July 1, 2015

New poll shows Walker ahead, with six-pack of candidates close behind

Scott Walker (file photo)

Scott Walker (file photo)

A new poll of likely Iowa Caucus-goers shows Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker holds a slim lead over a six-pack of candidates who’re essentially tied for second place.

“The race for Iowa’s Republican Caucus is one big muddled situation,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll told reporters in Des Moines this morning. “…It’s simple math. With 16 candidates, it’s hard to find anybody who can move far away from the pack.”

Walker got the support of 18 percent of those polled. Among those “jostling” for second place: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee is the only other candidate to get at least five percent support.

“No one has a clear lead,” Brown said. “In first place is Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin who’s a neighbor and he scores the best, but his numbers are decreasing.”

The Quinnipiac Poll taken in Iowa back in late February found Walker had 25 percent support and another Quinnipiac Poll in May showed Walker at 21 percent. He’s three percent below that in the latest poll.

“A half dozen candidates are essentially tied for second place right around nine or 10 percent, so it’s really have to see a clear trend,” Brown said. “Making it more difficult is the sheer size of the field.”

There are currently 14 “official” candidates in the race. The latest entrant — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — got one percent support in the poll. Christie has high negatives, too, according to Brown, but the leader in the unfavorable rating category is Donald Trump.

“He gets 10 percent of the vote in terms of people’s first choice, but he is far and away the leader when voters are asked to say who they could never vote for,” Brown said.

Twenty-eight percent of those polled said there’s “no way” they’ll vote for Trump. Nearly half of those polled said being honest and trustworthy are the most important characteristics in a president. About a third are mostly looking for a candidate with strong leadership skills.

New state laws go into effect today

CapitolA number of new state laws go into effect today, addressing issues as diverse as sledding on city property and selling beer by the “growler.”

The governor has yet to take action on about a dozen budget bills passed by the 2015 legislature, but Governor Branstad has approved a host of policy-related bills over the past several months. One offers new liability protections to cities that allow sledding on city-owned property like golf courses and parks. Another new state law doubles the size of the privacy zone around military funerals, to keep protesters farther away.

Bars and convenience stores will now be able to sell customers with a vessel called a “growler” up to 72 ounces of carry-out beer. And schools may now keep “epi pens” on hand to treat students who suffer an allergy attack.

Huckabee: shield same-sex marriage opponents from ‘persecution or prosecution’

Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee.

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee promises that on his first day as president he’d issue an executive order to provide new legal protections to businesses, schools and religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage.

“There will be no persecution or prosecution of those who wish to exercise the restraints and the deep felt convictions of their conscience and that this will be protected,” Huckabee said early this evening.

Huckabee has been a vocal critic of last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Huckabee said, as president, he’d ask his attorney general to “vigorously protect the religious liberty” of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage.

“And not allow discrimination and bigotry to be applied toward those who have a conscience and who have convictions,” said Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is also a former Baptist minister.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Huckabee was asked why his proposed executive orders weren’t similar to President Obama’s controversial executive orders which have tabled deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as a child.

“Creating something that isn’t in the Constitution or law is overreach,” Huckabee said. “Giving an executive order that mirrors the Constitution is the very purpose for which there is an executive order. Religious liberty is at the heart and soul of the Constitution and the First Amendment. Amnesty is not.”

Huckabee said the courts “simply don’t have the authority” to redefine marriage and he has suggested the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice “needs medication for schizophrenia” — a remark that drew criticism from the National Alliance on Mentally Illness. Huckabee briefly joked about the controversy tonight during remarks to a group of supporters gathered for the opening of his Iowa campaign headquarters in Urbandale.

“Sure, I’m going to be the one that will say the outrageous things that will get me in trouble and make you question your sanity for having signed up to help,” Huckabee joked.

Later, Huckabee told reporters it’s “easy to offend people” and he was simply trying to find a way to describe the divergent reasoning Justice Roberts offered in last week’s rulings on ObamaCare and same-sex marriage.

“I’ll be honest with you, if I were as bland and as colorless as some people would probably hope a candidate to be, you guys would have nothing to ever talk about,” Huckabee told the group of reporters, photographers and video camera operators surrounding him. “I mean I would give you nothing, so you’ve got to give me a little love here and realize that it is in the best interest of the public to have candidates who speak clearly and vividly and colorfully — not to offend, but to illustrate.”

