October 13, 2015

Iowa GOP insider David Kochel diagnosed with cancer

David Kachel (left) and members of the Sonny Humbucker Band.

David Kachel (left) and members of the Sonny Humbucker Band.

A long-time Iowa Republican campaign insider has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia.

Fifty-one-year-old David Kochel has worked on Governor Branstad’s campaigns. He served as executive director of the Iowa Republican Party in the 1990s and he was Mitt Romney’s Iowa campaign manager in 2008 and 2012.

Since this past February, Kochel has been a senior advisor to Jeb Bush’s campaign, working out of Bush’s national office in Miami. Kochel was back in Iowa last week and went to the hospital Friday. Tests on Saturday confirmed he has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He began chemotherapy immediately.

Kochel was an advisor to Joni Ernst’s 2014 campaign. He also managed Lamar Alexander’s presidential campaign in Iowa in 2000. Kochel is the owner of Redwave Communications, based in Des Moines. He is the drummer in the Sonny Humbucker Band, which formed in 2002.

Rand Paul has 15 ‘Stand with Rand’ campus chapters in Iowa

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (file photo)

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (file photo)

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul will visit 11 Iowa college campuses this week. His campaign has a goal of signing up 10,000 college students in Iowa to support Paul in the Iowa Caucuses.

“We have 300 college campuses organized around the country, one in every one of the 50 states — 15 in Iowa,” Paul said during a news conference in Ames in September. “I mean, that’s a considerable amount of work and effort.”

Paul said his message on privacy issues and his call for “rehabilitation rather than incarceration” for non-violent drug crimes “resonates” with college students.

“Does every kid in there smoke pot? No, maybe very few of them do anymore. I don’t really know, but do they want to put people in jail for smoking pot? I’d say almost none of them think you should go to jail for smoking pot,” Paul said after a speech at Iowa State University. “…The problem is that people who go to jail for pot are primarily poor and black in our country.”

Paul’s father, Ron Paul, frequently held rallies on college campuses as he campaigned for president in 1988, 2008 and 2012. In mid-September, about 500 students turned out to see Rand Paul on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The “Students for Rand” chapter at ISU is recruiting captains in each of the dormitories on campus as well.

“We are having a great resurgence or a great opportunity with young people coming together to form this campaign,” Paul said to start his remarks at ISU.

Paul is visiting Coe College in Cedar Rapids and Cornell College in Mount Vernon this afternoon. Tonight he’ll be at the University of Iowa. On Tuesday, Paul will visit St. Ambrose University, Loras College, Upper Iowa University, Wartburg College and the University of Northern Iowa. On Wednesday, Paul will stop at Morningside College, Buena Vista University and Drake University.

Griswold legislator Jack Drake dies

Jack Drake

Jack Drake

A long-time state legislator from southwest Iowa has died. Jack Drake, a Republican from Griswold, died Sunday at the Cass County Memorial Hospital.

The 81-year old Drake was serving his 11th term in the Iowa House. He was born near Walnut, graduated from Atlantic High School and attended the University of Iowa.

He was a farmer, and very active in local and state organizations, including his service as Secretary and board member of Walnut Telephone Company, ember of Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers Association, and many other such groups. Jack Drake is survived by his wife, Shirley, two sons, two daughters, 11 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

There’s no immediate word on the cause of death. Services are currently pending at the Duhn Funeral Home, in Griswold.

(Reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)


Congressman King says voters will reward, not punish GOP for speaker turmoil

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Republican Congressman Steve King says there are a number of words to describe what happened last Thursday when the leading candidate to replace out-going House Speaker John Boehner withdrew from the race.

“There was turmoil and there was a bit of chaos and there was an amount of sadness and there were an amount of emotions that flowed back and forth and there was confusion and misunderstanding,” King says.

King is supporting Florida Congressman Daniel Webster to be the next speaker of the House.

“Hopefully he becomes the next speaker of the House in the next few days or a couple of weeks,” King says. “But in any case, (Webster) has laid down the parameters on how to restructure this House.”

On Friday, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan responded to pressure and announced he would consider running for speaker of the House.

“Paul is no doubt a capable individual and he has broad support in the conference,” King says. “Whether it’s broad enough to win the speakership in there, I think that’s a hard thing to guess after watching how Kevin McCarthy’s broad support, some of it, apparently disappeared.”

Some Republicans have suggested “the crazies” like King have damaged the Republican brand by undermining the current House leadership team, but King says he won’t respond to that. King contends the House may wind up functioning better as a result of this fight.

