October 26, 2014

King, Mowrer engage in feisty debate

The two major party candidates in Iowa’s fourth congressional district engaged in a bit of verbal combat tonight during a televised debate held at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. Democrat Jim Mowrer of Boone criticized Congressman Steve King of Kiron for suggesting the American soldiers being sent into west Africa to deal with the Ebola epidemic should be volunteers, since Ebola is a “silent killer.”

“As a soldier I understand that you volunteer when you raise your right hand and you’re willing to sacrifice everything for this country. Soldiers follow orders. This is a job that needs to be done. That’s why Congressman King never volunteered for the military,” Mowrer said.

As many in the audience murmured, King responded: “I think that this judgement to do this debate should speak for itself.”

After the debate, King told reporters Mowrer’s remark was an act of “desperation.”

“I think what’s going to happen is that people review this debate and they’ll go back and look at the facts and they’ll find out that we had a really good debate tonight and he had a really bad night of desperation,” King said.

Mowrer accused King of inciting panic about Ebola.

“We need to confront this outbreak in a calm, concise, deliberate way. We need to stop it from spreading here in the United States,” Mowrer said. “We need to confront it at the source in Africa…but Congressman King again has a TV ad up on the air telling people that they should be afraid.”

King, meanwhile, challenged claims in one of Mowrer’s ads that King had voted to raise his own pay “by $20,000 a year.”

“If you do the calculation on his rational, it comes to $2610, not $20,000 and my pay again has been frozen since 2009, so many of those statements are completely, blatantly, fabricated-from-thin-air false,” King said.

Tonight’s debate aired live on Iowa Public Television and is the only face-to-face meeting scheduled between these two candidates this election season. The fourth district is the state’s largest, geographically, covering 39 counties in northwest and north central Iowa.


Money race revealed in Iowa’s four congressional districts

fec-logoCampaign fundraising and spending reports in Iowa’s congressional races are out, providing information about the financial angle of the four races, through September 30.

In Iowa’s fourth congressional district, Democrat Jim Mowrer raised just slightly more than Republican Congressman Steve King did in the first nine months of the year, but King had far more cash left in the bank on September 30. Mowrer had about a quarter of a million left, while King had three times as much.

In the third congressional district Democrat Staci Appel raises a tad bit more than Republican David Young did. On September 30, Appel had a slight edge in the amount of cash left in her campaign fund, plus Young has a quarter-of-a-million dollar loan left to pay off.

In the second congressional district, Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack raised more than his Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Loebsack also had a cash-on-hand advantage approaching half a million dollars.

And in the first district race, Pat Murphy raised over a million through September 30th, while Republican Rob Blum raised not quite $900,000. Blum, though, had a slight cash-on-hand advantage of about $70,000 on September 30.

Donald Trump to headline King for Congress fundraiser in Iowa Saturday


Donald Trump

Businessman Donald Trump — the star of the reality TV series “The Apprentice” — is coming to Iowa this Saturday to headline a private fundraiser for Republican Congressman Steve King.

“I’ve known Steve for a long time and I’ve respected him and I respect his views very greatly,” Trump said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “He’s very, very strong on repealing and replacing ObamaCare and ISIS and so many other things — stopping flights in from west Africa, with the Ebola crisis, which is just common sense.”

Trump said “any and all flights” arriving and departing from west Africa should be halted.

“Ebola’s a disaster if it gets into the country,” Trump said. “…At this moment, over 150 people a day are coming into the United States from what they call ‘hot spots’…the areas that are really most strongly affected and you see what’s happened with just a couple of people in Dallas and it’s like turmoil and panic in Dallas and then you have a nurse that goes flying back and forth from Cleveland and now so many people could be — and maybe they won’t and hopefully they won’t — but they could be affected.”

Trump fueled speculation that he might run for president in 2012 by dispatching an aide to Iowa for a “fact-finding” mission in May of 2011. Trump on Thursday told Radio Iowa there’ll be a “big discussion” about the GOP presidential field for 2016 right after November’s election.

“We’re going to have some very good people…and lots of people, including me, will be making a decision after January, I would say, and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens,” Trump said. “I don’t see Mitt Romney because he had it won. I mean, it should have been won and something happened to him in the last moments of that campaign and he lost a race that absolutely should have been won, so, you know, that was very unfortunate, but he had his chance and, unfortunately, he blew it.”

AUDIO of Trump’s Radio Iowa interview, 4:45

Congressman King has had other possible 2016 presidential candidates like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie campaign on his behalf and King considers Trump’s trip a signal Trump is “testing” the idea of running for president.

“When people of that profile come to Iowa, they’re not telling us that they’re taking it off the table,” King told Radio Iowa.

King and Trump were both featured speakers at an event in New Hampshire this past April and King said that’s when Trump offered to headline a “King for Congress” fundraiser.