Huckabee, who plans to campaign in each of Iowa’s 99 counties before the February 1st Iowa Caucuses, will hold town-hall meetings Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Cherokee. On Thursday he’ll hold meetings in Fort Dodge, Dubuque and Burlington.

(Photo by Asya Arca)

Former Des Moines Police Chief to run Iowa Law Enforcement Academy

Judy Bradshaw

Judy Bradshaw

Governor Terry Branstad has elevated a former Des Moines Police Chief to the top spot at the academy where law enforcement officers are trained. Judy Bradshaw retired last October from the Des Moines Police Department and was soon tapped by Branstad to be assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

The academy’s director Arlen Ciechanowski had been under scrutiny for the way he handled cases of alleged sexual harassment involving cadets and academy staff. There were not enough members of the Iowa Senate willing to vote this spring to confirm Ciechanowski to continue as the agency’s leader.

He’s retiring at the close of business today and the 56-year-old Bradshaw will take over Wednesday.


Jindal hopes to find fertile political ground in Iowa

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal is kicking off a week-long campaign swing through Iowa.

“I’m here to win Iowa. I’m here to win not just Iowa. Our plan is to win every state and win the election,” Jindal said early this afternoon. “I don’t know why anytbody would get in the race for president unless they were getting in it to win it.”

Other candidates like Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who formally entered the race today are primarily focusing on New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary.

“There’s some candidates, there’s some speculation they’re going to skip Iowa or they may not spent their time here,” Jindal said. “We’re spending our time here. We came here last week right after we announced. We’re here all this week. We’ll be back a lot. I look forward to seeing you guys a lot.”

Jindal spoke with reporters early this afternoon after meeting with about 40 Republicans at a Boone restaurant. Jindal kicked off his remarks to the crowd by criticizing Hillary Clinton for conducting State Department business with a private email account. Clinton has turned over 50,000 email messages to the State Department. More than 800 were released in May and another small batch of her email were released today (Tuesday). Jindal said the status of these email is “part of a pattern” of secrecy with Clinton.

“They only have the emails that she decided not to delete, she decided to share. Secondly, right now if we want all these emails, we may need to ask the Chinese and the Russians” Jindal said. “America may be the last super power to have access to Hillary Clinton’s emails.”

Jindal said congress might have to “ask the hackers” to get the original emails.

Jindal will hold a town-hall meeting tonight in Waukee and another tomorrow night in Council Bluffs.

Chinese charge boyfriend with ‘intentional killing’ of ISU student

Tong Shao.

Tong Shao.

Chinese authorities have charged a former University of Iowa student with the murder of his girlfriend, who was attending Iowa State.

Tong Shao, a Chinese national attending Iowa State University, went missing in September of last year. She was found nine days later in the trunk of her Toyota parked in Iowa City. Her boyfriend, Xiangnan Li — a student at the University of Iowa, was the main suspect, but he fled to China.

In mid-May Li turned himself into police in China. In early June, Chinese authorities came to Iowa to meet with investigators here and on June 19th Li was charged with “intentional homicide.” He will be tried in China on the charge.

According to Chinese law, an “intentional killer” can be sentenced to as little as 10 years in prison or be sentenced to death.


Pro-immigration group touts poll of Iowa Caucus goers

Research released this past weekend indicates 77 percent of likely Iowa Caucus goers support creation of a new process that would grant U.S. citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

John Stineman, a Republican political consultant, conducted a telephone conference call this morning to discuss the poll that was conducted in April.

“It’s really time for a reset on the immigration issue in Republican politics,” Stineman said. “And that’s both in Iowa and in Republican presidential politics where our state gets to play a major role.”

The Partnership for a New American Economy, a group that supports immigration reform, paid for the poll.

“We think that the findings are quite compelling,” Stineman said.

According to Stineman, it’s time to “tear away” labels like “amnesty” and starting having an “intelligent discussion” about how to fix the situation.

“Iowa Republican Caucus goers are really supportive of immigration reform,” Stineman said. “There’s really no two ways about it.”

The poll found just 17 percent of Iowa Caucus goers consider immigration policy their number one voting issue and will not support a candidate who talks about reforming the immigration system rather than deporting undocumented immigrants.