“If we respond to the voice of the people, we’re going to be better. We’re going to be better respected,” King says. “If this dip goes down a little bit longer and we come out of it better, we’ll be rewarded for that rather than punished.”

King is hoping a leadership vote is scheduled sooner rather than later, although the House is not meeting this week.

“By the time we come back in another week, I think we’ll be ready to take some action,” King says.

King made his comments Friday during an appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

Group urges Iowans to ask candidates about climate change

ISU professor David Swenson, Dr. Yogi Shah of DMU & UI professor David Osterberg. (L-R)

ISU professor David Swenson, Dr. Yogi Shah of DMU & UI professor David Osterberg. (L-R)

A group of almost 200 Iowa scientists, researchers and educators is urging Iowans to ask the presidential candidates what they’ll do to address problems associated with climate change.

“We believe the upcoming Iowa presidential Caucuses provide Iowans with a unique opportunity to bring their questions about need for better climate action into national conversation,” says Dr. Yogi Shah, associate dean of global health at Des Moines University.

Democratic candidates argue that human activity is causing climate change, but some Republicans reject that. David Osterberg, a professor in the University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Clinical Health, says the bottom line is “science says climate change is a reality.”

“That’s nobody’s view,” Osterberg says. “It’s good data and when you look at that good data, then it’s time, maybe, to begin making some policy based on it.”

Earlier this year, 188 Iowa scientists, researchers and educators from 39 Iowa colleges and universities released a “Time for Action” statement on climate change. The group has concluded “a warmer and wetter Iowa climate” is causing water and air quality problems. It’s also spawning the growth of super weeds that trigger more allergic reactions in humans. Those weeds are creating difficulties for farmers trying to keep their fields weed-free.

“Climate change in Iowa is having an impact on agriculture that is discernable,” says Iowa State University economist David Swenson. “It’s having an impact on commerce. It’s especially having an impact on communities, especially their ability to cope with disasters, both to fund and anticipate.”

The three men spoke at the start of the third annual Iowa Climate Science Education Forum which is underway today at Des Moines University.

AUDIO of Shah, Osterberg and Swenson speaking at news conference

This afternoon, a University of Northern Iowa professor will present research with this title: “Why some members of the public are ‘immune’ to the evidence on climate change.”

Senator Ernst concerned with Russia’s actions in Syria

Senator Joni Ernst.

Senator Joni Ernst.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, says she is concerned with the way the administration has allowed Russia to take the lead in action in Syria. “We have truly in the United States abdicated our leadership in the Middle East. And that has been done by our administration. They lack a clear and coherent strategy in the Middle East,” Ernst says.

She says without the leadership of the U.S., other countries are stepping in. “That’s exactly what Russia is doing — they saw and opening and they are taking it,” Ernst explains. “So, we see a trifecta emerging in the Middle East and that trifecta is Iran, Russia and Syria.” Ernst says those countries definitely do not support the goals of the U.S. for the region.

“So, I have very grave concerns about it. Yesterday we did hear from General John Campbell, he is the commander of forces in Afghanistan, and he does believe we need a new strategy in Afghanistan. And that means keeping our troop levels the same and not decreasing those,” Ernst says. “He does have strategies he has proposed to the administration. We are waiting to hear what the results of those discussions are.” Ernst is a military veteran and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.


Santorum says it’s ‘baloney’ to blame ‘inanimate object’ for Oregon shooting

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says blaming guns for last week’s mass shooting at a community college in Oregon is “baloney.”

“We have fewer per capita now than we used to years ago and we have more crimes, so what do you think the issue is?” Santorum says. “Do you think the issue is guns?”

Santorum says there are trends in society to blame instead, including “the breakdown of the family.”

“The breakdown of morals and culture in America,” Santorum says. “The president’s not going to talk about that. He’s going to blame some inanimate object…and I think most Americans know that’s a bunch of baloney.”

On Friday President Obama plans to visit Roseburg, Oregon, where nine people were killed last week at a community college. The gunman committed suicide. Since then, Obama has been more vocal in denouncing opponents of gun control measures. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Tuesday during a stop in Davenport that she’d take aggressive executive action on gun control if she was elected. Santorum says Obama and Clinton are politicizing the Oregon tragedy.

“You look and you say, ‘How low can they go?'” Santorum says. “They continue to set the bar lower and lower. I mean, I think they have to start digging holes to set the bar lower.”

Santorum made his comments earlier this week in Mason City as part of a three-day swing through Iowa.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KGLO, Mason City)