“He’s one of those absolutely unique American personalities,” King said. “He’s got a flair and a pizzazz for everything he does. He’s got an eye for what the market wants. He’s got an eye for what people want, so I’m looking forward to just watching him operate in the room.”

King’s fundraiser will be held late Saturday afternoon at a private home in West Des Moines.

U.S. Rep. King says congress should return, address Ebola concerns (AUDIO)

Representative Steve King.

Representative Steve King.

Republican Congressman Steve King says it’s time to reconvene congress in emergency session to address a variety of concerns raised by the Ebola cases that have been diagnosed on U.S. soil.

“America needs to get a grip on this,” King told Radio Iowa. “Congress needs to get a grip on this and work with and give direction to the president of the United States.”

Priority one for King is a ban on flights into the U.S. from the west Africa.

“We have about 150 people a day coming from the Ebola regions, particularly Liberia, and we need to stop all of those flights,” King said. “None of them are worth spreading Ebola around the United States and we’ve seen how easily that can happen.”

AUDIO of King’s comments on Ebola during a Radio Iowa interview, 3:30

If there’s no travel ban, and the Obama Administration resists the idea, King said airline passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea who have a “legal right” to enter the U.S. should be placed under mandatory quarantine once they arrive.

“We know that they can travel and be a carrier,” King said.

A nurse who cared for the Ebola patient who died at a Dallas hospital and who now has tested positive for the deadly virus flew from Cleveland to Dallas after notifying the Centers for Disease Control that she had a low-grade fever just under 100. King said the Transportation Security Administration should develop a “no-fly” list for U.S. airports and put health care workers and others who come into contact with Ebola patients on it.

“The director of the (Centers for Disease Control), Tom Frieden, needs to step down,” King said. “He’s lost the credibility that he had that came with the title of his job, but he’s been wrong almost every time he’s stepped up and made a public statement…It looks like everything that we get from the government on Ebola has to first go through the White House’s political filter before it can be delivered to the American people.”

King is also questioning the U.S. military operation now underway in Africa, where American troops are building hospitals to care for Ebola patients. The president has just signed an executive order to call up national guard and reserve troops for the effort.

“Only volunteers should go to a place like that, not be ordered into the unknown, unseen killer of Ebola,” King said. “And our medical teams, to the extent that they go and they do — God bless them for doing that — but I would say slow down for 21 days in quarantine before you come out into the broader society when you come home.”

King said it’s time for congress “to bring everything out in the open” and have a debate on the House floor about this “life or death disease.”

“This should not be a partisan issue,” King said. “It shouldn’t be politics. We shouldn’t have the sense that this is a political equation for anybody in this, but it looks like they may prepare to tell us the truth after the election.”

The Centers for Disease Control argues a ban on flights into the U.S. from west Africa might encourage residents there to find another way into the U.S., undermining the screening set up at U.S. airports for flights from west Africa and making it more difficult to identify travelers with Ebola symptoms. Obama Administration officials say the monitoring set up at five American airports should screen 94 percent of travelers from west Africa.

Mowrer criticizes King for 2013 gov’t shutdown

Jim Mowrer

Jim Mowrer

The Democrat running in Iowa’s fourth congressional district staged events outside four of Republican Congressman Steve King’s offices around the district Wednesday to criticize King for supporting last fall’s government shutdown. Jim Mowrer points to a Standard & Poor’s analysis indicating the government shutdown cost the U.S. economy 24-billion dollars in lost wages, government services and travel spending.

“He shut down federal agencies,” Mowrer said. “He shut down federal parks and now he’s talking about shutting the government down again in December.”

Mowrer made stops outside King’s congressional offices in Ames, Fort Dodge, Mason City, and Sioux City and invited supporters to join him in presenting an “invoice” Mowrer had draw up for the cost of the shutdown.

“He threatened America’s economic security,” Mowrer said in Ames. “He threatened America’s national security and that should disqualify him from ever serving in Congress again for the future.”

A spokesman for King says Mowrer is a desperate candidate who is “resorting to gimmicks.” King’s campaign has called on Mowrer to pull a campaign ads against King that FactCheck.org has rated a “double-whopper.” The non-partisan website routinely uses the word “whopper” to refer to false claims in campaign advertising.

King and Mowrer are scheduled to debate next week in Storm Lake.

Grassley, King call for more action to stop spread of Ebola

Senator Chuck Grassley

Senator Chuck Grassley

Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation say America needs to do more to seal off its borders to protect residents from the spread of Ebola. Senator Chuck Grassley says President Obama needs to “wise up and take action,” while Congressman Steve King says he’ll propose legislation next month that would bar all flights into the U.S. from places like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“We need to stop the flights that are coming in from the Ebola parts of the world,” King says. “Let’s get a handle on this, let’s understand it before we make mistakes that cannot be resolved.” Concerns are mounting after a nurse who cared for an Ebola patient in Texas was diagnosed with that potentially-deadly virus, even though all precautions were supposedly taken to prevent its spread.

