October 30, 2014

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.

Hillary Clinton rallies with Braley backers in eastern Iowa (AUDIO)

Hillary Clinton campaigning with Bruce Braley.

Hillary Clinton campaigning with Bruce Braley.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigned for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids this afternoon, speaking to about 400 supporters crowded into a union hall.

“This race comes down to one question about all others: Who’s on your side?'” Clinton said, and people in the crowd responded: “Bruce.”

Clinton continued: “That’s the right answer. Now you just have to get out there and convince everybody else that’s the right answer.”

Clinton acknowledged she was “talking to the choir” about Braley’s candidacy and she urged the crowd to do everything they could in the next six days to help Braley win a six-year term in the Senate.

“You never worried where Tom Harkin stood. He was a fighter for Iowa,” Clinton said. “You will never worry where Bruce Braley stands. He’s a fighter for Iowa.”

Braley is in a tight race with Republican Joni Ernst and Clinton criticized Ernst’s economic plans, including her opposition to a federal minimum wage, and Ernst’s willingness to consider privatizing Social Security.

“Why is the race so close and why are we here, getting everybody ginned up to go out and work?” Clinton said. “Well, because you know there is a flood of unaccountable outside money trying to muddy the waters here in Iowa and drown out your voices.”

Bruce Braley presented Hillary Clinton with a Hawkeye outfit for her grandbaby.

Bruce Braley presented Hillary Clinton with a Hawkeye outfit for her grandbaby.

Ernst would be the first woman elected to congress from Iowa, but Clinton suggested Ernst’s stand on certain issues, like abortion, put her out of step with the mainstream.

“It’s not enough to be a woman. You have to be committed to expand rights and opportunities for all women,” Clinton said, to extended cheers and applause from the crowd.

And Clinton criticized Ernst for not being willing to “answer the tough questions” from editorial writers for The Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald and The Des Moines Register.

“It truly seems like it should be disqualifying in Iowa, of all states, to avoid answering questions,” Clinton said.

According to Clinton, Braley has withstood “a withering barrage of negative ads and innuendo” from outside groups supporting Ernst.

“Don’t let anybody hide behind outside money and negative ads,” Clinton said.

AUDIO of Clinton’s remarks, 24:00

Clinton is campaigning with Braley in Davenport this evening. A spokesman for the Iowa Republican Party dismissed Clinton as “out of touch” with small business owners and entrepreneurs for suggesting earlier this week that corporations and businesses don’t create jobs, while the Iowa GOP spokesman stressed that Ernst supports “pro-growth” policies that help “job creators.”

Ernst is campaigning with Arizona Senator John McCain today.


Hatch rejects Branstad’s assertion he’s run an ‘inept’ campaign

Jack Hatch speaking at a campaign stop.

Jack Hatch speaking at a campaign stop.

Democratic challenger Jack Hatch is taking issue with Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s assertion earlier this week that Hatch has run an “inept” campaign.

“We’ve run a very strong campaign all along,” Hatch told reporters Tuesday night.

Branstad’s campaign in June claimed the web address for www.hatchvernon.com before Hatch’s campaign did and set up the website to criticize Hatch and Vernon as big spenders.

“I mean, it shows how inept his campaign is. His camp is so inept they couldn’t even get The Des Moines Register’s endorsement, let’s face it,” Branstad told reporters Monday, laughing.

The Des Moines Register endorsed Branstad in 2010, but this week the newspaper’s editorial board announced neither Branstad nor Hatch would get its backing in 2014. Hatch rejects the idea his campaign should be counted out because he’s raised far less money than Branstad.

“We’ve raised $2 million. He’s raised $10 million. He has another $5 million from outside sources from big money,” Hatch told reporters Tuesday night. “So if you’re judging this on money, if this is the threshold of politics that we’ve come to, then nobody will have a chance in the future, because Republicans are always going to have the big, special interest money.”

And Hatch discounts the polls that show him trailing Branstad by double-digits.

“We believe in the old style,” Hatch said. “People are going to now start making their decisions.”

Hatch is making campaign stops today in Mason City, Algona, Fort Dodge, Webster City, Iowa Falls and Waverly.

Quinnipiac Poll shows Ernst ‘inching ahead’ of Braley, 49-45

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

A new poll of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race released this morning shows Republican Joni Ernst with a slight lead over Democrat Bruce Braley.

“The latest Quinnipiac Poll finds that Joni Ernst is inching ahead,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “She has a four point lead over Bruce Braley which is slightly outside the poll’s margin of error, but it’s still a very close race and anything can happen in the final week.”

Five percent of those surveyed were undecided. Ernst got the backing of 49 percent of those polled. Braley got 45 percent support.

