAIGN IS ALL ABOUT BUILDING THE SORT OF PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND ORGANIZATION YOU NEED TO TURN OUT THE HARDEST CORE ACTIVISTS IN JANUARY OF 2008.

Yepsen: WHAT WE DON'T SEE IN IOWA IS ONE OF THE REAL EFFECTS OF THESE CAUCUSES, IS ALL THE MONEY THESE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ARE POURING INTO THIS STATE. I MEAN GEORGE PATAKI ISN'T DOING MUCH FOR JIM NUSSLE HERE, BUT HE DOES HOLD A BIG FUND-RAISER IN NEW YORK CITY AND CAN RAISE A HECK OF A LOT OF MONEY FOR JIM NUSSLE.

Borg: I THOUGHT DAVE WAS GOING TO SAY WHAT WE DON'T SEE MUCH IS HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON --

Henderson: THAT'S CORRECT.

Borg: -- A POSSIBLE CANDIDATE, KAY.

Henderson: SHE'S GOT A RACE THIS TIME AROUND. SHE CANNOT SET FOOT INTO IOWA UNTIL SHE IS READY TO CAMPAIGN FOR PRESIDENT FULL BORE, AND THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS TIME.

Glover: AND SHE'S VERY BRIGHT AND SHE UNDERSTANDS THAT WHEN SHE CROSSES THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, THE EARTH IS GOING TO MOVE. AND SO -- AND SHE DOESN'T NEED TO COME TO IOWA. I MEAN I REMEMBER IN THE JEFFERSON-JACKSON DAY DINNER OF 2003, SHE WAS THE MODERATOR OF THAT EVENT. AND THE NEXT DAY THERE WAS A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DEBATE WITH FOUR REAL DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. I COVERED IT. THERE WERE 120 PEOPLE THERE. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON HAD A BOOK SIGNING AT A BOOK STORE IN WEST DES MOINES. THERE WERE 1,200 PEOPLE THERE. SHE DOESN'T NEED TO COME OUT HERE TO BUILD NAME IDENTIFICATION. PEOPLE KNOW WHO SHE IS.

Borg: BACK TO YOU, DAVE, AND I'M GOING TO DWELL ON THE CAUCUSES HERE. THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO SHAKE UP THE ORDER AND COMPRESSING IT AND GETTING A LITTLE DIVERSITY. HOW IS THAT GOING TO AFFECT IOWA?

Yepsen: IT NEVER ENDS. THE BATTLE OVER PROCESS, WHICH STATE GOES FIRST, EVERY FOUR YEARS SOME PARTY HAS A FIGHT OVER THIS. RIGHT NOW THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS PUT THE STATE -- A NEVADA CAUCUS IN BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. NEW HAMPSHIRE DOESN'T LIKE THAT. IOWANS SAY IT'S FINE. WE'RE STILL FIRST IN BOTH PARTIES. THE THING PEOPLE HAVE TO WATCH FOR IN IOWA, IS THE FALL OF 2007 WHEN THE SECRETARY STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE SETS THE FINAL DATE FOR THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY, HE COULD MOVE THE DATE FOR THAT PRIMARY EARLY INTO JANUARY OF 2008. THIS WILL CAUSE IOWA A PROBLEM. DO WE HAVE OUR CAUCUSES IN DECEMBER OF 2007? THIS WILL GO ON FOR MONTHS.

Borg: DOES IT AT ALL AFFECT THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS?

Yepsen: IT WILL -- IT WILL AFFECT IT IN THIS SENSE: REPUBLICANS WILL HAVE TO DECIDE DO WE HOLD ON TO THE SAME DAY AS THE DEMOCRATS. REPUBLICANS DON'T HAVE THIS PROBLEM. NEVADA ISN'T GOING TO BE A FACTOR IN THE REPUBLICAN RACE. SO REPUBLICANS WILL HAVE TO DECIDE DO WE KEEP OUR CAUCUS DATE MARRIED WITH THE DEMOCRATS OR DO WE GO ON SEPARATE DAYS.

Glover: AND THE OTHER ISSUE THAT'S GOING TO HAVE TO BE DECIDED IS WHAT DO THE CANDIDATES DO, BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY IT ISN'T WHAT THE TWO PARTIES DO IN THEIR RULES, IT'S WHAT DO THE CANDIDATES DO. AND AT THIS POINT, THE CANDIDATES ARE STILL ACTING AS IF IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE ARE FIRST.

Borg: BUT HOW DOES IT AFFECT TOM VILSACK?

Glover: IT AFFECTS TOM VILSACK -- IT'S HIS WORST NIGHTMARE BECAUSE HE KNOWS THAT HE HAS NOTHING TO GAIN AND EVERYTHING TO LOSE IN IOWA, HIS HOME STATE, STARTING OFF. YOUR NEWSPAPER RAN A POLL AMONG POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. TOM VILSACK IN HIS HOME STATE WAS FOURTH. I DON'T SEE HOW HE TURNS THAT AROUND.

Yepsen: HE CAN'T WIN.

Borg: FINAL QUESTION. ANY CIRCUMSTANCE -- WORLD, NATIONAL, STATE -- THAT COULD INJECT VOLATILITY INTO THIS ELECTION?

Glover: SURE, ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK. SEPTEMBER 11 CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE FOR EVERYBODY. SOMETHING LIKE THAT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN, AND WHO KNOWS WHAT THE RESPONSE WOULD BE.

Borg: THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS. WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK AGAIN SOON BECAUSE THIS IS A CHANGING LANDSCAPE. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'RE GOING TO FOCUS ON THE CAMPAIGN TO REPRESENT CENTRAL IOWA IN CONGRESS. INCUMBENT DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN LEONARD BOSWELL OF DES MOINES AND THE MAN WHO WANTS THAT SEAT, REPUBLICAN STATE SENATOR JEFF LAMBERTI OF ANKENY, WILL BE HERE. THAT'S THE THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. YOU'LL SEE CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL AND STATE SENATOR LAMBERTI NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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.


Tags: Iowa