October 31, 2014

Professor says despite 2014 outcome, Iowa will be ‘purple all the way’ in 2016


Political signs in yards across Iowa tout the various candidates.

Two Iowa political scientists say Iowa has “unique” split-ticket voting patterns.

Iowa State University political science professor Dave Andersen explains. “I’m new to Iowa and I grew up in New Jersey and in the northeast, where I’m used to seeing states track to one party or the other and Iowa is unique that you can have the same electorate look at the governor’s race and say by a 20-point margin, ‘We are going to keep our incumbent governor,’ and then look at the senate race and say , ‘We’re really not decided.'”

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s election, Anderson says Iowa will still be “purple all the way” and considered a toss-up for either party in the 2016 presidential election.

“I think Iowans are able to uniquely able to kind of move back and forth between the parties, as an aggregate and I think they listen to both sides,” Andersen says. “Iowan voters, as a whole, I don’t think have chosen on party over another. I think they are able to make a distinction race by race, candidate by candidate.”

Loras College political science professor Christopher Budzisz agrees.

“It’s a competitive state,” Budzisz says. “…Senator Ernst, if you look at the polling averages, is up roughly two percent and then the same electorate is choosing Governor Branstad by 20 percent. There’s incumbency in that, but there is also an element to the state itself as a balanced state.”

Budzisz and Andersen made their comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight on Iowa Public Television.

Appointed state auditor seeks election to full term

Mary Mosiman (file photo)

Mary Mosiman (file photo)

The woman who has been state auditor for the past 17 months is now running to be elected to the job. Republican Mary Mosiman was appointed to the post last year by the governor when the previous auditor resigned to take another job.

“Iowans deserve to have a qualified professional, a Certified Public Accountant, at the helm of this constitutional office — the state auditor’s office,” Mosiman says.

Mosiman is a CPA. She says if her opponent, who is not a CPA, were to win, the state auditor’s office would find it difficult to hire and retrain CPAs, because CPAs want to work in a CPA firm to maintain their credentials.

“The financial statement audits that most every government entity is required to have does need to be done by a licensed CPA,” Mosiman says. “So if the state auditor’s office is not CPA firm and CPAs don’t work in the state auditor’s office, then that would impact how our different government entities — our counties, our cities and even our state agencies — are able to get their annual audit work conducted.”

Jon Neiderbach, a lawyer from Des Moines, is the Democrat who’s challenging Mosiman.

John Neiderbach

John Neiderbach

“Iowa taxpayers need a state auditor who knows the job is more than just being a bookkeeper,” Neiderbach says. “We need someone who’s passionate about saving money and improving services.”

And Neiderbach says there’s no legal requirement that the state auditor be a CPA.

“Nebraska and Missouri don’t have CPAs. There is a CPA state auditor in Illinois, but I’m not sure their finances are doing so well,” Neiderbach says. “It’s just really a bogus argument to try to distract from the core issue and that is we need a state auditor who actually does all the job according to state law and what taxpayers want.”

For example, Neiderbach says the state auditor should have taken a lead role in the current review of the state universities.

“Iowa law talks about how on an ongoing basis the auditor should be looking at efficiency and effectiveness issues,” Neiderbach says. “If that was happening, as it will when I’m state auditor, you wouldn’t need to hire an outside firm for $3.5 million.”

In the year and a half that Mosiman has been auditor, she and her staff have issued reports on over 20 cases of fraud in local government entities. Mosiman says she has developed a check list for the officials who are supposed to be overseeing a variety of units of government, from libraries to soil and water conservation districts, that are not required to have yearly audits.

“Simple ways of establishing checks and balances so hopefully fraud can be reduced and even prevented in these entities,” Mosiman says.

Mosiman was elected Story County’s Auditor three times and was a top deputy to Secretary of State Matt Schultz before becoming state auditor. Neiderbach faults Mosiman for failing to blow the whistle on problems in the secretary of state’s office.

“We need a state auditor who isn’t afraid to dig in order to improve services,” Neiderbach says. “Mary Mosiman, when she was in the secretary of state’s office, was silent about a lot of things.”

A few workers in the secretary of state’s office, for example, were being paid, but weren’t coming in to work and Mosiman says she “frequently” aired concerns about the situation to Schultz.

“We knew that was not appropriate,” Mosiman says. “It was communicated, but ultimately I was not the decision maker in that situation.”

Mosiman also repaid the state about $2,500 for the miscalculation of vacation time accrued during her work in the secretary of state’s office.

Neiderbach worked as a non-partisan financial analyst for legislature for 15 years and as a management analyst for the Iowa Department of Human Services for another 15 years. He also served one term on the Des Moines School Board.

Ernst: ‘Yes, we can’ do better as a country (AUDIO)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst wraps up her 99 county tour.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst wrapped up her 99 county tour Thursday night. She made 112 campaign stops in the past 39 days and held a rally with a crowd of supporters in an Ames brew pub last night.

“Chuck Grassley has set the bar high: 99 counties every year for 34 years,” Ernst said. “Our governor does the 99 county tour which we fondly call ‘the full Grassley.’ Our lieutenant governor does the ‘full Grassley’ and, senator, it is my intent as the next United States senator from Iowa to do the ‘full Grassley’ every year.”

Grassley spoke briefly, just before Ernst, and told the crowd there’s “building enthusiasm” for Ernst as “the polls spread to her advantage.”

“She’s on FOX News more than a sitting senator is,” Grassley said, and the crowd laughed, “so that tells you something as well.”

Congressman Tom Latham of Clive also campaigned with Ernst yesterday (Thursday) as she made stops in his congressional district.