“Certainly one would rather be in Joni Ernst’s shoes this morning than Bruce Braley, but with a week to go, anything can happen,” Brown says.

Ernst is leading among independent voters by nine points.

“And that’s a key to victory in a state like Iowa, which is a swing state with the two parties tightly bunched together,” Brown says. “…If Ms. Ernst wins by about 10 points among independents, she’ll be difficult to beat.”

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from last Wednesday through Sunday has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Nine percent of voters said they might change their mind between now and Election Day. The Quinnipiac Poll also found Governor Branstad with a 19 point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.

State treasurer’s race features long-term incumbent versus econ professor


Mike Fitzgerald

The Republican who finished second in the race for the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination is still on November’s ballot — as a candidate for state treasurer. Sam Clovis says as state treasurer he’d be an advocate for tax reform, college affordability and economic development.

“All of these things have impact on the treasurer’s office and the treasurer’s office has impact on all of those things,” Clovis says. “And we have had a treasurer in the state of Iowa that has essentially done very little if any of that and has been essentially there to make sure the bills get paid.”

Democrat Michael Fitzgerald has been state treasurer for the past 32 years and he’s seeking reelection to another four-year term. Fitzgerald stresses his role as, essentially, the state’s banker.

“I’ve kept the money safe for all these years,” Fitzgerald says. “I’ve worked with our Republican auditors, especially Dick Johnson, to bring Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — an honest set of books to Iowa which helped us get AAA (bond) rating from all the rating agencies and now we have reserve funds because of that.”

And Fitzgerald says he’s addressed college affordability as the manager of the College Savings Iowa program.

“We have over 221,000 accounts, $4 billion is invested and it’s helping families send their kids to college in Iowa,” Fitzgerald says.

Sam Clovis

Sam Clovis

Clovis faults Fitzgerald for using the fund’s promotional dollars to feature himself in public service announcements about the program.

“He has used the PSAs for electioneering in election years,” Clovis says.

Fitzgerald defends his appearance in this fall’s radio and TV spots for the program.

“College Savings Iowa has grown because people want to know who they’re investing their money with and Iowans have come to trust me with the College Savings Iowa because we professionally invest their money,” Fitzgerald says, “and we’ve done remarkably well.”

Clovis says the money Fitzgerald has been spending on public service announcements could be better spent helping set up College Savings accounts for middle and low-income Iowans.

“Once they’re started, typically a family will continue to save,” Clovis says. “And a child that has a college saving program is seven times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate from college and what that does is helps break the cycle of poverty in the state and essentially changes the economy of the state almost overnight.”

Clovis, who is 65 years old, lives in Hinton and is a Morningside College economics professor. Fitzgerald, who is 62, was a marketing analyst for Massey-Ferguson before he was elected state treasurer.









Democrat Hatch says his campaign ‘is about doing the impossible’ (AUDIO)

Hatch-busDemocratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch and his running mate Monica Vernon kicked off a 37-city tour of the state with a rally in Des Moines last night. Hatch embraced the underdog role in his race against Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

“This campaign has always been about doing the impossible. I mean who thought anybody would have a chance against a five-term incumbent,” Hatch said. “..The impossible is always something you chase. The impossible is what makes us work harder. The impossible makes us dream. You know, we did this not because we knew it was going to be easy. We did this because we knew it was going to be hard.”

Hatch gave a brief speech, mentioning his top priorities of state-sponsored preschool for all four year olds, raising the mandatory school attendance age to 18 and taking steps to improve water quality and prevent soil erosion.

Hatch-bus2“It’s not about soundbites,” Hatch said. “What’s happened to this country when we trade soundbites and think that they’re a platform for governing our state?”

During last night’s rally a local performer sang his version of a song that he joked was titled: “End the Reign of Terry”.

AUDIO of event, 27:00

Photos courtesy of the Hatch campaign.



Loras Poll director says Iowa’s U.S. Senate race ‘still anybody’s game’

Another poll shows Iowa’s U.S. Senate race a “toss-up.” The Loras College Poll found support for Democrat Bruce Braley at 45.3 percent and Joni Ernst at 44.2 percent.

“The last poll which we conducted at the beginning of October had them in a dead tie and this one has Congressman Braley up one percent, so I would say in terms of trends, there’s not much other than it’s persistently a close race,” Budzisz says, “and anybody’s game at this point,” says Loras College political science professor Christopher Budzisz, who directs the poll.

The Loras College Poll found Republican Governor Terry Branstad holding a 20-point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch. The poll, which was conducted Tuesday through Friday of last week, has a margin of error was just under three percent.