King says broader restrictions on travel may be warranted. “Not only do we have flights coming in from places like Liberia, we also have people coming from Liberia into places like Central America, where they can travel up through Central America through Mexico and into the United States,” he says.

Steve King

Steve King

King, a Republican, says Centers for Disease Control director Thomas Frieden is more concerned about politics than he is our nation’s health. “I have lost a lot of confidence in him,” King says. “When you have someone who is supposed to be giving us clear, concise, objective medical information and instead he gives us political answers. We don’t need PC out of the CDC.”

Senator Grassley, also a Republican, says he would “absolutely” support King’s measure when Congress returns from recess, but he says it may not be necessary. Grassley says, “I would hope that Congressman King doesn’t have to introduce his legislation, because I hope the president’s going to wise up and take action that he has the authority to do, the State Department, Homeland Security have the authority to do it.”

An Omaha hospital is treating its second Ebola patient at a special bio-containment unit, one of only four in the country.

The virus has killed more than 4,000 people during the latest outbreak, most of them in West Africa.

Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this story.


UNI professor reviews Iowa’s congressional races, says third district ‘true toss-up’

Donna Hoffman

Donna Hoffman

Iowa voters will elect at least two new U.S. Representatives in November.

Iowa has four congressional districts, but incumbents are seeking reelection in just two. The other two are open races because Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Clive didn’t seek reelection and Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo is running for the U.S. Senate.

Donna Hoffman, head of the political science department at the University of Northern Iowa, says there’s a reason the state’s congressional races aren’t getting as much attention as Iowa’s U.S. Senate race.

“Virtually no one expects Republicans to lose control of the House and I think that has some effect on why the House races…are getting a little bit less attention in terms of national politics,” Hoffman says, “because the House really is not in play.”

Campaign fundraising reports from federal candidates are due later this week and Hoffman says that will help her “handicap” the congressional races, but she says voter registration “leans Democratic” in the first district and Democrat Pat Murphy seems to have a slight edge over Republican Rod Blum. Both candidates are from Dubuque and the two are scheduled to debate one another Wednesday at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

“There hasn’t been a lot of outside spending which is a little bit surprising because that is an open race,” Hoffman says. “It is certainly one that is competitive, but we haven’t seen a lot of outside interests, with the national parties coming in or outside groups coming in.”

Iowa’s other open race is in the third district, where Democrat Staci Appel of Ackworth and Republican David Young of Van Meter is getting the most attention among the four congressional races.

“That one is seen as being a true toss-up,” Hoffman says. “No one has been determined to have the advantage there.”

Young and Appel debated one another in Council Bluffs last month and they’re scheduled to debate tonight in Indianola.

“We see a little bit of movement there in terms of the national parties starting to spend some money there and not as much as we might have thought,” Hoffman says. “It seems like the Senate race is really sucking all the air out of the room in terms of the attention that’s coming to Iowa.”

In the fourth district, Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron and Democrat Jim Mowrer of Boone are scheduled to debate later this month in Storm Lake. Hoffman says the fundraising in this district has been interesting, as Mowrer collected slight more than King did during the last reporting period in June, “which is really kind of surprising. He’s seen as being a quality candidate. He’s a young Democrat. He’s an Iraqi war vet,” Hoffman says.

“Having said that, I think that Steve King is probably secure in that particular seat.”

At the end of September, there were 56,000 more registered Republicans compared to Democrats in King’s district. In the second district, Democrats hold a voter registration edge of 27,000. That’s where Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa is running for a third time against Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa City.

“He seems likely to hold onto that,” Hoffman says. “And certainly incumbents are typically advantaged in races such as that.”

Several prominent figures have lost their first bids for elected office. In Iowa, Democrat Tom Harkin lost his first race in 1972, then won in a rematch in 1974.

“I haven’t seen with the Miller-Meeks and Loebsack race at this point that there’s much more momentum there than she had last time, but again there’s still a decent amount of time before the November elections and that could come,” Hoffman says. “But it doesn’t appear that the third time is going to be the charm for Miller-Meeks.”

Loebsack and Miller-Meeks debated one another in August and they are scheduled to debate again this Saturday in Davenport.

As for the campaign conversation in each of these races, Hoffman says “bread and butter” domestic issues have dominated.

“You have seen some foreign policy start to filter into some of the races in other states and we haven’t seen that in Iowa,” Hoffman says. “There’s the potential there as events drive foreign policy discussions that you could potentially have some candidates talking about those kinds of issues.”

Hoffman teaches courses about legislative politics as well as campaigns and elections at UNI.