“Let me just say that probably the happiest guy in the country today is Jimmy Carter,” Latham told the crowd in Ames last night, “because Barack Obama is making him look competent.”

Ernst is sounding a confident theme, not talking about “if” she’s elected, but “when” she becomes a U.S. Senator.

“We can do better, can’t we folks?” Ernst asked the crowd. “Yes, we can. Yes, we can and we are going to do better.”

AUDIO of Ernst rally, 28:00

Ernst will campaign through the weekend with Republican Governor Terry Branstad and other Republican candidates for statewide office. On Saturday, former President Bill Clinton will hold a get-out-the-vote rally in Des Moines for Democratic candidate Bruce Braley and then Clinton will headline a Braley fundraiser Saturday evening in Waterloo.

Also Saturday, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will hold events in the Waterloo area to encourage Christian conservatives to vote.

Outside groups’ spending in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race tops $60 million

os_logo_homeDemocratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley says he finds some of the campaign ads running against him “painful” to watch.

“And remember, about 80 percent of the TV ads you’re seeing are not being put up by (Republican nominee) Joni Ernst or Bruce Braley and they’ve being put up by groups that don’t have to identify their donors,” Braley says. “They’re being put up by people who really don’t have a long-term stake in Iowa.”

According to the latest report from the Center for Responsive Politics, almost $61 million has been spent by outside groups trying to influence the outcome of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race. Braley says the ads from these groups are “drowning out” the voices of regular Iowans.

“Personally it’s very painful,” Braley says. “…In 23 seconds the truth can be destroyed by somebody putting up an ad that’s false and misleading.”

Braley supports efforts to require immediate disclosure of the names of those who are financing the outside groups. Braley made his comments today during an appearance before the Greater Des Moines Partnership, an organization that represents 21 chambers of commerce in central Iowa.

Ernst said recently she and her family have quit watching TV because of all the negative ads.

“What people really need to do is focus on the issues that are important to them and visit with the candidate,” Ernst said.

Ernst said that’s why she’s spend the past 39 days making 112 stops around the state, ensuring she’s made at least one campaign appearance in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Ernst campaign RV in for repairs after collision with deer


The campaign RV of Joni Ernst is now in the shop for repairs after hitting a deer.

There was a collision last night between Joni Ernst’s campaign RV and a deer.

Ernst, the Iowa Republican Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate, was traveling in the RV with Arizona Senator John McCain and a couple of campaign staffers.

The deer and the RV collided on the highway between Bloomfield and Keosauqua. No one inside was injured.

The larger-than-life photo of Ernst and the map of Iowa on the exterior of the RV weren’t marred, but the vehicle is in the shop today for repairs.



Ex-Branstad staffer challenging long-time Democratic attorney general

Adam Gregg

Adam Gregg

The Republican who’s challenging Iowa’s long-term Democratic attorney general was born four years after incumbent Tom Miller first took office. Thirty-one-year-old Adam Gregg left Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s staff this spring to run for attorney general.

“We need an attorney general who stands up every single day for Iowa agriculture, not just in an election year, not just after a political opponent has made it an issue,” Gregg says.

Gregg says Miller had been silent on the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial rule about water on farmland until Gregg publicly criticized the EPA for over-reach.

“No attorney general in this country has stood up for his farmers like I have,” Miller says in response. “When I first became attorney general I created the first farm division in any attorney general’s office in the county and since then we’ve been the fighter and protector of farmers.”

Miller, who is 70 years old, was first elected attorney general in 1978. Miller was out of office for four years after an unsuccessful run for governor in 1990, but has held the job of attorney general for 32 years.

Tom Miller

Tom Miller

“I love this job,” Miller says. “I think it’s extremely rewarding. I go to work every day enthused. I come back home every night thinking that I did the right thing.”

Gregg questions Miller’s independence.

“It seems like every opportunity he gets he’s siding with the Obama Administration,” Gregg says. “It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that it seems like he’s become Obama’s lawyer and not Iowa’s lawyer.”

Miller says Obama has his own lawyer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I’m the lawyer for the people of Iowa, for the ordinary Iowan, for state government, for Governor Branstad and the agencies,” Miller says.

Miller questions Gregg’s ability to run the office since Gregg has never practiced criminal law. Gregg says as attorney general, his clients would be the citizens of Iowa and he’d focus on protecting their interests.

“I’ve advocated creating a division within the attorney general’s office focused solely on prosecuting cyber crime because, like many of the things in our lives, crime has moved online,” Gregg says.

Gregg grew up in Hawarden and played football at Central College in Pella. He got his law degree from Drake University. Miller is a Dubuque native who graduated from Loras College. Miller got his law degree from Harvard.

McCain says Ernst’s military service would be ‘asset’ in Senate

Arizona Senator John McCain is campaigning with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst today.

“Iowans are concerned about out national security, about the treatment of our veterans and the need to fix that,” McCain says. “I think they realize that Joni is exactly the kind of person with her experience and background, also in the legislature, that will make her hit the ground running when she gets to the United States Senate.”

McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is among a dwindling number of senators with a military background. Ernst, a battalion commander in the Iowa National Guard, is one of a handful of 2014 candidates for the U.S. Senate who have run campaign ads featuring photos of themselves in their military uniforms. McCain says military experience isn’t required, but it’s an “enormous asset” for a member of the senate.

“Joni Ernst has served in a position of command. She understand what morale, efficiency, the capabilities of the men and women who are serving and, most of all, the hardships that men and women undergo as they are serving the country,” McCain says.

McCain and Ernst met with about 150 veterans at an American Legion Post in Coralville today, where McCain referred to President Obama’s foreign policy as “feckless” and he called the present state of the Veterans Administration “unacceptable.”